Recipe: Fuck You, It’s Chili

May 07

Because of actually stewing the tomatoes like some kind of hippy, this recipe takes too much effort to be an actual “Fuck It” recipe*. However, since its key ingredients are two things that purists — or as everyone else calls them, joyless dicks — insist should never be in chili, namely beans and tomatoes, I’m calling this Fuck You, It’s Chili, because fuck you, it’s chili.

Fuck You, It’s Chili

Ingredients:
5ish fresh tomatoes. If you have some in the fridge that are about to go weird, this is a good way to use em up.
Spices for stewing the tomatoes. I don’t know, oregano or some shit? I use Penzeys Frozen Pizza blend and maybe some Cajun seasoning.
1 15-ounce can black beans. Or whatever that is in metric.
1 15-ounce can chili. That’s right, we’re putting chili in chili. Because I cook for vegetarians I use Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili. Use whatever floats your boat. Hell, throw in a can of Dinty Moore beef stew if you want to. Because fuck you, it’s chili.
Chili spices. Whatever chili spices you have lying around. I recommend Penzey’s Chili 9000 because if you don’t like that you fail at taste buds.

Directions:

1. Boil water in a big ol’ pot. While you’re waiting for it to heat up, cuz that shit takes forever, prepare a bowl of ice water. This is a good way to use up that weird clumpy ice that always clogs up the ice machine. Why does that happen anyway?

2. Once the water is boiling, throw the tomatoes in for one minute. Just one minute. Let em roll around a bit.

3. Fish the tomatoes out (not with your hands!) and throw them into the bowl of ice water.

4. Peel those tomatoes! It should be easy now, because of that boiling-icewater voodoo trick. How does it even work. Throw away those peels, they’re gross.

5. Chop those tomatoes! You’re not going for precision here, Iron Chef. Just make em into chunks. Throw out the gross stemmy bits.

6. Put the chopped tomatoes back in the pot (you did empty the water out first right? Do it. Clean your drain.) on medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Simmer means it’s vaguely bubbling. Come back and stir it whenever you remember there’s a pot on the stove.

Okay that’s the hard part done! Now for the easy part:

7. Throw in the canned beans, canned chili, and spices. Do it.

8. Heat, stirring a bit, till everything’s nice and hot.

9. Eat that fuckin’ chili! Maybe with some “garlic powder and hot dog buns” garlic bread or something.

There you go, a nice warm main course that’s halfway between actual grown-up cooking and college student lazyness. I’m typing this up during step 6, incidentally.

* Recipes of mine that take mad shortcuts or require minimal effort fall into the category of “Fuck It” recipes. Such as my renowned “Fuck It, It’s Nacho Night”. As noted, taking the effort to peel and stew tomatoes is not Fucking It. But let’s face it, canned tomatoes are nasty.

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Review: Zona Rosa Cappuccino (Zona Rosa Caffe, Pasadena CA)

Nov 24

Given the amount of Starbucks stuff on this site, you might think I do my coffee drinking exclusively at one of my many local Starbucks locations. This isn’t true. I go there a lot, because it’s the closest coffee joint to my house, but living in Pasadena I do have a large number of independent coffeeshops available to me, and I visit them when I can.

So, in the spirit of Small Business Saturday, here’s a review of a beverage from one of those local, independent coffee places.

Zona Rosa Cappuccino

Zona Rosa Caffe is a great little shop in the Playhouse district. I’m linking to the Yelp page, because their website is one of those Flash monstrosities with autoplaying music. That tasty-looking drink in the picture is a Zona Rosa Cappuccino.

The first thing anyone with barista training will notice is that it is not, in fact, what we would normally call a cappuccino — there is far too little foam. Given the ratio of milk to foam, and the presence of chocolate, this is more of a mocha. But Cappuccino is what it’s called on the menu board, so that’s what I’m calling it here.

The Zona Rosa Cappuccino is a mix of espresso (their own roast), steamed milk, and Mexican chocolate (probably Ibarra). Usually there’s whipped cream on top, but I’m avoiding that particular temptation these days. Like a Mexican hot chocolate, the Cappuccino has a hint of spices like cinnamon that give it a distinct and delicious flavor.

It’s not too sweet and it doesn’t hit you over the head with cinnamon — the balance of chocolate, spices, and espresso is damn near perfect. It’s a great drink for sipping on a nice cool day. (Well okay, currently it’s 86 degrees F around here, but let’s pretend.) You can also get it decaf if you’re watching your caffeine intake.

If you happen to find yourself in Pasadena, give this drink a shot. It’s a nice departure from the heavily sweetened fare at most coffee chains.

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The Bland Rolls of Blandness

Nov 22

In my last post, I mentioned that my Thanksgiving menu included Pumpkin Pull-Apart Rolls. This is one of my favorite recipes — they’re easy to make and they come out perfect and delicious.

Basically you mix all the ingredients, let the dough rise for an hour, make them into balls and stick them in pans, let it rise for another 40 minutes, then bake. Having mapped out my cooking down to the minute for today, I noted the two easiest options for baking — do everything the night before, or do the mixing the night before, stick the pans in the fridge to slow the rise, then throw them in the oven while the turkey is resting (it’s tired, poor thing). For simplicity’s sake, I decided on making them last night.

So there I was, balling up the dough and putting it into the pans. As I pulled out the canola oil to brush the tops, I thought to myself “Hmm, why wasn’t this out already? I thought there was oil in the dough …”

Realization dawned. I looked at the recipe, and yup. I had gotten so spaced out watching my Kitchen-Aid dough hook do all the wrist-breaking work for me that I had completely forgotten to put half the ingredients into the dough. Salt, sugar, and oil.

They rose perfectly fine, or I would have realized earlier. There was no way I could just mix those in at that late stage. So I decided to put them in the oven anyway and just see how they came out.

Result: Pretty much the blandest rolls ever. Texture is fine, they’re not dry or burned, they just … don’t taste like anything.

Lucky for me, I had enough materials to make a second batch. So I got up early this morning to get that rolling, and the first batch is going into the stuffing, where it can steal the flavor from butter, onions, and spices.

There was also the matter of a late-night turkey advice phone call to my mom (“How do I get the doojobbies out of the middle if it’s still mostly frozen?? What’s this big fleshy thing under the drumsticks? How do I get the wire thing off?”) but hey, it’s only my second Thanksgiving.

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What I’m drinking: Venti two-pump no-whip Gingerbread Latte

Nov 09

For most people, the big drink of the holiday season is the Eggnog latte. Not me.

No, after all the time I spent listening to eggnog steaming (it’s way louder than milk) and making these drinks, and fielding questions about nonfat or soy eggnog lattes, I’m pretty much done with eggnog forever. That doesn’t mean I have to Scrooge my way through the season, though, because the return of the Eggnog Latte means the return of my true holiday drink obsession: the Gingerbread Latte.

 A normal GL is topped with whipped cream. Since I’m trying not to expand to spherical proportions over the next few months, I order it without whipped cream. And since I prefer my drinks less sweet these days, I get it with two pumps of syrup rather than four (grande) or five (venti). They still shake the nutmeg on top, though, so it retains most of its festiveness.

For an extra treat, try a gingerbread latte with one pump of Chai. The verdict on that from everyone who tries it is, “It tastes like Christmas!”

Because it does.

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First string post in the new blog!

Nov 07

Another day, another theme. I like this one a little better, don’t you?

And to keep my momentum rolling, here’s a new blog post to go along with the new theme. Today’s Topic Nobody Gives A Crap About But Me is: what I’m knitting!

Right now I’m forcing myself to use up the huge Smaug-like stash of yarn I’ve acquired, and not buy any new yarn. As a string addict, this is tough, but I’m digging in with the four(!) sweater-sized piles of yarn I acquired for various sweater ideas.

This bad boy is Aidez, a free pattern from Berocco, made with Berocco Peruvia Quick. Thickass yarn = faster sweater! Except “fast” is a relative term when there’s this much freakin’ cabling. This is the back of the sweater, and I’ve just gotten to the bit where the armholes are gonna go. The rest of the sweater should go faster.

There’s two screwups in the cable crosses, can you see them? I don’t cable stuff often enough to catch these things until it’s too late. Luckily I don’t really care much, it’s one of those “nobody will notice unless you point it out, and then they won’t care” sort of things.

You can’t tell from the crappy iPad picture there, but the yarn itself is kind of a decent olive green that sort of matches my eyes. Got it on closeout, booyah.

The nice thing about having a low cold tolerance (or rather “cold”, considering where I live) is that I can always use more knitted things. If I ever moved somewhere with actual weather, I would knit my fingers right off my hands trying to keep up.

P.S. No, I will not knit you a sweater. Do you have any idea how long these things take to knit?

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