Porcupine Meatballs

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This article appeared in the September 14, 2016 edition of the Seward Journal Newspaper, and has been heavily edited.

In Alaska, hunting and fishing permeates our various cultures, whether you’re an Anchorage dwelling vegan or a whaling captain out of Utqiaġvik. This becomes profoundly obvious during the summer and fall months, even in the most concrete urban corner of Anchorage, when folks are heading out to fill their freezer. Over the past two weeks, Moose hunting season launched, and as is usually the case during hunting season, the only Moose I’ve caught sight of are limited to the antlers from a successful hunt tied to a camouflage four-wheeler, strapped to a trailer, hitched to a truck driven by someone who hasn’t showered in a week.

Earlier this week, I was having a conversation with a co-worker about our respective dinner menus and she mentioned she was having porcupine meatballs. As you might imagine, my first question was not, in fact, “What’s a porcupine meatball.” Rather, my inclination was to ask her what porcupine tasted like and where she got it. Instead, I decided to act as though I already knew everything there was to know about meatballs, porcupines and where to get them, and what they taste like, and every which way porcupines might be rendered into meatballs and cooked. I went with the very safe “Oh, that sounds good,” before she went on to describe the recipe in some fuzzy detail. The key ingredient was not, as I’d assumed, porcupine. It was hamburger.

The lack of porcupine meat in the meatballs should have been obvious, but I just figured that I had a skewed opinion after so many years working for Fish and Game. One of the things you learn working for an outfit like that is that anything containing fat or protein is a possible menu-item. Around the point where we’d gotten around to the merits of using wild rice, another one of our coworkers approached. Now, it’s important to note that this particular coworker is from somewhere in the deep south and is not a hunter. His response, in tones suggesting he had never been one of these folks, was “Oh, sounds like when folks would cook opossum back home.”

At this point, my coworker having porcupine meatballs had to clarify that they are porcupine meatballs not porcupine-meat balls. We all had a good chuckle and went home and I spent my commute wondering what porcupine-meat balls would taste like. I don’t know if I’ll ever find out, but on the bright side, I can always have porcupine meatballs, and if you’re one of the lucky un-showered hunters or spouse of said un-showered hunter, you can use ground-moose -After you’ve had your shower.

Update April 14th, 2017

I returned to my post at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in late November, 2016. Shortly after my return, we had a luncheon pot-luck, and I decided to make porcupine meatballs. As with my initial reaction, everyone expected it was made of porcupine and was extremely disappointed when they found out I’d used boring old ground turkey.

What you need:

  • 1lb ground meat (not necessarily porcupine)
  • 1/2 C. Raw rice
  • 1/2 C. Milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. Italian seasonings
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped onion
  • 1/2 C. chopped Mushrooms
  • 1 Can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 Can water

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix the hamburger, rice, milk, salt, pepper,
Italian seasoning, onion, and mushrooms. Shape into about 9 balls and
place in a 9x9x2” baking dish. In a small bowl, mix soup, water & a
bit more salt. Pour the soup evenly over the meatballs and place in
the oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

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Hell-Cat Maggie Irish Whisky Review

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Look! Another whisky review blog – I’ve decided to try and do these about twice a month so that I don’t blow a hundred bucks a month on whisky. Since I don’t make any money at this, I can’t exactly write it off as an expense. In any case, I’m riding at 100% review rate of Irish Whiskys and I feel a bit weird about that given that the blog purports to involve bourbon. That said, this one was on sale and I’d never seen it before, so I thought I’d give it a go.

To start, this isn’t a fancy enough bottle to come in a cardboard tube that waxes poetic on the flavor profile. Rather, this one comes with the borderline alarming story:

Hell-Cat Maggie was a well-known criminal in Manhattan’s five points district and a member of the notorious Dead Rabbits gang. She was a fierce street fighter and actually filed her teeth and nails into points to better shred her opponent’s skin.

Interestingly, not only is this write-up largely accurate, it gives me all I need to know about this whisky at first glance: I will not likely be treated to a smooth, complex, yet delicate drink. It’s more likely to kick the crap out of me.

Since there isn’t any description of what I SHOULD taste, I’ll just give you my impressions. And as my palate isn’t developed much beyond “this is good” to “this is really not that great”, you can take all of this with a grain of salt.

The nose contains pear, cloves and hints of caramel. The first taste that struck me, however, was the oak. It was surprisingly strong, not woody, but certainly the dominant part of the flavor profile, bringing with it notes of caramel, spice and grain. If you put it on the rocks, the pear flavors come out much stronger. The finish is extremely long and spicy, largely owing to the high level of oily conigers that originate from the last part of the distillation process (the tails). It’s also got a healthy burn. Not quite as bad as most bourbons, but generally more than a typical Irish whisky. This one is also not particularly sweet, which is one of my usual complaints about mid-shelf Irish whiskys.

On a scale of mixer to neat, I put this one at rocks or add just the tiniest bit of water to open up the flavor profile. For the cost, probably not a go-to, but this is a good one. I’d consider buying again.

Poppy seed coffee cake

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This past week at work, I had a brown-bag lunch presentation where I spent basically 0 hours preparing, in spite of having about two months to do so. I kept telling myself, ah, I’ll focus on it right beforehand so I have the presentation all fresh in my mind and I don’t stumble. That said, I also realized the weekend before that I was in no way going to be actually prepared. So, I decided the best remedy was to bring some food to share. Everyone likes free food. It wasn’t going to do a lot for those calling in from Fairbanks and Juneau (sorry guys), but I thought it might help a bit on the Anchorage side. I pulled out my go-to sharing dish – poppy seed coffee cakes. It’s a family favorite that comes down from my moms side and it’s possibly my favorite comfort food. If it didn’t take two days to prepare, I’d make it every month until I was 375 pounds and required someone to physically roll me around. As it is, the size of the recipe is such that I only make it about once a year or so. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try it with some adjustments to be allergy friendly.

Needless to say, after blowing my weekend getting it together, I forgot the pies and home on the day. I had to run around the corner and buy some bread. The bread was good, and it turns out I’ve been doing this job long enough (last year not withstanding) that I can literally talk about it for hours off the top of my head, which is what I did for an hour. I think the presentation went okay, though I think I bit off too much to chew.

I did manage to remember the coffee cakes on Friday and they received positive reviews, which is good, because, as I said, I’d have eaten both pies I brought by myself. You can’t really find anything like this in the wild, short of an eastern European bakery, and even then it’s not nearly so good as this one. My favorite way to eat it is just this side of frozen. I did make some adjustments for allergies, which involved using Full-fat coconut milk cut with cashew milk, and goose eggs instead of chicken eggs. The use of the coconut milk made a tasty dough, but the consistency and rise was not what I am accustomed to. If you can, I’d recommend sticking to the ingredients listed below.

A couple warnings: This makes 6 pies and takes 2 days, so be prepared for a weekend effort & plenty left over to share.

Dough:

  • 3 Eggs (1 goose egg or 2 duck eggs)
  • ½ C. sugar
  • 1 C. cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ C. Shortening (Lard works too, I do not recommend butter, it will make it too rich)
  • 4 C. all-purpose flower
  • 1 Cake of active dry yeast

Mix the dry ingredients & yeast, and cut in the shortening, like a pie dough except with yeast. Mix up the dough ingredients until you’ve got a nice soft ball of dough. Wrap this in cling-wrap and put it into the fridge overnight.

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THE NEXT DAY!

Preheat the oven to 350. Take the ball of dough out of the fridge and split into 6 pieces (or 5 if you want a slightly thicker crust). Roll them out to fit 8” pie-pans. It’s easiest if you do this while it’s still cold, much like a pie-dough. Let these rise in the pans for about 30 minutes after you’ve rolled them out. Make up the filling and topping while you wait:

Filling

  • 1 12oz can poppy seed filling
  • 1 C. applesauce
  • 1 C. raisins (I use golden)
  • 2 eggs (2 small duck eggs)
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour

Beat the eggs, add in the rest of the wet ingredients including the poppyseed filling. Whisk in the flour and sugar. When the pies are done rising, pour a thin layer of filling into each.

Topping:

  • 1 C. Flour
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • ¼ lb. Butter (If you must, butter flavor Crisco works okay too)
  • A sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg

Mix the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter. This is a crumble topping and so should be a bit lumpy. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the filling in the pies.

Bake these at 350 for about 20 minutes. The crust should be just golden brown. Let cool and enjoy.

Savory Soda-bread

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I started this article as something boring about Irish soda bread and all that. It was stupid and long and pontificated on the amount of buttermilk. Who the hell would want to actually read that? In any case, I left it alone so I could submit it to the newspaper, but then didn’t because they guy I’ve been sending them to completely ignored a question about whether or not he actually wanted them. He prints them every week, which is cool, but just the courtesy of “oh yeah, this is pretty shitty article, but we’d like to see more,” would be pretty nice. Plus, I don’t get paid for it which I suppose I don’t care much about, but I’d like to see that change. I mean, even a token per week would make me feel like the work is appreciated. Anyhow, here’s a slightly better story. It starts with my irrational and singular dislike of bisquick.

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My wife’s mother used to make these awesome AF sausage and cheese balls. Fastforward a decade or so, and we land with a complete inability to make them. In part it’s because you shred cheese into a bowl, which my wife can’t eat, and then you add some bisquick and sausage, which I refuse to eat and need to avoid (respectively). Anyhow, because goat cheese doesn’t really melt like cow cheese, these generally don’t work without the cheese part anyhow. So, last week my wife got this fabulous idea that she’d make a savory soda-bread, because it sounded like a neat idea and because it sounded like something that could replace the sausage and cheese balls. In the end, she decided not to burn her one free afternoon of the week to the ground by cooking. Instead, she read a book and something else, but I don’t remember what because I was only a little bit listening. What she did do, however, was plant the idea in my head, which resulted, nearly immediately, in the words “I can totally do that” falling from my mouth. So, that’s what I did. I went on-line, poked a few soda bread recipes with a stick, followed one recipe to the letter and promptly regretted that. The next time round, I used a variety of recipes to knock together on my own. Which, I might add, Stacy can eat because I used goat cheese (and butter milk which was substituted from 3/4 C. Cashew milk + 3/4 Tbsp Lemon Juice.

What you need:

  • ¾ C. + 1 Tbsp Buttermilk
  • 10.5 oz flour by weight (2 Cups)
  • ¼ C. flour for kneeding
  • 3 Tbsp shortening (preferably butter-flavor)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3.5oz cubed gouda cheese (I used goat gouda), this is on the order of a 3/4 Cup
  • ¼ C chopped green onions
  • ¼ C prosciutto ham
  • ¼ C chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 ½ tsp rosemary leaves (crush these a bit so they’re not too long)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl, mix the powdered ingredients, holding back the ¼ cup flour for kneading with a wire whisk, then cut in the shortening. I like to just chop it up and then get in there with my hands to crumble it in. Once the shortening has been cut in, add the rosemary and mix with your hands. Add the cheese, onion, and ham and mix again. Add the buttermilk and olives and mix with your hands until you have a giant, sticky ball. Drop this onto a flat surface with about half of the flour for kneading. Spread the rest of the flour on top of your dough ball and knead. The dough should get smooth, but still sticky enough to hold it all together. Form into a round roughly 6” across and 1 1/2” deep and place on a well greased pan. Make two perpendicular slices across the top about 1/2” deep. Bake for 30 minutes, remove and place on a cooling rack covered in a cloth to cool. Because this recipe has so much in it, it’s pretty crumbly and barely holds together when sliced, however, it’s still pretty awesome.

Green Spot Irish Whiskey – My first whisky review blog

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The first thing I want to say about this post is that it’s a day late because I didn’t schedule it. So, sorry about that. Not that it matters an awful lot, nobody was expecting this one anyhow, except for me.

The other day, I was sipping on some whisky or other and thinking, in that “anything’s possible” sort of way you really only get from a a runner’s high or drinking. Presumably, other drugs get you there too, but as these are the only two I’ve got any experience with (less so on the running lately), I’m going to stick with it. Anyhow, I was thinking “you know, I have this blog with bourbon in the title and the closest thing I have to a post on actual whisky has to do with a pair of bourbon glaze recipes buried somewhere back in the history.” This let me to the natural conclusion that “Hey! I should blog about whisky too! That’d be awesome!” My lovely, supportive wife raised her glass and said “here here, now shut the hell up so I can watch Buffy. And put some of whatever you’re having in my glass.”

Anyhow, as I set out to write a brilliant, humorous and thoroughly engaging first post on whisky, I realized not only was that not going to happen, but you can’t actually write about whisky without being pretentious. You can’t really be both pretentious and funny because then it’s even MORE pretentious and makes you feel like it’s time to put on a polo shirt and head down to the county club. Pretension just sort of goes with the territory of talking about whisky, which is a bit odd considering that the vast majority of whisky is consumed is through two ounce shots intended to bypass the whole ‘flavor’ thing and get the drinker as pissed as possible in the shortest time possible. Alternatively, the whisky is consumed with a carrier, such as cola, to mask all but the most powerful of flavors.

What’s more, and this is a good one, we once had a “bottom shelf-bourbon” tasting at our place. It was great, everyone brought one or two bottles of something cheap, only most folks brought something more mid-shelf, which includes a lot of what I’d rate ‘drink neat.’ Someone, however, slipped in a bottle of Seagram’s-7. I decided to do the tastings blind and so when the Seagram’s came out, nobody knew it had come out and I heard all kinds of stuff about the mellow nose and hints of vanilla and caramel and how damn smooth it was. Sure it beat Ezra Brooks, and Elijah Craig, but it also beat out Old-Grandad, Four-Rose, Maker’s Mark, and even a bottle of Woodford Reserve.

Needless to say, talking about nose, flavor, and finish is about as helpful in picking a whisky as looking at the label. Unfortunately, if you don’t talk about those things, all you have left is: “It didn’t burn so much and it was pretty sweet.” That’s fine, but not helpful.

In any case, I did do all the hard work of tasting a whisky for this blog (there’s even a picture) and I do want to say something about it. I apologize if it’s pretentious.

To give some history here, I got this bottle at Christmas, a friend brought it over as a gift. I’d never heard of Green Spot before then. It’s a light gold in color with a subtle nose (that is, it doesn’t singe your nose-hairs if you get in there and give a good sniff.) My first reaction was -wow, this is smooth, a bit spicy, and only has a hint of the oily conigers in the finish that you so often get in Irish Whiskys.

In reading the back of the bottle, you’re promised a nose of orchard fruits and spice, with aromatic oils, barley, and toasted oaks. The taste is described as spicy with green apple cloves and toasted oak with a finish of lingering spices and barley.

In general, I concur with the assessment on the bottle. This is a damn fine whisky. I would say that green apple and spice are the dominant flavors here, but not in the apple & cinnamon oatmeal sort of way. If you’re looking for it, the toasted oak is proud and present, but is generally out-matched by the spice and apples. I tried this one neat and wouldn’t recommend ice rocks. I feel like the flavor profile would start to break down as it’s just this side of watered down. I bet a cask-strength would be much stronger with the flavors.

My final recommendation on this one?

On a scale of mixer to neat, I put this one at neat. I’d buy again.

Bourbon glazed salmon

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Living in Alaska, one thing you tend to get your fill of is salmon. I love salmon strips, baked salmon, salmon patties, salmon burgers, (you get the picture.) However, because I’m lazy and a creature of habit and also because I think the flavor of salmon stands on its own perhaps only needing the very moderate intervention of a dash of garlic, lemon, and dill. I virtually always cook my salmon that way. Today (two weeks ago, actually. I scheduled this post – sorry it’s a thing bloggers do, I’ve got time today), I found myself obligated to cook salmon for dinner as my wife had pulled it out to use on Friday, but gave up when the kids said, we just want to potato cakes. She also handed me a recipe involving panko crumbs and stuff. I was like, ‘No, my way is better and you all like it.’ She sighed and shook her head. Okay, fine. Maybe only I like it that way, still the panko crumb thing still didn’t sit with me. Instead, I went looking for something sort of different. What I ran across was a recipe for bourbon glazed salmon. The idea was awesome, however, me being the rebel that I am, I concluded that I couldn’t possibly lift the recipe in it’s entirety. Rather, I examined it, picked it apart and constructed my own version. here it is:

What you need:

  • One Alaska salmon fillet, I used Coho, cut into single portions (like 4-6oz)
  • 1/3 Cup of bourbon
  • 4 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • Alder smoked salt
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • 1/8 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Molasses
  • Avocado oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced

Directions:

Place the salmon into a baking dish and set aside. Combine the bourbon, teriyaki, brown sugar, molasses, soy, and about 2 Tbsp avocado oil in a small pot, heat until the sugar dissolves and the bourbon just starts to burn your eyes. Pour most of this over the salmon, then sprinkle with a healthy covering of alder smoked salt, garlic powder, and parsley. Allow to marinade for 1-2 hours, hold a few tablespoons of the marinade back to pour on top of the salmon during cooking.

Heat another 1-2 Tbsp. avocado oil in a large iron skillet, toss in the onions and cook until they start to become soft and translucent. Spread the onions out evenly over the skillet and place the salmon on top of the bed of onions. Pour the marinade into the skillet & over the salmon. Pour the marinade mix you held back over the salmon now as well. Cover this and let cook over med-low heat for 15 minutes (less if your fillets aren’t particularly thick. You want to turn the heat off as soon as the salmon has cooked through (it flakes easily with a fork).

Serve with wild rice, top with the onion / marinade from the bottom of the skillet.

Ginger Sesame Salad

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There are times where I find cooking an incredibly creative endeavor. Less because I’m a brilliant and bubbling with culinary innovation or anything, and more because I’m a terrible grocery shopper. I ALWAYS forget something. To be more specific, I usually forget enough to cook dinners for a full week. What’s more, I frequently find that I’ve picked up stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with the usual weekly routine of making a fast, filling, and approximately nutritious dinners. To that end, when the only salad-like vegetables you have to hand are a head of cabbage, a few orange peppers that will not last until stir-fry on Thursday, and a pack of mushrooms, salad is a pretty remote option. In any case this is pretty much the state of things in this household and creativity – or just trying random shit – becomes a full on necessity. Last week was one of those times. I had pretty much nothing to work with and a strong urge to make a dinner that wasn’t 50% Rice-o-Roni. Most of the ingredients here are things I just happen to have lying around at any give time because they’re on my mental long-term grocery list, which means I usually buy a LOT MORE than I actually need. Ever. Another bonus on this one is that it takes like 5 minutes to prepare and tastes as good as anything you’ll get in a restaurant. I also expect you can make it with half a bag of coleslaw mix a few not-so prime sugar snap peas and that zucchini you’ve been struggling to work out how to use before it goes bad.

What you need for the dressing:

  • 6 Tbsp Red wine vinegar,
  • 1/2 Tbsp GOOD balsamic vinegar – don’t skimp on this,
  • 3 Tbsp red wine,
  • 1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce – In my opinion, this is one of the key ingredients, even though there’s not much,
  • A few drops of soy sauce (to taste, really),
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame oil,
  • 1/2 Tbsp Chili pepper sesame oil (or just regular sesame oil and mix in a few pepper flakes),
  • 1 Tsp toasted sesame seeds,
  • 1/2 Tsp ground ginger,
  • a few dashes of garlic powder (about 1/8th of a tsp), and
  • 1 Shallot, finely diced,

The salad itself:

  • 16oz small fresh button mushrooms,
  • 1-2 Cups chopped cabbage, and
  • 2 sliced large orange peppers.

Directions:

Put the cabbage and mushrooms into a container with a lid. Mix up the dressing and pour over the mushrooms and cabbage. Put the lid on the container and shake well. Put this in the fridge for a few hours, if you can spare the time, skip it otherwise. Just about the time you start cooking dinner, slice up the orange peppers and toss with the salad mix in a bowl.

That’s it. It’s easy, and absolutely delicious.

Turkey meat-loaf bites & Cranberry dipping sauce

I’m going to be perfectly honest. This is NOT what I was aiming for. A few weeks ago, I was goofing with the kids telling them what I was going to cook for dinner. The random words that fell from my lips involved turkey nuggets and cranberry dipping sauce. Naturally, I thought this was going to be a brilliant idea. So. I was wrong, but it’s okay, because the dipping sauce was pretty good and I think it’d make a damn fine spread for a turkey sandwich. I’m giving the full recipe for both here because you could probably cook the meatloaf bites as meatloaf and top it with the spread. It’s in the realm of comfort food. Someday, hopefully, I’ll give the turkey bites another go and actually get them right. In the mean-time, here is what I came up with.

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Turkey meat-loaf bites:

What you need:

  • 2 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Rosemary (crush if you can)
  • 1 tsp Sage
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 3 cups Panko crumbs
  • ½ C. flour
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

Mix 1 ½ C. Panko crumbs with ½ C. flour with salt, pepper, a dash of garlic, and a dash of sage. This is going to be your breading. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, it should be a bit dry as if you’re going to make meatballs. Make little chicken-nugget shapes and roll in the breading, place on a well-oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 20min at 375, flip and bake for another 10 minutes.

Dipping sauce/turkey spread:

What you need:

  • 1 16 can jellied cranberry juice
  • 3 oz orange juice
  • ½ tsp Ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • pinch sage
  • Pinch orange zest

Directions:

Whisk all of the ingredients together until you have a smooth sauce, serve at room temperature.

Basil chicken stir-fry

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First appeared in the Seward Journal Newspaper 02/22/2017

If I had my way, I would literally eat every meal directly from a can.
As much as I love good food, I hate dishes. This is even more true
when I’ve spent 8 hours working, 4 hours caught in traffic, an hour
cajoling the children into finishing homework and entirely too much
time shoveling the driveway, which still has me concerned
archeologists might very well find my desiccated remains at the bottom
of a glacier in a thousand years. Rather than giving in and having
‘everything from a can’ tacos, I rely heavily on stir-fry to keep
dishes to a minimum while still providing something vaguely like a
nourishing meal. That said, I can only get away with tossing the very
nearly expired vegetables with tofu and chicken with some some
‘stir-fry sauce’ from the bottle about once every other week. In order
to combat this prohibition, which my wife assures me is, in fact,
enshrined in our wedding vows, I have to get creative with the stir
fry. It turns out that if the flavor profile is different enough, even
if the ingredients really aren’t, it doesn’t count against the
stir-fry limit. So, here was this week’s version of stir-fry.

What you need:
Main dish:

  • 2Tbsp oil
  • 2Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1Tsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 Tsp Sage
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped – separate green tops from the white bottoms.
  • 1/4 Cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 Chicken breasts chopped into 1/2” – 3/4” cubes.
  • 2-3 Cups thawed or fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 small yellow squash

Rice:

  • 2 Cups jasmine rice
  • 1 Can of chicken broth
  • 1 C Water
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:
Cook the rice as you normally would in a pot by bringing the rice,
chicken broth, water, and parsley to a boil. Once the rice is cooked,
add the oil, mixing it in well. You can use 1-2 Tbsp or so of butter
instead of olive oil, but we’ve got food allergies to contend with so
this is what I use, it still gave a buttery taste.

Pour a couple of tablespoons into a 14” wok and brown the chicken,
garlic and the white parts of the onion. Once the chicken is browned,
add everything else, holding back only the green parts of the onion –
add those right near the end. Cook over high heat stirring frequently.
The goal is to cook down the water. There will be a lot of water
because a lot of water will come out of the veggies. Once the
vegetables are cooked through serve over the rice.

Gender Rolls

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Before proceeding, you’re about to be treated to an angry political rant followed by a tasty recipe. Go straight to the bottom for the goodness.

Tonight on my way home from work and before the president’s speech, I heard a story that set me off. It set me off because it’s a theme that seems to be emerging from the conservative party’s newfound, and near complete, power. The story itself was someone, an unknown someone, who had put up a billboard reading something to the effect of: “Real men work hard to provide for their family and real women appreciate it.”

No. Just No.

This is the narrative of an imaginary nuclear family that is intended to normalize the notion that women should be in the home. I completely reject this idea because it’s about eliminating the choice. It’s about telling dads and men everywhere that they shouldn’t be mucking about in the kitchen because that’s woman’s work, just as much as it’s telling women they need to stay the hell out of the work force and make me a sandwich.

Every time I hear someone make a crack about the husband’s inability to do this or that domestic-thingy, it makes my blood boil. It is a fact that my wife and I spent several years living that sort of arrangement. The decision was purely economic for that moment in time. I made the most money and was on target for more rapid advancement. Even then, we simply couldn’t afford daycare on our combined wages. I mean, with just two kids we were looking at $2,000 per month (this is not hyperbole, this was the damn cost) For those into such things, that’s the entire paycheck of someone making about $16.00 an hour (do the math, you’ll see I’m within a few percent). At the time, I think she was making close to $14.00? an hour, it was good money, to be sure, but not nearly enough. Not that it was much more affordable having her stay at home. Even now, we’re still deeply entrenched in the financial morass that put us into.

At the moment, we’re both working. I do fairly well, and she’s doing incredibly well considering her long absence from a regular job, not that she didn’t work while she was out. However, we’ve still got kids to manage. To make that work, I get home early enough to get the kids, and she goes in late enough to see them to school. The basic division of labor is that she gets them up, fed, and moving and I come home and get them fed, cleaned and cajole them into doing homework. It’s a partnership and it works well enough for us.

My point here is that I do the cooking at home, the infamous shackles of all routine domestic chores (although laundry, dishes, mopping and just about anything to do with cleaning is arguably a far more soulless endeavors).

So, I leave you with three things, first: “Real couples support and appreciate each other. This is a partnership, not a feudal arrangement.”

Second, before you go saying things like: “Wife to the rescue,” when it comes to anything domestic, don’t. My wife sorted out a truly fucked up toilet this weekend while I went shopping and planned dinner.

Third, after hearing this monumentally infuriating story, and thinking the word rolls over and over, I got hungry for some comfort food, so I made dessert, adjusted to be allergy friendly, from scratch, and it was awesome.

This is my grandmother’s recipe, so bear with me on this. You need to start with some basic mix which is the following:

  • 6 C. flour
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 3/4 C Shortening

Mix up the basic mix with your hands so that the shortening is as evenly distributed as you can make it. Store this in the fridge and use as needed. It’s a good pastry base. If I have one criticism of this dough is that it’s not sweet so there’s a bit of a weird contrast between the dough and whatever filling you’re using. You might add a tsp or so of sugar for each cup of Basic mix used for sweet deserts to sweeten it up a bit and bring down that contrast.

Pastry:

  • 2 1/4 C. Basic Mix
  • 3/4 C. Cashew Milk
  • 3/4 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Filling:

  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Melted butter
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • Dash Cardamom
  • 1/4 C. Walnuts (grind these up to pretty fine bits)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Roll out the dough into 18″x4″ sheet and spread out the filling. Roll up and slice into pieces about 1″ thick. Put into a 9″ greased cake-tin. Bake for 12-18m or until brown.