Monday, June 8, 2015

Midnight in the Garden of Fried Green Tomatoes

I love Savannah.  It is one of my favorite cities, full of shops and restaurants and beautiful parks, those unique squares, and the most incredible collection of architecture.  I truly cannot remember how many times we have stayed there (although if I checked my Marriott account, it would list each and every time we booked in Savannah.)  Lately, I have been hinting about a weekend in coastal Georgia because it's been a while.

It is a sad fact that I tire easily.  I try to deny it.  I tell myself that now that I am out of the unbearable stress of my job, I do feel better.  But the truth is that "better" is a relative term, and that while I feel better, I don't feel good. I have missed more than one social event because of it.  Long distances, big crowds, all wear me down now.

As we all know, "denial is not just a river in Egypt."  Somehow, I failed to appreciate the affect that my chronic pain and fatigue have had on our traveling habits.  Admittedly, our most recent cruise was not entirely comfortable for me - I had forgotten my cane, and was in the middle of a medication adjustment.  And until Robert gently pointed it out to me, it did not occur to me that no matter where I go, I take this thing with me, even on a mini-vacation.  I love to walk, and to fully appreciate Savannah, you really need to be able to walk.  It's all about stamina, and I don't have much of that anymore.

I do have a cane, and I'm not dead yet.  But it galls me to admit that I went to Publix for a short shopping trip, picked up the ingredients to make my grandmother's meat sauce, and came home too tired and in too much pain to do the cooking.

I took something for the pain - half the recommended dosage - and after about a half hour, I got some relief.  I also had a nice, long, dreamless nap on the couch.

But honestly, I would have rather been in Savannah.  At the Lady and Sons, or a.lure, or Vic's on the River, eating good food that someone else had cooked for me.

When I do get around to making the sauce, and the lasagna rolls, I will have fresh basil leaves and fresh parsley right out of my garden.  Good thing I don't need any mint because somewhere in the neighborhood, a family of aphids has minty-fresh breath.  I have a sweet mint and a spearmint plant, and both show definite signs of being devoured by something small and evil.

So I shot 'em dead.  Yep, a few light shots with the same stuff I used on the hibiscus.  If Andrew Zimmern wants to eat bugs, God be with him, but I'm gonna shoot 'em dead.  Except lady bugs.  I don't kill lady bugs, and neither should you.  They are good for the environment, and so very pretty.

We are still fighting the fleas; right now we're at a Mexican standoff, but we have reinforcements arriving tomorrow.

Finally, in case you were wondering about the name of Donna Hanover's ex-husband, who was part of a scandal during her days at a very young Food Network: Rudy Giuliani.  If I remember correctly, she threw him out of the family abode - Gracie Mansion - and he had to sleep on a friend's couch in the meantime.  I love New York. 


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Saturday in the Park

Saturday in the park
I think it was the Fourth of July
Saturday in the park
I think it was the Fourth of July
People dancing, people laughing
A man selling ice cream, singing Italian songs
"Eh Cumpari, ci vo sunari"
Can you dig it (yes, I can)

Alrighty then - my ear worm has nothing to do with my day today.  It's actually the sixth of June, D-Day, and we were nowhere near a park - we were at Perkins with family for a late breakfast. Nobody was dancing or singing - although I have been yelling at the TV for the past half hour, bitching that these BBQ pit masters are uniformly overcooking beef.  Who cooks a gorgeous beef loin to 135 degrees internal temperature?  Only someone who WANTS TO LOSE! 

In my opinion, anything past medium rare is way past edible.  Even medium rare is questionable.  I eat it rare.  My husband and son eat it black-and-blue.  Purple.  Pittsburgh.  Extra extra rare.  If you poke the steak with a fork, it will go "moooooo."  Chase the cow through the kitchen with a blow torch.  You get the idea.  I will bet that the people screaming the loudest are the ones who blithely wave their chopsticks over mounds of raw fish or suck down quarts of raw oysters.

And that's what makes horse races.

Today is` an okay sort of day.  No panic attacks.  I got to spend a little time with family.  No panic attacks.  I am able to keep food down. My garden survived the Kissimmee Rain Apocalypse, even the cilantro.  Well, the cilantro is a little worse for the wear, but it's putting up a valiant fight.  I'll just have to wait a few days before cooking Mexican.  No panic attacks.

If you got here by way of my Facebook page, you may have noticed I've been rather opinionated lately.  Today I was picking on reality shows.  I think they represent some of the most pernicious programming on the air.  First of all, these families are about as "real" as wrestling.  Second, they represent some of the worst family values and dysfunction and trust me, I've seen some really trashy situations in my 23 years as a lawyer.  Yes, the Duggar sisters are victims of the media, but the only reason that is happening is because their own parents have exploited them, and the rest of the family, rather shamelessly. The same goes for that thankfully cancelled Kate and Jon plus 8 and the Honey Boo Boo travesty (if I want to wallow in the daily doings of trailer trash, I can read the local news).  Tori and Dean? The commercials were painful to watch; I can't imagine why anyone would want to sit down and watch a family with children dissolve.  Real Housewives?  Unadulterated bullcrap. Keeping Up With the Kardashians?  Why would anyone want to?  Teen Moms?  Do we really need to glamorize unwed motherhood?  And once again, what about the children?

As far as I am concerned, there is only one Duck Dynasty:

Toho Muscovies, chilling at the old lakeside

Does anyone here remember the Loud fanily?  I do, but I'm a Lady of Certain Years, and the seventies were an interesting time for television ... what I remember was my thinking how embarrassing the whole thing must have been for this family, and why would they agree to do it?  Is there ever enough money in the world to exploit your children, or bring public shame on your family?  I guess so, but I just don't get it.  And now of course we can all look forward to "I Am Cait", a reality show which somehow cheapens the life-altering changes undergone by the former Bruce Jenner and gives unreasonable expectations to members of the transgender community.  Incidentally, kudos to the older Jenner progeny for refusing to appear on the new show.

Even when I'm feeling better, I have to bitch about something.  I also have a confession to make:  several years ago, during the worst of my insomnia, I could be found watching Dr. Drew's Rehab and My 600 Pound Life (okay, that one was scientific interest).. Once in a while I would catch an episode of Hoarders, just to assure myself I really wasn't the worst housekeeper in the world.

I did not cook today, but I have plans for tomorrow involving cuisine d' Italia by way of Brooklyn. That means getting dressed and heading to Publix.  Darn.

My garden is providing me with joy and vegetables:

These bougainvillea will grow like like they were bitten by a radioactive spider

Baby Ichiban Japanese eggplant. There are two other buds on this plant.

Future mammoth jalapenos

Hard to see, but there are two zucchini there

We started the garden relatively late in the season, but this is still Florida, so for the most part, if you plant it in the ground, it will grow.  Next year we will expand the planting grounds, make additional use of those fabulous railing planters, and will start earlier.  Front yard herb and vegetable gardens, one block from the courthouse.  Welcome to Historic Downtown Kissimmee.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ah! Sweet Misery of Life - Not My Grandmother's Cockapitzy

I woke up feeling like I was being eaten alive by fleas.  This can't be - we flea-sprayed the dogs and cat last night again, changed linens again, put flea collars back on, the house has been bombed - enough already.  And I have a panic attack, a bad one.  I am supposed to be having another test, an upper GI which requires a barium swallow, and I just can't.  Both of my arms hurt from needle punctures - I would make a lousy drug addict. I don't suppose it helps that I inadvertently ate a miniature Kit-Kat bar at around 5:00 this morning when I was not supposed to eat anything after midnight.  But Kit-Kat notwithstanding, I am in anxiety hell.  I am going to have to reschedule - twice in one week, I can't deal with this anymore.  It's almost laughable - I can't eat ice cream or drink milkshakes or frappaccinos and I'm supposed to swallow barium?  Can't do it.  I'm no hero, this sucks. I want my coffee.  I want to be able to take my medication.  I want to cook something - who cares if I can't eat it?  If the frakking endoscopy did not show any reason for the eating disorder, what is the upper GI going to show? That I had gastric bypass 12 years ago?  I think my PCP is the only one who got it right, when he said that somehow, the gastric bypass had become active again.  Fine.  I'll live with it.

My head is going to explode.  I am tired in every sense of the word.  And what the hell is going on with the cat?  He's acting totally weird.  First he goes to sleep in my night table drawer.  Then, he climbs onto the bed and goes to sleep right next to me.  Now, this is not behavior one expects from Anakin Skywalker, Darth Kitten, Feline Lord of the Sith and Occasional Jedi Knight.  Ira, yes - Ira slept so close to me, we were breathing the same air.  Ira liked to hang out on my night table so he could sneak a few Cheesy Puffs when I wasn't looking.  But Ira is gone, and Anakin, the Last Cat Standing, is acting totally out of character.

I probably don't feel as bad as Lebron James - the Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors by 8 points in overtime - but I don't feel anywhere as good as Stephen Curry.  Not even close.

Facebook is messing with my mind today.  All at once I see an article about caring for someone who suffers from anxiety - ha, my husband could give lessons on how to do that - then a post that today is Best Friend Day - and then because after all, it is Best Friend Day, this reminder of activity that occurred "On this Day", June 5, 2010: "Cindy, Hi, I'm back from the dead. How are you?"  A message from Bethe Lipper.  Perfect. I want to respond, "not so good, Bethe; can you do that coming-back-from-the-dead-thing again?  Because I'd really like to see you, talk to you, give you a hug.  I want to see pictures of you at Ashley's wedding, and the joyful look on Kim's face when she sees you again. I want everything to go back to the way it was before February 21, 2013 and if I do have to lose you again, I want there to be a proper goodbye, not standing in a cold, very old cemetery in Charlottesville adding a shovel of dirt to your grave."

Today is not a good day.  I am tired of Life expecting me to understand the incomprehensible.  I am tired of the rain mashing down my precious babied herbs and vegetables.  Cilantro is a lost cause.  Oregano is not looking too good either.  Crap.

Since everything is topsy-turvy anyway, I would like to say something nice about she-who-raised-me.  Although I've said terrible things about her, and let's face it, all of them were true, we didn't always clash.  Although I usually attribute my ability to cook to being self-taught, an inveterate cookbook reader who read and experimented, watched and listened and learned, I have never given my grandmother the credit she really deserves for having taught me the basics and having shown me that sometimes, the only way you can show your family how much you care for them is to feed them really good food.

This morning I was in a bad place, so I went downstairs and became a Crazy Woman with a Very Sharp Knife.  I chopped onions and bell peppers, smashed garlic, and slashed bacon.  I opened an endless array of cans and ripped hot dogs from the refrigerator.  In the middle of all this, I freaking remembered to recycle. I started pulling spices out of the cabinet. I measured nothing; that would have only ruined the effect. In just one morning, I lost all my cooking self-discipline and broke all my own kitchen rules (except the recycling).  What came out of this was what my grandmother would laughingly call a cockapitzy - yeah, sometimes she laughed - which was a sort of thrown-together combination of leftovers and other stuff that didn't quite qualify as a casserole.  I grew up thinking that casseroles were only for goyim; Gentiles had casseroles, Jews had cockapitzies.  At least Jews from Brooklyn, because I still can't confirm that the word is actually Yiddish.  I don't think they have cockapitzies in the Bronx.

This is a Pantry Buster, and while I have had some spectacular fails when combining the contents of my pantry with bits and pieces from freezer, fridge, and vegetable bin, this one was surprisingly good.  My grandmother would not have been caught dead using canned corned beef hash for anything, but the idea of using the baked beans in what is essentially a chili comes from something she had once told me about a recipe she had heard about from one of the alter kockers she played cards with before they all stopped talking to her.  Ah Mom, sometimes I miss you.  Not often, but sometimes.  This happens to be one of them.

Not My Grandmother's Cockapitzy - An Inspiration Nation Pantry Buster Chili

3-4 tablespoons butter
3 large dinner franks, halved crosswise, then lengthwise, then sliced
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 very large or 2 medium onions, chopped
4 baby bella sweet pepper, or 1-2 regular bell peppers, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans corned beef hash
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes

kosher salt, coarse black pepper
smoked paprika
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh thyme leaves
granulated garlic
chili powder
dried oregano
Raging River pepper blend and/or cayenne pepper

1 regular size can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large size can Bush's Country-Style baked beans, drained but not rinsed

1x2 inch piece of rind from parmigiano reggiano cheese

In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, melt the butter.  Add the cut up franks and cook until getting brown around the edges.  Add the bacon, cook for a few minutes for the pieces to separate and render some of the fat.  Add the onions, sweet peppers, and garlic.  Stirring frequently, cook until the onions are tender and your kitchen smells awesome.

Add the corned beef hash, breaking it up as it cooks.  Keep cooking and stirring until the hash is completely broken down and heated through.  Add the undrained tomatoes, breaking up any overly-large pieces of stewed tomatoes.  Now start seasoning, to your own taste.  Be generous with the black pepper, chili powder, and cumin.  Keep cooking and stirring until the seasonings are well distributed. Add the kidney beans and country-style beans, stir, add the parm rind, cover and simmer over low heat for an hour.

I guess this is best described as a cross between chili and franks & beans, with a walk through by corned beef hash.  Chili Cockapitzy, a ménage a trois.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Strawberry Fields Forever

Crap, is this a cooking blog or what?  I can't remember the last time I actually cooked something!

It is 1:30 and I am trying to eat breakfast - half a slice of the Almond Joy yeast bread, toasted to bring out the flavors of chocolate and coconut. Doesn't need butter (and I love my butter.)  Will it stay or will it go? Only time will tell.

I'm wearing a baseball cap now.  Baseball caps are cool. This one proclaims me a Carnival Cruising Diva, pink on white.

My ear worm lies quiescent today, giving me much-needed peace. It's not a pretty song and it does not reflect good thoughts.  While I'm not doing cartwheels in the kitchen, I'm also not befogged, bothered or bewildered.  I tire easily, but I've got friends and neighbors with Stage IV cancer, so at least for today, I'm going to forestall any bitching and moaning.  Besides, the NBA Finals start tonight!  My money is on Lebron (and if you know me, you probably know I have a 'thing' about gambling - I won't even buy a lottery ticket) because I like Lebron and because I would like the Eastern Conference to win for a change.

Today's news is funny - to me.  Kim Jong Un is getting fat.  At least now I know where my weight is going.  I always said I wanted to go back to Korea, but not the North, and not like this.  Bobby Flay got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and during the ceremonies, 'someone' had hired a plane to fly overhead with a fluttering sign spelling out "CHEATER".  I can only assume Stephanie March was upset because Bobby got a Hollywood star before she did.  (Ms. March denies any involvement in this stunt, but I'm sure there are others who would pay the price to "Beat Bobby Flay") I like Bobby Flay.  I met him, ever-so-briefly, at a Disney Food and Wine Festival a number of years ago.  He was between wives, and what I really liked was that he had his daughter with him.

Incidentally, Food Network is a really bad place to work and maintain marital bliss.  Most recently, the Neeleys (never liked them anyway), Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis, and Alton Brown have had long term marriages crash and burn. Earlier we saw Nigella Lawson and even the great (and I mean this sincerely, I adore this man) Emeril Lagasse have marriages fail while they were on the air.  The most famous marriage fail, however, involved a Food Network commentator named Donna Hanover, who co-anchored Food News and Views with David Rosengarten.  Well yes. I have been watching Food Network for a very long time.  

Today's inspiring question (and no, you still don't get anything if you get it right.  However, the Pioneer Woman is giving out rather pretty handbags). What was the name of Donna Hanover's ex-husband, from her Food Network days?  I'll give you a clue: Ed Koch said he was a "nasty man."

More funny news: Yoko Ono, that self-proclaimed artiste, has announced that she and Hillary Clinton were "intimate" (translation: lesbian lovers) back in the seventies.  Could this campaign get any weirder?  Sure it could - and has - as even more Democrats, seeing the chinks in Hillary's armor, are throwing their hats (not baseball caps, not fezzes, not cool) into the ring.  Oh, Republicans! I saw Lindsay Graham coming down the road, but George Pataki?  And am I the only person who gets creeped out anytime Carly Fiorina appears on TV? She reminds me of Rick Scott, and that's not good.  Who knew that Voldemort had a female counterpart?

Oh hell, now I've got an ear worm (but nothing is real):

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see

It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out
It doesn't matter much to me

Yoko Ono and planting strawberries in the same day?  Good thing this is one of my silly, giddy, quit-while-you're-ahead days (which I did, displaying the awesome wisdom that comes with being 62, I stopped after planting the strawberries, and left the bougainvillea and seeds for another day.  I got tired, and I owned it.)

I am going to cook tonight, one of those dishes that college students like to make because you don't need a recipe but I'll give you one anyway.

Change of plans.  This really grossed me out, and it doesn't take much to turn my stomach.  I'm going to have cheeseburger Pringles instead.

Let's finish this off with a pretty picture and a couple of opinions:

I don't care if Hillary is a lesbian, or bisexual, or bicurious. I do question her taste in women, as I have never liked Yoko Ono.  I also don't care if Bobby Flay cheated on his wife.  I'm still going to watch his shows, eat in his restaurants, and use his recipe for tamales.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Toho Muscovies

Northeast corner of Lake Toho, at just the right moment

Same ear worm, different verse ...

Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...

Another morning of tests and drinking odd fluids and having holes punctured in my arm.  Today it was not-too-nasty kool-aid, then the iodine injection and that freaky warmth.  This time I also had a distinct burning on the left side of my left breast, right where I'd had the fibroadenoma removed and replaced with a shiny metal clip.  Close my eyes, arms up, breathe deep and hold, breathe (as if I'd forget) and then nothing to show for the experience but a psychedelic pink bandage wrapped around my arm.  Why don't we get cats after a CAT scan?  Sort of a door prize.

Muscovy duck at Lake Toho

I needed much more than a door prize ... I have never had a reaction to iodine before, and I don't think this would qualify as an allergic reaction, but about an hour after I left the lab, I started to feel sick.  I had stopped at the lake on my way home and even got some good pictures of ducks, but then I rather suddenly had to head home.  Fortunately it's only a five minute drive, and once I got home, I headed straight upstairs.  I was in pain, and I cried. The details are unnecessary, but the last thing I remember before getting into bed was a very worried Romeo, checking to see if I was breathing.

I lost most of the day.  I know I had bad dreams.  When I finally did wake up, seven hours had passed and Romeo was still glued to my side.  I realize now that the heat reaction from the iodine was much more intense than I have previously experienced.

Two ducks discussing the cosmos

I have another medical test on Thursday; this time I have to drink that disgusting barium goop.  Good luck with that and I sincerely pray I don't throw it all up. In the meantime, while all these tests are being administered and precious blood drained from my body, I feel worse than ever.  I want to eat, I want to taste food, I want to be able to swallow and grab some of the nutrients, but I can't. 

We appear to be in a stand-off with the fleas.  A step in the right direction.

And I am going back to sleep.  It is the one thing I do really well.

Calico Muscovy duck. Yeah, I made that up.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Good Food, Bad Mood - Brooklyn Fried Chicken

I awoke in such a rotten mood that I hesitate to put any of my thoughts into print.  Some of it might have to do with the flea infestation we cannot seem to get rid of - yes, this is an old house and yes, I do have four dogs and one very pissed-off cat.  It may have something to do with the tasks I set for myself to do today, one of which involves studying a big packet of papers and forms sent to me by Human Resources regarding disability retirement.  It may have to do with the fact that the air potatoes have completely overtaken our hedges. There is also the inescapable fact that the new medication is not doing a damn thing to help me with depression, anxiety, and another other negative feelings that creep over me throughout the day.              

I have an ear worm.  I don't like it, I don't want it, but it's there.  The damn thing has so many verses it can go on forever, but this is the one that pinked me today:          

The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in

The pain grows it grin ...             

The news, the news - as bad as ever.  I am choosing not to say anything about the whole Duggar situation, because if I start, my head will explode. I also have nothing to say about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, except: good luck. Politics - the only person who hasn't thrown their hat into the Republican ring is me, at least that's how it feels.  Besides, I'm a Rational Anarchist, not a Republican.  Everybody is picking on Hillary, and that sort of pisses me off, because I plan on voting for her.  Listen to me, peeps - most of what politicians say during campaigning is at best, aspirational, at worst, a bunch of bald-faced lies to get the vote.  The only thing that matters is what he or she does once they are in office; in other words, voting is a crapshoot.  I'm betting on Hillary; your mileage may vary.

One of my new hibiscus presented me with a lovely yellow bloom this morning. And we picked up  two window box-type containers for planting strawberries.  If I have any energy left after frying the chicken (and venting my spleen) I will work on those strawberries.      

And I will follow the advice of my good friends, get the paperwork done and move on to bigger and better things.  More vegetables in the garden, perhaps.  Go back to school for my psychology doctorate, eh, not likely. Become a caterer.  Ho ho ho. Anything but go back to a precarious health situation with  intolerable stress and into a courtroom where a bully sits on the bench.

So - we flea-bombed the upstairs and will now pray for blessed relief.  The chicken is done, golden-brown-and-delicious.  At least I hope it is delicious; it's not like I can actually eat any of it.  Oh hell, I did taste it.  It's delicious. Definitely worth three days and the price of a quart of buttermilk.  Let me give you that recipe before I veer off on yet another rant.

Frying the first side; always start skin-side down

You may wonder why this is called Brooklyn Fried Chicken.  Well.  I have no idea.  It needed a name, I'm from Brooklyn, and there you are.  My grandmother-who-raised-me never fried chicken.  Actually she never fried anything. except possibly an egg. Frying was verboten in our house, like seeking psychiatric help.  Frying something that had been breaded was not only verboten, it was a shanda, a terrible shame.

It may look messy, but it is totally mise en place and easy to clean up.

Once I moved down south - or at least to Florida, which is as south as most northerners ever go, I could not get enough fried chicken.  Forget KFC or Popeye's, I had discovered Publix and after 23 years, I still think they make the best commercial fried chicken.  But I was determined to master this down-home staple (not my home, that would have been a shanda) and I worked my way through different versions from different southern cooks.  It's not difficult, it's just messy.  Frying is messy, let's face it.  Oh, and my version takes three days, did I mention that?

Well-seasoned chicken

I use Montreal Chicken Seasoning. It works perfectly, and I've tried different blends and combinations.  Look at the label on a container of the seasoning and you will see a goodly combination of spice, salt, and herb, including the flavors of orange and lemon, which are crucial to a balanced bite.

Brooklyn Fried Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut up (about 10 pieces - I cut each breast in half)
Montreal Chicken Seasoning
1 quart low fat buttermilk
Crystal Hot Sauce
self-rising flour
canola oil for deep pan frying
1 pound chicken livers (totally optional)

Frying the second side

First, season the chicken generously with the Montreal Chicken Seasoning.  Place the chicken in an aluminum tin, cover with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil.  Refrigerate overnight, 12 hours is good.

Next day, move the seasoned chicken carefully into a Jumbo (2.5 gallon) ziploc plastic freezer bag.  Set the bag into a baking dish or aluminum pan (in case of leaks or spills).  Pour in the entire quart of buttermilk and a good amount of Crystal hot sauce.  Just remember you want flavor, not fire.  Seal the bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Rotate the bag once or twice.

Once you are ready to fry, choose your burner and cover the rest of the stove top with aluminum foil. Lay some paper towels over the foil, careful to stay clear of the burner you will be using.  Fill an aluminum pan about halfway with the self-rising flour (there will be waste, sorry) and place it closest to your frying pan.  Don't season the flour.  Put the bag of marinated chicken next to the pan of flour. Lay metal cooling racks over the paper towels. (Scroll back up for the photo of the set-up).

Can you see the baby eggplant?

Now in your widest, deepest frying pan with straight sides (sometimes called a chicken fryer) pour in enough oil to reach one-third to halfway up the sides.  Over medium high heat, bring the oil up to 360 degrees.

Now, with your hand (or my preference, an extra long pair of tongs), remove the chicken from the marinade and coat it in the flour.  Don't worry about letting marinade drip off, and do let the chicken pick up a nice coat of flour.  Don't discard the marinade yet; just zip it closed and return it to the refrigerator Immediately add each coated piece to the hot oil (do this is batches, about four to a batch) and fry on each side until you have a gorgeous golden-brown crust on both sides.  If it seems that the oil is frying faster and hotter with later batches, lower it slightly.  With a slotted spatula, remove the fried chicken to the cooling racks.  Eat the chicken at whatever temperature you prefer.  The texture of the chicken will be divine, and you will be able to taste the different seasonings.

Gorgeous, delicious, Brooklyn Fried Chicken

Time to discuss those chicken livers.  We love chicken livers (except for Cory, who eats raw fish, eel, and ostrich).  I usually sauté them with onions, but I've been known to get in touch with my Jewish roots and whipped up a batch of gehakteh leber (chopped liver).  But Brooklyn Fried chicken livers are so good - how could they not be, they're fried? - it is worth firing up that pan one more time.  The best part is, you don't have to clean up in between.

Take a pound of fresh chicken livers, and rinse them in a colander under cold water.  Add them to the bag of reserved, refrigerated buttermilk marinade and put them back into the refrigerator for about two hours. Reheat the oil in the pan to 360 degrees, adding more oil as needed. Dredge the chicken livers in the flour, just as you did the chicken, and add them to the hot oil.  Fry 'em, rack 'em, snack on 'em.  If you don't care for chicken livers, just discard the marinade and the flour when you are done with the chicken.

Oh, and the answer to the question as to the identity of the actor who played the World Health Organization doctor in the movie World War Z?

Can't make these things up.  Peter Capaldi played the Doctor from W.H.O. No, really. The W.H.O. Doctor.  Ha ha, funny, yes?  Please tell me you get it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Am Yisrael Chai

My neighbor's crape myrtle in bloom

If you are anti-Zionist, if you are a proponent of the BDS movement, if you think that Jews have horns in their heads and are Christ-killers, please move on to another website.  I have something to say, and I'm probably going to offend you.

If you think this is an accurate map of the Middle East, please move along

But first - I saw an article on CNN online that serves as a reminder that zombies are real, and a Zombie Apocalypse is not just Max Brooks' idea of a bad day.

"It’s the stuff of nightmares – a newly-discovered wasp that turns cockroaches into zombies.

The Ampulex Dementor, named after the terrifying soul-suckers from the “Harry Potter” movies, is one of a 139 new species discovered in Asia’s Mekong Delta in 2014, according to a World Wildlife Fund report." (Fox News)

I don't know what tickles me more ... the whole idea of zombie cockroaches (I lived in a NYC apartment building for 3 years and I thought I knew everything about cockroaches), or the fact that they were named for a group of characters from the Harry Potter series (books, not just the movies.  Don't people read anymore?)

For those of you that think the scientists who chose that name were being childish or irreverent, why don't you tell me the name of the prototype for the NASA Space Shuttles?

And now the question that is on all of our minds:  What happens when a Dementor Wasp stings a  human being?

Hmmm ... apparently all the zombies swarm to Israel.

One more silly question before I move on to the serious business of Israel: what was the name of the actor who portrayed the World Health Organization doctor in World War Z?  (If you guess right, you get - nothing, absolutely nothing.  Who do you think I am, the Pioneer Woman?)

Marinating chicken

The chicken is in the fridge, bathed in a quart of buttermilk and a couple of big glugs of Crystal Hot Sauce.  I should probably fry it tonight, but I don't have the energy.  I went to Walmart and bought strawberry plants and that knocked me out.  I didn't plant them, or the peppers, tomatoes, and jalapeño, and I sure as hell did not plant the two blueberry bushes.  Thank God for James and Linda and my husband, who makes my gardening dreams come true.

Now, back to Israel, both the country and the people.  A while back, I was actually "unfriended" by someone who had known me for many years, because I posted a number of pro-Israel statements on my Facebook page.  At the time, I told him I was sorry he felt that way, and let it go.  But now that I'm feeling a bit more free with my feelings, I just want to let him know, albeit belatedly, that I always knew he was an anti-semite, and he did me a big favor, both by leaving the United States and by "unfriending" me.  No surprise he moved to the most antisemitic country in Scandinavia. Knock yourself out, Nisseman.  Israel will thrive and survive long after both of us are dead.

Jalapeño plant

Another item that has gotten stuck in my craw is the so-called BDS - boycott, divestment and sanctions - movement that is very popular on certain college campuses, and with a number of corporations, countries, and other short-sighted organizations.  Let me make clear that anti-Zionism equates to anti-semitism.  The Nisseman used to play that game, but I wouldn't play that way.  Neither did the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who is attributed with having said, "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism." 

More blueberries

If you are one of those people who are "talking anti-Semitism", two things - first, please read this quote from the late Jewish humorist, Sam Levenson:

"It's a free world.  You don’t have to like Jews, but if you don’t, I suggest that you boycott certain Jewish products like insulin, discovered by Dr. Minkoski; the vaccine for hepatitis, discovered by Baruch Blumberg; chlorhydrate for convulsions, discovered by Dr. J. Von Liebig; the Wassermann test for syphilis; streptomycin, discovered by Dr. Selman Abraham Waxman; the polio pill by Dr. Albert Sabin; and the polio vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk."

"Good! Boycott! But humanitarianism requires that my people offer all these gifts to all the people of the world.  Fanaticism requires that all bigots accept diabetes, hepatitis, convulsions, syphilis, infectious diseases and infantile paralysis."

"You want to be mad? Be mad!  But I’m telling you, you ain’t going to feel so good."

Darth Kitten 

Oh, and the second thing?  Unfriend me, please.  And on your way out, kiss my tiny Jewish heiny.  Please.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Priority of Tragedy

I spend a lot of time on checkout lines at the local Publix, Walmart, and BJs, and Waldbaum's long before that, and you know what that means - I read a lot of headlines from magazines and scandal sheets.  Don't laugh at me, you know you do the same exact thing.  Anyway, how can you avoid them?  They are the last thing you see before handing over your hard-earned cash (or sliding your debit card) for the cashier who is jaded from having seen it all.  I used to trust People magazine as the most accurate and least outrageous, but Time, Inc. must have fallen on hard times because People is now no better than Us Weekly.  Not quite National Enquirer.  Not yet, anyway.

First bloom from the new hibiscus at the front of the house

These days, I rely on the Internet if I want to read the news, because as I've previously mentioned, I am allergic to newsprint.  The best is the New York Times; everything else ranges from meh to feh.  It occurred to me this morning that Facebook has its own version of the scandal sheets, along the right-hand side of the computer and iPad screens.  Sometimes the headlines are indicative of important world events and are worthy of follow-up; others, not so much.  This morning, the juxtaposition of trending articles had me shaking my head in annoyance.


Sunset aligns with New York City Street Grid For Second Day On Saturday (okay, big deal, I'm sure I've seen this numerous times in the past)

Kendall Jenner
Model Posts Photo Wearing Revealing Shorts On Instagram (this is news? She flashed a butt cheek? Or are we talking about - dare I say? - camel toe?  Shudder.)

Beau Biden
US Vice President's Son Dies From Brain Cancer at 46, Joe Biden Says  (This is news, real news, tragic news.  The Vice President has lost a child, and there is nothing worse.)

My question is, why wasn't Beau Biden's story mentioned first? He wasn't just the oldest child of the Vice President, he was a former Attorney General for the state of Delaware, an Iraqi War veteran, a candidate for governor of his state, a prosecutor who rightfully targeted pedophiles and child abusers.

So Kendall Jenner, one more spawn of that disgusting Kardashian clan, posted a picture of herself wearing a pair of Daisy Dukes, and that is "trending" news?

(If you clicked on the Kendall Jenner article first, please don't tell me.)

Some of the vegetables - Japanese eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, Roma tomato, and okra

I'm not cooking today.  That's the third day in a row, and I think it will take another two days before I undertake any serious cooking.  I actually had to do something today I hate to do - throw out spoiled food.  Damn, I hate to waste.  I should have looked to freeze the extras while they were still fresh, but I had too many aluminum pans stacked in the fridge and I lost track.

The remaining vegetables to be planted - red and green bell peppers, cherry tomato, and jalapeño 

I am having to restrain myself.  Cooking is therapeutic, and I'm missing my therapy sessions.  And there are things I really want to make:  Brooklyn Fried Chicken, My Mother's Meat Sauce, and Chili Rellenos.  I don't know where that last one popped up from, but it's there at the fringes of my cooking conscience, along with mussels steamed in a wine-garlic sauce.  If anything, I will start on the fried chicken, since it is a three day process.

Whole cut up chicken, seasoned with Montreal Chicken blend

Yes, three days.  One to allow the seasoning to penetrate the chicken flesh, the second day to marinate the chicken in a mixture of buttermilk and Crystal hot sauce, and the third to flour and pan fry that tasty bird.  And then maybe my guys will have eaten all or most of the existing food stash.  Hell, I'm holding back on that fried chicken until they do.

Although ... well, I have to admit I am in the middle of smoking a bologna ring in the oven, inspired by something we first had at Thompson Brothers BBQ in Smyrna, Georgia.  It's been a long time since we've taken a trip to the Atlanta area - or Savannah - or Little Rock ...

Blueberry bushes

In the meantime, we've been gardening.  No digging today - I done wore myself out yesterday - but we snagged two awesome blueberry bushes, so maybe tomorrow or the next day.  That goes for the peppers, jalapeno, and cherry tomatoes as well.  And that should just about wrap up our growing season - not bad for a late start.  I am proud of my little Victory Garden - next year, even better.

Blueberries on the bush

For whatever reason, my supervisor and I were unable to connect on Friday, so "that" discussion has not yet taken place.

No matter what, I know I am moving to the next phase of my life, but for the first time, I don't know what that is.