CrowBiz

…funk for the old soul…

Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

First Holy Poutine Ladies Night Communion

Posted by crowbiz on May 11, 2010

Who says I don’t get out (other than me)?  Last Saturday was a veritable barnbuster, crammed with both a First Holy Communion party – whoa!  AND – AND – AND – another poutine party, this time a ladies-only affair.

Part 1:  Body of Christ.  We attended the First Communion party for the son of some old friends, though there’s not a lot to say here, other than I had a good time seeing folks, noshing, and watching others drink what seemed to be about 87 pitchers of beer (blood of Christ, etc…).  We ended up staying far longer than anticipated, as things got funnier and blurrier by the hour, so I actually had to dash between events – and fit in a little supply shopping – before the Ladies’ Poutine Party.  Our lovely hostess, eager to unload massive amounts of First Communion sheet cake (which prompted my ultra fabulous quip, “Holy sheet cake!”), sent departing guests home with platefuls of wrapped slabs.  Whether by subversive design or divine intervention, we ended up with the following piece:

The Chosen One

Sure, others may have walked out with “Bless” or a chunk of frosting crucifix, but can you blame me for feeling smug?  Naturally, no one in this house dares eat it for fear of being stricken with paralyzing guilt and a sudden urge to tithe.

(Special hello to my most supportive blog fan, Miss Rose, who was in attendance.  I promise that when I find the photos, I will blog about the hole-in-the-Speedo.  Not to be missed!  Actually, it would have been really hard to miss.)

Kitchen Action

Part 2:  Ladies Poutine Club. Given my mission to promote poutine to the masses, I was especially pleased to be included in a let’s-try-this-at-home gig.  It only took several months of planning, since finding an open weekend evening among us in-demand jet setters is a task worthy of an MIT graduate student.   Theme names were adopted, among them, Fryda Kahlo, Grace Slick, Olive Oil, and the like.  In honor of my grandmother, Viola, I guess I’ll just be Fryola.  Our mascot was Daisy the Westie who’s job was to ensure that the souls of any dropped fries did not come back to haunt us, or cause a slippery accident with five drinking women scurrying around the kitchen.  Perhaps unwisely, I wore what I thought was “relevant” clothing, namely, my red CANADA polar fleece zippered jacket and my synthetic fur scarf, or as I call it, my “neck weasel,” which the Poutine Pup eyed all night.

Fryda Kahlo's classy joint - a significant upgrade from a picnic table

Fry, baby, fry

Grace Slick brought her brand new deep fryer – see similar occurrence here – and after a confused start, a phonecall to a family frying expert, and an internet search, we fired it up.  O! for a fryer to lose its virginity to a batch of potatoes destined for poutine!  There is surely a tier in the Appliance Afterlife where such service will be amply rewarded!

Daisy ...waiting for a moment of carelessness

Yet another version

My first serving

Without purists to interfere (other than me, but I shelved all judgment), we were free to mix and match our poutine toppings with abandon.  Though standard cheese curd served well, we were all pleasantly surprised by a sprinkling of gorgonzola – brought by ME, so see, I wasn’t being a cranky purist.  Both homemade and jar gravy were used, as was a bewildering array of ethnic condiments.  Stealing the show were Indian coriander chutney and Belinda’s Smokey Chipotle Ketchup (hot, but I’m a weenie).  My beverage of choice was a framboise lambic, with a touch of wine in between trips to the kitchen.  French music played – no, not Canadian, because no one in the universe wants to hear Anne Murray, especially when eating, and Leonard Cohen would have been too depressing.  Since we ate from plates like civilized ladies, we did lose the roadside quality of the poutine experience, but at least there was no danger of bees.  Also, with poutine flat on a plate, the lower fries do not get soggy, which is either good or bad, depending on your perspective.  I was willing to trade the usually desirable sog for the good company and china.  Really, it all goes back to “there is no such thing as a bad fry,” except perhaps the one for which you are battling a dog on the kitchen floor….

Which leads me to my feigned poutine overdose pose, sprawled on the floor as if in need of medical assistance.  We tried the shot over and over, hoping to get just the right look of bloated excess, unconsciousness, and desperation; I lay face down with a few stray fries strewn just out of reach of my slack-jawed face, a few more fries clutched in my crabbed hand.  Daisy, however, could not suspend her duties as floor monitor, and thus kept diving in, as terriers do, for the quarry.  Rats, fries, whatev.  After clunking heads and coming lip-to-lip many times, I realized it wasn’t working as planned, and it  was also unfair to tempt the poor dear with floor fries next to an apparently dead body.

For me, there will always be a next time.

Poutine Coma, Take 1

Poutine Coma, Take 2

Poutine Coma, Take 3

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Purgatory’s Kitchen

Posted by crowbiz on October 13, 2009

Reality Show #2.  That is, if I survive “Targeted” …..

I know, “Hell’s Kitchen” is already taken by the spokesman for culinary onanism, and I don’t need the name anyway.  As much as I dislike my kitchen, it’s not hellish, but it does feel like a place of never-ending penance from which I pray to someday be delivered.  

 

Perhaps there are a few cooking/lifestyle shows that have a shred of real life in them, but not like mine.  Viewers will be amazed that I can pull off anything more complicated than a peanut butter sandwich using an outdated kitchen that was badly and cheaply updated by a previous owner in the mid ’80s.  

 

My stove is vintage 1920s.  We have to light it with a match, which is why my two boys still cannot make their own grilled cheese sandwiches.  Next to the stove is our dog’s large crate, the top of which handily doubles as extra counter space.  Dishwasher?  Yes indeed, handed down from a friend years ago, it’s a harvest gold, roll-to-the-sink, hose-hookup classic, but what I love more than anything about it is that… it washes dishes.  Floor:  old maple floorboards whose planks are far enough apart to fit whole Cheerios; one could fashion a meal out of all the food particles to be found in the crevass-riddled, uneven surface (anything dropped will roll east).

 

 

Twenty-seven Hail Marys may not be enough

Twenty-seven Hail Marys may not be enough

 

 

Despite the picture I’m painting, I’m a pretty good cook most of the time, you just may not want to see how it’s done.  Therein lies the thrill of the reality show.  Dropped food on the floor?  Let’s dispense with the 5-second rule, which is ridiculously stringent when a good 5 minutes will do.  In my best Julia Child voice I’d chirp, “Who’s to know?”  Do you like to see chefs work with fancy appliances and utensils?  Years ago I whipped up a multi-dish full-on chicken dinner and trimmings using nothing but a teaspoon, all the while cradling a 6-week-old infant in my left arm.  Iron Chef, my ass – they’ve got nothing on the One-Armed Chef.  Though I don’t even drink coffee, I’ve lovingly ground coffee beans for Mr Crow with a mortar and pestle, looking and feeling like a peasant in an antique Columbian lithograph.  Our kitchen compost bucket is a plastic detergent tub, not a celebrity chef-designed….uh, plastic bucket.  For suspense, tension and cliff-hanging two-part episodes, we occasionally host holiday dinners for Mr Crow’s enormous family, sometimes staging – if not exactly entirely cooking – dinner for 38-40 people.

 

To keep things interesting on my show, I’ll happily lick my fingers like Nigella Lawson and bend over the dishes like Giada – my boobs are bigger but probably won’t film as well as hers.  I always love how Nigella’s fridge shows unlabeled plastic baggies of leftovers and lots of Snickers bars.  Mine has a whole cow eyeball in formaldehyde which I use when teaching Sensation & Perception; it was obtained from a student who’s father has some unclear connection to the Erie County Medical Examiner’s office, but he offered, and that’s not the kind of thing I turn down.  It’s right between the homemade fig and rosemary jam and a ramekin of bacon grease.

 

Food Network, enough with the “Overweight Guy Eats Weird and/or Diner Food” programs.  Get real.  It’s the least you could do after unleashing Rachel Ray on the world.  We have a place in Purgatory for you, if not lower down.

 

 

Charming kitchen vignette designed to distract you from the harvest gold dishwasher

Charming kitchen vignette designed to distract you from the harvest gold dishwasher

 

 

 


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The Garbage Plate™ By Any Other Name

Posted by crowbiz on June 29, 2009

Shakespeare was wrong.  His suggestion that our perception of an experience would be relatively unchanged by nomenclature doesn’t sit right with me.  Without having to go all cognitive on him, I wish to politely point out to Shakes that he forgot that people don’t live in an association-free vacuum where learning and experience have no role.  Do you want your liquid laundry detergent to be brown and go by the name of Sludge Extra?  Would you eat a product called Grople?

Thus we come awkwardly to the subject of mish-mash concoctions of food.  I’m a staunch fan of edible conglomerates, and this was long before the drudgery of family cooking led me to devise meals that could be prepared with a minimum of dishes, utensils and steps.  Though I detest cookbooks and having to follow recipes, someone mentioned to me a book entitled “All In One Pot,” which is close to my idea of food porn.  For a while now, I’ve been devising a way to get breakfast, lunch and dinner all combined into one large dish, perhaps a stew or terrine, that I could dole out by the ladle or slice, depending on the consistency.

It’s no surprise that meals like the “garbage plate” thrill me.  Not only does it appeal to my desire for food amalgamation, but such meals are built of foods I adore, such as fries, processed meats, gravy and cheese.  Perfection could be achieved if there were a way to take the whole operation and make it smoked.  Another 50,000 words could be devoted to my deep and abiding love of poutine, and lest I get lured by its siren call, I best stick to my other topic.

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Photo: DJ Dangler (I believe?) Thanks!

Now then, it’s my understanding that the Garbage Plate™ name officially belongs to the creation available at Nick Tahou Hots in Rochester, New York.  Despite being a little drive down the NYS Thruway from there, I’ve never actually eaten there, but I certainly can appreciate the G.P. conceptually.  Similar dishes can be found in restaurants everywhere, though they technically must come up with another name for it, maybe  Trash Platter, Dog Dish, Kitchen Sink, Dumpster Plate, Junkarole, Crap Slam.  (OK, no restaurant really uses Junkarole or Crap Slam, but someone should.)   A legal battle raged a few years back when someone wished to use the term “Plat du Refuse” for their offering, but I think Nick gained the upper spatula in the end.

Locally, Mr Crow and I shared a “Plat du Garbage” (gar-BAHZHE, a la francais) at what is normally a finer restaurant, and it was a hopeless disappointment compared to the rest of our meal.  Of course, it was merely meant to be amusing, not an actual presentation of low-brow foods, and even though we knew this, it was still a waste of food and a misguided attempt at whimsy.  It was more like a julienne salad with the “crazy” addition of a few unlikely but safe ingredients.  Had there been a gong in the restaurant, I’d have whaled it.  It was like suburban girls going slumming by saying they saw a homeless person from the window of mom’s SUV.  They should have just called it the “Trying To Be Ironic With Cute Menu Items Sucks” plate.

Anyway, all the flap over naming rights is asinine.  No disrespect, Nick and all you others, but trying to claim rights to name the mixed up combo plate is a waste of your time, and you’re about 50 centuries too late.  This kind of dish already has a name, but no one has the balls to use it.  Hitch up your pants, boys, ’cause this meal is known as:

“Mom Would Be Perfectly Happy With Cheese and Crackers and A Coke For Dinner If It Weren’t For The Rest Of You.”

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