Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Jules, I think, is his name, thinks all the other contestants on the show have been yahoos. I kind of have to vote for him now even though there's a woman chef. She's a food stylist. i don't have high hopes for her. I have high hopes for the guy who can butcher a whole pig.
Did you know you must use every ingredient in the basket in some way? Ted. He's full of old news.
But here we go: appetizer: Firm tofu, scotch, dragon fruit, and pickled herring.
"My heart sunk" says older gentleman. (Oh. Steven). That too is a cliche. Never a good sign. Isn't firm tofu scotch herring salad with some dragonfruit an option? Salad is the go to plate.
He doesn't like pickled herring. How is this possible? Ulli says (who seems kind of Scandinavian) claims that pickled herring is good for hangovers. She prefers tequila to scotch. When this disease is gone, I'll have to look forward to experimenting with the pick-me-up of the pickled herring. She's making salad. More surprise.
Jules name is actually Joe. He is making slaw. Slaw is another word for salad.
Chris Santos, who has made small plates big business, the judge, claims this is a TOUGH basket.
Amanda Freitag thinks that dragonfruit is the scary ingredient.
Old Boston versus NY story between Steven and the other guy. Name to be revealed later.
Steven loves scotch. I feel Ted should tell him that drinking the ingredient isn't the "using it" they had in mind.
Oh no an injury.
Am I waiting for blood?
Is Chopped the gladiator of Food TV?
Joel stuck his hand in the blender and nicked a finger. "The glove is full of blood," says Scott.
There's no blood in the blender? He told Ted, he got his finger out of their quick enough that there's no blood in his green blender sauce. This seems unlikely. The judges seem nervous.
Seared tofu with pickled herring topped with dragonfruit salad. Scott says the scotch doesn't mix. With the blood!
Ulli's trying to talk Chris into eating the dragonfruit rind.
Oh. My sick kid is happy and trying to type. I'm glad he's happy but I want to finally figure out this other guy in the glasses name at least. I have no idea what he made. Salad?
"Quickest 20 minutes of my life," says glasses Boston guy. Original.
They like Joel's tofu. I like tofu too.
Steven lacked texture.
Ulli cooked nothing. Raw. Isn't salad raw?
Jamie! That's his name. He made the flavor work.
Oh poor Ulli. I can tell. She's on the chopping block. Her uncooked salad, versus the salads with some heat applied, plus arguing with Chris about Dragonfruit rind, plus hiding the scotch from Scott plus being a woman equals please take your knives and go. Whoops. Wrong show. Still. Pack.
Surprise. Ulli is chopped for her unnuanced dish because she didn't develop the flavors. With heat. Remember future Chopped-goers. Cook the food.
Entree round: Sugar coated fennel seeds, violet mustard, rump roast, asparagus.
I could live on those fennel seeds. Pasta!
Steve: Seared roast with hollandaise.
Joel: Fennel & Panko Beef Milanese
Jamie: Pounded Viennese Steak. Or Vietnamese steak. I type too slowly and Max wants still to show off his moment of good-health with his clicking fingers.
By the way, Erik and I aren't sick yet. We had lamb chops with tarragon mustard, spinach and quinoa for dinner.
Joel, pounding his steak, is like a "Pitbull off his chain," according to Jamie. The metaphors of Chopped are replete with nuance. Unlike Ulli's dish.
Hollandaise sauce all over the pots Steve. And then he catches his napkin on fire. I'm not seduced.
Now Jamie says that "Joel is like a ping pong ball." Beware the mixed metaphor.
Jamie took the fat cap off of the roast to saute something in. Fat cap plus sauted something = I AM seduced.
Steven hasn't even opened the fennel seeds. Wouldn't you make a sauce--reduce them in some liquid to gather up the sugar and then let the fennel add the flavor? Then. Butter. Delicious fennel sauce. Erik and I are 100% into this pasta that uses the fennel bulb, fronds and fennel seed. Plus pancetta. It is our 2011 pasta. By July, we'll be sick of it but for now, I bought a pound of pancetta in L.A.
This violet mustard business is so Chopped. It's just mustard, people.
Steven's hollandaise sauce blows their minds: Butter slowly sweated garlic and shallots. Depth of flavor. But fennel seeds were just tossed on--especially Chris's whose were tossed on after time rang.
It is Vietnamese! Transported, says Amanda. But. Overcooked, tough meat and ugly plate. And overcooked asparagus. I'm thinking tossed fennel seeds might trump fennel seeds.
Scott is making fun of Joel. "Raw red onions. My favorite." Joel admits that after the first slicing of the meat with the breading that the breading became soggy but he just had to go with it. I think the judges like the admission of guilt. Blood and confession make them happiest. They're Catholic in their love.
The judges complain about blue meat but they don't mean it. They love it rawer.
Steven's metaphors are 100% baseball--one foot on home plate, if they send me home it won't be because I put up a bad pitch. Perhaps if he channeled the Ninja, he would catapult himself to the next level.
Joel is chopped. How is this possible? The soggy breading? The cutting of the meat? His inability to wax metaphorical?
Oooh. Extra slam from Amanda: Even though one of the contestants left an ingredient off, we still had to chop you. Double chopped. Like pork. That's how much you suck.
Ribiola Cheese, mission figs, Robiola Cheese, shelled pistachios and taco shells. (Two Robiola cheeses? Oh that's my bad typing.)
Steven: if you can't make a crust out of taco shells perhaps you should go give Joel his overcooked, tough beef back.
Napolean? I have to agree with Jamie. A napolean is the salad of dessert. Stack all the ingredients on top of each other. Jamie says it's a "culinary school short-cut." Now I know.
Carmel with pistachios equal a brittle. Delicious. And yet, Jamie. I can never follow what he's doing. Then Steven gets the blowtorch out
"Points deducted if you burn down the Chopped arena." Finally, they admit their coliseumloving ways.
Steven has forgotten about his pistachio brittle.
God. I really can't get behind either of these folks. Steven: forgetful. Jamie: forgettable.
Oh. Nice cut: Steven's face when he recognizes he forgot the brittle. I imagine Erik dreams of such authentic video-graphic moments.
Stuffed figs. Fun! Says Scott: "I love the way you think."
But Amanda, who also hates really hot peppers, does not like to work to pull the taffy off her plate. Chris says it's not sweet enough to qualify as dessert.
Steven forgot his pistachio brittle but he did put pistachio oil in the sauce which counts. And the napolean: the taco shell was soggy. When is a napolean not soggy? It's meant to sog.
There's a great deal of equivocation on the part of the judges but I'm not invested in either. Perhaps Max, who went to bed but got up again, should type.
Steven! No! Now I care. Steven had personality. I could remember his name. He loved baseball metaphors. Jamie and his mixed metaphors and his forgettable food.
I think I'm always a little sad at the end of Chopped. They only time I was happy was when Madison won Chopped Champions and his daughter came out into the "arena." Perhaps one day we'll have a kid's Chopped. If she were feeling better, she'd play right now. She'd kick 5 year old cooking but with her pumpkin bread making skills.
But, for now, she's giving me the look that says, mom, I wish you didn't poison me with the viruses. Make it better.
Well. At least I'll go make her bed.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
3 women and one man. Lauren is the danger with a ponytail. She only likes the duck skin. David's father has been making panini since the beginning of time, Mufungo is Ondrea'a's dish. She's not making you a cute little sandwich. She's making Mufungo. Gillie is cooking for her daughter with a very weird accent--super soft and calm. Usually a bad sign.
Zoe says, that's a lot of girls. If they all get chopped, well then, we'll know it's Chopped.
Eggplant, peking duck, biscuit dough, and gooseberries are the basket items.
Scott confirms Lauren's love of the skin. I think Lauren will make it past the first round. Ondrea'a's mean enough to win. She mimics the voice of the gooseberry, "hi, I'm a gooseberry." There's a resounding agreement that Ondre'a's annoying.
I'm worried about the calm Gillie. She can't open the biscuit dough. Her weird accent confirms she was not raised in the land of Pillsbury. She also says the gooseberries will peel themselves. I'm afraid the judges prefer their foods peeled.
As I expected:first complaint, unpeeled gooseberries. Gillie thinks fruit is about surprises. Judges don't like surprises. "Develop what these flavors are," suggests judge Scott. If those were pretzels, she would have been excoriated but because they were precious fruit, she got away with leaving them
Bald judge does not agree with the lack of duck flesh in Lauren's dish. Duck skin is not always enough.
Scott does not defend her. Scott is an ass, but perhaps not as big of an ass as bald judge.
David loves his children more than food. I believe the judges will show
Ondre'a is throwing down the relative-death, her sister. AFTER the judges were mean to her.
Gillie's lack of peeling the gooseberries is called pretentious. I thought the point of Chopped was pretension--along with, of course, taste, presentation, and creativity.
And, as suspected, Gillie was chopped. She threatened more surprises. I think the judges couldn't bear any more gooseberry-like surprises.
Banana leather, cornish hens, concord grapes and gruyere. Really. I give the first round a 2 in difficulty. This too seems so easy.
David thinks Ondre'a is his competition, probably because he heard her mocking his British accent.
On the bone, off the bone--this is the real question. Lauren says that it's too much of a risk that it won't get cooked through. Ondre'a argues she's the brave one, cooking the chicken on the bone. In a pot though--boiled chicken? Not so fancy.
Shallots, bacon and concord grapes would make a great sauce, says peanut gallery member, Scott.
Ondre'a trained at the Cordon Bleu and the James Beard Foundation. Sadly, as she tries to shove a cork down a bottle of wine, no one introduced her to a wine opener. I think I'm distinctly not rooting for mocking-lady.
Oh, but now Ondre'a's in trouble. She put the cooked chicken on the same cutting board she cut the chicken on. Judges show definite signs of concern. It reminds me of the time one chef dropped a slice of meat on the floor and then put it in the pan and served it to the judges. Like that doesn't happen in restaurants all the time.
Over a million people a year get salmonella poisoning from raw chicken. Then she throws the dead sister story out again! Bald judge (he has a name, I realize), takes Ondre'a over to the kitchen! This is unheard of. I've never seen a judge stand up, let alone go in the kitchen.
They're, of course, in love with the sauce. She put the gruyere directly into the shallot, bacon, grape juice. Genius.
Now David's chicken is raw and the juices ran out onto the polenta. The judges invite him to bring over the pans sans chicken. Surreal chopped.
Lauren pats herself on the back for using the breast of the chicken. They excoriate her for the lack of banana leather flavor. Banana flavoring is always something deeply missed.
Scott agrees with me. This is unheard of Chopped behavior.
This seems totally unfair. Ted argues that David tried to cook his food, he just didn't. Ondre'a's was a thoughtless mistake. I agree with Ted but the judges all thought her sauce was so out of this world that her egregious mistake is possibly more forgiveable. Taste trumps sanitation. Indeed. So why did they make such a big deal about it before. Enjoy your dinner. Suffer your food poisoning later.
They'll probably chop Lauren because her portion size was so small. Desert round can be double-dipped spoon versus double-dipped spoon.
So, whose dish is on the Chopping Block.
Raw-chicken-cutting-board is chopped. The condolences go out for her sister. But, for the first time I've seen, dead-relative does not trump inedible food.
Cheese Crackers, Cherimoya, Jordan Almonds, and Italian Orange Liqueur.
Cherimoya is a favorite Chopped ingredient because Ted gets to say this: "Please know that Cherimoya seeds can be harmful when eaten, so keep them out of your dishes. I'm sure the judges wouldn't want any else inedible in their dishes." Snap.
Lauren thinks she's going to win because he served raw meat but I don't think she realizes how deeply the judges take too-small portion size. Skinny, dancer lady.
Jordan Almonds. They eat them in Italy! I thought it was a Mormon wedding thing! Oh Chopped, will you never stop teaching me about the world?
I don't like them either Lauren.
What are cheese crackers? Cheeze-its? I don't like cheese crackers either but my go-to desert is margarita pie like my mom made with a pretzel-crust. Think of this: Cherimoya, orange liqueur and marscapone filling with a butter-cheeze-its crust. And chopped Jordan almonds. Very my mom and Mormon at the same time.
David's candying orange rinds in the orange liqueur. Ted is highly impressed.
I'm not sure I can go on with this Chopped blogging. It makes Chopped go so fast. It's almost over. Last commercial break. During the dessert round, there is no break before the chopped reveal.
Let's hope no one is poisoned this round.
Brown butter Cherimoya with yogurt and cheese cracker crisps. This is like a soup or a salad. Mix it all up and call it a dish.
Overall, they like the cheese crumble and brown butter. A lot.
David's Zeppole looks pretty amazing. "Strong recovery from the second round" but those Jordan almonds are just on the sides.
And then Almost-Iron-Chef judge got two seeds in her dish. I imagine that's the end of the road for our would-be judge-killer.
Scott disagrees with Almost-Iron-Chef when she says Lauren has been consistent with every dish: "I disagree. She's been inconsistent with every dish. She's gotten better dish by dish by dish." Slam, I-A-C.
And, judge-poisoner is chopped. I think they'll take him back and force feed him Cherimoya seeds. And raw chicken.
And a woman wins! This is the third time this week (in a week of about 5 reruns). I might have to revise my Chopped is so sexist opinion.
Also, I'm now getting ads to take courses at Austin's Le Cordon Bleu school. I was just thinking the other day about how much I missed school.
Now, I'm off to watch the new AMC show, The Killing. The Cylon Leo is the cop's boyfriend. Perhaps I watch too much TV.
Monday, April 18, 2011
I cannot wait to go to LA. I haven't been to California in like 7 years. Zoe has seen the Adriatic and the Ionian seas but never the Pacific. I think Max will like getting wet (btw, he's asleep now. 6-8 awake awake awake, 8-8:30, eye rubbing, 8:30 to now, sleep sleep sleep. Hence the lull and my ability to blog).
It is good to have a lull this morning though when I look over at my list for the day, grading lurks. Still, after last week, I'm surprised even Max could wake me up. It began last Wednesday (Wayne and Garth dreamhands appropriate now). I woke up before Max to respond to thesis and to respond to grad student poems. I printed out all comments and then packed Max up (who was by then awake. Truly, he woke up ten minutes after I did), took him to school, chaired the last Grad Studies Committee meeting, advised students in the advising center about their degree progress, the lack of graduate literature courses, the prospect of thesis, essays for the end of the semester and other pending apocalypse(s)), met with thesis student, found out in the middle of thesis student meeting (I had to be online to read her electronically sent thesis) that the changes to the creative writing degree plan were due in ten minutes (emailed said changes while student patiently waited), wrapped up thesis meeting, picked up Max, picked up Zoe, filled out AWP book fair contract, helped get an AWP panel together, wrote my 500 words (I try to write 500 words a day. I delete about 250 of those words the next day), made dinner (oven fried chicken and mashed potatoes), cleaned the house, with Erik, including mopping, in time for Erik's parents' arrival.
The next day, finished cleaning in the morning, went running, took Max to school early so Erik and I could film customers/shareholders at the CSA. Erik and I are making a short film promoting the CSA on the off-chance we can win a full share. Erik's an amazing shooter and editor. I think we have a shot although I think the whole thing should be longer. He edits too well, possibly. A problem we do not share. Then, taught poetry class--not particularly well because the interviewing of the people and the unloading of the farm truck made me weirdly exhausted--and then met everyone for pizza.
On Friday, Erik got a call from a Phoenix television station about a potential bomb threat and could he go shoot some footage. He ran off to Cedar Street to film the suspicious package that had been delivered to a state senator. My writing day, mostly canceled (really, not the tragedy I made it out to be), turned into crazy how-can-Erik-download-a-1 gigabyte-file (answer, at the University, not from home). Fortunately, the package was not a bomb but rather a birthday cake. Fortunately, the downloading the 1 gb file worked and fortunately, Erik was with me at school to help me set up for the alumni reading that night.
Amazing alumni! It was an awesome reading that, miraculously, did not go wrong. I had planned for exactly enough chairs--every seat but two were taken. There was enough food--although there is no need, catering services, to slice yellow squash and call it part of an antipasta platter. Still, the food was fine and the caterers helpful and my students helped stack chairs after the reading. Then, the alumni went to the Northern Arizona Book Festival dinner at the Greek Taverna. Distressingly, the Flagstaff Tea Party's party adjoined ours. Our host was outraged. No one had told her about competing parties, especially the tea party kind. She was so mad. I love her most of all now. I wanted to make signs that read "Raise my Taxes" to combat their "No More Taxes' signs. As they were all huffing oxygen, probably paid for by taxes, it was lucky there wasn't a brawl. I took comfort in the fact that there were 50 book-lovers and only 20 tea-partiers. Go books.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
But, this is a re-run anyway and definitely one I've seen. I can tell by the dreadlocks of the one chef and the way Ted over exclaims "And chef, Sammy Davis Jr."
There are two women which means no women will win. If there was one women, she too wouldn't win. I believe the women are subject to a different standard than the men. Over time, I think this will be made clear.
Tamarind Soda, Cocktail Nuts, Haricot Vert and Goat Brains!
Goat Brains! Here's something we all know. You must pre-soak brains in milk. Or, I'd like to think we all know that.
Spring salad and spice nut crusted goat brains.
"I think they're really delicious." This woman chef, Alejandra, is going to cook them in vinegar to "Get the funk out." Vinegar makes it seem like you're going to set that funk in but I know little about the ways of funk and brains.
Aaron, Jeffrey (sometimes spelled Geoffrey) are the judges.
She of the vinegar and brains, Alejandra, seems to know about tamarind soda. She is a woman of the world. And yet this will not save her.
We have a contestant whose mom was on drugs and lived on the street. This might save him. The judges are susceptible to hard-luck stories. Dead parents and single-parent status gets them. Cancer and heart attacks too. I've never seen a woman on here who came back from either a heart attack or cancer. Perhaps they should eat more bacon.
Colin has the dreads has revised his haricot vert puree. Now, there will just be haricot vert. Revision. Always a good thing. "I should have listened to my wife and be more simple," says Colin. He barely gets anything on his plate. There's a reason to listen to your wife.
Salad lady, Samantha, made a salad. Salad is the easy thing to call: throw everything on a plate and call it a dish. Jeffrey gets raw brains. Not good news for Samantha.
Colin, man who failed to listen to his wife, fails to get the sauce on the dish. Smackdown by the judges. "We always say this: get out of your head and put your heart on the plate and you can never go wrong." Until you put your heart on the plate and don't think about what you're doing. The judges flip head for heart back and forth like they're stir frying goat brains.
Alejandra--the funk was removed but the complaint: too much vinegar. What do the judges prefer funk or vinegar? I say vinegar but perhaps funk is the way of the goat.
Commercial break indicated by Ted's ominously hovering hand.
I'm off, during the break, to find out what they call plate toppers.
OK. I'm back. No luck on the plate toppers. Distracted by Facebook.
But no. Is it possible? Colin! His funny goodbye line: It's ironic that a brain beat my brain.
Cream of coconut, baby turnips, wakame seaweed, and fish heads.
Hello. Soup. Isn't this like the Greek Avagolemono Soup? Or, Tom Gha Kai?
Samantha is near tears and threatening to give up. The editing here--they give it away. She will give up.
Sammy Davis Jr. just said, you're probably dead but I wouldn't be here if not for you. Again, this narrative will trump his overcooked his lack of experience of fish heads.
Alejandra has no fear. She's cooking up those fish heads like they were as elegant as crab.
Sammy Davis Jr. hates turnips. He was forced to eat them when there was no other food. But turnips are so delicious. But, I got to choose to eat them.
Flesh is being render from fish heads. Samantha's going for spices. I believe the judges will frown upon her relying on spices twice in row. Sammy Davis Jr. is frying his fish. He fried his goat brains. Range, Sammy Davis. Think range. Also Siracha is a known chopper. But that would leave us with two women, which is unheard of.
Alejandra has made ANOTHER salad. This seems egregious but the judges seem to like it. Except Jeffrey who can find a fish bone in a chicken.
As I suspected. Jeffrey thinks the Siracha is too hot. Aaron, who is MexiCAN (see Chopped All-Stars where Aaron calls himself a MexiCAN and his competitor a MexiCAN't), loves the heat.
Now they're saying nice things to Samantha. Scott, who never approves of the cooking of the pasta, likes the cooking of the pasta. The seafood and cheese MYTH is being trotted out again by the judges. I believe Scott when he says the parm might have over-powered the cod but it's such a knee-jerk response. Cumin and nutmeg. That seems like something to complain about.
Commercial break: Plate covers is what they're called. Boring.
Samantha is Chopped. No surprise there. She got "beat by the ingredients." Um. Yeah. That's the name of the game.
So. Sammy Davis Jr. with hard-luck story versus Alejandra the woman. If history of chopped is any indication, Sammy Davis Jr. has this hands down.
Peanut brittle, marsala wine, wonton wrappers, and Durian.
Ander and Megan were the first to describe to me the horror of Durian. They sad it smelled like rotting flesh. Ted Allen agrees. Alejandra tries a bite. She's trying to like it. To respect other cultures but comes up with: "Tastes like when a baby eats spaghetti and pineapple and then throws it up."
My go to thought for dessert is "cobbler." I would be chopped. French toast is a favorite.
Sammy Davis Jr. is trying to bury this durian which might be good but the judges also might argue that he buried the durian fruit. But Sammy says a nice thing. "She's not the enemy. The war is this basket." This good attitude might be his undoing.
Final desserts look kind of similar. Alejandra: Durian fritters with marsala custard. Sammy: Durian Wonton with marsala sauce. Sammy Davis Jr. is in trouble for frying all three dishes. Aaron jumps in to make Scott stop haranguing Sammy but then Jeffrey must complain about the oversweetness.
Jeffrey thinks the durian is under-muted. But he thought Sammy's was overly sweet (overly muted). You cannot win with Jeffrey. I'm pretty sure he abstains when voting since he's never eaten anything he's liked.
So, my read is that Alejandra's dish was good although there was harping on the fish bones. Jeffrey has retracted his too spicy comment. Scott reasserts his complaint about the three fried things.
By bet: Woman, who had only two mistakes but whose flavors were delightful, will be chopped.
But, Sammy Davis Jr. says Ted, you have been chopped. A total upset. And he's totally upset. He said nothing when asked and just ducked when Ted tried to shake his head. But the moment Sammy said, it's not her that is my competition, it's the basket, I suspected he would be the one to go.
Many tears on Alejandra's part. Much commendation to Alejandra on the part of the judges for knowing how to using all parts and leftovers as food. That is, I think, the underlying premise for Chopped. Even if the women never (rarely) win, and even if assholes tend to prevail, the assignment is a good one. Adapt to bad circumstances and don't excuse your bad behavior when the judges complain that the durian tastes remarkably like durian.
Saturday, April 09, 2011
Sunday, April 03, 2011
In the Woods behind my House
We like going to look for owls in the trees.
We go after dinner and when it is dark.
The pine needles all around and the bark
Is thick in front of our eyes. My mom teases
Me about the owls going in our house
But I know where the owls really live.
They live in branches and give
Us presents of pellets of squirrel and mouse.
I love my owls because they fly
At nighttime even though I can’t see
Them. I keep a rock with me
In my pocket because although I try
To leave the ground, I’m more like the rock
Than an owl and I stay here on my walk.