Ephemera, Gastronomenonological and Technophallogocentrical.

Hello, Dear Reader! We’ve been busybusybusy here at the Presidential Palace over the past few weeks, and you may rest assured that what we’ve been busy with is of no real interest to anyone. I’ve been deploying SharePoint team websites for each workgroup in my agency (and learning how to develop, deploy and administer SharePoint solutions in the process). I also managed to get my greedy little claws on a beta copy of Windows Vista, which I promptly installed on my laptop. It’s definitely a beta, and therefore occasionally goes insane, but I will say that the new UI is slick. I know, who cares, but I spend most of my waking hours looking at Windows desktops, so a little sleek-n-sexxxy newness is nice every now and again. Also, I have to say that it seems to handle video and 3D graphics a hell of a lot better than XP Pro did running on the same laptop. “Search” is everywhere, and while I think that searches and indexed metadata are probably the future of managing your crap on your computer, for those of us who have been thinking in terms of directory hierarchies since Ye Olden Tymes of DOS, it’s a little disconcerting. Although I was able to install and use Visual Studio 2005 uneventfully, SQL Express doesn’t seem to like it here. Boo hoo, it’s a beta. But then I just open up a bunch of windows and use the 3D “flip” feature to scroll through them for a while like a chimpanzee watching the Oscars. I am easily amused.

P.S., if you are a strong partisan of the “Linux is Jesus, W1nD0w$ 5uXx0r5!~!!!” camp, please keep your opinions off of my blog. I personally have no strong feelings about this debate, but a) Microsoft technologies are my entire livelihood, and b) if I wanted to listen to the endless flood of bullshit that passes for the Windows v. Linux debate, I’d go read Slashdot instead of lamely pretending to have a blog.

Anyway, on to something that interests everyone! No, not that, the other thing! Food!

I finally got my square plates, and I heart them in a big way. Alas, I am not a billionaire heiress and spinster aunt like the infamous Twisty Faster, so mine came from Target rather than William Sonoma (we thought it would be fun to be able to buy some food to put on the plates before next month). I still love them. Everything looks like restaurant food when plated on these enormous rafts of white porcelain.

Today, the First Boyfriend was off at Fiesta Texas with one of his many sisters, her husband, and their exceedingly numerous offspring. I thought about going, in the same way that I occasionally think about suicide. Chalk it up to an occasional symptom of neuroses that are fairly well-managed with medication. Returning to my senses, I spent a relaxing day at home. I cleaned the apartment, shaved my “stubble” (which was approaching full-on “beard” status, causing even my employer, long accustomed to my slovenly and unfashionable ways, to enquire if I was “okay”), took out the trash (to the patio, where it will wait for the First Boyfriend to do his conjugal duty of taking it to the dumpster for my lazy ass), and just generally puttered around.

I also watered the plants. What plants, you ask? Why Dear Reader, those few tough and lucky plants that survived my gardening holocaust last spring! Suffice it to say that the ease with which one may coax seeds into sprouting gave me an entirely unwarranted sense of confidence in my ability to keep said sprouts alive and cause them to mature into plants that I could eat (which are the only kind of plants I’m interested in). Still, a few hardly souls survived. My rosemary is positively thriving, and will only get more vigorous as our balmy spring turns into the inferno that is summer in south Texas. My cilantro and chives both keep on keepin’ on. These three are my favorites, because the manage to live through my frequent failures to water my plants for three or four days at a time, and also because they grow back quickly after I hack away huge sections of their foliage to sacrifice in the flaming volcano of my eat-hole. Several basil plants have made it to adulthood, and while I cherish their sweet, tasty leaves (especially with tomato season coming up), they don’t handle my perpetual neglect as well. Their leaves sometimes actually die, so that after I give the plants their weekly watering, the chives and cilantro simply reinflate their parched cells, whereas the basil plants sustain actual damage. On the other hand, yummy, basil!

The rest of the plants are mostly pepper bushes. I hate them all. I planted seeds from a packet containing a mix of 6 different varieties of pepper. I assumed that I’d get at least one jalapeno bush out of the deal. Alas for me. All 16 or 20 of the plants that survived bear a red, longish pepper that while lacking the grassy sprightliness of jalapenos or the fruity savor of habaneros (both of which were in the mix), are infernally hot. Now, I like hot food, but I’m not talking about tongue-burning hot. I’m talking about the kind of heat where if you chop one of these, and then wash your hands, and then one hour later go to the little boys room, you’ll notice that your weewee burns where you touched it. This will happen to you precisely once, after which you will hate this pepper forever.

Then there are a few mystery-plants who trace their origins to a pack of seeds I bought at the gift shop of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens last spring. It was supposed to contain a mixture of medicinal herbs native to south Texas. Unfortunately, I lost the paper insert that identified each plant and explained its supposed medicinal benefits. They all look like weeds, and I hate them, but I can’t bring myself to kill them. Who knows when I might need to brew an infusion of one of them to cure gout or some third-word hippie bullshit like that?

Anyway.

Tonight, I cooked up a fairly tasty dinner for….myself. Here’s how it went down:

I took some boneless, skinless chicken breasts (non-free-range, non-organic, the kind they sell to poor people like me) and beat the shit out of them with a rolling pin until they were uniformly thin and flat.

While I was beating the chicken like a red-headed stepchild, I had some teeny tiny red potatoes parboiling. After the chicken was flat, I drained them taters and tossed them with some kosher salt, cracked black pepper, ancho chili powder, olive oil, and a finely chopped mixture of garlic and fresh rosemary. (I grew it myself!!) I stuck them in the oven and roasted them at 350 for a while.

Next, poured some flour on a plate and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I put a big skillet on the stove and fired it up, tossing equal quantities of butter and olive oil (“EVOO”, to quote the loathsome Rachel Ray). When the butter was nice and foamy, I dredged the abused chicken breasts in the flour and flung them into the searing fat. When they were nicely browned, I took them out and set them on a warm plate. After draining all but about a tablespoon of fat from the pan, I tossed in 3 minced shallots (okay, 1/4 of an onion, but it would have been shallots if I wasn’t such a pov), two minced cloves of garlic, about a tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary (that I grew myself!!), a pinch of crushed red pepper, and a few grinds of black pepper, and then let that saute until it was nice and fragrant. What can I say, I’m a mincing queen. HA! I kill me! Actually, Troy’s the mincing queen, but that’s another story.

Then I added a cup of low-sodium chicken broth the pan to deglaze it, and let that boil down to about a quarter-cup. Incidentally, I commend low-sodium broth to everyone, not out of some random concern for health (health is for weaklings), but because “regular” canned broth is so ass-puckeringly salty that you won’t really be able to add any salt to whatever you’re making.

So when that had cooked down, I added about an eighth-cup of balsamic vinegar and a couple of pinches of sugar, and then again let the sauce reduce to a glossy syrup. I briefly returned the chicken breasts to the pan to coat with the sauce, and then served them (to myself) with the now-deliciously-crusty roasted potatoes. Delicious! It got inserted directly in my eat-hole.

After that, it was time for dessert. Did I mention the chocolate mousse? Oh, I didn’t? Well, that brings me to another of my more recent favorite things: a little magazine called “Everyday Food”. It’s hardly new, but since I had only seen it on the same grocery-store-checkout-stand literature rack where one sees loathsome little booklets bearing titles like “Qwik-n-EZ Low-Carb Weeknight Crock-Pot Suppers”, I hadn’t ever read it. Or touched it.

Then one day, my assistant (who is constantly nattering on and on about his domestic life, “my boyfriend this” and “my boyfriend that”, etc.) mentioned that (surprise!) his boyfriend often prepared dinner with recipes from the “Everyday Food” section of the Martha Stewart website. Intrigued, I check it out, and low and behold, “Everyday Food” (in both it’s print and online incarnations) is indeed an Omnimedia production. Which makes it evil…but a different class of evil from the little cook-booklets that instruct bourgeois housefraus in the fine art of satisfying their lazy husbands and fat, hyperactive children with concoctions of ground beef and velveeta. So I subscribed, and I heart it in a big way.

The chocolate mousse recipe is from “Everyday Food” and it’s a snap. A creamy, luscious, chocolatey snap that fairly shrieks “EAT ME!”, demanding an immediate transfer from the cozy white ramekins to the acid-seared iron precincts of my belly.

Final random thought: “The Simple Life” is the most loathsome thing to ever arrive in my home via coaxial cable, and since my internet access is provided by the cable company, that’s saying something. “The Runway Project” is a close second. I can only surmise that these so-called “reality television” programs are where my fellow Americans have learned to behave like such coarse, inconsiderate, ignorant, selfish, loud-mouthed turds in public and without any shame whatsoever.

Someone posted a fairly thoughtful (if needlessly sneering) comment on my post about the Mohammed cartoon controversy, and I’ve been working on a reply to it. I’ll probably post it eventually, but don’t hold your breath. In the mean time, I will note that if you have a problem with sarcasm, hyperbole, or saying that people are being fucking babies, then you probably need to get your own blog or go read Ezra Klein or something. Sarcasm, hyperbole, and calling people fucking babies (while acting like a bunch of fucking babies ourselves) are pretty much the raisons d’etre of The Republic of Dogs. Well, that, and waging The Long War against those choads over at 3Bulls. And also making fun of Daily Kos. And…oh, fuck it, see above re: “acting like fucking babies ourselves”.
Oh, and Wednesday is The Mass of the Ides of March, which is an official federal holiday here in the Republic (on account of it being my birthday). You can find my Amazon.com wish list by clicking here. Just FYI.

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21 Responses to “Ephemera, Gastronomenonological and Technophallogocentrical.”

  1. Res Publica Says:

    PS, I have the “special event” settings turned on for my Amazon wish list, so for the 20 days (I think) before Christmas and my birthday, you can buy stuff from my wish-list without me knowing that you have done so. When I view the list, even item that have been purchased will be there. Only people trying to buy for me will know if something has already been purchased or not. Again, just FYI. 🙂

  2. almostinfamous Says:

    damn. if i had cooked a meal like that, i would be too satisfied to blog.

    PS: i wish i could put “many big wads of benjamins” in my wishlist.

  3. Res Publica Says:

    That’s what the “click to give” Amazon Honor System button in the sidebar is for. Please feel free to “Click” and “Give”, as the traditional culture of the Republic of Dogs dictates that cash is the most beloved of all imaginable gifts.

  4. Pinko Punko Says:

    Nice on the categories, cobag.

    Also, I look foward to seeing delightful pictures of food on tasteful square plates instead of commemorative patters from Mt. Trashmore.

  5. Pinko Punko Says:

    That’s three loathsomes and a choad. How dare you cast aspersions on PupH.

  6. Res Publica Says:

    The “loathesome” thing is totally out of control. I’ve been reading H.P. Lovecraft, I can’t help it. Tomorrow’s post will be “Pinko Punko: Gibbering Blasphemy from Beyond the Dead and Mindless Stars, or Just a Cobag?”

  7. Demogenes Aristophanes Says:

    I must say my taste buds have been given the best treat short of actual decomposing pork by this post. As soon as it stops snowing here in SF we’ll be attending to our garden … the lemon and kaffir lime trees are in desperate need of replanting. Thanks for the inspiration!

    I think you must be referring to my reply to your cartoons controversy post … I didn’t mean it to be sneering, so sorry about that. Just trying to engage – I guess I got all confused by the Lance Mannion interjection and lost sight of the overarching snark paradigm for a moment …

    L1nu5 T0rv41d5 43v4h!

  8. Res Publica Says:

    L1nu5 T0rv41d5 43v4h!

    ROTFLMAO that’s awesome.

    Speaking of pork, the chicken dish described above would be fantastic with slices of pork tenderloin beaten to death with a meat mallet.

    Feel free to send me some Kaffir lime leaves. 🙂

  9. mdhatter Says:

    your plates, and OS, are so square.

  10. midniter Says:

    So what’s this story about me mincing stuff? And you STILL haven’t told me where we’re taking you to stuff your pie-hole for your birthday.

  11. teh l4m3 Says:

    Winter abides. My cilantro is dead. I am in mourning.

    I shall console myself with chives and parsley.

  12. sirbarrett Says:

    From your wishlist I’d deduce that you’re a person who appreciates organization. Do you ever program much? There is nothing like fresh garden vegetables. I don’t know about the programs you were talking about but now you’re getting recommended to Geeky and Proud of it. I like how you post what thou wilt here. It is a good republik.

  13. Adorable Girlfriend Says:

    Great post, as usual.

  14. Pinko Punko Says:

    res- do you want some kaffir leaves? We got a tree on the porch- they keep forever in the freezer-

    I have some great/easy thai recipes for ya.

  15. res publica Says:

    If you are willing to send them, I would LOVE some kaffir leaves. South Texas isn’t a total backwater, and I can generally get lemongrass at the grocery store. Kaffir lime leaves are a different matter, however, and I can almost never find them.

  16. Res Publica Says:

    Sir Barrett: Thanks for your comment. Although I do a little programming, I’m not a capital-P Programmer, no. I am a sysadmin/systems engineer, and I have a major interest in how organizations manage their knowledge. I do a little consulting on the side, helping small and midsize organizations reap some of the benefits that larger organizations gain from their IT investments. I also fix computers. What can I say, I need to eat. However, you might get a better snapshot of my interests if you randomize my wish list, because I tend to go through phases where I’m looking for books on single subjects.

  17. Demogenes Aristophanes Says:

    Race to send res kaffir lime leaves! Zest from the skin is pretty handy too. And you can slice up kaffir limes and throw ’em in the bottom of urinals with ice as deodorizers like in Thailand.

    So many uses!

    Seriously, res, if you want to email me your address I can send you some leaves, though I’m sure PP will too … can’t have enough. Like he says, they keep great in the freezer … not so sure about the zest, but we can try. Oh, it’s dpoeter-at-earthlink-dot-net …

    Check out my wife’s website for Thai recipes here. She teaches Thai cooking in the Bay Area and I will plug her shamelessly (oh how I love you, mr. double entendre).

  18. Res Publica Says:

    Your wife teaches Thai cooking AND you’re going to send me leaves? Wow, I knew this blog would be good for something eventually! I’m emailing you my addy right this minute.

  19. Res Publica Says:

    Checking out the site now. Too bad she’s already married to you, as I would almost certainly “switch teams” for someone with a recipe for “Pork Salad”.

    Pork.

    Salad.

    I am in love and awe.

  20. Res Publica Says:

    Just FYI, the order of comments on this post is totally fucked. I was messing with the time settings on this here blog. Damn you straight to hell, WordPress!!

  21. Demogenes Aristophanes Says:

    Hey you messed with time! As a result, I’ll be sending you those kaffir lime leaves this week. You should be receiving them last Wednesday.

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