An Easter Wish

I have a solitary personal tradition of weeping uncontrollably for about half an hour every Easter Sunday. It’s always the result of contemplating the now watered-down and bastardized God I was raised to understand from within Catholicism, along with the heady universal concepts of re-birth, redemption, glory and resurrection. I have also wept because I live in a sick, shitty world of hate and war between factions of moronic simians. Humanity is a puzzle with no solution, a Gish Gallop of glacial girth. Combine all of these concerns with the thick, rich classical music of the Roman Catholic tradition, and you have the recipe for a genuine outpouring of genuine tears. I’ve wept for a lot of things on Easter Sundays. The only important thing is that I do weep, sob and heave, and, in keeping with tradition, I weep a little now as I construct this article.

Sretan Uskrs to all of my friends in Croatia. On my first journey to your country in 2006 I arrived in Zagreb the day before Easter. On Easter Day I explored Mirogoj Cemetery. I walked around Glavni KolodvorImportanne Centar, Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića and dug into the guts of Zagreb . I felt such a sense of peace in the quiet streets and alleys. I was an anonymous stranger in a vacant city. I ate dry sausage and drank bad commercial wine from Pelješac, since everything was closed and I only had what I’d bought the day before. Mostly, I just walked around with my eyes open, grateful for the warm silence of a holy day in Europe. It was the calm before a long storm of rude awakenings, a sort of purgatory between realms. I had left America to begin research on my book, and I had no intentions of returning. Those first few days of peace in Zagreb were one of the greatest gifts I have ever given myself, and I will never forget them.

I wish all of my friends everywhere the peace I felt that day.

 

The New Deep Fryer Is Here

Scotch Egg

And it is a glorious thing. I fried everything I could possibly fry over the weekend, and I didn’t even watch the Super Bowl. The Scotch Egg pictured above was but one of three served for breakfast on Sunday morning. Of the three people living in the house, I was the only one who ate them, but they turned out pretty good for my first time making those delicious little goddamnits. This is also the first time I’ve had a fryer at home, and I’m pretty psyched. Expect me to share more golden brown abominables in the future.

Also, expect me to keep you updated more frequently. Re-launching this domain a month ago was intended to get me writing a lot more, but I’ve managed to envision some much more engaging projects to share with you this year, and the writing has gone toward those other projects. I don’t want to reveal too much just yet, but I’ll give you a hint: I know that people don’t really read anymore, and I’ll probably reach a lot more people when I just accept that.

So I’ll try to drop a saucy image and a few paragraphs on you a little more frequently, but the longer, in-depth articles I have in the hopper will probably come less frequently. If you’d like to be among the first to know when new material emanates from my dank corner of the basement, go ahead and subscribe.

5 Reasons To Stop Eating Tuna And Start Eating These Fish

It’s bad enough that the global addiction to tuna causes over-fishing and imbalanced aquatic ecosystems. What’s worse is that the Food and Drug Administration isn’t telling us how unhealthy tuna can be. For all the food, cooking and health blogs out there, very little is written about some fish we should be eating more of.  In this post, along with dazzling photographs, I’m going to give you five reasons why you should consider dropping tuna from your diet and switching to smaller fish, like mackerel, sardines, mullets, sea bream, and so many others. Do I think you’ll do anything with that information, such as change your eating habits? Not really, but I’m going to share the info with you anyway. I sense that you’ll at least keep clicking through for the photos on every page.

Conservative Ranch Dressing® Drives Mel Gibson Crazy

Honey Boo Boo called me the other day to warn me that Mel Gibson was on his way to see me about my Conservative Ranch Dressing®. He had apparently seen the pudgy princess drinking the stuff on television, then called her to demand the recipe. When she told him that she has it piped directly to a tap in her refrigerator from my own kitchen, the man lost his composure and went on a rampage that has, at the time of this writing, spanned three days and as many states. That’s why Honey Boo Boo called me: Gibson is on his way to get my formula. If you’re reading this on a mobile device, Mr. Gibson, I can save you some gas money by providing the recipe below.

Speaking of savings, why doesn’t everyone make their own salad dressing? Some brands cost upwards of $5.00 USD for a 24-ounce bottle. Do you know how much it costs me to make that much Conservative Ranch Dressing®? It costs me one tenth of that amount of cash, and I happen to be saving up for a few things that are more important to me than salad dressing.

That’s how my Conservative Ranch Dressing® does so much more than moisten my lettuce with creamy ululations of flavor. It’s not just a condiment. It’s the promise of a better life, right there in a Mason jar.

Before going on with the recipe, I must emphasize that the most important ingredients in Conservative Ranch Dressing® are absolutely fresh herbs, and what better way to do that than present a short photo gallery devoted to our dear friend, dill.

Conservative Ranch Dressing®

2 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon celery salt
2 cups real mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves
6 tablespoons minced fresh dill, minced
2 tablespoon minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk (as needed for desired consistency)

1. Puree the garlic, celery and fresh herbs in your blender. A food processor works best for a double batch of this recipe, but not as well even then.

2. Add all other ingredients to the still spinning blender, taking care not to spray the walls with the stuff.

3. Add the buttermilk. You may adjust the thickness with more mayonnaise or sour cream.

4. Adjust the seasoning with celery salt and pepper as desired. Refrigerate for a few hours in a Mason jar or other suitable vessel. Use liberally on any foods that require that special “down home” flavor, or drink as an aperitif.

Open Letter to a True American Clam Fisherman

Dear Mr. LaVecchia,

In all my many travels around this magnificent planet, I have never been gripped by a pleasure more profound than a good clam. I have also never revealed this secret fetish to anyone before, but now I’m telling you. You must certainly be wondering why.

It all began last Wednesday afternoon during a visit with my grandmother, a woman of firm convictions and precise notions of quality. We were watching the episode of Bonanza in which an alcoholic traveling medicine salesman is on the run from his grim past as a surgeon in England. Oh, how we laughed! The role of the fugitive Professor Poppy was played by the incomparable Michael Rennie, who also played the space alien Klaatu in the 1951 science fiction classic, The Day The Earth Stood Still. Anyway, Hoss Cartwright became friends with Professor Poppy after buying a remedy for his sore foot, and, well, you can just imagine what happened next. I won’t spoil it for you.

Shortly after Bonanza came to a satisfying conclusion, it was time for my visit with Gammy to end as well. Now, there is a curious ritual she performs every time I’m about to leave her home, but it doesn’t involve candles and incense. No, sir. Just as I am about to walk out the door, she begins pulling food from her refrigerator and cupboard, and putting it into a paper grocery bag, which is within a plastic one. There is a call-and-response routine that we go through, wherein she recites the entire inventory of her kitchen from memory. After each item, I say either, “Okay, I guess I could use that,” or “Ehhh, I’m not really into that so much”, and it’s always the latter when she offers me ham. Half an hour later, the litany comes to a close and a second reinforced grocery bag has filled up with toilet paper, trash bags and aspirin.

Sometimes it is in receiving that we give.

On this occasion last week, just after I kissed her goodbye and was about to walk out the door a second time, Gammy grabbed my wrist with that eagle’s claw grip of hers and cooed sweet as Kool-Aid, “Wait, here, honey. I just remembered something.”

While the blood was returning to my hand, she pulled from her pantry a sturdy little red gift bag – the kind with the adorable rope handles knotted into the top – and thrust it in my direction. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “I want you to take these clams.”

And I did.

When I got home, I peered into the little party bag to find no fewer than eight cans of your Cape May chopped clams resting within. I’d never heard of the Cape May brand before, so I immediately began doing some research into your company. What I found at your website has kept me smiling for the last week. After reading about your family’s long tradition of hand shucked, sustainably harvested, wild Atlantic clams, I knew I was sitting on eight cans of America. I’m sure my readers will agree with that assessment when they visit your website. And I hope they’ll give you their business.

People just don’t care about clams like they did in the good old days, but the few of us who still do carry a torch for Nature’s underwater lunchboxes surely appreciate the level of quality and environmental stewardship your family packs into every can of Cape May products. I have enclosed a recipe for the Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce that I just finished eating prior to writing this emotional letter, and you are absolutely welcome to pass it along or publish it on your website with your other recipes.  Let me just say this: Your Cape May chopped clams are sensational. Because of you and your product, I’m not going to hide my love anymore. From this moment on, I am out of the clam closet.

You will notice that my recipe below calls for Cape May chopped clams. That was not a mistake. Your clams have changed the world of spaghetti. Thank you and your family for the many years of hand shucking in the Great Northeast USA. May the mighty sea god Neptune smile on your endeavors so that you will harvest eternal fortune from the briny blue Atlantic, and may he strike down your enemies with his salty, wet fist.

I seem to be,
jjgsig

 

 

Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce

1 lb cooked spaghetti (8 oz. dry)
2 6.5 oz cans Cape May chopped clams
3 oz diced bacon
½ an onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped oregano
6 oz canned tomato filets
1 fresh Roma tomato, diced
2 tbsp cold butter
olive oil

  1. Heat a wide skillet, pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom.
  2. Add bacon, onions, garlic and oregano. Saute until bacon browns.
  3. Drain clams. Deglaze skillet with clam juice. Reduce liquid by half.
  4. Add all tomatoes, simmer until fresh tomato has softened.
  5. Incorporate cold butter into the sauce. Add chopped clams.
  6. Pour sauce over pasta, stir and coat completely.

Serve with cracked pepper. Yields four reasonable portions, or two unreasonable portions.