Thursday, October 27, 2005

stick it to pinchy

Yeah so I have guilty pleasures too. One of them is Red Lobster. I know, it's the sizzler of lobster joints. What can I say, they make a killer top shelf long island that is cheeeep and you can gorge yourself on crab which, as someone who has netted and trapped crabs all his life, I can tell you tastes pretty much the same all over a coastal state. I hit up the red lob about once every three to four months (usually spurred on by E's doesn't take a lot to convince me).
Anyways, since I've given them so much of my money, I thought I would pass on the lack of savings to you, my fellow consumers.
What the hell am I talking about? Well, one of the best things at the red lob is their cheesey muffins. These little dealies are a perfect substitute for an app (and why buy their apps, they are wretched anyhow). Now you can make them at home, for I am about to drop the recipe on you! Read on:

Red Lobster Cheese Biscuits
Serving Size : 10
Preparation Time : 0:00 (???)
Categories : Breads Biscuits Cake Mix
Ingredients and amounts:

1 cup Milk
1/3 cup Mayo
1 tablespoon Sugar -- or 3 packages Sweet & Low
2 cups Self-rising flour
1/4 cup Kraft's American cheese food

Combine milk, Mayo, sugar and flour. Beat with mixer at high speed, not quite 1 minute until smooth and completely combined. Remove beaters. Use rubber spatula to streak the dough with 1/4c cheese food. Drop batterequally between 10 paper-lined muffin wells. Drizzle top of each with ts liquid margarine and dust each with a little garlic powder plus 1 scant ts additional cheese food. Bake 350~ 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and tripled in size. Cool in pan on racks for 30 minutes. Add only enough flour so batter drops from spoon.

I don't know what that whole 'batter drips from spoon' part is about, but maybe those of you who bake do.
I am also prepared to blow the top off of another of my fellow Americans' favorite forms of indulgement: the StarPuke's Frappucino. Sorry, I meant Starbucks, really, I did. Or was it Starfuck's? Who knows. I don't even drink coffee. But when I do, again, 3-4 times a year, it's the middle of a hot day and I've got to get something done. Ye olde frappucino cup helps the work go by.
Incidentally, WTF is the etymology of frappucino? I always thought it was just a corporate compounding of 'frozen' and 'cappucino'. Turns out, through my studies of dialectology, I've discovered that in many states people call milkshakes 'frappes'. Thus there is a third entity to this most unholy triumvirate of meaning. Pretty genius. There have been articles written recently in the Annual Review of Anthropology concerning their corporate speak (you know, how the employees, once they cross the threshold in the morning and don their green smocks, forget what small, medium, and large mean?) with predictable results.
Anyhow, on to the dishing:

Starbucks® Frappuccino®

Here's one that I get requests for all of the time,
and that you won't yet find in any book. This is a
clone for Starbuck's "Lowfat Creamy Blend of Coffee
& Milk" that you can now find in the all-too-puny
9 1/2-ounce bottles in most stores. Those little
bottles will set you back at least a buck, but this
Top Secret Recipes version costs a mere fraction of that.
Plus, the recipe actually makes enough that you can get
a pretty major caffeine buzz. Then, when you get down to
the "Tidbits" I'll tell you how to clone espresso with a
standard drip machine and ground coffee. Cool!

1/2 cup fresh espresso
2 1/2 cups lowfat milk (2 percent)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dry pectin*

Combine all of the ingredients in a pitcher or covered container.
Stir or shake until sugar is dissolved. Chill and serve cold.
Makes 24 ounces.


To make the "Mocha" variety:
Add a pinch (1/16 teaspoon) of cocoa powder to the mixture before

To fake espresso with a drip coffee maker and standard grind of
Use 1/3 cup ground coffee and 1 cup of water.
Brew once then run coffee through machine again, same grounds.
Makes about 1/2 cup fresh espresso to use in the above recipe.
Run a pot of water through machine, without grounds, to clean.

*This is a natural thickener found in fruits that is used for
canning. You can find it in the supermarket near the canning
supplies. It is used in this recipe to make the drink thicker
and creamier, and can be found in the original recipe. It does
not add to the flavor and can be excluded if you don't care so
much about duplicating the texture of the real thing.

Don't be weirded out by the pectin thing. Watching my mom and grandma making jam all those years and adding pectin to it, I can vouch for its lack of poisonous properties. Though if you use it you may grow to detest Sizzler and Starbucks.


So here is my second diary-style post in the seven months I've been doing TFP. Even David Byrne wrote about more than buildings and food. I think it's important to let you know why I'm not busting out the fat posts lately. The reasons are many. In short order I have a few things to do:
  • My linguistics seminar, now in its eighth week, is going to be led by the most junior person in the course next week: ME. Furthermore, it's a special session where we plan to review everything we've read and done up to this point. Silverstein. Ochs. Irvine. Briggs. This is just another of UC Berkeley's carefully crafted interviews for grad school. The course is led by the chair, one of the top minds in the field. I fuck up, I'm out of there. Teach says he wants each of us to prepare for 'at least three hours' before the seminar. Dude, I'm lucky if I have ONE hour to myself a day.
  • One day later, NSF, Wenner-Grenn, and NIH grant proposals are due. Now, I've done mock grants before but imagine if you can the gut-wrenching process of writing the personal statements alone. Tell them what they want to hear, but not so much so that you aren't telling the truth. Science it up or down depending on who you're applying to. Secure multiple transcripts and GRE scores. You know, with all that money you have.
  • Applications for PhD programs are due one afther the other over the next two months. I have one almost done. At sixty bucks a pop, plus 15 bucks to ETS for your scores, plus 10 to 20 for transcripts, plus all the money you lost not working during those grueling hours ofpreparation and it costs a lot just to want to go to grad school.
  • My publication. One year ago, I conducted field work in the Tahitian archipelago that could lead to a pretty good publication. I've translated it back to English and transcribed it but that's as far as I've gotten. This, the feather in the cap of any grad school applicant, still eludes me as a goal.
  • Oh, yeah. My thesis. Guess I should work on that. Any anthropologists/linguists out there that want to read it, give me a shout.
  • Relationships. Getting in to grad school is about massaging those relationships. You've got to forge them all over and then not let them fall away. Send cards. Smile at their brilliance. These people will be your coworkers for the next 35 years so you'd better get used to their quirks.
  • Lucky me, I go to a shitty school where the maximum reward per year is $500.00 . So, I also get to work full-time to support myself through all this.

Thus ends the whining. For all these reasons, I don't get to to to my cousin's cabin this weekend and whoop it up with my boys. Too bad, I had fireworks and firearms to contribute.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Hey all;

Last night we had an impromptu (read: unexpected) flash of genius in the tenpura pan. E was tired and didn't want to cook but she mentioned wanting zucchini. When I was a young'un I hated zucchini more than anything, but now I like it fine. Still, I wasn't up for just making some sort of stir-fry with them. I looked in the cabinet for my old friend, and there it was staring back at me on the first shelf...tenpura batter. Aaaaah yeah.

Now, the secret to good tenpura (aside from using a good oil such as peanut) is of course in the batter. You have got to keep that stuff cold if you want the finished product to have those little waving arms of crispy batter that they do in the restaurants. Thanks to Yoko for pointing this out to me. Now I keep my batter in the freezer when I'm not dipping into it, and I also have an ice cube in the mix just to help it along. Change the ice cube regularly to prevent the batter from thinning. Another measure of prevention against this (since the vegetables you're going to be cooking will be wet too) is to make the batter a bit stiff in the first place so it can handle the extra H2O.

It's no stroke of genius to take out vegetables and start battering and frying them. Naturally I cut up a homegrown kabocha and threw that in the mix, also present was an onion and the aforementioned zucchini. What was the real kicker though was that I started tenpura-ing halved serrano and jalapeño peppers. E was like to die when they came out; I think she ate more peppers than zucchini. I have tenpurad several uncommon vegetables and I would like to propose a CaliforniAsian fusion dish starring several of these: Gilroy elephant garlic, Santa Barbara Haas avocados, SoCal's Kabocha (yes, it's where Japan gets its Kabocha from) and the central valley's own Jalapeño peppers. For a base why not eat it with some Californian-grown hinode or calrose Japanese short grain rice?

An orthographic note: why am I writing it t-e-n-pura, you might ask? Don't Japanese restaurants spell it "tempura"?
You are correct. However, this is what I'd like to call an orthographic representation of an articulatory assimilative event. See, the word 'tenpura' is made up of two Chinese characters that the Japanese have appropriated for their own use: Ten ('heaven') and Pura (I believe it is a shortened form of "abura", 'oil', changing to /p/ from /b/ in a devoicing assimilation to the T...but I digress). So when you are saying 'tenpura', even when you attempt to say it with an N- sound, the various parts of your mouth begin to anticipate the bilabial P- sound you are about to make, and turn the N into another bilabial, M.

Anyways, the original pun was meant to convey that this tenpura gets a 10 from the American judges. Just ask Dr. Science.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

be very quiet...I'm hunting rillettes...

Your host has been most busy of late. I'm just stopping in to talk about the yorkshire puddings we made last night with some rabbit rillette from the fatted calf. God DAMN but they were good. E tried to insist that we only make 4 of the dozen puddings with rillette, but I persisted and we did 6/12 of them with it. She ended up eating two of the rillette ones because they were FAR SUPERIOR to butter. We still have to try manteca some time.

We polished off the puddings while watching the castle battle scene from Army of Darkness. Good times.