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Under Pressure

December 10, 2014

“These are the days – it never rains but it pours” – Queen

Snow days can be fun. Ice days are just brutal. The only thing to do is hang out inside and cook the cold and the isolation away. Of course there are some people who just have to brave the roads and snarling traffic. I’m really glad I’m not one of them.

Instead, I got to put a local pork shoulder in the slow cooker and smell it braising all day long. Young Master Fussy got a hot lunch of homemade chicken soup with orzo. We made organic popcorn on the stove and ate in front of the TV. The kids got to see their first ever episode of The Munsters. As a side project I made a batch of pretty darn perfect hard boiled eggs. And finished up some of the charcuterie and chocolate cake that have been laying around the house.

It’s hard to complain.

Oh yeah, and I was able to take my brand new pressure cooker out for its maiden voyage, which was probably about as harrowing as I had expected.

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Albany… To Go

December 9, 2014

It’s taken a while, but over the past several years I have developed a deep affection for the Capital Region. Is it perfect? Far from it. But dammit, the place has character. And more than that, it has potential.

So it’s the holiday season and I’m going to go visit some friends. Some friends who may not quite fully understand why or how I live here. And I want to bring one thing that embodies this place I calling home.

But I’m going to have to lug it on an airplane, so that really rules out some of the obvious suspects. Neither mini hot dogs, fish fry, nor mozz and melba will hold up to the rigors of travel. Even apple cider donuts would be a shadow of their former glory after a day of transit. And it doesn’t have to be edible either.

Naturally, I have a few ideas to share. Maybe you’ll think of something I omitted, or perhaps you may just want to vote for one of the things below.

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Brakes, Cakes & Chopped Steaks

December 8, 2014

It’s the last full shopping week before Chanukah! Oy vey. The holiday begins a week from Tuesday. That means its last night is December 23, the day before Christmas Eve. I’m not sure if it will be wonderful or terrible for those who observe both holidays to have ten straight days of celebration.

I don’t think I could take it.

Having a December birthday, I’ve been informed that many of my gifts were combined presents for both surviving the past year and for the Maccabees overcoming assimilation by the Assyrians. Actually, I don’t really want any presents for the latter. Celebrating Chanukah with the giving of gifts somehow feels like it violates the spirit of the holiday.

Fortunately, it’s also the seasonal festival when we get to celebrate the miracle of the oil. So I’ll be eating myself silly on fried foods. Which, incidentally, I also happened to do on my birthday. And I’ll tell you about that in just a moment, but first I have to share my exciting weekend discovery (and no, it wasn’t Tavern Noodle–I missed Sunday’s pop-up).

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Birthday Weekend

December 5, 2014

Today is the last day of my twenties… of my thirties? I’m sure you won’t be shocked to learn that neither of those is true. Fortunately it’s not the last day of my forties. But tomorrow I do get another year older.

The downside is that it’s a totally unremarkable age.
The upside is that my birthday falls on a Saturday!

Although my idea for a great birthday these days is a lot different than it used to be.

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Let Them Eat Cake

December 4, 2014

Hopefully I can keep my head. Historical precedent hasn’t taken kindly to talk of cake when important matters of social justice are unfolding just outside the palace gates. Or maybe that’s just apocryphal. I’m not sure it matters.

I have no expertise on the subject of police violence and the needless deaths of unarmed black citizens or other abuses of power. If you are interested in these things you should check out what Ben Brucato has to say.

What I do have are a lot of notes from a cake decorating demonstration I attended yesterday at the Market Bistro cooking school. It was taught by Duff Goldman who flew in from Los Angeles in part to promote his book and his line of cake mixes and decorating tools. Apparently he is on cable tv in addition to owning a bakery in Baltimore.

Anyhow, even though I don’t do a lot of baking, it’s always interesting to watch an expert in action. More than anything else, this gave me a tremendous appreciation for the craft.

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Winter Shorts

December 3, 2014

Some people might resent having to buy their own birthday cake. I’m not one of those people. Really, I’ve been thinking a lot about the TC Paris chocolate cake with whipped salted caramel. That’s a crazy good cake. But it’s just a little too far out of the way for a cake run.

Now I have something else in mind. Something that’s a little bit brighter to help drive away these winter blues. Not that I’m down. It’s just that my toes are turning blue. Damn, it’s cold. And it’s going to get colder. Ugh.

Not exactly shorts weather.

But those aren’t the kinds of shorts I’m talking about in the post title. Really, instead of doing one long post today, there are a lot of short topics that I want to share. I’ve got a big list piling up, people are getting in the winter spirit, holiday parties will be starting soon, and Christmas will be here before you know it. Yikes. No time to waste.

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Buying Second Best

December 2, 2014

A long long time ago I started collecting Calphalon hard anodized pots and pans. They were fantastic at searing, non-reactive with acidic foods, and built to last a lifetime. At the time they cost a pretty penny, but they were worth every cent.

They just couldn’t go in the dishwasher. And that was okay. For a while.

Not quite that long ago, but still a few years before the move to New York, I got to register for wedding gifts. Most of the registry was modest, except for one item where I shot for the stars. That was the super deluxe Kitchen Aid stand mixer. At the time it was the top of the line. And I felt as someone who enjoyed cooking, it would make my life complete.

Grumpy old men are supposed to tell you to buy durable goods that will last forever. Sure, they’re expensive. But you only have to buy them once. They’ll save you money in the long end, and all that rot. And in some cases that’s true. But it’s not always true, and I’ll tell you why.

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