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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Pause For Thought.

Posted by DmentD | Reflection | Tuesday 6 January 2009 12:45 pm

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.”

– H. L. Mencken, Smart Set (December 1919)

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Goblins In The Night.

Posted by DmentD | Domestica,House,Rambling | Tuesday 30 December 2008 11:01 pm

So, there we are, Sweets and I snuggled together in bed — she, sound asleep, and me just slipping past the stage of dozing lightly and into a sound slumber.  My arm and leg are draped over her, we’re all cozy and warm.

Suddenly, Sweets sits bolt upright, sloughing me off to the side, and turns her head toward the big window behind our bed, a look of concern on her face.  I’m instantly awake — my heart is beating fiercely in my chest, my adrenaline glands go from zero to full production in a split second.  I’m ready for action.

“What?  You ok?  What is it?” I ask.

“Oh.  Nothing.” she replies, and promptly lay back down and instantly falls back to sleep, snoring softly.

For the next forty-five minutes I toss and turn, straining my ears to hear even the faintest footfall outside the window.  Listening to the sounds of the sleeping house trying to detect something amiss.  Checking, double checking, and checking again that the red light on the alarm control panel was lit, signifying that the sensors were on and waiting for some intruder.

She remembers nothing of it.  Has a good laugh when I tell her.  Me too, to be honest.  It was pretty funny, now that I’m an evening and a few hours of sleep away from it.  Better to chase goblins, than to miss their presence when they arrive.

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Snow Down A Little.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Pictures,Rambling,Reflection | Wednesday 10 December 2008 12:15 am

Ok, Son of the South be damned, snow still holds some sort of magical sway over me.  Used to be I’d see it once every 10 years or so in NOLA, and it wasn’t a very overachieving form of snow… small flakes that didn’t softly pile up on the ground, but instead elbowed the flakes below them into “almost sleet”.

Last year in Austin I was witness to a proper snow.  Big fluffy puffballs of pocket lint, gracefully and slowly poking Galileo in the eye by bringing air friction into the mix and gently moseying down to the ground to gather into downy piles.

Tonight I had the strange fortune of driving through that same sort of snow.  The temperature today started at a high of 79 degrees, and plummeted to 32 in a matter of six hours, bringing rain with it.  The rain, ever the ambitious one, moved on to become pea sized hail, then promptly lost its motivation and became rain again.  After picking Sweets up from school the hail started again, then rapidly became little soft blurs in my headlights that I realized was snow.  Big, proper fluffy snow again.  And I was driving it it.  Trying desperately to pay attention to the road because all I wanted to do was focus on the snow as it blew through the arcs of the streetlights.

Ok, so snow is no big deal… to anyone who lives outside of this temperate region of the South.  We have three and a half seasons down here, and none of them include the need for chains on tires (unless you want that extra traction for offroading).  And a snow shovel is used to pick up after the horses in the parades.

It was fun and novel, and I get to feel like a kid again making mud angels (I didn’t say it accumulated much on the ground, now did I… you just get to enjoy it floating through the air).

I leave you with a picture of our mailbox.

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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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Thanks!

Posted by DmentD | Uncategorized | Wednesday 26 November 2008 7:16 pm

It’s that time of year again, another pre-printed entry on every calendar we own.  We note it, we look forward to some time off of work/school/whatever.  We start shopping so we can fill ourselves to critical mass on traditional family meals that are lovingly made with blood (“I’ll kill you if you don’t get the hell out of my kitchen!”), sweat (“Jeebus, it’s hot in here… and they’re all gonna die if they don’t get out of my kitchen!“) and tears (*sob* “I can’t take it any more!  Can you blame me for hamstringing little Timmy… that little bastard wouldn’t get out of my kitchen!).  We feebly fight over the remote control as we communally bloat on every horizontal surface available — sofas, floors, sidewalks, the dog — eventually ending in a slow motion slap fight as our insulin levels peak and shut us down one critical subsystem after another (life support being the last).

Oh, how I love Kwanzaa.

No, wait… Thanksgiving.

I wanna thank the universe for causing my path to cross — and sometimes run parallel with — the paths of so many spectacular people.  I may not always say it, show it, or express it in interpretative dance, but I do love and appreciate the family I was born into, and the Family I chose along my travels.

I am thankful for the shoulders to cry on in pain, the livers to destroy in celebration, the late nights shooting the shit about any and everything, the long days silently enjoying movies.  The memories… good and bad, the influences… good and bad, the ever-lasting opportunities to learn and grow,a the fights, the laughs, the sex.  The ho-hum times, the exiting times, the frightening times too.  The jokes at each others (and our own) expense, the conspiratory evils perpetrated, the impromptu angelic deeds performed.  The passion, compassion, indifference, love and hate.

We’re all a rotten mess.  We have not only ourselves to blame, but those who have drifted in and out of our lives to blame too, and I’m thankful for that almost more than anything else.  I’m a mutt… a conglomeration of my own thoughts and opinions stirred together into a gumbo with everything I have experienced from those who have besmirched my brain by sharing my world.  I like who I am — as much as anyone who isn’t born with a rabbit’s foot up their ass, and has been blessed with super-genius intelligence, wealth, looks, and not a callus on their hands from a hard day’s work, can.  I could certainly use more of the afore mentioned blessings, hell everyone could, but otherwise I make do well enough.

If you’re reading this, it’s more than likely you’re one of my cosmic crossroads, and you’ll know precisely what I mean by this:

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Its’a Birthday Time.

Posted by DmentD | Reflection | Thursday 13 November 2008 6:55 pm

Meh.  It’s my birthday.

I’ve never been one to go ga-ga for my birthday, or expect the known free world to acknowledge my existence, and shower me with love, attention and adoration just because this is the day I was born on a few ice ages ago.  I have good friends and family, and well wishers, and if someone wants to make a deal of it (big or small), I’m grateful and happy as can be — and usually just a wee little less happy than that to let it slide without a peep.  I love when people remember, and don’t fault those that don’t (hell, I never remember anyone else’s, so why should I get even a little upset if they don’t remember mine?).

I’ve never felt the pressure of age or getting older, and never looked forward with fear, dread and loathing at the big waypoint birthdays — 20, 25, 30, etc.  A birthday to me is a way to mark the time as it passes: “Oh, its been another year.  Neato.”  Currently my age is somewhere between speed limits on surface streets, leaning toward the direction of multi-lane, divided roads.  Talk to me when I hit highway speeds.

Today I do feel a little down and drained, and I think it has to do more with spending the last four days performing an archaeological dig in my server room at work to unbury years of neglect, and many generations of lazy techs letting shit slide rather than do things the right way, rather than today having anything to do with a biological coincidence.  I’m feeling a bit quiet and a smidgen low.  *shrugs* This too shall pass.

You’re only as old as the girl you feel… and if that’s the case, I’m damn near a spring chicken.  Who am I fooling — I’m a gray, grizzled, wrinkled old cock.  *grins* But, I am very immature for my age, so I have that going for me.

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Ca-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ke!

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Coolness,Pictures | Tuesday 11 November 2008 8:52 pm

New cake in the gallery… a life sized zombie emerging from the ground.  The cake is broken up into two galleries — “Construction” and “Completed Cake”, and there are a lot of pictures.

The torso is “green velvet” cake and was a nasty mossy-black green with gummy bones sprinkled between the layers for a fun texture, iced with a tissue colored buttercream. The hands are green rice treats wrapped around a copper armature, iced with the same buttercream. The head contains a white chocolate “brain pan”, filled with a sweet blood sauce, and the rest of the head is sculpted from green rice treats and iced with the buttercream as well. The teeth are cast white chocolate. The whole thing is covered in fondant, then painted appropriately.

The base is bordered with fondant stones, and the soil is made of a combination of graham crackers, ginger snaps, and chocolate cookie snacks.

Sweets and I had a hell of a lot of fun making this one, even though it was as ton of work.  It is also the first specialty cake we’ve worked on together,

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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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