Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why We Got Married: Free Stuff

Our Big Sur wedding picture, "A Midsummer Night's Dream." (Click for larger.)

One of the main reasons we got married was so we would get free stuff from our friends. Tania, for instance, has wanted a fondue set for years, but she’s steadfastly refused to buy one because she is physically unable to purchase one. In her mind, the only way to get a fondue set is to register for it and receive it as a wedding gift. I am of the same belief. And, guess what, we did indeed receive a fondue set for our wedding. (Thank you Reeds.) In addition to the fondue set, we got a new food processor, a rice cooker, a wine fridge, a stand-up mixer, a blender, a crock pot, a panini press, a crystal martini set, a vacuum sealer, an awesome roasting pan, an amazing saucier, a chinois, All Clad pans, and lots of funny money for Sur La Table and BedBathandBeyond for gadgets. Thank you, again, to everyone who participated in the “Outfit the Carnie Kitchen Sweepstakes.” We made out like bandits! That is if you don’t account for the thousands of dollars I still owe the credit card companies. It’s a weird way to go shopping, I know. Spend tens of thousands of dollars on a lavish wedding in the middle of nowhere just so you can get a $100 blender. Genius.

But we’ve used everything we got. Except for the fondue set, interestingly. That hasn’t come out of the box. But last Sunday, we got busy with our new tools. The blender came out, the stand-up mixer (with the meat grinder attachment) was out, and, for the first time, we used the vacuum sealer. First, the blender.

I made a roasted tomatillo salsa. Salsa verde. Tania hates green salsa. “It tastes like pennies,” she says. But when we were at the grocery store earlier that day she was surprisingly supportive of me making it. I was as equally as surprised that I wanted to make it because I had just got done telling our friend Josh a few days before that making salsa is stupid. “How do you make your tomatillo salsa?” he asked. Apparently he’s very proud of his salsa. “I go to the store and I buy a fuckin’ jar of it,” I replied. While homemade, fresh salsa is obviously better, I don’t have any problem buying it at the store. Especially when there are so many great varieties to choose from. Plus when I make salsa, I always end up wiping my eyes with a pepper-coated paw. I’m stupid like that.

The best salsa verde ever, or a bowl of pennies.

But there I was Sunday night making my very own roasted salsa verde. We pretty much knew how to make it, but we checked our memories against a Rick Bayless recipe just the same. A note on Rick Bayless: we hate him. How did some white dude from fucking Chicago become the Mayor of Mexican town? As I’ve always said, the further from the source, the worse the food. He sucks. And he’s almost as annoying as his hog-bitch, drama-nerd daughter. Have you seen their show on PBS? “Mexico: One Plate At a Time.” Oh my god it’s a train wreck. I can’t stop watching it. As a result, I can do a pretty good Rick Bayless impersonation.

Pinche culo.

But we realized that night that we don’t have a single Mexican cookbook. Hence the need to find some sort of “authority” on the subject. (?) His recipe more or less paralleled our thoughts, so we began.

Half dozen tomatillos, halved
1 jalapeno
1 habanero
half an onion, quartered
half dozen garlic cloves
half a lemon

I fired up the grill with some gourmet, organic, free-range charcoal that was harvested in South America. Only charcoal; the only gas at our house comes out of my butt. I threw all the ingredients on a grill pan (so they wouldn’t fall through the grill cracks) and put it over the fire for about 15 minutes, until everything was nice and charred. After it cooled down, we peeled off the char and chucked it all in the blender. (Thank you to Dimitry for the blender.) As it blended, I slowly added a little of the roasted lemon juice (roasted lemon is all the rage right now, have you noticed?), and a little water ‘til the mixture was the desired consistency. (Tania suggested chicken stock might be interesting to use in place of water.) And that was it: roasted salsa verde. It’s good, too. I’m quite proud of it. It’s hot, but not so much that you can’t taste the flavors. Tania called it, “a creeper,” because the heat kind of sneaks up on you. I want to experiment some more with it, but I need to finish this tub first.

Lamb in a tub. Lambasted lamb bath!

Next up was the meat extraganza. (That is not a typo, that spelling is funnier.) Lamb first. For some reason we wanted a Mediterranean style meal. We bought some lamb shoulders, cut the meat off the bone, and grinded it up in the meat grinder (love that thing Thank you Tremaines).

Lamb grinder.

I added fresh mint, cilantro, parsley, salt and pepper to the grind. I formed little poops out of the ground lamb, stuck skewers up their butts, and threw them on the grill.

Lamb poops.

Meanwhile Tania made an herb-infused tzaziki and toasted some pita bread. We served it all with butter lettuce and tomatoes. It was simple, yet awesome. Can’t wait to make that again.

While at the store selecting the lamb, Tania suggested we get a big hunk of beef and grind that up as well. “As long as the meat grinder is out,” she said. I held up a couple of small packages of sirloin and chuck, but Tania frowned at them. They actually cost more than a package of ground beef. So then I ventured into the section where the mean old Armenian ladies fight over the meat. I had never been there before. The slabs of meat are gigantic in that region of the land of meat. The trays the meat rest on are large enough to double as a high school desktop. I didn’t know what I was looking for, so grabbed the biggest tray of cow I could find. Tania gasped. I wish I could say I wrestled it out of Mrs. Abudadadjian’s hands while delivering an elbow to Mrs. Keshishian’s gob, but the meat warriors were nowhere to be found that afternoon. It was a Sunday, so perhaps they were fighting in church?

Armenians fighting with Greek Orthodox in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Godless people.

Wholly cow!

When I threw the side of cow on the cutting board, we were amazed by its vastness. Six pounds of chuck. “Take a picture of it,” Tania said, “no one is going to believe this.” Had to use a wide-angle lens to get it all in the frame. I then spent a good portion of the night carving it up and forcing it down the grinder. But when all was said and done, we had a large pile of ground beef, which we separated into one-cup portions. Vacuum seal! (This vacuum sealer was brought to us by Jason and Jessica. Thank you Jason and Jessica.) So now we have a freezer full of bags of neatly proportioned ground beef. We even vacuum sealed some sausage while we were at it.

Have you heard that Damned song, "MEAT! MEAT! MEAT!"? (It's probably good that I only do a little writing for The Skateboard Mag because my jokes are old and corny now.)

You know how when school started and all your pencils were sharpened, your binder was neatly in order, your folders were brand new, and you actually enjoyed the smell of fresh, lined paper? Yeah, that’s how we felt on Sunday night. Hopefully we’ll feel the same way when we finally defrost a tube of meat. Thank you again to everyone.


Anonymous said...

Rick Bayless lived about a half mile from my apartment in Chicago, and I'd occasionally spot tiny, little him jogging around the neighborhood in his super skimpy shorts. With his beard wife and never-nude gear, he always seemed like the Tobias F√ľnke of the food world.

My salsa verde knows no equal.

RyGar said...

That wedding photo is pretty amazing. You look really good, like maybe you lost weight for the wedding, or you trimmed your beard?

I fucking hate store bought salsa, so I'm glad you didn't go plugging Pace or some other vinegar and watery tomato garbage. I haven't tried making salsa at home, though. I just go down the street to The Mexican Village. I love that place, because it seems like they always try and get my girl and I really drunk on their cheap margaritas. Oh, and there's this creepy old guy that doesn't speak a word of English, and sometimes he balances a bottle of beer on his head to amuse the patrons. We do make a lot of homemade guacamole in our blender, and it's delicious.

Also, I just started a blog of my own. Stop by and check it out sometime:

Anonymous said...

meat meat meat
cant afford no chicken
meat meat meat
can't afford no pork at all

Anonymous said...

Come out here to Chicago and eat at either of Rick Bayless' Mexican restuarants- Frontera Grill or Topolobampo- and your tune might change about him. The food is fucking amazing IMHO, and even the line of products he sells in stores are great especially the salsa. Yeah, it does look funny having a white boy try to school people in authentic Mexican cuisine but the man knows what he's talking about, Chachi.

Unknown said...

oh, second anonymous commenter writer person: you have no faith. you think we just come up with these opinions out of nowhere. untrue, my dear, untrue. the rick bayless salsas are garbage. absolute shit. if there is anyone in california eating that crap, they're probably just being thawed out from the ice age and that was the first salsa they've ever tasted. because it's crap. absolute CRAP. maybe you're a thawed out caveman/woman? if so, congrats on the stellar typing and obvious command of basic social and grocery shopping skills! you're a fast learner and i applaud you!!

if not, i've been to one of his stupid restaurants and it was mediocre. so your opinion is forever worthless. it tasted like hotel food in mexico city. which, granted, is better than any mexican food in the midwest, but it was still caca. i come from southern california (and have been to mexico plenty) and i know better. right is right and wrong is bayless (and even worse than him is bobby flay. bleh). just boo. can we talk about something else now?

Portland Doug Fir Hater said...

man i hate bayless and his stupid ass daughter. ancho chili this, ancho rub that, ancho my anch-hole his line of frontera hott sause is whack and flavorless just like his beard.

im almost ashamed to say it but i kinda like simply ming. he's dresses like an interior designer, his recipes are ehh pretty interesting, but its that stupid song at the end that gets me everytime. my wife catches me watching his show and i get scared she thinks im gay, but its that damn song i can't get enough of that asian keyboard magic.

Anonymous said...

As a true Mexican, I have no problem with Rick Bayless. His recipes are better than most of the crap that passes for "mexican cuisine" these days. Also, as a true hot-blooded member of the male species, I have no problem with Lanie, hi daughter. She acts a little dorky sometimes, but I find that's true of most white people anyway. I like her, in fact, I wouldn't mind giving her "the whole enchilada" if you know what I mean. Oh, you don't? What I meant is that I'd like to put my erect penis inside her.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Rick bayless is creepy weird and his daughter is even more annoying. Also the more weight rick loses the older\frail his body looks.