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Hand ground, then toasted panko for inclusion in tonight's Swedish meatballs. Unfortunately, I set the oven a bit too high, and got distracted combing Sif, so the crumbs are darker than I would like. They would still be mixable as part of the forcemeat, but I will probably have to use our storebought crumbs if I want to coat the balls for frying. The crumbs themselves were pounded by pestle, partly for convenience, but also because my wonderful glass blender is currently stuck to its blade base. Mind you, it's been stuck to the blade for the past 3 years. Having now used it for both milkshakes and meaty soups, I am getting quite worried about potentially making us ill because I am unable to clean the seams. I've tried sitting the jar on the motor, hoping to twist the jar off, but that didn't work because the joints were too loose to hold the motor still. The only thing left I can imagine is pouring in some very hot water into the jar and hoping that unseals something.

The weekend was quiet. Seth made a huge brunch on Saturday with pancakes, cheesy sausages and omelet. On Sunday, we wandered out to Modern Times and bought books. The spouse got a fascinating treatise on the effects of British empire in ex-colonies, and I got State and Family in Singapore by Janet W. Salaff. At its premise, State and Family looks at the effects of the rapid modernization Singapore faced through interviews with the same families over two decades, from the '70s to the '80s. Singapore and Malaysia have similar cultural roots, and the generation involved in the study (my parents' generation) are remarkably similar in what they experienced, a trait that I do not believe is true of my generation. Part of the study explores women's roles, from being invited into the workforce to facilitate industrialisation, to later marriage, family and motherhood, where conservative gender roles were reinforced, women left the workforce due to cultural coercion and based on my cursory read thus far, the expected dissatisfaction, frustration and current arguments, that women cannot have it all, seeped in. I don't believe a similar study has been published as yet about my own country, at least to the best of my knowledge. Would love to be proven wrong in this regard.

We brought our newfound books to the freshly opened Pig & Pie, lodged in Discolandia, a surprisingly historied record store. The people at Pig & Pie were utterly awesome. So enthusiastic, and they clearly love their business. The menu thus far appears to be rotating gourmet hot dogs, various house made pickles, fries and pies. There is beer and delicious mint rosemary lemonade plus iced tea. We got the Chicago-style sausage and the boudin blanc, with fries. This being their very first morning, the gas went out, and so we switched to a pickle plate instead. The selection we were served were all prominently displayed in big glass jars under the counter. There were snap peas, curried cauliflower and raisins, beets, tongue and eggs. I liked the tongue (and I am not partial to tongue by nature), which was sliced paper thin (making it all the more edible), nicely savory and light. The eggs were creamy with a touch of tart. Unfortunately, everything else excepting the sweet raisins were incredibly vinegared. As much as I like pickles, I'm not sure I could ever learn to deal well with vinegared pickles. They're rather much too overpowering for me. At home, I use rice vinegar primarily as a minimal seasoning for fresh pickles and sushi rice. All my aged pickles are made with rice or starch bases (ie. a kimchee base). The sausages we got were indeed well-made. Seth and I both agreed that the boudin blanc was the better sausage. Very juicy, a hint of pepper, it tasted like, and it went excellently with the arugula and beer mustard. The hot dog buns tasted homemade, and were lovely and yeasty with a good amount of toasting. Right as we were considering some pecan pie, we got complimentary fries (their frier went back up), which was really very sweet of the store. Good, hearty, hand cut fries, with some of the skin on.

We would go back, perhaps to pick up sausages and definitely try the pie. The very nice folks behind the counter were a real plus. Alas, it does get loud in there very easily, with a long lot and plenty of room to echo. It takes one loud table to make everything quite unhearable.

With summer setting in, I am craving nice vegetable pickles. Fresh pickles mostly -- bitter melon and roasted eggplant. I should keep an eye out for them at the grocery store, which stocks a surprising amount of unusual seasonal veggies. It is about time to make a trip to Duc Loi as well, and stock up on necessities. I wished they were a little better about Asian vittles. I've seriously considered buying myself a metal trolley, but that would result in hideous amounts of over-purchasing. The cloth bags we currently have are just the right amount for the fridge. I should also make a point of buying some herbal soup mixes online, as that is something I honestly haven't had in a long while. My own garden kit is finally looking grown. Each tomato plant is at the 2 ft. mark, the basil and Vietnamese mint are at a height I would start considering harvesting for a nice spring roll. I had to harvest the mustard greens prematurely because they bolted. A new batch is coming up quick with the warmth, alongside more carrots to make up for the slug massacre. A tiny, lone red shiso makes its way out from the ground. The last batch was utterly killed by my overenthusiastic pepper spray. I still crave a delicious pickle of shiso at some point in my future.

Dinner will be interesting and experimental in the realm of meatballs. My copy of Scandinavian Cooking for Americans only has a recipe for Danish meatballs, which makes to serve... a lot of Vikings... and involves fascinating things like a hard roll soaked in milk, cream, four eggs and breadcrumbs within and without. Had I read the recipe first, I would have reserved some bread for soaking, but the stale baguette was sacrified for last night's croutons and the panko. Last night's salad was mustard greens stir fried in lamb fat, with croutons and a remarkably delicious garlic curd from Spring Hill Cheese Co., represented at the Mission farmer's market last week (it's really quite a tasty affair, if you're ever in the neighbourhood). Prices at the farmer's market are on par with local grocery stores, some of the vegetables are made 3 miles from location, and they keep adding stalls. The most (relatively) expensive stall there by far is 4505 Meats, but it sells damn good meat and they take requests. The browned crispings from rendering the lamb fat goes into the meatballs, perhaps with some of my garden herbs.

Dorian continues to be a source of love and amusement in our household. He is officially a hunting cat, and thus must always be outside where the tasty flying snacks are. He has proven that he is unwilling to climb trees, yet, but he is effective at reducing flies in my kitchen. The constant mid-afternoon requests that we open a window and let him out unsupervised we can do without. But, his adventures have inspired Sif to join him at the window, and even for a brief walk around the yard. My two cats do not entirely trust or like each other, but they agree that breakfast and dinner should be served at reasonable hours, and when we sit on sofas, we should be slept on.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 25th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
I am very hungry now from reading about all your tasty food adventures, even though I don't like some of the foods you mentioned! You make them sound good anyway.

And I should try to get a recipe for the delicious little Vietmanese rolls I used to eat at a family friend's house. No mint or not much (I'm mildly allergic so I'd notice), tiny little rolls the size of a thumb, somehow containing about fifty shrimp, always served in huge platters piled high.

Do you have a melon baller? They can be useful for making smallish meatballs.

Jun. 25th, 2012 11:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the read.

I use my Vietnamese rice roll wrappers as a kind of alternative sandwich bread. They're a good way to wrap salad ingredients, so I usually throw in greens, herbs, carrots, cucumbers, glass noodles, boiled egg and cured meats, anything that could reasonably taste good together in a salad. My wrapping technique does not result in thumb-sized rolls though. :)

I don't have a melon baller, though it occurs to me an ice cream scoop could work in a pinch (not sure we ever invested in one of those either). I usually use a couple of spoons to roll them into shape, and don't entirely mind the 'rustic' misshapen results.
Jun. 25th, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC)
I find the melon baller to be a little faster than either two-spoons or good old-fashioned greasy hands, so it's useful if I'm making a ton of meatballs (which I rarely do any more, sadly). Ice cream scoops tend to be bigger, giving you an enormous Italian meatball-meal instead of a Swedish or cocktail-size meatball.
Jun. 26th, 2012 12:03 am (UTC)
I should make a large batch of meatballs, but honestly, with just the two of us, much of our food winds up being frozen anyway, waiting to be my leftover lunch. Smaller meatballs are how I was taught to make them in general, as Asian-sized meatballs are also quite small.
Jun. 25th, 2012 11:17 pm (UTC)
Also, the books sound very interesting - I may have to ask about Seth's if he says it's good! My unread book stack is already too tall, but I like post-colonial stuff a lot and want to write something about it someday, so I can make excuses for it.
Jun. 25th, 2012 11:59 pm (UTC)
It's direly academic, so I might read it slowly. But I trust it will be an interesting read. Seth says his book is well-measured and clear about its intent, but I've not read through it yet myself.
Jun. 26th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World by Kwasi Kwarteng -- he's got a pretty impressive pedigree. Very good writing style and very apological and aideological, which I like.

Ultimately I think his razor-sharp focus on only small parts of empire (Iraq, Kashmir, Nigeria, etc) may mean the book feels inconsistent. I can see why he did it that way, but it means you might have to go for other sources to find all the information you want.
Jun. 26th, 2012 01:25 am (UTC)
Now I want to come back and eat and eat and eat!
Jul. 2nd, 2012 09:55 am (UTC)
I have two suggestions for the blender.

#1. Let it soak submerged in warm soapy water for a while, in hopes that the soap will get into the screwy parts and lube it up. This might be a long-shot, since it's been stuck for a good while.

#2. Set it in the freezer for a half-hour or so, so maybe the plastic of the base will contract enough to loosen its death grip on the glass. (I'd not leave it too long--an empty container shouldn't be any breakage risk, but I'm paranoid like that.)
Jul. 6th, 2012 07:03 pm (UTC)
Just added hot water into the blender. Waited a few a minutes, didn't work (but I wasn't able to get any traction between the base and jar). Noticed food bits at the bottom of jar, scraped with failing plastic scraper. Bit of plastic scraper broke off, and now it's stuck there too.

Going to try soaking for longer with soapy water next. And waiting for the spouse to come home.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )