CookEatLive – Lesson 2: pEverything pIn pIts Place

Preparation is cooking.  Cooking is preparation.  It took me a long time to recognize that you do an incredible disservice to your food and eaters when you do not consider preparation as a part (and sometimes the biggest part) of cooking because it leaves too many things to chance.  Sure, it seems like a good use of your time to mince some green peppers while you wait for your omelet to set, and sure, maybe you just need to get quicker at cutting peppers so you don’t have to buy another fridge because the last one melted into a puddle once your omelet burned and caught on fire.  As a good rule of thumb, once you start your fire, the majority of your attention should be on the fire and not continuing your prep.  Worry less about being able to cut the peppers just in time to use them and worry more about creating an environment where everything you need is already right at hand.

But there is a bigger reason how thinking the prep isn’t cooking keeps your abilities down: it disrespects the food, the ingredients.  I never realized it at the time, but I used to consider ingredients reliant on the final meal to be worthwhile; that until the food was cooked it was sub-food, less than.  When I stopped thinking of a meal as an amalgamation of lesser ingredients, and began to consider it as an equal collaboration between important ingredients that bring important flavors, textures, aromas, and colors to a dish, my eaters started becoming more elated when sitting at my table.  By putting all  of your focus into your prep, you show the utmost respect for your food by making sure no part of your cooking process is taken for granted.

Cook Well, Eat Well, Live Well

Khan’s Wrath

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The embodiment of vengeance.

Twas the opening weekend of J.J. Abrams’s latest Star Trek film, and my two compatriots and I decided to have a drink and go witness the movie firsthand.  To have a normal drink would not be suitable enough, so we agreed to create our own cocktails under a few fun guidelines.

  • They needed to be Star Trek themed;
  • They needed to be shots; and
  • They needed to contain rum.

We each came up with our own and did so quite successfully, if I do say so myself.  One guy came up with The Fuzzy Trible, a sort of Mai Tai with peach.  Another made The Spock Shot, a drink that consisted of two kinds of rum, blue curaçao, and peppermint schnapps.  You had to pick up the blue shot with the Vuclan salute, drink it, slam the glass down and then scream something logical.

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“THE SKY ONLY APPEARS TO BE BLUE!”

Since the new Star Trek II had a revision of Khan, I found it only appropriate to pay homage to the original Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  It needed to be fierce, bold, and full of rage.  Thus I present you –

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Khan’s Wrath

– Spiced Rum
– Bacardi 151 (Warning – Fire is involved)
– Tapatio Hot Sauce

Don’t run away!  I know this drink screams “danger”, but it’s not that scary as long as you’re careful.  Trust me, I put a lot of thought into this drink: Spiced Rum to represent Ricardo Montalban, with his tanned skin, smooth demeanor, and being comfortable enough to wear this –

The Tapatio represents Khan’s intensity and Do-what-I-want attitude, and the blazing 151 to symbolize “The Wrath”.  So relax and have some courage; everything is thought out.

  • Fill ⅓ of a tall/double shot glass with the Tapatio.

I told you to relax, dammit!  This works, I swear.  You could just put in a drop, which would certainly look pretty, but doesn’t add enough flavor to the party.  Pour that shit in.

  • Fill up the rest of the shot glass with the Spiced Rum, stopping at least ¼” from the top.
  • Gently layer by pouring the Bacardi 151 down the side of the glass, leaving at least ⅛” empty.  You don’t want the rum to burn away before you can drink it, but you don’t want it to reach the rim of the glass either.  Liquid fire sounds badass, and it is, but it is not so much fun if you spill it all over yourself.

I think it’s kicking in.

  • Making sure the 151 is capped, and that the glass and any spills that might have occurred are wiped down, turn off the lights, and let the fires rise.
  • Take a picture.  It’s the law of the land now that you have to photograph your food if it’s on fire.
  • Smother the fire either with a dish or your hand (depending on what level of FUCK YEAH I’M AWESOME you are).
  • This part is a little tricky.  Instead of simply drinking it, you have to throw this drink at your mouth as the rim of the glass might be too hot for human lips.  You may want to keep a damp cloth nearby to cool the rim to a comfortable level.
  • Scream “KHAAAAAAAAN!!!”

The drink is like a mini-bloody mary, except instead of vodka you have rum, and instead of celery you have a tiny piece of inferno.  It’s got some kick, both in spice and alcohol content, so be forewarned.  As for my friends and I, we had a couple of rounds, went swimming, watched the original Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, ordered a 3’ wide pizza, had another round, watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, went swimming again, and then . . .

You know what?  We never saw the new Star Trek movie that day.  I guess the thought will have to do.

Enjoy!

khan's wrath

A Friendship Built on a Common Ground

Joe shows Nic a YouTube video of two men fighting with swords that or on fire.  Joe watches Nic’s reaction more than the video, and Nic watches with his mouth hanging open.  The video ends, and they sit in silence for a moment.

JOE: Thank goodness I didn’t see this while we were working at the shop, with all those power tools and scrap metal –

NIC:  – and yet, at the same time, I am sad that you didn’t –

JOE: – because we would have ended up trying this and impaling each other or setting each other on fire.  Probably both.  I mean, I figured that’s how we would go out anyway, but not so soon.

NIC:  There has to be a job out there where we could do this stuff all day.  I mean, I would think special fx could be considered in that line of work, but I think what we imagine goes beyond that because what we envision is meant to be made practical.  Making a sword that has to be on fire for a scene is easier than making a sword that is meant to stay on fire throughout an entire battle.

JOE:  Practical effects that work like that are usually implemented more in commercials.  Like commercials for food, when they have slow-mo restaurant food flipping in a pan over giant flames.

NIC:   (unsure)  Hmmmmm, not really what I’m after.  I guess fabrication would be the line of work.

JOE:  Propmaker?  Or an Art Department?

NIC:   I guess, I just wish it wasn’t so much cornered in the Entertainment industry.   “We Make The Crazy Shit In Your Head REAL!”  That sounds like a good company motto.

JOE:  Well, if you do enough hours, you can get a fire certification and if you get enough levels of that, they’ll hire you for a full day to just be there when someone lights a candle for a scene.

NIC:  Hmmm . . . it just seems like a watered down version of what is in my head.

JOE:  A friend of mine made a fire tornado on his down time, something like that maybe?

NIC:  Yeah, except getting paid do it.  I think I’m imagining a job that doesn’t exist; part engineer, part construction, part insane and part awesome.  Just making crazy awesome shit for its own sake and getting paid for it

JOE:  It’s also part actor . . . . oohhh, that’s right.

Long pause.

NIC:  Shit, I know there’s a joke in what you said, but my brain isn’t catching it.  It almost does, and then WOOSH, all gone.

JOE:  It’s just that you’d have to do all that and you’d have to be an actor too, and I don’t know why you’d ever want to be an actor.  But then I remembered that you and I met in theatre school and all of our friends were actors and why is that?  Oh I guess it’s because you had some sort of ambition to be in with and among actors because, you know, maybe it’s because you are an actor.

NIC:  Ah.  Yes.   Yeah, if I didn’t have this fucking crazy bug dream up my ass, I don’t think I’d feel such like a failure.

JOE:  Yeah.

Pause.

JOE:  For the record, I’m not saying you’re a failure.  I’m saying that I’m stupid.

NIC:  Oh, I know.

Pause.

JOE:  What?

NIC:  By which to say, I know that’s what you’re saying.  Not that you’re stupid.

JOE: Oh.

Pause.

NIC:  Let’s just agree that we’re both not living up to our potential.

JOE:  Agreed!