Sunday, September 6, 2015

It's a Clam Cake Kind of Day

Jedi Knight Knits. Nice.

The nicest thing happened to me yesterday evening.  Me and my cat-cane took my walk rather late - the sun was starting to set - so I headed down to the courthouse where the street is well-lit. Just as I crossed the street to turn and head home, a car pulled over, a window rolled down, and there was my CLS supervisor, with a big smile, a bigger hug, and bearing gifts. It seems she was heading to my house on her way home, to drop off the gift bag, and there I was. It was such a lovely surprise; I told you I worked with really nice people, didn't I?

When I opened the gift, I was touched and thrilled.

Yes, that is a coloring book, but not just any coloring book. This is a book for "experienced colorists" which is fancy way of saying it is for grown-ups who finally learned how to color inside the lines.  It seems there is an adult coloring book craze out there, that I was slightly aware of, and of which I wholeheartedly approved.  Why? Well, think back to the last time you wielded a crayon - for me, that's about 55 years - and try to remember how much fun and how relaxing it was. Think about that time you were in a restaurant that provides crayons for kids to divert their attention from the fact that it is taking 30 minutes for those chicken nuggets to arrive, and you found your fingers itching to pick up your favorite color and scribble along. Ha!  I knew it!

I immediately pulled out the colored pencils she had thoughtfully included, and started to work.  I figure when It is all done, I can give it to Cory to hang on the refrigerator door. I already have the perfect magnet picked out. Thank you, Raquel, this was truly the perfect gift.

That was the good news.  The bad news is that our clothes dryer caught on fire, almost taking Cory's best taekwando uniform with it. Damn.

As you probably know, we are a Fox News type of family.  We evolved over the years, from CNN and MSNBC to Fox. Yeah, I know. Surprised me too.  There are a few things I don't like about Fox - the childish snarkiness that slips out from otherwise terrific reporters like Ed Henry and even Bret Baier of "Special Report" every so often when discussing a Democratic candidate, and the way that all but a very few of the women commentators are dressed, coifed, and made up to look like a bunch of busty Stepford Wives (the notable exception being Greta Van Susteren, who is allowed to wear slacks, sensible shoes, and her own hair).

What galls me is that these are all extremely intelligent and well-spoken women who don't need to dress up to be listened to.  If I close my eyes during "The Five", Kimberly Guilfoyle is the voice of conservative reason and I really enjoy listening to her.  If I make the mistake of opening my eyes I see a highly-rouged bimbo in a tight dress with a ridiculously short skirt and plunging neck line.  She always sits at the end, out in the open, swinging one leg over the other while showing off 5 inch heels.  All she needs is chewing gum to complete the picture.

When K.G. is not there, her spot is often filled by Andrea Tantaros, wearing the same wig, the same dress, and the same dominatrix heels, swinging her leg with that same come-hither attitude that detracts from her obvious intelligence.

There must be Female Fox uniform that includes an overly-snug sheath dress with or without sleeves (and sleeveless without a jacket is cheesy, in my opinion) and one of two identically-styled wigs, one blonde and one brunette.  You know which hairstyle I mean - overly thick and glossy, side-parted, impossibly long and perfectly curled on the sides and ends.  Even Judge Jeanine Pirro, looking good at age 64 (I wish I looked that good) has taken to wearing sleeveless sheaths with plunging necklines that would do BeyoncĂ© proud.

What caused this rant was the appearance of Meghan McCain on "The Five" last night.  Ms. McCain, the daughter of Senator John McCain, was in standard Female Fox uniform, and she was wearing The  Blonde Wig. (Actually it was her own hair, painstakingly styled to look like The Blonde Wig.)  It would have been funny if The Blonde Wig hadn't already appeared on the heads of guests on the Sunday news programs.  Instead, it bordered on the pathetic. Ms. McCain should also steer clear of the too-tight sheath. Dana Perino, former Bush White House Press Secretary, is the only one who can get away with it, which is why they always seat her behind the table.

If Fox wants the female news contributors and commentators to be taken seriously, they need to drop the Long Island Hooker look, starting with taking a chisel to Kimberly Guilfoyle's face make-up. The men are allowed to look normally well-groomed and mature; why not the women?

Okay, that was silly.  Even a bit petty on my part. Downright catty, you might say. Tomorrow I'll go back to picking on Donald Trump's hair or Geraldo Rivera's mustache or even Bret Baier's tie.

But now, finally, clam cakes.  I had the recipe from The Nero Wolfe Cookbook, and I could see right away it was going to hold together much better than my clam croquettes had.  Like a vegetarian cutlet from Ratner's, the starch factor in these clam cakes comes from mashed potatoes, which are generously enriched with heavy cream and butter. Where I deviated from the cookbook was in using canned clams - four cans will give you the 1 1/2 cups of minced clams called for by the recipe - and by amping up the spice ratio quite a bit to broaden the flavor without masking the clams. I also did some other stuff that had worked for me in other recipes, like the Latknishes.

Most of the recipes in this cookbook seem to me to be somewhat under seasoned, at least by today's standards.  Considering that the majority of the Nero Wolfe mysteries were published pre-World War II, and the first version of the cookbook came out in the seventies, that was probably to be expected. But you know me, I had to do it my way.

I Did Them My Way Clam Cakes

4-6.5 oz. cans minced clams, drained (keep the clam juice for another recipe; I froze mine)
4 large potatoes
1/2 cup cream
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons finely minced shallot
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
dash of cayenne pepper
2 extra large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
panko bread crumbs for breading (4C brand seasoned panko)
Canola oil for frying

Oh, for crying out loud!

To Be Continued ...

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