coconut milk pancakes





I noticed this half gallon of honey in the pantry and thought, "Wow, that looks really good." 

I have honey all over the place, but individually they don't look all that good. There is a veritable honey collection around here. It's a thing. There is also a jug of maple syrup but I do not feel like that today. 

The coconut milk pancakes each burnt a little bit on their first side. I couldn't flip them until the bubbles stabilized and that didn't happen until the the first side went too far. 

Pancake batter:

*  1 egg
*  1 tablespoon melted butter
*  1/3 cup sugar
*  1 teaspoon vanilla
*  3/4 cup coconut milk
*  1 cup + 1/3 cup a/p flour (adjust by the tablespoon as necessary)
*  2 level teaspoons baking powder. That's the same as one rounded teaspoon.

Heat a plate in the oven to keep the stack warm while the remainder of pancakes are still in production. 

The stack is too large for one person one meal and there is still about a cup of batter  remaining. 


aglio e olio




Odd after all that I would have a large block of Parmigiano Reggiano around, but I do. This is the valuable cheese that appeared so far gone as to be unsalvageable. It was then wrapped in wet paper towels as a damp funeral shroud and returned to the refrigerator. Within a day it was revived just fine. Now it appears nothing unfortunate no neglect at all had ever befallen it. Damp paper towel wrapping + sealed plastic bag + cold refrigerator = Stargate sarcophagus for dried Parmigiano. I never knew that Parmigiano is Goa'uld.

I have been looking forward to having aglio e olio for a long time. It's a comfort food. It's the sort of thing we have when we return from the clubs because there's nothing to it, olive oil and butter with garlic and grated hard cheese. Usually spaghetti, sometimes angel hair, this is linguini. Reserve the pasta cooking water. Its starch is useful for tossing a sauce. Easiest to simply lift the pasta from the water directly into the pan of oil and garlic. Add pasta cooking water as required to complete the sauce. 

biscuits and gravy


Lord, thank you for endowing me with insane biscuit skillz. 









This biscuit is so light and well moist inside and still crispy on the outside. 

I do not have any milk around here so I used coconut milk instead. There was a can of that in the pantry.  So I guess now I can recommend coconut milk for biscuits. Nothing special about the taste but the texture of the biscuits is delightful. 

The gravy is ordinary pan gravy from a dark roux but over-spiced to oblivion. Coconut milk in that too. 

Biscuit:

* 1/2 cup unsifted flour +1/2 cup reserve
*  2 teaspoons lard
*  2 teaspoons cold butter
*  large pinch of sea salt
*  generous grind of black pepper
*  large pinch of sage
*  large pinch of oregano
* 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 cup coconut milk 

The coconut milk is a guess. That came last. Everything else into a bowl, the cold fat pinched and rubbed until all the dry ingredients are evenly loaded with flattened specks of fat. I put in too much fat so a tablespoon of flour was transferred into the bowl from the reserve 1/2 cup. 

Drizzle coconut milk into the dry ingredients and mix until it pulls together into a wad of rather dry dough. 

The reserve flour is for flattening the dough into a rectangle on a work surface. Painting the surface with coconut milk then sprinkling a little flour and fold, thus creating layers. I decided not to do that because the little bunch looked just fine as it was. So all that reserve flour was used for the gravy and the excess returned to the bag. 

Gravy:

* butter into a pot
* salt and pepper
* garlic powder
* oregano and sage to match what went into the biscuit
* cayenne pepper
* mild curry
* flour
* commercial chicken broth
* coconut milk

A roux is formed with the butter and dry ingredients. It's let go on low to a dark color. Cajun cooks will tell you that roux cannot be rushed. You cannot just turn the knob to high and let 'er rip. Roux is not for the impatient. Having said that, much of what made this roux dark is the excess of spices put into it. 

Chicken whisked in incrementally. Coconut milk whisked in. The entire amount of liquid ingredients about a cup. 

pineapple, shrimp, salmon, pasta




You know how at the bottom of an upside-down cake there's this mixture of butter and brown sugar. Probably cinnamon and clove down there too. That is what this sauce is near to: 

* butter 
* brown sugar
* soy sauce (for saltiness)
* chile flakes
* pineapple 

The pasta is al dente and coated in the same sweet sauce. 



gap

I should probably explain the blog lacuna, the neglect of a month.

Without becoming overly detailed about it, I am allergic to a prescription. I was so good about taking it too. Usually I am not that good. It slowly poisoned me, caused my bone marrow to stop producing whatever it produces. This built up for about four months until about Halloween when it suddenly became noticeable. It got slowly worse thereafter and worse, then it got very bad very quickly. Then BLAM!

I did not get better as I supposed I would by simply stopping the prescription.

The last I mentioned in the previous comments, my family physician became alarmed by my call to his office that I made on Monday and that day he made the first house call in my experience. He did a blood draw here at my home. Called my home the next day reported the lab result and urged me to admit myself for a blood transfusion. I refused. I'm rather thick and stubborn that way. The next day he called again and urged me to admit myself again. I refused again. I pleaded my case that we knew what happened, stopped the cause, and that should automatically reverse things. He said, "But what if your bone marrow is just sitting there and not doing anything?"

I didn't think of that. He had me there. Plus, that's exactly what it felt like. I was getting worse. Coping was ever more difficult. Then Thursday, November 24th, Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., my physician called my home again to check. I was weaker than ever. He insisted I admit myself. I told him I didn't know how, that I couldn't drive nor could I even walk to the front to wait a cab. He said, "Just call 911 and get yourself admitted to hospital emergency now. You'll be feeling better in a few hours."

Liar. He knew that would not happen.

Maybe he meant "start" to feel better. I understood I'd be done and out of there in a few hours.

So I did call emergency. Within a few minutes my apartment is filled with emergency people. They put me on a gurney and off I went in an ambulance to hospital.

In the ambulance they put a needle into my inside elbow that was never used. Never used but refused to remove. Reason given, "We could need an extra input in an emergency. So the extra discomforting puncture stayed in place taped right into the joint continuously jabbing in case it might be needed. So annoying. If this ever happens again, I'll be pulling it out myself. Oops. And they can put another back in if they have such an unseen emergency occur.

Emergency room is a trip. They wrapped my arm in a blood-pressure monitor and the thing came on automatically every 15 minutes or so, inflated, measured and reported electronically, then deflated. Then fifteen minutes later, pump pump pump, there it goes again squeezing my arm.

Another blood draw. A lab report while still in emergency.

Apparently, their finding from the lab was alarming which caused them to move me to a nearby isolated room still in emergency. People came in and out wearing masks. Two doctors who looked to me like twins in their masks came in and told me they knew from the lab report that  I was seriously vulnerable. They interrogated me.

Turns out they are not identical. One was slightly taller and wore glasses. Plus they have different names. They were adorable. I joked that I wouldn't be trusting the slightly shorter one because his name is Cyberg. I don't know how he spells it but I took it for Cyborg which was a stretch from Cylons, the human-like robots on Battleship Galactica. And Cyborgs simply cannot be trusted. Then the taller guy talked some more, then the shorter one said, "Wanna know something funny? I almost didn't get married because my wife didn't want to marry into some Science Fiction Cyborg, and almost didn't even date me, and then when we did marry she almost didn't take my name because of Battleship Galactica. She didn't want any association with science fiction at all. Then the tall guy with the glasses said, "We have a lot of questions to ask you. We must stick with the immediate issues at hand. May we please get straight on with it?" So he must have been the other guy's boss. Or maybe jealous for not having an awesome last name.

This is how they do things over there at the hospital. Everything is tag-teamed. Eventually after being admitted to the hospital proper teams of people came into my room in waves. Some later teams were comprised of members of previous teams. They identified themselves each time and explained the hierarchy but frankly I had trouble paying attention to the bureaucratic details.

Another blood draw. Another lab thing.

The hospital is a machine. Beds are cogs. The machine rolls along and all the gears fit together like a clock. It's all worked out, I suspect much of it propelled by litigation. Arm bands are scanned and everything is double checked. The plasma comes, scan scan, check check, scan check, scan check. Repeat three times.

Near the very end, an older guy who was the head doctor led a group of four other younger doctors, three I've seen before, came in to deliver grave news. Plus, they wanted to observe me longer.  But I really REALLY REALLY did not want to stay another day beyond the transfusion.

The transfusion. Four units, 200 cc per unit. There happened to be on my table a plastic water jug with with ounces marked next to cc measurements. It held 28 oz. Turns out, 800 cc is the same as 27 oz, so almost a quart. Each bag takes at least two hours.

Throughout all this, wave after wave, people explained how close to catastrophe I had been. Throughout the Thanksgiving day, the night, the next morning until noon, teams of people impressed upon me how closely I had just come to dying. disaster, heart attack or possible stroke.

More than a few times on Thanksgiving day I was told by different teams in various ways that I nearly died. They all looked so urgent and so grave.

Apparently my doctor convinced me to call 911 just in time. Any further and I'd court a heart attack or stroke. As it is, the white bits in the blood are still alarmingly low so I've been told that I am still wide open vulnerable to all kind of foul infection.

Different teams told me different things, different numbers, and different fractions, and they used different vocabulary too, so I am quite confused about the whole thing, but I understood one person to say that I was running on 1/3 the volume of something, and then another person in a later team and a later lab result said I was running on  1/4 of something. I wondered if they were talking about the same thing. Another said something within my blood was the lowest he had ever seen. "It should be 30 and yours is 3", and then later "It should be 11 and yours is 2."  I paid close attention but failed at grasping the details but I didn't care to have the details repeated. All of these fractions and new vocabulary meant nothing to me in those moments, but I did get it, whatever it is they are talking about, it's low.

Nobody goes home until the after the physical therapy team has their go on you. And you must await other formalities until release. The machine must grind through its own course.

I must note this oddity about the transfusion. While the plasma was going into me I was sitting there watching TV and the silliest things seemed tremendously funny to me. Even if something wasn't that funny, that somebody was trying to be funny was itself tremendously funny. I sat there laughing my ass off at the most ridiculous things. The Fruit of the LOOM guys come riding up on horses like knights of Yore and they toss a package of well-fitting t-shirts at a modern person. They're speaking as if they are heralding good news of the well-fitting t-shirts. Then the camera goes onto the black guy wearing the grapes costume and he says, "Wear them well!" That line, that delivery, that costume, the unseen direction, all added up to something terribly hilarious to me. The night staff at the center of the circular construction must have thought me a complete loon giggling like a girl inside my darkened room when I should have been in there suffering with uncomfortable needles in both my arms.

My new blood has made everything 10x more funny. I watched a South Park episode and split my sides laughing. I laugh at the straight story, at the meta story, at the method and technique, at the concept and the script, at Matt Stone and Trey Parker and the people at their company, at my family who wouldn't appreciate it, all the people at the hospital with English as second language who are saving my life but who would not get the jokes or the hilarity of the cut paper expressions. It was like isometric ab exercises. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard.

An older guy in a nearby room awakened at night alarmed and confused. He thought he was a prisoner. He could not be calmed.

The laughing fits continued when I got home and on to the next day and to the present.

A thing came on that was so stupid it could not possibly be this funny but it had me in stitches so bad I couldn't stop laughing if my life depended on it. It was a production tag, or something. A cartoon. A bear squatting behind a tree smoking a cigar or perhaps a pipe, and reading a newspaper. The bear then looks at the viewer and says,

"As a matter of fact I do."

The viewer then goes, "A matter of fact, do what?" Oh, shit in the woods! Ha ha ha ha ha.

That's an adage about certainty but stated as a question, as, "Is the pope Catholic?" Yes, of course, the pope is catholic.

It was and still is tremendously funny to me that somebody thought it a joke to refer to that adage by answering the question about the bear without actually asking the question with the sweary word it and then relying on the viewer to infer the question about the bear from the answer, the question that contains the unspoken sweary word and so causing you to think that sweary word inside your head, like ha, made you think it.

Even more funny knowing that no one in my own immediate family would bother to make the inference and so the joke presented of the cartoon bear would be lost on my family. They don't do jokes that require inferring. There'll be no working to get a joke. Then that became the thing that kept me laughing. I bonded with person who made a joke of the bear squatting behind a tree even though we do not know each other, and then that became funny.

Was the person whose blood is now coursing through my veins this easily amused?

Is having new blood a delight to my spirit?

I do not understand what is happening to me.

Conversely, I have no patience at all for serious subjects. It's like, "You're boring me!" *click* .

So that's where I'm at. Recovering from a rather serious blood and platelet loss and subsequent transfusion, greatly weakened, recovering slowly, more energetic now and much stronger than yesterday. I am presently catching up around here from coping with declining strength for so long, about a month. I've been scrubbing around like a little monkey house scrubber. I have loaded and unloaded the dishwasher twice. I jump up to get water and such.

I have not yet gone shopping. For a month now I've been living out of the freezer and out of the pantry which together are considerable. I've been clearing the refrigerator to virtually nothing. I have not had milk nor any Pepsi or juice, nor any fresh vegetables or herbs around here for a month. Shopping will be something of a breakthrough, I think. I look forward to doing that soon.

pizza


I've been slumming it over here lately. Care to see how bad? 




I didn't make this. If I had, it would be better and that's just a natural fact, but like I said, I'm slumming it over here and slumming it hard. 

This pizza is eighteen inches wide which is like half a meter. It will take three days to eat and it gets worse each time. But it's lovely that the people bring it to you without even noticing that you're slumming it.  

Looks like this: 




Enough of that. 

The pizza place is a few blocks away and the people bring a salad too.

The pizza reheated in the toaster oven is better than reheated in a microwave although it does take a few minutes longer. Eventually it cools just as quickly and becomes just as chewy either way. One slice is like eating five bagels in a row and then you feel like your jaw is loosened and your teeth twisted out.

Did I say your jaw?  


wide pasta with lamb gravy












Pasta: The usual thing for a single serving. 

* one egg.  Half the egg white carelessly spilled out, half the eggshell used as an eggshell cup to transfer water to a bowl

* two rounded tablespoons all purpose flour + enough to adjust if necessary + minimal flour to dust work surface

* two level tablespoons coarse semolina. 

* rest

The lamb chunks were dusted flavored and fried more than a week ago. The fried chunks were unpleasantly tough. The remainder of the lamb chunks languished then were cooked under pressure which revitalized them nicely. A few days went by and the chunks went tough again so the very last of the lamb chunks were cooked under pressure a second time which pretty much disintegrated them. 

No adjustment was made to the flavor of the lamb chunks two weeks old, I think,  and fried and pressure cooked twice. I forgot to salt the pasta water. Still, this simple combination of handmade pasta and lamb gravy, or ragรน if you prefer, is completely satisfying topped with  Italian Parmigiano cheese.

The cheese is old too. A block of it dried out. Looked hopeless. Days ago the block of hard Parmigiano Reggiano was rescued from desiccation by wrapping the block in a couple dampened but not wet paper towels and then placed in a plastic ziplock bag. The moisture migrated from the paper towels into the dry cheese and now the block is delicious and texturally firm and crumbly again as if the period of neglect never happened. 

polenta, steak




ARTS !


Home milled dent popcorn and half a rib-eye steak.

The sturdy coffee bean mill used to turn ordinary  popcorn to powder has a steel bowl. The previous three coffee bean mills were cheaper and less rugged and so buckled under heavy use and the warranty-voiding kitchen hack of milling hard corn kernels.

The steak is half a rib-eye thawed yesterday. I like the wildly seasoned polenta more than I like the steak.  I picked at the steak and wasted some.

Polenta, corn meal mush, yellow unhusked grits, are all the same thing and they are nothing like anything else when loaded heavily with pantry spices. Butter and spices first in the pot and then corn meal with at least twice the liquid. A Cayenne boost or some other serious capsicum is essential in my cornmeal mush world. A reliable prepared curry of some complexity substitutes for opening up the separate tins of a masala daba and combining the usual spices oneself, so the prepared curries are laziness basically. 

Spicy polenta:

*  1 tbsp butter
*  1 tsp prepared curry
*  1/2 teaspoon cayenne chile powder
*  1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.
*  1+1/4 cup broth of any sort even water
*  1/2 cup corn meal

Method: Melt butter in pot with spices.  Add broth. Drizzle dry corn meal while whisking. Bring to boil. 

The cornmeal swells in the liquid and tends to stick to the bottom of the pot but the mixture will not fully thicken until the liquid boils and then the transformation is immediate. If the corn is milled to a fine powder then it is finished at boiling, if the milled corn is coarse then further boiling on low is necessary.

rib-eye with rice


There are two layers of plain white rice with a layer of miso and wasabi between them. 

The onion slices were lightly splashed with rice vinegar while frying. The scant vinegar changed the onion dramatically. The combination is sweeter than the two elements separate. 

The steak is a rib-eye pulled yesterday to thaw but not used then when my mind was changed to salvaged lamb chunks which turned out better than I had hoped. Half the thawed rib-eye steak is used here today, the other half is still in one piece in the refrigerator. Half of the salvaged lamb chunks are in the refrigerator too so it appears I will be going back and forth between until they're both gone. And when the day comes my thoughts will change from using up the things that are here to shopping because apparently deprivation and dearth is what it takes to motivate.

Is that so bad?  

The red chile peppers were grown on the balcony from seeds scraped from grocery store chiles. These red chiles were dried on the countertop. They are milder than their parent chiles so another different type of chile was included with the onions and the sliced steak, serrano chiles from a tin opened earlier. 





I hope to duplicate this sometime because it is intriguingly delicious and satisfying beyond human grasp. The thin layer of miso and the layer of wasabi together hidden inside the rice is a delightful and impressive combination. And it looks so plain and innocent.   

lamb, couscous



Lamb chunks, couscous, South River miso.

The four pounds of miso ordered from South River arrived today. 







The lamb did not go according to plan. It was not very good.

The thing is, the lamb chunks were coated and fried over a week ago and the surplus cooked chunks sat there in the refrigerator all this time available for nibbling. The lamb was tougher than I expected right out of the pan and even more tough when chilled. I lost enthusiasm for it so they mostly just sat there. 

The last time I fried chunks of lamb I just wanted to put a char on them then pressure cook the chunks for ultimate tenderness. That time the lamb chunks were more tender straight out of the pan than they were after the chunks were pressure cooked. The unnecessary pressure cooking stage made them worse. 

This time the lamb chunks were tough right out the pan and you know what that means. It means it's mutton! 

I figure lambs are probably like cattle in that all the lambs born in a single year are counted as yearling no matter when they were born during that year so you could get a lamb relatively older than the others and still be a lamb. I am guessing that's what happened here. 

The cooked lamb chunks languished in the refrigerator because I didn't like them anymore. I considered tossing them out to make way for better things. I planned and thawed a beef rib-eye to fashion into a fortified miso soup using the new miso. Then I thought, "Yo, Dog, why don't you give this mutton one more chance and pressure cook it."  So I did. Glad too because that tenderized the remaining lamb surprisingly well and salvaged about 1/3 of the lamb roast. 

I went with the darker azuki bean miso. It's a little bit salty. 

I must tell you the plate shown at the top with three lettuce cups with a bed of couscous and a chunk of lamb topped with diced onion is not the way the plate was consumed. I'm just playing. I'm showing you the separate ingredients piled up. In reality more couscous was scooped onto the platter along with more lamb chunks on top of that with abundant liquid from the pressure cooked lamb. It was a mound amounting to three times that much. 

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