Thursday, December 30, 2010
Ever wonder what a jar of Four Loko brined pickles look like under the pale, artificial glow of a refrigerator light? Well, wonder no more. With the addition of a little more red food coloring, the Four Lickles have been transferred back to their jar. Next weekend shall be the taste test. Gird your bellies brave friends of Mr. Dave.
As much as I love blogging about food, sometimes something comes along that I just feel the need to share. As I am way too lazy to start a separate "general interest" type blog, I am thinking of making these posts a semi regular occurrence (you will remember the Mr. Dave on Style post of the other week).
Anyhow, I was at Art on Lark (an annual summertime art festival in Albany, NY for you non-locals) a while back and found the above and below works of art. I had forgotten about these treasures for months and only just stumbled upon them while cleaning a closet.
If you are asking yourself the question, "Is that homoerotic Cpt. Kirk and Mr. Spock fan art?," then you would be very, very right. Needless to say, the phaser in the first picture was added by me to keep the ol' blog family friendly. This is vintage stuff too, the first example is signed "Pat, '85," the second is dated '90. Who knows how many more masterpieces were created during this 5 year span. I would definitely be interested in some Uhura stuff...
Anyways, just another example of the strange and wonderful nature of the occurrences to be had in our fair and humble city. Doesn't it just make you smile how lovingly Spock is looking at Kirk while stroking his hair?
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
To accompany the slightly new look of the humble Ridiculous Food Society blog I have purchased the ridiculousfoodsociety.net domain. The whole ridiculousfoodsociety.blogspot.com thing was a little tedious to type and I always liked the sound of .net domains. I used to own the .com domain, but I let that lapse and who knows who all owns it now. Anyhow, both the old and new domains will continue to work. This is just a heads up in case you want to update any link you may or may not have on your own humble site.
On to more exciting things. As you know, I am quite the little cheerleader for the Capital District Micro Region. If you aren't local than you should know that the Capital Region (Albany and its surrounding environs, Upstate New York) enjoys a relatively small, 3" wiener on a steamed bun, with Capital Region style meat sauce, raw chopped onions, and yellow mustard. You can check out my posts about Famous Lunch in Troy, or Hot Dog Charlie's (various locations) for a little more information. Or you can just check out the Fussmeister General's wrap up of his "Tour De Hotdog" which was a whirl wind tour of the local purveyors of the dainty dogs.
I have come up with what I think is quite the witty little t-shirt idea (pictured above). It is simple, stark, and crude enough to amuse me endlessly. I am going to buy some printer t-shirt transfer paper and start whipping these out for the friends and family. But do not feel left out, oh you, the beautiful public of the internets! Should you feel the need to represent for both the local dinky dog, and this humble blog, I may be persuaded to make you one too.
As with all good things in life, this work of art of a t-shirt shall come with a price. Do not despair, I am not turning into a shameless capitalist blogger pig dog. My mind has turned to an interesting charitable concept. You may have noticed the "Bacon Fund" paypal link over there on the left sidebar (or just click here for a direct link). If you are willing to make a donation, let us suggest the paltry sum of 15 greenbacks, then you will be the proud owner of a "We Have 3" Wieners." t-shirt.
Any dough that is made over cost of the materials, I shall promise to reinvest in a local food purveyor/restaurant/shop decided upon by consensus of my loyal readers. Mayhaps there will be those who will share in the bounty of this concept. I think this would be a fun way to drive business towards some worthy proprietors, aid in the distribution of t-shirts emblazoned with sexual hot dog innuendo, and perhaps bring local like minded hot dog lovers together. If this takes off, there will be more t-shirts to follow. We shall see. I know that these are tight economic times, so I am not really expecting a rush of donations. Then again, I have been surprised before.
Anyways, just make sure if you decide you want a shirt to include a note with a mailing adress and a size preference. Do you want to see the wienter shirt again? Ok, here you go.
Monday, December 27, 2010
I need not explain my love of Stewart's Shops to you (click here to browse some RFS posts on the subject), my loyal readers, as I have blathered on at length. Needless to say, I was somewhat excited when I found out that Stewart's now has its very own Pez Dispenser! It is featured prominently on the Stewart's website (scroll down a little) where the line, "Drive one away for only $1.99!" is proudly emblazoned.
I was at Stewart's picking up some "panic milk" for the wife during the late snow storm when I saw several of the Pez Dispensers strewn near the cash register. I found it necessary to shell out for two dispensers. One for the daughter to enjoy and another to be saved pristinely in its package (for posterity). I like the look of the Pez truck. It maintains the trademark, old timey style of Stewart's advertisements.
Like a kid on Christmas, I was genuinely excited for the Stewart's Pez. My mother has given me a Santa Pez every X-Mas since I was wee, which along with the innumerable comic book/star wars character examples I have hoarded away make up quite the collection. The Stewart's truck will make a worthy addition. Go get your own!
If you remember, last week I started the Four Loko Pickles project. I have decided to call them Four Lickles from now on in homage to the Koolickles that inspired me. The fickle internet has seemed to enjoy this nonsense as my humble driveling got linked by the Huffington Post food section, a couple members on Reddit, and many facebook homepages.
One of my concerns with the Four Lickles concoction was that I didn't think the relatively pale color of the Watermelon Four Loko which I used would give the pickles the vibrant hue of a good koolickle. As I was strolling around my local P-Chops the other day, I came across the following.
Here we have Betty Crocker's Neon Gel Food Colors. To my sensibilities a neon pink Four Lickle would be perfection. I had great expectations for this food coloring, but alas, I was left disappointed. The Betty Crocker product only slightly deepened the shade of the watermelon/pickle brine.
I knew I should have stuck with good ol' fashion food coloring. I am going to give the pickles a couple days and see what kind of color they absorb. If I am not satisfied with their artificial color level, then I just might add some normal red food coloring. We shall see.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
If you have been reading for a while than you will know that I have an unholy lust for all things egg nog. Give me organic homemade nog, grocery store nog, fake nog, soy nog, I don't care. I love it all and I don't stop at drinking the stuff. If you peddle nog candy, nog pie, nog lattes, nog toothpaste, whatever, than I am your man. I will buy it.
In the past I have spoken about my love for Stewart's Egg Nog (also their Nog Shake) and offered a recipe for Stewart's Egg Nog Custard Pie. I make my own aged, heavily boozed egg nog sometimes. As I mentioned, I am always looking for other interesting nog creations.
A while back I tried some of the Nuns of New Skete egg nog cheesecake from the Delmar Market (a little funky). Well, I was at the Delmar Market again the other day finishing up some last minute shopping when I spied the Goodway Bakery's (located in Troy) Egg Nog pie! I was excited, not even balking at the 14.99$ price tag. I purchased it for some post-X-Mas Eve dessert.
This was an attractively put together nog pie. A nice layer of whipped cream on top with a decorative shake of nutmeg. I could barely keep my grubby mits off the thing until after dinner.
Cutting a slice I was a little disappointed by the relatively meager "nog" layer which was easily exceeded by the generous whipped cream layer. Towards the center there was maybe a 1/4 inch of pie filling. I like a pie with a little more weight and substance. As is per usual with products billed as "egg nog" flavored, it didn't really taste much like egg nog. This is not to say that it was bad. After the first bite I exclaimed, "Mmmm... creme brulee pie!" There was even a crunchy layer of caramelized sugar between the custard and whipped cream layers.
If Goodway Bakery would have just called the thing "Creme Brulee" pie, I still would have bought it as I am a huge creme brulee fan as well (I have a thing for eggy, milky, custard-y things I guess). I would have been impressed with the fact that the pie was aptly named. Instead I was left disappointed at the lack of nog taste.
No matter, it was still a good pie. Isn't that really what the holidays are all about? Good pie? Anyhow, I hope this post finds you well and I trust you will all have a wonderful holiday.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Ahhh... Upstate New York in mid-December... Isn't the weather grand? Don't you just want to put on short pants and frolic in the park, singing tra-la-la?
I am, of course, joking (although I do look very nice in short pants). The weather of our beloved home this time of year (and for the next two and a half months) is decidedly bleak. The local weather is a cold, gray, humorless bitch of a situation. Because of this, you may find the occasional need for a warming tincture to gird your loins and put the fire in your belly before venturing out into the cold night for an evening of merry wassailing.
Usually I go with my delicious Aged Egg Nog (click for the controversial recipe). However, this year I did not have the time to go a-gathering the ingredients. I usually like to start me nog off around Thanksgiving, but just didn't have the time this particular annum.
To prevent the absence of a festive winter beverage next year, I decided to set a good ol' bottle of horseradish vodka to aging. Horseradish vodka is an ancient Slavic standby and is deemed perfect for keeping away the nip of winter. It is very easy to make, the hardest part being patience.
You start with a nice big horseradish root. Trust me on this, do not use bottled stuff.
Is it any wonder that the slavic word for horseradish (xрен, in Russian at least, pronounced "xren" in English) is a euphemism for a certain part of the male anatomy? Anyways, scrub well and chop the root into large sticks. Also get some good flower honey and a few black peppercorns.
I am using Luksusowa for the vodka. Luksusowa is a reasonably priced Polish vodka that is still actually made from potatoes. You don't really need to use anything too pricey for this recipe.
Pour a little of the vodka down your gullet to make room for the ingredients. Shove the horseradish in the bottle, add 5 or 6 peppercorns, and about a half cup of honey for this size bottle. Shake the bottle some to dissolve the honey.
That is pretty much all she wrote. The vodka will be good in about 3 months, but a year or more is best. I am planning on cracking this bottle open just about this time next year. We shall see if this happens. I expect a nip or two may go missing in the interim.
Anyhow, Mrs. Dave, young Lady Giblet, and I all wish for you to have a wonderful and safe holiday season. Celebrate the solstice heartily, with good friends and good food. You never know, if the spirits aren't appeased with your merriment, spring might never come back.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
So I had a can of Four Loko (watermelon) hidden away in the cabinet. I had bought this can prior to the recent ban with ideas of keeping it around as a cultural artifact. But it turns out that Four Loko is coming right back out sans the caffeine. If I am just going to be able to buy a close facsimile, I didn't really feel the need to keep ahold of the tall boy for posterity. As I certainly wasn't going to drink the nasty shit, the rusty gears of my culinary mind (the mind that previously brought you Bacon Rice Krispies Treats and White Castle Casserole) started to slowly turn as I pondered what to do with the camo can of caffeinated swill.
Divine inspiration was quick in arriving. I recalled a NY Times article about the deep south specialty that is the Kool Aid Pickle (I link to Slashfood because the stupid Times makes you log in now). Kool Aid pickles are your normal kosher dills that have been steeped in sugary Kool Aid brine. Supposedly, the pickles come out with an addictive sweet/sour tang, and the added bonus of having absorbed the garish color of your chosen Kool Aid flavor. It seemed to me that the Four Loko might be a good analogue for the Kool Aid in this recipe, only with more alcohol and caffeine.
I cracked open the watermelon flavored malt beverage and poured a little in a cup to get a look at its hue. Although there was a pungent stink, the Four Loko was not as vibrantly colored as I had hoped for. I think I might have to supplement with a little red food coloring. We shall see.
For the pickle component I had read that Mt. Olive Kosher Dills where a popular choice.
I poured the pickle juice, the whole can of Four Loko, and about a cup of sugar into a sauce pan and brought it up to a simmer. Watermelon Four Loko mixed with pickle brine smells about as good as you may have imagined it would...
When the pickle brine/malt likker/shoogar mixture had cooled somewhat I dumped it over the reserved pickles in a larger container. I also threw in a good healthy squirt of vodka, just for good measure. I washed and saved the actual pickle jar for presentation sake when the Four Loko pickles are ready.
As you can see, the Four Loko brine doesn't appear to contain the requisite food dye to give the pickle that nice, freaky, artificial color that you are looking for in this genre of pickle. I think I am going to add a little red food dye tomorrow to add to the final visual effect of the pickles. They are supposed to swim in the brine, refrigerated, for about a week.
I shall warily state that I have my suspicions that the Four Loko pickles might come out OK. It just may be one of those bizarre combinations that works for no particular reason at all. However, I will say that the phrase "watermelon-y, salty, sour, caffeinated, boozy pickle" starts my stomach a-churnin' just a little bit.
All there is to do now is wait. I shall definitely issue updates on this project as necessary.
If you are looking for another of pickle innovations whilst you wait, have a looksy at Sriracha Pickles.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
As you may or may not know, I have a family member who sends me an Omaha Steaks package every year at Christmas. I call it my annual meat gift. This will be the third year in a row that I have posted on this topic (I can't believe I have been writing this hack blog for that long). You can see "What to Do With Omaha Steaks? Beef Bourguignon Shepard's (I should have said Cottage) Pie" and "Meat From the Heavens! Yearly Meat Gift Arrives!" for more on this issue.
Oft times in the past (I have gotten Omaha stuff more than three times, just haven't wrote about it) I have found that the Omaha Steaks and their attendant accouterment tend to languish in icebox for ages without being eaten. This due to both the thought and planning needed to thaw stuff out (I am a perilously lazy man), and the fact that the Wife and I (and Giblet, for now) are not huge at-home steak eaters. Don't get me wrong, I will hungrily devour a hunk of bovine flesh as readily as the next man, but for some reason I generally only indulge at restaurants and the odd cookout.
Pursuant to all of this I have made it a point to throw a soiree or something and eat the whole she-bang in one glorious, meaty shot. I turned one shipment into a bastard Beef Bourguignon a couple years back. There have been other culinary abortions that I shan't mention here. I am planning the same concept (not the culinary abortion, the soiree and meat in one shot thing) for this year.
I am excited that this year we have a wonderful porky addition to the meaty melange. Along with the tenderloins, beef lasagna (?, I question the rationale for this inclusion as I did last year), weird potato gratin balls, and cheese cake we have a little smoked ham-lette.
This little guy shall factor nicely into whatever strange recipes my tiny mind comes up with. I am already thinking of using the ham for a mutant Liptauer that I am going to call Hamtauer. Not sure what I am going to do with the weird potato balls, meat, and lasagna. Pretty sure I am just going to eat the cheese cake in a very normal way. We shall see. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sorry about the bad picture quality in this post. My Droid's camera has been on the fritz and is making everything all yellow. Anyhow, above we have a Bread Lobster from P-Chops. Around the holidays the 'Chops starts peddling these weird rye bread monstrosities. Don't ask me why, but these bread fellows take various unusual forms. I have seen bread bears, bread lobsters, bread snowmen, and also a big obscene looking lump that I took to be a bread mushroom.
If you will remember, I bought a Bread Friend last year. I don't know what the Price Chopper bread artist meant him to be, so I just dubbed him Bread Friend.
There is nothing special about the actual bread. It is actually a rather insipid, fake tasting, flaccid example of deli style rye. But as you all know, Mr. Dave is a fan of humor and whimsy. Bread Lobsters definitely count as humorously whimsical, so I have decided to make the purchase of an annual bread creature a Mr. Dave family holiday tradition. If Price Chopper keeps putting these guys out for the holidays, I will keep buying them.
I incorporated bread lobster into the refreshment I provided at the Lovely Mrs. Dave b-day celebration. Mrs. Dave is a great fan of creamy dips and spreads and I aimed to cater to her whims. I removed the lobsters cranial and tail areas and replaced them with dip.
Bread Crustacean lurked at the top of the the meat and cheese table and kept guard (click for my recent Meat Tray post). We also had a bunch of hot food, but I forgot to take a picture.
Afterwards, me and the Misses had a little local vacation at a certain downtown hotel. The view of our fair city of Albany in the misty morn was very moving. You can even see a little of the mighty Hudson.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Don't little butcher-paper packets, all wrapped in twine make you happy? Maybe that is just me. Anyhow, today I doddered around fair Albany gathering various foodstuffs for Mrs. Dave's impending annual age progression festivities. Pictured above is much of the bounty that I accumulated. We have ham and wurst from Rolf's, cold cuts from Cardona's, bread from Prinzo's, and all manner of other delicious goodies (also some of Mrs. Dave's favorite purty flowers).
I performed a little amateur meat artistry and made up a couple of meat platters. First we have the Rolf's selection (bauernschinken, westfalianschinken, plockwurst, cervelat, and some Tilsit).
And an Italian assortment from Cardona's (Genoa salami, cappicola, soppresata, and prosciutto).
You can't go wrong with salty, cured/smoked meats at a cocktail soiree. They are portable, flavorful, and have the added benefit of girding the gut with protein and fat prior to a night of imbibing. As an added bonus, it is a relatively affordable away to sate the appetites of a crowd. Buy a bunch of bread to accompany your selection of meats and there will be full bellies all around. Plus, you just plop the stuff on a table and you don't have to worry about anything. This releases one from the culinary bondage of the kitchen and sets you free to get knackered with your friends instead of worrying over a pricey roast or something.
Anyhow, yeah meats!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
That's right folks. Right now there is all sorts of hot yeast on yeast action going on in a bowl on top of my fridge. Those little yeast guys are making out, having babies, expelling all sorts of naughty gasses, and just generally gettin' nasty (bet you didn't think I could comment on a sourdough starter in an immature manner, did you?).
But seriously, I am of a mind that you should really only have to buy (or catch) yeast once in your life. After that, just reserve a nob of dough or a bit of precipitated yeast from your brewing vessel, store it, feed it, and you will have a constant supply of self-regenerating leaven. This isn't really realistic for all applications, but for sourdough bread and especially beer making (where the yeast may be pricey), it is pretty easy.
I had a sourdough starter that I made a couple summers ago (from our own, wild Upstate yeasts) going for about a year. His name was "Sour Joe" and he lived in a jar. I think Mrs. Dave mistook him for some manner of rottenness that I had forgot about and left in the fridge. So she emptied him into the garbage. Quickly forgiving this yeast murder, I decided to start a new pet yeast colony for bread making.
The bubbly little bastard pictured above got going with some Ale yeast I reserved from a brewing project. I bottle condition beer most times, so I am left with a nice layer of expended yeast on the bottom of the vessel. I simply transfer this to container, throw in a little water and sugar, and let the yeasts reproduce away. A few ounces of this is usually enough to get a brew going. Using this homemade yeast inoculation might add a few days on to the fermenting time. I am big on rough, homestyle brews (which pisses off other home brewers with their veritable chemistry experiments) and this method seems to play to that.
For the sourdough starter simply throw a little of the Ale yeast into some flour with a little more water. You will have a bubbly beauty ready to leaven innumerable loaves of tasty bread in no time. About a cup of the starter is good for a nice large batch, follow any given sourdough bread recipe. Always remember to replenish what you have taken away.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I thought a non-food post might be a welcome change of pace, a weblog palate cleanser if you will. I will just throw this in the water and see if it floats. In any event, I usually write about the things I consider essential to the good life (mostly meat and beer), so I don't think a sort of style post is that out of place. Good grooming is equally essential to the life of a gentlemen.
Above is a picture of the safety razor that I recently purchased. If you aren't familiar, a safety razor is what people used prior to the mass prevalence of disposable and cartridge razors. With these bad boys you insert an actual double edged razor blade.
You see, I am a daily shaver. The absolutely outrageous cost and waste (think of all that plastic you are throwing out all the time) involved with regularly purchasing cartridge razors began to sicken me. I decided to throw off the bonds emplaced upon my person by the mighty shaving product conglomerates and harken back to a simpler time. I ordered a safety razor that I had read was a good entry level purchase. I also purchased a package of 100 razor hundred blades, everything included set me back about 32 smackers shipped. Here is what I got-
As you know, I love interesting packaging and this stuff is pretty neat. I believe the Shaving Factory brand is out of Turkey. The little package with the foamy faced gent is some shaving soap tablets. The actual razor blades come wrapped in wax paper inside a cunning little spring loaded dispenser. I get such a kick out of such simply functional design.
I was unaware of this, but there is a very active online discussion of shaving issues available (check out The Shave Den, for one). Read up if you are intimidated, there are a lot of good tips. Shaving with a lazer sharp piece of cold steel can be a little intimidating the first time. But let me tell you, it was a revelation. Even the first go gave me the closest and most comfortable shave that I have ever had. The trick is in the wrist, get the right angle and use short little downward strokes and you are good as gold. I forego the little tablets or shaving soap and use a standard gel, this is the one concession I will give to the benefits of certain aspects of modernity.
Just think about how much of your life you spend shaving. You might as well turn it into a pleasant little daily ritual in your repertoire of daily rituals. After shaving your face like our forefathers did in the days when men where men you will find yourself feeling quite the rakish raconteur. Plus, you can't beat the price. I hazard that a box of a 100 razors will last me the better part of a year. A box of 100 costs between 10 and 20 bucks depending on the brand. I don't really keep track, but I would think that I spend around 500 bucks a year on modern razors. Well no more! I, as in many aspects of my life, am adopting the old timey ways.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Found the above bad boy hiding in a cool, moist, dark corner. I brewed up a Pale Ale of sorts almost 6 months ago. Very simple recipe, all grain (pale malt) and a shit load of Kent Golding hops. I won't bore you with the details of the brew, but it turned out pretty good. Most of it got drunk a while ago, but I found this half gal. hiding in a cabinet, somehow forgotten. I threw the growler in the fridge and enjoyed a couple glasses tonight.
I think this particular brew improved with age. The head seemed better, and there was a bit more complexity to the flavor. For some reason it reminded me a little of Hoegaarden.
Anyhow, any other local home brewers out there? If so, I will get a little more informational with my home brew posts. I know how boring brewing instructions are for those who aren't indoctrinated into the craft.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I snapped the above picture at an Italian deli in my wife's hometown (lower Hudson Valley). She hails from a suburban community that has a fairly high population of individuals who commute to the NYC Metro area for work. There also happens to be a fairly large community of Italian Americans. The place I took this picture is your fairly run of the mill (for that area, not for here) Italian Deli. They peddle ready made dinners, hoagies, lunch meat, Italian cheeses, a smattering of imported grocery items, etc... Stores of this type are fairly common, and we have several locally (Cardona's, Roma, etc...).
The thing that is not so common is that they make their own dry-cured salumi (salamis and whole muscle), in-house! This is not uncommon, my wife could tell you of several other places that do the same thing in her (relatively) small hometown. It is not uncommon to hear things like, "The Sopressata at X deli, is better than the crap they have at Y deli. Y deli uses too much pepper." I may be wrong on this, but I don't think any of our Capital Region Italian influenced vendors do the same thing, and it is certainly not common enough for people to have a favorite producer.
Dry-cured meat is one of my main passions in life, and I really wish that we had a plethora of local producers of Italian Salumi. Does anyone know of any places in the Capital Region that cure/produce their own stuff? Cardona's sells product from a regional producer, I can't remember the brand. I don't know about Roma or any of the other usual suspects.
Before you say it, I know that Rolf's makes a bunch of German style dry-cured stuff (Bauernschinken, landjaeger, garlic stick, plockwurst, dried kielbasa, etc...). Don't worry, I already have a severe Rolf's habit. I am looking for some Italian stuff (sopressata, salami, etc...) to supplement my steady diet of cured meats.