Homemade French Fries

Potatoes are a beautiful thing. Spudtastic, even. Spudilicious. Spudariffic. And a whole slew of other words I could totally make up if I felt like it.

I made these babies. Sliced them up, fried them in a pan with oil, sprinkled them with various seasonings, and dipped them lovingly in ketchup right before they got to hop right on into my giant gaping maw and slide on down my throat. An adventure for all!

homemade french fries

Now here’s a question: Is it just America that’s so wealthy and so religious so as to think people should feel actual guilt for eating not so healthy foods?

I don’t like buying into the sort of thought process that makes a chocolate cake ‘sinfully good’, or that eating something delicious yet low-calorie means that you can do it ‘guilt-free’. When did food stop being a fuel and start becoming a furtive hidden pleasure? I blame puritans and supermodels, it’s all their fault!

Admittedly, I’m an American here too, and the pull of wanting to eat more crap then I technically need is often greater then I can resist. But it seems smarter to just be mathematical about the matter. Your body needs x amount of food to fuel the y amount of energy you expend. To maintain your body weight, increase and decrease both at equal levels. To lose weight, decrease x slightly and increase y slightly. If you eat that extra cookie, you can justify it mathematically via doing an extra lap around the track, and so on.

When you start assigning moral values to the food you eat, all of the sudden you’re a better person if you eat no cookies, despite the fact that, after doing a gazillion laps, you body might very well have a legitimate need for that cookie. And then, the inevitable. The snake in the garden lures Eve on in. You’ll take that box of Swiss Cake Rolls from the tree of the knowledge of binging and purging, and before you know it you’re signing over entire paychecks to Little Debbie as you gorge upon the creamy soft meats of a thousand wrapped treats, praying to the Jesus that in his day never knew such temptations like you face, aisles of boxes full of mouthwatering sinful Death.

‘Cake is Death’ is the 1984 of our gastronomical nightmares, and it must be fought at all costs! I will stand, agnostic and true, and speak “Cake, please”.

Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk

So I got this chicken, see. And I’ve been fantasizing about things involving coconut milk for awhile, now. And I had all this basil that was just rarin’ to get gnawed upon. So it follows that, despite all my best intentions, a chicken curry would be made.

And I think I figured it out – I gotta start using a wok more. The vegetables were in much better moods then they would otherwise typically be. Also, I used a teeny 5.5 oz can of coconut milk, rather then the behemoth can I usually use. Apparently ingredients get cranky when they spend too much time swimming around in unnecessarily thick fluids. Aside from that and a bit of curry, I used pretty much exactly the same seasonings used in the green papaya salad – insanity!

This may have been the best curry I’ve ever made, in fact. Here is a picture high in contrast and low on detail!

Chicken Curry

Actually, I’m still not sure what makes something a curry, and what doesn’t. Does something become curry simply by adding curry powder or paste to it? Even if it’s not a lot? I just don’t know!

Lentil Curry

So this was technically supposed to be soup. I, however, am a non-believer. I was baffled that the recipe actually expected me to fit several quarts of water into a large saucepan. Apparently it’s definition of ‘large’ does not mesh well with mine. This baby took 2 hours to cook (compared to the recipe’s paltry 45 minutes) due to me constantly having to add more water, but not too much so as to keep the saucepan from peeing all over the place.

Witness for yourself the vast and mighty acres of beanage:

lentil curry
There was enough for several days, as well as a chunk which is now napping in my freezer. It worked out well, I dumped in curry powder because the already dumped in cumin was begging for it, despite the recipe not calling for it. I also made the fabulous decision of eating this with barley rather then rice, meaning my mouth was filled with thousands of teeny tiny lumps and balls! It was an adventure in texture.

Green Papaya Salad

So every time I’ve eaten green papaya salad, I’ve gotten sick to my stomach. The first time I ate it was when I’d up and decided to make it myself, not long after having discovered the fabulous joys of Vietnamese salads. See, I was at this party, and this dude Chad burbled on to me in glowing terms of the fabulous merits of shredded papaya, and it’s salad-like uses. So I sought out the papaya in all of it’s shredded goodness.

I was so excited that I forgot to rinse it.

I downed a bunch, and ended up missing work the next day due to the viciously uncomfortable swelling my stomach was experiencing. Only lasted a day at least, and kept me from eating green papaya salad again until a year or so later. That next time, however, was from an actual restaurant. Thusly, the weird bloat only lasted a few hours, and was milder.

My problem is that if something is delicious, I’ll still want to eat it no matter how sick it makes me. This also gives insight to why, every year as a child, I was always ill in early November, having free reign on my Halloween candy.

In any case, I made some more green papaya salad last night, it was quite delightful and the best part? Not a bit of sickness.

Green Papaya Salad

It really is the sort of salad that you just want to roll around in!

Green papaya salad closeup!

I’d post a recipe, but you can just google it instead, for I am full of lazy!

Chocolate Chip Brownie Cheesecake Dealio

So this was an exercise in ridiculousness that ended up being an exercise in bloat. But then again, so goes many things.

See, I ended up with an unexpected block of cheesecake, due to parentals leaving town for awhile and not wishing to throw out perfectly good groceries. So like any red-blooded American, my immediate instinct was, of course, to make cheesecake. So I get block #2 of cream cheese and a graham cracker pie crust, and a day or so later prepare to do the deed.

Like any red-blooded American, I put off until the last minute the most important part – locating a recipe. I quickly discovered that any decent looking cheesecake recipe a.) called for more cream cheese then I actually had on hand and/or b.) required condensed milk, which I definitely did not possess.

So I switched to Plan B: making cheesecake brownies. This went swimmingly up until the point I realised that, despite the oven having preheated for several minutes, the oven was not emitting any actual heat. There was also a faint glow of oil in the air that wafted into my brownie-cheesecake-odorless nostrils. No good at all.

Turned out the oven was not functioning. So, stuck the concoction in the freezer, and several days later (this took place right before the weekend) the oven gets fixed. After like 2 hours of baking because I’m a genius and wanted sugar more then I wanted defrosted and evenly baked brownies, it produced this:

Cheesecake brownies

And, like any red blooded Americans, we devoured all of them in the next 30 hours. Did I mention the bloat?

Greek Donut Balls

I bet these things have an actual name, like a Greek name, not ‘donut balls’. They sure are cute, though!

Greek donut balls

They’re similar to donuts, except chewier, and doused in some sort of sugary syrup, then powdered up with cinnamon. A Greek food festival item, they were the only thing we got that I actually remembered to take a picture of. It got mixed reviews: Drew was not a big fan, and I enjoyed them, though I preferred the balls better that we got the previous year at the Lebanese Food Festival. My writing all of this reminds me that I’ve had rose water sitting around for a year plus some, waiting for me to make a similar type of balls, except Iraqi.

Because when it really comes down to it, I like delicious balls.

Sushi Fun Times

Hey look! I made real sushi! Not lazy sushi! Yay!

I totally have the wrong type of rice. The sweet rice was right by the short grain rice at the store, and I was all like ‘Hey! Instead of getting the rice I’m supposed to get, I’ll get the one right beside it instead!’. So I did. And it’s really glutinous and sticky. To think, way back in my early sushi-making days it was a hard and arduous task to get the sushi rice to be ‘sticky’. It involved strategic soaking of the rice, painful measurements of the water, and much arduous squishing around with a large spoon or other such device to get the rice to desired stickiness. It’s gotten much easier since then, mind you, but with this sweet rice, I don’t even really have to touch it for it to be sticky!

Anyhow, here’s a bit of technical detail about the process of preparing the ingredients: I hacked up a bunch of crap.

sushi ingredients

The cucumber and carrot went easy. The avocado, being perfect consistency (something else I was hellish at determining back in the day) also went easy. That egg was a real bastard, though.

First off, I was out of white rice, so I mixed brown rice up into the egg instead, which is why the egg is funny colors. I really hate cleaning frying pans, so I use the fabulous ‘boil the egg in a ziplock bag in a pot full of water’ technique, which is generally brilliant. Doesn’t work so well when there’s sugar in there too, though, as the sugar just wanted to sink to the bottom, and scald onto the bottom of the pan, and consequentially tear when I lifted the bag to check on the egg’s progress. Let’s just say some of the egg had not finished boiling yet and decided to escape. My strainer is my buddy.

So then I rolled it all up into delightful friendly tubes, as can be seen below. The ‘lack of white sugar’ problem also lent it’s coloring to the rice as well, as you can see. Brown sugar actually tastes fine in sushi, the aesthetics are the problem, I suppose.

sushi tubes

Then comes the slicing, and the dicing, with the hackin’ of the knives. And so forth. All producing this delightful crop of fishless tasties:

hulking sushi plate

I actually would have had them include meat if I’d been able. But you see, Drew is repulsed by both crab and shrimp, so they’re out. Hell if I can find tuna at Kroger anymore, so that’s out (I was apparently too lazy to check any other grocery store). Salmon in raw form just doesn’t do much for me, so none of that. And I’m still not completely sure which white fish would really work well in sushi. Oh, and eel would have been fabulous, but the Tan-A Asian grocery store was also beyond the scope of my laziness. Alas. Egg is kinda like future meat, so I guess that works.

Anyhow, i made it all purdy:

purdy sushies

All of which became an attempt at a romantic dinner. Or at least, imagine that there wasn’t a blinding flash used in this picture below, and that the table isn’t all scratched up, and that the drill isn’t there. Or something like that.

romantic sushi dinner!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

For a long period of time. I was not a huge fan of mint chocolate chip ice cream. It was the green, you see. That green coloring. It seemed like it tainted the purity and sheer crispness of what would otherwise be delightful white mint chocolate chip. I wanted my mint chocolate chip to be like a white christmas exploding in my mouth, not some weird falsely-colored travestly. Green said cheap to me somehow, like the makers tried to disguise the lack of any decent citizen’s idea of flavor with a fake pasty green color that reeked of malcontent to any respectable taste buds.

Or, let’s put it this way: Imagine being outside on a sweltering July day, at 2:00 in the afternoon, with not a shady tree in sight. All of the sudden, a magical portal gleaming with sparkly chocolate bits opens up in the sky, and a militia of pure-white snowmen (and snowwomen) paratroopers descend strikingly towards you, with sparkling silver billowing parachutes and guns carved from the crystal clearest of Arctic ices. As they touch down to land, you feel a chill whoosh of air, and your skin prickles. Soon enough, the largest and most intimidating of the Ice Brigade aims a large crystalline barrel at your head, and you feel a cold sweet refreshment blasting in your mouth and sliding down your throat. This is mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Apparently I got over this ‘green’ thing some point.

mint chocolate chip ice cream

Kroger Private Selection brand, very green, and quite delicious. I think what really makes this ice cream is the shaved chocolate flakes. Mint chocolate chip often has those little teeny chocolate chunks that get stuck in your teeth. With these flakes, though, you take a bite and the ice cream first melts away in your mouth, leaving a second wave of quickly melting chocolate. Tooth decayingly delicious!

Buz and Ned’s Barbeque

So there’s this barbecue place vaguely near where I live that I’ve been dying to eat at for a few years now, called Buz and Ned’s. I’ll do that you see, I’ll have places that I’ll decide to eat at and it will take me years to eat there, all for various reasons. I’m a slave to coupons, so often this inconveniences me. If the food served there is rather unhealthy, it’s likely I’ll never get there in winter, as I always feel like a giant bloated sponge all winter long due to being to cold to move, and therefore, exercise. Really, the only thing I *am* good at in wintertime is eating Christmas cookies. Thus, the sponge.

Anyhow, Drew and myself made it over to Buz and Neds, he got a bbq chicken sandwich and I got the pork sandwich. Simply delightful.

delightful bbq

I actually liked the chicken sandwich more then the pork sandwich, but this had to do with it having a bit more sauce then anything else. The sauce was excellent, sweet and barbecuey and just what I look for in a bbq sandwich.

Incidentally, the person at the register asked me if I wanted cole slaw and/or hot sauce on it. I declined for both. This is because a.) I am a wuss and can only handle but so much spice and b.) cole slaw is disgusting. I would even be able to give you scientific proof that cole slaw is disgusting if it weren’t for the fact that scientists are too grossed out by it to get close enough to gather the data necessary to prove said disgustingness. Cole Slaw is the Slaw of the Devil.

Also, their brownies are absolutely delightful. We didn’t get to try any sides, as one’s stomach can hold but so much.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I heart chocolate chip cookies. Actually, I think this sentiment is universal. And look, they even love each other (they’re cuddling!):

Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know what’s really good? Chocolate chip cookies with a bunch of crap in them. Like, several types of chocolate plus peanut butter plus nuts plus m&ms. Absolutely delightful.