Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I did my first bare-handed strangulation here.

A long, long time ago I can still remember how Rome made me smile. 

We've been twice, including our honeymoon, and while spaghetti alla Carbonara is heaven to me, another of Rome's regional hits resonates as a childhood favorite for its combination of cured pork and spicy tomato sauce.  I also love tomato season, and the stores by us are starting to carry local produce.  To that end, I also also love pasta, but that's hardly breakfast food around our house.

Uova all'Amatriciana

3 Tbsp chopped bacon or pancetta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh chile paste or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Cups chopped ripe tomato (plum or beefsteak)
dash cider vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

3 eggs, cooked to your taste
toasted ciabatta

In a medium saute pan*, heat olive oil and add bacon.  Fry until crispy, then add pepper flakes or chile**.  Stir in tomato, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Allow the tomato to break down into a liquid state, then reduce by half.  Serve over eggs and enjoy! 

On our first trip to Rome, our favorite restaurant (seen above) offered 'American-style breakfast' one day.  In addition to freshly squeezed orange juice, they brought us scrambled eggs that had been puffed and fried crispy in super-hot olive oil, a flavor and texture I have since replicated and love.  This dish would be a nice combination of the two, but seems it would work with any style of egg.  I'll actually be trying it with over-easy eggs next, as I strongly suspect the egg yolk will be blissful.

Of course, given more time, this could also be nice with the addition of some bell pepper strips, perhaps some grated onion, and some queso anejo, ricotta salata or another dry, crumbly cheese grated over the top.  Throw in some tortillas instead of bruschetta toast, and you've got yourself some huevos rancheros...but that's another post.

(Speaking of another post, I really hope to get back to posting some recipes on a regular basis.  If nothing else, it keeps me creative in the kitchen.)

* I bought myself a $5 wok at Ikea a few weeks ago.  Much like children will spend all of their time with the newest toy in the box, I've spent more time cooking in this pan than any others we own and it rocks, especially for reducing sauces. I have a taco recipe that I'm itching to share once I get the measurements figured out.

** Because it feels like a shortcut, I feel guilty when I get sucked in by the squeeze tubes of prepared herbs at the grocery store.  In particular, I like the hot chiles and the lemongrass, since they're otherwise ingredients I wouldn't have on hand.  (Have you ever tried buying one serrano pepper?  It barely registers on the scale!)  Plus, it means if I accidentally rub my eye after adding chiles to a dish, I won't immediately and for hours on end regret my unconscious decision to do so.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Random Acts of Thursday - Elementary, my dear Watson!

I've been remiss.

Several weeks ago, I waxed (on, wax off) about the chronological advance of my childhood crushes.  Somehow, I neglected to include Jodie Foster on that list.  Also in that episode, despite mentioning Phoebe Cates, I failed to post the quintessence of Phoebiness, her Fast Times bikini shot.

I'm here to rectify that.
I've also been lacking in the movie and music trivia department of late. 

I'm here to rectify that.

Wait, this doesn't cut it?  Fine, then.

Something that bothers me regularly, if you'll forgive the lack of segue, is our nation's need to endlessly remake films.  Sure, there are some original ideas out there, but really, did The Karate Kid cry out for a Jackie Chan remake?  Pat Morita must be rolling over in his grave.  (Wait...is Pat Morita dead?  I should probably check that out...)  And if they're not remakes of old movies, old TV shows, or bad Saturday morning cartoons, they're sequels, which I always assume are bad.  Saves me going to the movies, my couch is far more comfortable.

It's as though we can't come up with original ideas.  I have lots of original ideas, myself, but few of them ever see completion.  I'm recruiting, Crappy Unfinished Novel Time needs more creative input.  I'll keep posting my stuff, but really, anyone is welcome to contribute, free of charge.

I'm also soliciting for reader input here at the CDS.  Email me your questions, however trivial or inane.  It's called filler, people!

Also, while I've not been writing many posts lately, the larger crime is that I haven't been reading many other blogs, either.  And commenting on fewer.  I apologize to the many talented and creative writers who bless the Internet with their work.

But finally, it's quiz time!  I'll bet you thought it would never happen.
Every time it's shown on television, I get sucked into The Fifth Element.  (Happened again last Friday, when I picked up the last ten minutes.)  Besson's editing is quick and I love every minute of it.  Milla Jovovich isn't bad, either.  As far as current science is concerned, there is no 'fifth element'.  However, there are four other elements, earth, water, air and fire, that deserve equal billing. 

Therefore, onto the quiz.

1)  Name three songs (along with the performing artist) that mention earth (or some variation on the theme) in lyrics. 

2)  Ditto for fire.

3)  Ditto for air.

4)  See where we're going with this?  List three songs that mention water in some form.

5)  A question for Bob, name a song that mentions water in addition to my favorite dessert.

6)  Name five bands that reference one of the four elements in their band name.

7)  Name two bands that reference, rather than one of these elements, an element from the periodic table, as their name.

8)  Identify the band whose song about an airborne conveyance, while lyrically not qualified for an answer above, uses two elements to achieve lift.

9)  Name the author and 1962 book whose central premise is the same as the name of that band.

10)  Finally, which band released an album by the same name as the band from question 8 (mysteriously close to the time the band in question 8 took their name)?

As always, we grade on a curve here at the great and powerful CDS.  Show your work, kids!

And with special thanks to Dave Barry (along with Strunk and White) as an early influence on my sensibilities, 'Elements of Style' would be a great name for a band.  Just sayin.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An observation

I'm not sure if you see the recent crackdown on condiment abuse in your neighborhood, but in mine they've grown quite serious.  There is an allowable 'nugget-to-sauce' ratio that cannot be breached.  Want barbecue AND honey mustard?  Too bad, that'll cost extra. 

Are the youth of today getting a sugar buzz from downing sweet-and-sour shots after school, high-fructose corn syrup coursing through their veins?  Is there a rash of tomato-based meth labs spreading across the heartland of America that we can no longer have ketchup pumps in plain view?  What's next, are we to provide our name and address, photo ID's checked and double-checked if we ask for two jellies with our English muffin?  Black-market counterfeit ranch dressing dealers in the back lot of Wendy's?

Where does it end???!?!

Evenutally, I think we'll see the grocery store bagging our condiments in plain brown paper.  And I don't want to live in that world.

Unless, of course, there's some real money to be made in black market condiments.  If so, I'm there.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Movie Mania Monday - Fear not, little ones!

It's been a long, long time.  I'm such a sight.  Though I doubt I'm looking better than a body has a right to.

Busy, busy times at the Chez NFG.  But we're trying, and you, dear readers, have stuck with me.   Shows you're not a fickle lot, and I appreciate that.  It's barely been two weeks that I've been away, but it feels much longer.  At least in that time I've managed to get an Ohio driver's license.  And only three visits to the OBMV to do so!  I think it's a new record.

And as it's been over a month since the last installment of movie quote trivia, let's recap the rules, shall we?  No Google or other web searches, you should know the quote by yourself. This should be the original source of the quote as well, no characters quoting other movies, and certainly no movies within movies. Should you guess the quote correctly, you'll win the people's fame and ovation forever, along with the title of 'Iron Quote Guesser', along with all associated accolades. Now, onto the quote of the week:

The problem!  It's happening again!  I need fruit!

Allez guessing!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

God didn't buy me a satellite

Not that I expected Him to, nor did I ask.  Certainly, there are far larger things going on in the world than my having to listen to broadcast radio.

All the same, having spent the last three months nearly commercial-free, almost always finding music to suit my mood, whatever mood that may be, suddenly being faced with static, lost stations, non-stop ads, unwitty 'witty morning banter' and country music (actually, it's both kinds: country and western) is like torture.
(And not the good kind, with spankings...)

It was something, driving to lunch with typical early-80's new wave in the background, only to get back in the car after some great tacos to nothing.  Well, an XM advertisement looping non-stop, but not early-80's new wave, to be sure.

I can't say they didn't warn me.  I ignored the mail, the phone calls at inopportune times, even the emails.  Because part of me cringes at the idea of paying for radio.  However, that part is the one with no short-term memory, the holier-than-thou part of my brain that forgets we hate commercials, unwitty 'witty morning banter' and country music.  It's also the same part of my brain that hates buying bottled water or paying for cable, but those are completely different subjects.

I'm just going to have to break down and pay the XM piper, aren't I?

On an unrelated note, have you noticed the trusty sidebar here at CDS Enterprises?  There's a nifty little PayPal button over there, where you can achieve great esteem in the eyes of this site's author by donating to the XM cause.  

No?  Then at least click the email link and ask the nerdy fat guy an interesting question.  It's the least you could do.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fun Fact Fruesday - I'm Cracking Up

This is a tirade.  I won't go into detail on the Herculean ordeal of trying to get an Ohio driver's license.  I won't even go into detail as to why I urgently need an Ohio driver's license, or why Florida sucks. 

And Florida does, indeed, suck like a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

And no, this isn't a tirade about the Dyson guy, either.  But really?  Seventeen years researching vacuum cleaners and their shortcomings?  Guess who doesn't get invited to many parties.

...besides me, smartass. 
No, this is a long-overdue rant regarding one of my favorite childhood snacks.  Cracker Jack has been part of the American landscape since 1893.  In 1912, Cracker Jack started inserting prizes into their boxes, like cast metal figurines, pinball machines, marble mazes and Duesenbergs.
Crackerjack used to mean 'something pleasing or excellent', back in old-timey days.  Those old-timey-ers didn't set their standards very high, apparently.
But today, following the never-ending saga of OBMV* disappointment, I opened a bag of Cracker Jack to ease my weary soul.  Instead of a whistle or a stealth jet, I got a pencil topper.

And even that sucks.  It's the suckiest suck that ever sucked.
When I was a lad, a wee youth, a 'pencil topper' was a fancy eraser, like my green Frito Bandito, in all of his politically incorrect erase-y goodness.  He smelled of failure, like all good erasers should.

What did I get today, though?
A piece of freaking paper with slits in it.  Wow, Cracker Jack, thanks for trying.  Way to phone that one in.  Didn't strain yourself with that mental effort, did you?

That bag of Cracker Jack, with peanuts that simply refused to commingle with the popcorn, cost far more than I should ever have to pay for a snack.  And on a bad day, getting a temporary tattoo or a prismatic magnifying glass or Miss August 1998 would have brightened my day, at least a little bit.

Even the 'fun fact' is far from fun.  Even the kids who ate paint chips while we were growing up know that pencil 'lead' is graphite.  That's not fun.  And I think I know fun facts
On further investigation, it seems I don't even own a pencil.  This day just keeps getting better.

In summary: Cracker Jack is run by cheap, communist bastards.  And I still don't have an Ohio driver's license. But at least I feel a little bit better having gotten this off my chest.

*To clarify: OBMV is the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, not One Bad Mamma Vamma

**Also to clarify:  I checked my trash, and I only paid $1.29 for my bag of Cracker Jack.  But still, I've been ripped off.

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