29 October 2009

zimdog is top chef 4eva

Top Chef was just coming on when I started making dinner earlier. Sounded like a challenge to me.

I can't believe I've never blogged about my cooking before. I'm terrible at cooking, as you can imagine. I'm such a left-overs cooker too. Those who have seen the sorts of things I eat can probably imagine the sorts of things I cook. I mean:

- I once made dessert burgers, which might've been salvageable up until the point where I dumped half a jar of molasses in with the half-frozen ground beef;

- if I had a restaurant, my signature sandwich would be The Pregnant Lady: grilled sourdough with cheese, pickles, french fries, tomatoes, onions, and a variety of sauces that make the ending plate representative of the afterbirth;

- in college, I would race others through plastic cafeteria cups full of table-made slop. And I rarely lost.

So you can imagine how much Tom Chode-Lickio from Top Chef would enjoy having me ram my fucking cooking down his toad throat.

Music helps when I cook, so I threw on some Mason Jennings (discovering the beauty of “How Deep Is That River,” a song from his last album). The cardboard box holding the plastic pouch of ready-made guacamole was cast aside next to the Mason Jennings paper CD case. Dun't wurry, Mason. I wun't thro' yur c-d-buklet uh'way thunkin' it's a gwack-uh-molay bux.

Here's an accoutrement I developed tonight:

The Wacky Wizard's Scientifically Speedy Garlic Butter

- one used Trader Joe's frozen crème brulee dish

- one reasonable-sized pat of refrigerated butter

- one chopped, pressed garlic clove

Use microwave to melt butter in crème brulee dish. Melt butter only halfway. Add crushed garlic. Melt butter the rest of the way.

I spooned this Scientifically Speedy Garlic Butter onto oat bran toast. Now that's some wacky garlic bread to go with an even more wacky meal.

But first things first.

The appetizer (or “First Course” as the professionals call it) was an apple & cheese plate. I decided to serve the apple en apple slicer alongside a variety of cheeses: walnut gouda, hand-broken triangles of provolone, and Cambazola (a very-bleu cheese with mushrooms). Thanks also to my sponsor, Babybel, for the featured cheese of the plate for their Babybel Light semi-soft cheese. Babybel Light. The lite Babybel.

Em seemed to be enjoying “First Course” so I away'd myself back to the kitchen to finish the Main Course. I don't have a name for it per se, except maybe...

The Wacky Wizard's Turkey Burger Stir-fry with Pesto-Cream Soy Sauce Reduction

- four Trader Joe's pesto-parmesan turkey burgers

- the remainder of a bag of frozen stir-fry carrots

- the remainder of a bag of frozen peas

- the remainder of a bag of frozen green beans

- a handful of raw broccoli

- one ramakin of soy sauce paste (made by leaving soy sauce uncovered in the fridge for several days)

- one package of stay-fresh guacamole (or fresh if you have it)

- a couple tablespoons of plain nonfat yogurt

- some pesto paste (not too much)

- a short pour of heavy whipping cream

- some butter

- a small handful of salted pumpkin seeds

Grill really frozen burgers & wax paper dividers on medium heat. Scrape already-processed turkey meat away from the wrappers as they defrost enough to do so. Remove wrappers from the skillet as they become available. Mash turkey meat up too as it becomes freed. When all turkey meat has cooked away from the wrappers, and all wrappers have been removed from the skillet, wash hands thoroughly.

Hopefully the turkey meat isn't char by now. (If it is, turn the skillet down. It's still good.) Add some butter to the skillet. Begin adding vegetables in an order than makes sense to you. Cover the skillet to facilitate steaming of said vegetables. If cooking in Cleveland, try not to laugh while steaming your meat and vegetables.

Well, you've made it this far. You might as well finish the dish, right? After a few good minutes of steaming, remove cover. Stir guacamole & yogurt together. Add to meat and vegetables. Stir soy sauce, pesto paste, and heavy cream together. Add to the rest of it (cuz at this point it can't hurt).

Turn heat down to low. Re-cover skillet, and let simmer while you prepare The Wacky Wizard's Scientifically Speedy Oat Bran Garlic Bread.When the garlic bread is done, plate everything like this...

... because other arrangements are not officially endorsed by the Wacky Wizard.

But wait! I forgot the finishing touch. Supply all brave eaters with a small cup of salted pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top for added crunch.

There. Just look at that flavor hiding in there. I had to use the flash to find it. Does flavor think it can hide from me or something?

28 October 2009

A Thoreau Saturday

I realize the chew toy has been a bit of a bitch fest in past months. I think I'm finally decompressing from the negative self I became in Florida. This is to be expected, but that doesn't mean the chew toy's gotta suffer all of that anguish. It's time to turn the corner, at least for a little while.

Did you get that? And by "you," I'm addressing the 0.33-repeating people who still read the chew toy. It's time for a lighter side of the zimdog.

I had quite a Thoreau-esque Saturday. Em, G-Riff, and I saw a pumpkin patch.

On the way home, we stopped at Terry's Berries, where we picked a bucket of apples which we then washed and pressed into cider. It was fun, except for the mean-spirited jackass ordering us around on the cider press. And the cider is the best I've ever tasted.

After we got home with our jug o' cider, I decided to cut some wood in the green-belt running behind our apartment. (As Thoreau probably would, here I note that we've even come up with industrialized names for Nature; oh, we are a sad society.) I came across a felled tree while walking Murphy down there a few days earlier. My goal was to go chop a few large logs off and bring them up to chop for firewood. So down the hill I slid with a bag over my shoulder. The bag was to collect wood chips for kindling, and also for transporting my hatchet, ax, and water bottle.

Here's the tree (after I chopped off a 2.5-foot section):

In the far distance, you may be able to see the train tracks that run along the far edge of the green-belt. When a train would come by, I'd take a break to watch it, wondering if at some point during Thoreau's stay at Walden, he too was chopping wood as a train clunked by. It was a fine moment for me.

I didn't have much area to work with, so chopping even that one section off took quite some time.

The wood was also pretty spongy, not the easiest to chop or burn, so as I chopped, I knew my work wasn't going to amount to a whole lot. I didn't care though. I kept working, just to see if I could finish.

When that piece finally broke over, I was satisfied with the work I had done. I took all these pictures the next day, so I don't have any pictures to document the section I cut off, but you can see the end left behind. I beaver'd it pretty good, eh?

Cutting a section off was one thing. Dragging it up the hill was what followed. So I whacked at it long-ways a dozen or so times until it split down the center. That way if I lost hold of the wood dragging it up the hill, instead of rolling on and on, it would hit the flat side and eventually stop sliding.

No matter. It was still difficult enough getting that wood up the hill. As you can see, it's a steep hill...

... that just keeps going up...

... and up...

I got both halves up in a trip each. Well, for the first piece, it was more like one-and-a-half trips, because I slipped and bashed my knee pretty good on a rock, and had to go halfway back down the hill to get the slide-a-way wood. But otherwise, I only ran myself out of breath and shook my muscles weak from the exertion of it all.

After lugging the bag of wood chips, cutting tools, and water bottle back up, my final rest was a moment of great satisfaction, spent listening to one more train go by--after which I pulled the ax from the bag once more, much nearer the top, to cut this smaller diameter log (left foreground).

It turned out to be a much harder wood that chipped into pieces much faster; later in the day, it also proved itself a better burn than the monster for which I worked much harder. Lesson learned.

And what further evidence do I have documenting this Thoreau-esque endeavor of self-reliance?

Here's my ax...

... and proof that I was fool enough to cut through a tree using only an ax... and no gloves...

The blisters are healing nicely.

23 October 2009

zimdog's ironic quote of the fortnight

"I have never let my schooling
interfere with my education."
-- Mark Twain

I say ironic because I found this quote on the bottom of a box of Hemp Seed Granola. That's not very ironic by itself. What's ironic is that on the back side of the box was a reminder for wary customers that "Hemp is Not Marijuana," something human beings knew quite well for the tens of thousands of years that we cultivated and used both hemp and marijuana.

This was, of course, prior to the 20th century when American policy-making sheep, doing the bidding of corporate ticks, tried to stir up global hatred for a plant. As far as I can see, they have succeeded in removing from sanctioned education all traces of cannabis's ancient relationship with humans. Even regarding the more recent history of America alone, how many U.S. citizens are aware that their nation once relied on hemp as its most valuable and diverse industrial resource? And on marijuana as its only painkiller?

Given my previous post, I promise I'm not turning the chew toy into a pro-cannabis rant fest or anything. This is just the education I'm uncovering lately... proof that I too have not let my schooling interfere with my education. I also think it's further ironic that fear of marijuana (the drug form of cannabis) was created for no other reason than to outlaw hemp (the resource form of cannabis). Rich white men never had a problem with people smoking marijuana. They only wanted a way to remove one of the cheapest, most renewable, and most environmentally-sustainable competitors of paper and petroleum from the marketplace. The "war" against cannabis has more recently been taken up by pharmaceutical companies, some of which own the rights to all medical research on marijuana. You can imagine how diligently they're working on that research.

Personally, I'm a little stung that my nation doesn't trust me with its honest history. Or does it hurt more that my nation values the greedy of a few more than it values the common prosperity of the masses? I'm not entirely done in by either thought though. There's still the comfort of knowing that neither the government nor its ruling corporations can ever know the honest meaning of liberty, because true liberty only comes alongside an honest education.

07 October 2009

Good lord, this is the place I live.

Every time I see a new abovetheinfluence.com anti-marijuana ad on TV, I'm appalled at just how goddamn stupid they must think Americans are. Yet now that I see them spending money on crap like this...

"Stoners in the Mist"

... all I can say is, oh boy. If abovetheinfluence.com has time and money to waste on a hollow statement like "Stoners in the Mist," then there must still be Americans stupid enough to buy into that zombie crap. And here I thought parenting was about being honest with children.

I can't speak for other drugs, but marijuana I'm deeply honest about, because I understand many of the truths that don't get media play. This is why the existence of "Stoners in the Mist" makes me angry. I can only imagine how deeply offensive it is to the millions of Americans incarcerated, their lives unnecessarily wronged by unconstitutional marijuana laws.

I suppose the widespread stupidity of the American people probably has something to do with how little science goes into our decisions on a regular basis. And of course I recognize how difficult it is to form an unbiased opinion (or better yet, a true understanding) of something that has been outlawed since 1937. So, when will come the time for anti-marijuana propagandists to consider scientific facts? Real lives are being ruined by a marijuana prohibition that is NOT working:

In 2002, 94.9 million Americans admitted having used marijuana at some point in their lives. In 2008, that figure had grown to 102.4 million. In percentage terms, that’s an increase from 40.4 percent in 2002 to 40.6 percent in 2008 – unchanged, statistically speaking. For current (past 30 days) use, the pattern is similar: 14.6 million or 6.2 percent in 2002, 15.2 million or 6.1 percent in 2008. The slight declines of a couple years ago have now been entirely erased and were likely no more than statistical noise..

From the above linked site:
The drug war industrial complex will never admit it, but the most intensive anti-marijuana campaign since the days of “Reefer Madness” produced exactly nothing.

How sad is it that we live in a place where these statistics will mean almost nothing? It doesn't matter that anti-marijuana propaganda hit a brick wall several decades ago when the lingering stereotype of the stoner was invented. Instead, stoner propaganda has simply become a moving wall that continues alongside any form of honest public policy on the matter. That way, it's impossible for marijuana research to change minds that have already been made up.

Still, I have little doubt that someday Americans will repeal marijuana prohibition, even if that day is decades into the future, once America becomes a place of proper science. That future society will recognize and come to understand the physiological and mind-altering benefits of marijuana, and recognize the raw power of its non-drug cousin, hemp. Then, Americans will look back on marijuana prohibition for what it is: an unfortunate, decades-long McCarthy Era of people jailed, lives ruined, and money & effort squandered so the unflinching righteousness of a moral belief could maintain all the political control.