Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Importance of Being Self-Published


I am in full agreement with M. Arcati.  Vintage cookbooks are The Shiznizzle. I too collect them, although I'm far too short on room to be accumulating any more books. Well screw room I say.  I love cookbooks. I've gone through my Popular phase, my Serious Classics phase, my OO that's one I don't have phase, and now I am in my Nutjob phase.*  

The Nutjobs make up a whole niche category of cookbooks written by folks on the margins of sanity, society, and good taste. This category exploded in the 1960s, as you might imagine. My very favorite one is

  Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, Volume I, by George Leonard Herter.

George Herter was the Baron Munchausen of the cookbook world. If it had not been for self-publishing, this book would never have seen the light of day.  I mean oh holy shit, people, this dude was not just eccentric, and he was not just quirky. 

   He was flaming batshit crazy.

 Bull Cook is best described as a fantasy novel about cooking, fictitious shellfish, The Sheer Gall Of Those Italians Thinking They Own The Tomato, and immanent nuclear war. It is also incredibly, incredibly readable, and I mean this sincerely. He has a very engaging style, and frankly you just can't wait to see what kind of weirdness he's going to come up with next, which helps move things along too.  In fact, do you like to get high and read?  Bull Cook is the exact book you want to be reading. 

I believe this guy really cared about food, and that he must have bothered chefs the wide world over chasing down recipes and techniques. Problem is, you cannot trust any of it. He tells us, for example, to use ANTHACITE FREAKIN COAL in our barbecues. Not charcoal. Never charcoal. Charcoal is dangerous. So yeah, you might be tempted to try this or that, but proceed only after long and careful thought. 

The rule when reading ol' George is:  George Lies A Lot. He perceives the lack of a fact?  He just yanks a 'fact' straight out of his ass.  I get the feeling that he was the kind of man in life that would just say whatever fell out of his mouth and leave you to deal with it. Kind of like L. Ron Hubbard, or Mr. Natural.

There is another argument; that Mr. Herter was just doing the 'wink wink nod nod', engaging in the Manly Art of Bullshit. Sure, it could be so. He might very well have been aiming for that 'hanging out in the duck blind telling dirty jokes, cigar-and-bourbon' kind of tone you'd see in the beer advertising of the day. The guy ran a wildly successful sporting goods operation after all. He marketed to men. Maybe I just don't get it because I wasn't hanging out in the right duck blinds.  

Except for the fact that   he was flaming batshit crazy.

Let's take a quick riffle through the pages of Bull Cook, shall we?

  We are given three paragraphs on How To Make A Peanut Butter Sandwich, and are left with a kitchen in flames and the lingering taste of pickles. 

Another recipe purports to be for something called Beer Coffee, but meanders through Belgian flax exportation, words originating from the French, and how shitty the food is in the Shannon Airport.  

Then we come to the recipe for FRESH WATER OYSTER STEW.  He boils the snot out of these mythical creatures, and then goes on to spend six and a half pages of How Shitty Seattle Seafood Restaurants Are. I don't think he was ever in Seattle. I think he was on another planet entirely smoking crack with Elvis.

 He tells us about the French Pea-Eating Craze of 1696 (?) and how Anthony Van Leeuwenhoek came to invent the dish Fish Anthony, which calls for canned peas and Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup. 

He makes Coquilles St. Jacques out of empty clamshells and boiled fish, and claims this recipe was invented by St. Jacques himself. 

He speaks of how Ghengis Khan introduced caviar to an unsuspecting Russia. 

I'm sitting here now with the book open at my side and I'm still finding myself drawn off task. I have spent way too much time reading, fact checking, looking up articles and marveling at this man's special brand of lunacy. This is a compelling read, there's no doubt about it. I have said "Oh my God no" so many times the Biker is worried. And yet I'll put the book down and go to type; and a passage will leap up and go for my throat, like 'Salmon Queen Astrid of Belgium' which is made of canned salmon, and "If the Bourbon Street crowd go into a bar and look up from their drinks and do not see, among other things, a couple of well-formed breasts flopping about, the drink doesn't taste just right and they move to another bar."

 I love this book. Pray for me.


Because you suddenly feel a whole-body longing to read the prose of George L. Herter:  The Paris Review - Furious George - The Paris Review  

(You must be checked in, and you can only borrow for an hour at a time) Another George Herter Classic, free to read! George, the housewife : and how to diet and never be hungry : Herter, George Leonard, 1911-1994 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Holy crap you don't have an account at Internet Archive? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING??!? They've got every cookbook in the world on this bitch!!! Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free & Borrowable Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Let's Give a Big Hand To Negative Nancy!!

We have had, let's say, some difficulties (FAMILY) lately and we've been dealing with that, which by no means excuses my absence, though it sure saps the will to write Charming Vignettes. Things are improving though, so here I am, and there you are.

Thanksgiving was great! Another culinary triumph thanks to The Biker.  (FAMILY) behaved. Good thing too. (FAMILY) might have gotten an Atomic Swirlie had that not been the case.

And nobody wants an atomic swirlie.       


 It's the oddest thing, but as I get older, the more I miss the 1970's.

Thing is, I hated the Seventies when I was in the Seventies. New furniture was photo finish over chipboard. Granny squares rained down like fallout.  Nobody needed a Bicentennial Toilet, Couch or Bedroom Set, but Sears sold them. Disco existed. People wore denim jumpsuits. Then there was Nixon, 'Nam, and the Chevrolet Citation. 

Yet here I am now, and here comes someone driving by in a Pinto, and I'll get this warm fuzzy and think 'Aw, that's nice.'

And I'm wrong!



OK holy shit this whole THING just came to mind. It's one of my pet rants. ____________________________


YOU KNOW          

Dear God what a piece of garbage the Pinto was. The marketing campaign was garbage. The design was garbage. The engine and drive train were garbage. No, those were worse than garbage. They were proof that there Is No God and that large corporations don't give a shit if you die in flames.

 I'll drag you out of this car and kick the shit out of yWHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T FIND MEXICO DAVE  

 Looking into the engine compartment of a Pinto was appalling. Everything under there, from the thing that held the battery in place to the plastic tape covering the wiring was noticeably, glaringly cheap. 

Driving a Pinto felt cheap, too.

As soon as you started the engine the thing filled with the smell, and the sound, of plastic. As the thing warmed up the smell got stronger and more little plastic voices joined the choir, rattling, buzzing, boinking, ticking. The plastic window cranks would go 'ddddddddddddddddddddddd' unless you jammed a twisted-up napkin in there. The plastic door locks would tweedle themselves up off their pegs until the plastic threads wore out. Then they'd just split and fall off.

Stone stock and trashy as the day it was made. Just looking at this pisses me off.     

Go ahead. Adjust the timing. Change the plugs. Won't matter. The whole car juddered in time with with the engine stroke, just like a tractor. The windows thrummed.  The mirrors jiggled. You could sit there waiting for a light and watch the screws that held on the window trim ka-deedling out of their holes. 

Put your foot all the way into a Pinto and all that would happen is a mild increase in speed, which is not the shit you want when you are driving in Seattle traffic. Or any traffic. Luckily this meant you wouldn't be doing any high-speed braking because the brakes were...class? class?  


The brakes were garbage.

The engines were atrocious. All the components were made using with the shittiest materials Ford could get away with. This was known as 'reducing weight for better fuel economy' and Ford did it because 'lower prices mean more people can afford Today's Ford.' And just think - once Todays Pinto burned your parents to death and you inherited, it would be a lot easier for you to buy Tomorrows Ford.  Circle of liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii


I have brought this subject up in the past and I always get people who pop up with I/my dad/my mom/my whoever owned a Pinto and it was super groovy,  God how I miss that car, I wish I still had it, I had my first date/cardiac event/Yankee Candle party in that Pinto - or my very favorite of all time, the proof that someone is really using those critical thinking skills, the statement that covers all sins:  "They were great little cars for the time.


THEY WEREN'T.       


*  Why The Ford Pinto Was One Of The Worst Cars Of All Time (

                          The Pinto Memo: ‘It’s Cheaper to let them Burn!’ | The Spokesman-Review

                          The Ford Pinto - The American Museum of Tort Law (

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Several Quaint Vignettes etc. El Apartmento

Important break for sexy logger chicks:

If there is one thing the Biker loves, it's gore. Naturally, today's modern media is his playground.  Yet imagine my surprise when I found him watching episodes of 'Botched' from nine years ago!  This is generally not his jam. If it's medical, he'd prefer they show up on the autopsy table.  

Well, I took me a look.  "Aha," I thought after a few scenes. "He's watching this for glimpses of bare titty.  Good Lord. Straight men."

Then I took a second look. 

"Holy crap," I thought, doing more than my share of mental heavy lifting this particular evening "These are some familiar faces...?"

So I went online, and between my spotty memory and IMDB I was able to identify several aged 'third shepherd from the left' actors from the Seventies, a future Ru-girl, and a whole lotta potential for an excellent drinking game. From misused medical terms to poor special effects, from bad stage management to 'Didn't I see you playing Judith Lights' sisters' chauffeur on an episode of Columbo?" this show has it all, including more bad wigs than you can shake a can of Aqua Net at. There is scar tissue. There are bad body doubles. There are doctors who cannot tell the difference between a vagina and a hole in the

- yes well.


Since I am never going to have the chance to travel to all the places I want to go (everywhere, including the past) I love to go on Google Maps > street view and virtually roam.

One of the things I've realized doing this is just how fucking huge America really is.   

Another thing I've realized is how much of an accomplishment it was to cross all that bullshit in a covered wagon.  Both my grandparents (and their families) did that. Oh, and one uncle who was a Civil War deserter who fucking walked here.

Interesting story: they tried to conscript my uncle Karl right off the boat from Germany; and he said kthnxNO and booked it over the purple mountains' majesty and across the fruited plains. The dude went from New Orleans to Milwaukie Oregon afoot, folks. 2517 miles. Speaking no the English.  

My grandmother hid him out in an outbuilding when he arrived in the middle of Winter, and then in the Spring he went up the mountain and worked in the woods. You didn't have to know English to work in the woods. You just had to survive, and he sure in the fuck knew how to do that.  He survived knife fights, bare-knuckle bouts, strike breakers and rail bosses.  An old-growth cedar took him out. 

Not him. 


I was virtually visiting a tiny-tiny little place in the middle of my home state when I happened across a cemetery in the literal middle of nowhere. No town, no nothing. Not even a road that goes there any more. Just a collection of stones marking the graves of the few people who had settled and died on that land.  Those stones are as perfect as they day they were carved. No vandals have touched them. 1842 to 1902. A single family and their two servants. 

Dickens was still alive. Poe was still alive. Victoria BC was a clearing in the woods when these people were building their house and opening land to cultivate out along the Columbia River. They came from Germany to a place that no books of the day described truthfully. They had no idea of what to expect and plenty of opportunity for even their most conservative expectations to be crushed. They arrived to find country where the land is all horizon, where the wind is almost ceaseless, where no grass grows, where no trees relieve the view.

You think about the dreams those people had and the huge, huge distance that they travelled.  Maybe they were leaving something worse, and maybe here they found a place that might have, for a few years, made them happy.  You're glad they can't see that it all came to nothing.

They were killed by Indians.    


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

How Many elipses does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, pop?


Mr. PNW says 'Get enough food to eat, and eat it.'

Last month sucked with a capital SUCK. I am happy to see October in the rearview.  Yes, it was Halloween last night, but meh. As usual we got no Trick or Treaters, which is fine, because The Biker bought M&M's just in case, and this morning I had el mucho peanut M&M's at hand, and peanut M&M's are precisely what I dined upon for breakfast this fine November first. 

It was time the Universe smiled on me a little.   



I love sandwiches. They are portable, they are a handy size and shape, and they are tasty.  You can hold sandwich in one hand and a gun, or a cup of coffee, or a shovel, in the other, and fulfill your nutritional needs while you shoot to kill/get caffeinated/bludgeon someone with a shovel.  

I taught myself how to cook when I was very young. The first 'recipes' I invented were for sandwiches, and I had a million of 'em. I invented...

1965's Cotto Salami Flap Sandwich which is a couple of pieces of the sleaziest Cotto Salami you can find, put on one slice of the sleaziest white bread you can find, flapped over and then stuffed into the breast pocket of your bibs. Make three - one for each pocket!* and share with Bill Beizer and his sister Ellen way up a big tree.   Then yell for help until someone comes and gets you all down out of the big tree.) 

...1970's Huge Bacon Lettuce and Tomato (one sliced fat, drippy, home-grown tomato, six or more crispy slices of bacon, shredded iceburg lettuce, and a mayonnaise that includes olive oil, parmesan cheese, chili flakes, red wine vinegar and oregano, on sourdough.  SO yum.)

...1977's Cashew Chicken Salad Sandwich ( chicken salad made with chopped cashews, a little onion, a sprinkle of garlic powder, thin cut celery and celery leaves, an oil and red wine vinegar dressing brought together with a bare dab of mayonnaise and mixed with some cubed chicken breast, then 'blap' on a wad of alfalfa sprouts that are laying on some homemade French bread; which kicks ass.)  

            I used to keep a food diary, so that's how I remember the dates, before anybody asks. 

I literally cannot remember my own phone number, but I remember sitting up a huge dogwood tree in 1965 with Bill and Ellen Beiser eating Cotto Salami Flap Sandwiches and then realizing we had clumb* up too far into the branches, and panicking.

_____________________________ know what I'll just leave this here.   

When I saw the New Orleans Muffaleta Sandwich on TV some years back, I said to myself  'Self, that looks absolutely delicious. This needs to happen.' and I did that thing, and it was awesome.  An excellent sandwich in all respects.

(This recipe for a Gin-You-Wine Muffaletta Poe-Boy *squaaaak NEVERMORE *  is as good as any out there. Please hit 'jump to recipe' right quick though, or suffer through paragraphs of yadda yadda and ads, because this page is balls deep in monitization.) 

Ah, but it was the olive salad constituent that captured my heart.  That is some delicious shit.

The first thing I did was cut out the giardiniera because life is too short to be eating pickled cauliflower.  That may not be in the giardiniera available to you in Parts Foreign, but that's all we get out here.  Mezzetta Brand Giardiniera.  They put cauliflower in it, and honestly? fuck that. Gawd. Yak. Ew. 

So it was that I was forced to invent my own olive salad that is one million times of the Universe plus Saturn of deliciouser more better than the shit with cauliflower in it.

Now olives can run a little musky and same-o same-o as a flavor. 

That would not do.  I wanted a ROCKIN' olive salad. Therefore I created...

    Not A Tapanade but Also Not Strictly An Olive Salad    

                                    This will, as always, take longer to read than to do.  

==An equal amount of pitted Kalamata olives, pitted Castelvetrano olives, pimento-stuffed Manzanilla olives, and pitted plain black olives. 

How much is an equal amount? Try eyeballing the mass and get back to me. I will ignore you. Prepare for that.  This is to your own taste and need for olive salad in your life. 

Chop these olives until the individual pieces are >(    )< that size. Next, put into a mixing bowl. Not a huge one, just a regular one. Come on use some common sense here.

    ==Whole sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil - again, this shit varies. And these tend pretty sweet, so be advised. I'd say take one sun dried tomato out and chop it into hair- thin strips, and repeat those actions until you have about 1/6 the mass of the olives in finely chopped sun dried tomatoes.  Got that did? Put into the bowl. 

    ==Raw Garlic, a heaping teaspoon.  Peel cloves and then put through a press.  Sweat the pulp  in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes. Cool, then add to mixing bowl, oil and all.  

    ==Scallions (AKA green onions, spring onions) Add as many as you feel lead by the Lord. Chop very fine and add raw to the mixing bowl. You could use plain white minced Bermuda Onions here, but scallions will taste better and look better.

== 1 lemons' worth of zested lemon peel. Any size lemon. Go for it. 

See this thing?  Use this thing. Or use a plain grater, or just a vegetable peeler.  

==1/2 tsp. pulverized anchovy, the kind you squeeze out of a toothpaste tube. You know the stuff. YES ADD IT.

==I hesitate to put this here, but I use it.  It takes knowledge of the kind of pepper you use.  One red, sweet pepper, roasted, seeded, peeled and chopped fine. Into the mixing bowl. 

   Taste taste  taste taste !! Red sweet peppers can be very sweet indeed!  They can also be very complex and wonderful. I have no idea what kind of red pepper you have available or what kind of flavor it has. I am presuming sweet, with a distinct flavor of freshly ground black pepper.  You go by what you like, or skip this entirely.    

==Salt, Pepper - to taste. In we go.

    ==Additional olive oil, to taste and to influence spreadability. I like Napoleon Spanish Olive Oil because it's peppery.  You could instead use ghee. Do not cheap out and use margarine or any other commonly used cooking oil (vegetable, rapeseed, corn, peanut, soybean, cottonseed no no no no.)

==SECRET INGREDIENT:  Now this is going to take some tasting and a lot of care and discretion. The ingredient is

    Citric Acid    

And the measurement is 'enough to coat a damp teaspoon' to begin with. Use very, very little indeed.

This is the first ingredient I've come across that offers such a huge, immediate difference to flavors - and then stays stable. There is no window of oxidization or number or hours to marinate. Let's say you've made a Bolognaise sauce and it tastes muddy because you might have overcooked that pup. The very barest amount of Citric Acid - a mere dusting!- added to your saucepan of muddy Bolognaise will separate all the flavors and bring them to the forefront vividly. Similarly olive salad!  A bare trace of citric acid will bring the flavor of each ingredient to the forefront, and the added trace of sourness will augment the whole.

                        *Watches tracers form on passing hand.  Does this for 45 minutes.* 

So you get the drift, then. Add just a cunthair bit of Citric Acid, stir, and the taste. 

Keep doing this until you suddenly begin to taste everything separately. It could happen with that first damp teaspoon!  Or it might take a tiny bit more. Once everything springs to life, stop right there. Do not add another bit. You are done.  

---Now all you do is stir all these ingredients very thoroughly together. You want the juices to mingle. Stand there and stir until your feet begin to hurt.  Maybe call a friend you haven't heard from in awhile and catch up. Meanwhile you're stirring, and the olives and stuff are making a 'glick slish glick glick gaslosh' sound as you stir, right? and your buddy will think you're getting a blow job! Choice!

==Put in sealed container and store in refrigerator. Use as a sandwich spread, although don't let me dictate your culinary limits. It's fantastic in an omelette, or on pasta, or just out of the jar. Also in Pork Roulade with a lot of rosemary. Or on a white pizza. Or in a tagine!!! 


This Olive Salad is meant, however, to be great on a Muffaletta Sandwich.
Do I make an authentic New Orleans Muffaletta Sandwich?  I do not. I doubt that even the originators of the Muffaletta Sandwich still make an authentic Muffaletta Sandwich anymore. Nobody wrote that shit down back when, and everybody who ever ate an original one is dead now.  

Maybe I'm doing you a huge favor by not having that original recipe at hand. 

Here's a sandwich it's good on.  It has muffaletta-ish ingredients, but then again maybe it doesn't. 

The Oregon Sandwich
 "Tastes like liberal politics and aggressive waterfowl!
                                                                    "We're here!  
                                                                       Craft beer!  
                                            Something something rhymes with 'eer!"     

==One dense white bread-type sandwich roll with a thick crust - split, and some of the fluff taken out of both pieces to form a bit of an indentation.  Chunk the fluff out the back door for the birds, or stand there and eat it like a kid. I do.

==Cold cuts:  Mortadella, gypsy salami, and capicola

==Cheese:  Provelone and Swiss

==The olive salad I just gave you the recipe for

---Slap a nice thick layer of olive salad on the top and bottom bun. Stack cold cuts and cheese on top. Any amount, either bun or both. 

---Stack sandwich back together, and be neat. Make sure that things are spread out equally.  It's important, because of the next step.

---Place whole sandwich in a container, and put a weight on top of the sandwich. Yes. Seriously. Don't squish it as hard as you can, and don't step on it. Put a brick, or a cast iron skillet, inside a stout Glad bag and rest that on your nicely stacked sandwich, and let it all sit in the refrigerator for six hours and get flattened down. 
Yes I do this. 
Yes it is worth it.

Make this sandwich in the morning and then in the afternoon, take it out and eat that sapsucker.  Weighting it makes it taste better in an indefinable way - far better than if you just put the sandwich together and then chowed down on the spot. And don't get me wrong; that's an excellent sandwich, but the pressed version is a MORE EXCELLENT SANDWICH.***

*Only works with Carhart bibs. 

** Clumb is, as you may have guessed, is the past tense of 'clumbed.'

***I remember a show called Two Fat Ladies, a cooking program from the UK. The premise was, two fat ladies - imagine it -  cooking stuff. One of the things they prepared was a Shooter's Sandwich. The Shooters' Sandwich is also a pressed sandwich, and it too is better for having been pressed all day and chilled. 


It is one of the Sandwich Mysteries.