This And That.

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Links,Site | Thursday 22 January 2009 11:00 am

Just a few notes:

Twiddled with this site a bit.  The format is just a little wider — optimized for 1024 wide and beyond… I’d love to apologize to all you still running a desktop in microscopic mode, but I’m not.  Join us in this century of cheap, large monitors.

I bashed the gallery about the head and neck with a broken bottle.  The navigation bar over there on the left goes bye-bye when you enter the gallery,  giving me more space, and I took advantage of this new screen real estate, as well as refining some of the styling code — and consequently made it play nice with Internet Explorer.   As always, my header pic up top will bring you back to the main site from anywhere.

Finally… FINALLY, I finished the front-end for Curious Confections (it’s no longer just a parking space for a gallery).  Just a matter of getting off my ass and doing it.  That is now the official, semi-professional/semi-informal site for the baking projects and jobs that Sweets and I do.  It’s also the place to send people who want to see our work, and to send prospective customers.  *hint hint* I would appreciate anyone within the sight of my voice here to pimp us relentlessly to everyone you know, are acquainted with, pass on the street, etc — preferably in the Austin area.  Send them to Curious Confections — there is a distinct lack of foul language, and dick and fart jokes there to scare them off.  We want to bake yummy things for people!

That’s all I gots for now.

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Say Cheese! *yarf*

Posted by DmentD | Links,Stress | Thursday 15 January 2009 9:47 pm

So, you’re tucking into a nice dinner of ORLOTAN… maybe you’d like some CHEESE to go with that?

Because the larvae in the cheese can launch themselves for distances up to 15 centimetres (6 in) when disturbed, diners hold their hands above the sandwich to prevent the maggots from leaping into their eyes.  Those who do not wish to eat live maggots place the cheese in a sealed paper bag.  The maggots, starved for oxygen, writhe and jump in the bag, creating a “pitter-patter” sound.  When the sounds subside, the maggots are dead and the cheese can be eaten.”

Now, please excuse me while I go be violently ill.

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*shudders*

Posted by DmentD | Links,Rambling,Reflection,Stress | Monday 8 December 2008 12:57 pm

Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please.

I, as you know, was born and raised in south Louisiana.  The glorious land of high humidity, warm temperatures, narrow minds, and expanded appetites.  Louisiana, the land where residents routinely dine on mass quantities of the aquatic equivalent of the Madagascar hissing cockroach, and prehistoric reptiles that would be just as happy dining on mass quantities of you.  A land where the scrapings of a pig’s scull are gelatinized, molded, refrigerated, and served on crackers under the dubious label of “head cheese”.  The land where fresh roadkill is just a time saving step toward getting your grocery shopping done (and consequently the former home to one of the oldest leper colonies in the U.S.).  I am now keeping my food heritage alive and well in Austin… Jeebus help them all.

I tell you, as a man raised in that gastronomical environment, I am disgusted and mortified by the tale of the wee orlotan, a bird from the bunting family that is the size of a lark.  And I figure if it has that effect on me, then who am I to not share it with the people I love the most.  Here — stolen shamelessly from the pages of the St. Kew Inn newsletter — is the finest description of what has me tweaked almost beyond words:

After netting, the bird has its eyes poked out and is kept in a cage where it gorge feeds on millet, grapes and figs until it gets about four times its normal size.  It is drowned in Armagnac, and then roasted in a very hot oven for about 6-8 minutes.  The great experience is entirely in the eating.  Firstly a traditional embroidered napkin is placed over one’s head – some say this is to enable the diner to inhale the earthy, rich aroma, others say it is to hide one’s head from God for one’s gluttony and shame.  Then place the piping hot bird in one’s mouth leaving the head dangling out, bite it off and discard.  Inhale rapidly through the mouth to cool the bird down and allow the ambrosial fat to cascade down one’s throat.  When cool, slowly begin to chew.  In a glorious 15 minutes, work through the breast and wings allowing the delicate cracking bones to lacerate the gums and allow one’s own salty blood to mingle as one moves on to the inner organs.  Devotees claim they can taste the bird’s entire life as they chew in the darkness: the wheat of Morocco, the salt air of the Mediterranean, the lavender of Provence.  The pea sized lungs and heart, saturated in Armagnac are said to burst in a liqueur-scented flower on the diner’s tongue.

Mmm, mmm!  There is nothing quite like having a bird (blinded, fed to the point of bursting, drowned in brandy and roasted whole) — feathers and all — popped straight away into your maw to sear your mouthflesh.  The delight of prizing the head off with your teeth is nearly as wonderful as shredding your gums with its tiny, brittle bones.  I mean, come on!

This lovely dish/ritual comes to us courtesy of the French, who have had a hit-and-miss relationship with their influences on world gastronomy (admittedly, mostly “hit”, but still…).  The cherry on top is that it was as late as 1999 that they outlawed the preparation and sale of the orlotan as a dish, but it took till 2007 to outlaw consumption.

This ranks up there on the squick-me-out-scale alongside the Dirty Jobs episode where Mike was docking the tails of sheep, and castrating them with his teeth.  I was squirming in my seat the whole episode, and frankly had to avert my eyes a few times out of sympathy.

Oh Jeebus.

Thank you Sweets for intoducing me to the orlotan.  You never fail to surprise me with the things you know.  I will have my revenge one day.

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Change Is In The Air.

Posted by DmentD | Links,Reflection | Wednesday 5 November 2008 12:23 am

Well, it’s pretty much over — and the Old Boys are out, and the new young Hooligan is in.  Dear Jeebus, please let there be a fresh breath of air somewhere in the years to come.  Let’s see if business as usual really does become business unusual.

While surfing my usual haunts tonight, I stumbled across the most sobering post I’ve seen yet with regard to this election, and I’d like to share it to help temper the blind celebration and enthusiasm that is running rampant around me.

Don’t get me wrong — there is cause to celebrate — but please do bear in mind that we are still talking about politicians here, and a force much larger, and with more impetus than simply pulling a lever can stop dead.

We’re standing on the tracks, trying to reverse the direction of a train that is barreling at us at top speed by merely throwing our hands out before us and locking our elbows.  Congratulations, the impossible has happened and we weren’t instantly pulverized by the train… but it’s still pushing us backward as we dig our heels in to stop its progress.  We still have to bring it to a halt and push it back down the tracks from whence it came, but it’s a heavy sonofabitch, with a hell of a lot of momentum behind it already.  Honestly, I think the best we can hope for is to steer it to the nearest junction and switch it to a different track… which still requires a lot of energy.

I don’t think one term is enough to gain back a lot of ground, but if the Hooligan can be more human than politician, we may slow the ugly beast down, and maybe open a few minds in the process, giving us some momentum of our own.  It has to start somewhere, folks, and this is as good a way to start it as any.

Just don’t stop pushing, and don’t ever take your eyes of our leaders for one second, because a politician — after all is said and done — is still a politician.

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Literal Take On A Video.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Links | Wednesday 15 October 2008 8:03 pm

Ok children of the 80’s, try not to feel so very old when you watch this.

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Saint Of A Cake

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Links,Pictures | Tuesday 7 October 2008 7:48 pm

New cake added to the gallery.

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Mishmash.

Posted by DmentD | Domestica,Links,Rambling | Wednesday 1 October 2008 2:43 pm

Random points of (dubious) interest in my otherwise uneventful week so far:

Sweets — in a feat best described as magic — managed to not break any bones in her hand after having it smashed between two heavy, wheeled, stainless steel tables at school.  I’m sure she’s not feeling too magical right about now, but I have to tell you that accidents do happen… and her bones pulled off some kind of fucking Houdini trick by not actually being in her hand at the moment of impact.  I keep telling her to take this act on the road, but she reminds me that the bill for splints, ice and Advil will far outweigh any profits from the performance.  You can read her account of the incident HERE.

On that note, and swinging the sympathy spotlight back toward me for a moment — and this site is all about letting my inner narcissist out of his cage — my ankle is doing remarkably well.  Walking is mostly back to normal, I have a little soreness now and again, some swelling when I don’t keep off it enough, and a lovely jolt up my leg when I step awkwardly on a piece of uneven ground.  Subtle reminders of the frailty of the human body.

The new dishwasher was delivered today, to be installed by me tomorrow.  Thank goodness, as I fear that some sort of boogeyman has taken up residence in the gaping maw under my countertop that the old dishwaher was removed from.  I’ll have to shoo him out with a broom and a flamethrower.

Been eating more delicious baked goods than I can conceivably begin to list here.  Had many and varied breads the last three weeks, and there is a dubious looking container of white goo in my fridge labeled “Bready Kreuger”, looking for all the world like a failed experiment in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab.  Sweets tells me it’s a sourdough starter, but I suspect it’s some sentient beastie that is going to nuzzle up to the lid of its container, pry it free, ooze under the fridge door, fall to the floor with a wet “plorp” sound, and come and kill me in my sleep.  Or give me a yeast infection.  *ba-dum-tish* Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week.

We have made two cakes for actual money so far.  A slow start, but a start nonetheless.  Looking for more like that.  Am putting together a price-list for my friend who manages a local eatery, to supplement their dessert menu.  Not a lot of money in it, but lots of fantastic practice, opportunities to hone and retool our processes, and of course, a stack of business cards to be handed out if folks ask who made what they just enjoyed.  *crosses fingers* We wouldn’t complain to have more paying gigs during the week.

On that note, also working on a front-end for curiousconfections.com, to make the site a little more than a gallery.

Have been teaching Sweets how to drive on our shores… and not use the backwards, metric, left-side of the road style that makes up only 28% of the world’s total road distance.  *ducks* She’s doing astoundingly well, and it doesn’t hurt that she does know how to drive (even if she hasn’t done it in a while).  Not once have I had to grab the oh-shit handle, or stomp on the voodoo brake — I feel safe and confident with her in the car.  In a year, once she’s feeling confident and plucky, that’s when I’ll be diving under the dashboard for safety.  *grins*

That’s all my brain feels capable of yarfing up onto your screen for now.  More later, as later brings more.

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Imperial Fleet Week In San Francisco.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Links | Wednesday 27 August 2008 1:06 am

Celebrating our men and women who serve in black, gray and white.

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Canadian Animal.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Family,Links,Rambling | Friday 22 August 2008 3:58 pm

Ok, I’m seeing double right now.

My favorite shows on the idiot box are mostly composed of cooking shows (Good Eats, Ace of Cakes, Iron Chef America, and an outside contender that skirts the line between food and travel show… No Reservations), Discovery Channel fun/danger shows (MythBusters, Dirty Jobs, Deadliest Catch), BBC America imports (Top Gear, The Graham Norton Show… and hoping like hell that QI makes its way across eventually), and a number of one-offs that aren’t defined by a genre.

I just picked up a new one, basically a “contractors fucked up my home, I’d like you to make it right” type show.  The host comes in and soberly, with minimal sensationalism, tears out as much of the original poor construction as necessary — pointing out where the original contractor screwed the pooch with relation to safety and code — and redoes it properly, explaining what and why he’s doing.  The show is Holmes on Homes, and the host, Mike Holmes is a sturdily built dude, with a no nonsense attitude, and a Boy Scout complex a mile wide.  He looks, sounds and behaves almost exactly like my brother, Animal, if he would have gone into construction.  It amuses me to no end.

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Sweets, Celebrity And Grilling.

Posted by DmentD | Cooking,Domestica,Links,Pictures,Rambling | Thursday 21 August 2008 5:33 pm

Hello loyal readership (and by loyal readership, I mean my near countless minions numbering in the single digits).  So, while I do not have a trip journal to entertain you with yet, I do feel like blabbering.  So, why not?

First and foremost, the HMS Sweets has docked on our shores.  Her flights — in complete defiance of common practice — were all not only on time and effortless, but even had the audacity to arrive early in some cases.  I don’t know what we did to deserve this cosmic/karmic boon, but I sure as hell won’t be forgetting to toast DeJockamo any time soon.  I threw a “Belated Happy Birthday & Welcome Home” party in her honor the day after her arrival, complete with lots of grilled animal flesh, and a cake in the shape of a sheep.  Good food, good company, and puppies galore running around and being cute as can be.  Capped off by some homemade tiramisu ice cream (my own recipe, thankyouverymuch), the day was a success.

We then spent the following week getting her settled in: opening a US bank account, a cell phone, getting a dresser, unpacking, hanging pictures (I left them down so she could help me hang them, and contribute to decorating the house and feel like it’s her place too, not just my house that she is staying at), going to her orientation at the culinary academy, birthday present clothes shopping (for Texas-heat appropriate apparel), and other such things.

It’s spooky how well and easily we’ve settled into the house together, and have established a happy routine.  Mind you, this is only the second week, but so far it’s gone well.  As different as we both are, we see eye to eye on a lot of things, especially when it comes to keeping house.  She’s spent so long trying to keep her head above water — cleaning wise — in a house with three to four other housemates, that she’s developed basically the same housekeeping philosophy it took me thirty four years to evolve.  Neither of us are OC neat freaks, but we like a tidy house… and a clean and orderly kitchen especially.  Things get put away in a timely fashion, but we shun dusting unless absolutely necessary.  We keep house in such a manner that we would never be embarrassed if company stopped by unexpectedly.  So, we seem to be domestically very compatible at this point.  Check back, gentle readers, in a year.

Sweets’ first week of school is going well for her, all three days of it so far.  They’ve covered sanitary practices and health codes, temperatures and other things.  She’s covered all this in her UK courses already, but just needs to learn the Fahrenheit temps instead of the Celsius temps.  Day one, in the first few minutes alone, she charmed the pants off of her instructor for this first three week course, simply by opening her mouth and talking — her accent made the instructor nearly swoon, and now she’s telling the other instructors to just listen to Sweets talk.  I told her before she got here, that her accent is going to be key in charming and winning people over, well before her culinary talent is called to action.  Americans are predisposed to accept a smooth, posh English accent as a sign of culture, refinement and intelligence — and I’m not saying “ha, she’s going to have everyone fooled“, because she is wickedly intelligent and charming too, but that she should use our genetic weakness to make friends and contacts in the industry as it is a fantastic foot in the door.

And I must say, I have discovered a hitherto unknown fetish for cute, bespectacled women wearing a crisp, white, double-breasted chef’s jacket.

And on to thoughts that do not involve domestic bliss.

Been reading a lot of Kevin Smith’s blog My Boring Ass Life, as well as Wil Wheaton’s blog WWdN: In Exile.  It’s oddly quite comforting to know that two pop-culture icons of my generation, two moderately successful guys who occupy the limelight, are just a coupla’ normal schmoes like me.  If you remove their fame, money and notoriety — hell, in spite of their fame, money and notoriety — they lead relatively normal human lives.  They’re geeks, have everyday insecurities, do their best to hustle up work and provide a decent life for themselves and their families, get pissed off at the drive thru when their order is wrong, and basically are human to their very core.  They’re warm, decent guys, and I have an overwhelming desire to spend a few hours just sitting around and bullshitting over a few drinks with them (and Wil, I recommend PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale).

They make my list of “celebrities” I’d like to drink with, which is composed of people who are earthy and interesting.  As a result they don’t trigger that idol-worship reflex that causes one — when in the presence of someone famous — to sweat profusely, stammer uncontrollably, say inane things and give limp, damp handshakes.  Others on that list include Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth, Douglas Adams (now a long gone chance), Chris Elliot and Bruce Campbell.  All hard working, intelligent stiffs, and not infected with a prima donna complex.

Been grilling a lot.  I’ve always liked grilling, but have had a near three year hiatus due to some blowhard bitch that killed my home in NOLA.  The staples of grilling live in my freezer — boneless skinless chicken breasts and sirloin burgers from Sam’s — but I’ve started a meat-affair with my local semi-fa-fa grocery, Central Market (think Whole Foods with only half a stick up their ass).  They offer pre-marinated fresh animal flesh of all types that walk, fly or swim.  Their chicken is divine, especially the pesto garlic marinated variety, and dear Jeebus their dry-rub seasoned fajita beef rocked my world.

Have also grilled my fair share of veggies, too, most notably corn-on-the-cob.  And while I’m a sentimental, aesthetic fool and like the notion of grilling corn in the husk, I think the best method yet is to de-husk it, brush it lightly with butter, sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper, wrap in foil and throw that on the grill over medium heat, turning it two times at five minute intervals (15 minutes total).  You still get some color on the kernels, but you preserve most all of the moisture, and the butter can seep between the kernels nicely.  Even with soaking in cold water, the husks still dry out quickly, char and catch fire.

Aaaand, that’s what I gots for now.

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