That’s right, this IS a food blog.

I mean, not entirely.  But if I’m going to call it a food blog, then by crumpets I’d better start writing about food again.

So, to the question of the week: What do you do with sixteen pounds of pork shoulder?

The answer is: EVERYTHING.  But of course, freeze it.

We’ll get into how I acquired that amount of meat in a minute, but I’m designing this post around another Kitchen Axiom of mine, or maybe it’s a Recession Tip, or maybe it’s both.

David’s Guide to Living in a Recession Tips #2 and 3

#2: Buy in bulk (when it makes sense).

#3: Process it yourself.

Let’s address these in order.  If you’re like me, and you’re not a 9-to-5 worker (for me, it’s more like 8 to 8, in two-hour chunks), you’ve got the time to save yourself money on food purchases.  So if you’re driving by the Save-A-Lot and you see a sign advertising pork shoulder for $0.99/lb, perhaps you, Gentle Reader, will react as I did, and immediately acquire some.

Having never been to the Save-A-Lot before (which is a discount grocer like ALDI), I suppose I should have expected the pork shoulder to come in this quantity:

The lemon is for reference.  Do not use a lemon to cut things.  It is far too blunt.

It ended up being about 16.5 pounds, of which perhaps only a pound or two was bone (I checked).

Continue reading “That’s right, this IS a food blog.”

Much happened today.

But, frankly, I am exhausted, and I have other work to do.  Take heart in the fact that I, on my walk early this morning, collected twenty pieces of beach glass.  Count ‘em; twenty.

Twenty.So there’s only enough time to update the BGC, and then it’s off to bed for me, I think.

IMG_7713June 9th beach glass count: 25 pieces.

I finished the cabinets and began the Herculean task of cleaning up the basement.  I’ve made enough headway that maybe, if I finish my work (as in actual work-work) tomorrow, I can reward myself by beginning the BEER-MAKING PROJECT.  (which required a clean basement space in which to place the fermenter and its associated paraphernalia)

We’ll talk tomorrow.  For now, I’ll leave you with this teaser, which shows you approximately what spraypainting all morning was like:

IMG_7686 IMG_7687

A quick note on spices

I had planned to make a magnetic spice rack for the kitchen (an idea that came courtesy of Mattie, and was elaborated upon by my friend Jack, who showed me this).  But then I found this old thing, mold-wracked and hidden in the back of a drawer, and I felt at once a wave of both joy and sadness, because I knew I had found the right sort of spice rack for my uses, but that meant I didn’t get to make one.

IMG_7575

It’s got ten bottles in it.  I realized (and I’m rationalizing here) that the problem with a wall-mounted spice rack is that you don’t actually use all of those spices on a regular basis.  Some spices (like cardamom and cloves, as in the picture in that Kitchn post) just don’t get used that often (and unless it’s an Indian kitchen, I don’t think cardamom and clove get much mileage).  I mean, think about it – you probably only use four or five herbs and spices in your core cuisine set.  Look at how I’m stretching it here – I put lemongrass powder in there!  I NEVER use lemongrass powder.  It’s there only because I had enough of it to fill the bottle.

Here’s what’s in my spice rack right now, in order of my approximate priority of usage:

  1. Kosher salt
  2. Italian seasoning (rosemary, marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano)
  3. Garlic powder
  4. Cumin
  5. Cayenne pepper
  6. Pepper flakes
  7. Curry powder
  8. Chili powder
  9. Lemongrass powder
  10. is empty.  I’ll probably grind up some black pepper and put it in there, bumping it up to 2.

And let’s be honest.  How often do I use curry powder?  Not so terribly often.  #6 is where my usage almost completely peters out.  I use a lot of spices, but only a smallish number are in truly heavy rotation.  Most of the other flavors come from aromatics and backbencher herbs and spices like cinnamon, fennel, coriander, and whatnot.  Or I use fresh herbs, like cilantro or mint.

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I’ll make this easy on you – I don’t ask what your top 10 spices are.  What are your top 5?

-D

Well. Here I am.

IMG_7545

I woke up uncommonly early this morning.  5 AM.  Sun was scarcely up.  Thinking now, I’m not sure if it even was.  I left Highland Park at 6:02 AM, and reached Michigan City at 7:44.  The Skyway was completely empty.  I felt like a road god – it was fantastic.

Now, it’s been about two years since I last posted on this blog, but let me tell you: things are about to change around here.  I’m going to try blogging – if not every day, then at least three times a week.

Continue reading “Well. Here I am.”

Banana Bread

Or, Musa acuminata arcana.

A lot of people that like to cook say “I don’t bake,” in terms of finality that kind of unnerve me; it’s like baking is some sort of arcane study that’ll melt the eyes of the unruly acolyte. Cooking, they say, is more of an essay question, but “baking is an exact science”.

Bzzt. For one, that’s a tautology, America and for another, you’re wrong. All you need to do is pay attention. Don’t drift. Don’t lose focus. Eyes on the prize, America. C’mon now.

Today we are going to make banana bread. Well. Today I will recount how my mother and I made banana bread, not long ago. And no, it wasn’t hard. There is nothing arcane or convoluted about it. Exact… well, okay, yes it’s exact. But how hard is it to get teaspoons of things correct? If you’re a scatterbrain, like me, just try not to bake alone. Or just, y’know. Pay attention.

The Set-Up:

This recipe comes from this pretty obscure collection that my family’s temple published in 1994; it’s called Tradition in the Kitchen 2, and you could probably find it on eBay if you wanted to buy it that badly.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • a stick of butter (a half-cup)
  • 1 cup of mashed ripe banana (or simply two bananas)
  • a touch of water
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • grease and a greasing implement
  • a 9-inch-long, 5-inch wide, three-inch deep loaf pan
  • a stand mixer
  • an oven
  • sensory organs
  • hands (mechanical or organical)
  • okay, enough fooling around. Let’s get to:

The Heist:

Prepare your oven: get it humming at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and get out your stand mixer, and PREPARE FOR CREAMAGE.

Butter gets a bad rap. I will admit to using it sparingly. My friend H. will tell you, though, that one of the greatest pleasures in life is fresh bread with good butter, and no false-prophet non-hydrogenated vegetable oil spread can ever replace it. You could use Smart Balance or margarine or deathly unbutter or whatever suits your needs; but use a half-cup of it, and make sure it’s room-temperature but not melty.  This is also a smart balance.

(oh ho ho.)

Throw the sugar and the stick of butter together in the bowl of the mixer and whir it until it looks like this:

When I cream butter and sugar, I like to leave it a little clumpy, kinda like that. S’how my mother does it. Then you beat an egg into that clumpy sugar-butter mixture; things’ll get a sight creamier yet.

Then, find the ugliest, blackest, squishiest banana in your home. Like this one.

And then try and find another one. You’ll need two; as you can see we only had one really squishy ripe banana, and the other one was normal. The reason it needs to be really ripe is for its sweetness. Man, ripe bananas are weird-lookin’ when you peel them. When my mother pulled off the peel, the inside looked furry. Look at that. Isn’t that weird?

Weiiiiird.  Mash it with a fork and then mix it with a few tablespoons of water – one or two, maybe. (David, what about the exact science?)

Now the Dry Team, as Alton calls it:

We don’t sift flour in my house. My mother will take a butter knife, stick it in the flour container, wiggle it around vigorously, and declare, “It’s sifted!” Maybe when my parents make cakes with cake flour. Maybe only then do they sift.

So, uh, sift two cups of flour with a teaspoon of baking powder and a teaspoon of baking soda. Stir it with a spoon; get it all incorporated.

Then you are ready, America, to begin landing your troops. (Izza peoples gonna die? … Sorry. [I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war.])

The secret here, so saith my mother, is to add the mashed banana and the flour-mix in alternating batches – don’t put in too much of anything at once; this alternation guarantees a good texture.

So a little bit of flour,

And a little bit of banana.

Eventually your batter should take on this consistency:

And now it is time for chocolate chips. We use a rather heaping cup. You may use however much you wish.

Everyone has their own method for greasing a pan. In my house it’s that tiny scrap of margarine in the foil that’s been in the fridge for two months. Like, that’s The Thing You Use For Greasing Pans. Not a bad plan, I think, but I guess you could use one’a them Pam-type sprays.

Once you have prepped your receptacle for batter, engage your Spatular Delivery System and try to get all of it out of the mixing bowl. Some batter may remain in the bowl. This is when your SDS enters its Phase Two mode of utility. The following photos may be graphic, and extremely offensive to some viewers. Possibly humiliating to this writer.

But I don’t care. The batter is SO DELICIOUS.

So delicious.

Place the loaf pan, now so delightfully full of whatever batter you didn’t eat (America, thou glutton!), in your 350-degree hotbox for an hour.

And an hour later, you have:

That!

Slice and enjoy.

Now you tell me how hard that was!

Also, happy Fourth of July.

-D

Bittman’s Crustless Breakfast Quiche

Or, “We can’t all be perfect”.

The Setup:

I watched this yesterday on the NYT site: It is Mark Bittman, (who I love) and he’s a’makin’ a crustless breakfast quiche. Or, er. ‘Quiche’. It’s not a real one but I don’t really care and neither does he. I wanted to make one anyway, because we’ve got too many eggs. Also, there’s the dangling notion that J. (from the comments) put into my head in a conversation we had the other day, where I’d asked him, “What should I write about?” and he’d said I should do good date food. Well. It’s breakfast and I’m hungry and I’ve got my camera out, so this is as close as it’s going to get now. Call it breakfast date.

This recipe is the same as Bittman’s, with, basically, two or three minor additions (yeah, Jon Stewart said differently about Cindy McCain’s controversial, possibly-stolen-from-Hershey’s butterscotch cookie recipe, but I am here acknowledging that my recipe is not original. So there.):

It’s actually in the oven now. Oh man, live blogging. Let’s go back and review the tape, shall we, America?

The Heist:

You will need:

* Three eggs

* About three-quarters of a cup of cheese

* A cup of milk or half-and-half or cream (I used milk. And skim milk at that. Sue me.)

* Salt, cayenne pepper, herbs

* Shallots, broccoli (or whatever you like)

* A greased ramekin

* A lipped baking sheet to put the ramekin on

Reader, consider the egg.

So perfect in form; so delightful in function. Okay, resume considering other things.

As Alton would say, set your hotbox to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, beat the eggs. Bittman puts in a pinch of salt and a tiny semi-dash of cayenne pepper here; I did that and I added some Italian Herbs to that – you know, that little cure-all shaker with the basil, the oregano, the thyme – and whisked that all together.

Then I warmed the cup of milk in a Pyrex, in the microwave – I did it in spurts of ten to fifteen seconds, with maybe the sum total of heating time being about one minute or less. It should be warm, not hot.

Then I tempered the eggs by adding a little bit of the milk – if you add it all at once you’ll make the eggs hot enough to actually start cooking them, and denaturing their proteins and blah blah science blah. America, you already know that, don’t you? Adding hot things to eggs too quickly is bad. Unless that hot thing is a, y’know… a stove. Or an oven. Or something.

I threw some cheese in (Whoo. Semi-generic Mexican cheese blend – the choice of the discriminating consumer!) and then got to thinking about the contents of the fridge; we had some broccoli left over from last night so I thought “Okay! I will create a nice flavor and color contrast by mincing the broccoli and mixing it with some freshly chopped shallots.” That’s kind of the way I think, really. Yes, it will taste good, but ooo look how pretty. What’s more impressive, I ask you, than judicious disposal of leftovers? That’ll impress your, uh, breakfast date.

Although if you’re having your breakfast date at home one presumes the impression has already been made. Hee-hee. Ahem!

Honestly, though – the shallot is pretty elegant. Consider using it.

i dig shallots. They have a nice punch and a wonderful flavor (that will probably be drowned out by the semi-generic Mexican cheese blend. We’ll see. This is how I learn things, you know – by wasting nice food.) that really lends itself to aromatic cooking. Shallots, like onions or leeks, make a really good aromatic base to anything, and I think it’s pretty French to sauté them with garlic and throw in a bit of demi-glace and some tomatoes. I wish I could remember how to make sauce chasseur. OH WAIT, I can remember! Hey, lookit that.

Anyway. Mincey-mincey, mixy-mixy, and then a bit of greasy-greasy (I ask you, where is that Pulitzer?), and you’re good to go.

Pour your mixture into the ramekin or soufflé and throw it in the oven for about twenty to thirty minutes. Since mine’s in one ramekin instead of four, it may take a little longer than that. We’ll see. I’ll get back to you on that. For now, we wait.

Go check out something edifying, in fact, while this bakes. Look around you!


Hm. Well.

It’s really cute!

It worked, kind of. It tastes good! But if I were you I’d stick with Bittman’s recipe and keep it in multiple ramekins, but littler ones than mine. I thhink it’ll take a bit more finessing before this works; the ramekin was too deep to get everything cooked in thirty minutes, at 325 degrees. I upped the heat to 380 and stuck it in for another 10, and it turned out fine. But this isn’t fool-proof date food – not yet. It’s also unattractive when taken out of the ramekin, which is why, I think, Bittman eats it straight out of his.

See? It’s kind of wet. I’ll try two eggs and less milk next time. You can’t always win, America. It was still a pleasant breakfast, but my version will take a little refining. I’ll get back to you.

One of the dangers of live blogging, I guess, is that there’s no opportunity for revisionist history.

-D

Applied Quesadilla Theory

I have definitely laid this down in print somewhere else.

David’s Kitchen Axiom No. 5: With a little imagination, anything can be a quesadilla.

And I mean it. Given tortillas, grease, and heat, anything in your kitchen can be made into a delightful quesadilla! But wait, you say. David, doesn’t quesadilla just mean ‘little cheesy thing’ in Spanish? Don’t you need cheese?

Oh, America. How little you know!

… Well, okay. You are right, technically. But I am more right, because anything in your kitchen can be successfully encased between two tortillas and cooked with some olive oil in a skillet, and rather than calling that a “pan-fried tortilla sandwich”, I propose the more familiar title. You can call it what you want, America.

But really. When in doubt, a sandwich is almost always your best option, especially when you’re trying to clean out the fridge. I kid you not, this can be done with anything: I made a quesadilla once with leftover tilapia and tarragon cream sauce, and it was delicious. Give it a try. What’s in your fridge right now, for example?

Say you’ve got some leftover barbecued chicken and some steamed broccoli (this is what is in my fridge at present, among other things). In fact let’s see what happens, here! Let’s do this, America!

Okay. Leftover blackened cajun chicken that Mama barbecued from the evening previous. We got some of that, we got some broccoli, we got… oh! Oh hell yeah! We have some jalapeño pepper that I chopped up about four days ago. Ooooh this is gonna be good.

Okay, I like to make my quesadillas primarily about the vegetables. You may have noticed that I am now eating poultry. Well. Yes. Red meat is a no, often enough, with rare exceptions (well.  medium rare exceptions)  But I’m trying to get the entire family to scale back on eating meat, and I think we can all have a little animal protein, so long as we have less of it overall.  So we have lots of vegetation to counteract it.

So note the proportion: three or four parts vegetable to one part animal.  I think that’s probably going to be my general rule of law from now on.  We have, looking like a weather-worn Italian flag (or a brand new and spunky Irish flag), orange bell pepper, onion, and broccoli, with that little sidebar of garlic and jalapeño.

A quesadilla is one of those foods that can just sort of fit around anything in the fridge, like I said; you can clean out the refrigerator with it, you can stretch a single barbecued chicken breast into a meal, it gets lipstick stains off your collar, it’s new, it’s improved, it’s old-fashioned, it never needs winding, never needs winding, never needs winding (apologies to Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan).

So a little olive oil and a skillet and I am in business, here.  And I’m not picky; I put it all together in the one pan.

A little cheese, a few tortillas, and you’ve got yourself a sandwich.  I like to squeeze lime juice over it.  Not a lot – just a lil’ spritz.

Fabulous.  It all works out really nice, and tastes lovely.  At least, with savory things.

Behold the fabulous train wreck that was the frutaycremadilla, a concoction J. and I came up with a few weeks ago.

Uh.

That was my idea.  We had a lot of fruit at the time.  And some whipped cream.

Look, I’ll say right now that this was maybe a dumb idea.  But it was a fantastic dumb idea.  (Those are the best kind.)

Yeah, don’t do this.

Sure, it seems like a great idea.  The warm fruit, the crispy tortilla, the soft, cool whipped cream…  … the soft, cool whipped cream.   … Damn it, I should have thought that through.

David’s Kitchen Axiom No. 5: Think it through.

So J. and I tried to make a quesadilla with fruit and whipped cream (and J. decided that it should be a cremayfrutadilla; nomenclature to, y’know, fit the contents), and everything was going swimmingly until that first incision.  I think those are J’s hands, not mine, because A) of the way he’s holding the knife and B) the fact that the backs of my palms are hairier.  Yeah.  Sorry.

J. made the cut, and…

There was splattage.  There was leakage.

The whole thing was a gorram disaster.  I will not post the image of J. attempting to eat said disaster, because it got all over him and it’s embarrassing for both of us, okay?  I don’t even have those pictures.  He does.  … Because I took them with his camera.

-D

A Slice of Heaven, Part 2

Where was I?

Ah yes! How could I forget? What to do with your summer tomatoes when they come in, right? Well, gazpacho is the route I’d tend towards, because gazpacho is the very apotheosis of the toma – what? No? That’s not what we were discussing, America?

Really? Oh. Welp. Pizza is cool, I guess…

Oh, who I am kidding, here? I love this! What could be more fantastic than making your own pizza from scratch? Nothing, America. Nothing is better. What? No. Nothing.

Continue reading “A Slice of Heaven, Part 2”

A Slice of Heaven, Part 1

Pizza is the single most divisive culinary concept in American society.

Not the proper construction of Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, not whether or not to put ketchup on your all-beef hot dog (the answer is ‘not’, if you were wondering.), not whether or not to serve pretzels with cheese or with mustard or whatever. No, America. The sectarian conflict that haunts our nation is a fight between three mighty factions. Friendships have crumbled along these fault lines, my friends. Marriages have rent themselves to shreds: Cheese goes on top! No, sauce goes on top. Floppy crust. Crispy crust! What about pineapple? No pineapple. No pineapple.

Well, you know where my sympathies lie, and that’s with the unformatted text. I’m a Chicagoan and my heart lies with deep-dish pan pizza. But I think I have moved past hometown allegiance to something a bit closer to objectivity. It is not news that Chicago-style pizza and New York-style pizza have a rivalry as big as, oh, I don’t know – Martin Luther and Catholicism, or Sunni and Shi’a Islam. The third Mighty Faction, by that token, is California-Style Pizza, which is sort of like Sufi mysticism, and it’s all like “chill, dudes; hit some charras or something.” (see, cause it’s tokin’. By that token. … Shut up, all of you.)

What my family does, because we’re economical, is when we order pizza, we tend to order cheese pizzas. Unless Dad gets sausage. A Lou Malnati’s deep-dish sausage pizza is a frightening thing to behold. God is it delicious but what an artery-stopper. We’re talking about a good quarter-inch thick disk of sausage, about 5/6ths the diameter of the pizza itself.

But what we do, because we’re cheap, is spruce up the pizza at home. Think about this: depending on where you live or the size of the pizzas you order, it might be anywhere from 50 cents to 1.50 for a topping. Now, that topping could be garlic, it could be pineapple, and it could be Canadian bacon. The cost is all the same for you, the consumer, regardless of the ingredients.

That’s a cheese pizza from Lou Malnati’s, back home. … There might be mushrooms on there. I might have violated my own rule. But don’t think about that too hard – David’s Kitchen Axiom No. 1*: do as I say, not as I have only partially done. Save yourself a buck or three and sauté some onion and mushroom with some garlic, or wilt some spinach.

Garlic and onion. And, apparently, mushroom. Look at that. I figure that’s mushroom in there; I don’t know – I took that picture back in December. But here’s the point:

David’s Living In A Recession Tip #1: If you must order takeout, do what you can to improve it at home without incurring greater cost on yourself.

(Or if you have the time, make it yourself.) Thus. Since December, I’ve been branching out and trying to make my own pizza with the help of my friends. We hit on a dough recipe that worked, from my roommate’s Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (don’t ask. He won it.).

flour, olive oil, water, yeast. We used aluminum foil plates to cook the things in our dormitory’s kitchen. Next year, when my two roommates and I have an apartment, we will have Pizza Day with some form of regularity. I’m not going to hold any of the three of us to any promises on that front, but once every two weeks would be neat. Behold the dorm kitchen we wrangled with this year:

They baked, in this oven that looks sort of like a shantytown if you squint:

And when they came out, they were, well, fairly crunchy. Quite nice – it’s how I like thin crust pizza, myself (but I am not, for the record, immune to the charms of a floppy New York slice. Trust me.)

When I got home, though, about a week and a half ago, my roommate, who had shipped many of his possessions home, had not yet received the box with his Better Homes cookbook, so I had to fend for myself.

Luckily, my house has about a metric boatload of cookbooks, and I found a willing and able hand in The Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook, by Pasquale Bruno, Jr. I set about making my dough, which was, as I recalled it, only slightly different from the BH&G recipe.

We’ll continue with that in the next entry: “A Slice of Heaven, Part 2”.

-D

* yeah. There’s gonna be a bunch of these. Help me keep count.

The Clean Platter by Proxy!

A new segment, to be called The Clean Platter by Proxy, or PxP when I am lazy.
The Setup:
You are hungry. You don’t know what to eat. You’re also online, and talking to me.
So you ask me:
“Lysander”: what should I eat RIGHT NOW
David: I love this game.
David: what is in your house?
<br>
The Heist:
You tell me what’s in your pantry or your fridge, and then together we make a plan of action. Then you make something perhaps loosely based on that plan of action, take a picture of the result (for better or for worse), and send it to me.
Names are changed to awesome pseudonyms to protect the identity of my friends.
The Platter by Proxy, issue 1, continues below the jump.

Auberginenschnitzel: der Zweite Teil

I told you it’d get crazier.

The set-up:

My sister J. and I have made a veritable bounty of delicious eggplant schnitzel, laid out in detail in the previous entry.

But now we’ve got leftover egg and flour and bread crumbs.

What ever is to be done?

(More below the break)

Continue reading “Auberginenschnitzel: der Zweite Teil”

Auberginenschnitzel

Geshundteit.

I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian, and neither would most vegetarians. But, in the name of local eating (see The 100-Mile Diet), I haven’t eaten any poultry or red meat for about three months. I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Yeah, shut up. I still eat fish, because that ecological disaster’s a horse of a different color. (I enjoy mixing metaphors, e.g., “I wouldn’t touch that one with a ton of bricks.”)

But to hell with all that. I have adjusted to my semi-vegetarianism (there has to be a better word for that.) with what I see as some level of aplomb. It only took a couple weeks before I got past that first New Vegetarian realization: “Good God! Everything is food.” At first I was going, “Nope. Can’t eat that, there’s meat in that. Can’t do that, that takes meat.”

But the world of plants is so lovely and expansive. Everything we make from vegetables need not be pale imitations of the meatly world. I am pretty sure that the Meatworld is what you call the real-life portion of a two-pronged cyperpunk society. Irrelevant. Where was I? Oh yes. Pale imitations of meatworld, and avoiding such.

Well, put that notion aside for the following experiment: eggplant schnitzel.

No, I’m not a hypocrite; I just play one on TV.

Food is food is food. At least it’s not veggie burgers (and if I have another one of those [phase one of David Learns to Forsake Meat – be glad you missed that], it’ll be too soon.)

It was my mother’s idea, if that’s any kind of cop-out. She’d gotten those skinny Chinese eggplants from the Garden Fresh and said “This should work with these, because they’ve got thinner skins.” I will eventually try this recipe with regular eggplant, and I’ll keep you posted on that front.

The Set-Up

My friend J. associates me very strongly with eggplant. It seems every time I’ve cooked in her apartment, I’ve made something, somehow, that involved eggplant. I figure I’ll do the french roman à clef thing and only refer to people by their initials. It makes me feel important and mysterious.

1. A note on cutting eggplant:

Humility is key.

A cookbook from my formative years – Clueless In The Kitchen: A Cookbook for Teens by Evelyn Raab – declared the Eggplant to be mysterious and inscrutable (perhaps this is why, wishing to be like the Eggplant, I refer to my friends only by their initials.), and not to be trifled with. But just remember to be humble in its presence, and don’t bother with using your big ol’ santoku, as I have done. This is hubris.

When you have a really, really big hammer, every problem looks like a railroad spike. Nobody’s gonna make fun of you if you use a small, serrated knife. It worked a lot better on my eggplant, because the skin was so glossy.

So slice your eggplant into quarter-inch slices, as shown. I’m going to try this again by cutting them into different, lengthwise configurations. Or you try it, and get back to me.

2. Get two plates and a bowl out. It’s DREDGIN’ TIME. I here imagine Ben Grimm (The Thing from The Fantastic Four), wearing an apron and waving a whisk.

So. Plate 1 = flour! Bowl = 1 egg, beaten, with a little water to let it out a little. Plate 2 = bread crumbs. Do the Alton Brown thing and designate one hand to be the Dry Hand and one hand to be the Wet Hand. The picture lies. my right hand was the Wet Hand. What I mean by this is that one hand should deal with the flour and the bread crumbs, and the other should deal with the egg. Otherwise you’ll just batter your hands and build up layer upon later of delicious that you’re never gonna eat.

A light dusting of flour, a quick eggy bath, and then it is to the breadcrumbs with our little slices of eggplant. Don’t feel bad for them. They quite enjoy it. See?

I couldn’t help it. Sorry.

The Heist

1. The Frying

Is everything ready?

Okay, good. Heat some vegetable oil in your favorite frying vessel (I like frying pans. Do whatever you want. I bet this’d work in a wok, too. I’m not picky.) Then place your little slices in there and GET TO COOKIN’.

I wanna say about 2 minutes on each side. maybe less. The key is getting them golden-brown and delicious on the outside – they’ll likely be nice and tender within.

2. The Eating.

Drain, serve, eat immediately.

So delicious.

But the party isn’t over. Oh, no. PREPARE YOURSELF for the second half of the night.

Yep. Part two: forthcoming. You thought it couldn’t get crazier?

You were wrong.

-D