Spotlight on Leslie Handler, Author of “Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank”

 

About the Book

Part memoir, part essay collection, Rats, Mice, and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank is written with both wit and charm. It will take you on a ride from finding a mouse in the house to the mortgage crisis, from a smile to a chuckle and from a few tears to the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket sipping a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Handler offers a rich, touching, heartfelt and reflective read that will leave the reader with an indelible uplifting spirit.

Excerpt from Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank

Games, games, games

The boys I dated were mostly affluent.  In high school I had a double date with one of Ross Perot’s daughters, Nancy.  Actually, it was a triple date. The three girls were to meet at my house to make a picnic dinner.  The guys were to pick us up to take us to Shakespeare in the park.  Nancy showed up two hours late.  We had already made the fried chicken and the dessert, all that was left was the potato salad when Nancy arrived.  The boys were to be there in forty-five minutes, so my other girlfriend and I left my mom in the kitchen with Nancy while we went upstairs to spruce up.  Mom showed Nancy the bowl of potatoes and other ingredients and gave her a pot and other necessary utensils and told her she’d be back in a few minutes.  By the time my mom returned, Nancy had cut up a bowl full of raw potatoes filled with mayo and spices.  So much for rich girls knowing how to cook.  But then again, I’m not sure why I expected anything less since the first time I met her she asked to borrow a quarter for the cafeteria soda machine.  She never did pay that quarter back.

As for the boys, they picked us up on time, we had a lovely picnic, sans potato salad, and I don’t recall really ever interacting much with Nancy for the rest of high school.  She was a lovely girl.  I guess you could just say, we ran in different crowds.

I had lots of exciting dates in those years.  At the time, I wanted to pursue going into the hotel business, so I got myself a job at the finest hotel in town and spent a summer getting to know everyone from the housekeeping staff to the head maître ‘d of the finest restaurant there, to the general manager.  One of my dates, decided he would impress me by taking me to dinner there.  Apparently, he dined there often and thought he’d impress me when the waiters all knew him by name, but by the time he was taken to our table, he found himself alone. When he turned to see where I was, he found me hugging and kissing all the wait staff and calling them all by first names.  After I watched my date pick his jaw up off the floor, we managed to have a lovely evening with no need to further attempt to impress one another.  I dated this boy on and off for several years before I met my husband.  He was fun, and treated me well, but I never did feel much substance there.  He used to pick me up in a different car every time we went out.  There was the Trans Am, the Mercedes, and the Porsche to name a few.  My mom said that when he picked me up in the Rolls Royce, that would just have to be the last date because as she put it, “where do you go from there?” You know? She was right. That was our last date.

But I had other great dates with lots of other guys throughout high school and college.  My favorite dates though, were dates with my dad.  He always wanted to have special time with me.  I’d get all dressed up and we’d go out on the town.  Sometimes he’d take me to a show, sometimes to lunch, sometimes even to dinner.  But going out with dad always meant special time and to this day brings cherished memories.

Mom was the softy.  Dad was the disciplinarian.  Both gave me and my older brother nothing but love and support for our entire lives.

In this first chapter, I tell you all about these stories and even more stories about my growing up. Like so many children, one of the things I begged for was a family pet.  At one point, my folks went out and bought a boxer puppy….this from two people who knew nothing about raising a small animal let alone a boxer.  They blinked and “Happy” the dog, became an untrained, crazed, lunatic beast who hung himself by his own chain over the back yard fence.  The good news is that Happy lived to tell the tale, and kept his tail as well.  The next day, I was told he ran away.  Years later dad tried a Mynah bird.  Between the screeching and the feces throwing, that one didn’t work out too well either.  Eventually, I received an untrained Bichon Frise of unknown age who became one of the loves of my life and the bane of my mother’s existence.  His name was Pierre, but mom called him the carpenter dog because he did odd jobs around the house: a little pee here, a little food dumping there.  But for me, from then on, I was a dog lover.

You’ll hear more stories about my animal adventures throughout my life. You’ll also hear about one of my family’s earliest challenges regarding my loving brother and my first lessons in hate, love, and the power they each have.

Finally, I leave you with this early memory.  It’s one of my favorites and it explains why rats have been in my life.

I could smell the chlorine filling my nostrils as I quenched my thirst from the water flowing from the garden hose.  I could see those waves of heat floating in the Texas air on a hundred degree summer’s day.  We’d hook the sprinkler up to the hose and run bare foot through the water and the soft iridescent grass that could never be too green in the southwestern sultriness. When we were finally cool enough, we’d wrap ourselves in the thickness of terrycloth towels, dry off, and head inside for a read-a-thon in the air conditioned coolness of our home.

In the winter months, there was nothing more enticing than a pile of pillows and blankets placed before a roaring wood-burning fire.  But even the smell of the smoke escaping up the chimney with the remnants of roasted marshmallows trailing its sugary aroma right behind wasn’t as good as what was to come.  The best part, was the sweet smell of the drying hair of my two little girls fresh from the tub-all squeaky clean with the scent of youth.  I can remember the little hairs inside my nose would vibrate and tickle when we would crack open that first book of the day.  I would suck up those freshly printed pages with a deep inhale offering up that first book to the noses of my girls.  They too could sniff the words right off their pages and into their hearts. The flicker of the fire light would illuminate the beautiful faces of my girls as we began the first adventure of the day into the world of books.  At their youngest, there was Chick-a-Chick-a-Boom-Boom, Are You My Mother?, and any Berenstain Bears books.  As they got older it became Goosebumps, Ella Enchanted, and eventually Harry Potter.

A Handler read-a-thon, whether in the heat of the summer, or the frigid days of winter, was our time, our special time, time to cherish each other away from the stresses of daily life.  It was our escape, our escape together.  In those days, aside from relieving ourselves of full bladders or empty tummies, there was only one thing that would get us to break away from our reading, and that, was a good board game.

One such board game was a game called “Oh Rats.” Each player received his own puzzle.  He had to take the puzzle apart and then take a turn spinning a board that showed one puzzle piece.  If he didn’t yet have that puzzle piece, he could use it to add towards the completion of his puzzle. If he already had it, he would shout out “oh rats,” and it would be the next players turn.  The winner, was the first person to complete his puzzle.  I loved this game.  I loved it because it taught the girls their shapes and colors, but I mostly loved it because it taught them about the frustrations in life of not always getting what you want, and being able to just chalk it up to an exclamation of “oh rats.”  To this day, when something doesn’t quite go my way, I can just shout out “oh rats” and know that it’s ok.  There will always be another game, and there will always be more rats in the world.  Finding the right balance and getting your puzzle all put together, well that makes all the difference.

With that, I hope you enjoy the following essays about my special family, how we think about dogs in our house, and if I left something out, “oh rats,” I’ll have to wait until my next book to explain it.

Bio

Leslie is a 2015 Society of Newspaper Columnists award winner. She’s an international syndicated columnist with Senior Wire News Service and a frequent contributor to WHYY and CityWide Stories. She freelances for The Philadelphia Inquirer, ZestNow, and Boomercafe, as well as blogs for HuffPost. Her first book will be published Spring, 2018. Leslie currently lives smack dab between Philadelphia and New York City with husband Marty, dogs Maggie, Hazel, and Ginger, a collection of fish, said husband’s cockatoo who she’s been trying to roast for dinner for the last 33 years, and a few occasional uninvited guests. You may follow her blog and read published essays at: LeslieGoesBoom.com.

 

 

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com

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Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

American Appetizer

BACON WRAPPED SHRIMP

INGREDIENTS

24 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 slices bacon
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
no-stick spray

SPECIAL UTENSILS

24 toothpicks
baking rack
cookie sheet.

Serves 6. Takes 30 minutes.

PREPARATION

Set oven to broil and preheat to 400 degrees. Soak toothpicks in water. Slice each bacon strip into two halves crosswise.. Add shrimp, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce to mixing bowl. Toss shrimp until they are well coated. Wrap each shrimp with bacon. Secure with soaked toothpick. Repeat for each shrimp.

Spray baking rack with no-stick spray. Place shrimp on baking rack. Place baking rack 3″ from heat. Place cookie sheet under rack to catch drippings from bacon. Broil at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until bacon becomes crispy. Watch carefully, bacon can go burned quickly.

TIDBITS

1) Sir Francis Bacon was a mainstay in the Elizabethan era because he was brilliant as all get out, being an author, statesman (Lord High Chancellor England), scientist, blah, blah, blah. . . and a budding culinary saint! Francis was researching the effect of freezing on meat when he contracted pneumonia and died. This selfless act, was no doubt, the inspiration for the safe modern freezer/refrigerator. It is tantalizing to further speculate that Sir Bacon invented the cut of pig known as bacon. Many culinary historians assert this hypothesis most vigorously, particularly so after they’ve been drinking heavily.

2) At any rate, bacon was a staple of the American culinary scene by the early 18th century. America’s settlers wouldn’t have even considered crossing the land’s great expanses without an adequate supply of bacon. Tasty bacon would go onto grow and stabilize the great American Republic.

3) Unfortunately, by 2017, demand for bacon began to outstrip its supply. The Republic is in danger. Civil unrest will surely follow. Indeed, political discourse is already getting ever more heated and frenzied.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Chicken Shrimp Jambalaya

Cajun Entree

CHICKEN SHRIMP JAMBALAYA

INGREDIENTS

1½ pounds chicken breasts or thighs
½ pound andouille sausage or Polish sausage
1 bell pepper
2 celery stalks*
4 green onions
3 tomatoes
1 large yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon white pepper or black pepper
3 tablespoons lard or butter
2 bay leaves
⅔ cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock or fish stock
2 cups rice
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

* = Technically, the entire thing of celery you buy in the store is a stalk. However, most people think of each individual rib or piece as a stalk. Indeed, many, if not most cookbooks, have thrown up their hands and call each long thingy of celery a stalk. I too have been assimilated and will be calling each long celery thingy a stalk. We live in a perilous world of celery flux.

Serves 8. Takes 1 hour 30 minutes

SPECIAL UTENSILS

Dutch oven
sonic obliterator

PREPARATION

Chop chicken and sausage into ½” cubes. Dice bell pepper, celery, green onion, and tomatoes, and yellow onion. Mince garlic cloves. Add chicken cubes, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, and white pepper to mixing bowl. Mix by hand until chicken cubes are well coated.

Add sausage cubes and lard to Dutch oven. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until sausage browns. Stir occasionally. Add bell pepper, celery, yellow onion, and garlic. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until yellow onion softens. Stir frequently. Add coated chicken cubes. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Stir frequently. Add green onion, diced tomato, and bay leaves. Lower heat to low-medium and cook for 5 minutes or until chicken becomes tender. Stir enough to prevent burning. Add tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir enough to prevent burning.

Add stock and bring to boil using medium-high heat. Stir occasionally. Add rice. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice becomes tender. Stir enough to prevent burning. Add shrimp. Cook at medium heat for 3 minutes or until shrimp becomes pink or orange. Stir enough to prevent burning. Remove bay leaves. This dish requires at lot of chopping, so if anyone distracts you, zap them with your sonic obliterator.

TIDBITS

1) There are brave shrimp and there are chicken shrimp.

2) Chicken shrimp tastes better.

3) Everybody knows that.

4) Brave shrimp are absolutely unsuited for chicken shrimp jambalaya.

5) Your guests will laugh at you if you make this entree with brave shrimp. And they will hate you.

6) They will tell their friends and those people will tell their own friends in turn. Soon your entire neighborhood will shun you. Eventually, the whole world will do the same.

7) You will have to join the Culinary Protection Program.

8) So buy chicken shrimp.

9) Do chicken shrimp cost more than brave shrimp?

10) Yes, of course. Fierce shrimp are out in the open, daring all comers to fight. They think they can kick their opponents real good with their many feet.

11) However, they are easy prey for shrimp boats with their large nets. Their leg kicks don’t damage shrimp nets much. Not at all actually, to be honest.

12) Most fierce shrimp are thrown back into the sea. Some are saved for caged shrimp fighting. But this is a barbarous sport and nearly all nations have banned it.

13) Where are the chicken shrimp?

14) Being timid, this shrimp hide in tiny rock caves.

15) Doesn’t that make them hard to find?

16) You have no idea. To find chicken shrimp, you need thousands of teeny, tiny subs all equipped with teeny, tiny: sonar, jet-propelled harpoons, and tractor beams. This is why the chicken shrimp, the good shrimp, is so expensive.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Lemongrass and Five Spice Tofu

Vietnamese Appetizer

LEMONGRASS AND FIVE SPICE TOFU

INGREDIENTS

2 stalks lemongrass
3 garlic cloves
1¼ pounds firm tofu
1 cup vegetable oil (2 tablespoons more later)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
¼ teaspoon white pepper or pepper
½ tablespoon soy sauce

PREPARATION

Discard all but the tender, inner and lower, green part of the lemongrass stalks. Mince garlic cloves and remaining lemongrass. Slice tofu into 8 long rectangles. Pat dry with paper towel. Add 1 cup vegetable oil to pan. Heat oil at high heat until a tiny bit of tofu in the oil will start to dance. Carefully add tofu rectangles to pan. Fry tofu rectangles for 8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Turn over once. Fry for 4 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the new bottom. (Monitor the tofu carefully as the time between golden brown and crispy can be short.) Remove tofu and drain on paper towels.

Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to 2nd pan. Add garlic, lemongrass, and red chile flakes. Sauté at medium heat for 2 minutes or until lemongrass is tender and fragrant. Stir frequently. Add Chinese five spice, white pepper, and soy sauce. Mix until well blended. Add tofu rectangles. Sauté at low-medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn over once. Place 2 tofu rectangles on each plate. Carefully spoon sautéed lemongrass/garlic from pan over tofu rectangles.

Serves 4. Takes 45 minutes.

TIDBITS

1) It’s startling to hear this now, but for centuries, perhaps even millennia, lemons grew on grass rather than on trees. The reason for this change and other  ensuing culinary changes was war.

2) The British navy had been losing thousands and thousands of sailors to scurvy. In 1753, the British conducted controlled experiments to find a cure for this dread scourge. They strongly concluded that lemon juice would keep scurvy at bay. A scant forty-two years later, the British Admiralty began issuing daily rations of lemon juice. Scurvy disappeared! The navy could indefinitely blockade Napoleon’s ships and keep him from invading England. It was all so neat. Unfortunately, the Admiralty’s lemon mowers cut so much lemon grass that ground lemons were on the brink of extinction. Botanists stepped in and grafted lemons onto trees. This process worked well that the lemons developed seeds that would sprout into full-blown lemon bearing trees. History is such fun.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Natilla

Colombian Dessert

NATILLA

INGREDIENTS

1 cup whole milk* (4 more cups later)
1¼ cups cornstarch
4 cups whole milk
2 cinnamon sticks
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
1 panella (Mexican brown sugar) or 2 cups brown sugar
½ cup condensed milk
1 tablespoon butter, softened
½ cup grated coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* = Whole milk really is needed. Without it, the cornstarch can’t make this dessert set.

SPECIAL UTENSIL

8″ * 8″ baking dish

Serves 9. Takes 2 hours 40 minutes.

PREPARATION

Add 1 cup whole milk and cornstarch to mixing bowl. Blend with whisk until cornstarch dissolves completely. Set aside. Add 4 cups whole milk, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, and panella to pot. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or until panella melts. Stir often. When mixture starts to boil, add condensed milk. Stir enough to keep mixture from burning.. Remove cinnamon sticks.

Add cornstarch/milk mixture to pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-to-25 minutes or until liquid is very thick, is hard to stir, and you can see the bottom of the pot when you stir. Stir this natilla mixture constantly. Gently fold in butter and coconut. Pour natilla mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

TIDBITS

1) Attila the Hun was originally named Wholemilk the Hun because he loved whole milk. He’d never drank sissy skim milk. In 434, a Byzantine diplomat, seeking to widen Wholemilk’s taste range, gave WTH–Wholemilk the Hun, not What The Heck–100 jars of skim milk. This enraged WTH so much that he invaded the Byzantine Empire. He also invaded Persia, the Western Roman Empire, and various Germanic kingdoms floating around the west; moderation not being one of his strong points. In desperation, Pope Leo I, in 452, offered him the wonderful dish shown here if he’d just go home. WTH liked it so much that he overate and died. Pope Leo became Pope Leo the Great and Wholemilk became Attila, a near anagram of natilla, the saving dessert of Europe.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Icelandic Crepes (Pönnukaka)

Icelandic Entree

ICELANDIC CREPES
(Pönnukaka)

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1¾ cups flour
12 ounce jar lingonberry jam
1 cup whipped cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
no-stick spray

Makes 16 crepes. Takes 50 minutes.

SPECIAL UTENSIL

crepe pan or skillet

PREPARATION

Melt butter in skillet. Let butter cool. Add cooled butter, eggs, milk, and sugar to large mixing bowl. Mix with whisk for 1 minute or until thoroughly blended. Add baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and flour to second mixing bowl. Mix these dry ingredients with whisk. Gradually fold in the baking powder/baking soda/cardamom/flour mix into the butter/
eggs/milk/sugar bowl. Mix with whisk. Batter is ready when lumps disappear.

Add drop of water to pan. Turn heat to medium-high. Pan is ready when water sizzles. Spray pan with no-stick spray. Pour ¼ cup batter into pan. Tilt pan or use spatula to make sure batter spreads thinly and evenly. Cook first crepe at medium-high heat for 1 minute or until bottom of crepe turns golden brown. (X-ray vision helps. If you do not possess this skill, gently lift up the edges of the crepe with a spatula and take a peek.) Turn crepe over with spatula, a wide one is helpful, and cook for 1 minute or until golden brown. Or turn over crepe when bubbles break it surface. Remove crepe from pan. Repeat for each crepe. (Note the temperature needed to turn crepes golden brown will go down with each successive crepe.)

Place 1 tablespoon whipped cream and 1 tablespoon lingonberry jam on the middle of each crepe. Fold in half to make a half-moon shape. Fold in half again to make a pie wedge. Press down gently to spread lingonberry and whipped cream through crepe. Top with ½ teaspoon confectioner’s sugar. Repeat for each crepe. Serve right away.

TIDBITS

1) More than half of all Icelanders believe in elves! Icelandic music companies have a bias in signing musicians who profess to believing in elves. It is said the elves will defend their rocky homes by using magic powers. Bulldozing companies sometimes arbitrate with elves in hopes of getting the wee people to leave. I would love to see this.

2) The Yule Lads are Iceland’s answer to Santa Claus. While the story around Santa Claus originated from a real person, Saint Nicklaus; the Yule Lads descended from evil trolls. Indeed, parents tormented wild children with, “The Yule Lads will get you if you don’t behave.” However, the Powers That Be made this form of parenting illegal in the 18th century. Now, the Yule Lads are relatively benign even though they sport names such as Bowl Licker and Window Peeper.

3) Today, kids are tormented by Internet outages.

4) Britain and Iceland nearly went to war three times over the right to fish for cod near the Icelandic shores. Something to think about when munching on a fish stick.

5) This tidbit did not survive editing.

6) Icelanders love to play midnight golf during June and July when the day is twenty-four hours long. There are lava beds on some Icelandic golf courses. Is there a lava-bed wedge in Icelandic golf bags? I don’t know.

7) Ice melts when dropped into any one of Iceland’s volcanoes.

8) Indeed, ice melts in any of the world’s volcanoes.

9) Cheese sandwiches burn rapidly when placed in an active volcano. That’s a bad way to toast your cheese sandwiches. Indeed, doctors everywhere recommend against this cooking technique, citing near certain incineration of the chef.

10) This is why Iceland has no gourmet toasted-cheese sandwich restaurants close to active volcanoes, not even for tourists.

11) Can Iceland’s magical elves survive the intense heat of an active volcano? If so, they could toast cheese sandwiches. Sure, Iceland’s elven chefs would have to have incredibly quick and skilled hands. But wouldn’t a volcano-fired golden brown cheese sandwich be way cool?

12) I left enough space below for a scratch pad.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Corn On The Cob

American Entree

CORN ON THE COB

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup fresh basil
¼ cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
⅛ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ears corn, in their husks

Serves 4. Takes 35 minutes.

SPECIAL UTENSILS

aluminum foil
outdoor grill                                                                                              Modern food, ancient weapons.

PREPARATION

Dice basil. Add all ingredients save corn to mixing bowl. Mix with whisk until well blended. Peel back corn husks most of the way and remove corn silk. Brush corn with buttery blend. Close husks over ears. Tightly wrap corn in aluminum foil. Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Place foil-wrapped corn on grill. Grill for 20 minutes or corn is tender to the fork. Remove corn and place on plate. Let sit for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Remove husks.

TIDBITS

1) Since the dawn of time, people have been trying to hurt each other. At first, combatants made scary faces. However, all cavemen had scary faces and all fights ended in draws. Then Ogg, an intellectual giant for his time, dislodged the bugs in his hair and let a stiff wind carry the little critters onto his opponents’ face. Exactly, 1,217 years later Ogg LXII found if he lifted up his arms, the wind would waft the ripe odor from his armpits toward his foes, knocking them out instantly.

2) However, this Oggian technique relied rather heavily upon getting the wind at one’s back. However, this secret would soon be discovered by all cavemen a scant two millennia later. Cavemen would dance around each other trying to get the wind advantage. Indeed, Ogga, Ogg CXI’s wife, found herself grabbing Ogg and whirling around, trying to get the upper hand. But then, she found this close-quarter dancing with her husband to be great fun. It caught on with all cave couples. The waltz, and all other forms of dancing, had been invented.

3) Three millennia later, Ogg CCCXXXIII, discovered how to grow corn. This act revolutionized warfare. The corn cob, with its hard kernels, delivered a vicious migraine, extended the attacker’s reach, and most of all, eliminated the role of wind in combat. Migraine battles proliferated. Then, in the Bronze Age, Ogg DCIV figured out how to make swords. The mighty corn cob lost its position on the battlefield, but not in our meals. We eat corn cobs to this day. There you go.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Bulgogi (Barbecued Beef)

Korean Entree

BULGOGI
(Barbecued Beef)

INGREDIENTS – MARINADE

4 garlic cloves
1 green onion
1 nashi pear or bosc pear
1⅓ pounds sirloin, beef tenderloin, or rib eye
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon pepper
1½ tablespoons rice wine or sake
¼ cup soy sauce

INGREDIENTS – REST

½ leek
1 medium yellow onion
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

SPECIAL UTENSILS

mandoline (useful, but not essential)
wok (or large pan)

Serves 4. Takes 2 hours 40 minutes..

PREPARATION – MARINADE

Mince garlic cloves. Dice green onion. Peel, core, and grate or dice pear. Slice sirloin into strips ⅛” thick. Then cut strips into 3″-by-1″ rectangles. Add all marinade ingredients to mixing bowl. Toss ingredients until sirloin rectangles are well coated. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.

PREPARATION – REST

While sirloin rectangles, marinate, dice onion. Use mandoline or knife to slice leek and onion into strips ⅛” thick. Add sesame seeds to pan. Toast sesame seeds at medium heat for 5 minutes or until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Reserve sesame seeds.

Add sirloin with its marinade, leek, and onion to wok. Heat at high heat for 4 minutes or until sirloin browns and is cooked to your liking. Stir occasionally. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

TIDBITS

1) Bulgogi is made with sesame seeds.

2) Sesame seeds look like bugs.

3) Bugs move. All the time. Don’t even think of asking them to pose for a portrait.

4) So when scientists want to examine a particular, fixed pattern of bugs, they use sesame seeds in place of the bugs.

5) Or “in lieu of” of the bugs. “In lieu of” sounds fancier than “in place of,” don’t ya think?

6) Anyway, these bug patterns can consist of up to two-million sesame seeds. These large patterns can take sixty sesame-placers a whole year to construct.

7) So, when someone sneezes on the intricate sesame-seed pattern, the bug scientists (entomologists, another cool word) get rather irate.

8) On May 4, 1937, the famed aviator, Amelia Earhart, visited the prestigious American Institute of Sesame Seed Patterns (AISSP) to raise funds for her round-the-world-by-air adventure.

9) Ms. Earhadt wowed the men of the institute. Massive funding from AISSP was promised.

10) Then Amelia sneezed. A gale-force sneeze. 1,223,768 carefully seeds scattered all over the room.

11) Just two more sesames seeds had been needed to form the needed sesame pattern. At which point, photographs would have been taken.

12) Analysis of these photographs would have enabled entomologists to eradicate grasshopper plagues. Massive swarms of these insects had wiped out North Dakotan agriculture in 1935 and that of Montana a year later.

13) Ms. Earhart became deeply unpopular. Indeed, torch-carrying sesame-entomologists chased her to her plane. She quickly started her Model 10-E Electra and decided to start her round-the-world flight. If she had more time, she could have gotten a plane with more sophisticated communications and a longer range.

14) Alas, she, her navigator, Fred Noonan, and her plane disappeared on July 2, 1937.

15) Ten years later, Amos Keeto, photographer from the Paducah Post, realized that he taken a quick picture of Amelia at the AISSP. He was sure that the picture’s background would show the nearly completed sesame pattern. Unfortunately, he’d given the picture to the famed aviator as a keepsake just before she left on her fatal journey.

16) If only that picture could be retrieved, we could figure out how to stop all insect-caused crop failures forever. This is why we keep searching for Amelia Earhart and her plane.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Deep Fried Mars Bars

British Dessert

DEEP FRIED MARS-TM BARS

INGREDIENTS

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
¼ cup seltzer water
¼ teaspoon baking powder
5 chilled Mars bars (worldwide version) or Milky WayTM (American version)
4 cups vegetable oil or enough to cover Mars bar in deep fryer

SPECIAL UTENSILS

deep fryer Two aliens on a flying saucer
tongs

Serves 5. Takes 50 minutes.

PREPARATION

Add flour, salt, water, seltzer water, and baking powder to mixing bowl. Mix with whisk until well blended. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

Pour batter into tall glass. Add oil to deep fryer. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Use tongs to dip Mars bar into tall glass. Remove and let excess batter drip off. Use tongs to place coated Mars bar in deep fryer. Fry for 2 minutes or until bars turn golden brown and become crisp. Remove from oil with tongs. Place deep-fried bar on paper towel and pat dry. Repeat for remaining bars.

TIDBITS

1) MarsTM was first produced by Forrest Mars in 1932. It’s sparked religious interest ever since.

2) Mars is the Roman god of war. Technically, the deity could have sued Mr. Mars for copyright infringement, but didn’t. Many culinary theologians have argued that a living god of war would certainly challenged Forrest Mar’s logo appropriation. Therefore, Mars doesn’t exist. Once we accept Mars non-existence, belief in all the other Roman dissolves. And indeed, the number of people worshiping Roman gods after 1932 has been pretty darn close to zero.

3) The American Mars bar ceased production in 2002, came back, stopped production in 2011, and finally came back online 2017. Its composition and size has varied over the decades. Culinary theologians hypothesize that these observable events led to widespread believe in reincarnation.

4) Currently, the Muslim community of Australia is debating halal certification for Mars bars.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Costa Rican Pork Casado

Costa Rican Entree

PORK CASADO

INGREDIENTS – MARINADE

2 dried chiles, guajillo, ancho, or other
1⅓ cup vegetable or pork stock
5″ carrot
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons molasses
½ small onion (additional 2 onions later)
2½ tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar

INGREDIENTS – SALAD

¼ head cabbage
1 small carrot
1 small tomato
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

INGREDIENTS – RICE

1 cup basmati or white rice
1 onion (1 additional onion later)
2 red bell peppers
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (5 additional tablespoons later)

INGREDIENTS – PLANTAINS

2 plantains
5 tablespoons vegetable oil

INGREDIENTS – PORK

1 onion
4 pork loins

1 15-ounce can black beans

SPECIAL UTENSIL

outdoor grill

Serves 4. Takes 1 hours 30 minutes.

PREPARATION – MARINADE

Seed chiles. Add chiles and vegetable stock to pan. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or until chiles soften. Add chiles, vegetable stock and the remaining marinade ingredients. Puree in blender until smooth. Coat pork loins with marinade. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Keep marinade.

PREPARATION – SALAD

Shred cabbage. Dice carrot and tomato. Add cabbage, carrot, tomato, pepper, and salt to mixing bowl. Mix with fork.

PREPARATION – RICE

Add rice to pot. Cook rice according to instructions on package. While rice cooks, mince 1 onion and red bell peppers. Sauté on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Keep rice and onion/bell pepper mix warm.

PREPARATION – PLANTAINS

Peel plantains. Slice plantains in half lengthwise. Add 5 tablespoons vegetable oil and plantain to pan. Sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes or until plantains become tender and turn golden brown. Drain and keep warm.

PREPARATION – PORK

Cut onion into four slices. Grill onion and pork loins on barbecue grill at high or 450 degrees. Grill onions for 10 minutes or until they start to char. Turn them over once. Grill pork for 20 minutes or until it is cooked through (white inside) or starts to brown. Turn over every 5 minutes. Brush with marinade each time.

PREPARATION – FINAL

Put beans in pot. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until sauce begins to bubble. Add pork to plate with grilled onion slice on top. Add rice to side and top with onion/red pepper mix. Add 2 plantains to the side. (Lots of sides, aren’t there?) Add cabbage to a remaining spot on plate and top with carrot and tomato.

TIDBITS

1) This recipe has orange zest. As far as I know there are no movie titles with the word zest in them. But there is a classic movie called “Lust for Life.” It’s about Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh was an artist. So am I. I had a vase displayed in the Gemente Museum in the The Hague, Netherlands. I am now a chef. The upcoming movie about my life is likely to be called, “Lust for Zest.” See, I finished this tidbit with a line to spare.

 

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, humor, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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