I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why am I not a Chef?

I had my punchy leftie post for the week.

And I surprised myself by being as smart as I was in college in my comments. Really, I used to be a very, very smart cookie. There are times now I read things I wrote a long time ago, and I think, "Man, that person really knows what they're talking about!"

::entering an Aside, and then we'll rejoin my train of thought.::

And then I remember it was me that wrote it. There are three such pieces from college that I look back on and am truly proud of. The first is a thirty-page paper analyzing the increase (or decrease? I don't remember) of political bias is Newspapers through the 19th Century with the advent of the telegraph. That was a sick paper. The second was an article I wrote for Creative Non-Fiction about the death of my grandmother, and the snapshots that flickered through my head as I stood by her grave burying her. The professor asked me if he could use the piece in future classes as an example of the perfect result of the project. Of course I said yes. The third paper was a paper analyzing the evoloution of Floral Imagery from religious to sexual through the works of Van der Weyden, Fragonard and O'Keefe, that I wrote for a botany class, and had to weave botany - plant structures, latin names, etc. in with the analysis. I got a 98% in that class...and didn't have to take the final because I did so well on everything else. (FOR THOSE OF YOU GOOGLING BOTANY 240 AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON, TAKE THE CLASS, THE PROF. IS AMAZING).

Okay... but here we are.

I should have been a personal chef. I was very close to going to culinary school instead of going to college. I've never failed at making anything I've set out to make. Indeed, the one flaw I have in the kitchen is impatience. And I'm getting over that by scaling down my own confidence in my inside "timer" when I'm cooking, and I set the one on the microwave to tell me how many minutes have elapsed.

But I'm a pretty sick cook. And if I wasn't so fucking exhausted by the time I churned out my dishes, I'd be a good food arranger. That, I will admit, I am not. Granted, I am really just starting to amass the platters and utensils to serve food attractively, but by the time I'm done cooking something, it's like "Who cares what it looks like, it'll taste amazing, and I've been standing for four hours."

(Because never, have I ever put together a menu of food that's actually easy and quick. Even if I make spaghetti, I have to make the sauce that goes with it, and I resist the urge to hand roll the pasta...)

And now that I've overcome the "I'm tired." stage of coming home from work, and now that I've found that cooking is a good excuse to start getting drunk by myself every night, I cook.

Tonight, for dinner, I had Saltimbocca alla Romana; the recipe I saw Tyler Florence make this weekend on Food 911.

It is fucking tasty. Here's the recipe, with my comments in parentheses in the text.

4 (5-ounce) thinly sliced veal cutlets (scallopini)
4 slices thinly sliced prosciutto
8 fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dry white wine (I used a French sauvignon blanc -- and you should use more than 2 tbsps, use a generous splash)
1/4 cup chicken broth
Lemon wedges, for serving

Put the veal cutlets side by side on a sheet of plastic wrap. Lay a piece of prosciutto on top of each piece of veal and cover with another piece of plastic. Gently (Fuck gently, pound the bitches) flatten the cutlets with a meat mallet (using the pointy side), until the pieces are about 1/4-inch thick (Make it thinner, they shrink up while cooking) and the prosciutto has adhered to the veal. Remove the plastic wrap and lay a couple of sage leaves in the center of each cutlet. Weave a toothpick in and out of the veal to secure the prosciutto and sage. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to combine. Dredge the veal in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter and in a large skillet over medium flame. (Get it hot, so the butter starts singing) Put the veal in the pan, prosciutto-side down first. Cook for 3 minutes to crisp it up and then flip the veal over and saute the other side for 2 minutes, until golden. Transfer the saltimbocca to a serving platter, remove the toothpicks, and keep warm. (I put it on a serving platter that had been heating in a 200 degree oven).

Add the wine to the pan, stirring to bring up all the delicious flavor in the bottom; let the wine cook down for a minute to burn off some of the alcohol. Add the chicken broth and remaining tablespoon of butter, swirl the pan around. (Reduce it until it's slightly thickened - a hair less than spoon-coatingly thick) Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the saltimbocca, garnish with sage leaves and lemon wedges; serve immediately.

So - that was dinner for me tonight, along with a boston lettuce leaf salad with lemon and oil dressing, and two glasses of wahne.

Other recent dishes have been Corn chowder, mini baked zitis with homemade sauce... and other things I don't really remember right now.

For a single, 26 year old guy, I eat pretty well when I'm left to my own devices. Much of my cooking is simply "Oh, what do I have right now that I have to use up?"

Still, I should start writing some of it down. My chili is pretty amazing, but for the life of me, I couldn't tell you how to make it unless I was standing in front of my stove throwing a dash of this in and a good six shakes of that in...

So, maybe. Maybe someday when the word isn't my passion, I'll take my fancy new set of knives and pursue food... another one of my babies...

You know what I hate?!

Toilet paper.

It's like there's no happy medium.

There's the fluffy kind, that shreds into dingleberries, and there's the thin-ply variety that's like using waxed paper, and completely unsatisfying.

But if you go back to the dingleberry kind, that also makes you feel sort of awful, because it shreds.

I think bidets are the way to go; as I don't have one, showering is usually my elected course of action.

And it takes up a lot of time... showering when I get home from work.

Why must we poo? Why can't we just hack up pellets like owls?!

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I enjoy being anonymous.

On some of the blogs I frequent, occasionally, when someone's being an ass, I slip out of witty, quippy "SuperBee" character, and dive in to what I'd actually like to say in comments. Thank goodness for the anonymous feature.

I did it recently on a Blog I'm addicted to. I enjoy doing it. It's good practice for me to prove someone wrong, and watch them pull the "YOU'RE ON A TANGENT!" defense. No, I'm not on a tangent, I'm just attacking the argument that I'm instantly drawn to as wrong.

Frequently, Anonymous comments (not mine) are drive-by bashings laden with racism or poorly-constructed thoughts.

Mine ain't like that, but I get to say what I want to say and attack ridiculous characters with their own idiocy or hypocricy without fear of repurcussions outside the "blogosphere."

I feel like I have a pretty distinct writing style, (I use a lot of commas) so now that I've admitted this, Go! Go forth and hunt for comments!

Lower your goddamn flags.

Proving once again that Miami isn't part of America...

I imagine that everywhere else in the country, flags are flying at half-staff.

Not here.

I can see four from my window that are at full mast.

A president died. Lower your flags, morons. Aren't they supposed to be down for at least a week?