Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Fuzzy NAVEL: Too Easy to WAIST (har har)

HedonismBot has been out of the loop for awhile, seems he lost his heart to a Starship Trooper. While not to exactly bore you with the niminy-piminy details of everyday HedonismBotic existence, it was a time of weepy defragging, alone in a Best Buy, clinging desperately to my Wham records.

Why do I find it hard to write the next line? I want the truth to be said.

Anyhoo, between the beeping and the booping, I, HedonismBot, spent the last three years perfecting the Fuzzy Navel.

It took me a lot of work and frantic flipping through ...For Dummies books, but I at last settled on a recipe for this most intriguing of vaguely girly-man drinks. To be completely clear, the last three years were a truly Campbellian exercise in The Eternal (Drunk) Hero, as I have slogged through Low, Middle and High Earths, Hogwarts, Duckburg and Eberron to learn the hoary secrets I am about to bestow.

But first, some backstory on the Fuzzy Navel.

Like HedonismBot himself, possessed of one of the fuzziest of navels, the Fuzzy Navel has attract something of a cult following. It usually involves two ingredients, mixed in equal proportions, to produce a shockingly smooth concoction that looks splendidly normal in the hand. To the unassuming outsider, the drunk of the Fuzzy Navel Cult might be assumed a health fanatic at best, a charmingly Dickensian eccentric at worst.

To produce the Fuzzy Navel, thou shalt procure:

Half glass of orange juice
Half glass of peach schnapps.

Notice that I didn't use the word "jigger" or "ounce" here. This is truly an instance of the Glass-Half-Full/Glass-Half-Empty exercise, which in most contexts is a terribly dreary exclamation of one's dependence upon the pop psychology of the Depression era.

And, while I'm loopy at 2:21 am after drinking a few of these marvelous things, it occurs to me that Professor Fuzzynavel would be a good name for a Hogwarts professor. Just a note, Mdm. Rowling.


Well, it just so happens that in my quest for the perfect Fuzzy Navel, I made a discovery.

Use only the Simply Orange with Mango.

I hate to be brand specific, but in this instance, this is absolutely vital. You will taste the difference. This I guarantee. Trust the Bot.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

When the Crumpets shall sound...

Ah yes. The Crumpet. If you're an American like me, you're not really sure what a crumpet is. Is it like an English muffin? Or is it a pancakey type thing? Can it cure my jock itch?

The crumpet, my dears, is a ubiquitous little biscuity thing that serves a manifold of purposes, from tea snack to breakfast bread, and can be relatively easy to manufacture in your own home. But we're not here to make normal crumpets. No sir.


Ladies and gentlemen, the Crumpets of the Damned.

I could transpose these over into metric, but that would be just a little affected, don't you think? Put on some Oasis, lisp like Terry-Thomas ("I ssssssssssay....") and strike up a fag (hopefully it's not Robert Mapplethorpe's corpse), and let's get to work.

3 T. warm water
1 pkg. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 C. milk
4 T. butter, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. flour
1 egg
2 drops red food coloring

EQUIPMENT: Four tuna cans, with both top and bottom cut off. We call these the "Poor Man's Crumpet Forms", and are also useful in a zillion other ways, so it's best just to have them already to go. Once these cheap little tools enter your life, you'll come up with a ton of ways to use them.

All right. You've got your ingredients, take your water, yeast and suger, mix them up until they're nice and bubbly, which generally takes about 5 minutes. You're watching biology in action, kids, and make sure you pause briefly and introduce yourselves to your latest pets: Yeast. Name them if you like, and perhaps separate a few out to teach to pit fight against other bacteria. I've got a Yeast that's up to Level 45, and I'm about to go to Indigo City to face the trainer there so I can get my Rainbow Badge.

While your yeasty friends are getting bizzay, heat your milk, your butter and your salt in a saucepan over low heat warm (not boiling... are you INSANE?!). Now, prepare to make your peace with God, because if yeast were people, you'd be Hitler. You're going to pour it into the yeast mixture, effectively killing all your newfound, trusted and wholly loyal yeast army in one fell swoop. You're a madman. But such are the consequences of responsibility. The crumpets must be completed, and if Pharoah could crush all those old Jewish women between pyramid blocks, you can do it too.

It's your karmic debt, buddy.

Add 1 cup flour to the yeast mixture and beat until smooth. No, don't just beat. There's got to be some serious Pol Pot style torture going on. Meditate on your rage, knowing that your crumpets will turn out deliciously evil. Beat in the egg, add the remaining flour, and mix until smooth. This isn't biscuit dough here. We don't want any floury lumps. Be a man. Drop in your red food coloring for a decadently eviiiiiiiiil deviation from the crumpetty norm.

Now, cover your batter with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. The rotting corpses of your yeast army will produce zillions of little air bubbles, which are vital to a good crumpet. You need bubbles. You must not tolerate the slightest deviation in your quest for bubbliness. Only the finest will do.

Go do something for an hour. Me, I like to masturbate. Nothing like beating my meat while making baked goods, you know. Mmmmmmm. I think I'll go masturbate right now.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: We would like to apologize for this digression, but you know that Julia Child did the same damn thing.]

NOW, after washing your hands (hell, maybe it would be kinkier to NOT wash your hands... it's all you, buddy), stir down the batter and let it rest for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt your remaining butter in a saucepan. Brush the bottom of a skillet with it, and get ready to ROCK. Brush the butter into a skillet, and pull out your crumpet dough. Brush your tuna cans on the inside with butter as well, and place in the skillet. Heat your skillet up on medium heat, and then dump about two tablespoons of batter into each one.

Cook your little crumpet pals for about 2 minutes, until the tops are bubbly and the bottoms are a golden brown. Pull the tuna cans off the skillet and pop out the crumpets (here's a chance to use your nifty new silicone oven glove, which I know you have) and lightly brown the bubbly side of the crumpet.

These fellers are best served hot, as they tend to go a bit doorstoppish if allowed to cool. But if they DO cool, no prob, bob, because you just need to microwave them a bit and they're good to go. Crumpets are TERRIFIC for freezing ahead of time, and are one of the few breakfast breads that tolerate the practice well.

Now... you want something fun to put on your EVIL crumpets, and while butter would do, you're in for something so vicious and sinful that Aleister Crowley himself would stand up in his grave and take notice of your aplomb.

You don't want butter... you want Devonshire Cream.

Unfortunately, Devonshire Cream is nigh impossible to get in the States (something about "pasteurization" or some such rubbish... Edsel Ford never drank pasteurized milk, and look how HE turned out). Thankfully, there are ways around this problem, with this Faux Devonshire Cream recipe.

3 ounces Philly cream cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
13 grains of salt (that's right... count them out. It's actually somewhat vital, and has to do with chemistry, but I don't know the complete reason. Just do it.)
1 cup of the heaviest cream you can find.

Mix the cream cheese, the sugar and the salt together, then whip in the cream until it forms the "stiff peaks" you see in a meringue pie. Put it in the refrigerator for an hour and then parcel into those little Gladware sauce cups... make sure you give whatever you can't eat in a day out to your friends, because this stuff doesn't really keep all that well. Your friends should thank you for it, and if they don't, join the Moonies and get some new friends.

Crumpets and Devonshire cream... two great tastes that taste great together. But if you're not into the Devonshire Cream, you can always make the Sinn Fein McMuffin, which involves frying an egg in your little tuna cans (McDonalds' little secret they don't want you to know about), and serving on a crumpet with some ham and American cheese. Crumpets are far superior than English muffins for egg consumption.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Garum Scarum

The study of history is a fascinating subject. While Americans are a mixture of many, many societies, we have absorbed a lot of things from the ancient world, most notably Rome. We are a surprisingly similar people, especially in the food department. Ancient Rome had an obesity problem just like we do, and they invented (or replicated) most of our favorite foods, including hamburgers, hot dogs, the traditional Thanksgiving roast (granted, it was peacock not turkey, but they're very similar birds), and even developed a love of sweets of all kinds, and most notably a cheesecake made with honey instead of sugar.

Still, things they liked are a bit different from what we have now. Take, for example, the Roman ketchup: Garum.

Please, take it. Take it and take it far away.

All over the Mediterranean, ruins of large, basin shaped structures can be found, with various large pits in the ground the size of large cisterns. It was here that garum was produced. What was garum? Garum was a sort of fish sauce, made by mixing various dead fish with salt, various herbs and spices, and a little bit of wine.

We're told by Roman cook Apicius that garum was a pungent, flavorful sauce, and he used it in nearly all of his recipes. Cicero loved it, and Martial wrote "Accept this exquisite garum, a precious gift made with the first blood spilled from a living mackerel."


Gargilius Martialis (Martial), De Medicina et de Virtute Herbarum:

Use fatty fish, for example, sardines, and a well-sealed (pitched) container with a 26-35 quart capacity. Add dried, aromatic herbs possessing a strong flavor, such as dill, coriander, fennel, celery, mint, oregano, and others, making a layer on the bottom of the container; then put down a layer of fish (if small, leave them whole, if large, use pieces) and over this, add a layer of salt two fingers high. Repeat these layers until the container is filled. Let it rest for seven days in the sun. Then mix the sauce daily for 20 days. After that, it becomes a liquid.

Mmmmmmmmmmm.... doesn't rotting fish goop sound DELICIOUS?

One time in high school, we tried it. We made a small batch, and it actually turned out (surprisingly) tasty. We came up with a bunch of things to do with it, which I'll describe in a bit.

The thing is, making the shit stank. My neighbors hated me. It was some foul smelling, but tasty stuff, and I knew I could replicate it with simple household goods. I got to work.

You will need:

A quart of grape juice (the good stuff premixed... if you can get it organic, use that)
Two tablespoons anchovy paste
Oregano, dill, coriander, basil (a little goes a long way here, but you definitely want more basil than anything else)

Put the quart of grape juice in a kettle on the stove. Boil it until it's about one-tenth of it's original volume. Dilute the anchovy paste into the juice, and add the herbs. Stew for a bit (5-10 minutes at most) while covered, and then QUICKLY bottle it. You should have enough for a family sized supply, but make sure it's ALWAYS refrigerated, and throw it out after a few weeks.

But now that you have it... WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT?!!

Try the Roman Hamburger!

Pound of GOOD ground beef... if you can get ground veal, use that.
Pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig of basil
Your freshly made garum
Enough ciabatta rolls

Mash the garlic, chop the basil, and crunch the pine nuts. Put in a few tablespoons of the garum into the meat, and then add the garlic-basil-pine nuts. Form the meat into healthy sized patties, and grill over a wood fire. Serve the Roman Burgers on top of the ciabatta rolls, and eat while watching "Caligula", then see how long you can keep it down. Serve with chianti or some other wine served with a basket on the bottle.

Garum has other uses, too. Historians debate whether or not the Romans knew of pasta, but they know they certainly did know of gnocchi-like dumplings, and it's not hard to imagine them rolling them flat and boiling them. Marco Polo's "discovery" seems a little farfetched, unless the Dark Ages really were that dark. I don't believe it, myself.

Get yourself some really good pasta, and put some of your garum on top, with some shredded parmesan on top. You've got yourself a fine meal.

Got steak? Garum is a terrific steak sauce. Got pita? Garum and some shaved pork make terrific little pita sandwiches. The options with garum are endless. It sounds truly awful, but just make up a batch and trust me on it. You'll enjoy it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Monty Python and the Sangrial

Originally Posted by Guy VERSION 1.5
I once had thai sangria and the thing was, it was really sweet. I never had a wine that sweet. How the hell do i make that?

Sangria is a fortified wine, usually a red wine mixed with a pulpy citrus juice, like orange or lemon, but sangria is a lot like barbecue sauce: it's one of the few recipes where individuality is not only encouraged, but expected. The word "sangria" translates to "holy blood", and if corrupted slightly to the English language, you get "Holy Grail". So all that time, Indiana Jones was looking for THIS RECIPE. Yay me!

Sangria is basically a way to take a shitty wine and spruce it up for company, especially when that company is 300-400 violent Italianates wanting to ask you for a favor on your daughter's wedding day. Get yourself something that comes in a gallon, Rossi is perfectly acceptable, and make sure it's a deep red, like a merlot or a cabernet (don't worry, with sangria it doesn't matter if it's utter swill... all that matters is the alcohol content and the color).

1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz)1 Lemon cut into wedges
1 Orange cut into wedges
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Shot brandy (ever wonder what that shit is good for besides hanging below the necks of St. Bernards? Here you go.)
2 Cups... and here's the secret... GINGER ALE.

Eschew the recipes asking for 7-up, and demand naught but the best.

Now, you've got the basic recipe. Want to deuce it up? Want to live life on the WILD SIDE? FLY INTO THE DANGER ZONE?! Drop the Ginger Ale and add:

1.5 tsp Hot sauce
1 Shot of Rum (Bacardi 151 is the best bet)
1 Bottle of Coca Cola (Coke works here while Pepsi does not... it's the citrus syrup element that does the trick).

But Sangria isn't all about wine. Sangria is more of a state of mind. Want Thai Sangria? We can oblige. They don't have grapes in Thailand. Those fully functional, anatomically correct Azns have figured the following out, when they're not shooting ping pong balls from their wa-was. A basic Thai Sangria recipe is as follows:

Peach Schnapps – 1 shot
Triple Sec – 1/2 shot
7-Up/Sprite – 1 shot
Orange Juice/Lychee Juice – 1 shot
Singha (a brand of Thai beer... strictly optional) - fill to top
Garnish – lemon/lime

The alcohol content here is probably a lot greater by ratio than the traditional European sangria recipe, but you're on your own. I've not tried it, give it a shot. I'll stick with the rum and coke.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

May the Forks be with you...

Originally Posted by TV's Outrider
How are you supposed to hold your fork and knife whilst eating steak?

It depends on which country you live in, and which social class you belong to.I'm not making this up.

Dig this:

In Britain, the traditional upperclass way to eat a steak is knife in right hand, fork in left hand, prongs down (upside down) as you put the little piece of steak in your mouth silently, perhaps between comments on cricket and Prince William's abs. On the Continent, it was polite to use the tines upwards, pronging the little food bits delicately. Imagine you're discussing Proust and the failure of the Paris Commune.

Of course, if you're a lower class brute, none of this applies to you, and while you're at it, feel free to not even bother cooking your steak. Hell, don't even kill the cow first.

The Continental Fork transferred over to the United States, kind of, and Americans almost universally use the left hand for forking and the right hand for kniving. The twist in America, of course, is that we don't flip our forks upside down, and we've added an extra bonus level for our own amusement. This leads to a few dos-and-do-nots that Emily Post has left us with.

When eating steak, it is polite to slice up little steak bits a few at a time, with the knife in your right hand. Then you should place the knife down, switch fork to the right hand, eat the steak bits, and continue until the conversation on the Knickerbockers versus the Senators is raucous enough to allow you to pick up the knife again.

Etiquette, however fun it is to read about, is rarely so easy to understand, but the steak rule is pretty easy. The point of American etiquette is that the knife could theoretically kill you at any time, so you are supposed to eliminate any opportunity to allow it to do so.

Here's an added bit of steak etiquette: however much you want to do so, no matter how dry the steak is, no matter how damn much you paid for it, NEVER ASK FOR STEAK SAUCE. The cook himself is supposed to provide it to you, and only if he's apologizing for how shitty the cut is. You are certainly allowed to ask for a refund afterwards, and you are well within your rights to withhold a tip or send a sternly worded letter to the folks at Outback Family Restaurants. But if A-1 isn't on the table, for the love of pete, don't ask for it. You are insulting the cook, you are insulting the waitress, you are insulting the fucking cow.

That said, rare, rare, rare.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Originally Asked by Captain Charisma
What's the proper way to make a white russian? All these internet sites say something different.

The answer to this conundrum is simple.

But first, we need to ask a different question. "Why make a White Russian when I could go to the club (or cult movie fanboy infested bowling alley) on the corner and buy one?"

A White Russian is very simple to make, because it relies on three ingredients: vodka, Kahlua and milk.

Three parts vodka (1 1/2 shots)
Two parts coffee liqueur (1 shot)
Milk or cream or half and half to taste

I'm personally fond of a light, light, LIGHT milk addition. The drink itself is fine without the milk. The milk is there for the punning name (and if you don't get the pun, go read yourself a book on the Bolsheviks). That said, it's not my favorite drink.

As far as polite society goes, White Russians are simply verboten, along the line of a Blue Hawaiian or a Chocolate Choo-Choo. Be a man and drink some whiskey, you pussy. If you still want something sweet, you can't go wrong with the White Lady.

The White Lady is a cocktail made of

2 shots gin
1 shot lemon juice
1 shot Cointreau or triple sec
Shake or stir with ice.
Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

White Ladies are great because the very delicate flavor masks the (significant) alcohol content. My suggestion is to stop getting your cocktail recipes from John Goodman movies and start getting them at the old fogey bars outside the state capitol... find yourself a tenured Senator, offer to buy him whatever he wants, and let the good times roll, baby.