Washing Dishes Is The Worst Thing In The World

Like you may have inferred from the title, washing dishes is the worst thing in the world. I hate it so much! It seems like no matter how clean the kitchen may have been yesterday, it’s always completely wrecked today. Living with a roommate definitely makes matters worse, since they’re the one causing most of the disarray, yet never dive in and scrub up. Dirty dishes are the bane of my existence; a dishesconstant mockery of my once proud kitchen. Their crusty, smelly veneer of previously delicious cuisine reminds me that all things will eventually rot. That all things will end, and the best tombstone any of us can really hope for is “At Least It Didn’t Clog The Drain”. The fact that this storm cloud of misery could be gusted away with a small amount of diligence only strengthens the bitter hatred I have toward the chore. Washing dishes is the worst thing in the world.

In response to this never ending torrent of filth, I have doled out chores to all of my children. Each one has a simple daily task to complete for the singular purpose of making my life better. Unfortunately all of my children are dogs and their efforts are minimal. Why I keep these useless hangers-on around is beyond me. You had one thing to do, Frida! My cries of frustration are met only with dumb stares and wagged tales.

FridaLuckily, I have an automatic dish washing machine, you may have seen one of these at the local shopping emporium; I recommend them to everyone I meet, solicited or not. It takes a great swath out of the pile of used eating receptacles, but it requires constant loading and unloading. Like I don’t have anything better to do? There have been times, dark times, when I have opted to replace standard meals with paper-wrapped burritos for no other reason than the lack of utensils needed. As green as I would like to convince people that I try to be, there are moments when I would rather chop a baby sapling down with a prison shank than wash another plate. Paper plates are expensive, but the emotional savings are incalculable.

It is with a crushing feeling of shame and defeat that I turned to the internet. “What is the easiest way to wash dishes?” I begged my trusty search engine. “Make your roommate do it” was the best response, but no. No, for this situation I would need something stronger. Something steadfast. A shift in the paradigm of ablutionary practices. My search went on, probing the musty nether regions of the webs. My time spent typing left my hands twisted and sore, the hours drifted by like a fast-motion clock montage from old tv shows. I could have conquered sinks worth of post-meal platters in the time I spent searching for the easy way out. Long story short: just do the damn dishes.

The few tips I did learn were helpful, though not really anything revolutionary. Rinse first. Start with the cleanest and work toward the dirtiest. Use a small cup of dish soap instead of dumping it in the sink. Get a bus tub to soak the dirties before washing. Drink alcohol.

But the real lesson here is to not let things go so far that you face what seems like an insurmountable feat just to get back to normal. Don’t let problems pile up without addressing them, it just makes them easier to ignore until you finally decide to give up. And sometimes soaking in hot soapy water makes everything just a bit easier. I wish there were some life lesson to be learned in all of this.

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Cannoli

cannoliCannoli is one of the most popular Italian desserts here in the United States (and Italy for that matter). It is featured in Italian restaurants, stereotypical mobster movies, and I think Robin once said “Holy Cannoli, Batman!”. This little dessert stands out among the many classics as being a perfect dessert. Perfect because it combines the elements of crunchy and creamy, sweet and savory, light and rich. It also lends itself to modification: add a bit of lemon zest, chocolate chips, or strawberries for a dessert that can match nearly any dinner and have even the fullest diner find a little more room.

There are 2 recipes here; shells and filling, you will be in the kitchen for a while with this one. The cannoli shells are deep fried, so prepare yourself for that; you will need a large pot filled with a lot of oil and a high heat thermometer.

Shell

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 TBS sugar
2 oz Marsala wine
1 egg
1 egg white
1 egg white for sealing shells

Marsala is a fortified wine, meaning that extra alcohol has been added, it will last on your shelf for many months (years even) when stored at a moderate temperature. Whatever you do, avoid anything labeled “Cooking Marsala” or “Cooking Wine” the few dollars you save will not be worth it! When it comes to Marsala (or any other alcohol) don’t cook with anything that you wouldn’t have a glass of.

The shells need to be made first. You can do this step by hand but if you have a stand mixer you’ll be able to save some time and probably end up with a better result. A food processor works as well, and will effectively “sift” your flour after a few pulses.

Sift the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
Mix in the sugar and salt.
Finally, add the egg, egg white and Marsala.
Mix until a smooth, firm dough is formed.
Form the dough into a log, wrap in plastic or parchment and refrigerate while you move on to the next step.

Filling

1 # Mascarpone cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 TBS vanilla
1 oz orange juice
Pinch of salt
½ cup small chocolate pieces

Mix the mascarpone cheese a bit to thin it out. Sprinkle in the powdered sugar while mixing; the easiest way to do this is by adding the sugar from a sifter, it will produce less lumps. Next, mix in the vanilla, juice and salt until the filling is smooth and consistent. Now you can fold in the chocolate bits.

I like to use dark chocolate for this, I think it works well with the citrus but milk chocolate is great too. Hey, why not both? Also try it with toasted pecans, orange zest, cherries…

Scoop the finished product into a piping bag. If you don’t have one simply use a gallon size zipper bag: roll the top of the bag back to prevent getting cheese in your zipper (I hate that!); scoop the mixture into one corner of the bag making sure to let out any air pockets that might form; now grab the corner full of cheese and twist the bag once or twice so that it can’t squeeze back out the top; cut about a half inch off of the corner. You now have a piping bag!

Cook

Heat your oil up to 365 degrees. Get your dough out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut pieces about the size of a golf ball. Roll the dough out into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. You can use a rolling pin, the Marsala bottle, your hands, or the cannoli tube. Lightly coat the cannoli tube with oil and wrap the dough circles around. Brush the remaining egg white around one edge using a pastry brush or your finger and seal the dough by gently pressing the dry edge into the egg edge.

Carefully place the dough wrapped tubes into the oil using a pair of tongs. Let them fry until they have become bubbly and brown. Remove them from the oil, taking care to let the oil drain out of the tube first, and place them on a few paper towels. Let them cool a bit before trying to un-mold them but you will have the best results while they are still warm. Wear a pair of food service gloves or wrap the pastries in paper towel while gently (oh so gently) twisting them off. Let them sit until they come down to room temperature before moving on.

Fill

Once the shells have cooled it’s time to fill them. Hold your piping bag from the back, twisting the bag tighter until the filling just starts to come out. Hold the tip of the bag to the opening of the pastry and give it a gently squeeze. You want to fill the cannoli about half way, turn it around and repeat the same thing: give the bag a gentle squeeze, just enough to squirt the filling to the middle of the tube, and out to the opening. Do this a dozen times or so and you have dessert!

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Bacon!

Bacon03 IMG_0456 IMG_0454

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Chorizo & Shrimp on Oaxaca Grits

Garnish with some fresh squeezed lime juice, cilantro, and scallions. Boom

 

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