If I chance to bake a cheesecake
Half the neighborhood appears
All concerned it looks like too much food for one
Every neighbor wants a nibble—
There’s no lack of volunteers—
And I go from too much cheesecake down to none

But this week I did some cooking—
And it really turned out well—
But it doesn’t meet the neighborhood’s demands
Cos I didn’t bake a cheesecake
And the neighborhood can tell
So I’m left with too much haggis on my hands

Now for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
I’ve got haggis on my plate—
I’ve got more than I can handle, you can see
But my cheesecake-eating neighbors
Are indifferent to my fate…
And nobody’s eating my leftover haggis but me

I wrote this while eating a plate of haggis and eggs for breakfast. It was delicious, but yeah, the problem with haggis (this was my first homemade haggis–not the “presentation haggis” in a stomach, but just a regular recipe) is that there really is no way to make a small batch. You boil up the liver, heart, and lungs, and it’s not like you can say to a sheep “could you maybe have a smaller liver?”. So I made a regular recipe, and it yielded enough for a large family of hungry Scots, and there were just me and Cuttleson home at the time. He won’t touch it, so I’ve had haggis quite a bit over the past few days.

The dogs, though, are eager volunteers; I think next cheesecake, I’ll let the dogs lick the plates, right in front of the neighbors.

Today Is National Sandwich Day

I don’t know why Comeradde Physioproffe is posting a recipe for Squid Ink Penne with Arctic Char and Raclette Cream Sauce–as wonderful as it looks–you see, today is National Sandwich Day. And sandwiches are wonderful things. Both literally and metaphorically. First, the literal…

Two buns diverged from a breaded mass,
And sorry I could not, like a snake,
Unhinge my jaw to let it pass
Took one small bite, affecting class,
And thought it likely a mistake.

Then took another, as just a tease
And knowing I could not eat it all—
The deep-fried patty, stuffed with cheese—
I gobbled up with seeming ease
Until the point I hit the wall

And, gut distended, there I lay
With melted cheese upon my shirt
Oh, I lived to eat another day
And try again? Perhaps I may,
When I’ve recovered from the hurt.

I shall be saying this, with a sigh,
When fever fades, and I’m making sense:
Two buns diverge, and I will not lie,
This Heart Attack could make you die
And that would make all the difference

Context is here–suffice it to say, it describes a real sandwich.

Waiter! This Coffee Doesn’t Taste Like Shit!

I grind my coffee fresh each day,
A hearty, fragrant scoop
With hints of citric acid, and
A note of civet poop
But with the market full of fakes
I might just have to quit…
I mean, who wants a cup of joe
That doesn’t taste like shit?

Via NPR, the latest on Civet Cat Poop Coffee.

The beans are literally harvested from the feces of the tree-dwelling civet cat in Indonesia. The idea is that a trip through the animal’s digestive tract partially ferments the beans and imparts a much-sought-after flavor to the coffee.

The exotic processing makes the coffee, called Kopi Luwak, exceptionally rare — and expensive: Think $600 per pound. And thus, experts suspect that much of what’s sold as civet coffee on the market is actually either fake or made from low-grade beans.

And worth every penny. Think about it–the only possible reason to buy a cup is conspicuous consumption–showing off–and even more than dusty wine and stinky cigars, nothing says “I’ve got money to burn” more appropriately than paying outrageous sums for a cup of literal shit.

But the story is actually pretty cool. Actually, a lot of coffee chemistry and psychophysics is pretty cool. And the picture of the coffee-bean civet cat shit is classic (the living conditions of the animals, considerably less cool). And while I’d be willing to be part of a blind taste test to evaluate the extravagant claims, there is no way I’d pay for the privilege. Anyone who has seen my wardrobe knows, I am not one for conspicuous consumption.

Ah, So *That’s* Where The Fat Went!

A rack of ribs; a leg of lamb;
A turkey roast; a marbled ham;
The fat? We’d gladly eat it!
The drippings from the roasting pan
We use for gravy, quite by plan—
For flavor, you can’t beat it.

But now, our culture’s seen a change
And eating fat is more than strange
When folks are on a diet
Though sugar may be worse by far
Fat gets the blame, so people are
Reluctant, now, to try it

In vain attempts to be more svelte,
The fat we hate, we simply melt
And pour it down the sink
Where does it go? It goes “away”
And more than that, we cannot say
Because we do not think.

The fat collected as we cook?
It’s down the drain, without a look;
Our thoughts end with our meals
But in the sewers, fat gets cold;
Beneath our streets, we now are told
It naturally congeals

A city’s worth of melted lard
Starts cooling down and turning hard
We know what comes of that:
Stalagmites of a lipid sort,
And one, we hear by last report,
That’s fifteen tonnes of fat

Of course, there’s much that we can do
To help prevent these bergs of goo,
The sewer gods explain:
It’s time for people to begin
When cutting fat, to toss it in
The bin, not down the drain!

A Thames Water press release has a very practical warning, illustrated by an extraordinary discovery. The warning? Don’t pour melted fat down your drain (they make this plea each year during the holiday season, I hear, when so many families simultaneously dump the fat from a roast turkey, ham, or yak, down the drain), because it will congeal and clog your pipes.

The discovery? A fifteen ton tonne “fatberg” (pic at the link–worth seeing):

“Given we’ve got the biggest sewers and this is the biggest fatberg we’ve encountered, we reckon it has to be the biggest such berg in British history.
“The sewer was almost completely clogged with over 15 tonnes of fat. If we hadn’t discovered it in time, raw sewage could have started spurting out of manholes across the whole of Kingston.
“It was so big it damaged the sewer and repairs will take up to six weeks.

Nearby residents were unable to flush their toilets, and the investigation led to the fatberg’s discovery.

Remind me, next Thanksgiving, to thank the people whose job it is to go down into the sewers in such cases of emergency. 15 tons of rancid fat is, frankly, nasty, but when the system is working perfectly these people are going down into the sewers to check on a city’s worth of waste.

So consider this a public service announcement: Next time you cut the fat from your dinner, dispose of it in the trash, not down the drain. Or do what I do, and cook with it, eat it eagerly, and enjoy it immensely.

(Cuttlecap tip to Ed Yong, via twitter.)

National Doughnut Day, 2013

Let us raise our voice in chorus
For that deep-fried, doughy torus
Though it’s not the best thing for us
It’s a super special treat
Found in bakeries or delis,
Dipped in sugars, filled with jellies,
We can stuff them in our bellies
Just as fast as we can eat

And it’s Donuts, Donuts, Donuts, and Hooray, Hooray, Hooray!
So let’s all go out and go nuts, saying Happy Donut Day!

Surely, nothing could be duller
Than a day without a cruller
In that toasted-almond color
So you know it’s cooked just right
I love fritters and berliners
Some say Boston Cremes are winners
Cider donuts for beginners
So you’re hooked at just one bite!

And it’s Donuts, Donuts, Donuts, and Hooray, Hooray, Hooray!
So let’s all go out and go nuts, saying Happy Donut Day!

In the US, the first Friday in June is, as you all know, National Doughnut Day (or National Donut Day), and has been since 1938 (I would never have guessed it’s that old!). ABCNews reports that free donuts (or doughnuts) are available at Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Hortons, and more. Sadly, the best donut in the known universe (as determined by me, but objectively true nonetheless) is no longer being made. It was the apple fritter (don’t complain that it is not technically a donut–it is the perfection that every donut would want to be if were able to choose) made by a small bakery one town over from Cuttletown. I lived next door to that bakery 27 years ago, and never tired of those fritters. We moved away, and when I went back to visit over a decade later, they had discontinued their fritters! Customers just weren’t buying deep-fried pastries, so they got rid of the equipment (gasp!) and the recipe (horror!).

So, you can have your National Donut Day (or National Doughnut Day); for me, it is a day of mourning, for what was, for its time in the universe, the best possible argument for Platonic Ideals.

(Yes, the verse is a re-run; you aren’t losing your mind.) (well, maybe)

I’ll Have A Slice Without So Much Rat In It…

It’s processed meat; they say it’s mutton—
And that, of course, is that.
No need to worry over nutton—
It’s not (or is it?) rat.

But rat it is, or fox, or mink,
(And some of it’s diseased)
Chinese officials made a stink
And now it’s all been seized.

Some twenty thousand tons of meat
Were seized in raids this year
From bogus beef to chicken feet
It’s not quite right, they fear.

So have some tart, with not much rat…
It’s safe–but just not very
And if you please, have cheese with that…
Cos next, they’re checking dairy

Yup… via CNN, a story bound to leave you peckish…

Police in China have spent three months seizing bogus meat, some of it fake beef or mutton made out of fox, mink and rat.
They snatched up around 20,000 tons of illegal products, according to state news agency Xinhua.
In 382 cases, officials arrested 904 suspects for passing off counterfeit meat, meat injected with water or diseased flesh to consumers, the news agency said.

I’ve never had rat, but I do have recipes (I collect recipes; if you have some you think I might like, please send them along!), and I would not be in the least hesitant to try them. But. I want my rat meat labeled as rat meat. (More likely, I’ll butcher my own.) If my recipe calls for mutton, I want mutton, and if my recipe calls for rat, I want rat.

It occurs to me that my last comment on Taslima’s blog linked to a cannibalism site. Like I said… I collect recipes.

Updating The Menu (Halal Mermaid!)

Via Ed, we hear that there has been a change of dietary heart. Whereas it was apparently once the case that mermaid were officially (there was an official fatwa) off the menu, Ed reports that mermaids A) exist, and B) are halal.

I really never thought I’d have the appropriate excuse to repost this one, but it’s one of my favorites. You have to read it aloud to get the internal rhymes.

A fish connoisseur made paella with Mermaid;
He thought the aroma was nice.
With garnish of seaweed (his sycophants “oui-oui-ed”)
And saffron infusing the rice.
He clarified butter, and started to mutter
“It tastes like it’s really Mazola”
Then added blue cheeses: “the trick, if you please, is—
With Gorgon, you need gorgonzola!”
With minimum bluster, he gutted and trussed her;
You see, in his studies, he’d learned
That the delicate features of mermaid-like creatures,
If left unattended, get burned.
The succulent breast of (as well as the rest of)
The meal, would make proud its creator;
I was told that one bite would bring utter delight,
And I could not refuse… so I ate her.

Food Dreams

I found myself eating, last night, in a dream,
These most wonderful scones, served with real clotted cream
And a strawberry jam that was fit for a king…
I awoke to a fridge that contained not a thing.

… well, close, but not quite 100% accurate. The fridge has all sorts of things in it… for thanksgiving dinner. Not for today. But I did have a dream about scones with jam and clotted cream. Oh, my goodness, I did have a dream about scones, jam, and clotted cream. Now I have to get clotted cream to have on hand for when the Cuttlekids come for thanksgiving. Or maybe just for me.

Have you ever dreamed about food? What food? What circumstances? Have your food dreams ever come true? Was that a good thing?

I’m Having Some Old Friends For Dinner

Update–Oh my word, that was wonderful! I thought about taking a pic of the final product, but foolishly took one bite first… and then ate it all.

Braised for an hour to tenderize, then cut up and marinated overnight, then grilled just a little bit ago. And the Okto wine was the perfect accompaniment.