Sunday, March 3, 2013

Holy Shit it's Corned Beef Season

If you are like me, and I believe you are, there is nothing finer than corned beef. Except maybe pastrami. But considering what month we're in I think corned beef is the way to go. And I think you should corn your own beef because it is stupid easy and better than anything you can buy pre-corned.
Seriously. This is all you need. I've got 2 pounds of beef brisket, 1/4 cup kosher salt, and 2 tablespoons of corned beef spices.
Actually, it's only one tablespoon of corned beef spices and one tablespoon of pickling spices because I ran out of corned beef spice and know what? I don't think there's a damn difference. If there is I can't tell.
Now, we salt the living hell out of it. Seriously. A metric shittonne of salt. So much salt, it won't even stick. You'll have to stab the meat with a fork a few times and let it sit a few minutes so some juices escape so you can continue. Remember, we're salting to cure, not to season.
In fact, you will have to be creative when it comes time to apply the spices because they won't want to stick to all that salt. Sprinkle the spices all over, and I like to use the bag it will be living in for the next week to help make them stick to the meat and not to your hands. Just sprinkle down the side and rub the plastic up against the meat.

I swear I'm not trying to be vulgar.

It just comes naturally.
And ideally you have a ziptop bag to store this mess in but when fresh beef was first corned it was to preserve it and they didn't have ziptop bags either. This will leak, eventually, so I'm wrapping it up in cling wrap. Sidenote: If you buy festive red cling wrap for the holidays you will never, ever go through a whole roll before the new year.
See? How nicely wrapped your meaty present is. The next step is to keep pressure on the package while it cures. I have two big casserole dishes that I never use because there are only two people in this house and casseroles on the whole suck butt anyways so I won't miss them during the next 7 days.

Place the meat in the large dish, place the small dish on top, fill the small dish with some heavy condiments and keep everything perfectly straight and level. 

Perfectly straight and level.

Now, we wait. Let this cure for one week. If you can be bothered, turn it daily. If not, whatever. It will still be awesome. This is a good Sunday activity because it takes 5 minutes to prepare, you can do it drunk on brunch mimosas or your 9 AM Guinness, and next Sunday's dinner is not only figured out, but ready to dump in a crock pot and ignore for 8 hours.

See you next weekend. *hic*

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Don't ruin old books so you can sell shit on Etsy

Please, for the love of all that is sacred, don't cut up old books.

In the same way that you wouldn't pull a dinosaur bone from an exhibit, you wouldn't destroy a piece of history, would you? Because that's what you're doing when you cut up old books.

A book is a snapshot of where we were as a society. Once it's gone, it's gone. The people that wrote it die. The people that lived it die. The people that read it die. But a book? A book endures.

This book was published in 1967 and is a comprehensive guide to entertaining in the late '60s. Every single element of this book is of note, from the ingredients and their availability to the types of dishes and table settings, from the assumptions about living situations to involvement in your neighborhood. The brilliant Kodachrome photos, the kitschy illustrations. Every single thing about this book is worth treating with respect.

This book is also a snapshot of expected family roles in 1967. What your husband can do while the reader--a woman--is hostessing, what to do with the children during a get-together, how even the single gal can throw a party. Take a look at the page above: "Keep the menu light but make the most of it with the little flourishes so dear to the female heart." This innocuous little line was completely average when this book was printed. Yet today it would draw a storm of feminist outrage.

This is important.

Here is another gem from 1967. Every letter, illustration, photo...everything is noteworthy. Notice the smart sleeves and red nails of the female shopper. Look at the beautiful font on the signs. These pages even feel precious. Like a secret. Like something left behind.

Books are fragments of who we used to be as a society. It's all we have left.

Buy Photoshop Elements and learn to design your own works of art using these books as inspiration. Stop at the craft store and buy some illustration markers and develop your own, copyrightable handwriting and artwork. Please. Consider the fate of our society if everybody out there with a gung-ho Manifest Destiny delusion and an antiques store bought old, important books and cut them up without prejudice to paste onto some "vintage" item to sell on a website. Simply because these books aren't under glass doesn't mean you should feel no compunction about decimating them.

Our lives are temporary. When we're gone, we're gone. But for as long as the page endures, who we were survives.

Please think twice before you destroy a piece of history.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Favorite Breakfast

1. Find a good croissant.
2. Slice in half, fry the cut sides in a dry pan until they begin to brown. Remove to a waiting plate.
3. Add 6-8 slices of thin-cut ham to a hot pan. Move them around until they begin to release some moisture, about 2 minutes.
4. Lay 2 slices of Swiss cheese on top of the ham, cover, and turn off the heat.
5. When the cheese has melted, move the ham and melted cheese to your croissant. Close the croissant and cover with a lid to steam.
6. Pour some hot coffee, sticky and sweet with sugar and real cream.
7. Let the breakfasting commence. There will be much rejoicing.
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