New Zealand, Otara Market..

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First stop off the plane we went to Otara market… which involved Thai chicken on a stick…and a latte from some guy that works hot air balloon events in the US who regaled me with stories of getting lost between Havasu and Reno..  The moral of the story being…..never trust GPS or free White Russians

Second stop involved vindaloo beef which had a warning sign on it due to spice content, and apparently was deemed risky for Europeans, but Arizona people aren’t European.. or prone to bland anything.. we wanna sweat while eating ice cream

Its all a blur of steamed buns, fried dumplings and goat curry for breakfast….

Not to mention Thai chicken curry pie….

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New Zealand bound…

Alllllll packed and ready to go, I will be leaving tomorrow from lAX… and taking my horse with me because it guarantees a modicum of in-flight privacy..

Personally I think the suit and tie lends a goodly amount of dignity and style to the whole ensemble..

Nothing like Chuck Taylors and a horse head mask while wearing a suit ant tie to make a style statement….

It should be epic.. yet random… getting organized was some major stress, so many things went so wrong, so often… it got on my nerves and I’m a calm guy most of the time…

I’m takin the horse head…. mostly because I couldn’t find a full head rabbit mask I liked and they were sort of weird..

The GF has me down for barrista classes, artisinal breads and a charcuterie course.. not that I can actually spell it…. the last few weeks have been my notion of stress hell, glitches and problems… but whatever, I insured my stuff..so Im good to go.. its me a rental car and age inappropriate music… puddle of mudd at 2,000 db should fix my attitude…

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All is well on the dinner front…

I tried getting a photo, but its not happening, given low light, the bubbling cauldron of a crock pot and a whole lot of steam..

My interest was else where… mostly having to do with a “can I eat it now” scenario….

Tonight it’s all about chili’s and making use of a generous and varied supply…

First round battle being chili Colorado because the freezer needs emptying and I feel special…

I go mid-range on the heat because at some point it mostly burns and kills the flavor…. which is kind of pointless..

Keep it simple, cheap beef, salt, onion, garlic, cumin and chilis.. corn tortillas on the side or tortilla chips mushed into the bowl..

Tomatoes were also involved for some reason.. which may be negligence rather than planned… But its still good and I don’t really care..

The chili it’s self is chunky rather than smooth since I don’t wanna let cook for two days nor do I want to use a boat motor on it much less clean it afterwards.. besides which texture is good regardless of edicts handed down by CASI and the various chili gods in human form…

My dinner and they can hush..

I was a CASI judge a time or two and did learn a few things… dial back on cumin and drink as much beer as possible between judging entries.. cause it could get unpleasant given sundry secret ingredients. yak fat or whatever…zebra cheese..zombie parts, I dunno, it was generally secret..

A dirty, dirty, shameful secret… we never knew who’s entry we were judging.. which is just as well, because reprisals might have been an option..or at least choking someone a little…

Not that it wasn’t fun….. with a few WTH why is this sooo amazingly bad moments.. Mostly it was cumin or yak fat.. the next big flaw was using sirloin or NY strip… Ummm..NO

Chili is best made out of the cheapest, toughest stuff you can find… it just tastes better…personally I like cheek meat which I get at a carneceria.. because most of my caucaziod brethren are kinda squeamish.. so they don’t sell it at Safeway..

Their loss… besides I like the guy at the carniceria better..

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Other times other lives

Once upon a time,

I was an elected official (Town councilman) not because I wanted to be, but because it came under the heading of public service and duty.

When no one speaks for you, the people you care for or your way of life….. its on you to be the one…

There was no ego appeal, I had no desire to be popular or “be someone”.. it was about doing the job as defined by the oath.

I put in 60-80 hours a week between doing the Towns business and study… Town code and ordinances, State Statutes as relate to governance, grant proposals and all the things that relate to seeking the greatest good for the greatest number.

I was notorious for voting “NO” regardless of pressures to “go along to get along” and my vote often was the sole no..

That my reasons were clear and irrefutable had no bearing.. I would not vote aye based on incomplete, faulty or falsified information… the answer to the call for the vote in that case was invariably “No”, there were other “NO” votes on items that were contrary to law, our best interests or placed undue restrictions on participation in the political process…or peoples personal lives, not to mention expansion of debt via mismanagement..

For which I was constantly ridiculed… maligned, mocked and subjected to public disapproval, by the ruling clique..

I would habitually vomit before each session… I had no choice but to vote my conscience with the common good and law as my deciding factor… regardless of influence, pressure, personal interest or any other consideration…

A good part of my studies and training was in emergency management, which is something I find extremely valuable for a public official to know…and I reached a very high rank, based on achievement not politics…

I was offered a 3 year contract at $70,000 per year if I would resign…. I said no, my $400 per month stipend was just fine and I liked my vote…. which lead to outright war..

All of that leads to this… a day or so ago, I made statements regarding my opposition to issuing contracts for a chief of police, a Town manager and others…. and cited the code which disallows the entire scenario. As well as reasons why it is a bad idea

I was genuinely thanked rather than cursed for the information…. you have no idea how rare that is… it was kinda sad, but whatever..

Some people are sheep others lemmings.. I find that wrangling my dinner is less stressful and hiding out way less lonely…

I hated being a councilman… it was the most demeaning thing I’ve ever done… I was forced to serve on council with low life, I would never speak to under any other circumstance..

But I had to… there was no other choice.. I believe in stand up or shut up..

Coffee as ritual

I have 3 cups of coffee in the morning because that’s the amount my press makes.. the first I enjoy, the second I zone out on and don’t remember, the third can go either way..

The element of mindfulness and “be here now” is full on in the beginning… but as soon as I’m fully awake, its game on and I’m thinking about the day rather than the moment…

So the second cup suffers…. the WTH factor kicks in when its realized that cup two is gone with no recall of the event.. which sucks me back into coffee reality.. most of the time..

The ritual aspect of it all needs some refinement to enhance focus.. the grinding, almost boiling and measuring are good.. along with timing the steep till pressing.. its ok, quiet, pleasurable, routine and nearly mechanical… which works since I’m not fully awake or functional..

Maybe a new cup…. something serene and hand made, contemplative and artful rather than my current “let the stress begin” cup with attendant logo…

A table cloth and cut flowers are asking too much… besides that I’m a guy and live like a bear with soap and some furniture..

Breakfast takes a minute… I’m never convinced I’ll live first thing in the morning.. Which means, I sneak up on breakfast when its safe to do so….all Chi in place and red ta go…

A scrambled “just woke up” reality is no time to scramble eggs there is a risk that dimensions will align and then the day gets scrambled….

So..coffee first, just to test the water.

The cigarette thing needs to go… sucking on burning plant material seems a very un-zen way to start breathing again

Coconut covered chaos…

Or Ladduu depending on how sticky it is…

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Cooling it overnight makes it less gooey… which I didn’t do.

Medjool dates were added… which was major over-kill, since they tend to be a stand alone thing… but I like over-kill.

The rest of the dates are going to be chopped up with coconut and almonds and rolled up in little balls.. not that it’s needed, I just want to see whats what….

The last few days dinner has been all about cheese and crackers or foccia bread and anything I can put on it with minimal effort..

Except for a pizza and that bruschetta incident…. or the plain ramen noodles, because I like plain noodles now and then.. and it was “now” then..

I still have cheese and crackers, so I’m hiding out till they’re gone.. then its back to actually cooking…

Assuming I’m not busy packing.. I have a flight to take shortly sooooo, that needs tending to.. despite a loathing of planes, plane food, security check points, buying new Tshirts, socks and boxers etc.. actually I like the last three.. it beats doing laundry..and they’re ready to go in a suit case….

Logistics and bureaucratic hurdles..unngh

I can hardly wait till excitement replaces that OMG induced knot in my stomach..

Steamed cod..

The cod finally made it onto the dinner roster…and steaming was the preferred treatment..

I tend to like fish firm and flaky as a general rule… except for civiche and gravlax..

There was just salt, dill and lemon involved but that’s all it takes for cod…

It was a happy event since fish is high on my preferred food chain but I lack opportunity or motivation to indulge often..

How did we as a species manage to actually poison oceans? Unbelievable..

Diawali…. Hindu festival of lights

My GF works with Indians and its Diawali so its kind of a big deal and she had her first taste of ladduu, dahl and various homemade Indian foods.. At which point she sends me recipes.. since I tend to like… anything basically.

This time it was a recipe for ladduu… which is in progress as we speak..

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Its a lot like Mexican dulce de leche.. but different since coconut is involved, other types of Ladduu use dates and sesame seeds… so I’m thinking some fun is in order…

I did two half batches… one following the rules, the other not so much….

First batch coconut, caramelish goodness….

Second batch I kinda added bits from another recipe which was dates…. Then it went sideways.. if dates are good then raisins must be as well, especially if they’ve been soaking in a melange of spices and rum for over a month or so..

Good move… just a couple of tablespoons.. not an overwhelming glop.. you still want to get that coconut caramelish thing…

Which worked out..

And I was happy about it because, last night I was mashing together coconut, nuts, dates and dried fruit with a mortar and pestle figuring out a calorie dense snack to take on the plane… because I hate planes, airport restaurant, airplane food and pretty much everything about it… I do like picnic baskets and bento boxes though.. but just don’t know what the rules are on a plane.. one can suppose cutlery is out… but whatever..

Ladduu will make a nice addition to the hoard….

Meet the new lunch, same as the old lunch

The expedient lunch, everything was close at hand, which dictated the whole event..

I didn’t feel like thinking.. because I’ve put in enough thought for the day..and that sort of thing needs to be kept in check..

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So lunch was Zen…. or at least a few minutes to zone out…

The cod needs to be dealt with later… prolly steamed, dilled, capered and lemonized.. with a salad…and maybe bruschetta of some ilk..

I read a rant earlier today about artisanal toast that nearly killed me…. http://kitchenette.jezebel.com/artisanal-toast-is-apparently-a-fucking-thing-now-1584472659

She was impressively deranged.. but right none the less..

I almost feel guilty….given bruschetta has points in common with artisanal toast..

What saves me is that it hasn’t been hipsterized into the void.. and still counts as food rather than some sort of quasi elitist statement..

It’s working class food.. not a $7 entree that dummies over pay for… even though they do.

500 Cook books and nothing for dinner.

I actually do have 500+ cook books and dinner isn’t really an issue.

But reading a chefs blog piqued an interest in figuring out what exactly my goals may be…

I’m not a chef.. and have no illusions about my skill set. I couldn’t handle a full kitchen and staff.. don’t wanna.

I read cook books, how people do things fascinates me, the whole notion of culture and technique determining use of ingredients is a world of exploration..

Besides you can’t riff on a classic if you don’t know what a classic is..

Its fun to me, no ingredient or idea is safe, and I will plunder any culture to make my dinner… nothing I do is “normal” its all about lets do this for breakfast… which could well be and has been a Greek salad and steamed cod..no pancakes, no captain crunch, no eggs and bacon…. mostly because I don’t like pancakes or captain crunch and “bacon” ain’t what it used to be..

I do write stuff down (recipes) but its a medieval system that presupposes knowledge of proportions.. and is basically an ingredient list with no measurements…

“Bill you should open a restaurant”

UMMmm..NO..I’d lose my mind and NO you can’t have it your way.. NO I won’t do an all you can eat pancake breakfast.. just NO..

Which is a good way to go broke in a tough business..

At best maybe I’d aspire too a bistro type operation with four tables and a menu board.. and “NO you still can’t have it your way” policy.. if you want it your way go home…

All of which tells me I’d be doomed from the start…

Except.. I can bang out pizza like a mad thing and its killer.

Which is prolly my culinary niche..

OK realistically, it is my niche and I don’t get tired of it..

Baking is a close second….

My GF is a big advocate of us doing something together.. Shes a baker and second in command where she works at a bakery in New Zealand, shes also a chef and seems to think I put out “amazing” food..

She’s decided I’d enjoy charcuterie seminars and artisanal, European baking classes…in New Zealand, which is sort of like kyptonite to my non-compliant food tendencies… both require discipline and a fair amount of precision… besides I have a thing about bread and salt cured hams..

Not to mention the ever so obvious….

So OK, Besides all that, its interlocking skills, charcuterie=house produced pepperoni and since the ovens are up and running anyway, the slack time can go to baking real bread…

And I don’t have to deal with food hipsters and poseurs, who can’t tell chicken from turkey..

Long story short, cooking is like playing music.. Improvisation can be amazing and a joy to do, but you still need to know the scales and practice, practice, practice..

Keep it simple.. and do what you do for the sheer pleasure of it..