Saturday, December 01, 2007

New From the World of Truffles

I'm on day 2 of making the crystallized ginger for the truffles and it struck me that I had neglected to inform ya'll of one of my favorite cheats on that recipe. That happens with me a lot. It's one of the reasons I have never felt I was a very good teacher. Especially with things that I do almost without conscious thought, like playing guitar, harp or riding a horse. Because I do it working from muscle memory I will often leave out a cruicial step, not because I am planning to sabotage anyone, it's just that I do it without thinking.

Here's the cheat code that I forgot to include in the original recipe. If you start day 2 early in the morning, you can do the step for day 3 late at night. So although I am doing to the fifteen minutes of simmering right now. I intend to do the next thirty minutes of simmering along with the addition of the final two cups of sugar tonight.

I had been a little troubled by the way it took 7th sister an extra day when she followed my recipe as written.

Sorry for costing you a day m'dear.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Random Ten

This is a good one. I've been a happy kitchen cleaner (at least as happy a cleaner as one can be when the hot water heater's on the fritz and the plumber dude hasn't shown yet)

I Am Stretched On Your Grave - - - Sinead O'Connor (live bootleg featuring yours truly on guitar)
You're the Storm - - - The Cardigans
Try - - - Nellie Furtado
My Country Tis of Your People You're Dying - - - Buffy Sainte-Marie
For Baby (for Bobby) - - - Peter, Paul & Mary (featuring me Da on Bass)
The Engineer's Dying Child - - - Johnny Cash
He Didn't Ask Me - - - Pearl Bailey
I'll Be Hard To Handle - - - Ella Fitzgerald
I'll Be Seeing You - - - Frank Sinatra
It's DeLovely - - - Sarah Vaughn

Bonus - - -

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning - - - The Reverend Gary Davis

what ya'll listening too?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mincemeat Pie

Ok all you veggie folks look away now. Thing is, this pie is superb. A cross between dessert and a main dish. It also provides me with something to do with the off cuts from an elk. It's a holiday standby with me.


4 lbs lean elk (you can substitute venison, beef or mutton)
2 1/2 cups lard or suet refrigerated and cut into cubes
7 1/2 cups chopped tart apples (my favorite is the noble Jonathan)
3 cups liquid which venison or elk was cooked in
5 cups sugar
3 cups hard cider
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 cups raisins
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons ground allspice
2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 oranges
1 cup Calvados

Trim the meat to remove any connective tissue and fat. Cover with water and simmer until meat is tender. Refrigerate the meat in the cooking broth overnight.

Next morning skim off any fat, reserve the broth. Remove any bones or cartilage and cut the meat into 1/4" cubes. In a large stock pot combine all the ingredients except the Calvados and simmer for two hours. Allow to cool and stir in the Calvados. Place in sterilized canning jars and boil them submerged for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and check seals. This will keep all year in a cool dark place. I've never had them last much longer than February.

Use the crust from the Shaker Lemon Pie. I usually do the top crust as a tightly woven lattice, but hey, I'm a documented show-off.

You can punk out and use a prepared mincemeat, I suggest Nonesuch®, it won't make you barf or anything, but the real thing, made yourself is a whole other world.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another Conversation With My Filthy Rich Republican Uncle

Him: So, do you have a business plan?

Me: Yes, I do. I plan to make a shitload of beautiful truffles and sell them for money.

Him: What's your marketing plan like?

Me: Same as a dope dealer's.

Him: What?

Me: I give somebody a truffle. Watch them eat it. Then tell them that it's only the first one that's free.


The National Pretend Crisis

That's my new name for the "Illegal Immigration Crisis." It's made up stuff. Like most of the republican schemes you can turn what ever they say backwards. The stuff they say only makes sense when you view it through the looking glass. Like their "Patriot Act" was mostly we're going to eavesdrop on conversations and keep track of anybody who disagrees with us, or how their "war on drugs" has mostly turned into price supports for cartels and smugglers.

I know that I'm dating myself, but does anybody else out there remember when we had The National Pretend Speed Limit of 55mph on the highways of the country? They posted all kinds of signs, had swarms of officers patrolling the highways to bring down the vast majority of our population who was ignoring the law. They had to ignore the law. When laws are crazy, rational people simply refuse to obey them.

That's where we are with our immigration laws. Batshit crazy. Most of the counter measures are counter productive. Eight miles from where I write this is the city of Mexicali. Over two million people live there. A large part of the economy here depends on citizens from Mexicali coming across the border to do their shopping. That's one of the reasons that the biggest shopping mall around here is a mere four miles from the Port of Entry. On an average Monday morning the wait at the border is an hour and a half. That means that nobody in their right mind will wait there in line for that amount of time, be confronted by arrogant and oftentimes rude Customs Agents when all they wanted to do was come shop at Diamond's Department store. There are a lot of business on both sides of the border who are suffering or closing because there isn't easy access to cross the border.

We used to on a whim, decide "Hey, let's go get some Chinese food." Go into Mexicali and treat ourselves to some of the finest Cantonese and Hunan you'll ever find. Not anymore. Our aggressive and arrogant posture on the border makes that kind of thing impossible. Now, crossing the border means long waits, searches, stupid questions and other things that make it just not worth the bother.

So, who benefits from all this? My suspicion is that the folks who are trumpeting the loudest about the "illegal" question are the people who have the most to gain by keeping hard working immigrants in illegal status, and therefore more easily cheated and exploited. They aren't concerned in the slightest about laws, or the rule of law, or even simple human decency. They want to make sure that their next construction project doesn't have to pay a living wage to the folks who do the framing and pour the concrete.

It's a very simple situation. People from Central America up through Mexico are starving and only want a chance to work their asses off to better their lives and feed their families. They can't do it in the places they were born so they come here. They are not illegal, they are the best, the most courageous, and some of the finest people you will ever meet. They are risking everything for a small chance at being able to live in a decent human way. The laws that have made crossing the border more difficult have not even begun to stem this human tide. They have enriched the coyotes (pronounced COY-oh-tay) who smuggle them. Fees for being guided across have gone up over 300% in the last two years. The first effect of further clamping down border access will be to make these vile and vicious criminals far richer. They will also be certain to spend some of this new found wealth on bribing Customs and Border Patrol Agents. That's what the drug smugglers did, that's what the rum runners did during prohibition. That's what any rational human being will do when confronted with crazy laws. They refuse to obey them.

We didn't quit drinking because of Prohibition. We haven't quit doing dope because Nixon declared war on it. We won't stop illegal immigration by making the laws about it even crazier. We will only encourage more rational folks to disobey this insanity.

When will these people realize that they can't solve a problem using the same thinking that created the problem in the first place? My other suspicion is that the whole "immigration" thing is nothing but bullshit smoke and mirrors so that the Republican candidates won't have to talk about how thoroughly and completely they have fucked up the Middle East.



Monday, November 26, 2007

My Filthy Rich Republican Uncle

saved the day this time. I've been going over some of the preparation stuff before going into holiday production on the truffles. One of the things I like to have on hand before there's any chance of being caught out a shortage is the containers. Smart and Final usually has a pretty cool supply of containers that have a clear plastic top and a sturdy enough bottom that will hold either 8 or a dozen truffles. I was doing a count up on my leftovers from the last run and for some reason my mother got herself all worked up. She was going on and on about "your truffles are so beautiful, you should spend some extra money to present them better." Anyway, that was the gist of the statement, you'll have to imagine the variations on the theme lasting the better part of the weekend.

I started doing some research on box companies, found quite a few of them. Thing was for a very limited run of a very custom size the cost would have been more than I was comfortable spending when there was an easily obtained perfectly servicable alternative right at hand. Then moms kept at it and I began to think "hey, if it will shut her up on the subject for under a grand, what the hell?"

I had a brilliant idea. My filthy rich republican uncle is a very astute businessman. He has the ability to bore right into the center of an issue or debate and deconstruct it of all its distractions, siezing the very essence of the matter. I explained my mother's dislike of my current packaging, and ran the numbers of the new boxes down for him.

Then he saved my ass with one simple question.

Are you selling truffles, or boxes?

Thanks unc. That subject is now officially closed.