Friday, September 23, 2011

Uncle Ben's a Jerk (or, "how I screwed up the rice")

"Perfect every time" my ass.

 Okay, okay. I should give Mr. Uncle Ben a break. He's a perpetually smiling, static brand. Uncle Ben has never done anything to me besides look friendly and provide me with cheap sustenance to fill the "meat-sized but can't afford meat, so carb-sized" hole in my life.

I had a tight chicken & sausage jambalaya in the works. How tight? I can't say here, but watch the first episode of the new season of Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That tight.

It wasn't a totally traditional recipe. I usually like to add some Tasso, but bacon in hand is worth two bacons at the store. Besides, jambalaya seems to be one of those dishes that's sort of open to interpretation. Start with a base of the trinity (celery, onion, and green pepper), garlic, add some pepper, some sausage (in this case, fresh andouille, as opposed to the more traditional smoked andouille), chicken thighs (or turkey), sometimes tomatoes, sometimes seafood (I threw in a pound of lump blue crab meat), some herbs, and a bit of stock. Finally, add rice, kill the heat in your giant cast iron pot, lid, and wait about 25 minutes for the rice to steam and absorb all the goodness that comes from a marriage of pork fat, stock, and vegetable juices.


But I bungled it. Not Uncle Ben. I should've followed his recipe, but I did my own math. And I ended up with crunchy rice. And- boy- crunchy rice really, REALLY ruined this dish. @#$!^@*@#!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Argument for Temperance

"Uh oh."

It's the immediate visceral reaction when one's eyes open for the first time in the morning, realizing that the previous night's consumption had spiraled out of control. Like, "Irish Wake" out of control. The mouth full of cotton. The stinky kitten breath. Roiling guts and Manny Pacquiao using my skull as a speed bag. Where did I go awry, and why am I wearing this potato sack and 6-inch pumps?

Hangovers, fortunately, are a rare occurrence these days. I think the drinking/hangover continuum is a self-correcting one. As the human body ages; as kids come along; as the opportunity to lay in bed until mid-afternoon fades into pipe-dreams of the college days, the scales that were formerly skewed heavily to shots all-around begin to balance. Back then, knock back a bloody mary, a plate of fried eggs, bacon, and copious amounts of gravy, and back in business. These days, the bottle of vodka in the cabinet had to be tossed to make room for formula and multi-vitamins. And, everyone knows a hearty bowl of oatmeal is better for one's cholesterol. It's the sensible solution to a good morning. Oh yeah, and you feel like death... after a bender.

According to a particularly half-assed search on the internet, the cause of the hangover is generally unknown. Fusel alcohol, a general byproduct of fermentation, is rumored to be a culprit.  In red wines, significant presence of tannins- which contain histamines- can cause allergy-like symptoms that may contribute to hangovers.  Some say to drink liquor first.  Funny how consuming something that's 40% alcohol on average doesn't start me off on the good-foot.

The most generally-accepted cause of pain is dehydration.  Alcohol is a well-known diuretic, inhibiting the body's production of AVP, which- as basically as I can read- helps the kidneys retain water in the system.  With the AVP production blocked by alcohol, the kidneys filter out water (causing all that pee), thus, dehydration.  Thus, the headaches caused by said dehydration.  And I don't think I have the energy to look up the science behind that.  Help me out, doctors.

So, if you're going to get crunk, drink lots of water.  Like, twice as much water as alcoholic drinks.  Mix 'em in.  It won't dilute the absorption of alcohol in your system, but the water will offset the affects of dehydration.

But more importantly, unless you're Andre the Giant, don't drink 4 bottles of wine.  Keep it reasonable, and you should feel okay the next morning.

If you ARE Andre the Giant, thank you so much for stopping by the blog.  We hardly knew ye...

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Simple Food Product

"Wine... is a condiment."

It's a phrase that was once echoed to me by a friend; passing along the wisdom of an Italian vintner he knew.  Call it a reaction to the American view of what is- essentially- a bottle of spoiled grape juice.  So, why are we so inclined to put wine on a pedestal?

Between the esoteric labels, the cork-pull, the all-too-particular glassware, the pomp & circumstance of the tasting process, and- dammit, man- the ridiculous aromatic and taste descriptors...

... well, I can see why the beer-drinkers probably want to kick our asses.  Hell, I want to kick my own ass sometimes, but I just can't get a good angle on it.  I'm working on my flexibility.

When boiled down to the essentials, wine is a combination of water, alcohol, acid, (sometimes) sugar, and a handful of phenolic compounds.  It's a food product, like bread.  Or cheese.  Or tacos.  Delicious tacos.

Or, in the case of this particular Italian winemaker, it's equivalent to lowly ketchup.  Wine belongs on the table, with the olive oil, the salt, the bread.  It's simply... there.  Part of the meal; not something to obsess over, analyze, probe with our noses, and- worst of all- to misuse as a means to exclude and belittle others.

Such a simple notion is easy to lose amidst the deluge.  I think we all get caught up a bit in trying to impress our friends; to show off a coveted label; to showcase our sensory prowess with a cascade of descriptors... "rose hips", "under-ripe Fuji apple", "delicious tacos".  At least I do.  And- to that end- I'm still working on that flexibility, to kick my own ass.  It's hard.

In the meantime, there is an alternative exercise.  Once in a while, I'll go buy an inexpensive bottle, and one that is often cheaper than I'm comfortable with drinking.  I bring it home, open it up, pour the entire contents of the bottle into a pitcher, and drink it out of juice glasses with some food.  While avoiding the swirl and the sniff, and the obsessing over what the label means (or how many focus groups it took to decide on the highly-marketable packaging), I can just drink.  I can strip away everything, and have wine, simply wine, as part of the meal.

And it's usually pretty damn good that way.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back into the fray, atop a wobbly-kneed ruminant mammal of unusual size

A lot of folks have been asking where I've been the past few weeks.

No one's really been asking.  My mom asked why I haven't called.  I talked to her yesterday, but there's something ingrained in a mother to start each phone conversation with "why haven't you called?"

I can't blame mom, though.  It's an unconscious instinct for her to ask, like a baby dolphin knowing to rise to the ocean's surface for air, or how white trash folk can sniff out the finest crystal meth like pigs rooting out truffles.  I've seen it.  Well, I haven't seen it, but I'd like to think- one day- an enterprising young Kid Rock fan will find a bushel of delicious crystal meth with a glorious black truffle right on top, like the proverbial cherry crowning an ice cream sundae.  But with more hives and tooth loss...

Or maybe that was just a dream I had.  And since when do they sell crystal meth by the bushel?  Yes, you've caught me in a lie.  I have no idea of the standard weights and measures of lab-created controlled substances.  Chalk that good sense up to Nancy Reagan.

The point is:  when a moose gets drunk on a bunch of half-rotten, fermenting apples in Sweden, the interweb is telling me it's time to get back on the horse, or the drunken moose.  There's far-too much booze-induced brouhaha on this great planet deserving of commentary.  Innately, without thought or reservation, I'm compelled by a primal drive to weigh in.  Call it "instinct".

So, as far as a moose cow getting cocked on cider and finding itself stuck in a tree goes:

I'm for it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

From Cramming to Lazing.


Reasons why someone would do a very poor job maintaining a blog about wine:
  • Computer broke; blew new computer money on wine.
  • Illitterit.  Ilitteritt.  Illiterat.  Illiterate.
  • Does not like wine; prefers Tahitian Treat.
  • Lack of hands (argument supported by the dearth of Pirate blogs and blogs written by snakes).
  • Stuck in prison.  Pruno tasting-notes becoming tiresome.
  • James Suckling.
  • Got addicted to Franzia "Chillable Red" a while back.  Spends evenings getting swacked on Franzia "Chillable Red".
  • Other online opus- a Gravy Vlog- is where bread is buttered.
  • Ate a bad clam or something.
Unfortunately, none of these fit my situation.  I did- one time- ogle some gravy vlogs while drinking a cocktail of Tahitian Treat and Chillable Red.

It happened more than once...

Anyway, with my testing situation in complete limbo, I suppose it's back to writing.  Ridden this "cramming" crutch into the ground.  Back soon.