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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, May 28, 2006

So what is everyone doing this holiday weekend?

My first task this weekend--break these bad boys in

Hello, all! Jen here.

Apologies for not posting/commenting more, but my work life has been like a slow-motion riot in a crowded white-collar asylum for the past few months, and most nights after work I'm trying to either a) keep what social life I have still alive to some extent b) do necessary things, like buy more toilet paper and pay bills, c) hit the gym or d) go to bed at 8 PM and sleep in the same position all night out of bone-crumbling exhaustion.

The irony is that for the first Memorial Day Weekend in about 5 years, I don't have some kind of Huge BBQ Party Thingie to go to. Gilly is getting ready for a family event in Boston, another close pal is home with his sister who just got home from the UK, and my other friends with jobs are pretty much doing what I'm doing--going face-down to rest and get shit around the place done. Even my Mom isn't doing anything at the house and is actually for once going to someone else's party. The ironic part is that this isn't the first Memorial Day in ages that hasn't had shitty, cold weather.

(Note for our non-US readers: Memorial Day is a holiday that always falls on a Monday. Ostensibly it is to honor the members of the US Armed Forces. Over the years it has become the official Start of Summer in the US, and is traditionally celebrated by barbeques, picnics, etc).

So, what is radical, super-exciting Jen doing this weekend?

Well, I rushed home Friday night after banging back 2 mudslides a the Continental to watch Get Color on HGTV. This was because I was exhausted from schlepping a new pair of sneakers and my new Doc Martens around town, in the damp, running chores after work. The Docs are for my upcoming summer vacation; the sneaks are because the last pair I bought for "just walking around" (as opposed to the gym--a lot of US gyms have "indoor sneaker only" policies) was something like 6 years ago, and the arches on my one street pair had totally collapsed. Yes, I got the sneaks in the funky pink and green shown. I woulda gotten New Balance, but my gym sneaks are those, and I have to say while they have the very best fit, they are ugly to the point of bordering on a wearble medical device.

But I digress.

When I got home, I collapsed in front of the TV after running to my bodega for milk--I have not set foot in a supermarket for almost 2 weeks, and was eating the nasty ends of whatever I had left in the fridge (and was too tired after work most nights to even think about opening the freezer, which by contrast, is full).

I had also managed to hit the drug store for silicon sneaker spray, Motrin, and other feminine supplies. So, after Get Color, I sprayed my sneakers, treated my Docs with Wet-Pruf, and collapsed into bed after the news.

Today all I did was sleep, get up and pee from time to time as the kids next door woke me up, highlighted my hair (need to get it cut but couldn't deal with it Friday--will do next week), and then...launched into Grocery Shopping. Hit my local greengrocer, got some sliced dried salami from Mike's Pork Shop, and dropped stuff off at home. Had a dinch (dinner/lunch) of fresh, raw veggies, a kaiser roll with a tad of olive oil on it, and some sliced sweet and hot salamis.

Then I watched the news and went back out to do my REAL grocery shopping, even though I was tired again, because I had one roll of toilet paper yet and was out of essentials like, oh, bread, cheese, canned tuna, and so on.

Got in around 9. Was going to go back out to some hotspot in LIC, but then I realized that a) it was hot b) I was tired and had been c) breaking in boots as hard as new body armor to do multiple staircase runs and chores around the 'hood, and my feet needed a break.

Tomorrow, I am due to go have dins with a good friend, whose dad was just diagnosed with cancer. I may go out later that night, or I may just flop.

At some point, I also have to go Shopping for Summer Staples like a few fresh layering T's to wear under a blazer at the office, as well as cheap shorts that fit. And, I have to Try On Stuff to see what Fits for a big fancy dinner that I am doing with family on Tuesday. I also have to try to call a bunch of folks overseas now that I finally remembered to get an STI Phone Card at my local bodega.

Yeah, I am the picture of decadant urban living. Woo Hoo. Exciting me. I may try to clear another level of 25 to Life or Black, or put in Brokeback Mountain or one of the Aeon Flux on episodes.

But enough about me.

What's everyone else doing this weekend?

posted by Jenonymous @ 7:41:00 PM

7:41:00 PM

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Spice Rub, Part II

These make everything taste better

Jen here. Gilly was sick yesterday, and he's bushed today, so I took over the duty of making spice rub for the BBQ that we're going to tomorrow. This was a first effort, but I think it came out pretty good. I have two almost-full little supermarket spice jars full of the fruits of my effort--Gilly is getting one tomorrow, and I will probably use up the other one at the BBQ, so I wanted to write this all down before I forgot what I put in.

Herewith I present to you a very loosely-written recipe for what I shall call:

South by Southeast Spice Rub

Black peppercorns (whole)
Black cardamom pods
Green cardamom pods
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Cumin seed

Whole fennell seed
Coriander seed
Whole fenugreek
Caraway seed
Sweet paprika
Hot paprika
Chipolte peppers (whole)
Pequin peppers (whole, dried)
Espresso or dark roasted coffee beans (whole)
Sumac powder

To start: Make sure you have a good large spice grinder or small food processor. I have one of those Cuisinart mini-countertop things that only has two speeds (chop and grind) and a very strong engine. Or you can use a blender; just make sure you don’t burn the motor out.

This makes about a cup and a quarter of rub.

Start by throwing in several whole black cardamom pods and many green cardamom pods—again use the whole pod. Also put in at least a big palmfull of whole black peppercorn. Throw in three or four whole dried chipotles. Then also throw in at least six or seven tiny dried pequin peppers (the really tiny, really hot ones). Now pulse/grind until it’s a coarse powder. At this point you add the Secret Ingredient—about 5 whole espresso beans. Grind again Now put in the seeds—the whole caraway, cumin, coriander, fennell, and fenugreek. Once everything is ground, put in a good deal of garlic powder, and less but still a good amount of onion powder. Again, grind. Now put in sweet and hot paprikas (I use the Szeged stuff from Hungary) and the sumac powder—at least a teaspoon of each paprika and a tablespoon or so of sumac. Grind again. Add at least a palmful of salt and pulse/grind in intervals until you have a decent coarse powder. Taste with a damp fingertip and correct accordingly.

Put into very dry storage jars of some sort—I had two leftover ones from when Gilly made me spice rub. I also have an empty cumin jar which I can use.

Use on everything that would need a spice rub or seasoning powder. On the hot side and very aromatic, but this could be adjusted by laying off the pequins and some of the hot paprika, but then that would make this recipe something else. I suppose you could toast the spices first but I wanted to keep it simple.

Think of this as a jumping-off point; try your own variations and have fun.

NOTE RE spice sourcing: Unfortunatley, I can't recommend anything other than mail order if you can't get these things locally. I am very fortunate to have a huge Mexican community and a huge Egyptian community within walking distance of my apartment. I got most of the spices except for the chipoltes at the Egyptian market; the cardamoms came from an Indian deli. All were purchased from places that had brisk business and refreshed stock frequently.

NOTE #2 forgot the fennell seed in the first post ten minutes ago. Correct your records accordingly!



I just tried this on a shell steak, which I panfried in a cast-iron pan with a bit of goose fat for the fat.


This is definitley a rub/spice mix for things that you are going to cook--its character was totally changed by the flame. It has heat, but also a deep resonance to it. I bet this would be amazing on lamb and especially game. Ditto for strong-flavored fish. I also dipped bread in the pan drippings and from what I tasted, it would be great with a roasted garlic spread or other roasted veggies. I am dying to try this on oven-roasted potato slices or gratins.

Ok, I know people have been waiting for this, but I've been relaxing all day.

First, when I met Jen, she handed me a bottle of the spice rub. As we sat down , waiting for our ride, she shoved her container under my nose and it was incredible, it had such a nice aromatic smell. She had marinated the steaks in the rub for a couple of hours. And was as excited as a 10 year old going to a baseball game about it.

For some reason, I wore my Carlos Beltran Mets shirt, well the reason was that Jen had never been to a place with someone who would wear a sports T-shirt of such loudness.

When we got to the barbeque, we were hoping we didn't bring too much food. Our tendancy is, since we rarely have the chance to cook for others, to overdue things. So we brought steak, as mentioned, greek sweet sausage, turkey kielbasa, pineapple and pears, as well as greek pastries and my garlic butter with red peppers.

Our hosts had planned turkey burgers, hot dogs (which we never got around to) , smoked salmon, salmon burgers, chicken, along with artichoke hearts and marinated mushrooms, tortellini salad and bread. Costco is an amazing place, they said.

I also brought a bottle of shiraz and a reisling, as well as a six pack of Brooklyn Pennant Ale. Jen brought a magnum of red.

I've liked reislings since college. They're perfect for things like grilled meats and pizza. Now, given my druthers we would have had beer and more beer, using Garrett Oliver as a guide. But when you attend parties with adults, wine is essential. You can't just offer up a pint of Newcastle and say be happy. And I like to leave the Jack and Coke at home when kids are around.

Normally, I have dim hopes for turkey burgers , but these were amazing. I ate mine as I made the garlic toast in the broiler. The grill was busy. So Jen had brought fresh bread and I sliced it thin and spread my garlic butter mix on it.

I used a container of whipped butter, roasted some peeled garlic, a whole head might be easier, and marinated red peppers. When grilled, the red peppers stood out against the toast. I only toasted one side to make the bread kinda warm and chewy.

We then got to the sausages. Jen, when cooking, can be a force of nature. She tends to like to cook. I think she would pout if there was an open flame and she had no part in it. But then, she told me she used to grill at her mother's place. I grew up in a Manhattan apartment. The kielbasa, Hillshire Farms, grilled up nice. So did the Greek sausage.

Her spice rub was amazing on the quickly cooked steaks. It was spicy without being too hot. It was a wonderful mix for the chicken and beef without being overwhelming or one note. We also grilled peppers and vidalia onions which were incredibly sweet when cooked.

Other people brought other things, like artisinal cheese and this potent brew called fire water, which reminded me of college, mostly for the Everclear (commercial grain alcohol) and citrus. Not the kind of thing to drink too much of. The last time I encountered a everclear-based drink I woke up at10 AM at my friends fraternity. I remember parts of getting there. Parts.

We had all manner of desserts. Greek pasteries , panettone (which makes a great French Toast), a marvelous home made strawberry shortcake, with fresh shortbread, fresh strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

Jen and I had planned on grilled fruit. In mid summer we like grilled peaches, but we did grilled pears and pineapples. I had planned on using port, but instead I made a bourbon syrup with vanilla, apple juice and cinnamon in a simple syrup. Oh my god, what a nice fragrant flavor and smell. They were an incredible hit.

Finally, we went home, full and tired.

The best thing about it was the simple nature of what we had cooked. Making a simple syrup is easy enough, boil water and sugar. Just wait until the fire is off to add alcohol. Then cook it off. Bourbon works especially well with sugar.

posted by Jenonymous @ 4:23:00 PM

4:23:00 PM

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