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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.