I’m a pretty confident cook. I don’t cook very often, these days, because I’m also a pretty lazy cook, but I know what I’m doing in the kitchen. I’m quite happy tinkering with recipes or inventing things entirely from scratch. I’ve made lasagne from the pasta up – the only thing I didn’t do was mince the meat, that’s because I asked my nice butcher man to do it for me.
When I’m making something I’ve never made before, I look at a few recipies for the same thing, and then forget about them all and do whatever seems right. I can pick flavour combinations that seem outlandish and horrifying, that I think will be good together, and I am rarely wrong.
I can’t bake, though. When I’m making something that needs to rise, I need recipes, and I have to follow them. This is because I don’t really eat bread or cake very often, so I don’t cook them very often, so I’m scared to make them in case they break.
Except pizza dough. I can make delicious pizza dough at any time without any reference materials – it’s easy, why would you need to look at a recipe?
The above is only a little bit so I can brag about how awesome I am (I’m pretty awesome, guys), it’s also to show that even confident cook-types can have areas where they’re uncomfortable, and those areas don’t necessarily make any sense, but they’re scary and will be avoided, or walked through carefully.
In my family, while growing up, all of us kids (me, my brother and sister) were involved in cooking meals. There are pictures of us with wooden spoons as big as we are, blue cake batter in our hair, delightedly stirring our cake monstrosities that we were allowed to put anything we wanted in, with some guidance from mum. The cakes were probably awful but we were involved in the process.
We wouldn’t be involved in chopping vegetables or boiling anything, but we’d get stuff from the fridge and the pantry, and when we were big enough to do it without making enormous messes, we’d measure and pour things, mix them, lay them out, whatever.
A great deal of this stopped, however, as we progressively hit school age. So when I was at school, the others were less involved in cooking because mum was doing other stuff as well, and by the time all of us were in school it didn’t happen often at all.
This means that I was the most exposed to cooking as a young child, and my sister, the youngest, the least. And while my brother and I have had family-adjudicated pizza-from-scratch competitions, with various styles of pizza each, in the past, he’s less of a generalist cook than I am, and my sister claimed to be unable to cook for a long time, but in the last two years or so has been doing so more and more, and is now more confident. But the general cooking skills gradient matches our ages, and also our exposure to the processes of cooking as tiny children.
Now, one family isn’t data, but it is an interesting counterpoint to the gender-essentialist view that men can’t cook and ladies can. First of all, no-one can’t cook. Cooking is easy but it’s definitely a matter of confidence, to some degree. Experience with the processes is also important, so you know, for instance, to start the rice earlier if you’re going with stovetop absorption rather than a rice-cooker for your whatever it is rice dish, but barring massive inattention or accidental use of the wrong measures for things, basically anyone can cook from a recipe and it’ll turn out.
It may, currently, be the case that more men than women claim not to be able to cook, which I think is more a fear of failure than a scientifically tested viewpoint, but I’m reasonably certain that more girls than boys are involved in the processes of cooking as children, at the moment (or 20 years ago – might not be the case for kids who are kids now, and if it’s not, the “can’t!” divide will probably vanish as they move out and start being adults).
A lady I lived with once, despite coming from a very much food-oriented culture, wasn’t really comfortable doing more than cooking rice and some vegetables, and attributes this to not being involved with the cooking side of food much as a kid. Food just appeared at the table, and you ate it (if said lady is reading this and being misrepresented in terms of skillset or upbringing, I apologise, but this is how I recall it from our discussions).
A lady I live with right now is much less comfortable with experimenting with food than I am, or at least was initially. Heather still likes to cook from the recipe but she does throw changes in, now, when she feels like it, and this is directly due to her increased familiarity with cooking in general (and also because she’s had to put up with me going “ooh! let’s put this in there, too!” for so long that it’s become part of her kitchen habits?).
So, yeah. Being uncomfortable with cooking isn’t a guy thing for any non-cultural reasons. There’re ladies who “can’t” cook and there’re guys who cook all the time. There are people who are masters of a few particular dishes that they know inside out, and there’re people who will give anything a shot based on a vague description someone gave them of a meal they ate when they were drunk, 19, and in Burma somewhere. They all exist in every gender and the only reason that there’s different numbers of each gender in these classes is because different genders are brought up with different expectations and experience in cooking in general.
Science fact. So there.
Hi, guys. It is: not Saturday. It is also not several weeks ago, which is when I was supposed to be writing some stuff.
But whatever, here’s my blog post, it is about food, check me out.
(I have been moving, and working, and busy all the time. Also I have no internets, except borrowed work USB 3G adaptor internets, which is not so fast as one would hope for, for internets usage in the modern age)
Today I am cooking two things, and neither of them are being cooked on my bbq.
“What!?” some of you might say, making good use of the interrobang, “not on the BBQ?! Madness!”. I mean, actually probably only Heather would say this, because she is probably the only one who is aware that, since Rudd Money Day I have had a BBQ and I have cooked something on it every day since. I mean, this is only like three days at this point but three days BBQ in a row is still pretty epic.
But today it is raining, and I cannot be bothered going outside in the rain to cook things, when I can just cook them inside.
Also they’re both a bit easier to do inside for various reasons.
Here is thing one:
Speck and Potatoes in Peach Sauce
Basically, you get some speck, from your butcher/smokehouse/franklins. You also get some small potatoes. You get a cast iron cooking vessel with a lid, or any other cooking vessel with a lid you have that will go in an oven. You put some brandymel, if you have it, and some peach juice, in the vessel, along with the speck and the potatoes. You jam a fork in the potatoes a couple times so there’s holes for the delicious peach juice to go into. Then you put it in the oven at about 140 degrees or so.
Later, you take it out, and turn over the potatoes and the speck. Because the peach juice and honeybooze sauce will not have evaporated enough with the lid on, take the lid off and leave it off. Turn the oven up a bit to help evaporate.
Even more later, take the potatoes out and put them on a plate or something. Smash them up a bit, but not too much, just kind of rough them up. Make sure they know that you were there, you know, and that if they try that shit again, they’ll have to deal with you. Punch them in the snout to establish superiority.
Once you’ve got a beaten up but still recognisable potato, put some butter and white pepper on the top of it, and put it back in the cooking vessel. Do this until you have no potatos which are not in your cooking vessel.
Later, the juice+honeybooze should have reduced to a thickish sauceish thing. This will also have delicious flavours of delicious speck in it. Relish it, people. The potatoes will be moist and tender, but where you beat them up and covered them with butter and pepper, they will be crispycrunchy and delicious.
As I write this I am somewhere between beating the potatoes up and the sauce being reduced enough to count as a sauce. But I know it will be delicious because the sauce already tastes delicious, the potatoes cannot fail to be delicious, and speck is basically GIANT SIZED BACON, so how is there a problem there?
I might provide photos later, but probably I won’t, because a) I haven’t taken any, b) it’s not going to look that pretty.
But it will be delicious, that is for damn sure.
The other thing I am cooking is:
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Getcherself a crock pot. If you do not have a crock pot, do not make this recipie. Unless you have a BBQ you can get to sit at really quite low temperatures reliably for hours and hours and hours on end.
Get a big chunk of pork, for roasting. I got a way-too-large bit of pork leg, with the bone in it still, because that was all I could get from my shops at the time. Then I cut it in half and froze the bone half, and used the non-bone half.
Get some spices and stuff if you’re into that, and some nice sea-salt. Rub the spices and sea-salt into the pork roast, giving it as even and complete a coverage as you can. This doesn’t really matter but it makes you look like a pro. …Fessional. Chef Guy.
Put the big chunk of meat in the crock pot, then cover it with BBQ sauce. I would personally recommend to anyone that, instead of plain old BBQ sauce, you use this stunning example of condiment engineering, as, really, it’s the best thing ever.
Also put in some water, and other stuff if you think it will help the FLAVOUR FORCE or whatever flavour-rating system you use. In my crock pot was: a bunch of the worcestershire steak sauce, some celtic sea salt (fancy!), some woolworths all-purpose seasoning (surprisingly efficacious!), and some white pepper. I think that is probably all.
Then turn the crock pot on to low and leave it alone for ten hours.
Ten hours, at least!
Actually you could probably succeed ok after 5 or 6, but making this overnight seems easier.
This is the stage I am up to now. Tomorrow, in the morning, I will, using my hands and a fork, rip the pork to shreds. Then I will put the porkshreds back in the crockpot with the bbq sauce/water/etc juice, and smoosh it around a bit. Then I will take some of that and put it in a frypan, fry it up, then put it on a breadroll with some smoked cheddar cheese, and eat the goddamn hell out of it.
Then I will put the rest in the fridge, and go to work.
It’ll be great.
Hopefully, by next week, I will have proper internets, and less crazy stuff going on, so I should be ready to get back into DISCIPLINE again.
I was gonna post, but I have the, hehe, burning need, hehe, to burn some people.
So, it is sunday. Sunday is not the day I post, that day is saturday.
But I did not post on saturday! I must have been doing something else.
And I was!
I went to inspector some houses. They were crap. It was rubbish. Then I had lunch with my sister and her boyfriend. He is called Daniel, which is very close to my name, and a bit creepy. But he is a pretty cool guy in general so it’s not so bad.
For lunch we went and actually ate at Petersham Charcoal Chicken as though it was a restaurant. They gave me a beer! And some chicken and some pork belly and some chips. It was: epic overeating. I still have some chicken and pork belly in my fridge, later I will eat it. Om nom nom.
Then we went to Summer Hill, to drop me off at a cafe, and so they could go look at a house I already looked at this one time, to see if it was as good as I had made it out to be (hint: yes).
We already have an application in on that place, but because we liked it we decided to bump our rent offer up some, because, I guess, we can afford it, and also awesome places are awesome.
I could put pictures here but I won’t because it’s not like I live there yet.
On the other hand, when I live there, there will be so much space, you guys! I will also have a BBQ. I may have mentioned the BBQ? It is important. For my lifestyle. That there is a BBQ.
Then, from the cafe, I went to the brand new Chez Heather, about which I will also not speak as I do not live there. And it’s Heather’s job to speak to it, anyway.
We hung out there some, then a Finn came! it was a glorious time. We went to an IKEA (thanks Finn! it’s much appreciated!).
It was a glorious time.
For a given value of glorious – I can see how shopping could wear on a person, for instance.
On the other hand, impulse arm chairs and shiny, shiny homewares? That’s what I’m talking about.
Also, daim bars.
Daim bars, guys. Daim Bars.
It is currently my goal to make Daim Milkshakes and Daim McFlurry.
In fact, if a plan goes ahead tonight, there will be smashDaim in a gelato and everyone will be like ‘oh shit, this is heavenly’.
Which reminds me! I gots to link you people to a video. It is a video about making foie gras out of a duck’s liver. I don’t know if maybe you’re not down with organmeats, or what, but I think you should probably watch this video anyway, just to see how enthusiastic this guy is about food. He is a Swiss dude, and as far as I can tell, he travels around the world, eating things and buying knives and cooking stuff, for his website, and that’s all he does. Goddamn, I wish I had a rich Swiss banker in the family who was prepared to bankroll such activities.
So, anyway, a video:
View in HD Download 720p HD Version Visit Francois Xavier’s ExposureRoom Videos Page
That guy, man.
Also, I want a terrine. And the liver of a duck. Anyone?
anyway! I have been playing Team Fortress 2. This is the first time in, literally, 10 years, that I have played an FPS on the PC. The last one was the original Unreal Tournament. Do you remember that?
Actually since it came out in ’99 it’s probably been 8 or 9 years since I last played an fps on the pc, but that’s not really the point, the point is skill atrophy. I am rubbish at FPSen, and it is taking me some time to get my groove on.
On the other hand, I got my first unlock today (not sure how! I signed into steam and it realised I’d killed some spies, killed them with fire, and it gave me a flare gun. Why I did not get this when I, say, finished burning the 10th invisible spy, I don’t know), so I am doing things and becoming an achiever! GG, valve, for putting achievements in things so I feel like I am learning and not just sucking up the place.
So, anyway, now it is time for me to run up behind some dudes and totally set them on fire. So much fire. Then maybe there’ll be a minigun, that’ll be good times. And then I will get gelato! And that will be good times too.
Hi guys! As part of my semi-resolution to, you know, get out more, stop being an hermit, and utilise the resources that living in Sydney offers me, last night I went out and saw an El-P show.
This post is not about the show, it is about the peoples I met there.
The first dudes I met were from Newcastle. I didn’t really meet them, what happened was they were next to me in line and they irritated me a bit with their stupid stories. Because their stories were dumb. Hey, it happens to everyone sometimes, it is nothing to be ashamed of. But as we got in they were talking about having to make the 11:15 train, so I talked to them a bit about the awesome limitations placed on a person by having transport stop at 11:30 or so.
Turns out, if you live in Newcastle, there’s another train at like 1:45, which is practically cheating. Not like living in the outer west, where, once that ship has sailed, it’s sailed for good.
Or, I guess, until about 5:30. Whatever.
Around this time it came to me (as though in a dream) that I required some chewing gum. So I went out and I got some chewing gum! At the seven-eleven, there were two folk who were kind of semi-standing in line, but not really, so I stood behind them, for politeness sakes. The girl told me she wasn’t in line, and the guy did too, but he pushed in front of me to ask the counterman where the Gaelic club was, at which point I informed them that I would escort them to said club in a short while, after I had finished buying my gum.
Their names were Jaime and, I think, Lisa. They were from Canada, in Australia for a couple weeks, rocking out at shows because, once you are a tourist, you are already mostly over the ‘man, guys, going to shows is hard’ thing. Because, check it out: you already in another country! So it’s not such a big deal to go out and see things, I guess? Also, what else you gonna do? Sit on the internet at home? Implausible!
So we talked a bit about the respective hip-hop scenes of our respective towns. Calgary, guys, it’s a place. It’s got… snow, and dudes with mics. I think that’s about it? That’s all Jaime told me about, anyway.
I don’t know anything about the hip-hop scene in Sydney, so who knows what I told him? Probably a tissue of lies!
It’s how I roll.
At this point there were maybe 40 people in the venue, so there was a lot of space and it was a bit depressing to think of some guy coming from over the ocean to perform there. How would that be, on part of your world tour, looking out at the gaelic club and seeing 40 loosely clumped, mostly disinterested people?
Not super-great, is my understanding.
So anyway! I watched some dudes drunkdance with the hippity-hopstyle, for a while, which was pretty entertainment. Then a guy called Scott Burns came on stage, and I seriously thought it was a guy I knew, a guy called Dave. Because basically they are the same person? Only one of them rocks out on stage, I guess. And Dave… I guess he rocks out all the time. He’s a pretty cool guy.
Anyway! Scotty Burns had songs, and in every single one of them, there was a reference to something which made me laugh. This is a good scheme to make me interested in your music. Also, random references to Trevor Chappell and the underarm bowl, good times. I have, somewhere, a tiny, tiny cricket bat, signed by Greg and Trevor Chappell. This is not relevant, but trivia is awesome (guys, let’s get some trivia going).
Later, as the show unfolded, and the venue became actually occupied, I was right up the front. Next to me was a girl who had previously been drunkdancing in the open spaces offered by not having any people around, but who was now also kind of wedged up against the stage. She was from Wollongong. I know only two things about her, one that she’s from wollongong, and two that she’s got an extra-large Public Enemy singlet top, which was the only size they had left when she got to the merch stand, which she will only wear when she is pregnant.
Which I didn’t really know how to respond to, as a conversational opener. So I guess I told her her baby would be awesome.
I mean, probably that kind of environment would be awesome for a baby? Public Enemy has some words to say, about some things, which instill the appropriate attitudes in our youth from Wollongong?
Then, someone I did not meet: El-P. He was surprisingly not involved with the fans who were, like, right there up at the stage. It was a bit disappointing, though I guess eventually he shook my hand. Hmm.
The show was pretty awesome, though, so that was good.
Scott Burns had mentioned in one of his songs that he was going to the Strawberry Hills hotel after the show, so I went there, for, maybe lols, maybe nothing. I ended up sitting on a table with a man from Kiwistan, an Islander dude, and his girlfriend. They were pretty cool, we talked about music (as I had just come from a show and they are going to the future music festival today), and languages (the kiwistani guy was threatening to teach the islander guy kiwanese), and other stuff. But it was also awkward because, what the hell, sitting at a table drinking and chatting with people you don’t know?
I mean, that is part of my no-hermit (no hermo?) plan, to be able to speak more to whoever without it being a thing, and I think I reasonably executed it, but also it is straight up weird.
So then I went to shorthaus, and some people were there, and it was good times. There was cake (oh man! such cake!) and cakesoup (oh man! such cakesoup!) which I spilled all over the place (Sorry Tab!), and talking about stuff and things. So that was good, I think I prefer to hang out with people I actually know, rather than randoms, on balance.
Then I came home! Then I talked to the internets! Now I am awake again and I am sore, goddamn.
I was going to write a post about kaballa and gnosticism as pre-scientific models of the big bang and evolution, but check out how much I’m not doing that, now: 100%. That is how much I am not writing that post.
For various reasons, including, argh, first year religious studies was a long time ago and I’ve conflated a bunch of things which, if true, would make the post a lot easier to write, but they’re not true, which makes it much harder.
So, whatever. I will talk about telephones.
I fucking hate phones.
I have a weird relationship with things that annoy me – mostly, I can put up with things, as long as they’re not happening all the time. But if some critical threshold is reached, and breached, I lose the ability to deal with it at all, for some time, and have to take some time entirely away from that thing.
This is also how I am about people, but ‘annoy’ isn’t the right word there. I really like hanging out with people, and I miss seeing my friends on a regular basis, but occasionally it is too much and I need to hide away and not see anyone for some time. If I do see people during the hermit times, it kind of resets the hermit-time-clock, which is bad and inconvenient. So if I disappear for a month or three, that’s why. Don’t send search parties.
This is a problematic way to relate to people because I shut down any overtures towards doing stuff with people during these times. So people stop asking me to go to things. Then, later, when I am ok with people, again, I fail to call people and organise things and so I am a hermit again. Good times!
Anyway, so, I hate talking on the phone, but most of the time it is ok. I find it difficult to focus on what the person is saying, rather than, for instance, any text which might be in front of me (I can’t not read something if I am looking near it). I don’t like the real-time nature of the conversation, because small distractions can entirely derail it. Also, if you miss something, you can’t check what it was, like you could with, say, IM windows.
To counteract my tendency to pay attention to the visual world, not the audio one, I have to sit with my eyes closed if I am trying to talk to someone on the phone about anything important. This is occasionally impractical and sometimes a terrible idea.
Interestingly, I don’t really mind talking on the phone at work. I think it’s because, there, I’m expected to be looking at some other text, and there’s a different register and… various other things. but basically I can ask people to repeat things as often as I need to and they expect that.
This kind of makes me sound like I don’t hear things on the phone at all, which is not true. I am listening, really. But I’d probably rather IM you.
IM is a much less rich mode of conversation, so it’s kind of strange to prefer it, maybe? But it’s also a less invested mode of conversation. Pauses (most of the time) aren’t critical, and it’s ok if you’re reading other things at the same time (most of the time). Because the text is there, as an artifact, not as a memory trace, it is amenable to analysis in a different way. Positing readings of other people’s text helps me tremendously to maintain my not-craziness. Sometimes it’s difficult to get over a first impression, if something is phrased in a way which seems to imply something negative, but often the space afforded by IM allows you to re-assess something and not instantly get upset at the person, and cause trouble? Even though you lack communication cues like intonation and body language, you’ve got a better-developed set of tools for coping with language in text, I think.
Also, because it is a richer mode of communications, I think we think we can relate to it as though it was a face-to-face conversation, which is also fraught with danger. If you can’t see that I’m making a stupid face, you can’t really understand what I am saying (or, not as easily/in as much detail?). So telephones are kind of a crippled actual talk, rather than an enhanced text conversation? And text is text is text is how I like things?
There is: no point to this post, except maybe send me smses for a while because right now I can’t be having with telephones for whatever reason?
But also, we should do some things, guys, let’s go to a place or something, soon.
No pictures, one link. This shit? The way we are kicking it? Oldschool. That is the method by which it is kicked.
Things I have eaten today, a short and incomplete list:
1) Bacon Rice Crispies, motherfuckers.
Inspired by the fine work of the Ridiculous Food Society of Upstate New York, today I made me some goddamn rice crispies, mit also the bacon. Let’s get down to brass tacks, here:
- Six cups of rice bubbles
- four slices of delicious smoked bacon from my local butcher
- 200gm packet of No Frills pink and white marshmallows
- a little bit of butter
Also I used two slicepans (though one is for actual reals a pie dish, not a slice tray) and a mixing bowl, but you don’t need the mixing bowl. And really you only need one slice tray. And you probably need more bacon.
Allow me to explain my methods, here:
I sliced the rind off the bacon, and chucked it in a pretty small frying pan, with a cover, to render out the delicious fats held within the rind. While it was frying up, I cut the bacon into pretty small chunks, the better to get a mix on with the rice bubbles.
Once I’d cut up the bacons, I took the rind out of the pan and fried the little baconbits up until they were supercrispygood (because if they weren’t, that’d be a bit weird later, probably). Usually I would use a sandwich press to make supercrisp bacon, but I wanted the bacon fat left over for the melting of marshmallows in.
Yes, this is a perfectly sensible idea. Shut your mouth.
I took the pan off the heat, and set it on an angle, so the fat ran out of the corner-piled baconbits. After a while, I put the baconbits in a mixing bowl to cool down, but I could have put them straight in the slicepan, really, had I been thinking that shit through.
First I checked to see if the bacon fat tasted like bacon (sometimes it does!), but it didn’t, so that was ok. I chucked a bit of butter in the pan with the baconfat (seriously, this is delicious, shut up!), and put it over a very low heat. While the butter melted down, I got the rice bubbles out, and put two cups in the pie dish, mixed up with the bacons, and four in the slice tray, baconless.
Once the rice bubbles were arranged, and the butter was melted, I got my marshmallow on, put them all into the pan with the baconbutter. Marshmallows melt weird, it’s kind of disconcerting. They stay big for ages, then all of a sudden they’re not, anymore, they’re liquid marshmallow goodness. I did this over a fairly low heat, because I didn’t want to burn any sugar, you know?
I put about a third of the mixture into the pie dish, and left the rest of the marshmallows on a (really, really) low heat. There was just about a flame, but not enough to burn anything.
Mixing marshmallowbaconbutter into baconbubbles is weird and messy. The marshmallow starts to turn to, like, sugar-ropes, almost immediately, and this is not helpful. I am just saying: get your mix on fast. Use two utensils. I used the rice spatula from my rice cooker, and also a spoon, but if I’d had another small spatula, I would have used that.
But eventually I got most of the ricebubblebaconios attached to the marshmallowmix, and it was good.
While I had not been paying attention, the marshmallow mix in the pan had kind of shrunk down, and was threatening to caramelise, so I hastily tipped it into the slice tray.
It was at this point that I realised that you should not use a slotted spatula to mix marshmallows and butter, because that shit does not come out of the holes. Not ever.
So I was a bit short of marshmallows (my packet was 200 grams, I had wanted 250, but you can’t always get what you want), but still, enough of the rice bubbles were incorporated. This is not as supersweet as I recall them being as a kid, probably due to the higher rice/sugar ratio. That kind of makes them healthy, right?
Anyway! If I was going to do this again, I’d use three times as much bacon, and I wouldn’t bother making any non-bacon rice crispies.
And I will tell you why:
They are fucking delicious, that’s why.
Don’t even joke about ‘eww’, and ‘gross’, it’s not cool. You are disrespecting a beautiful thing, you disrespecter of beautiful things. I will have no truck with it.
So, thanks, internets! You have learned me up some valuable lessons today!
(those lessons being that anything that you’d be happy to cook on a stick, over a fire, will taste delicious with anything else you’d be happy to cook on a stick, over a fire. And rice bubbles. Also that you can trust the internet to feed you, because everything there is the truth)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some delicious treats to consume.