Painting With Shotguns XLIV

Kitchen Confidential

I’ve got various kitchen- and food-related goodies for your brain if you care to hear ‘em. Ready? Let’s do this, biznatches.

Number 1, Cutting Boards: I have terrible cutting boards. The plastic ones get groovy (read: “grooves carved into ‘em”) way too fast and dull my knives as if the boards are vampires that drink only the sharpness of a kitchen blade for sustenance. So, it’s time to get some new quality cutting boards for the new house. See, the new house has a kitchen with actual usable space, which makes my heart go all fluttery.

Originally I was going with the standard wisdom that is oft-repeated: a plastic board for meats, a wood board for veggies. Y’know, because wood cutting boards are capable of harboring an unholy host of diabolical bacteria.

Except, oops, myth busted, I guess.

See, this study shows that it just ain’t true. Wood cutting boards are far less likely to make a person sick with food poisoning than plastic, actually. (Another good exploration of the subject right here.)

If you keep a cutting board clean — which is fairly easy to do if you just take some extra minutes after a meal and occasionally work a little upkeep (like using the proper wood oil), you can cut meat on a wood cutting board without concern.

I just don’t yet know which wood is best. Bamboo? Maple? End grain? Wuzza?

Taking suggestions, if you got ‘em.

Number 2, Cookware and Grill Choices: I was all set to make the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro cookware set a part of the new kitchen, but fuck it if that set doesn’t really have the pots and pans I’m looking for. In fact, most cookware sets usually only have one or two pieces I’m actually seeking — the rest are too small or too large. Which means I have to buy pieces individually. Which means once more I’m starting to keep an eye toward All-Clad, because, apparently, I am an uppity shithead.

Also, speaking of being an uppity shithead — and one who is always excited to shut off his brain and join a new food cult — damnit if that goofy-ass Big Green Egg grill/smoker/clay oven/alien seed pod doesn’t look like a winner. The problem is, of course, that it costs approximately The Soul Of One Child, Extricated With Forceps And Photon Beams For Proper Containment And Grilling. Seriously, these grills cost a mint.

It’s hard to justify until you hear people talk about it. “I made pizza. I baked cookies. I smoked a whole Thanksgiving turkey. I made my own beef brisket. I solved world hunger. I capped the oil spill.”

Actually, they should try to plug the oil gusher with a handful of Big Green Eggs. They look like they’re shaped just about right, dontcha think? BP. Call me.

Number 3, Champagne Mangos: Listen, if you love yourself — hell, if you at least don’t hate yourself — then you best go out and find yourself a Champagne mango and eat it. Right now. It’s the most delicious fruit. Mangos are good anyway (do we have to talk about mangoes and lady-parts? it’s implicit, right?), but man, the Champagne mango kicks it up a notch. Super-sweetness, ahoy. Find. Eat. Yes.

Number 4, Red Cabbage, Asian-Style: You want red cabbage with a little Asian taste to it, here’s what I did: chopped red cabbage in a broad saute pan with some vegetable oil and already-sweated onions (green and sweet), then put in a splash of Mirin and rice wine vinegar. Plus, y’know, salt, pepper, maybe a little red pepper, too. Finally, a good pinch of ginger. Stir around. Get it going, and cook low and slow for an hour or an hour and fifteen until the cabbage is soft. When it is, put on place, and dress that pile with a tablespoon of dark sesame oil. You’ll thank me. I’ll wait.

I Like To Work It, Work It *shakes booty*

Yes, that’s the recipe for a good morning: an image of me vibrating my rump in your face. Yeah. Nngggh. Take it. Or, y’know, don’t. In fact, you probably shouldn’t take it. Think of the children.

Anywho. Let’s give it a brief work update, shall we?

The novel I’m writing basically went into sleep mode for a week. Like, for a straight week, it drifted into the Null Zone — not good, not good at all. I mean, I was working. Just not on it. But now I’m back, bitches, and I’m up over 30k and chugging along. It’s sometimes tricky to sort of regain momentum, and now that I think about it that might be worth a post all its own.

Another good post that could arise from writing The Devil’s Gunsmith are the tips and tricks to avoiding boredom. A lot of writers I know get bored easily with their work, and it’s important to keep a stable of techniques at hand to stave off such boredom — while your entertainment is not paramount, what is potentially true is that if you’re bored, the readers will be, too.

What else?

Oh, the table of contents for the upcoming anthology Beauty Has Her Way (Apex Publishing) has been released right over here, and you will casually note that my short story, “The Moko-Jumbie Girl,” is tucked away inside. Nestled amongst other talented folks and their work. Jennifer was a great editor, and she came to me to see how fast I could turn around a story. I was happy to take the work and see how fast I could put a story together, and am pretty happy with it. Her editing touch served only to make the piece a hundred times stronger (proof positive that writers will always need editors).

I also have (I think) another article coming up in The Escapist.

World of Darkness: Mirrors hit shelves (but not the PDF shelves, yet), and I did a post-mortem and Q&A yesterday in case you missed it.

Had a great call around the TV property this week. Excited about its direction.

The film gets a mention in Wired UK’s August transmedia issue (HiM, Hope is Missing).

Where’s your Codpiece Johnson story slice this week? Look for it maybe over the weekend. I gotta play catch-up on this novel before I worry about Codpiece. Codpiece will always be there for us. He’s patient. (And actually, if you find my online presence lacking in any way, I apologize: not only do I want to assert time and mastery over this book, but packing and getting ready to move is a giant hour-eater, chomp chomp chomp. All regrettable, but all necessary. Talk to me again at the end of August.)

What else?

I’ll need more penmonkey work soon, so if anybody has any work or knows of anybody who has work, please do not hesitate to contact me. (Note to any and all publishers: I work fast and I work clean, and I pinch-hit with a wink and a smile.) Since we’re, y’know, moving into a new domicile, I could use wordsmithy to throw coins in my coffers. Thanks, all y’all.

Rechts Oder Links? Links! Links! Mach Schnell!

Ahem, sorry. A little pidgin German for your day. Time to some linky-links.

Good buddy (and designated “Lord of the Chip Pile”) Keith Karabin does a good post that asks, why the hell do we want everything turned into a movie, exactly?

JC Hutchins (aka “The Hutch”) is the man behind a new transmedia fiction project supporting The Discovery Channel’s “The Colony.” The event is known as “#stillhere.” Exciting to see what he’s been up to.

You are watching the, I dunno, 100+ video love letters to you by the Old Spice Guy, right? These are so fucking brilliant, I don’t know what to say. His voice. Those chesticles. The absurdity. Watch them now.

Darren Miller’s “Geekcentricity” blog has gotten a makeover, and it looks clean, elegant, and spiffy.

As usual, Guy “The Dread Pirate LeCharles” will pepper your brainmeats with much-needed balance and skepticism in the article, “To Succeed, Publishers Must Experiment… And Fail.”

Rich Dansky writes a great Escapist article about villains: “Bring On The Bad Guy.”

And that’s all for me. I’m tapping out. Later, tmeeps.

21 comments

  • I am a fan of end-grain wooden cutting boards, especially ones by John Boos. I find they hold up better, keep knives sharper than other types (due to how they are made), and look nice to boot. I have a really large wooden cutting board which I love because I find that it also works very well for kneading bread doughs and the like.

    I have heard that some people prefer teak over maple, but I think really it is a matter of aesthetics, although regardless of wood type, I would spend a little more for an end-grain board rather than edge-grain.

    Edge-grain boards in my opinion are madefor the occasional cook who wants a cutting board that looks nice (pretty wood grain patterns are easy to achieve with this method) but won’t be subjecting it to heavy-duty use.

    • @Heather:

      End grain, yes, thank you for the confirmation — wasn’t sure, so it’s nice to know.

      I’m not worried about aesthetics, just functionality and size.

      – c.

  • I meant to chime in on the grill/cookware issue in the original blog post but couldn’t get to my desk. Interestingly, it’s the same issue for both.

    You do not want/need a grill that can make pizza or cookies. You want a grill that gets hot, like Fires of Hell hot. That’s it. Anything that professes to do more than that is just a shiny mirage trying to lure you into paying more money. I had a Weber Genesis (http://www.weber.com/explore/Default.aspx?glid=2) for like 10 years. When it finally went kaput, I bought another one, and I’ve had that one for about 5 years now. It’s great and not crazy expensive. Purists will scoff, but a gas grill is just 100x more convenient than a charcoal grill, i.e., you will actually use it. I grill at least a couple of times a week.

    On to the cookware. Those big-box sets are the same thing. They throw in all kinds of “extras” to give it a value-added appearance, but it is a lot of crap you don’t need. You do not need a 9″ saute pan and an 11″ saute pan. You need one awesome 9″, 10″, or 11″ pan. Google yourself the nearest restaurant supply store and get yourself there. The people in those places are usually very helpful and knowledgeable, and the prices are reasonable. You will feel a little nuts spending upwards of $100 for a single pan, but you will notice the difference, believe me, and it will last forever.

    • @Justin:

      Agreed on the cookware. I want one 12″ skillet stainless, and I want one 10″ non-stick (which doesn’t need to be particularly good, as non-stick is basically just temporary).

      The grill, though — one thing I have to say about the One Green Egg is, apparently that motherfucker gets hot. Beyond the fires of Hell hot. Clay ovens like tandoori ovens are capable of maintaining heat like a sumbitch, and this is basically that.

      And I *do* want a grill that can make pizza (cookies, not so much). I’ll never get a brick oven for pizza, but the BGE gets hot enough to act like a brick oven.

      Multi-taskers for the win. If it grills, smokes, and bakes, it might be a powerful tool.

      Of course, again, it’s holy shit expensive. Therein lies the rub.

      – c.

  • Ditto what Heather said on end-grain boards. I’ve had my teak board for close to 15 years. It ain’t the prettiest board in the world but it’s pretty damn awesome. It has a 1/2 inch sunken bezel to capture the excess juices. I don’t really like plastic boards as they seem to dull my knives faster.

    As far as grills go…that Green Egg is insane and I could never justify that kind of spending for a grill. Now…I only grill maybe 20 days out of the entire year and price is relative. If you feel that it’s worth your investment…there you go! Also never disregard man’s stupid instinct to amass awesome toys that he can brag about. This one you can brag about while serving smoked turkey legs to other wide-eyed men that will eat that turkey leg with a large helping of envy on the side!

    Here’s my status update: Due to some absolute shitty luck in life I’ve scrapped anything that I may have been doing to learn for now. With the exception of some lame-ass erotica I haven’t written a thing. Hopefully next month lady-luck will decide to revisit the DeLaurentis household. We’ve missed her.

  • Responding with Grenade Launchers

    Re: cutting boards: I have no strong opinion on what type of wood you may like (hur-hur), but I can say that my next cutting board will be a monster. I’ve caught stray glimpses on various cooking shows (No Reservations?) of *tall* cutting boards and I like what I’ve seen. The ideal would be less of a cutting board and more of a cutting stump. A more stump-like (stumpy?) cutting surface elevates the food, making it easier to manage the mechanics of cutting, slicing, and hacking.

    Re: Old Spice micro-ads on YouTube: They’re glorious. I had them playing in the background as I dressed this morning. A masterstroke and new frontier in the black arts of marketing.

  • My take on the whole cutting board / cross contamination thing is that ultimately the differences are really very minor for a home kitchen (as opposed to commercial kitchens, where these studies have the greatest impact) Whatever surface you are best able to keep clean is the right choice, really. For me, that means that material doesn’t matter nearly as much as size: I love my big bamboo cutting board, but it doesn’t fit in the sink, so I don’t wash it as well. I try! But I know I don’t do as good a job as with the small plastic ones.

  • @John: Get yourself a bottle of Chlorox Anywhere spray. Spray down your board after you’ve cleaned it as best you can, then simply wipe it down with a dry towel. If you still worry about negative effects of the bleach you can wipe it down again with a damp towel to remove any residue. I’ve never had a problem with the stuff, though.

    • @Paul:

      Word. Actually, I hear that the second step to that is to spray down with some vinegar which undoes the bleach. Then, a quick wipe with a damp rag and ta-da, game over.

      – c.

  • Cutting boards: I have a few bamboo cutting boards that have been used hard (like your mom) and still look great (like your mom.) Love ‘em. I have a massive wood cutting board made of maple that has a groove all around it that I carve meat on – the juices get trapped (like your mom.)

    Okay, I’ll get off of mothers [insert "I just got off of yours" here and then feel quiet shame for a few beats] and talk pots and pans. ALL CLAD FOR A SERIOUS COOK. They are so worth the money. But they really are for people who do things like reduce sauces, quick sear, sauté, etc. Translation, if you just cook Kraft Mac-n-Cheese and Rice a Roni, don’t waste your money. If you want a serious work horse, get All Clad’s 4 qt. Windsor pan and a 10 in. sauté. I’m also a big fan of my 7 qt. Le Creuset enameled casserole and use it for braising meat, making chili, cooking pork shoulder, etc. I do have a few “low end” pots that I use for when the kids help me in the kitchen, and they work pretty damn well – it’s Macy’s line, Belgique. They have ridiculous sales on those all the time, too, where you can grab a pot for 10 bones.

    BBQ’IN – I live where we keep the grill going pretty much year yound. While I love the taste of charcoal, I can’t stand the mess. We ditched the charcoal grill and moved to gas and didn’t miss a thing. (We also use a smoker box to get that charred-wood flavor in there.) Brinkman makes a decent intro-level grill for real grillers like yourself. If you do things like ribs and brisket, you want something at *least* 32 inches wide. Three decks is ideal, too. If you jut throw on dogs and steaks, you won’t need anything too big, but if you can get infrared, go for it. It’s awesome. If you win the lottery, go for a 48″ Viking. DROOL WORTHY, YO.

    Uh… seems like I’m fairly chatty this morning, HI CHUCK.

    • @Stoney:

      My mother was killed by the Internet. YOU MAKE ME SO SAD.

      Okay, all parts of that are a lie.

      All-Clad, another vote. Damnit. You people are killing me. I keep waiting for someone to chime in and be like, “Yo, All-Clad sucks, don’t buy that shit,” and I can be like, “Whew.”

      – c.

  • Wow! I retweeted hours before I had a chance to read today’s post and there I am! Thanks so much for the mention! Glad you like the new design.

    Geekcentricity actually got mentioned in two blogs today. The other one was lamenting my switch over to wordpress from Blogger.

    Thanks again!

  • Chuck, Daahhhhling, if you want high quality output, you have to have a high quality product.

    Also re: Big Green Egg: look at the teensy amount of space on that grill. If you have more than four people over, you’re going to have to rotate food in and off that thing. Oh, and on our grill we have the infrared sear option and you can make ASTOUNDING pizza with that.

    You killed my mother with the lack of respect paid her. If only my name were Inigo Montoya.

  • All hard wood is good wood. What? I’m talking about cutting boards. The largest wood I have–wood cutting board, that is–is what I use to carve up roasts on. Works great and I’m not dead yet. If you lack the ability to use soap and water on your tools, you should consider not cooking.

    Grills? Look, Weber grills are not fancy and you can get them at home centers. But they run the gamut to fancy. I’ve had one for seven years now. I cover it, I clean it and it looks the same as it did when I got it. It cooks, it lasts.

    Finally, it is an honor to be painted from you shotgun.

    K

  • My dad is retardely zealous about trying new expensive things and the big green egg was one of his projects. He told me that the smokintex electric http://smokintex.com/GourmetPackage.html
    is half the price, half the effort, and twice as good. Fair warning: If there is too much else on the circuit the smoker is plugged in to it will trip the breaker.

    How about some granite or corian for a cutting board?

Speak Your Mind, Word-Nerds