Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"where she's from the birds sing a pretty song"


"Kwe" is an eastern Algonquian way to say hello. "Kwe", instead of, "Hello English people", would have been the greeting Tisquantum would have spoken to the Puritans if he hadn't learned English during his prior enslavement.

Happier news: girlfriend chuggans made a cake for election night (yes, I know that was a while ago).

Here it is:

Also, she hinted at there being a "democratic surprise" inside. This was my favorite part.

This Sunday I brewed an experimental batch of beer. It was made with brewing leftovers: Peat smoked, roasted and flaked barley malts (not malts one would traditionally use to constitute an entire recipe), and a portion of vienna malt. It is my first attempt at designing a recipe and I must say that doing so is crazy hard! There is math involved. I soon found that the calculations in the math hardly mattered because my brewing method was so imprecise. I tried to mash on an electric stove in a single kettle in an attempt to have a greater amount of control over the process, but electric stoves are not designed with temperature control in mind. I want a gas stove. Here are pictures of what happened:
Align Left
I have no idea of how to format these posts better, sorry.

So what you see: Mashing,
Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), the yeast, and the beer! Flavored with the citrusy and tannic evergreen Hemlock, and made of black, smoky malts, this brew evokes the dark spirits living in our woods. It is called Black Lodge (Chuggan's suggestion). Hemlock has been used by settlers for its high vitamin c content to ward off scurvy and by natives for brewing a soothing tonic. I used it for there ain't no hops and thought it might complement the rough flavors. It sure does, and this beer lives up to its name. It tasted thick and evil, though not necessarily bad... I think I used too much hemlock because when I tasted it, it made me feel a little dizzy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bruce's Diner

Welcome to a new bachelor diner.
You probably thought I was dead. Maybe you thought I had married.
Not the case. Today, my friends, Bachelor Diner is reborn.
The time - Samhain's Eve; a time for all souls to wander the Earth again.
The scene - Bruce's Place; our new domain.
The players - myself, potatoes and kale.
The conflict - what to do?
The resolution - combine them.

This haunted eve, I found myself with a sparse larder and an angry gut. All day, I knew that I needed potatoes. I started to bake the potato. I said, "what else?" I had kale that was going to start rotting.
To the internets! Knowing what I know about these two vegetables, I searched "irish food". And yes, I was right - Irish Food I found. Or rather, it found me.

The dish is Colcannon. I don't know anything else about it, but that it requires very irish ingredients: potatoes, kale, cream, milk, butter, salt. I added garlic for good measure. With the potato baked, I mashed it up, the skin crusty and delicious. This added a unique textural element boiled potato skins lack. I did not have enough potato to house the healthy leaf of kale I had intended to incorporate, so I boiled another small potato (this is what you see steaming in the picture). Next I sauteed two fat cloves of garlic in the skillet with butter and a dash of milk and salt. Then I mashed it all, and it was delicious.

Leannan, I shall cook this for you anytime.

Bottom Picture: The lumpy mound of greenish-creme colored stuff is the colcannon, carrots, brie on toast, and homebrew stout. Slainte!

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Budget Gourmet for the Budget Bachelor: Minute White Rice

Good evening fellow diners. My name is JPK, and I am the new bachelor on the block. For my inaugural Bachelor Diner post, I'm going to wind up and hit you on-a-budget bachelors with my saving-savvy cricket bat.

It is a dark, dark time for the American economy. The greenback is on the steady decline. Gas prices are rising. The cost of a bottle of Sailor Jerry's is steadily rising from $15 to $18 to $20.

Step away from that window sill, bachelor! The key to surviving in these harsh financial times is neither suicide nor alcoholism.

...well, at least not suicide.

The key is healthy, nutritious eating that leaves both your wallet and stomach full at the end of the day. This series of healthy, inexpensive food columns will help you navigate the prologue to the post-apocalypse so that you will be the last one standing when everyone else on your block eats their neighbors for food, blood, and marrow.

The first essential food for any penny saving bachelor is Minute white rice. A low cost alternative to other more expensive rices (I'm looking at you, pilaf), Minute rice is the ultimate bachelor food for two reasons. First, it costs between $2.25 and $4.50 for 14 (7 servings) to 28 ounces (14 servings) worth of rice. Second, it is monkey-easy to prepare. All it requires is an equal serving of water to dry rice. 

Recipe: Minute Rice
1/2 cup of rice
1/2 cup water

microwave 2:30 on High

The trick, bachelors, is to bring a half-cup sized container full of dry Minute rice with you everywhere. For an instant lunch, pour the dry rice into a second serving receptacle and fill the original container with water. It provides you with simple transportation of your lunch that will leave you as satisfied with the lack of cleanup as you will be with your quenched hunger. Garnish your Minute rice with any number of sauces. Feeling like Asian? try low sodium soy sauce (I recommend Kikkoman's). Feel like Indian? try Trader Joe's Yellow Curry sauce. Add some spinach, beans, tomatos, and garlic for some Mexican flair. Add butter for a simple side. Barbeque sauce and Sriracha hot sauce also mix nicely.  

The last benefit of Minute rice is the energy that it provides you with. Riboflavin and glucose are the building block of any bachelor. While Minute rice won't provide you with the energy and stamina required to say, work a whole day at the construction site or spend a whole night lifting weights, it will provide you with a quick, low cost, cheap thrill that will take your hunger out back and give it a firm talking-to.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Frozen Pizza: Tabula Rasa

Sterling, MA

Bonjour en Printemps!

Wonderful days recently, I must say, especially out in the valley. Alas, I am in Sterling. I planted beets, zucchini and cucumbers as an addition to the container tomatoes (2 varieties) we have at home. Now I've got two miniature gardens separated by a sea of trees.

Some NEWZ:
A new collaborator, JPK, the famous one of course, is now going to be spewing all over these pages. JPK's main interests are Stallone and Predator. His secondary interests are alcohol and Star Wars. He's an awful guy, and we're glad to have him.

Here's the newest from the Diner:

I know you are panicking right now. It is dinner time and you're a bachelor/ette, which invariably means you have no food that isn't frozen or moldy. One of the best frozen foods to have on hand at all times for a situation like this is a frozen pizza. The bread of our bachelor generation, frozen pizza is truly a TABLUA RASA - a blank slate. Work your majick, diners, for eating isn't just a bodily activity, but an opportunity to reunite with your hunter-gatherer ancestors who experimented with food on a regular basis. This article is about how I figured out how frozen pizza works.

Frozen pizza on its own ranges from awful and overpriced (ie. Big Y nacho pizza) to pretty good and worth the cost (Trader Joe's Quattttrrrroooo Formaggio or Margherita). I say skip the sucky varieties and invest in some other the latter. They aren't that much more expensive, and the ingredients actually are of a higher quality. Naturally, this improves the overall experience.

Often, one of these TJ's pizzas on its own is sufficient to quell the riotous gut, and this is the most you will probably be able to muster for dinner if having it for lack of other options. However, if the opportunity presents itself in the form of fresher vegetables, or if you need to impress a mate, then I have some suggestions that will improve your station in this respect.

I am not offering a way for you to turn water into wine, but rather water into water with a lemon in it, so don't get your hopes up.

The procedure. Preheat the oven to hot (according to the box). When you throw in the pizza, it will probably be frozen still. If this is the case, you must wait until it has attained defrostment in the oven before adding ANYTHING FRESH. Otherwise, say, for instance, if you add tomatoes or meat at the same time you put the frozen pie in, the fresh-like toppings shall overcrizisp or in other ways worsen. Adding these things after about 2-5 minutes is a good rule of thumb. Remember that many vegetables means soggier pizza, so if you use something like fresh tomatoes, try to remove excess water, or suck on them first before the act of topping.
Also, cook longer than instructed by one-two minutes because your pizza MUST be crispy in the middle, for appropriate crispiness levels are always sought by the Diner.

Basil is a must for many varieties of frozen pizza. Fresh is really the only kind of basil to use, so try keeping a small pot of Basil Genovese (the sweet big-leaf eyetalian type) or whichever cultivar you like best (Thai is great also). Put the basil on when it comes out of the oven, or near the end if you want it a little cooked. It loses flavor when overheated.

Basil is immensley easy to keep if you buy a plant that has sprouted. A plant can be kept in the window of your kitchen if there's room, and plucking leaves when needed ensures that the your plant is a prodigious producer. Needless to say, I am a loudmouthed advocate for this plant.

Remember, you are not an amateur. You are already a Star!

- T Bars.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Weekly Gripe #1

The Weekly Gripe
Sterling, MA

Hello Friends and Foes,

Allow me to introduce the Weekly Gripe. I decided just now that I should be allowed to have my gripes broadcasted, so I invented this feature of Bachelor Diner. It's called the Weekly Gripe because it sounds like I will be practicing some sort of self-restraint in posting these gripes, but the reality will be that they shall occur whenever the Gripe Is Ripe. Maybe I will change the name to "The Gripe is Ripe"...

So this Weekly Gripe is about an old conniving curmudgeon and his best friend. The 'mudgeon is our current president and his pal is that loser, John "Brick-Face" McCain. I was reading about this great-sounding GI Bill that is about to be passed by the Senate and has already been passed by an un-vetoable margin in the House. It is the best GI bill since the first, probably. It offers to veterans, among other well-deserved benefits, free tuition to a four-year public university. I think that this is limited to those who have served at least three years since 9/11. Still, that is a great many servicemen who have seen their post-duty options dwindle during those long months waiting to come home. For many, I'm sure that once they have returned home opportunities for a rewarding future have slipped away.

As you may be able to tell, the gripe isn't about this bill. It's about the boneheadedness that those two dusty burdens on society have exhibited as they went about preaching and whining about the GENEROSITY of this bill. One of the excuses they gave was that they were afraid it would deter re-enlistment. First of all, a reality check. You, sirs, have already done more than any vote in congress could ever do to deter enlistment and re-enlistment. If anything, this new bill offers more hope to increase enlistment than anything you may have tried because it offers real incentives. By systematically succeeding at making awful decisions during the execution of this conflict and, moreover, deciding to start this fight in the first place you have set a new precedent for poor leadership. Now, telling veterans essentially that they don't deserve this "gift" from the government, you have set an even greater precedent that I expect our subsequent executives will have a very hard time attaining.

Here's the juice - this isn't a gift. Those entering into the military owe you nothing. You and the rest of your cronies are in debt. You owe the American public a number of outstanding debts, but you owe the soldiers you have betrayed time and again respect and gratitude. Be thankful they went along with you on this half-assed nutjob adventure in the first place and also be thankful that more of them don't realize how much you've been screwing them.

This whole thing reeks of diabolism. Why don't you just come out and say that you don't like this bill because it offers a graceful exit from the arachnoid trap of military service that your administration has been weaving? Another way to read this: your impotence has left the bedroom and so now we have little to fear from you in the way of further destruction of our institutions and ideals. If that's true, then perhaps we are seeing the first sign of self-repair coming from the government with this mediocre nod in the direction integrity.

Happy Memorial Day
Now playing: Bob Dylan - Visions Of Johanna

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Behind the Scenes at Bachelor Diner

5:00pm 5/22/08
Le Cirque du Traci -

Hello team! Thought I might make some time to present a little feature to the blog I like to call le GranTour. This is for people who really want to keep up to date with the shifting dynamics of the Bachelor Diner premises and cohort, etc. Things have changed a lot since we moved in last August and now I am preparing to leave for summer employment back home.

Le Cirque du Traci will continue to be a very important part of my life, and I thought I might like to document it so that my children will see the squalor I lived in as a young college student. This photoset is intended to show you readers who can only think of possums, Judas, Rock Band, and throwing up in the Tercel when considering what is Tracy Circle another side of our life here.

Some improvements have been made, mostly so that the ladies will have a comfortable summer cottagemove in to. You will see some of these as well as some continuing "issues". I do not claim to have made any improvements myself.

First, here is a shot of the basil/jalapeno garden. It has been raining for days.
Next a few of the kitchen/ dining room areas.

Much more to come later!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fish-a-stick Sand-a-wich

Hey Blogosphere, haven't seen your 'round lately!

Entre le Sandwich de Poisson Baton avec sauce. If one took to perusing the annals of time as oft as I during my nightly self-improvement sessions, one would begin to cultivate as bountiful a knowledge of the fish stick sandwich so common to the plates of kings and knaves alike. Traditionally a dish of the Canadian Maritimes, this plate no longer knows international boundaries. Shown is the commonest outfit (minus cheddar cheese), but any exotic dressing may suit it well.

Slathered in vegetables, tartar sauce and tomato catsup and with a side of greens or beta carotenes, one may wonder why he or she ever issued a disapproving smirk at the prospect of ingesting such a meal (that be for you, girlfriend). Truly a dish for anytime, anyplace, in any state of undress, for any person - Emperor and fisher-prince alike.

Like I said, couples well with greens, a cucumber salad, and orange vegetables. Covers well with red tomato sauces (marinara included) or traditional fish-type sauces and fresh veggies, and it's always served crunchy (all parts).

Pairs well with english-style ales, esp. IPA's. Serve her with a dry stout and a side of the sea vegetable dulse for an Irish spin anyone will enjoy. Black label is a fair drink substitute for penny pinchers. Milk and apple juice work too.

Good literature pairings are books about big theories and such.
Now playing: Dolly McMahon - Love Is Teasing

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Welcome To Bachelor Diner

You heard it right folks! Bachelor Diner is officially ON-LINE. We are also almost officially ready to shovel shovelfuls of our glorious food into your impatiently slobbering maws! Just a couple more renovations to make to the shooting range, ball pit, and vomitorium. Until then, feast your eyes upon the officially first menu item to be offered at Bachelor Diner: The Canadian Dinner.

Everyone knows how important "Kraft Dinner" is to Canada, it being the official dinner of the Montreal Canadiens, the dinner served at the Charlottetown Conference for the confederation, and also being an old home remedy for those suffering "Crown Royal Headaches".

We offer you our faithful reproduction of the dinner often referred to as the Mother of Canada. Our version gives the diner a couple options on the standard cheese-only kraft dinner. We offer a
meat selection, including but not limited to Hamburger, Hot Dog, BBQ chikan, Tuna, and for vegetables - onion, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, peas, etc. Sides of ketchup are standard, but other sides are available including BBQ sauce and Sriracha.

Beverage pairings are a dry Red Wine, Black Velvet, Moosehead, Alexander Keith's, or milk.

Here is the tuna option showing ingredients et cetera

For $6.00 you will be filled not only with food but also with an urge to
"stand on guard for thee!"