Sunday, February 05, 2017

Housekeeping...

If your favorite blog post is missing, check out... http://thejokeblog.blogspot.com, everything is going to be consolidated over there.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Philistines, the lot of them.

You all have them. Maybe just one or two, maybe a trillion. Maybe they are co-workers, friends or relatives.

We speak, natch, of the philistine.

And, an excellent way to "suss" said philistine, is the seersucker suit.

This stellar garment first struck my sartorial consciousness in 1982, having read an essay in Esquire by John "Yes, THAT John Berendt." Berendt. It was in a section titled Man at His Best, and it gave a brief overview and general pointers and the like on the seersucker suit.
My sartorial DNA was more accustomed to suits made of Irish "drill" linen (more on this in a later missive) but the seersucker -- which performs the same general function -- struck me as new and clever, and the photo above (from 1983) cemented my desire.

If you look very closely, you will note the one on the top left is an Alan Flusser number. (The rest, IIRC, are: Bottom left - Calvin Klein, center - Perry Ellis*, bottom right - Henry "WEHT?" Grethel and top right - Ralph Lauren Polo.) I, naturally, fell deeply in love with the AF one, and I decided it would be mine.
The beauty of the fabric is twofold: 1- It's very reasonable, and 2- Immensely comfortable. So, what would ordinarily cost $$$$$ in terms of bespoke tailoring (like AF) it's merely $$$. The advantage of going bespoke is that, hey, you get the bells and whistles you want. Ticket pocket? French facings? Surgeon cuffs? All there for the asking.
 
You can even select the exact color of stripes. (This is the most accurate one, colorwise.)
 
The natural partner of this suit is the white buckskin (not easy to find REAL buckskin, but sueded calf is fine) oxfords which set off the thing perfectly. Some, sincerely but unhelpfully, suggest topping off the entire ensemble with a straw boater -- the band in one's school colors -- but in all truth, I'll confess that is a lily I'm not yet comfortable enough to gild.
 
Anyway, back to the Philistines. They don't care for seersucker. This gets more complicated when you try to classify the various subtypes of philistine, something I assiduously recommend you avoid. You have your more benighted California types (easily spotted by their mating call of "[something, something] East Coast?") or those who seem to hold a general suspicion of whimsy in civilized gentlemen's raiments. More to be pitied than censured, I suppose, and probably worthy of prayers for conversion.
 
Anyway, the mere fact I have such a bespoke gem in my wardrobe makes me wish for a generous tumblerful of gin and tonic.
 
-J.
 
 
  
* Back when PE was a talented and clever designer and not a midlevel brand name.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

But before we get to December.

Today's entry will be a brief recap of Thanksgiving 2015. It's very important to stress the process of getting Thanksgiving 2015 up-and-running started sometime around February 2015.

If you are lucky, you will have a stationer nearby which carries Crane & Co. or similar. If you are diligent you will be popping by on a semi-regular basis, and if you are assiduous, you will head directly for the clearance bin to the exclusion of all other temptations.

For it is there, the clearance section, on some fine day/evening in February when you will find Thanksgiving stationery, forlorn and forgotten-ish, at +/-90% off. You should pounce. (You can then fret about the font -- as would the lovely and gracious Hannah B. -- for a few frantic hours.)
The same applies -- should you not have such accouterments at your disposal -- to tablecloths, napkins and serve/flatware (disposable is fine, provided they are attractive enough). (For these, I scour Williams-Sonoma, both my nearby stores and online, as they sometimes have different pricing and selection.)

February is the time to get this at ridiculous prices. If the inventory on clearance is large enough, and the prices low enough, you have my blessing and my example to grab every single last one of them. You may be unable to score such a bargain for Thanksgiving 20XX and then where will you be?

Weeping bitterly, as Scripture saith, leading a life of regret and remorse.

Anyway.

From such a happy February day, until November, you may rest easy; do try to put all of these where you won't forget.

Then, when Halloween is gone, you can start rehearsing. I normally make one of the components for a given dinner or lunch, and put my family through the test panel process for this year's variation on turkey (get a small breast, not a whole critter) or stuffing or mashed potato, etc. This will allow you to hone in on what you want to slap on your menu cards which you bought back in Feb. for 74¢ for a box of 12, instead of $16.99.

It's an inexpensive thought, but it lets people know, at an instinctive level, that you are going to give them a real treat and that you as host(ess) really care about them while they are under your roof (or airspace).

There are a couple of things to note from my previous Thanksgiving thoughts of 2006(!)...and they mostly center on the turkey.

This year, one of the turkeys proved to be the single best turkeys I have ever cooked. In fact, it's one of the best things I have ever cooked. So here is that, the abbreviated version:
  • Brine the turkey 24h. (If you have a frozen turkey, brining and thawing simultaneously is a GREAT way to do two things -- quickly! -- at once.) My brine is 1½ gal. water, 1 gal. ice (8 lb.), 2 c. kosher salt, 1 cup sugar)
  • Remove from brine and air dry in the fridge another 24h.
  • Mix some of the herb rub (Incidentally, for oven roast turkey the seasoning rub is 50% kosher salt, 50% dried herb mix [3 parts sage, 2 parts thyme, 1 part marjoram] with a teeny bit of baking soda added in to the skin side to help with browning and crisping of same.) with about 3T of softened butter.
  • Apply this between the skin and meat.
  • Season generously with the rub, inside the cavity and outside.
  • Sprinkle ¼t baking soda over the skin.
  • Place in the oven at 425°F (220°C-ish?) for the first 30 min, then drop the heat to 250°F (120°C?) and continue to roast until the white meat registers 160°F (70°C?) and allow to rest until the internal temperature drops to 130°F (55°C or so).
Hope that helps.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cheap excellentness, part 39283

One thing I am notoriously a fan of, is a bargain. I'd rather have the 2nd best if it offered 95% of the quality of the very best for 5% of the price. I like things that punch WAY above their weight.

So -- and I'll be brief here -- I have two suggestions in the liquor cabinet department.

First, rumwise. One of the very trendiest things are the various types of rhum agricole from Martinique or Guadaloupe. These are French territory and get the coveted AOC designation. These rums run to, um, a funk. They are distilled from fresh cane juice and, therefore, are grassy, earthy and sometimes oppressively so. But! A FORMER French territory also produces such rums (but can't legally use the rhum agricole descriptor) and I speak of Haiti.

The blanc is an in-all-but-designation rhum agricole. It has that earthy/grassy/funky thing going on but not in an off-putting way as some of its separated Gallic brethren. Oh, and if you're unfortunate enough to have to pay full-on MSRP you're looking at ma-a-a-a-aybe $17. There is no better choice for a 'Ti Punch, period.

The other choice (borne of a Twitter exchange with the estimable Doug) is my go to bourbon when I have to get bourbonic with the masses. Say, if you're having a Derby party for 8392 of your beloved's closest friends and their enormous hats.

This steal, pals, is Old Forester.

Not any fancy-pants super-duper single-shotglass version. Plain old, Old F. It goes for +/-$30...for a handle*. If you need to crank out a ton of bourbon based drinks for people with decent (but not exasperating) tastebuds, who will appreciate the good stuff but not necessarily the rarefied stuff...this is your choice.

-J.

*1.75L to you civilians.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The non-BBC Proms

Non-collegiate Numbah One Son news:

We are in that phase of his last year at school where all the...stuff...related to the activities of the "Graduating Students" is going on. Banquets, presentations, etc., etc.

With each, there is usually a letter sent home. This letter explains the details of that specific event. Attire, dates for sending in deposits (if any), contact persons and, where applicable, the rules and regulations governing the event.

One such event is his Sr. Prom, and the letter arrived a few days ago. Given the nature of the event, the letter was (not unexpectedly) somewhat longer than usual, owing to the rules-and-regulations portion which was of an ample and generous size.
In the process of getting all of the details of this event squared away, I sat down with Joey to make sure that all deadlines were met, that he was not out of compliance with any unforeseen rule. That sort of thing.

It was then I ran into what our boy described as "the Falcon rule."

One of the things I have always noted is that EVERY rule that at first blush makes no sense is there because someone with an exceptional mind took advantage of the maxim: "Nulla pœna sine lege." (Literally, "No penalty without a law (against it)." but more succinctly "It didn't say you couldn't.")

For example, when I was at school, in my second year, the student handbook stated that one had to wear "lace-up leather shoes" and then listed all of the UNacceptable forms of footwear: sneakers, deck shoes, etc. But then, in my THIRD year, that Forbidden Footwear list was amended to include -- and I am SO not kidding -- "bowling shoes."

Why?

Because some free-spirited bright lad had decided to wear such shoes the previous year and, when hauled before the Authorities to be arraigned on charges of Forbidden Footwearness, took the stand on his own behalf and noted that, wholly independent of the spirit of the law (a subjective thing, he surely argued), in the LETTER of the law, there was no expressly worded injunction against wearing bowling shoes and, as the Jesuits were fond of saying "That which is not expressly prohibited, is implicitly allowed."

Thus was born the Bowling Shoe Rule, which has been enshrined in the school's Student Handbook, even to the present day.

Anyway.

It turns out that last year, a certain young Mr. Falcon (then a teammate of our lad) saw fit to take for the evening, as his date to the Prom, a young lady some six (!) years his senior*. While her (and their) conduct before, during and after the event was entirely acceptable -- unimpeachable, even -- and her background was also unblemished -- save for her being in her first year of some master's program -- the matter drew the sharp and frank disapproval of several of the mothers chaperoning the event.

(Historians have not recorded what, if anything, chaperoning fathers, if any, may had had to say. Possibly an instance of suppression of dissent, although that would be mere conjecture.)

The objectors made their grievances with the obvious gap in regulatory coverage known to the Authorities and having prevailed upon them, we have now, enshrined in the letter to the parents of graduating students, The Falcon Rule.

Not that we were in the remotest danger of landing afoul** of it.

* That she was considered to be, and I quote verbatim, "rocket hot" is not, I explained to him whom I had offsprung, a relevant consideration for the Authorities in the formulation of policy and, possibly, may have added momentum for the decision.

** If a certain young man doesn't, er, "show some initiative, and SOON" we won't have to worry about landing afoul of even the most minuscule of rules.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Speaking of "deli"...

Today's lesson is "Kosher Dill Pickles" which is the only pickle worth ingesting.
Start with a clean and sterilized, large (24oz) Mason jar.
12oz, by weight, of pickling or "Kirby" cucumbers.
Slice them on a mandolin. Even a cheap one will work.
I wanted this batch as thin as possible. You do whatever. (You can also slice into "planks" or cut into "spears" etc.)
Clear your prep surface regularly by shoving the slices into the jar as you go.
You'll need garlic. 4 cloves if you're Iberic, 3 if you're Italian. 2 if you're a normal person.
Slice the garlic as thinly as you can without getting fanatical about it.
Add 2 t dried dill. (Make sure it's a fresh jar.)
1 T Kosher salt. (Do NOT USE REGULAR TABLE SALT. Don't be a cheapskate, Kosher salt is, like, only a buck for a silo.)
You'll need plain white vinegar. (If you can find the kind with "cultures" so much the better.)
¾ cup.
...and pour into the jar.
Top off with filtered, room-temperature water.
Shake furiously. Teenage boys you have offsprung may be conscripted for this purpose.
Put it in the corner, unlike Baby. 1-2 days to be "ready" about 3-4 to be ideal. (At which point I put them in the fridge.)
Note the color change. Pretty much ready, will improve with another couple of days, then on to the fridge. (If yours were sliced thicker, it may take an extra day across the board.)

-J.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Deli salmon, for Hannah

The lovely and gracious Hannah asked for this and so here 'tis.
Find a suitable salmon fillet.
You will need 4 parts coarse salt (about 2/3 of the weight of your salmon fillet), 2 parts sugar (about 1/3 of the weight of your salmon fillet; I prefer dark brown sugar, but all I have was light brown "raw" sugar) and 1 part fresh dill, chopped. (Smoked salt will help add a bit of that smoked salmon "touch" should you want.)
Mix all your dry ingredients, and add a shot of liquor. I didn't want to open a bottle just for this, so I finished the bottle of a lovely smoky Scotch. You do -- you guessed it -- whatever.
You want something the texture of slightly damp sand. Add half of it to your plastic container.
Plop your salmon on top.
Pile on the rest of the cure mix.
Weigh it down with something heavy (the idea is to squish out excess water). The WAY-heavier-than-it-looks hideous platter your mother-in-law gave you three Christmases ago suggests itself. Then put to cure in your refrigerator.
Wait 24-48 hours. (36 is the sweet spot, IMO.) A shorter cure will yield a more supple result, a longer one a firmer one. Give the salmon a quick rinse and pat down with paper towels to dry.
Slice as thinly as your patience will allow.