Maxed Out Haggle Mule

Not to brag, but I was truly at the vanguard of the current cocktail (often mistakenly referred to as martinis) renaissance. Seriously, I was becoming focused on mixology almost 20 years ago, when most people were still barely aware of craft beers. As a result, I have been, at times, more than a bit pedantic about cocktails, and more than a bit of a snob about what I will and will not drink. Despite growing up surrounded by male relatives who, to my young mind, seemed to be fueled by gin and tonic, I rarely, if ever, have mixed drinks if the option exists to have a cocktail.

However, of late, I have become increasingly interested in “bucks”, often called mules. These are mixed drinks made specifically with ginger ale or ginger beer, citrus, and hard liquor. Blame my budding curiosity on relentlessly scorching heat and laziness when it comes to cranking out an endless supply of mint juleps.

But, ever shackled to my cocktail roots, I find myself rarely able to simply order a Moscow mule, or a dark ‘n’ stormy without trying to put my own twist onto it to “up the ante”.

My current obsession is a varient on the dark ‘n’ stormy which began with a particularly good one I had at a very fine restaurant in Telluride Colorado about a month ago.

My version goes like this:

  • Gosling’s Black Seal Rum [1]
  • Canton ginger liqueur
  • Reed’s “Extra Ginger Brew” ginger beer
  • slice of lime
  • sprig of mint

I would say 3:1 with the rum and liqueur. Ratio of those combined to ginger beer is predominantly to taste, but the goal is something which has the perfect balance of sharp ginger bite to soft rum sweetness. I include Canton in addition to Reed’s “extra” ginger beer because pre-bottled ginger beer just isn’t as strong as freshly made. If you can get ahold of properly fresh ginger beer, then you can just make dark ‘n’ stormy’s and not worry about the rest.

Muddle the lime and the mint. Pour the spirits over the muddle. Pour on soda. This order of operations should allow you to avoid any need to mix with a spoon or straw, which drives out a lot of carbonation. Add ice last, as it gets in the way of the combinatorics — just don’t forget to leave room in the glass. An iced tea glass is ideal for this, but a high ball will do just fine.


[1] This is my go to rum of choice unless you absolutely have to have clear rum for something like a mojito. Gosling’s is cheap, readily available, and has a very soft, round flavor which is neither exclusively sweet, nor exclusively spiced. I prefer it to all but the most premium of dark rums — which I can’t afford to make cocktails with.

Vegan Elixir of The Dude (AKA a Vegan White Russian)

Man… sometimes you just need some existential contemplation while ponderously crunching ice flavored heavily of coffee, drenched in a creamy flavor, and backed up by the liberating aspects of a good vodka.  Therefore, after trial and error, I bring you The Dude’s favorite beverage cast into a vegan form.  Polymorphed, if you will, but not transmogrified.

It’s simple, man.  Instead of cream, use Silk soy-milk.  It is, like, thicker than other soy-milks so it makes that creamy goodness that is enjoyable in a white russian.  My preferred mix is 1:1*, coffee liqueur to vodka, and then put in whatever amount of Silk I want which is usually at least twice the mixed amount.

Remember not to drink and adventure.  And, above all, remember… The Dude abides.

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Chuck Roast part 2

OK, it turns out that this is going to be a true challenge.

Once the roast cooled, the issue turned out to be less about the remaining fat, there wasn’t nearly as much as I thought there was at first, and more about the flavor, which at first I had thought was just fine.

As it turns out, cooking something with previously roasted garlic for about 16 hours isn’t such a good idea. The roasted garlic goes from being buttery and caramelized and pungent to being bitter, acerbic and pervasively insistent.

Trying to render the entire thing down to a batch of beef and barley soup did not solve the problem.

I think now that I need to combat the garlic bitterness with something sweet without making the dish sweet. Since the zatar has been obliterated by the garlic, I’m going to try tamarind paste, since I already have that in the house.

Unless I find something clever at the Chinese grocery tonight, when I go to pick up barley tea bags, because we are out and it is 100 degrees here everyday and living without barley tea is barely living. (get it?)

One nice thing about dropping $20-25 on a roast is that you can’t just throw in the towel if it doesn’t work out. It forces you to play clutch and think, and work out what needs to be done.

And Now a True Test

Sometimes butchers lie. At least, mine did yesterday.

After… 12 hours in an oven at 220 and another 4 hours at 200, my grass fed beef chuck roast did not completely melt and fall apart the way a pork shoulder would have. In fact, most of it is still a huge, fatty mess.

But it smells fantastic because it spent that 16 hours in zatar and roasted garlic.

I will let you know how I manage to salvage this.

I can say, the flavor is very good, and the drippings are going to make amazing soup. I’m just not looking forward to picking all this apart quite as carefully as is going to be required it seems.

Kobold Slaw

Eh? Get it? Kobold? Cole, bold? Bold cole slaw? Kobold slaw? No? Sorry.

Anyway, food ideas have been thin on the ground here, lately. I went into a long post Lenten funk, and then I spent the whole month of June on a road trip eating other people’s largely uninspired cooking (with a few notable exceptions).

But yesterday’s festivities found me doing my eye of round roast with the zatar rub, sliced thin, and wrapped into pita with tabbouleh, which I served to friends. Alas, I do not yet make my own tabbouleh. But thus inspired to actually make real food, I did embark on a “one shot” quest. Our side dish was a fresh slaw.

One small head of cabbage, cored, quartered, and sliced thin.[1] One sweet onion [2], cored, halved, and sliced thin. One each of green, red and yellow bell peppers, cored and sliced thin.

I would say for an off the cuff batch, go with that, but use two each of the peppers. But I was trying to use up some of the last of the harvesting from my garden (the time has come to turn most of it over and plant black eyed peas and sweet potatoes), so instead I used four “blushing beauty” bell peppers (these are smaller than the usual variety, hence four instead of three), and a large cucumber which I removed the seeds from and sliced thin as well. I also de-seeded and sliced into ribbons three of my fresh habanero peppers which are only just barely turning orange these days. It is from this last that the dish is dubbed Kobold Slaw.

As a dressing I whisked together toasted sesame oil, olive oil, soy sauce, salt, black pepper, prepared horse radish paste, powdered ginger (if I had planned ahead, fresh would have been better), and a teensy bit of egg-free canola mayo [3]. The idea was something along the lines of a sesame ginger salad dressing, but thicker. Keeping in mind that the oil is going to draw the heat out of the ribboned hot pepper flesh, as well.

Again, if you plan ahead, you can make this dish hours prior to serving it, tossing the dressing around every 30 minutes or so. The longer it has to set up, the more profound and complex the flavors will get. I served this first within an hour of making it, and it was good. We served the rest much later for the fireworks party and it was so much better.


If you prefer a more traditional cole slaw, I did have a genuinely inspired variety during my travels that included whole caraway seeds in with the cabbage and carrots which was very, very tasty.


[1] If you actually plan ahead, do this an hour or two before everything else. Salt the cabbage liberally, toss it every few minutes for at least half an hour, then rinse off all the salt. This will remove a lot of water from the cabbage which will otherwise end up in your dressing at the bottom of the serving bowl.

[2] Remember that “Vidalia” is a brand name from a specific county in… Georgia or one of the Carolinas. Get whatever sweet onions grow most locally to you, even if they’re just some uninterestingly labeled alphanumeric. Reducing your carbon foot print tastes better than terroir.

[3] Vegan without having to buy “veganaise” which is just gross, since the only way to get mayo made with ethical eggs, that I know of, is to make your own from scratch, which is tasty, but a hassle.

Kale Chips … of FIRE

Lately we have been drowning in a see a greenery which has resulted in … yep … salads.  An adventure in a salad is a lot like a 15th level Paladin walking in on a room of 1st level skeletons.  For the uninitiated — none whatsoever.  However, there is sometimes a rare jewel that makes things interesting.  A bauble that drops from nowhere and suddenly the mundane turns interesting.  And so it is with kale chips of fire.

Typically I find kale unappealing.  I’ve used it before.  I’ve made soups with it.  I’ve sauteed it.  I’ve otherwise abused it into a form I would eat and hopefully digest.  But this recipe makes all the difference in the world.

Preheat an oven to 350F.  While it warms, remove the kale leaves from the stems and shred them into something resembling the size of your favorite chips.  Reckon an amount that would cover a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and reserve the rest for another time.  In a large bowl, toss the kale you plan to use with a light coating of olive oil, a dash of salt, perhaps a little pepper, and red pepper flakes (quantity of your choosing…).  Spread on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in oven.  Bake for 10-20 minutes and keep an eye on them.  The goal is to bake them until most of them turn brown.

Let them cool a bit and enjoy.

When I first made this, I got a little eager with the red pepper.  As a result, I conjured a fire elemental to wander about the chips for awhile… and then in my glowingly warm belly.  They were kicky, but they were good.  And I vanquished them.