Thursday, September 26, 2019

check my other blog for the next month

It's 1:55 a.m. on Thursday, September 26. I'm planning to leave my apartment on Friday morning—with my backpack—and go to the office and work a few hours. I'll leave a bit early (thanks to comp hours racked up this past weekend) and go straight out to Incheon Friday evening/night. It's a three-kilometer uphill hike from the Airport Rail Line's Geomam Station to the Techno Motel in Incheon; I'll bunk there for the night, then on Saturday morning (I hate that they're forecasting rain for Saturday, dammit), I'll leave the motel super early, walk downhill to the station, go one stop to Cheongna International City Station, walk two-ish kilometers to the Four Rivers Path official starting point, probably take a selfie to serve as a "before" pic, then begin the big walk in earnest.

Day 1 is going to be brutal: 35 kilometers, and I'm not planning to stay two nights at the hotel near the Gayang Bridge, so I'm heading out the very next day. Days 2, 3, and 4 will also be straight marches. Day 2, about 30 km, ends at my apartment (yes: it's actually a stop on the route); Day 3—which is a relatively short walk at 25 km—ends in Hanam City; Day 4 is another 35-kilometer trek to old, familiar Yangpyeong, and that's when I plan to stop for two nights—my first of only four such two-nighters. After that, it's a short hop from the Namhan (South Han) River to the Saejae Trail which, as I discovered last time, wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It's when I finally hit the Nakdong River Trail that I'll encounter a small set of nasty uphills. Not looking forward to those, but by then, I hope to have lost close to ten kilos, which will counter the weight of my backpack and make me lighter on my feet.

Anyway, I've got a big honkin' walk ahead of me, and I'm signing off from the Hairy Chasms for now. Follow my progress over at the walk blog, Kevin's Walk 3. And buy a tee shirt to show some solidarity! I just re-uploaded the improved design; there shouldn't be any more problems with the way the tees print out. (Fingers crossed.)

See you on the path!

Styx on the impeachment trap

"They [Trump and Giuliani] play dumb, but they're being smart."

The title of Styx's video gave me a chuckle:

"Pelosi's Democrats Blunder Into the Impeachment Issue Like an Orangutan on Heroin"

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Yorkshire pudding

My friend Neil was just mentioning this the other day: Yorkshire pudding. The video below shows you what Jamie Oliver lovingly calls "mini Yorkies"—as if he were cooking terriers.

Getting the beef fat smoking hot would be a problem inside my apartment: I'm always paranoid about fire alarms. This is one of those times I wish I lived in a regular, free-standing suburban house. I think a clever workaround might be to get the beef fat boiling (but not smoking) by putting the muffin tins on the stove and pouring the batter in while the fat is boiling, then whisking everything over to the oven for the bake.

terlit issues

So my toilet's sealant has cracked around the base, and there's a tiny bit of a leak. This is a classic toilet-y situation, and you'd think a repair would be simple and straightforward. I've called for various repairs before, but this time, when the building maintenance staffer came up to my apartment, he told me he needed to run the repair by my boss. I told him that calling her this late at night (it's after 11 p.m.) would be a bad idea, so he'll call her in the morning. The maintenance staffer took some pics of my toilet (like the one you see above, which I took a few days ago), and he said he'd call my boss in the morning, and then she would call me to tell me when the plumber would be coming by to do the repairs. I'm still scratching my head about why my boss (and possibly the real-estate office) needs to be involved. This adds unnecessary steps to the process. Last time I called maintenance to deal with the installation of a bizarrely shaped light in an equally bizarre light fixture, the repairman simply came up and did the job—no boss needed. Are we in France all of a sudden?

While I wait, I can't shower, but I can still use the terlit and the bathroom sink. The point is not to let any water get on the bathroom floor and potentially drip down to the unsuspecting residents right below me on the thirteenth floor. Well, no matter... this will all be over by early tomorrow afternoon, at least in theory, so I guess it's just a matter of being awake for the phone call from my boss tomorrow morning.

a new satirical "news" site appears

When it comes to news satire, the left has The Onion; the right has The Babylon Bee. And now, the right also has The Derringer. Two articles look promising:

OPINION: Whether or Not Trump Committed a Crime, Can’t We All Agree That He is Guilty of It?

Experts Agree Restructuring World Economy Best Way to Treat Child’s Anxiety

And regarding that second link: the left gets all huffy about people who criticize Greta Thunberg's faulty data and reasoning with their "How dare you attack a child?!" mantra. They apparently forgot that it wasn't so long ago that Nick Sandmann was in their crosshairs.

I have to thank The Onion for inspiring all the mayhem. Long live fake news!

it's a minefield, with a meat grinder at the end of it

Tim Pool on believing Trump is incompetent (Pool inadvertently evokes "Shaolin Soccer"): "You'd have to believe Trump keeps randomly slipping on banana peels and pulling off perfect backflips instead of falling down."

Are the Democrats walking into a trap when they move forward with impeachment? Is it possible that Trump wants to be impeached, just so he can expose the left-Dem idiocy for what it is while also rallying his base and recruiting moderate voters who are sick of hearing "Impeach, impeach, impeach!"? Could it be that Trump will use impeachment as an excuse when the long-predicted stumble in the US economy occurs? Tim Pool discusses these possibilities in the video below.

This is one situation where I don't think we need to overthink the matter. The Senate is GOP-dominated. The House—for now, anyway—is Democrat-dominated. The House can bring articles of impeachment against the president, but it's the Senate in which the machinery of impeachment grinds forward. With the Senate dominated by the Republicans, what outcome does the left really expect? Sure: Trump will be exonerated and the Dems will cry foul as if they hadn't expected such an outcome, but such crying-foul will be disingenuous. At this point, the whole thing is some weird, self-destructive form of theater in which the Dems somehow can't (or won't) break character and return to reality.

I'm of the mindset that the two parties take turns wearing the dunce cap, and right now, it's very much the Democrats' turn to be the drooling, raving morons. Soon enough, there will be a Democrat president, and it'll be the GOP wearing the cap. But not yet. Not for another few years, despite whatever manure the leftist media keep shoveling at us.

Colion Noir on politicians' idiocy regarding guns

"Mentally lazy," Noir says about our politicians:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

great enviro-rant by Styx

Styx finally addresses little Greta Thunberg and her pious crusade to save the environment:

Keep in mind that Styx thinks climate change is a problem, but he also believes that, at this point, whatever scales are being tipped have been tipped irrevocably.

"Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" on body odor

An oldie but a goodie:

final beef pies

I wouldn't blame you if you were sick of pies by now. I had some leftover meat-pie filling, so I made dough for more pie crusts and made two more pies, which I'll be taking to work Tuesday afternoon. I still have a little bit of dough, so I'm thinking I'll make my very first apple pie. Not the thing I should be eating so close to my big walk, but what the hell.

Monday, September 23, 2019

seen on today's first walk

Based on an image search, this appears to be a French marigold.

Tim Pool on Ukraine blowback against Democrats

I haven't been following the latest faux scandal about Ukraine and some "whistleblower." Tim Pool thinks the whole thing is a load of fake-news garbage, and as often happens thanks to the Trump Effect, the "scandal" is blowing up in Democrat faces:


Let's get back to the news. The Daily Mail reports, "AOC launches scathing attack on her own party, saying Democrats' refusal to impeach Trump is a 'bigger national scandal' than 'the president's lawbreaking behavior' over Ukraine."

First of all: AOC attacking the Democrats—what else is new? AOC calling for impeachment—what else is new? And AOC getting the facts wrong—okay! What else is new?

You know, I talk about this stuff so often, I'm kind of like—it's like a rerun, almost. It's like, "Oh, I'm gonna make another video about AOC calling for impeachment and getting her facts wrong." Rerun, basically, but it's not: it's like we're living on repeat. Hopefully, something happens in 2020 to break this cycle, but it's bad.

They never fucking learn, do they.

all praise to Scott Presler!

Scott Presler made the news months ago with his volunteer cleanup of a filthy, garbage-covered district in Baltimore. Leftists sneered and said the whole thing was a publicity stunt. I embedded a video addressing that issue here.

Well, Presler is in the news again, this time for cleaning up a homeless camp in filthy, dangerous Los Angeles. The before/after photos are striking.

The man deserves a medal, but he won't get one, and the people who produced all the trash will simply go back to producing more trash. Meanwhile, the politicians who did nothing about the garbage problem will continue to do nothing because "Move along... nothing to see here." And illegal immigrants will continue to be favored over our own homeless and downtrodden. Yay, America.

belated comma explanations for John Mac

I had promised John McCrarey an explanation for the answers to Quiz 1 and Quiz 2 from my second post about commas, but I didn't get around to it until just now. Sorry, John! Anyway, here are those quizzes again, with the answers hidden as they were before. Try the quizzes out before scrolling further and reading the explanations.

Identify what kind of sentences these are: simple, compound, or complex.

1. Mark and John have itchy assholes because they just got out of prison.
2. Taryn, Jessica, and Brenda drank a keg dry, vomited lustily, got into their jeep, and drove into a wall.
3. Whenever Barton sings, I feel ants crawling all over my fucking scrotum.
4. Barry stalked Emily at school; Emily stalked Barry online.
5. The leper didn't mind offering her johns a scab/pustulation discount on Wednesdays.

[ANSWERS (highlight to see): 1. complex; 2. simple; 3. complex; 4. compound; 5. simple]

How many clauses are in each sentence?

1. I don't know who that is.
2. Before Sandy got married, she used to be a titanic slut.
3. The friend I hate the most is coming to that party.
4. Sandy drunkenly told us she had no idea where we were.
5. Bilbo told Smaug that the reptilian beast was the goddamn sexiest thing he had ever seen.

[ANSWERS (highlight to see): 1. two; 2. two; 3. two; 4. three; 5. three]


For Quiz 1:

1. You know this is a complex sentence because it contains the subordinating conjunction because. A subordinating conjunction introduces a subordinate (or dependent) clause, and a complex sentence has both an independent and a dependent clause.
2. This is a simple sentence. It has only one clause, but with both a compound subject (Taryn, Jessica, and Brenda) and a compound predicate (drank, vomited, got into, and drove). If you're trying to count clauses, treat a compound subject as a single subject, and treat a compound predicate as a single predicate.
3. This is a complex sentence, and the clue is the subordinating conjunction Whenever, right there at the beginning of the sentence. Remember: a complex sentence has both an independent and a dependent clause in it. Whenever introduces a dependent clause.
4. The semicolon here is a huge hint that this is a compound sentence. Remember: a compound sentence has two independent clauses, and those clauses can be separated either by a semicolon or by a comma-conjunction. How do we know these are independent clauses? Well, ask yourself: do they express complete, stand-alone thoughts? Yes, they do: Barry stalked Emily is a stand-alone thought. So is Emily stalked Barry. If the clause had been Because Barry stalked Emily, then that would NOT have been a stand-alone thought: it would have been a dependent clause, depending on an independent clause to make a complete thought. See how this works?
5. This is a simple sentence because it has only one clause. How do you know? Well, ask yourself: what's the subject? The leper. What's the predicate? It's didn't mind. One subject + one predicate = one clause. Ergo, a simple sentence.

For Quiz 2:

This is an exercise about counting clauses, which means you need to be able to recognize what a clause is. To review: a clause is a group of words with a subject (single or compound) and a predicate (single or compound). Look for those signs when looking for clauses.

1. Two clauses.
a. I don't know (I = subject; don't know = predicate)
b. who that is (who = relative pron. introducing clause; that = subject; is = predicate)

2. Two clauses.
a. Before Sandy got married (Before = subordinating conj. introducing subordinate/dependent clause; Sandy = subj.; got married = pred.)
b. she used to be (she = subj.; used to be = pred.)

3. Two clauses.
a. The friend... is coming (friend = subj.; is coming = pred.)
b. I hate (I = subj.; hate = pred.)

4. Three clauses.
a. Sandy... told (Sandy = subj.; told = pred.)
b. she had (she = subj.; had = pred.)
c. where we were (where = subord. conj. introducing clause; we = subj.; were = pred.)

5. Three clauses.
a. Bilbo told (Bilbo = subj.; told = pred.)
b. the reptilian beast was (beast = subj.; was = pred.)
c. he had... seen (he = subj.; had seen = pred.)

How do you count clauses? Look for a subject plus a verb. Here's an easy one:

I came; I saw; I conquered.

Three clauses. How about this one?

The friend I now despise because she betrayed me all those years ago is coming to New York next week, and I can't wait to see her.

(In the explanation below, the simple subjects/simple predicates are in parentheses—these are the most stripped-down elements of the subject and the predicate, e.g., if the subject is "the large, angry cat," the simple subject is merely "cat.")

Clause 1: The friend... is coming to New York (friend/is coming)
Clause 2: I now despise (I/despise)
Clause 3: because she betrayed me (she/betrayed)
Clause 4: I can't wait (I/can't wait)

Try these on for size. How many clauses? Are these sentences simple, compound, or complex?

1. Santa Claus, when he's not delivering presents, tracks down serial killers in his spare time.
2. Clara taught me how to use a butt plug the other day.
3. We don't understand how Grover Monster was able to kill a roomful of Muslim terrorists and disappear like a goddamn ninja.
4. Stocks rose and fell all day long; some of the graphs began to look tit-shaped.
5. Martine, Hélène, and Sophie partied in the 11th arrondissement and slept on the street.

HINT: remember that a clause is a subject PLUS a verb!! If you see a verb, but it has no subject, then you're NOT looking at a clause! (This is also true, by the way, if you see a noun with no associated verb!)

ANSWERS: [1. 2/complex; 2. 1/simple; 3. 2/complex; 4. 2/compound; 5. 1/simple]

comma deliciousness update

My series on commas definitely won't be completed before I embark on my walk, so you'll have to hold your breath for a month and wait for the comma rants to resume in late-late October or early November.

Meanwhile, know this: mechanics is the branch of proper writing that deals with capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. It overlaps with grammar in some ways (e.g., a spelling error can also be a grammatical error), but is otherwise its own little field of study. Keeping that in mind, look at the following unpunctuated, un-capitalized sentence and rewrite it so that it's mechanically correct. (There are a couple different ways to do this.)

if he lives he lives if he dies he dies

Have at it! If you've already read (and internalized!) the first two installments of my series on commas, then you already know how to deal with the above.

Justin finds a funny story

Go to Justin's blog and read this story about a pipe-cleaning attempt that goes horribly, horribly wrong.

if they don't take the environment seriously, why should I?

Climate protestors leave a littered mess in their wake. Hypocrites. And this is another reason why I'm far more concerned about the pollution we leave on the ground and in the water than I am about a half-degree change in global temperature over the past century. Our slobbishness is a much more immediate problem. The Tea Party may be dead, but I'm reminded of how people used to observe that Tea Party rallies left no trash, whereas any given leftist rally would be a trash-strewn nightmare. (h/t Instapundit)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

pie, take 2

No kidney today! I pronounce myself DONE with kidney! I had another slab of brisket, plus leftover peas-and-carrots, leftover mashed potatoes, and a whole mess of mushrooms that I had bought from the grocery store yesterday. I pan-fried the shrooms in butter and olive oil, with a bit of salt and pepper. I cubed the brisket into bite-size pieces and set the meat aside. I brought out the remaining stout-infused brown gravy, tossed it in with the shrooms, then dumped in the peas/carrots and mashed potato, mixing everything thoroughly. The brisket went in last. The only reason why I heated this mixture up was to make it easier to incorporate everything. Once the beef went in, I killed the heat and stirred everything until I had a new pie filling for what you might call a steak-and-stout pie or a steak-and-mushroom pie, both of which the Brits make. The filling then went into the freezer for an hour.

Below is the seven-image photo essay of that journey. As per usual, the pie crust was sloppy-looking, but I must say that, with the crust recipe that I use, I'm really not as concerned about the aesthetics as I am charmed by how awesome the crust turns out every single time.

Gravy, peas, carrots, mashed potato, dried onions, and shrooms:

With the beef brisket added in:

Into the pie crust:

Painted over with egg wash and looking ugly as usual:

End result:

The "with one piece taken out" shot:

And a decent cross-section to finish up with:

This pie was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.

I am so making this

Breakfast pie, from a pie-focused restaurant in Mayfair, London, called The Windmill:

The pie looks incredible, but I can tell you right now that my own version will decidedly not have sausage skins. But the sausage will most assuredly be bacon-wrapped.

I've seen a couple of these Windmill videos, now, and one thing I'm stealing from them is their use of fresh parsley right inside their pie dough. Das ist eine fantastische Idee!

noodlin' for catfish, parts 1 & 2

Bon Appétit's Brad Leone partnered up with loud, shouty Canadian cook Matty Matheson to go noodling for catfish in the muddy crickwaters of Oklahoma. Brad is the host of Bon Appétit's "It's Alive" series, in which Brad travels to different parts of the world and learns how the locals catch and/or kill and/or grow their food, from the ground (or the water) to the table. Part 1 of the catfish adventure features the actual noodling—an intimate and vaguely scary method of fishing that is best learned through experience than through explanation. Part 2 is when the chefs get into chef mode and cook up the huge fish they've caught.

Part 1, in which Matty screams like a little girl:

Part 2, which features a good bit of blood:

the "O Fortuna" (Carmina Burana) mondegreen

My buddy Mike sent me a link to this the other day:

I told Mike that this reminded me of the "Indian Nipple Song":

UPDATE: this one's pretty funny, too:

I don't think the above video puts nearly as much effort into trying to find plausible mondegreens, but it's spot-on every time we (mis)hear "You're like a sack of meat, girl!"

steak-and-kidney pie: the prep and the lunch

[WARNING: graphic imagery of a beef kidney being worked on!]

Prep for the steak-and-kidney pie took several days. I took my sweet time buying brisket and the beef kidney, then I made the pie crust Friday morning. What follows are pics from Friday-night prep (which went past midnight and strayed into Saturday morning) and Saturday's hike and lunch. Friday-night kidney prep first. This was gross and fascinating.

Below, we have the mostly thawed beef kidney, which I had purchased at Majang Meat Market and stored in my office's fridge all day long. I was curious and excited to be working on this alien blob of organ meat, which was unlike anything I had ever handled before. Behold:

The kidney looked pale when I unwrapped it, but it began to "blush" soon after, as you'll see in subsequent photos. I got the impression that the kidney had quite a bit of blood in it.

The kidney, flipped over and now blushing. You see the huge fat deposit:

All the tutorials I saw and read said that you have to remove the fat deposit. This turned out to be about a third of the kidney's total weight, which may be one reason why the meat is so cheap. In the pic below, I've sliced partway through the fat hunk. As I did so, I jokingly muttered to myself as if I were a surgeon: Now resecting the main mass...

Progress. Here's the kidney with the first chunk of fat removed:

I'd never broken down a kidney before, but I did my best, assisted by my super-sharp German knife, which was a birthday gift from my coworkers. Despite the knife's sharpness, cutting away the fat proved to be difficult work, and I know I ended up removing too much perfectly good kidney meat. Whenever that happened, I did my best to rescue the good meat by trimming it off the liberated fat chunks. The image below gives you a sense of how the fat deposit went inside the kidney and wasn't merely an external part that could be easily removed. Witness the carnage:

The kidney was torn up when I was done with it, but all in all, I didn't think it was a horrible fat-trimming job. Do you see the tiny pile of "rescued" meat in the upper-left corner? Look:

I cut up the kidney and soaked the pieces in cold water (into which I'd added salt and a bit of vinegar) for two hours. The kidney went from red back to pale again:

I also slapped the brisket into the oven with no dry rub. After smelling the dry rub (I had extra rub stored in my kitchen cabinet), I decided the spicy, Tex-Mex flavor of the rub would be too strong and would kill any attempt at making the pie conform to an English flavor profile. The brisket had been well brined, though, so it was already flavorful. Here's the meat, which ended up baking for three hours, covered in foil:

It's now after midnight, so it's technically Saturday in the early morning. The following pics show the end of kidney prep and the making of the pie filling.

Kidney, post-soak, drying on a paper towel:

In the pic below, I'm breaking the kidney down further, prepping it for a cook. Interesting to note that the kidney, up to this point, seemed to have no odor at all, not even when I held a piece close to my nose and sniffed:

Following the cute girl's advice (see her video here), I put oil in a pan, fried up some thinly sliced onions, then dumped in the kidney chunks, fried them quickly, poured in beer and water, brought the whole thing to a boil, then immediately reduced the temperature to a simmer and left things that way for 45 minutes. The frying:

Kidney chunks are browned. They look like snails and smell like liver:

So, yes: now there's an odor, and the odor isn't piss, as some online wiseacres claimed. The kidney became redolent only once I started cooking it. Here are the kidney pieces, simmering away in a broth of beer and water, with a layer of brown, foamy scum having been removed:

Kidney pieces, removed from the boil. I'm not liking the smell, frankly. This causes me to remember that, when I had that steak-and-kidney pie years ago, I don't recall smelling or tasting the kidney at all: the organ meat, being denser than muscle, had merely added texture to the pie. The unpleasant smell from my own cooking felt like a bad omen.

Omen or not, I sliced the kidney thinly (looks like mushrooms):

And here's the kidney, mixed with the chopped-up (and meltingly tender) brisket, ready to receive a dose of stout-infused gravy on its way to becoming a pie filling:

Below is the gravy, boiling away. I ended up making two gravies: one was the brown gravy for the pie filling, which included stout and Worcestershire sauce. The other was "blond" gravy for the mashed potatoes; that gravy was infused with milk to lighten the color.

Pie filling, gravy'ed up:

And that was it for my prep that night. Here's a quick preview of what I'd prepared (the intensely orange carrots eventually got paired up with frozen peas for a peas-and-carrots mix that also included butter, salt, and pepper... oh, and that's cayenne on the taters):

My English friend Neil came by early Saturday morning, and we hiked a bit along the Tancheon (the Tan Creek). Here are two pics from Neil's camera:

Neil and I hit a local coffee shop because he was jonesing for coffee (the Brits apparently don't drink much tea anymore). Afterward, we wandered back to my place, and I finished prepping for lunch. On the menu: (1) steak-and-kidney pie, (2) mashed potatoes with blond gravy, and (3) peas and carrots. I had also made a dessert of chocolate panna cotta, but dessert slipped my mind, and Neil ended up leaving without having any chocolate goodness. A shame, that. The pie was fairly ugly-looking, but the crust came out as perfectly as it had the previous three times I had made pie. Here are some prandial images.

Alignment of the planets: pie, taters, and peas/carrots:

A second look:

A closeup of the pie. The crust looked horrible but tasted fantastic:

Neil pronounced the colorful vegetables "photogenic":

Taters, up close and personal:

Yes, it's true: the whipped cream in the pic below is homemade. I added turbinado sugar and a bit of vanilla extract to give the cream character.

According to Neil, the meal was very good. Whether it passed muster as a truly English version of an Englishman's beloved dish is still a bit of a mystery. I told Neil I was pretty sure that the pie I'd eaten years ago had had a redder filling than mine; it had looked a bit burgundy-colored. Neil affirmed that that color would have been more traditional, so I think I lost some authenticity points there.

My own feeling is that the pie I made—even though Neil himself had seconds—wasn't anywhere near as good as the pie in my memory. I almost feel as if steak-and-kidney pie has lost its charm for me, and given how much sheer work goes into prepping a kidney, I'm not in any rush ever to attempt this pie again. Since I have another slab of brisket ready to go, I'm going to make a good old steak pie (yes, the Brits do those, too), using the leftover peas, carrots, and mashed potatoes as part of the new pie filling, and adding some cooked-down mushrooms as well. The kidneys literally left a bad taste in my mouth, so I'm happy to be rid of them for Round 2 of pie-making. Neil, for his part, said the kidney didn't dominate the dish. The fact that he had a second serving was reassuring; at the very least, the pie had been edible.

It was a real shame that we didn't have dessert, but we were both pretty full after our main meal, so perhaps skipping the chocolate panna cotta was for the best.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

to distract you

Sorry for the lack of food-related posting. I'm suffering a massive allergy attack that may be the result of schmutz being blown into my room by my ancient air conditioner (which will now be cleaned, bien sûr). I have a ton of food photos to download, resize, and then upload to the blog along with commentary. That'll take the next little while—possibly into Sunday, Seoul time. In the meantime, to distract you, here's a cute video of a very affectionate cat:

UPDATE: another distraction! Canuck moderate-rightie JJ McCullough explains the upcoming 2019 election in Canada happening in late October:

when the Japanese have to dub their own animé


2 via Bill

kidney kommentary

I've taken a ton of photos of my beef kidney as I prepped it. I won't be posting any of those images until after my friend Neil has gone back to Masan tomorrow afternoon, but let me just say that doing surgery on a cow's kidney has to be the most interesting thing I've done this year. (As I remarked in a blog comment, I haven't done my big walk yet, so it's still possible to rank kidney-prepping at #1 for now.)

A cow's kidney is full of lobes. Kidneys are already intricate pieces of biological machinery, but a beef kidney has lobes and nooks and crannies more convoluted than the Minotaur's maze. Excising the fatty deposit wasn't easy for a one-dollar piece of meat. Luckily, I had just received a set of super-sharp German knives for my birthday (thanks again, coworkers!), so I put the smaller knife to good use, flensing away the fat as best I could. The various kidney-prep videos I saw on YouTube were generally misleading: the fat deposits that you have to get rid of run into most of the lobes of the cow's kidney, so you're not merely cutting away the huge deposit in the center: you're also digging out the hidden fat inside each lobe. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd want to go through this again—not unless someone out there has some rapidfire technique for clearing out kidney fat. Maybe next time, I won't try so hard to preserve the kidney's flesh.

Once the fat is gone, you've lost about a third of the kidney's total weight. The prepped kidney is sitting there on your cutting board, torn and bloody, looking as if it's suffered the fumbling ministrations of an incompetent surgeon (not far from the truth, in my case). The fat gets thrown away; I haven't seen a single video in which people say, "No, no—save the fat for later!" I had thought there might be some kind of dura mater-like outer membrane to cut away, but there was nothing else. Next step: let the kidney soak in a bowl of water mixed with a bit of salt and vinegar for two hours. This apparently keeps the kidneys from developing an unpleasant taste during cooking.

That's the stage I'm at now: the kidney is done soaking, and I'm going to fry it up with oil and onions, bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Once we hit that stage, I'll slice the kidney into thin pieces, mix it with the brisket and gravy, and hopefully have a pie filling worthy of an Englishman. We'll see. Stay tuned.

ADDENDUM: damn, those kidneys do stink when you cook 'em. But the smell is more liver-like than urine-like. So I guess that's a plus.

Friday, September 20, 2019

stout or red wine?

Tonight, for the steak-and-kidney pie, it's all about prepping the meat and creating a decent filling. I'm thinking about flavoring up my beef gravy with an alcohol. Many, many online recommendations are for some kind of beer, preferably a stout. But if we go in a French direction, as with boeuf bourguignon, red wine may be the better choice.

Unable to decide, I bought a can of stout and a cheap bottle of red today, and I'll do some experimentation tonight to see which I like better. Both stout and red wine will deepen and darken the color of the gravy; the red wine will make the gravy more kidney-ish; the stout will make the gravy more beef-ish. If I were to predict, at this point, which way I will ultimately tilt, I think I'll tilt stoutward because, well, that's more consistent with the English flavor profile, and when one is making something as English as steak-and-kidney pie, one shouldn't remind the English of the unpleasantness of 1066 by evoking the French with wine. Expect updates once I've made a decision.

comma usage: an aside

[NB: this post isn't part of the series on commas that I'm writing, but you can think of it as a tie-in, a spinoff, or whatever.]

Two quick case studies. First, from John Mac's blog:

Yeah, I’m sure the bridge was plenty sturdy, for me, it’s a question of balance...

Next, from a comment on Instapundit:

Don't cower on the sidelines, take the field, play the ball HARD and risk incurring the foul.

The trouble, in both cases, is that commas have been recruited to do the work that other punctuation marks are supposed to do. In the first example above, the "for me" surrounded by commas is in an ambiguous position. I can read the sentence two very different ways:

1. Yeah, I'm sure the bridge was plenty sturdy for me. It's a question of balance.
2. Yeah, I'm sure the bridge was plenty sturdy. For me[, though,] it's a question of balance.

I'd say that (2) is a plausible rewrite that captures the spirit of the original comment, but because we're separating two independent clauses, another option is a semicolon:

Yeah, I'm sure the bridge was plenty sturdy; for me[, though,] it's a question of balance.

As for the second example ("sidelines"), the over-comma-ing of the sentence also causes ambiguity. As it is, it sounds as if the writer is telling the reader not to do four things:

• cower on the sidelines,
• take the field,
• play the ball, and
• risk incurring the foul.

By using the same punctuation—commas—the guy is accidentally creating a list of equivalent items, all falling under the umbrella of the negative imperative Don't. To make the items non-equivalent, to separate the dos from the don'ts in what is supposed to be a hortatory (i.e., exhorting, demanding) sentence, you need to break the sentence up and use different punctuation. My rewrite would use the dramatic em dash:

Don't cower on the sidelines—take the field! Play the ball hard and risk incurring the foul!*

That sounds more like how a coach would talk. But if you wanted to go even more dramatically Shatnerian (not recommended, by the way):

Don't cower on the sidelines! Take the field! Play the ball hard! And risk incurring the foul!

Sprinkling too many commas throughout your sentences can create unnecessary ambiguity and even deaden the passionate tone you're striving for. But judicious use of punctuation can make your prose more lively, causing it to leap off the page and straight into the reader's head. Punctuation has an impact, so use it wisely.**

*When it comes to "em-dashed" speech, I think of General Chang in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," when he quotes Khrushchev and says to Kirk during the Klingon drumhead trial, "Don't wait for the translation—answer me now!"

**Granted: if you don't understand how punctuation works, then poor punctuation will have no impact on you because you're already unable to distinguish good from poor punctuation. What a boring life you must lead, utterly lacking in nuance and subtlety!

"hanged" vs. "hung"

Dr. Vallicella tersely writes:

A man is hanged; his coat is hung.
So the good philosopher is saying that a man's coat has a big dick.

Styx on the Justin Trudeau-in-blackface flap


UPDATE: Paul Joseph Watson has hilarious thoughts on this, too, noting that Trudeau apparently "blacked up" at least three times in his recent youth:

Watson quote:
"So when Trudeau himself becomes a casualty of the mob-outrage, PC culture he helped build, forgive me for having little sympathy. [...] Identity politics eats its own once again."

PJW notes that the left has already forgiven Trudeau, just as the left has forgiven—and buried the news about—Virginia governor Ralph Northam and his own blackface scandal. Would the left give the same quarter to a conservative discovered to have put on blackface in his or her youth? I leave that question to those who understand clearly what hypocrisy is.

I have to wonder how long Trudeau's people knew about, and sat on, those photos and videos.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

to-do list

The list of things to do keeps changing as I think of more stuff.

1. dice up and boil carrots (for peas & carrots)
2. peel and boil potatoes, then make mashed potatoes
3. make pie crust
4. make chocolate panna cotta
5. make whipped cream for panna cotta
6. prep and cook kidneys
7. brine brisket
8. cook brisket
9. make yuksu for gravy
10. make gravy (for pie and mashed potatoes)
11. combine brisket and kidneys with gravy
12. prep egg wash (or butter?) for pie crust

beef kidney: found!

A late-morning/early-afternoon trip out to Majang Meat Market netted me a single beef kidney. It's not that there was some sort of kidney shortage: it's just that a single beef kidney is a bit larger than two New York strip steaks,* and I don't need more than one kidney to make a pie for two people (or two individual pies... I haven't yet decided how to approach this question). The price for a single beef kidney was astonishing: a thousand won, which comes out to around 83 cents these days. I asked the lady about the price several times to make sure I hadn't misheard her. "A thousand won per kidney," she said patiently.

The meat market looked different because I was finally seeing it during its peak hours of operation. Different comic-book-style names for the place kept popping into my head: Slaughter Central, Dismemberment Alley, Offal Experience. Lopped-off pig heads sat bloodily on butchers' tables, waiting to be processed. Shops specializing in organ meats and tripe had their organs laid out in display cases; the tripe, which stank, floated limp and wet inside huge, heavy-duty plastic buckets of water(?), looking for all the world like textured sea creatures that had faded-gray carpets for skin.

I had no idea kidney would be so cheap, especially given how expensive the brisket was. This got me pondering why beef kidneys are so cheap, and now I'm curious to find out whether sheep and pig kidneys are equally cheap.

What you see below—after the first photo, which contains a stupid Korean-language pun that only a foreigner would make—are two shots of the frozen beef kidney that I purchased from some random store. Other stores were selling fresh beef kidneys, but I didn't know that until after I had purchased my frozen one. What would I have found out about the price of beef kidneys had I done some comparison shopping?

Here's the kidney, with my bear paw for scale. You can see the fatty region that will need to be cut out once I begin prepping my coveted organ:

Just a little bit closer:

I've got the kidney in our office's fridge at the moment, where it's solid as a rock. It'll still be mostly frozen when I take the little bastard home tonight, and I'll likely accelerate the thaw tomorrow night by dunking the kidney in a bowl of room-temp water into which I'll let the tap trickle steadily. I found a video on kidney prep by a girl who obviously thinks she's cute (wait'll you see that last "I'm so adorable in my short skirt, aren't I?" balcony shot at the very end—so typically twentysomething). Whatever the video's demerits (there's an unsanitary bird perched on the young lady's shoulder; one commenter said s/he kept waiting for the bird to poop on her black shirt), it's pretty straightforward about proper prep, so I'll be using the vid, plus some online references (like this one), as a guide for how to deal with the kidney. Here's the kidney-prep video:

*Kidney weight here. NY strip weight here.

chocolate panna cotta

The panna cotta came out okay. I ate a test cup of it this morning. It could probably use some whipped cream on top to counteract some of the richness, but even without whipped cream, it was good by chocoholic standards. This was also a fine way to use up the last of my gelatine sheets. Here's the test cup before it got destroyed:

beef stock in the making

Behold the slow-cooker, in which I've dumped some lovely, fatty chuck, short rib, and shabu beef. It may not look like much, but it's got it where it counts, kid. This is what everything looked like at the beginning of the slow cook:

I cooked the meat all night. When I woke up:

The yuksu (meat broth) smelled and tasted amazing. This is what happens when you let physics take over during a slow cook: fat renders out; the collagen in the cartilage, the muscle fascia, and the connective tissue also renders out, adding umami to the broth, and the result is nothing short of miraculous:

I strained and bagged the meat before it could dry out. It's in the freezer, fork-tender, waiting to be re-thawed at some point and plucked at at my leisure. The stock has been poured out and containerized, where it will serve as the base for a lovely brown gravy, some of which will end up as an ingredient for pie filling, and some of which will be lovingly poured over mashed potatoes. This is a stock in all sooth because it had bones in it. Did I forget to mention the marrow's contribution to the overall taste?