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Monthly Archives: February 2013

I can’t be doing with fiddly recipes. No one should have to to measure out 5/16th of a cup of flour. I don’t need that in my life. I will mix dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls WHEN I’M DEAD. Also, six tablespoons of water? Seriously? Dude, make that shit a fourth of a cup or whatever. Anything over four and you need to move up a unit, because some of us have shit to do.*

(*Some of us are constipated, and we need to make up for that lost time in the kitchen.)

And while I’m on the subject, let’s talk about proportional recipes. I have a great recipe for marmalade. This recipe is like a brother to me. It works if I have two oranges. It works if I have ten limes. Presumably it works if I have a bucket of imported yuzu, but I haven’t had a chance to check. (Readers are encouraged to send in buckets of yuzu.) It works because it doesn’t fuck around with measurements, it just tells you what you need to know, because it respects your time. “Add enough water to cover the fruit,” it says. “Add equal parts sugar and water.” That is a good recipe. And when is it done? WHEN IT’S JELLY. That’s fucking genius.

No one will ever have just the right amount of leftover rice for a rice pudding. Ever. Cooking more rice specifically for a recipe designed for use with leftover rice is an amateur move of the worst kind. And if you have too much rice, you have leftovers FROM YOUR LEFTOVERS, which is basically the dumbest thing ever. So spare me your “two cups of cooked rice,” recipe writers. How about I cover some rice with some milk and cream, toss in some rosewater and a couple spoons of sugar, and boil the shit out of that baby?

BOOM

Get in mah belleh!

BOOM.

You can measure all you want, haters, but only one of us is eating rice pudding tonight.

BONUS RECIPE: Sei’s Slammin’ Marmalade

(Makes 2 servings, if you divide it in half.)

1. Get some citrus fruit. Could be any kind: what you have on hand, what’s on sale, what you got in that citrus box you ended up buying from the elementary school kids next door because you’re a sucker. Anything. I like limes, but you might not be as refined as me.

2. Slice those babies reeeeeaaaaally thin. I chunk them up, take out the seeds (important!) and then put them through my food processor with the slicer blade on. Makes a lovely thin-cut marmalade. You can do it by hand, but only if you hate your own fingers.

Some people remove the pith (the bitter white part) from the rind (the colored part), then add pectin separately, or soak the pith in a mesh bag for a short time to make the marmalade gel. But we’re not going to do that for two reasons. One: we’re not pussies; we can handle full-strength marmalade (the way God intended it). And two: as previously discussed, we don’t have time for that shit.

3. Put the fruit in a pot and just barely cover it with water. Keep track of how many cups of water you add, because you will add an equal amount of sugar. I usually add it along with the water, but most of the recipes I’ve read add it after everything is boiled for a while. Don’t know that it makes a difference.

4. Simmer the heck out of them.

Your marmalade is done when a blob on a plate cools to a nice, jelly-like consistency. Try to go for a little underdone; overcooked marmalade can get a little tough.

Now nom that shit down!

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I make a lot of things myself, because I’m crafty, I’m bored, and I’m cheap. (Seriously cheap. You’re not getting anything for your birthday.) I make my own bar soap, bread, laundry detergent, knitwear, I grow my own vegetables, and I raise my own eggs. Which would make me a self-satisfied hipster, except I’m also lazy, so it leads to a situation in which I learn to make something, and then I no longer have it in the house. I can make my own bread, but that’s hard, so I should buy bread at the store, except PUT IT DOWN, I COULD MAKE THAT CHEAPER AT HOME. This is why I don’t own any knitted sweaters. It’s a vicious cycle.

NonBread

My homemade bread. Yum!

So today I’ll be teaching you how to never have dish soap.

It’s not hard to find recipes for cleaning supplies on the internet. Deodorant, detergent, soap, facial scrubs, shampoo, toilet bowl cleaners… you name it, it can be made with baking soda. There’s an entire world of bloggers who have dedicated their lives to green living tips and homemade cleaning products, although if you’re not one of those people who thinks vinegar cures everything from tile scum to cancer you might not have heard of them. (Mostly these people seem to be middle class, stay-at-home moms, with children in Montessori schools and the sort of expensive hybrid cars that make saving a few bucks on soap seem silly, but hey, no judgment. You do you.) Ideologically, I’m not the greenest, but homemade cleaning supplies tend to be cheap as all get out, so I spend a lot of time on these blogs. During my winter unemployment (Or do I mean “WIN-PLOYMENT”!? Positivity!) I’ve spent quite a bit of time testing some basic recipes, and I’ll be sharing the results with you as they come in. Some of them rock, some of them do jack, and some of them make you smell like a pickle, so hopefully I’ll be able to tap into the historically undervalued pickle fetishist market.

Here’s the simplest liquid soap recipe I could find:

1 gallon of water
2 tablespoons liquid glycerine (found in the first aid section of your local pharmacy)
8 ounces of bar soap

Soap GratingGrate your soap. Throw everything into a pot and melt on low heat. Let cool. Blend until smooth.

Most of the blogs recommend using something like Meyer’s or Dr. Bronner’s; the kind of soaps you find in co-ops and organic aisles. The focus of these blogs is making “all natural” cleaning supplies, with “no chemicals,” so naturally if that’s your goal you’ll be using a swanky soap. These soaps ARE cheaper if you convert from bar to liquid, and if you’re a real soap snob then be my guest, but for me it seems like a bit of a waste. I recommend just using the cheapest bar soap you can find, and I’ll tell you why in a minute. I like Ivory, myself.

NSFW

I would like to be delicate about the following information, so pay close attention.

Most of the blogs mentioned that the main downside of this homemade soap is that it has the consistency of mucus. “Snot-like,” I think was the term. When the soap cools it will be quite solid, like gelatin, and the blender will smooth it out. I did not use a blender, the first time I made this soap. To use the blender I would have had to get it out of the cupboard, and I don’t have time for that. So I whacked the soap with a wooden spoon until it was more or less liquid. And it did not look like mucus.

It was chunky, and slimy, and whitish. It looked like a bodily fluid alright, but that fluid would not be coming out of your nose unless you did something VERY WRONG. I really hope you get what I’m implying.

(I’m implying it looks like sperm. I SAID IT WAS NSFW.)

Ew

Oh. My. God.

This is basically the most disgusting soap I have ever encountered. Naturally, I find it absolutely hilarious. I use it for everything. I keep extra soap in a gallon milk jug, carefully labeled so no one tries to pour it onto their cornflakes. (Although that would also be hilarious.) I use it for washing dishes, and scrubbing counters, and generally everything one would use dish soap for. I also use it for cleaning the tub, in a system I call The Sei Shonagon Patent Paint-On Tub Scrubber.

The Sei Shonagon Patent Paint-On Tub Scrubber

I discovered this system by accident, one night when I tried to wash the dog and the boiler pilot light blew out. I plopped some soap into the tub and ran a bath, which ran colder and colder until it was obvious the hot water was nixed. While I was fussing with the boiler I forgot to drain the tub, so as the water gradually dribbled out, the undissolved boogers of soap settled on the bottom, where they sat all night. The next day when I ran the shower I noticed something interesting: where the soap blobs had sat, the tub was bright white!

We have hard water, so white porcelain is a big deal for me. If you’ve never had the pleasure of hard water I can describe it in one word for you, and that word is “mother-effing-pain-in-the-arse.” You can scrub that shit until your elbows bleed, and you’re still never gonna get your tub back to factory white. So I have developed the following “low-scrub” tub cleaning method, which I will now graciously share with you.

Step 1: Glop a mess of disgusting porn soap into the tub. Grab a wide paintbrush and brush it all over the tub surface. This will be the grossest thing ever, so definitely DON’T slap your slimy brush on to your significant other, especially if he or she was not there for the soap making and has no idea what that shit is, because we are mature people, and that would not be hilarious in any way.

Step 2: Wait. Possibly overnight, or until you can’t wait to wash off the day’s accumulation of misery and self loathing.

Step 3: Grab a scrub brush, splash some hot water around, and give the tub a nice going over. You shouldn’t have to scrub too hard – just work it enough to foam up the soap. Rinse!

If one treatment isn’t enough you can repeat. I do it about once a week, and I find I put off cleaning the tub less, because it’s pretty easy. After a few paintings and a little gentle scrubbing, your tub will be visibly whiter, and you’ll feel less like a filthy animal when your friends come to visit!

Cost: $1.39 for 8 oz Ivory soap (2 bars); glycerine for $1 at most. Water, free. Total: $2.39 for a gallon of liquid soap.


Mr. Cloud Ring collects thermoses and travel mugs. Not the way ten-year-olds collect Pokemon, or middle-aged church organists collect Hummel figurines, but rather the way a magnet collects iron filings. They just seem to attach themselves to him, and I’m having trouble finding places to put them.

All of these thermoses are defective in some way. One has an inscrutable lid. One holds about a half-mug of coffee, if you leave out the milk and sugar. One of them has the logo of a company where Mr. Cloud Ring once worked, of which he would prefer not to be reminded. All of them fill up with water when you wash them, then pizzle it all over you when you pick them up. (One has a Chihuahua on it, because I bought it, because Mr. Cloud Ring would never want my coffee so badly that he would stoop to drinking out of a thermos that says “I [Heart] My Chihuahua.” It’s been working very well so far.) Mr. Cloud Ring is on a perpetual quest to find the Perfect Thermos, and so far he has been unlucky.

So Mr. Cloud Ring bought a gigantic thermos from the local Chinese grocery store.

Ong Size

The box says, “Beijing Deer Articles of Metropolitan Life Co. Ltd. Deer, famous Chinese trademark. Flower color thermos,” in case you were wondering. Also, thermoses are really hard to photograph.

At 15″ tall, this thermos is far too big to fit in the cupboard, let alone a cup holder. It’s glass inside, so you can’t knock it around. It has a wooden cork instead of a screw-top, so you can’t knock it over. But it’s big enough to comfortably house a family of five, so all in all, it’s pretty awesome.

Cupboard Ong

Not gonna happen.

When we bought it, my Imaginary Chinese Grandmother opened the box and lifted the thermos out onto the conveyer belt.

“Did you check to see if it’s good?” she asked.

“Uh…”

She uncorked the top and put her ear to the opening. “If it is good, it will go ‘Onnnnng!'”

We listened, and yes indeed, we could hear it. It made a deep, resonant “ong” noise, like the tail end of a gong. I think Mr. Cloud Ring said it’s something to do with the vacuum seal, but to be honest I kind of zone out when he starts talking about science. You could ask him.

So anyway, we bought it, and we called it The Ong, and now I can’t for the life of me find out what they’re actually called in Chinese. In my epic Google search all I could discover was that they’re hard to find in America, so yay me, I guess. They’re damn useful, though. That baby’ll keep water hot enough for tea for literally 24 hours. And you won’t run out of water, either.

Digby Ong

Chihuahua included for scale. Can you guess which of these objects is less likely to dribble on my things?

Deco Ong

It’s very decorative, too!

Here’s part two of the story: I’m kickin’ back at home, watching “China: A Century of Revolution” on YouTube, like you do. Hey-ho, looks like this guy’s got an Ong too!

ONG!

We’re twinsies!

Here’s another one!

OngII!

I guess they’re popular.

Epidemic!

OngIII!

I hope you brought enough for everyone.

So that’s my Ong story. If any of you are looking for some slightly impractical Chinese kitchen equipment, I know where to send you.

Happy onging, everyone!