Monday, September 28, 2009

Whither Junior

Another from the archival mists, or something.

-J.

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One thing I have noticed in having two sons is the dwindling of naming a son for his father. Numbah One Son is not merely a Junior, he's actually a fourth. He, for reasons which I suspect are inextricably linked to genetic insufferability, particularly enjoys appending that IV to his name.

But within his (and his brother's sphere of influence) there are pratically no other boys named after their dad. This is not a rant about people who give their children crazy-ass names such as Carrion or Treyteur, what PG Wodehouse used to term "raw work at the font." In fact, our census shows exactly one other Junior, and that's pretty much all there is.

I'm not really sure why this is.

Some of them, I am reliably informed, have to do with the fact the wife, while she may love and adore her husband, she does so in spite of his name. Maybe it reminds her of a childhood bully, maybe she has harbored a grave distaste for the most prominent consonant thereof, maybe there is a villainous TV character who shares the name, no matter. That name will NOT be levied upon HER baby. And that's that.

My BiL is a Junior, and when my nephew was born, his wife resolutely refused to allow the lad to be saddled with a III. And so the long day wears on.

This isn't to say that every dad should have a lad named in his honor, but I am perplexed as to why this is in decline.

-Joke the III

Posted by Joke at 2:59 PM 6 comments

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cherry

Yeah, yeah. I know. Mea maxima culpa. Here's what you would/should have seen a while back.

-J.
********************

One of the latest things which has taken the world by storm, or at least my corner of it, is taking the decidedly fanatically, dysfunctionally obsessive Joke-like approach to food and extrapolating it into the cocktail sphere.

The first guilty party to go up against the wall, in matters of food or beverage, is The Artificial Ingredient. So, in pondering the ideal Manhattan cocktail, I was stymied by the fact the cocktail cherry is a concentrated repository of multisyllabic chemical evil. Of late, there have been some places where cherries not aswim in an ocean of something-hyde and something else-zoate are available, but at prices which betray their purveyors' wide-eyed innocence regarding prices during The Great Recession.

This leaves me no alternative but to pursue the DIY approach, as I am simply not going to pony up $22.99 for a mere 8oz. Especially when I know the ingredients contained therein add up to a princely $2 at very most.

Before you start to bemoan the the effort required to make your own cocktail cherries know this – setting aside the time required for cooling -- a batch takes but a mere 10 minutes.

There are, of course, aeleventy gazillion different cocktail cherry recipes, but a good starter cherry recipe is this one:
6 pounds dark, sweet cherries
¾ cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup fresh, strained lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 ¼ cups cherry brandy or liqueur. For this go-around we have Cherry Heering, but the next time it'll be Kirchwasser. (You can use brandy, bourbon, pisco, rum, rye, grappa, vodka...etc.)

Put sugar, water, and cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the lemon juice and cherries. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from burner, fish out the cinnamon sticks, and stir in the liqueur/liquor.

The smart thing to do is to pit the cherries, but I chose to keep the pits for a more complex flavor...and because I couldn't be bothered in my zeal. Next time, I will enlist someone I have offsprung to man the pitter. I also chose basic supermarket sweet (NOT SOUR) cherries.
These cherries are amazing!
You will need to make extra, because you will ingest half of them warm right from the stove. These will definitely migrate into your supply of vanilla ice cream and banana splits will suddenly begin to materialize. The ensuing cherry liqueur is also spectacular. Mind you, bereft of chemical escort, the cherries will eventually "turn" at +/-2 weeks, and they hit their peak of excellentness at the 1 week mark.

Try it, I exhort you!

-J.

Posted by Joke at 5:20 PM 4 comments

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oh.

Seems the auto-post thing, um, didn't. So there has been an ominous silence from ovah heah.

Please stand by.

Management regrets the inconvenience.

Posted by Joke at 1:57 PM 4 comments

Monday, September 14, 2009

Orange Marmalade for the Slothful

I finally got sick and tired of standing over a simmering pot of marmalade, stirring like an idiot.

Why do we stir the orange/sugar thing? Because if you don't it will stick to the bottom of the pot and scorch. By stirring each molecule of (future) marmalade gets just enough heat, but not so much that it will scorch.

Inner Voice: Ah...but doesn't an oven provide the same sort of even heat?

Me: Mmm...yes.

IV: And don't you also stick many things in the oven to cook that normal people usually put on the stove?

M: True that.

IV: So, then work on a method for making orange marmalade in the oven.

And so I did, and these are the results.

2lb Seville oranges
1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
6 c. water
3¾ lb. sugar (feel free to make this less sugar-y, the oranges from our tree -- I love saying that -- are unrelentingly sour and call for a ton of sugar)

Wash the oranges and lemon thoroughly. Slice the oranges into 1/8" (4mm) rounds (use a mandoline) saving the seeds as you go. Stack the slices and quarter them. Place the oranges into your jam pot. Put the seeds in a cheescloth/gauze/muslin bag and add. (These carry tons of pectin and you want that.) It should hold 8qt/8L. Add the lemon zest and juice and the water to the pot, set over high heat and bring to a boil, approximately 10 minutes. Once boiling, transfer to a roasting rack (to catch any unlikely spillage) in the dead center of your oven set at 250F-275F (120C-135C) which varies because all ovens are different. The idea is to have yourself a rapid simmer. Cook for 40 minutes or until the fruit is very soft.

While this is going on, put a saucer in your freezer. Boost the heat of your oven to return to a boil (in MY oven that's 350F/175C). Fish out the seed sack (that is NOT some lurid euphemism) and add your sugar and stir and cook, until it reaches 222-223F (105F-106F) on a thermometer -- I like a remote thermometer w. an alarm, for added idiot-proofness -- which in my oven takes 15 to 20 minutes. Since all ovens are different, the first time you make this, you may need to monitor the heat to prevent a boilover. (You also don't want to caramelize the sugar for a million different reasons.)

Test the set of your marmalade: drop a teaspoon of it on your chilled saucer and let it sit a half minute. Then tilt the saucer. The marmalade should be a soft gel, running slightly. If it's thin and "dripples*" keep cooking, checking every 5-10 minutes. If it resembles silicone, you've overshot your mark.

Your mantra should be: The pectin in the fruit needs to hit 222F/105C or so to do its magic.

Put in cans/jars as you normally would.

Boom.

Done.

[photos to ensue]

-J.

* There really is no other word.

Posted by Joke at 12:27 PM 0 comments