Month: March 2012

Rice Croquettes

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This is an old Depression Era throwback. It’s often the things we ate out of necessity that we cling to as comfort food. My grandmother, “Nonni”, would fry up everything if she had oil going. Left over rice never went to waste in the form of rice croquettes.

There’s no major science to this recipe. It’s an excellent excuse to make something fried if you have leftover rice from dinner or you can make it as a great appetizer on a drizzly evening. For this recipe I used:

3 cups over-cooked rice (see below)

3 TBSP finely grated NY sharp cheddar (I don’t believe in orange cheese)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

1 egg

2 TBSP milk

Boil the crap out of the rice. Keep an eye on it, let it absorb all the extra water, and stir, stir, stir. You want the rice very tender. Once the rice has boiled about ten minutes past it’s normal done time, take it off the heat and let it cool for at least 10 – 15 minutes. Mix together all the ingredients in no particular order until everything is well combined, make sure the egg is really blended into the rice mixture.

Bring 1-2 inches of vegetable or peanut oil up to 310-325 degrees in a sauce pan over high heat. While you’re waiting for the oil to reach the proper temperature, form your rice mixture into ovals about inch thick and 2-3 inches long. This mixture should make about 12. Use a small bowl of clean water to help everything from sticking to your hands, though it is a bit of a messy process. The ovals will be delicate; shape them as best you can.

Once the oil is heated carefully drop the rice croquettes into the oil. I am comfortable doing this carefully and slowly with my hands, as practice and experience has taught me how to do this without getting burned. If you’re at all nervous about dropping these delicate bites into the hot oil, place them on a spatula and then gently roll them of that into the oil using a spoon.

Fry the croquettes for 3-4 minutes or until they are golden brown on one side. Then gently turn them using two forks for support and brown the other side for an additional 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and parsley once they’re out of the pan.

Once you get making them down-pat, you can try stuffing them with hunks of cheese, prosciutto, or hot peppers. Use different spices in the mix based on your mood, anything goes with these really. With this recipe I recommend serving them as is or with a lemony, honey aioli. Hell, even honey mustard works well if a dipping sauce is needed. As a kid I loved them plain or with a little bit of fresh lemon squeezed over them. Delicious, simple comfort food made from leftovers from a time of an almost equally bad economy.

You Are Here.

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Many years ago I stepped on a train.

I very consciously, albeit impulsively, made the decision to do so. I have seldom known a personal decision that was not impulsive, but that’s not really the point. I got on this train and off it went, destination unknown, though I had plenty of ideas and dreams where I would have liked it to go. But dreams do not always a destination make.

For a long time the train moved this way and that, bobbing around corners, loping over hills, dipping, swaying, and all the time I sat content, happy just to be moving. Eventually, however, I noticed that the train was gathering speed. I had been carefree for too long. It would now take work and time to stop the train, two things I both dive into and shy away from depending on the day.

To quell my worries of the hastening ride, I would purchase a little something, a snack or a magazine, something to take my mind off the issue at hand. But though those purchases made my anxious journey momentarily more comfortable, they also increased my speed and lengthened the trip. Soon I was partaking in larger and larger escapes to satiate the fear of hurtling through the unknown, a nice dinner, a toy, a computer, a home, a career, all extending my stay, all accelerating the train. And all in desperate attempts to prove that I was merely a passenger,  not the conductor, and therefore was not responsible, or perhaps had more control, over its destination. For if I were just a passenger, I would have a ticket that says precisely when enough is enough. Wouldn’t I?

The train is still moving now, only the determined momentum makes it almost impossible to enjoy the scenery. It’s loops and bobs are frequently swerving, lurching, and sudden drops, catching me off guard and sending me careening clumsily out of my seat. I struggle at times to see what I’ve done, to know that I was never just a passenger.

The thing is that I don’t want to necessarily disembark. I simply want to stop the train and step outside a moment. I want to look at the engine and the cars themselves from the outside. I want to dispose of the excess. I want to climb atop its funnel and see the end of the line, to know where its going. I don’t want to leave it, or for it to leave me. I just want to see it from new angles, and to view it as a whole. After all, it’s part of me.

Get Out of My Poppin’ Way: Dark Shadows, Sherlock, Hunger Games + More

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Argh.

I finally had the interview for the job I truly, truly want and I’m not sure it went super well… it went okayish, but I don’t think it went exactly awesome. I just wanted to blurt out “I want this job more than anyone else you’ll ever interview and the work I’ll produce will prove it!”…but what kind of crazy bitch would do that? So, I’m kinda pissy. On top of the job search, it’s SXSW, the time of year when my town is both awesome and super annoying. So, I’ve been busy. I’m throwing out some bytes and moving on until a weekend recipe comes up. It’ll be thrilling. I think.

*First things first: The first trailer for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows has been released. It’s…well, it’s not like the original series, that’s for sure. Oh, is Helena Bonham Carter in it, too? Oh, good, ’cause I’ve always wanted to see her do a movie with Depp. It’s going to do as well as his stuff normally does, i.e. you’re going to see it because you love Tim Burton, or it might peak your interest a bit, or you’re not a Burton fan so you’re just going to pass. I, of course, will see it. See the trailer below.

* Going back to SXSW, let it be known that it was here in Austin that Joss Whedon announced a sequel of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog is on its way. Dr. Horrible sat in my Netflix cue for the longest time. It took forever for me to get around to watching it. I’m not normally into stuff like that (Glee can kiss my shiny, metal ass), but I was thrilled once I finally sat and watched it. My one disappointment was its brevity. It’s hysterical and well worth the hype. A continuation of the story is definitely an exciting prospect. [Wired]

*Remember when you read Ender’s Game in junior high? Well, some punk kid made a complaint against his teacher reading it aloud, claiming the content was “pornographic”. We are raising a bunch of entitled sissies. Suing is entirely too easy and this twerp just ruined his teacher’s life over a book that has been deemed suitable for school children 12 years of age and older for well over two decades. We’re reaching a point where being appropriate will wind up being entirely too sheltered. This really sickens me. If they think Ender’s Game is pornographic, they must think Hunger Games is down right hardcore bukake. [Blastr]

* If you haven’t watched the BBC’s Sherlock, stop wasting your life on the internet and go watch it right now. Amazing, thrilling intelligent, very well directed, love, Love, LOVE. And, thankfully, a third series will be upon us soon!…Well, I say “soon.” Perhaps “eventually” would be better. Alright, you want to know the truth? We will all see both parts of The Hobbit before we get to see the next series of Sherlock. BUT at least we’ll be able to get our Sherlock Holmes and Watson fix in the form of Smaug and Bilbo, respectively. No, you’re right, that’s not much consolation at all. [NME]

* How cool is Gillian Anderson? So cool that she turned down a role in Downton Abbey. Lady Cora’s got nothing on this stone cold fox. I don’t look at this as a mistake on Anderson’s part; I look at it as her solidifying her BadAssed-ness. It’s a word. I’m sure that’s a word. [Metro]

* Mario isn’t just a video game character. He and his tall, thin, clumsy brother are an intricate part of my childhood. I would tend to disagree, however, that they are the world’s greatest piece of surreal art. In a new show on PBS’s Idea Channel, the Mario Bros. are scrutinized in an entirely new light. Entertainment in a new scope. I don’t play video games to waste time – I do it for ART! Watch below.

* Eugene Fomin over at Ugo.com has compiled a list of Doctor Who‘s most famous guest stars. Simon Pegg is near the top of a very short list of Plan B guys if this whole marriage thing doesn’t work out, so Pegg’s a natural favorite guest star of mine, though it is pretty funny to see Rowan Atkinson with long flowing hair. [Ugo]

* And, finally, the newest clip released from the Hunger Games  is of a scene that any fan of the books can tell you was not in the original novel. It is, however, a good summarization that could help the storyline if, over the course of what I assume will be a trilogy of movies, the producers decide to cut some necessary points. Watch below.

The Most Pointless Post Ever: Cupcake Surgery

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I want everything all at once, all the time, instantly. I keep most of these wants to myself, but when I see an outlet for one to be easily obtained, I go for it. Why the hell not?

I rarely have cupcakes. They’re good. Perhaps too good. They also go straight to my ass. Now, Hey Cupcake is…tasty. They’re a staple of Austin primarily because they’re bright and accessible with food trailers dotted around the city. BUT, if you really want an amazing cupcake, go to Sugar Mama’s on South 1st. Incredible AND they deliver. But Hey Cupcake had a new flavor and I wanted to try it.

The new flavor: John Lemon. It doesn’t taste like any John’s I’ve ever known, but the lemon is certainly noticeable, in a good way. Not too sweet, not fresh lemony, but not sugary, either. A Fresh Lemon&Mint cupcake would be great, but that’s really Sugar Mama’s arena.  The quandary is that I also love Hey Cupcake’s Sweet Berry (and their Double Dose and the Michael Jackson, but let’s stick to the point), so ‘why come they don’t’ have an amalgamation of those two flavors? (See that? I mixed a little Southern colloquialism with intelligence speak.)

I had to take things into my own hands.

“Hey, Honey,” I said turning to my buddy. “Are you getting that new John Lemon?”

“Yep.”

“If I got a Sweet Berry would you trade a bite for a bite?” I was going to trade full halves, but he didn’t have to know that right then.

“Sure.” And just like that I become a surgeon.

The plan was that I’d take my yellow and pink beauties home and simply swap the tops. An amazing idea creating a Strawberry Lemonade cupcake, but one that Hey Cupcake! won’t sell on their own…for some sad, sad reason. Chip didn’t mind because he always gets the majority of mine anyway; I get half way through one and I have to go lie down. And it was simple outpatient/cupcake surgery.

So, the rest of this pointless post because a picture book.

The Top Swap: Much tastier than Wife Swap

The amazing final product.

NOW GO EAT SOME CUPCAKES!

The Proof is in the iPudding: New iPad3 Announced Today!

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You know how I feel about a new iPad: In short, I’m so in love with my Macbook Air, that I only have eyes for thee. That being said, new Apple announcements are always exciting.  And besides, I may say I love it, but Polly really “loves” my Air.

I’m really hoping we hear something regarding Apple TV. It’s thanks to that ‘lil hockey-puck sized device that I was able to ditch cable for good. We even talked my retired parents into getting one (Incidentally, my mother couldn’t be more in love with her iPad 2 than she already is).

Regardless of your Apple device of pleasure, be aware that iOS 5.1 is available today, so make sure you get that update.

Enough chatter – What’s so special about the third generation of iPads? Plenty.

Photo Credit WSJ 

There’s a reason no other tablet on the market can come close to competing with Apple’s iPad, but as far as the newest generations specs go, it offers…

  • The newest iPad will be offered at the same starting price point, $499, as the previous models, and will be available next week (3/16)!
  • According to GadgetLab, it will also be 4G LTE. Does that mean anything to you? Well, it doesn’t mean anything to 99% of the world’s population. Their statement on it is roughly “So, 4G LTE means it’s faster….?” Check out SNL’s take on it HERE.
  • Super mega Retina display, better then flat screen tv’s. Of course. Seriously, I haven’t heard enough incredible things about it. For those who have seen it in person, it’s apparently beyond incredible.
  • A better 5mpxl camera. Excellent, but I’d still rather take photos with my 4s than an iPad.
  • An A5x quadcore chip means better and faster everything, with super speed and better graphics.

Is it worth it to upgrade if you already have an iPad 2? Eventually. Immediately? Only time will tell.

[WallStreetJournal]

3 Clips + a Trailer: The Simpsons, Hunger Games, John Carter, & MIB III

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I am not a Josh Brolin fan. He’s not attractive. He’s never done anything that really intrigued me. I hear he was good in No Country for Old Men, but I didn’t even like him in Goonies. So here we are, at the newest full trailer for Men in Black III. And there he is. BUT he seems to be playing a pretty good ‘young Tommy Lee Jones’. Not necessarily ‘Ewan-McGregor-playing-a-young-Alec-Guiness’ good, but good. Now, to be fair, I’m not a super Will Smith fan, either. No, I watch the Men in Black franchise because I love Tommy Lee Jones and adorable talking alien pugs. Yes, I will probably see Men in Black III in the theaters, but, really, what are movies right now except ways to kill time until The Hobbit comes out? My friend just asked “Did I see MIB 2?”, to which I responded “You tell me: it’s the one when the little pug gets his own black tie and suit – SQUEEEEEE!” See the new trailer for MIB 3 below.

Well, isn’t everyone just hopping on that Game of Thrones bandwagon. Yes, even The Simpsons have taken a turn in a GoT tribute/spinoff with an opening sequence based on the TV sensation that’s based on the books…which I still have to read. Speaking of the television version, however, the first season of Game of Thrones hit stores on DVD today. Take a gander below of The Simpsons opening before Fox removes it from every last corner of the internet.

No, I’m not reading Game of Thrones right now, but know what I am reading? A Princess of Mars, which is, of course, the first book in the John Carter of Mars series. The movie version of this will be hitting theaters on Friday, March 9th, since Hollywood is completely out of original ideas. A new 10 minute clip of John Carter has been released, because Disney has the whole concept of building up hype down to a science. Watch the clip below.

And, finally, if you’re really desperate you can see Lenny Kravitz as Cinna in a new clip from today’s episode of Ellen. Unfortunately, this clip is mere hours old, so it’s hard to find in any decent format, but it can still be watched. Check out Crushable.com for the clip and see Lenny speaking with Ellen about the Hunger Games film below.

For added suspense, check out The Muppets/Hunger Games trailer spoof.

Chicken Soup Can Go to Hell: What My Soul Needs is Tom Yum Goong

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A while back a few friends had us over for a dinner party. After spending a few weeks in different areas of Indonesia and Thailand, these friends had picked up different local recipes they wanted to try out on their home turf. Delan was kind enough to share one of the recipes on to me, and I’ve finally built up the guts to make it myself.

It’s Tom Yum Goong, a spicy and sour soup served with lemon grass and shrimp. From the first bite (or slurp), I realized this soup was what my life had been missing. I had had cravings for the multi-layered flavors in this soup my entire life, yearning for the freshness, the sweet, the nasal clearing spice, and never even realized it until that first moment of taste.

Chicken soup can go to hell. What my soul needs is Tom Yum.

To make this soup even more special, most of the ingredients must be purchased from specialized Asian markets – especially when you live in Texas. Ironically, the closest one to me is a place called MT Market. The first time I heard of the place, I wondered why anyone would name their shop “Empty”.

Here’s the shopping list:

1lb prawns/shrimp cleaned and deveined. I like a larger shrimp, but what ever your preference will work.

7-10oz. stalk mushrooms. When you get enough of these deliciously thin stalk fungi swirling around in the broth, they act just like noodles.

3 stalks lemon grass cut into 2 inch segments.

4 lime leaves, torn.  I couldn’t find these any where, but if you can find it don’t chop these suckers. Just tear them.

1/2 cup galangal in slices. This is from the ginger family and the stuff we get here is usually grown in Hawaii.

1 cup cilantro. The recipe actually calls for a bunch of coriander. Do you know what fresh coriander leaves are? They’re cilantro.

3 TBSP chili oil/paste. Normally I’d use Srirachi, but this particular recipe noted Nam Prik Pow. I couldn’t find that, so I used 2 TBSP of chili oil and 1TBSP of srirachi. And it was spicy. Burn-your-lips spicy. So keep your own heat tolerance in mind when you make this.

1/4 cup lime juice. Limes are cheap – Get your self 4-6 limes and use the fresh stuff!

1/2 TBSP lime zest. I used this because I couldn’t find lime leaves, but the original recipe does not call for it.

5 tsp fish sauce. If you don’t have fish sauce you can use salt, but fish sauce is available everywhere, even Walmart, and it’s flavor in this is worth it.

1/2 cup coconut milk

4 cups water. Austin water is pretty questionable what with the mold and all. I don’t mind using it for pasta, but for this I used bottled stuff.

Put the water on to boil. Once it’s rolling, throw in the galangal, lemon grass, mushrooms, lime leaves (if you found them, other wise use the lime zest), and the fish sauce.

Bring back up to a boil and toss in the shrimp and coconut milk.

Bring to a boil again; this all doesn’t take long at all. Once it reaches a boil again, turn off the heat.

Add the chili oil/paste and the fresh chopped coriander-better-known-as-cilantro. Just before serving, add the lime juice.

The lime juice must be added right before serving to create the fresh and sour flavor.

I love the way the chili oil dances around the edges and top of the soup. You can make it with chicken, but if you follow the directions you simply can’t cook the shrimp wrong and they go so well in this. Make it when you’re sick to perk you up and clear your sinuses. If it’s too spicy for you, drizzle an additional tablespoon or two of coconut milk over your serving and stir to quell that fire right down. Chip actually dumped his rice right into the center of his bowl, making it a bit like a gumbo. And I looooove the mushrooms; they’ve got the perfect texture and are like uber healthy noodles.

This amazing, fresh, sour, and spicy concoction stands beautifully on it’s own or serve it with a bit of sticky rice and a beer on the side to quell the heat.

Also, don’t eat the galangal or lemon grass; I suppose you could, but they’re really just for flavor and quite woody.