Sunday, April 27, 2014


This post is dedicated to Brad Kohler, who I believe is not only the only person to enjoy my various traipses into culinary coolness, but is perhaps the only person I know of who actually reads this blog other than Paul McGarry!  Hats off to you Brad, even if I think the hat is emblazoned with a Thistledown or Waterford patch somewhere on the brow.

EATING FOODS I HAVEN'T EVEN ET YET! DEPT.-Here's a treat that I've heard about for years but have only indulged in just this past week or three.

The English have been known for engaging in whatcha'd call lousy cooking, but that's only a vicious lie. Y'see, English cuisine only seems that way because that country's located right next to Scotland with all of their tasty culinary treats! But there's one English dish that I've wanted to try for years on end and that's bangers! No, it's not what you think it is for bangers are actually English sausages that look kinda like bratwurst, though while bratwursts got that coarse-ground meat and alla those fine seasonings the Huns like to put into their casings, bangers are mostly filled with cereal (and I don't mean Cocoa Puffs!) and mace, the seasoning and not the thing panic-stricken old ladies spray in the faces of parking lot attendants.

Believe-you-me, a sausage that's mostly filled with cereal did have a strong appeal to me, since I got the idea that it would sorta be like a bread-y kinda thing along the lines of kiska only without the blood and maybe a tasty gobble down along with a tad of farfel and some gravy on it like they used to serve it up at Corky and Lenny's back when I'd go visit Jillery when she was living inna Cle area back inna seventies.

As luck would have it, I actually got hold of some of them sausages a few weeks back and, in a spot of frivolity, decided to make that English National Dish bangers and mash for dinner 'stead of the classic instant macaroni and cheese which has been tops in these parts for quite some time. And, in the spirit of gastronomical gallantry, I decided to make 'em authentic like 'stead of just grill 'em up and eat 'em onna bun with loads of mustard and onions. And the way they turned out boy, am I glad that I followed my own instincts and served 'em up the way nature intended 'stead of just eat 'em up any old way!

Here's what I did...first I grilled the bangers on the George Foreman Grill 'stead of cook 'em inna pan. This way all of the fat drained outta 'em and I didn't have to worry about having the same life span as an Englishman, which woulda meant I'd be dead within the year from clogged heart vessels. While the bangers were cooking I made the gravy to go on top, which was basically fried onions in margarine with beef stock and some seasonings added, before the flour was added to make it all of proper density. As for the "mash" well, that's nothing but Limeytalk for mashed potatoes and all I did was get some instants and make it up nice 'n thick like I like mine! Sausages were done within a good ten or so minutes, and I plunked mine down on a nice pile of 'taters before dousing the entire mess with gravy and then...BON APPETIT!

Gotta admit that I found the bangers to be kinda bland-tasting with none of the funtime filler I was expecting. In fact I'd say they overall come off like those kinda weiners you used to see in the butcher case that I was told not to get because they were meant for the poor people to get (but I got 'em anyway because well hey, I like heart 'n lungs!). But the gravy is pretty good, sorta like a thick French Onion soup that adds the proper tang to this exotic repast! And in consort with the potatoes the entire moulage makes for a taste treat that'll really warm the cockles of your heart on a cold 'n blustery day, and if it's a hot and sticky one you'd eat it up too because you can only stand so many klondikes before you puke 'em all up.

So hey, the English can come up with some good grub that ain't fish 'n chips or some foreign import! So definitely do indulge yourself in some bangers and mash when the mood hits you, but don't go blaming me when your teeth turn green!
BLACK BEAN SOUP WITH BACON!: Another recent fave that's pretty hotcha esp. if you're getting tired of having chili alla time. Here's what'cha do...first chop up some carrots then mince some garlic, slice some celery and sautee the mess in a li'l margarine. When they're kinda tender-looking add some soup stock...chicken or vegetable preferred, a lotta wine (don't worry, you won't get drunk because the alcohol will cook itself out) then dump in a coupla cans of black beans. You might wanna rinse the cans of beans out with even more wine to make sure you got all of that tasty bean flavor at your disposal.

Add some salt and seasonings (more on the latter later!) and let it cook for about four hours on a low heat. Then get some of that turkey bacon that looks like prefab cardboard and microwave or fry some up, crumble it in the soup, and let it cook even more! When it's suppertime serve it up with some shredded cheddar or amerigan cheese, some crunched up doritos (even if they're stale it's OK because hey, they're gonna get soaked up inna soup!) and a whole load of sour cream on top. Gobble it all down and your tummy will thank you in no time flat!

Remember "the secret ingredient" that made all of those spaghetti dinners Andy Griffith ate so good? Well, I have a secret ingredient for my bean soup, and it ain't oregano! Well yeah, I did add a little bit to the pot, but the thing that gave my soup that added twang was actually discovered by ACCIDENT just like all of the best scientific discoveries of the past few hundred years. Y'see, I was going to add some cumin to the pot, but I mis-read the label to the spice I grabbed and accidentally put in CINNAMON!!! A whole lot of it too which is why my intended pot of soup ended up quadrupled (hadda thin the soup out) and I ended up freezing enough to last me until the day the next Rocket From the Tombs download hits the computer world, but the cinnamon actually added a nice kick to it all!

Not only is this soup dee-lish, but during the winter months you will save loads of money on heating! All you have to do is have a bowl or two for dinner, and by the time you snuggle yourself between the sheets you'll be emitting 98.6 degrees of warmth to protect you from the cold weather. Nice and dry fart encrustation here so you don't have to worry about whether or not your underwear will be making sergeant (three stripes)! Can you think of a better way to not only eat economically but live the same way too? And it all comes from one nice little dish that also makes bath-time a whole lot more fun once you get your boats in there and suddenly a DEPTH CHARGE comes up to rock 'em all worse'n any typhoon you can think of! Just watch out where the submarine happens to wander off to...ow!

GIA RUSSA RED WINE BRAISING SAUCE!-Now that I got a slow cooker crock pot (perfect for the crack pot that I am) I am more and more playing Mad Chef whenever I get some kitchen time to myself. Getting up early in the AM, I toss a whole load of fine meats, veggies and sauces into the pot, set it on low and walk away until I come home at suppertime and dish out the resultant goo over a heap of mashed potatoes. Well, it sure beats defrosting some roast inna over and coming home to something that woulda made a good chew toy for Sam!

One interesting taste treat I concocted was buying some tough and cheap stew meat, cutting it into cubes, and tossing it in the pot along with some chopped celery, fresh sliced mushrooms, onions and a bottle of Gia Russa brand Red Wine Braising Sauce. As with the black beans, I also clean the bottle out when I'm done by pouring some wine (usually some leftover Christmas stuff my sister gave me because she don't use it) and pouring that in! I also dump in a lotta salt on because hey, I prefer that tangy taste to the healthy blah-ness incurred by low-sodium diets.

When I get back from work boy am I in store for a taste treat! I served mine over some instant mashed potatoes w/loads of margarine (only use Imperial because it'll even make you fags feel like kings!) but you might want to try some extra-wide egg noodles which should be a nice change. Any way a slow simmer with Gia Russa brand Red Wine Braising Sauce is a real good 'un if you're inna mood for a switch over from the same old stuff. Look for the label with the greasy dago girl on it and you'll be inna right neighborhood!
FAR EAST FEAST DEPT.-Haven't been gobbling much in the Chinese take-out (thaz "takeaway" for ye English readers) realm these days, money constraints y'know, but as of late I have been privvy to some interesting grub that has emanated from the mysterious east. I first heard about kimchee on the old M*A*S*H tee-vee show but only now have gotten a taste of it. Pretty good stuff too, sorta like a hot 'n spicy cabbage dish that goes real swell on hamburgers! I wonder if they actually slap the stuff on burgers at Korean McDonalds and if they don't maybe they should. It's that wowzer! (Notice how I avoided mentioning dog 'n cat burgers in the preceding sentence...I figure I got enough ribbing with that old gag when I'd order Chinese food and my dad would imitate that scene in the Three Stooges' MALICE IN THE PALACE where Moe and Shemp think they're eating a recently slaughtered, yet still alive dog 'n cat prepared by Larry! He'd even go "woof" and "meow" when I'd jab my fork into my stir fry and think it was really funny much to my dismay! And you wonder which side of the family I got my sense of humor from!)

Not so hotcha is the shredded dried octopus which goes overboard on the sweet department...otherwise its hokay texture-wise coming off like coarse shredded chaw that you can chew and swallow. Haven't tried the "hot" octopus yet but if it ain't sickening sweet like the one I had I'll definitely give it eight tentacles up.

Muster avoid---these weird chewy round white candies called Moshi that are filled with sweet black bean. I kinda get the impression that this is what it must be like for a dog to chew on his testicles given the strange texture. And who knows, dog balls might just taste exactly the same!  I give a higher hoot to the little vanilla pudding filled cakes of Korean origin that are rather good and taste like Twinkies with a custard whip inside.. Take a bite while slurping some creme soda and the results should be rather satisfactory.
I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM WHEN WE GET HOT LEAD POURED UP OUR ASSES DEPT.-Best frozen confection treat so far just happens to be Turkey Hill brand ice cream which even matches some of the stuff you get at the local non-whippy ice cream chains like Brewster's. Personal fave happens to be Rum Raisin, though I have been known to get crocked on the stuff so do beware. Being on a fruit 'n yogurt diet (three days a week nothing but!) I find that Giant Eagle brand Frozen Vanilla Yogurt is a good switch from the small tubs of standard "Swiss styled" as they used to call it yogurt (or "yoghurt" as they used to call it) which I've become repelled by if only due to downing more of the Boston Cream Pie flavored gunk than my stomach can stand. I kinda feel like I'm cheating by having a few scoops for dinner, but in this life we all gotta find them loopholes, y'know!
CANDY IS RANDY DEPT.-It came as quite a surprise to me when I saw that Toffifay was still being produced. This candy was one of them things that I remembered from the early-eighties (if only for their irritating "Toffifay, its too good for kids!" tee-vee commercials) and along with other eighties phenomenons as New Coke and Jello Pudding Pops it seemed to have disappeared not too long after it popped into the kollective kandy konsciousness. So you can imagine the look on my face when I saw a fifteen pack of this candy being peddled at the local supermarket alongside such outta-the-loop confections as Sugar Babies and Hello Kitty cupcake bites and, remembering the confection to have been rather tasty,  bought some which I promptly gobbled up during the first of my many evening snack breaks.

These hazelnut caramels still rate the raves even a good three decades later,. I've always dug the hazelnut connection to a good chocolate candy (remember Ice Cubes?), and if a spoonfulla Nutella ain't handy then a good chomping of Toffifay will do to get that interesting nut tastes all mooshed up together. The only thing I didn't like was the dark chocolate drop which I thought had a bitter fore-and-aftertaste, but the caramel was nice a chewy w/o being sticky enough to yank some expensive dental work outta whack. Otherwise this was a good (and inexpensive) way to get some neat and necessary candy into my ever-sugary system, and contrary to what the ad said this stuff is good enough for kids and not just made for grownups! Sheesh, with an ad campaign like that you'd think they'd be giving away centerfolds with each and every box!
Until I have some more culinary tales to toss your way remember, everything over a mouthful is wasted, and proper mastication will keep you from going blind, or something like that.

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