Monday, October 17, 2016

Movie of the Week, Part 1

Yes, these people are the spiders inside your bananas.

War notes

Civil war never 'just starts'.  It begins in phases. From a general discontent and elections - hotly contested elections. Economic downturns and violence in the streets. What shape the war takes as it goes from the electoral to the shooting phase is anyone's guess. All I know is that I am glad I have my family with me.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Art of Frying Chicken

Nothing beats home made fried chicken. If it's done right. When I was a kid, my mother made gloriously good fried chicken, and when she died no one did chicken in our house much after that. Our new caretaker tried, but her fried chicken was prepared by dipping chicken in an egg and milk wash, and then rolled oats and baked. The skin wasn't crisp, the breading was goopy and reminded me of breakfast. Underneath all that mushy oatmeal was pale and greasy skin. I hated chicken.

Fortunately, getting married and having your own family means a second chance at chicken. My chicken isn't fried. It's baked. But it is as crispy and golden as fried chicken. You might not even be able to tell the difference.

So what has prompted me to write about fried chicken? Ina Garten. I don't own any of her cookbooks, but I may have to get one. Fortunately, she blogs some fine recipes in addition to doing them on her show. Having said that, and reading through her recipe, I think I can do fried chicken much better, without so many processes. Frying and then baking chicken is a time waster. Let's simplify for a better "fried" chicken.

First off, only do thighs and legs. Whenever I roast a whole chicken, no one will ever eat the breast meat. It goes into soup or chicken salad, later. Chicken thighs and legs usually are sold in large sized packs and are three times cheaper than skinless, boneless breasts. For most people these days, price is all that matters.

Wash the chicken and pat dry. Trim any excess skin that hangs over the meat, using kitchen scissors. It is very important to have the skin only covering the top of the chicken since it produces a lot of fat, and when flipping the chicken over half way into the cooking, a good deal of the crust will come off if there is too much fat rendered.

Don't waste that skin, though. Render it. Believe it or not, you will find all kinds of uses for rendered chicken fat. It makes for some very delicious fried potatoes and adds a silky, chicken flavor to home made masa, which tends to be hideously bland. I always freeze freshly rendered schmaltz in mini aluminum loaf pans. It takes about 4 or 5 renderings to fill a pan. Then I remove it, wrap it in wax paper and put it in a freezer bag.  Set aside the cracklings or else eat them in front of your children. But just for household peace of mind, set them aside for adding into the gravy, later.

Here are the ingredients for the marinade and seasoning. Simplicity is the rule here.

First, season your chicken with a Cajun or Louisiana seasoning, which you can find aplenty in the grocery store. Basically, it's a combination of garlic salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Very simple. Season both sides of the chicken liberally and put into a larger bowl. Douse it with a Louisiana hot sauce. Just enough to cover it and make it red. Let that sit, covered on the counter for a half hour.

Dredge the chicken in plain white flour on both sides and set on a cake rack for the crust to harden up, not more than 20 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat a large, shallow baking pan in the oven as it heats to 400 degrees. Once it hits 400, leave it in the oven for about 5 more minutes so that the pan gets screaming hot.

Remove the pan and lightly spray with PAM and immediately place the chicken skin side down, alternating between legs and thighs. Work quickly. Don't crowd the pan. All sides of the chicken pieces need to brown.

Put it into the oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Turn each piece over and bake for another 20 minutes.   Turn oven off and leave for 10 more minutes before removing. The chicken will be as crisp as any fried chicken.

Once the chicken is removed, scrape all the drippings, including any crispy bits from the roasting pan into a heating iron skillet. If you rendered the excess chicken skin, you should have some fine cracklings.

Cooking on medium high, add to the chicken drippings a heaping quarter cup of flour. Stir until the flour has absorbed the drippings. Slowly add  about 2 cups of whole milk or half and half and some fresh black pepper to the flour mixture and stir with a whisk to avoid lumps. Stir in the cracklings just before serving. If the gravy is too thick, add some water to thin it down. Don't scorch the milk. This gravy is delicious on mashed potatoes AND biscuits.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

How To Delete Yourself From the Internet

A good place to start is with a Google search of your name to see if anything unsavory pops up. Remember that Google isn’t your enemy; it’s just the messenger. If you want to remove some embarrassing things you’ve said in a forum — or bad things that have been said about you somewhere — you need to get it removed from the original source.
Well, let’s just see what comes up for Mother Effingby, Jewel Atkins:

Jewel Atkins

Arrest Age : 28 Years Old
Gender : M
Current Age : 32 Years Old
Birth Date : 2-27-1980
Weight : 168 lbs
Eye Color : BRO
Height : 5’05”
Hair Color : BLK
Race : B
Birth Place : FL City : CRESTVIEW, FL
Charge 1
       STATUTE: MURD1000
Charge 2
       STATUTE: ROBB1001
       NOTES: J/BLACK 070908
Charge 3
       STATUTE: MURD1050
Charge 4
       STATUTE: MURD1000
       NOTES: J/BLACK 070908

Clearly, this may prove more difficult than I anticipated.

(Also posted at Mme Scherzo)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Truish Story Told Using Advanced Vocabulary.

Cross-posted at Mme Scherzo

When I was but a wee tomrig of two, I was a consummate gymnosophist, refusing to wear even the drugget my mother fashioned for me as a diaper. She would cry in horror, “You’ll die of the murrain if you don’t keep clothed!”
Of course, this was a situation that could not go on, and my mother prorogued my right to flit about in the altogether, while I, all of two, could only whimper in protest. Her words were more bitter than suckling upon a cruet of vinegar. Wefadged, she more forcefully, that I would not only wear the drugget, but also the outer attire she put on me at the beginning of the day.
Being small and unlanguaged, my tantrums against this injustice were an epopee.
Alas, my dear mother had no ear for my unreasonable rhymes and resorted to a most painful curative for my froppishness.
She promised me that if I would behave and wear my clothes, I would get pudding for dessert. 
I smiled, and fadged to wear my togs for the whole day, with the understanding that there was a reward of pudding for doing so.
And so I spent the day playing nangerly in my play yard, dreaming of pudding, mypeckled face a beacon of chocolaty hope for the after-dinner.
Alas, after-dinner produced the hard hoped-for pudding, and I, instead of being grateful, as all children should be, diffided that I didn’t WANT the pudding. 
Mother sat silently as I crossed my arms and put out my lower lip. “You WILL eat your pudding!” A war of attrition had begun and I was determined to win it.
So was mother, whose peckled face became a rash of seething red, and a fumidheat shimmered above her even redder hair.
Spilth! Went the pudding down my face, which had opened into a screaming maw of rage and chocolate.
She smiled in triumph, having won her battle with me.
But I won the war, for no sooner than I was baptized in pudding, I once again found myself happily disrobed.