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December, 2007 | Manolo's Food Blog
Archive - December, 2007

Pepper’s Breakfast

Once a week the Henry kitchen counter, cleared of extraneous cups and bowls, becomes the site of industrial production. It’s time to make Pepper’s food.pepper1.jpg

 

As faithful readers know, Pepper is the Henry’s noble hound, a 67-pound mystery mix of Labrador retriever and border collie. For years she ate Stella & Chewy’s raw chicken or raw lamb frozen burgers, a rather costly diet. Lately, however, Pepper’s stomach has resisted the raw Stella & Chewy’s, a surprising development in light of the pleasure she takes in snagging detritus off the Broadway sidewalk.

Wisdom du jour instructs dog owners to prepare raw food, in particular raw chicken, following the theory that a raw diet mimics what wild dogs ate. Since the dog had been domesticated for 30,000 years, give or take, Mr. Henry wonders just how much chicken they have been getting, historically speaking, and thus to what degree their digestion is genuinely accustomed to such fare. Sitting around the campfire of early man, domesticated dogs probably dined on charred tubers, rotten seeds, and scraps of gristle and sinew, as well as on bones too small for man to bother cracking with a hand ax.

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Mr. Henry’s personal theory is that the modern dog retains one eating habit left over from the Stone Age, however, a taste preference rather shocking to the urbane dog owner. The one reliable comestible around a human settlement, after all, season after season, was man scat.

Pepper’s list of favorite foods is topped by stinky cheese, followed by buttered toast, salmon skin, and apple peelings. Is there a pattern here?

What follows is Mrs. Henry’s personal recipe for a canine raw diet, ingredients deliberately chosen for ease of preparation. Mrs. Henry prefers boneless breast of chicken because she can throw them whole into the food processor right from the package. Lentils are the only cooked ingredient.

For even chopping, process each ingredient separately. Mix together, place in muffin tins (topped with wax paper for easy stacking), and freeze. Yield: 24 cupcake portions.

Each morning Pepper eats four cupcakes. At night she eats 1 ⅓ cups dry food, half Innova dog food and half Evo small bites (low carb), with a splash of buttermilk.

The one quibble Mr. Henry has with this recipe is the absence of added salt. Since he always shares a scrap from the table with his constant quadruped, however, he imagines she gets her allowance of salt thereby. And, of course, there are sticks to chew, grasses to munch, and treats to beg at Patagonia. The world is full of possibilities.

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Pepper’s Breakfast

3 lbs. boneless breast chicken
1 cup cooked lentils
½ bunch kale (or spinach) – leaves & small stems
1 sm. bag carrots, peeled baby
½ bag cranberries
2 apples
blueberries, a handful

Genie Walker Red

In 1962, Tangier, Morocco, was a cosmopolitan city, even though Mr. Henry had not yet been there.Eucalyptus Forest

He did not have the pleasure of attending Ridha’s circumcision party at the house on rue Darwin, a party deemed by all to have been a singular success, by all except Ridha himself, that is, who in addition to the unenviable discomfort of the ritual procedure suffered an asthma attack so severe that his father had to hustle him into the Peugeot 404 and carry him up into the Eucalyptus forest to breathe its calming natural vapors.

The drink of choice for sophisticated guests was “un petit whiskey” – a shot of scotch at the bottom of a tall glass embellished by one or, at most, two ice cubes melodramatically administered with silver tongs.Bastilla

In the rose garden, in the gazebo, and throughout the fruit arbor, guests feasted on Esther’s magical bastilla. They drank several cases of Johnny Walker Red liberally poured by police officers moonlighting as waiters. Upstairs in the bureau, however, for 45 years protected by sturdy lock from curious uncles and nosy gardeners, one case survived intact. When Nadia closed the house this summer, she added that case to the shipping container.

Distilled spirits are supposed to be perfectly stable. Once bottled they are said not to age or change flavor either for better or for worse.

Through 45 years of winter fog and summer scirocco the cork stoppers have dried and become brittle, yet they pulled away without crumbling. About a centimeter of liquid has evaporated from each sealed bottle and the whiskey has darkened slightly. The small exchange of oxygen caused a madeirization, a slow alteration of both color and taste.

Johnnie Walker Red Label
At this writing Mr. Henry has just drunk from one of these bottles and he can announce here for the first time a breakthrough in modern whiskey-ology. The 1962 scotch tastes smoother and has less bite than a current one, now more a sipping scotch than a mixing one.

Once freed, the amber genie in the bottle unleashed swirls of memories from spirits long departed. Pouring a third one for purposes of further research, Mr. Henry raises a glass to the circumcised and to the uncircumcised alike.

Stocking stuffers

Mr. Henry wants you to live well. Consequently, when rich, practical-minded, no-nonsense aunts ask you what you need for the home, he encourages you to choose from the list below:

Cuisinart 14-c. Premier Series Custom 14 Food Processor, Brushed Stainless
Cuisinart food processor
. The original.

KitchenAid 2-slice Toaster, Onyx Black
KitchenAid 2-slice toaster
. Simple and foolproof.

Bodum 12-c. Chambord Coffee Press
Bodum French press coffee pot.
The classic.

Cuisinart 14-c. Brew Central Programmable Coffee Maker, Black
Cuisinart drip coffee maker
. For big cup drinkers.

Microplane Grater, Fine, Microplane, Each, Stainless
Microplane spice grater.
Excellent for zesting.

Wusthof 2-pc. Classic Black Cutlery Set
Wusthof knives, 2.
The most basic set.

Aerolatte Milk Frother
Aerolatte milk frother
. Affectionally known around the kitchen as “the zip-zip.”

Palm Brush
The Chef’n palm brush
for scrubbing vegetables. Nifty finger-holding grip.

MinoSharp Knife Sharperner
The MinoSharp knife sharpener
. You won’t cut your fingers.

Zyliss Silicone Fry Spatula
The Zyliss stir fry silicone spatula
. For non-stick pans.

Zyliss Salad Spinner
Zyliss salad spinner
. Achieves escape velocity.

Style ideology

The topic of blenders drew mixed response.

According to Little Henry, weekend couch rat and Food Network devotée, the Australian-made Breville Ikon blender is the Iron Chef “Kitchen Stadium” choice. To clean it, however, demands disassembling the blades from the canister, something Iron Chefs are not required to do.schulze.jpg

Since Mr. Henry does not handle sharp objects early in the morning, he would not use the Breville to mix Dr. Schulze’s “SuperFood” green goo smoothie.

(Before this blender business gets resolved, however, Mrs. Henry may get bored with the suspicious Dr. Schulze and move on to some new herbal quackery that doesn’t require a blender at all.)

Although Cameron asks forgiveness for buying the stand mixer in metallic chrome, Mr. Henry should be the penitent. She hit upon an important omission in his rule of black and white, and by doing so obliges Mr. Henry to issue a new dictum, one that holds equally for furniture and for architecture:

Machines should look like what they are.

By this measure the chrome stand mixer is not only an appropriate choice, it may be the best color choice of all.

Although there was much virtuosity in Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau, both movements in their inception harked back to an earlier era of handmade objects, an imaginary prelapsarian paradise when happy craftsmen took joy in their work. This is faith-based, anti-scientific, Luddite nonsense.

Art Deco design is more satisfying because it celebrates the functional, the scientific, and the industrial. Its focus is forward, embracing the future. A chair supported by metal features metal as its essential design element. It is not hidden by curlicue wicky-wack.

knoll_mvdr_flat_bar_brno_chair.jpg
Style harbors ideology. Faux American colonial furniture holds within its green Carolina hardwood an implicit longing to return to Gilded Age aristocracy, an imaginary gentility based on family, class, and race. The prominent survival of debutante balls reflects the same backwards belief system.

Mr. Henry likes sitting in an honest chair.

As for Funoozer’s suggestion to relegate microwave ovens to the basement, while certainly a suggestion with merit, here in New York City basements are called “garden apartments” and they belong to other people.

Appliance science

Kitchenaid stand mixer

Can there be a more beautiful object anywhere in the home than the aristocratic KitchenAid stand mixer? Countertop-challenged New Yorkers gaze longingly at such a status vehicle the way other Americans gaze at a Jaguar.

KitchenAid blender
The KitchenAid bar blender is equally sleek, but there is dissent about its practical application. Mrs. Henry maintains that it is too noisy and, worse, that its beaker is too wide at the bottom. As a consequence her modern morning smoothie of banana, berries, juices, and Dr. Schulze’s SuperFood (a sinister green concoction of algae, seaweed, grasses, and yeast) gets stuck inside.

Each and every morning brings a fresh episode of the same drama. Chasing Little Henry round the table she cries, “Drink! It will change your life!” By the time she coaxes the last dollop out of the blender, however, Little Henry, who has never tasted the stuff, has made a clean escape out the door to catch the bus.

Color choices for kitchen appliances are style decisions that tellingly reflect family values. Though never one to foist his opinion upon others, Mr. Henry maintains that appliances which reside on countertops should be (like underwear) either white or black. Blaring colors like pistachio and pink deflect the eye from the machine’s (or the torso’s) principal attraction, namely, its sublimely engineered shape.

horst.jpg

With regard to the KitchenAid bar blender, however, since Mr. Henry never uses the thing, he really doesn’t care.

The Waring or the Osterizer have narrower bases and might be better. He simply admires their shape – pure modern aerodynamic heaven, like the 20th-Century Limited, New York to Chicago, a voyage into the future.

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The gadget he reaches for time and again, however, is the Cuisinart hand blender. For apple sauce, cream soups, mashed root vegetables, and the like, it’s perfect. Immersible in hot liquids, it comes apart for easy cleaning.

Cuisinart hand blender

Microwave ovens perpetually annoy. The door closing with a sharp clack succeeds in awakening both the noble hound sleeping deeply on her bed and the worthy father napping earnestly on his couch. When foods are suitably nuked, infernal micro-beeps pierce every corner of the household. Microwave ovens are NOT on Mr. Henry’s Christmas list. He longs to construct a kitchen without one, but they are too darned useful.