Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It ain't RC and a Moon Pie...

While the Big Shamu doesn't drink alcoholic beverages, she does enjoy the caffeinated sweetness that is soda pop. You can count her in the Pepsi camp unless someone happens to offer up the best soda experience in the world - the "Tiny Real Glass Bottle of Coke". Just the right serving size and when served icy cold, it's lip smacking good.

But the soda world isn't made up of just Coke and Pepsi products. There's a whole smorgasbord of international fizziness out there and Big Shamu wants in.How could you not want a Thums Up? This little gem can be found in India.Look again at the can folks. Jamaican Irish Moss Banana Drink. I'm guessing this one is usually consumed after 4:20...Korean kids have it so cool - they can choose from, among others, a Hamni Blue Hawaii soft drink that is not only a tongue staining shade of blue; there's also a free toy in the cap!And what if you're not feeling like a Blue Hawaii? Well, how about an Assi brand "Sac Sac Grape" soda? Mmmm...Assi Sac Sac!!This Guatemalan offering sounds a wee dirty with it's Tiky Piña hanging out.And I don't care how this one tastes...I just love the moniker - "Chubby Bubblegum". New porn name anyone?You didn't think I'd forget a little something for the Java Junkie, did you? Coffee soda. And the added bonus? It's Italian!.

For more offerings in the wide world of soda pops visit Delicious Sparkling Temperance Drinks.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Surprise" inside?????

Exactly...Surprise!!! It's a freakin' potato!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Are you a Cheese Wiz?

The Java Junkie is happy to report that she received 18 out of a possible 20 on the cheese quiz, answering all but the "Velveeta" and "canned cheese spray" questions correctly. How's your cheese I.Q.? Take the quiz, then let us know your score!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stop eating my soup!

Now that dire economic times are upon us, we must do our utmost to ensure that the comestibles upon which our hard earned money is spent do not fall into foreign hands... I am speaking, of course, of lunch theft.Lunch thievery, I suspect, has been a problem since the first human tied a bit of hide around a chunk of mammoth jerky to be consumed during a quick break from hunting, foraging and dragging his or her woman around by the hair. And as long as there are those thrifty and thoughtful enough to bring their lunch from home, there will be those ballsy enough to consume said lunch without hesitation or remorse. But fear not, there are solutions...Pack a lunch that is just too weird to steal. I'm not sure how appealing it would be to snag a lunch that has the ability to stare you down. Back in the day, it helped to have a mother that packed a lunch that no one else would eat. Alice Waters started her daughter Fanny off right. Fanny remembers how she'd carry "a 10-pound lunchbox" to school, filled with Alice's big salads topped with prosciutto or fresh mozzarella, macerated fruit for dessert and linen napkins. "I never got teased," Fanny says. "Most of my friends were envious." I never had that problem. My mother was of the Tony Bourdain "Anything Goes" school of lunch thought, providing me with big thick beef tongue sandwiches on dark pumpernickel bread, dressed with a hearty mustard. Trust me, no one ever asked for tradesies...(Psssst! Click on my tongue for a tasty recipe!)Of course, you can always let the lunch container itself be your line of defense...This plan works especially well if you know someone who can get you some "lunch bags" that no one in their right mind would explore... But if all of these suggestions fail, there is always one tried and true recipe for success...That's right, I'm talking about the ever popular "Ex-Lax Brownie". Now mind you, it's not an instant fix, but once word of what happens when folks eat your cooking gets around, not only will your lunches be left untouched, but you'll also never get stuck in the dread office pot-luck loop again!

I hope this has been helpful to those of you who bring their lunch (or have ever considered stealing mine...) Carry on!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Top Design highs and lows...


Right. Ron Jeremy called. He wants his moustache back.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An evening with Anthony Bourdain: Not your average Kansas City Tuesday...

To you, these may look like a blue plastic wrist band and a couple of pieces of ribbon. But in actuality, they are Golden Tickets to see this man......up close and personal. Yes kids, Tony Boudain was in Kansas City and the Big Shamu was front and center for every moment. A full sixty minutes on a slow Tuesday night. The man is amazing. He was funny, sharp and snarky. No notes, just his thoughts on what a sweet gig his life has become - A teevee pitch to some teevee money people that goes something like this: "Here's the show - I travel around the world to exotic places and eat exotic food. You have a camera crew follow me around and you pay for it all." Why sure Mr. Tony, we would love to...sign here!Television foie gras. And before you ask, yes the warthog anus was the worst and yes it did make him very sick. But it's also his philosophy that you can't refuse. This is all the food the hunters of the warthog have and they are giving it to you, how can you say no?

What else did I learn? Tony has been to Kansas City before and knows this is a barbecue town. He even went out on a limb and named his favorite joint - Oklahoma Joe's - a little place that pumps out ribs and burnt ends from a remodeled gas station garage (sorry KC Masterpiece, you didn't even rate a mention). And he's right, it's excellent barbecue.While he recognizes that KC does barbecue like Debbie does Dallas, he also noted that there are some things KC doesn't do...like deli and bagels. Nice try, Tony - when in KC, stick to the barbecue.One of the questions from the audience was "Who dropped more F-Bombs, Tony or Gordon Ramsay?" Tony demurred to Ramsay, who he claims is a professional F-Bomber while he [Tony] is just a hobbyist. And however much Tony may enjoy Ramsey and Kitchen Nightmares, he HATES Hell's Kitchen. "Does anyone really believe any of the idiots that win the prize actually lead one of Gordon Ramsay's kitchens?" No, Mr. Tony, we don't believe.

And Top Chef? Well, when it comes to that show, Tony is a self-admitted FanBoy. He said Hung deserved to win, as did Stephanie. He also said that the Marcel incident was disgusting and that, while Marcel might have been annoying, he could also cook some really good food. And don't even try to persuade him that anyone, let alone producers, could ever sway Tom Colicchio into making a judging choice other than best or worst food on any given episode. No siree, the Top Chef FanBoy is actually quite passionate on that point.

But the night wasn't just about Tony talking on stage. There was also the secret backstage talk (ribbon pins) before the private party at the Bristol (blue wrist bands only). Which leads us, my dear sweet TC Crack Monkeys, to some rather unpleasant news. Father Tony will not be a part of Top Chef, Season 5. It seems that their shooting schedule conflicts with his "No Reservations" shooting schedule and there you have it. I'm already depressed.

It was also here where Mr. Tony graciously allowed all sorts of folks to have their pictures taken with him, such as Amanda of The Test Kitchen (who helped me score my Golden backstage ticket).Once all the flashes were snapped it was on to the Bristol, KC's best homegrown seafood restaurant, where the "Blue Wrist Band" crowd had already put a major dent in the food.Do you blame them? Meanwhile Mr. Tony was parked at the bar while his adoring fans lined up to have him sign books.I'm not sure it was intentional but the place at the bar where Tony was parked was right underneath this light fixture. Subtle hint?You decide. Still there was food to be knoshed.Salmon and capers is always good. How about an oyster shooter?This baby had enough kick to make the Java Junkie smile...it's not very often you get nice, fresh oyster in Kansas City.

Yes, all in all it was a wonderful night. This is a man who lives life by a self admitted "I don't give a shit" philosophy and by all appearances it's working out marvelously.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

ARE YOU A TRUE OMNIVORE?

Do you consider yourself a bold and venturesome eater? Think you could give Andrew Zimmern a run for his money? The following list of foods ranges from the mundane to the obscure...Give it the once over, then let everyone know just how audacious your taste buds are!

1) Copy this list onto your blog, including these instructions.
2) Mark the items you’ve eaten with a "+".
3) Mark any items that you would never consider eating with a "-".
4) Let us know when you've posted the list, so we can compare!
5) Have fun!

1. Venison +
2. Nettle tea
3. Steak tartare +
4. Alligator +
5. Black pudding +
6. Raclette +
7. Natto
8. Carp +
9. Borscht +
10. Baba ghanoush +
11. Calamari +
12. Pho +
13. Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich +
14. Allo gobi
15. Dirty water dogs from a street cart +
16. Epoisses de Bourgogne
17. Black truffle +
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes +
19. Steamed pork buns +
20. Green tea ice cream +
21. Ugli fruit +
22. Fresh, wild berries +
23. Foie gras +
24. Gumbo +
25. Head cheese +
26. Raw habanero +
27. Dulce de leche +
28. Raw oysters +
29. Baklava +
30. Bagna cauda +
31. Wasabi peas +
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl +
33. Salted lassi
34. Kim chee +
35. Kangaroo
36. Cognac (with a fat cigar) +
37. Clotted cream +
38. Jello shots
39. Buttermilk +
40. Oxtail +
41. Curried goat
42. Insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk +
45. Whiskey that cost more than $200 a bottle
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala +
48. Eel +
49. Warm Krispy Kreme original glazed donut +
50. Sea urchin roe +
51. Prickly pear +
52. Umeboshi +
53. Abalone +
54. Paneer +
55. Big Mac Meal -
56. Spaetzle +
57. Dirty gin martini +
58. Anchovies +
59. Poutine
60. Carob +
61. S'mores +
62. Sweetbreads +
63. Balut
64. Salted plums +
65. Durian
66. Frog legs +
67. Beignets +
68. Haggis +
69. Fried plaintain +
70. Chitterlings +
71. Gazpacho +
72. Caviar +
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost +
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess chocolate pie -
78. Snails +
79. Lapsang souchong tea +
80. Bellini +
81. Tom yum +
82. Eggs benedict +
83. Pocky +
84. Suckling pig +
85. Kobe or Waygu beef +
86. Hare
87. Goulash +
88. Edible flowers +
89. Bear
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam -
92. Soft shell crab +
93. Rose harissa +
94. Ostrich +
95. Mole poblano +
96. Lox +
97. Polenta +
98. Kopi Luwak coffee -
99. Lobster Thermidor +
100.Snake +

Friday, September 5, 2008

They're worth the work, folks!

Eggplant & Spinach Lasagna Spirals

For tomato sauce
3 lb plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
5 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

For lasagna
2 lb Asian or baby Italian eggplants (4 to 6), halved crosswise, then cut lengthwise into slices slightly less than 1/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
10 oz baby spinach
1 lb ricotta (preferably fresh)
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 oz)
8 dried lasagna noodles (not no-boil; 8 oz)

Preparation
Roast tomatoes for sauce:
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Toss tomatoes with 3 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and arrange, cut sides up, in 1 layer in 2 oiled glass or ceramic shallow baking dishes. Roast tomatoes in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of dishes halfway through baking, until skins are wrinkled and beginning to brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool slightly in baking dishes on racks.

Roast eggplant for lasagna:
Toss eggplant slices with oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and arrange in 1 layer on 2 oiled baking sheets. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking and turning slices over once, until tender, 12 to 14 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Finish tomato sauce:
When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off skin and discard. Purée tomatoes with their juices in a blender, pulsing until almost smooth.

Cook onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato purée, water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 4 cups, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil.

Make filling and assemble lasagna:

While sauce is simmering, cook spinach in a 3- to 4-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, 1 minute, then drain in a colander. When cool enough to handle, squeeze any excess water from spinach and coarsely chop. Stir together ricotta, yolk, spinach, Parmesan, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until combined well.

Cook lasagna noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water , stirring occasionally, until tender. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse under cold running water.

Spoon 2 cups tomato sauce into a 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish (or other 3-quart shallow baking dish). Lay out 4 lasagne noodles on a work surface, then spread 1/3 cup filling evenly over each noodle and cover with eggplant slices in 1 layer. Roll up each and arrange spirals, seam sides down and without touching, over sauce in dish, then make 4 more rolls and arrange in dish. Brush noodles with water, then spoon some sauce down middle of rolls and cover dish tightly with foil.

Bake in middle of oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Heat remaining tomato sauce and serve on the side.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Little boxes...

I really shouldn't be allowed time off. I just get into trouble, finding myself in old familiar places; spending money that I should be saving to pour into my gas tank. But as usual, I couldn't resist the siren's song of the antique shop. And as always, I went in looking for something in particular and ended up not finding it. But I left a little poorer just the same.

It was the little wooden boxes that drew my eye. I have a weakness for little wooden boxes. I fully expected to find them empty, but to my surprise they had recipes in them. Recipes on little snips of paper and yellowed index cards. Written in that choppy cursive that few people use any more. I was filled with excitement at the thought of a treasure box to rifle through. What gifts would I find?Then I got to thinking about it. Someone took the time to write these down. Someone used these to feed their family. How sad that they end up in an antique store (most likely purchased from an estate sale) unwanted. I thought about my mom's own stuffed-full-to-bursting little wooden box and how I will probably have to fight my brother, the chef, for inheritance rights to it. My grandmother didn't even have a box. It was in her head. Fried chicken, biscuits, doughnuts, all these made so many times in her life that she really didn't have a need for the box. Do you need an index card to get out of bed in the morning or to breathe? Luckily, women of that age decided the best way to pass on their recipes (and to stop the constant requests from the younger folk) was to put out Church cookbooks. A fundraiser, yes but also a legacy to pass down. They didn't invent these recipes but they certainly had their own spin on things. Will I ever know why Holland Beets are called Holland Beets? Or why the Mahogany Cake was so named?And what of the future. Will this little wooden boxish I-Pod-like recipe storage unit be discovered by someone 75 years from now? Will someone be excited to find it at an antique store and hopefully be able to download it's many recipes? And will they wonder what Truffle Mac & Cheese is? I rather hope not, because I love the cunning little boxes, with their wood shiny from much handling, their cedary, floury smell, and their little dogeared cards and bits of paper that send forth a legacy of love written in spidery script. They have personality, and a sense of pride and care. No, I think that technology will just have to take a back seat in this instance, and let its little plastic cube full of circuits and chips be used for other, less important matters...