Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Hey, baby! Listen, I've been doing some soul searching lately, and - well, there's no easy way to say this, so I'm just going to say it: I think we could both use a time out. It's not you, it's me. We've been spending so much time together that I've been feeling kind of smothered. Like I don’t even know where you end and I begin. And let's face it – you've changed, too. Used to be we could just hang out, read, play some games. Watch porn. Now you're all about the LOLZ. Social networking and amateur videos. It's just not my style. And I have to be honest: I've met someone. Let's call her "RL." She doesn't even seem to know I'm alive right now, but maybe I could change all that if I had a bit more space to operate. So here's the deal: I'm going to put our relationship on hold to give RL a chance for a while. If I don't call, it's not because I don't love you. It's because I'm a selfish jerk.
Posted by IRFH at 8:32 PM
Monday, June 11, 2007
[Per request from MetaChat, posted here for space considerations. I promise it's much simpler than it looks at first glance. I've over-explained, just because I can.]
The secret to making perfect lasagna is a complex sauce, a good cheese blend, and correct layering. I used to make the sauce entirely from scratch, and cut, chop and shred all of my herbs, vegetables, and cheeses by hand. I rarely have time to do so anymore, and have found ways to incorporate prepared foods without losing any of the personality. I don't actually measure spices as I add them, anymore, since I've made this many, many times, but the measurements here should get you close enough to modify according to your own tastes. This makes a HUGE batch, by-the-way, completely filling a 12 x 16 x 2 inch lasagna pan. The two of us usually get several meals out of half, and freeze the other half for later.
I'm including the brand names of the products I actually use most often (all trademarks & registered brands belong to blah, blah, blah, not me, you know the drill), but feel free to substitute. I would suggest that you adjust the recipe if you go with a cheaper prepared product, though. A cheaper sauce may need more seasoning and simmer time to really balance the flavors, for example, and a shredded cheese blend with fewer varieties of cheese should be supplemented. Don't leave out the fontina, for example. I'm telling you...
[Note for carnivores: For anyone interested, the only difference between this vegetarian recipe and my regular recipe is that I usually crumble and pan fry a half pound to a pound of Italian chicken sausage in a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil and add it to the sauce along with the vegetables. I like it that way, but there's so much going on with this dish that I never actually miss it if I leave it out.]
- 1 @ 26 oz. Bottle of Classico Fire Roasted Tomato & Garlic Pasta Sauce (or equivalent volume of favorite pasta sauce or plain tomato sauce)
- 2 @ 14.5 oz. Cans Ready-cut Tomatoes (I use S&W Italian Recipe w/ Diced Garlic, Oregano & Basil, and/or Diced w/ Roasted Garlic)
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 @ Green Bell Peppers
- 1 @ Small Sweet Yellow Onion
- 3 to 4 Cloves Garlic
- 1 @ 13.75 oz. Can Quartered Artichoke Hearts in Water (I use Napoleon brand)
- 1 @ 2.25 oz. Can Sliced Ripe Black Olives (whatever is available)
- 1 @ 16 oz. Package Pre-sliced Ostrom’s Crimini Mushrooms (or slice equivalent)
- ¼ to ½ Cup Red Wine (I prefer cabernet, myself, but the idea is it should be something good enough to drink with dinner if you’re in the mood to do so, but cheap enough to cook with if you’d rather not imbibe. Last night, I used about a 1/3 cup of Yellowtail Shiraz/Cabernet)
- 1 Portabella Mushroom Cap (pre-sliced package, scrape the gills – or cut the cap from the stem of a full portabella, above the gills, and slice) cut into one inch pieces
Herbs & Spices (Measurements Approximate):
- 1 teaspoon Taragon
- ¾ teaspoon Basil
- ¾ teaspoon Fennel Seed
- 1/8 teaspoon Caraway Seed
- 1/8 teaspoon Anise Seed
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic Salt
- ½ teaspoon Dried Parsley
- ½ teaspoon Crushed Rosemary
- ½ teaspoon Thyme
- ½ teaspoon Oregano
- 1 Bay Leaf (tear in half)
- Sea Salt (a few shakes to taste)
- Cracked Pepper (a few turns to taste)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- A Dash of Cinnamon (less than 1/8 teaspoon)
- 8 Cups Shredded Cheese, Including Mozzarella, Provolone, Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina, Romano, and Cheddar
I usually buy it as follows:
3 @ 2 cup packages of Food Club Italian blend. I believe that Sargentos has a similar blend. The important point is that this is the exact same blend that I used to grate by hand, so I was very happy when they started selling it pre-shredded. It includes Mozzarella, Provolone, Asiago, Parmesan, Fontina, and Romano
1 @ 2 cup package of Tillamook Tuscan Blend. It includes more Mozzarella and Parmesan, but also adds enough Cheddar to improve the crust
- 32 oz. Low Fat Ricotta (I normally use Frigo)
- 16 Full Length Ronzoni Lasagna Noodles (or equivalent – lay dry noodles out in your lasagna pan ahead of time and calculate how many it will take to completely cover the surface with some overlap, then double the number – this is a two layer recipe)
- You Should Always Have More Than One Bullet Point in a List
- Fill an 8 qt. stockpot approximately half full with water, dribble a few drops of olive oil in the water, and set on high to boil
- While water is heating, chop green peppers, onions, and portabellas, and mince garlic
- When stockpot of water reaches a hard boil, add lasagna noodles and cook at a rolling boil according to package directions for al dente doneness, approximately 10 minutes. As noodles soften, be sure to push all the way down into the water
- Add 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet
- Sauté green peppers, onions, and garlic over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently
- Sprinkle a dash of Tarragon and Basil over the vegetables, add portabellas, and cook for 2 additional minutes, or until vegetables and mushrooms are soft; set aside
- When lasagna noodles are done, carefully drain noodles into pasta strainer in sink
- To save on dishes, use the same 8 qt. stockpot to cook your sauce – you don’t even need to rinse it
- Add pasta sauce and ready-cut tomatoes to the empty 8 qt. stockpot, setting jar and cans aside without rinsing
- Bring sauce to a low boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally; cover and reduce to low heat
- Add the red wine to one empty tomato can, swirl to mix with the leftover juice, then pour into the other empty can. Pour back into original can and repeat until the sides of the two cans are mostly clean. Pour the resulting liquid into the empty pasta jar. Seal the lid and shake until the remains are well mixed. Set aside
- Open and drain quartered artichoke hearts and black olive slices
- Add sautéed vegetables, artichoke hearts and black olives, and all of the spices and herbs to the sauce. Stir well. Add crimini mushrooms, then pour the wine/sauce liquid reserve from the pasta jar over the top of the mushrooms. When the wine has been absorbed by the mushrooms, stir the mushrooms in with the rest of the sauce and cover
- Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes
- Open your bags of cheese (or begin grating… now) and your container of ricotta. Set up your station for filling the lasagna pan
- If lasagna noodles are too hot too handle, rinse with cold water
- Carefully taste the piping-hot sauce. Adjust seasonings to your liking
- If you are planning to cook the lasagna right away, preheat the oven now to 350 degrees
- Ladle half of your sauce into the bottom of the lasagna pan. The sauce should be very thick by now, but still have enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan and keep the lasagna from sticking to the bottom of the pan
- Cover the sauce with half of the noodles laid out flat with the edges overlapping. Try to completely cover the sauce
- Plop spoonfuls of ricotta randomly over the noodles until half of the ricotta has been used. The heat from the sauce below the noodles should quickly soften the ricotta, allowing you to smooth the ricotta over the noodles somewhat evenly
- Cover the ricotta with half of the cheese blend
- Repeat steps 2 through 5 until ingredients gone
- Caution – assembled dish is fairly heavy
- Assembled lasagna can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to a day in advance
- To cook immediately, set on middle rack in oven and cook in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, checking after 30 minutes (ovens vary)
- If the lasagna has been pre-assembled and refrigerated, you’ll probably need to cook it for an entire hour
Thursday, June 7, 2007
- Shut the damned door and turn off the furnace! What are you trying to do - heat up the whole outdoors?!
- Stop eating so many energy bars
- Recycle plastic - Melt down Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan to make next year's celebutants
- Don't wear the black dress
- Stick lumps of coal up ass; make diamonds
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
...or me, neither.
So, I'm finally back from the hospital, and recovering fine. I still have pain from the clots and from the damaged kidney, and I get tired real easy, but I'm already bored, so that's a good sign. It will probably be at least a few more days until I can really hang-out online again, because one of the dvt (deep vein thrombosis) clots is around the inside of my right elbow and typing isn't all that pleasant. Which pretty much means you only get me when I'm on drugs. Which, if I'm being totally honest, is about 75% of the time right now. But, yeah. Not so much for the sense-making. So that's the update. Thanks again for all of your good thoughts and best wishes. It meant a lot to me.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I haven't really been hospitalized for exhaustion, though. I'm just laid up with a chest full of lung-butter oyster stew and a high fever that I just. can't. shake. My temp.'s been under 100 for about 3 hours out of the last 72, and that's on medication. Every time I get toward the end of my dose it climbs back up to 102 or 103. So I am exhausted, and my life right now is pretty much all about hanging out in bed all day, drinking, and taking drugs, but not like that. So, I guess my point is, if you can read this, go wash your hands. Or run a Norton sweep.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Boing Boing: Space Ghost Coast to Coast + 60 Minutes + Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip + McGyver = The A-Team. Well, The B-Team, anyway. Either way: RIAA? You better watch your backs, fools!
Suicide Girls: America’s Next Top Model + Attack of the Show! + The Real World = The Apprentice. Is it exploitation or empowerment? Who cares. If you’re not 17–36, conventionally unconventional and hawt, you’re fired!
Wil Wheaton dot Net (WWdN: In Exile): My Name is Earl + Family Matters + Celebrity Poker Showdown + Wheel of Fortune (I’d like to buy another “L”, Pat) = Max Headroom
Google = TV Guide
YouTube: America’s Funniest Home Videos + Nova + Public Access Television + Jackass = The Gong Show
Fark: The Gong Show + WrestleMania = When Animals Attack
MetaFilter: Mythbusters + The McLaughlin Group + The Soup + American Idol + Antiques Roadshow + Talk Sex with Sue Johanson = The Simpsons. Or Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? I can’t decide. Maybe both, I guess. So what's The Simpsons + Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? Ah. Got it. MetaFilter = South Park. I should have known. You bastards!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
You're on board when the Food Network's private jet loses an engine and crash lands in the Andes. All of the network's celebrities survive. So... who do you eat? There are a few criteria to keep in mind:
1) Bam! for the buck. You'd want to pick someone with a bit of meat on the bones. Giada may look good enough to eat, but she'd hardly make for a feast.
2) Tenderness. Age may bring wisdom and superior wine, but youth just tastes better on the barbie. Paula Deen might be a good source of ready-made jerky, though, for the long hike out of the wilderness.
3) Quality of feed. Okay, more than one of the celebrity cooks are packing a few extra meals around on their frames, but what ingredients went into making all that well-marbled meat? If you are what you eat, you just know Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray are at least 75% artificial preservatives.
4) Cooking chops. Once the menu has been selected and dispatched, someone has to prepare it. You'd probably want to keep the best chefs around for sheer aesthetics. And because they'll cut you. Very, very efficiently.
5) Annoyance factor. Sure, Bobby Flay is the BBQ king, and undoubtedly the most qualified to whip up an expedient long pork banquet. You get the sense it's something he's done more than once before. But would you really want to be trapped on a mountainside with him?
All things considered, I'm voting go with the flo. Tyler Florence - it's what's for dinner.
- Travel to: 1895. Hack: The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells. Mod: Add brief descriptive text about the “Flux Capacitor”
- Travel to: 1936. Hack: The international broadcast of the Berlin Olympic Games. Mod: Shave one side of Hitler’s moustache
- Travel to: The Beginning. Hack: Everything. Mod: This is the way the world starts. Not with a Big Bang, but with a Big Whimper
- Travel to: 1184 BC. Hack: The Trojan Horse. Mod: Paint “For her pleasure” on horse’s ribs
- Travel to: 1812. Hack: Napoléon Bonaparte. Mod: Crazy glue right hand to chest. Short sheet his cot (will have to be very, very short)
- Travel to: July 20, 1969. Hack: The Apollo 11 moon landing. Mod: Stick Suction Cup Garfield Plush to inside window. Attach “My Other Vehicle is a Lunar Rover, Bitch” bumper sticker. Change “Apollo 11” to “Capricorn One.” Replace Tang with Folgers Crystals
- Travel to: Sept. 11, 2001. Hack: The Pet Goat. Mod: Change title to My Pet Goatse. Replace text with mirror. When Bush spreads the covers, the asshole in the middle will be clear.