Monday, September 17, 2012

Pickled Onions

Pickles are disgusting, yo.

Sorry, I've been watching a lot of Breaking Bad. Normally, I wouldn't casually end a sentence with "yo"*.

I don't like pickles. They're gross. Icky. Weird. I can't imagine how they even got invented other than the obvious explanation: some asshole food scientist** invented them as a sick, sick joke and they caught on immediately somehow. My sources inside the internet suggest, however, that pickles have been around since at least 2400 BC***. Whatever. (shaking fist) You win this round, facts!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day part III

Now, by this time you're probably exhausted, ready to take a nap after all that hummus and bacon. Not so fast! Labor Day isn't over yet, you little bitch.

Labor Day isn't over until something gets cooked over a flame (called "grilling" colloquially). I don't care that you're now coming to the sobering realization that you have to work tomorrow and you'd rather watch half a season of Wings than light the grill. Not my problem*. 

Do not skip the all-important grilling portion of your Labor Day activities. If you do, Labor Day will not be over and you will risk pissing off the ghosts of famous statesmen past and having them haunt you. Sure, you might draw ghost George Washington, whose approach to haunting is more benevolent and advice-based than, say, ghost Henry Clay, who might hit you with a whiskey bottle, or ghost (and possibly undead) Andrew Jackson, a belligerent sociopath if ever there was one.**

This year, I'm grilling salmon burgers, not just for deliciousness and richness of omega-3 fat booty acids, but also because I didn't have the time, space, suckling pig or apple needed to do a spit-grilled suckling pig with an apple in its mouth. Maybe next year.

Salmon Burgers
(makes 2)

6 oz salmon filet, cut into chunks
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup crushed saltines
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 egg
1 tsp capers
1 tsp dill
salt and pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times, until well incorporated.
2. Form into 2 patties and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This helps them hold together better.
3. Grill over high heat until cooked through, about 6 minutes total. Serve on a toasted bun with other stuff on it. I used some of the hummus from Labor Day part II, but don't do that, as it's kinda overwhelming. Avocado would be good...

Note: I hope you have enjoyed this peek into the mysteries of Labor Day. You might be wondering why I waited until Labor Day to post all of this shit about Labor Day. I don't have a good answer for that, but I recognize that you may be wondering it.

*Actually, it's totally my problem. F.
** Seriously, good luck with the ghost of anyone ever involved in a duel.

Labor Day part II

When you wake up on Labor Day (if you can even sleep the night before) you'll want to get right up and have a nutritious meal before you look in your Labor Day stocking and see what Lenny the Labor Day Union Rep brought you this year. Don't get excited, it's probably just paper work. Possibly a summons. 

meh. I mean I ate them. Still, meh.
This year, I made some nutritious olive oil and oat muffins that I derived from two muffin recipes by Mark "Muff Diggity*" Bittman. The only problem is that they kind of sucked, which I certainly don't blame on Mark "Mark in quotation marks**" Bittman, so please don't sue me, thanks! They tasted about like you would expect healthy oat and olive oil muffins to taste: edible. Which is the culinary equivalent of telling a girl you don't want to "do" that she has a nice personality.

Instead, I'm gonna recommend that you have eggs, toast and 10-15 pieces of bacon for Labor Day Breakfast, which is what I should have done in the first place. A quick note about bacon: bacon splatters and is one of the few food products that doesn't taste better when cooked shirtless, so don't be a hero.

Let's move on to an LDW appetizer: Labor Day Butter Bean Hummus (motto: just like hummus, but with different ingerdients)! We all know the story behind why butter bean hummus is always served at Labor Day Feasts, so I won't bore you with the details. Enjoy!

Note: this can also be used as a spread for a twist on a traditional Arbor Day sandwich.

Butter Bean Hummus
Slightly shittier hummus pic

1 can butter beans, drained
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil, depending on the consistency you like***
small handful chopped parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin
juice of 1/4 of a large lemon (or more)
salt to taste
tahini paste (optional)****

1. Blend. 
2. What? Fine. Put ingredients in a food processor and blend until blended, then eat it using pita chips as a dipping vessel and your hand(s) as a shovel to shovel it into your face hole.

*No one actually calls him that.
**No one actually calls him that, but they should.
*** I did mine closer to the consistency of a bean dip, with less oil than a silky hummus.
**** I don't really know how much tahini to use -- I didn't have any and the imaginary variety leaves something to be desired -- but if I had to guess, and I'm not very good at this, I'd guess about a quart. Or maybe a hectare. Whichever is more.

Labor Day part I

Just as Christmas is the Thanksgiving of Jesus holidays and Thanksgiving is the Hanukkah of secular holidays*, Labor Day is undoubtedly the Chinese New Year of vague American (Mon)days off of work. 

Labor Day -- Labour Day, as they call it in England (where it doesn't exist and where they call England "Bri (pause) An")** -- comes from somewhat murky origins. No one is really sure when Labor Day started or why, but, interestingly, cultural anthropologists*** suspect that the origins lie in both traditional monotheism ("thank a single, all knowing god I don't have to work today!") and paganistic ritual ("I'd do anything to not have to work today, including donning goat leggings and sacrificing something/someone!"). Yowzah! Who knew well researched facts could be so interesting?

So what does all of this mean to the modern human on Labor Day Weekend? 

Hahaha. What a stupid question. Traditionally, one starts by getting drunk on Friday, possibly with one's colleagues. Quite drunk (again traditional), as if to say to the world "Fuck you, I earned this!... (something indecipherable)...Oh yeah buddy?!? Where's my phone? (sob)" Hopefully your cab driver sees it that way too, especially if the ceremonial vomiting occurs. 

Then you have Saturday, a day for reflection and shame spiraling, followed immediately by Sunday, Labor Day's Eve. This is when you realize that you don't have to work tomorrow and the real reason for the season sets in: You don't have to work tomorrow.

For a Traditional Labor Day's Eve Dinner, prepare Fish and Chips. In this recipe, I've used tilapia instead of cod or halibut or whatever. Tilapia is super cheap and that's what I had in my freezer. Instead of tartar sauce, I used a (not pictured) horseradish must-ayo-chup that I used on a burger the night before. Also, I only took like 5 pics of the fish and chips and most of 'em were out of focus, so you get what you get (filler).

where's the
Fish and Chips:
(serves 2ish)

2 Tilapia filets, split in half
1 cup flour plus several tbsp for dredging
1 cup beer
4-5 yukon gold potatoes****
1 qt oil
parsley and lemon wedges for garnish

1. Cut the potatoes into wedges, shorter and fatter than regular fries -- more like steak fries. Fry according to these directions.
2. Whisk together 1 cup flour and beer. Dredge split tilapia filets in a couple tbsp of flour. Dunk them into beer batter and fry at 350 until golden, about 4-6 minutes. Drain and salt. 

*Interestingly, Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah are the respective Halloweens of Islam and Judaism. That's actually how the whole Palestine conflict came about -- when to celebrate Halloween. 
**That English language is some zany shit! Although not as zany as Japanese, which just sounds like hilarious non sense. 
***Goddamn, that's a long word.
****You don't have to use Yukon golds. I like them for their nice color (and taste). Use anything but a waxy potato.