Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Potato Leek Soup/Onion Soup

Thanks to 10 days in France, I have a new found love and respect for French cuisine. So I've dusted off my mostly neglected Julia Child masterpiece and started my way through it.

Now before anyone yells "Stolen Schtick! Stolen Schtick!", yes blog one's way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking has already been done and it will soon be a major motion picture.

I will make absolutely no attempt to make each and every dish in this book. But I will be working front-to-back and making those items that most interest me. Every couple of weeks I'll make something new and give you, my tiny handful of faithful readers that are still out there, my unique and borderline profane take on these classic recipes.

Potato Leek Soup [Potage Parmentier]
I seriously didn't expect much from this. All you do is simmer a pound of potatoes and a pound of leeks for 45 minutes -- then take an immersion blender to it. Add a little cream or butter in the end, if you want. It's so simple, so delicate, so delicious. For added deliciousness, a generous dollop of crème fraîche in the center of the bowl with some freshly chopped chives.

Next time out, I may sautée some bacon in with the leeks before simmering with the potatoes.

Onion Soup [Soupe À L'Oignon]
My gastronomic leader, Mark Bittman author of How To Cook Everything recommends that if a recipe calls for stock and you don't have any, just use water. Store bought stock will actually make the dish taste worse.

Good christ was this true.

I went the easy route and bought two quarts of Kitchen Basics Beef Flavor Cooking Stock, and it cost be a great soup. I didn't want to go to the trouble of rounding up beef bones and making stock -- huge mistake. The final product, after an hour of carmelizing the onions and producing a beautiful aroma throughout the house, tasted like it had come out of a can. What's the point of making homemade soup if it tastes like Campbell's???

Next time, I will use more onions and make my own stock.

Next up -- Garlic Soup

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Live blogging The Peach Pedal

Now that I am an annoying iPhone owner, I can share even more of my miserable existance.

6:55. Walking to packet pickup and the sweet smell of Coppertone fills the air. Which rinds me that I took my ultimate bag out of my car that contains my sun block. Hopefullly my French Riviera suntan will protect me.

7:01. Good Christ it took a long time to pound out that first post!

8:52 Only 44 miles to go. Feel strong. Attacking hills well. Meecifully rest stop is at the top of our biggest hill so far.

9:41. Tiring at the halfway mark. My early attacks are taking their toll.

10:32. It's hot 21 miles to go. Help me jebus!!!

11:32. Starting to cramp on the hills. But only 12 miles left

12:38. DONE!!!

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, July 10, 2009

Testing iPhone Blogging

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursty Thursdays: Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale

One of the great ironies of unemployment is that with all this free time there seems to be very little to blog about. Even when I attempt to force myself into weekly benchmarks, I find little time to keep up with them.

Well, let's try again and with something I'm pretty good at -- drinking beer. And with every visit to the Lakewood Whole Foods or Central Market, I scan the beers for anything new or interesting. This week's victim: Sierra Nevada's Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale.

I had encountered, for the first time, one of Sierra Nevada's Fresh Hop Ales back in November while working in the OC. It was one of many beers I found in the Tustin Whole Foods' Wall-o-Beer. These beers are brewed with fresh hops picked the day before brewing. I gave that beer a B+.

As with most pale ales, this pours out with a beautiful copper with a thick foamy head.

OK, enough of that beer nerd shit. Is it good???


A lot of hoppy beers balance their hoppiness with lots of malt. And what you get is a very sweet bitter pinecone. When it works, it works fabulously (see Langunita's Hairy Eyeball). And going into this tasting, I was not in the mood for an overly sweet beer. Just something nice to wind down the day.

With an ABV of only about 6.75%, there was not an over abundance of malt used to make this beer. So there was only a slight sweetness but a nice maltiness. The hops were relatively light for this style of beer from this brewery, but still enough to satisfy all but the hoppiest of hopheads.

Ultimately this may be an example of the right beer for the right time. But I'm still going to give it a:


Not good enough to make an A, but it was a little better (although honestly I don't remember) than it's predecessor. Yeah, I'm making this stuff up as I go along. But at least I'm posting something.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Corn Conspiracy

I had mentioned in my recent review of Killer At Large that I believed that Big Corn was destroying (admitted hyperbole) America. Here's a good article that helps support my hyperbolic hypothesis.

First, the primary job of the Environmental Protection Agency is, dare it be said, to protect our environment. Yet using ethanol actually creates more smog than using regular gas, and the EPA's own attorneys had to admit that fact in front of the justices presiding over the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1995 (API v. EPA).

Second, truly independent studies on ethanol, such as those written by Tad Patzek of Berkeley and David Pimentel of Cornell, show that ethanol is a net energy loser. Other studies suggest there is a small net energy gain from it.

The Great Ethanol Scam

Fourth, forget what biofuels have done to the price of foodstuffs worldwide over the past three years; the science seems to suggest that using ethanol increases global warming emissions over the use of straight gasoline
Third, all fuels laced with ethanol reduce the vehicle's fuel efficiency, and the E85 blend drops gas mileage between 30% and 40%,
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Onion Got My Name Wrong

clipped from

Awful Man Offers Witty, Acerbic Take On Everything He Sees

ROCKVILLE, MD—Local resident Alan Bower's particular brand of sardonic, no-holds-barred commentary about everything around him has firmly established the 31-year-old policy writer as an absolutely terrible person who is always ready to crack a joke, sources reported Monday.

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