Thursday, September 23, 2010

Taste Sensation: How to Make Rocket Potatoes AKA Failurepie

Psychological Footing:
Begin with an idea, half-conceived in both potential methodology and probable outcome. Approach task confidently as many of your attempts at culinary high seas adventuring have been successful, however opportunities to cook with such abandon are rare and always met contentiously.

Physical Ingredients:
Two habenero peppers. Three jalepeno peppers. A bundle of green onions. Potatoes. Milk. Butter. Kosher salt. Fresh ground pepper. Rye flour. Corn starch. One egg. Corn meal.

Get a pot of water out. Use tap water, even though you know your house was built during the salad days of the Coolidge administration so you must be certain that the water comes in through lead pipes. Assume boiling gets rid of the lead. What else can you do?

Cube the potatoes. Ignore the one that's a little green in parts because that's not mold, sometimes potatoes are green a little like that. It's not important to know how many potatoes for this recipte. Just eyeball it, but since five peppers will be going into it, its safe to use a lot to help deaden the hotness.

Also note, the size and uniformity of the cubed potatoes is irrelevant. So long as the potatoes get cubed and you have not hurt yourself, you have successfully cubed the potatoes.

Dump potatoes into the water. Rinse the habenero peppers, cut off the tops and throw them in the water as well to boil more or less whole. Leave in the seeds for that is where the hotness is. Let it cook.

The step to peel the potatoes was not skipped. These are skin-on mashed potatoes.

While this is boiling, take time to relish in the moments where this seems to be a good idea. A taste sensation. How hot these thick and creamy mashed potatoes will be. It's nice to believe in lies.

While that's all boiling, chop up the jalepenos in little bits. Don't decide what to do with them yet. Just realize that whatever step comes next, these need to be chopped up now. Put some kosher salt in with the water. You've heard that's good for boiling stuff. Respond to the living room and watch an episode of True Blood.

When the potatoes are yielding to a knife, but not entirly soft, you should be able to smell the sweet hot of the habenero and it nearly burns your eyes from its spicy heat. Now, dump in the jalepenos. Decide this on a whim. Be sure to include the seeds again for this is where the hotness lies. Ignore the feeling that these potatoes will already be bracingly hot due to the habenero essence mingling throughout all the potatoes. You already have the jalepenos chopped...what else can be done? Let them boil for a while, say 5 minutes, while the last few exciting moments of the True Blood episode transpire.

Return to the kitchen. Strain the potatoes and peppers. Put into a bowl. Put on some butter, a few teaspoons and apply milk as you would to a bowl of cereal. This means pour in milk until you see the milk through the bits in the bowl. As for the amount of butter to add, do what feels natural and go for about 3 tablespoons because that's abotu how much butter was left in that half-used stick anyway, and you were just going to use half that much, but you cut the stick wrong, so what else could be done? so just go ahead and do it. Now add kosher salt and some fresh pepper to taste.

Get out the eletric handmixer. Turn to the lowest setting. Commence.

Hot milk and bits of pepper will be flung around the kitchen, but ignore that. Sometimes kitchens get messy, go for it. This is still a taste sensation. Keep working the hand mixer. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

Notice now that it's not getting creamier. It's not doing anything, really. Realize you've made some kind of creamy pepper potato stew. Whip it some more. A bit more. Keep going. Give up.

Now comes the creative part. This simply must be thickened. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. Add some rye flour. Some being the exact measurement. Also shake in a little corn startch because that thickens up stuff as well...and you've had success using it before with the faux chicken pot pie. Throw it in the oven and let it bake while the oven preheats. It goes without saying that this should be done with an oven safe container, though you probably didn't use an oven safe container to hold the potatoes at first. That's okay. Doing dishes is fun like penance. Respond to watch another episode of True Blood.

When the oven is through heating up, give the potatoe mess a bit longer to cook, say 2 minutes. Pause True Blood. Remove from oven. Understand that his has done very little, making it about the consistency of cream of mushroom soup fresh from the can.

Eat some anyway because it's late and fuck it, you're hungry. You've tried, maybe it won't be that bad.

It's bad and scorchingly goddamn spicy. They would rub this stuff on testicles of detainees at Guantanamo to hear their deepest enough to burn leukemia from enough to warp time around the bowl where when you see it it is actually three minutes into the future. Eat some anyway. You've worked hard and remember that time you drank beet juice. How the first drink was delicious but the third tasted like bird vomit. Maybe this will be the reverse and it will get better.

It will not. Experience vurps like coughing shards of sun. Sweat. Survive.

Continue watching the True Blood episode.

Immediately become concerned about taking a shit the next day and know that nothing will be worse unless you also eat an entire four pack of light bulbs and some razors as well tonight. Consider taking some ice into the toliet with you in the morning to rub gently on your anus to soothe your pains (it will not come to this, thankfully).

Once it settles, try to fix the problem because there is a lot of this mess left. Pause True Blood. Dump in about a cup and a half of corn meal. Maybe a little more. A lot of corn meal. Put an egg in there, too. Why not? What you gonna do? Fuck it up? Honestly.

Stir it all up real good. Set oven to 375 degress. Throw it in the oven and let it warm up while it bakes. Let it cook until the top turns brownish or so.

You're not eating any of this tonight so let it cool on the stovetop. Continue to recover while watching the thrilling end to this episode of True Blood.

Cover. Store in fridge overnight.

Lament publically in your failure. Give the concoction a jazzy name or two. Take that one dump you were deathly afraid of, gritting it out like cowboys do when bullets are cut from them. Chewing on a leather strap is not necessary to endure it, but think later that it would have been helpful.

Remind yourself that last time you tried to make mashed potatoes normally you had messed that up, too, so wonder what made you think pepper infused mashed potatoes would be better. Be undeterred. Stay confident in your abilities. Wait for a chance to try your potatoes.

Know you can cook. You are good at it. This is just one failed experiment. It will get better. And, you never know, maybe this will turn out okay. Maybe rocket potato bake will be a taste sensation...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Second Acts

Lucy Grealy, as depicted in Ann Patchett's book, is a selfish asshole. She's the worst kind of intellectual girl, the kind you try not to roll your eyes at because they're just so "fun" and "different" and "free spirited" but it just seems more that they just really, really, really want to be noticed. Essentially, she's Natalie Portman in that Garden State movie. Funny thing is, I was pretty captivated by her in this book. The whole thing really drew me in even though I found Lucy pretty much consistently irritating throughout just begging for constant attention and reassurance. But, can you blame her?

For those unfamiliar with the story, the memoir is of Ann Patchett's selfless friendship with the selfish Lucy Grealy. Lucy was the toast of Sarah Lawrence where Ann got to know of her and they both got into Iowa's MFA, and they became fantastic friends until Lucy's early death (she didn't die from a cancer relapse though). The thing that makes Lucy's story so different is that Lucy had childhood cancer and lost part of her face to it, which she wrote about in her own memoir, Autobiography of a Face. Since she grew up mutilated in such an obvious way that cannot be masked, it of course caused some emotional scarring along the way; being shunned and stared at and openly mocked by children and assholes alike does take a toll on a person's psyche. So maybe that's what let me forgive her trespasses.

Lucy did try to undo what the cancer took from her. She underwent countless surgeries, most of them sounding more like Dr. Frankenstein experiments with skin, bone and tissue grafts, oh and the three years in Scotland with her face skin being expanded. It made the whole doctoring profession seem more like a child trying to untie a complicated knot in a fishing line, not exactly science-like precision as we imagine it, just trial and errors and effort. Knowing she underwent all that, also made me forgive her attitude a little.

Also there were the letters that Patchett shared which I found really interesting so it let Lucy speak for herself (to a degree, assuming they weren't heavily edited/changed for the book) instead of just this image of Lucy from Ann's point of view the whole time. That also revealed the Lucy that Ann actually saw and not the image of Lucy Ann had to portray in the memoir, if that makes any sense.

Long and short of it is, it's a fine book, a decent read. Well worth the used price I paid for it. I wasn't particularly moved by it, which I blame on the sudden appearance of Lucy being a hard drug user, which I did not see coming at all in a bad way...the surprise did not seem to fit for me because I didnt' see any behavior beforehand that would be indicative of a person who would start in using heroin. Maybe that's not fair and there wasn't...Lucy just sprung it one day on Ann, a little "By the way, I'm chasing the dragon. Bye, pet!"

But the more I think about this book, there's an element that bugs me about it. And it probably bugged Lucy, too. She has this face issue. Not her fault she got cancer and it robbed her of a normal life because of a section of her face was amputated. Anyway, her whole life is lived in relation to that face problem. No matter what she achieves, there's that face problem. She'll never not have that face problem, even if she didn't. Even if she had a surgery that was a total success, she'll always have that face problem.

In my own selfish lot, people don't have to know that I had a huge weight problem unless I tell them. People who I meet now have now image of the 140 pounds heavier me, so it's easy for me. I can live beyond my problem. Not Lucy. She never had the chance to be anything but the overcoming of a problem.

Take her sex life shown in this book for example. The amount of sex Lucy has in this book, if factual, is phenomenal. And the whole time, I was left thinking, "But, she has that face thing right? She can't be that bad off if she's having sex with this kind of regularity. I know some regular looking people who aren't this lucky in the bedroom. She must talk one helluva game." Her sex life is tied straight to her face. Her one super-successful about her face. Honestly, this whole book is kind of about, in some way, Lucy's face and her achievements & failings because of it.

And that's what bugs me about this book since it's subtitled "A Friendship." This isn't so much about the friendship because to be honest, the friendship is mostly one sided with Lucy using Ann like a crutch, a blanket, a disciple. Being a few days removed from the close of the book, and writing this pretty tired, I can't think of a single thing that Lucy gave Ann besides the pleasure of her company. Mostly, this is about what Lucy's face did to her from Ann Patchett's point of view. Maybe that's the point, I don't know.

But I have to wonder what Lucy thought about her predicament, which is why I'm reading her book next. Mostly, I'm interested in how self-aware she was of the problems the face issue presents for her. Like, did she think that she would be anything other than the girl with the face problem? Did she resent, but yet also kind of enjoy the face problem to a point? By enjoy, I don't mean she ever outwardly would ever say thanks for the cancer that took her teeth and the ability to close her mouth, that would be absurd, but her position as a successful writer came about because of her face (though maybe she would have "made it" as a poet if not for the memoir, and just on the strength of her writing alone). That face problem defines her, we can agree on that, so how she dealt with that definition would be interesting to read about. For a frame of reference, there are times where I think my entire life is in some way revolving around my weight, and I hate that deeply and I don't manage it well. But, what was Lucy's relationship to her face beyond seeing it as something to fix or change? I don't think I'm making my point very well.

Anyway, go read Ann Patchett's book. It's succeeds in spite of itself, which is what we should all strive for as people, yeah?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


This bullshit ruined me.

Maybe I shouldn't rely so much on pants sizes to make me feel good about myself. I know that. But it was a pretty big goddamn deal for me to wind up wearing 36 sized pants after not being a 36 forever was a great moment. Then to find out that I'm not actually a 36. That's I'm probably a 39...that's fucking with me.

Why, Esquire, why did you have to turn my wardrobe into a house of lies?

I guess it doesn't diminish my weight loss accomplishment. Since I was wearing a 46 in Old Navy pants so I must have really been a 60 or something ridiculous like that. Fucking hell. Was I really that bad? I didn't feel that bad off. And how can I still be that bad off? What the fuck do I have to do?

It's enough to drive you into depression motivated eating and drinking. Okay, so it already has done that to me, which isn't cool because of that cycle of bad behavior that creates. (You feel bad, so you eat, which makes you feel worse, so you eat again...viola, you wake up at 350 pounds and sweat while typing quickly).

I could go on and on, but I'm tired, a little drunk and it's Sunday so tomorrow is Monday morning. To be continued...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Looking Back

I paged back through some of my BOMM posts, and I realized a few things.

1) I had ridiculous expectations for this new job as for it being some kind of cure all for my non-writing. Here I am, nearly a year into my "new" job and not only am I writing less, but I'm also reading less. I'm generally just accomplishing less than before. I'm even working out less. Yet, I feel busier. I don't even have kids. Maybe it's not kids that make people feel busy, it's just being in their 30s. I hate feeling this busy. What am I rushing around for? And am I really rushing around? I didn't do a damn thing today aside from work, run, eat, fill out a form, make some lunches, fold some clothes while watching this on tv, and then tool around online. Oh, I showered, too. That's not a lot. I need to do more. Reading and writing needs to be in there everyday, but goddamn if I could figure out where.

2) I had a lot to say about my weight loss, though none of it was entirely enlightening. Oh, that's nearly a pun or something right there. Anyway, weight loss in practice is just hard work in correcting a mistake. It's like using a shitty eraser. It takes a lot of time, you have to take it slow, and you're still going to leave green streaks on the paper and never really mark out what was already there. Right now I'm sitting at around 218, I think, so I'm okay, but it just never feels like enough. I still feel terribly fat and out of shape. Like today, my goal was to run from home to the Capitol and back. I made it there and about a quarter (or so) way back before I broke down and couldn't do it anymore. I know I can do better. Yeah, that's weight loss right there in a nutshell. "I suck, I suck, I suck. I'm still sucking. I suck less than yesterday, maybe, but sucking is I." That's not enlightening, that's depressing and telling people what they already know.

3) I miss doing Bad Music Sundays, but they all would have commercials in front of them now, probably.

4) I need to write more reviews. I also need to read more (see number 1).

5) I have a preoccupation with the politics of men's bathrooms and also I'm shitty at picking MLB teams.

6) Mustaches are still awesome.