Saturday, September 12, 2009

Electric Cooking with the Silver Anniversary Wok; 1-Cup Coffee Maker; The Most Annoying Character in Literature

I like electric cooking devices. The coffee maker and the wok will be celebrating their 25th anniversary next year, not to each other. Then there’s my EEB—the Emergency Electric Burner system, rarely brought out except for Thanksgiving when I need Burners 5 and 6. Pretty exciting when the Chef calls out for Burner 5 and the cry returns from the cook, “Burner 5 ready, sir!”

The little round waffle maker has gotten a lot of use lately, although there’s nothing sadder than making a pile of waffles and finding the forgotten, unexamined, uneaten leftover waffle sitting in the back of the fridge after a week. Not even the toaster can bring it back to life.

Tonight the wok saw some new ingredients: shallots and squash. I loved Anthony Bourdain’s memoir KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, the updated 2007 edition and am a big fan of his NO RESERVATIONS Travel Channel show. Tony mentioned shallots in the book as one ingredient that chefs use that you don’t usually use at home, an onion-like vegetable that lets you know you’re eating out.

I went to Key Food, bought some shallots and thought, why stop there? Lately I’ve been eating squash at Miss K’s Kitchen’s hot food Italian buffet ($4.99/lb. is a fantastic bargain at Madison & 30th) and decided to experiment with it. This is the first time I ever bought squash to cook, to my best recollection. I also picked up some mushrooms.

I usually cook chicken on the wok but tonight went for the pepper steak, 1 lb. Start the brown rice on the stove and cook for 45 minutes or as long as it takes simmer away extra water. Cut each steak strip into inch squares and marinate in soy sauce for as long as it takes to chop the mushrooms into thin slices, the squash into thin circles, and the scallions into circles then quarter the circles. Start with the steak in the middle at medium heat for about 5-6 minutes or until almost done. (Keep an eye on the rice!) Push the steak to the sides and add the scallions and the squash for at least 3 minutes. Push the scallions and squash aside and let the mushrooms cook in the juices for another 3 minutes. Mix it all together vigorously for 2-3 minutes, then turn the wok to low and cover as the rice finishes. Serve the steak combo over a bed of rice.


How did I lose my plastic 1-cup coffee maker? I don’t know, but I can’t live without it any longer. Tonight I ordered one from Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop in Philadelphia. I’ve looked in several likely NY stores and nobody had it—BB&B, Target, JC Penney, etc. I’ve been making ½ pots of coffee on the weekend but that’s probably too much coffee to drink in a day, at least for me.


No doubt about it, the most annoying character in fiction is the father in LITTLE DORRITT. I’m about halfway through it and unless Dickens has a trick up his sleeve, this is the most annoying and self-pitying character in fiction since the incompetent Uncle Billy in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. My contempt for Uncle Billy, the archetypal unreliable family member, who not only isn’t pulling his weight but is a drag on the family resources, started to extend irrationally to the actor who played him, Thomas Mitchell, like hissing the villain in a melodrama. It wasn’t until I saw his heroic role in the Cary Grant flying pic ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS that I realized that Mitchell was just a helluvan actor.

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