Weekly Links

My humblebrag excuse for 2013

Thanks for saying it, W. Somerset Maugham. And thanks for posting it, thisisnthappiness.com.


Nigella’s Clementine Cake — For my family’s Christmas dinner dessert, I needed a dessert that was gluten-free (for me), dairy-free (for seester), chocolate-free (for dad), and relatively low-carb (for mom). I used a couple of tangelos instead of the clementines — we’re not Rockefellers, jeez! — but it still worked perfectly and was dead easy.

Cranberry Cake with Warm Butter Glaze — I haven’t gotten around to making this yet because I can’t stop saying “Warm butter glaze. Warm. Butter. Glaze.” over and over in my head.

Pimento Cheese Twice-Baked Potatoes — Sorry, no link because I made it up, but they were awesome with a pressure-cooked mushroom-garlic gravy pork roast and sexy broccoli.

Food for Thought

Shipment of 18 human heads found at Chicago’s O’Hare airport — If I were the Customs agent bureaucrat who intercepted this shipment, it would have been the best day of my life. The next day, I would retire, because I know I would never be able to top this. NEVER.

Suds for Drugs — Speaking of weird news, I’d seen mentions of Tide thefts in the local media. This piece helped explain why.

The Right to Die is the Right to Live — I’m starting to really appreciate some of Vice’s profiles of people who are sick (see also “Zak Loves Mandy,” from a few months ago). Coverage with no trace of treacle and no flinching from the weird shit that is being human and sick.

The Truth about Phones on Airplanes — This struck a chord because I’ve had cause/obligation to fly…4 times?…in the last year or two, after a blissful 10-year hiatus.

I find it infuriating that I have to turn off my electronic distraction exactly when I need it most. And especially after receiving the full TSA treatment last month, wherein the TSA agent, during my patdown, felt the need to comment on my “heavy-duty” bra and then to opine that [my] big boobs are a “good thing” and make for the most pleasant overall body shape.

But it’s the weekend!

Happy time. It’s sunny here for the first time in a week or two, and my flu is over.

Pinned Image
I don’t care if they’re venomous freaks of nature. They could be MY venomous freaks of nature.

What have you found this week that was worth keeping?

Link us up.

Recipe: No-pickle Potato Salad

Growing up, I was never passionate about potato salad.

But a few years ago, I ate this superior version, and I suddenly knew why all the others were undesireable: pickle relish.

I love pickles and anything pickled.

Did I bring a laughably large bowl of giardiniera to a friend’s baby shower? Yep.

Do I periodically make wurstsalat and eat it until it’s gone?  Ja.

But apparently, I just don’t like pickles in potato salad, and I was 30 years old before I had a version without them.

This potato salad, from a dear friend’s collection, is just about perfection, and there’s not a pickle in sight. The secret is red potatoes — they’re creamier than russets and not mealy, either. The radishes are an unusual touch, but they fit right in and don’t upstage anything else.

Can you guess what I’m bringing on Thanksgiving? I will take a picture then and add it here.

No-pickle Potato Salad

For the dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon mustard (may double to suit taste)
0.5 teaspoon celery seed
dash pepper

For the salad:
4 cups (about 2 pounds) diced cooked red potatoes
4 eggs, boiled and chopped
1.5 cups diced celery
0.5 cup sliced green onions
0.5 cup radishes, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

In a large bowl, stir together dressing ingredients (mayonnaise through pepper). Add the remaining salad ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve. Yields 8-10 side servings or 4 main dish servings. Don’t judge — it’s that good.

Some things I bookmarked this week #4

  • This column will change your life: consumer options |  The Guardian – “Might it not make sense, then, to comparison-proof your own life? This is one good argument for pursuing a long-held eccentric career ambition over something more conventional: if nobody else you know is a gherkin wholesaler, or a goat farmer, you’re much less likely to feel gnawed by the sense of not measuring up.”

KK is addicted to these green tomato pickles, but they’re tough to track down locally and cost about $7 a jar. I’m hoping I can use this recipe to make some smaller batches of our own. (I also got 4 books from the library on canning and preserving.)

What have you found this week that was worth keeping?

Recipe: Fast and Slow Chicken Soup

I’m tempted to call this Chicken Stoup instead, a la Rachel Ray. She’s not my favorite, but I DO love a good portmonteau.

Damp and cool, this rainy fall day. The rain overnight left the sky completely drained of color when we woke up this morning. I felt exsanguinated and uninspired to match. This demanded a soup infusion STAT, before I just caved and went back to bed.

I’d made an overnight slow cooker stock Sunday using a gifted turkey breast carcass from a dear friend’s birthday dinner (genius theme: Early Thanksgiving). And this time, I remembered to leave on the yellow onion skins and was rewarded with 2+ quarts of pretty, golden broth. Fragrant, too, thanks to the parsley stems.

That was the Slow part.

I’d bought bone-in chicken breasts this week, since they were on sale, but I knew the white meat wouldn’t hold up to a poaching and a souping without getting stringy and tough. So I pulled out the pressure cooker, checked Lorna Sass‘ recommendation for timing, and fired it up. A mere 7 minutes of cooking, I had two perfectly moist and tender breasts ready to be boned, chopped, and added to the soup.

That was the Fast part.

The rest of the soup involved cleaning out the crisper and using up odds and ends. That was the Soup part. (Soup art?)


Fast and Slow Chicken Soup

Yields enough for 6-8 servings

In a large stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and add

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1/2 each of a yellow and green bell pepper that you found sliced and frozen in the fridge from the last time you made hummus (when WAS that?!)
  • 8oz package of sliced mushrooms

While those begin to soften, clean, stem, and chop a bunch of kale into postage stamp-sized pieces. Peel and dice a sweet potato. Dice a medium tomato. Add them all to the stock pot and give it a stir.

Season with any or all of the following:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • Italian seasoning (I like the McCormick’s grinder one the best, and they go on sale all the time)
  • Slap Ya Mama seasoning (my Electra-complex season salt of the year)
  • spoon of chopped garlic from a jar, or 2 fresh cloves, pressed

Stir it all again and add 2 quarts of stock. Slap a lid on and bring it to a boil.

Once it’s boiling, add 1/2 cup of rice and 2 cups of cooked chopped chicken breast. Turn the heat down to simmer for 15 minutes, then turn it off and wait for someone to say they’re hungry.