20 July 2008

Gone fishin'

Well, not fishin', precisely, but gone anyways. I'm Peru-bound on Wednesday and will be at an elevation of roughly 12,400 feet by Thursday night. Madre de dios, I am going to have some fierce altitude sickness, right?

It's winter down there, so I'm packing things like sweaters, hats, and gloves. Feels a little weird given that today it was 93 degrees and humid out, but when I'm at Lake Titicaca (Titicaca! I am an eight-year-old!) I'm sure I'll feel warm, not weird.

Check back after August 1. Thank you for your continued patronage.

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15 July 2008

Pancakes are dinner too

Today's market in Copley yielded a great take of fresh, local vegetables for not a lot of money, and as I rode the train home and thought about food, as I very frequently do, a plan came together. Informed by last summer's fritter experiments and a savory spinach pancake recipe from the NYT last March, I raided the fridge in my trademark style and really knocked it out of the park. Culinarily speaking. I must say.

Chard and Sweet Corn Buttermilk (Dinner) Pancakes
serves two with a salad for dinner or one as dinner, then lunch
Prepare, combine, and set aside:
~one shallot (or two scallions, or some onion, whatever), fine dice
~kernels cut off one medium-large ear of fresh sweet corn
~about 1 1/2 c. loosely packed chopped fresh tender chard
~about 1 tsp minced lemon zest
Thoroughly mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside:
~1 c. flour
~1/4 tsp baking soda
~1/4 tsp + a dash of salt
~1/8 tsp nutmeg
~1/8 tsp cayenne (to taste)
~dash black pepper
Prep wet ingredients:
~3/4 c. buttermilk
~1 egg, beaten in to buttermilk
~2 tsp olive oil, beaten in to liquids

Heat your skillet or griddle of choice in your standard pancaking procedure. (For me, this means heating my trusty one-burner round cast iron flat griddle, which is cured as black as a spade and as nonstick as...a teflon...spade.) Add wet ingredients to dry and mix just to combine and break up lumps. Dump vegetable ingredients into batter and fold in, coating evenly. If it seems too thick, mix in a splash of buttermilk at a time until it has a bit of flow--but keep it tight. Drop onto the medium-hot pan by the 1/4 cup or so, spreading the pancake evenly out to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick to ensure that it cooks through. Cook on one side until golden; flip and attain goldenness on side two. You're aiming to give the vegetables a slight cooking before you've overdone the 'cake. Keep completed 'cakes warm in a heated oven (unless it's summer and that's just a stupid idea) and eat promptly with ad hoc sauce detailed below.

Impromptu tomato chutney for pancakes
~1 c. quartered grape tomatoes
~8 basil leaves, chopped fine
~juice of 1/2 lemon
~salsa to taste
Mix all together to desired taste and consistency. Eat with pancakes.

+ + +

Get to know the "planover," friend: it's more intentional than the leftover and telegraphs a certain agency and kitchen foresight to those looking at your lunch in the office, leading often to lunch envy and "oooo, are those planovers?" Yes; yes they are.

Note also that the above is a half recipe from its original jumping off point of the NYT 'cake formula, which leads me to believe that you can double it with ease and without fear.

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12 July 2008

My own advice

As you may know, I am a proponent of shopping your local businesses before shopping the chains or the internet. When I'm lucky enough to have more than one local to choose from, I try to buy from all pretty equally, unless there is a clearly superior vendor (as with Laurie's Planet of Sound in Chicago, a far, far better record store in my experience than Reckless Records).

For comic books in Boston, this has meant that I've gone to three different shops.

I absolutely love New England Comics, specifically their Malden location. The store is huge, open, and clearly organized, and the staff there has been really friendly, helpful, and engaged--they even took the time to talk shop with me on a Saturday before NY ComicCon. But it takes me a bus and a train, or two train lines, to get there, so it's not my monthly stop.

My more regular monthly comics purveyor has been Newbury Comics, because I can get records there as well, they have a couple of locations I can hit without too much trouble, and they send a weekly email of what's out that week, reminding me to go get my fixes in a timely manner. But with offerings ranging from dumb T-shirts ("Moustache Rides, $0.25!") to DVDs to "punk" belt buckles, Sox caps, and vinyl figurines, the store pulls in a customer and employee base that isn't specifically made up of the kind of fanboy (gender inclusive) that I aspire to be. But it's been a perfectly serviceable experience.

My third comic shop is Comicazi, in my neighbourhood. A tighter space, but still a comprehensive selection. Things with Comicazi had been just fine--until yesterday. Yesterday I'd been to Newbury to get some issues of Buffy Season 8, but because I was behind a few months (for shame!) I needed multiple issues: 14 through 16, inclusive. Newbury did not have 14. Now, it is my own fault that I am short an ish and I really should keep up better, but damn if I did not want 14. This story arc ("Wolves at the Gate") has had at least one MAJOR BOMBSHELL and I neeeeeed every ish. I went to Comicazi after Newbury and scanned the shelves for 14, but it wasn't there. So I asked the guy at the counter, mostly for confirmation, "if a back issue of a comic isn't up on the shelf, you totally do not have it, huh?" He asked which one, and when I said "Buffy 14" something wonderful happened. He went to a stack behind the counter of every Buffy single issue, every Buffy trade, every omnibus. "This guy asked me to hold these for him, and I've held every one, but he's never shown up to buy them and I never see him. I'm going to sell 'his' 14 to you, because he never came through and I am a business owner. If he were a True Believer, he would have come in for them, and you should have this."

I felt both awesome and awful, because in two ways I'd been a bad fangirl: I'd dallied in getting the ish in the first place, and I'd bought the other issues somewhere else. This guy didn't know me from nobody. I'd only been in a couple of times, but he dipped into a delinquent customer's stash for me. So the question of where I will get all comics henceforth is certainly answered. These guys should get all of my local money. I did not deserve that ish, but I will work to deserve it. I've been a fool, Comicazi! Forgive me! I'll be back!

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07 July 2008

Quick hits

Delivery methods for Coca-Cola Classic in the order of their relative deliciousness to me, EDITED (1 being most, 5 being least):
  1. glass bottle coke from Mexico (thanks for the reminders, Daisy and Vivek...)
  2. from the fountain at McDonald's
  3. from any fountain
  4. out of a can
  5. out of a 2-liter bottle
  6. out of any plastic bottle
Finest of the Magnum ice cream bars (available in Australia and other UK-type locales), in order of fineness (1 being most, 5 being least):
  1. Magnum EGO
  2. the one that was the multi-chocolate coated with chocolate and a layer of fudge
  3. Magnum Crunch
  4. plain
  5. the one with almonds
Subjective personal ranking of the 7 Dark Tower novels, "best" (1) to "less best" (7):
  1. 7
  2. 5
  3. 4
  4. 3
  5. 1
  6. 2
  7. 6

When presented with a plate of nigiri-sushi and maki, the order in which I will eat it:

  1. hamachi
  2. cucumber roll
  3. maguro
  4. shrimp
  5. octopus
  6. eel
  7. eel roll
  8. hamachi again
  9. oshinko roll

When presented with a long list of email addresses to send a message to, the order in which I will list them:

  1. alphabetically

M&Ms varieties, from personal best to worst:

  1. peanut
  2. peanut butter
  3. "crunch"
  4. almond
  5. rolled under the couch by accident
  6. plain

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01 July 2008

Yes, I baked

It's well known around the House of the Rising Somerville that I am the cook, not the baker. I am more comfortable when I can add, fix, doctor as I go; the pot's on the stove and it could all change moment to moment. Baking requires faith on two levels: that the recipe will prove worth it and that I've done it right, because once I close the door it's all over. I lack this faith. It's also almost certainly a control issue--the same reason I feel safer in a car than in a plane. I need to be in charge of the stew.

All the same, I baked this past weekend. My first run at biscotti was a total success. I owe most of this to the stupid-proof nature of biscotti: sugar, flour, whole eggs, baking powder, pinch salt, butter (or not), spices, flavours, fruit (or not). The other part I owe to the best baking book I own: Cook's Illustrated's Baking Illustrated. I just like reading the dang thing, too, but every recipe we've tried has worked out. The lemon-anise biscotti was no exception, and thanks to their detailed description of how they arrived at the perfect recipe, I know why the other recipe, from a very flash looking but sadly disappointing other baking book, was good, but not The Best Recipe.

So now I have about 30 lemon-anise and about 30 cherry-almond biscotti up in my kitchen. I foresee a lot of dunking in my near future.

+ + +

The family Rocket is coming to town. Ma and Pa roll into the airport tomorrow evening, and the first thing we'll do is dunk biscotti into warm milk, before bed. The next day, I'll enlist their help in hanging the new art before we go on a rangy walk around town, hitting my high spots: brunch, museums, dinner in my favorite spot. Friday is the Canada Day of the U.S., also known as the Fourth of July, also known as the Rocket parental wedding anniversary. We'll probably make a pizza and try to overhear the Pops. Pops. I just like saying Pops. Pops. Anyway, I've shored up milk, eggs, coffee, tea, and all those things you'd need to either hit the Oregon Trail or have your folks over. Popsicles and sorbet in the freezer, white wine and sherry and beer in the fridge.

You'll understand if I'm not around for a few days. First, the walkies; then, the deeply overindulgent eating; then, the POPS; then, the recovery.

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