Bad Ideas

Well, I strongly suspect that this shouldn’t have worked, but there you go. When you run the numbers against the development of our planet to its current life supporting state you start to think that about a lot of things.

There are times that I get an image in my head, and an occasionally alarming compulsion to make those things real. As I am a pretty useless visual artist, I will almost inevitably default to a medium in which I am competent. Which means either prose, roleplaying game design, or…

Food.

I don’t think that my teenage self would approve if they realised that I now considered this a means of self expression. But seriously, fusk ’em, I don’t give a fusk what my fourth dimensional selves think and they’re all fusked in the head.

Anyway, I’m in a Blade Runner kind of mood, so I’m making…

Curry Gyoza Noodles

Yeah, bit of a funny revelation, but Pythagoras got triangles, I get carbs. Here’s how you do it. 20161121_134536.jpg

First, you need some Gyoza. And if you think these little dumplings aren’t cyberpunk as fusk, then take one look at the ingredients and you’ll realise that they almost entirely epitomise the kind of shenanigans I’ve been trying to embody throughout this blog.

I don’t know if there’s a thing in there that isn’t a thing-substitute.

Anyway, you fry the gyoza then steam them. The trick here is not to use too much oil, because if you do it’ll attempt your murder when you pour the water in for steaming.

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Action shot!

Anyway, that’s pretty easy stuff. Take the now cooked gyoza out of the pan and set them aside somewhere. I mean you could use a new pan if you’re some fancy-pants multiple pan owning type, but I did it with one because that’s what I’ve got.

Next stage, sauce. I could have made something with vitamins and minerals and such, but that isn’t what I did.

Dice up an onion and a couple of small potatoes very finely. Using the (same) pan, fry these things, and once they have that tasty fried coating sprinkle them liberally with curry powder. VERY liberally, or you will be cast from this blog in shame!

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Anyway, from there its the simple addition of this blood substituting, incredibly cheap cleanskin, which is also our drop of the night. Day. Time has gotten slippery for me lately.

Add a bit of water to the sauce to keep it fairly thin, as its going to need to soak through both dumplings and noodles.

And now we get to those noodles! I personally use the very cheapest ramen on the market, not the instant variety but the serious bulk packs from Jinmailing. Though they usually require a second round of boiling to extract the unusually high amount of starch, but once you get over that little hurdle you’re away.

So cook the noodles. Please don’t ask me to teach you how to do that.

With that done, so are we. Place the dumplings on the noodles, pour the sauce on, and garnish with a little Japanese style pickled ginger and sliced raw spring onions.

Somehow, imaginary readers, it worked.

Keep on rockin.

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The Simple Things

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I currently have broccoli and garlic in a pot.

It will shortly be joined by pasta. That’s what I’m having for dinner.

Now, this isn’t another rant about my being poor. Its got a bit more to do with how sometimes really simple things are perfect, and for all that could be added to them, it won’t really be improved.

This was originally one of my partner’s recipes, and I suppose its that which connects it in my mind to a particular character in an anime that she watched almost religiously for a time.

For those of you who have watched Rurouni Kenshin, I’m referring to Saito. For those who have not, the Rurouni Kenshin series follows Kenshin, a warrior in the early years of the Meiji Restoration after he has sworn never to kill again. It toys with ideas around the end of an armed society, corruption blooming in times of rapid change, and the obsolescence of revolutionaries once all the fighting is done.

Saito, a later arc foil of Kenshin, is a nasty piece of work. Though he shows a degree of adaptation lacking in the serial’s previous villains, his obsession with violence takes on a more insidious quality. Rather than a warrior stuck in the past, he simply redirects his violent streak into acts of highly creative police brutality and ritualised duels in the name of martial virtue; and naturally this being shonen anime he has to battle the hero to prove he’s mightiest no matter how nonsensical that may appear to outsiders. He’s something of an echo of the Japan that would be; the ferocious Empire that tore forth into the twentieth century.

But what always struck me was that he would always eat his noodles unseasoned. I think I’m beginning to understand why.

My sense of taste has deteriorated further. What little is left is beginning to give vague hints as to what food contains that is of value. And I find myself drawn further to only lightly seasoned goods, be it soba and sesame seeds, salted baked potato or pasta and broccoli. Maybe I’m just digging the carbohydrate hit. Its lighter than anything deep fried.

But anyway. You put your finely dismantled broccoli in a pot with a touch of oil and a thin layer of water, so that it steams rather than fries. The garlic, crushed and chopped, dives in with it. Cook your pasta in salt water, drain i and mix the two when their ready.

Its a simple little thing.

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Something on Toast

I suppose I’ve always been a bit of a scavenger.

But this was a morning where my tendency to pick up odds and ends of cheap jewelry from between cobblestones or to arrive at an event advertising free wine and arrange for there to be free wine no longer just wasn’t going to cut it.

There was nothing for breakfast.

Well, not nothing. Nothing easy. I can’t remember the last time we bought cereal, and the English Muffin supply has run its natural course. Again. I suggest pancakes, but Ghorb isn’t really sold given the soporific effect Canadian food seems to have on these kinds of mornings. Rainy Melbourne mornings. Queenie emerges, and the prospect is discussed.

I suggest some kind of tofu spread, and they look at me like I’m crazy. This latter is not an uncommon occurrence.

Then I suggest that I can’t think of anything beyond pancakes, and after a brief brainstorm a sort of tofu tomato toast is proposed.

Here’s how it went down.

wpid-20150712_094636.jpgI hacked the silken tofu out of its industrial sized tub, and hoiked it into the pan. Yes I’ve been buying it by the kilogram now. The lady at the Chinese Grocery around the corner has been very obliging.

Fry with soy sauce and pepper for flavour. Throw in a finely chopped onion and garlic, cook for a little bit.

Add a can of diced tomatoes, or your own chopped fresh tomatoes if your feeling very fancy and far more motivated than I was at this point. Add Sriracha chili sauce, because you can’t go wrong with Sriracha and given it looked like we were all coming down with colds deploying some demolitions on our sinuses seems like a good plan.

Basil and oregano, because I always put some of those in with tomatoes. Feels weird not to.

Next, dig small holes in this mixture, and throw in some eggs. Let them fry a little, wpid-20150712_095645.jpgbefore stirring them through the mixture. For any of my vegan imaginary readers, I’d probably use chunky chopped mushrooms. Because hell yeah chunky chopped mushrooms, that’s a fusking brilliant idea. You can also probably sub the cheese that’s upcoming for delicious salty bean paste (see the Refried Bean Secret for reference).

Ah right, yeah. Cheese. Toast some bread, spread the mix on, and put a slice of cheese on top. Put it in the oven or grill to melt the cheese. Sprinkle with oregano and black pepper. Because you’re worth it.

So that was my brilliant idea. Feel free to leave any of your delicious scrounged meals in the comments, my dear imaginary readers.

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Frying the Trickster

It was a thought that startled a friend of ours when we stayed with her in the UK.

I said that I had never seen a fox alive. I know they’re a massive pest here in Australia, but the only time that I had ever seen one before this point was as a mangled shape on the side of the highway. Usually the Hume Highway, between Sydney and Canberra. I don’t know if that’s significant.

So our host put out some chicken offcuts in her backyard, leaving a low light on and keeping a firm hand on her little West Highlands Terrier. Soon enough, to the Westy’s unhappy growls, we watched through the glass door as a trio of foxes, barely more than pups, hopped over the rear shed and dropped into the back yard. They warily snatched up the chicken before departing again, and I couldn’t help but feel like these strange animals were more like possums than dogs, leaping and clambering over fences and knocking over bins. Maybe I’m just more used to having possums near the house. For any imaginary readers who haven’t been to Australia or New Zealand, consider it a mercy to have not heard a possum’s voice at night. Scary shite right there.

Anyway, I was talking about foxes. I had met them in another context, in which they were neither flesh and blood creatures or flesh and blood road markers. Fox Shrines dot Japan, often in wild and partially forgotten places, or clinging quietly to unseen corners in the grounds of larger shrine complexes. There is a beautiful one to the side of Kamakura’s Hachimangu whose approach seems little more than a narrow forest path, leading to a flight of weathered stairs and, for me at least, a haunting sensation of being watched.

What all this fox related jabbering is leading to is the noodle recipe that follows.

Now there’s a leap of logic for you.

To explain: not long ago I attempted to make some Kitsune Udon for my partner and Ghorb, who is currently living with us. A rough translation would be Fox Noodles. I’ve never understood what appeal fried tofu has to foxes, but then I’ve never really felt much of an urge to delve into it either. Just sort of took it as given that the folkloric tricksters of Japan’s unforgiving ecosphere would , like me, be really into soy products.

So here’s how I did it.

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First, I chopped up a whole bunch of Shitake Mushrooms for broth. Because mushrooms are great.

Arrayed behind said mushrooms are my other ingredients; red miso paste, sesame seeds and firm tofu. You’ll be able to tell from these that I’m not making a traditional broth… this is really more an homage to a memory than a real recreation.

Because I’ve tried to arrange for silken tofu to hold its shape through the frying process before, and we all remember how that went.

Well, you guys don’t I suppose… it didn’t end well. Silken tofu just kind of disintegrates when you try to fry it, and this little blogger had to walk all the way back to the supermarket, which is… admittedly, right across the road, to get firm tofu.

So remember: Firm Tofu.

Here’s what you do with it.

You slice it into little steaks. I made triangles, but you could equally make rectangles or any other shape your knife skill wpid-20150629_183335.jpglevels allow.

Give them a quick skin mixed from flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Fry in oil until crispy.

Fry the mushrooms, then drown them in hot water and add a goodly dollop of miso paste to make a tasty broth. Sprinkle in some finely chopped spring onions, and your golden. Throw in noodles for your audience and… hey presto.

Get those noodles and that broth into a bowl, place the nice little tofu guys on top, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Much more attractive than most of the foxes I’ve encountered, to be sure.

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Bean Burger

I’ve had a little dream.

I suspect that it finds its source in Shadowrun: Dragonfall, a cool little turn based strategy game with rpg elements that I finished around Christmas time while I was back in Scotland.

Anyway, for whatever reason I’ve had this urge to build myself a little garden, possibly on a flat rooftop somewhere, and kit it out with a vegetable patch and a clutch of solar panels. I think this sentiment grew out of the game, as that is very much the aesthetic of the Kreusbazaar, the game’s central environment, a tough little anarchist state holding its own in the sea of violence and exploitation that surfaced in the wake of Berlin’s Dracopocalypse.

Around the same time I was eating a lot of bean burgers. There was a stand at the Edinburgh’s Christmas Market, just down the strip from the waffle stand run by a gang of South German accountants and lawyers, that sold a wide selection of burgers, and we learned to get along well with them selling vegetarian food and my rarely having time to make my own lunch.

So if I had a rooftop garden I feel like, climate permitting, I’d probably grow beans.

And I made a bean burger for myself, which is tangentially connected to all this babble and rather more so to the title of this article. Why it is I seem to feel the need to misdirect so aggressively in my opening statements is a facet of myself I am yet to understand.

So there was a bean burger. The bean mix functioned a bit more like a spread than a burger, but it turned out pretty well.

Instructions!

Fry your beans in oil, and then mash them to a paste with a fork in the pan. Throw in some finely chopped onion.

Spread the mix onto an English Muffin, or whatever bread product you have handy.

Fry a strip of firm tofu in oil, and put this on the bean mix like a cute little soy steak (omg! so cute!)

Add sweet chilli sauce.

Eat.

Use glucose extracted by your digestive system to collapse Australia’s monstrous government and attend celebratory drinks in quorganism’s solar bean garden.

Enjoy your week, imaginary readers.

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Pumpkins, Pagans and Penises in your Faith

I’ve been watching the seasons.

It’s been a bit weird, coming back to inverted seasons, but the Australian Autumn has proven rather warmer and sunnier than even the Scottish Summer. Even then, it’s nearly Samhain, and that means…

Pumpkins!

It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve given y’all, my dear imaginary readers, one of my recipes/snuff pieces, so here’s one that’s kind of about a pumpkin pasta dish, a little bit about religion, with a dash of Renaissance art thrown in for good measure.

Anyway.

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I know that we’re at the opposite end of the agricultural cycle to be really thinking about planting, but seeds are handy in vegetarian-land because we all need iron and chewing rusty nails gets some funny looks. But once again, Samhain approacheth, and hollowing out pumpkins sort of sits well with that, so we’ve got these little fellas out of that process.

I’m using a Butternut for this. I think the British call them Squash, but they’ve always been pumpkins to me.

I’ve got some mixed seeds too, Just for variety.wpid-20150120_160127.jpg

For my northern hemisphere imaginary readers, it may be weird that I’m talking about Samhain in March, and indeed the calendars do read Easter. Hell, for you guys Halloween isn’t til October. Just gotta remember I’m on the topsy turvy arse end of the globe now, out by the “here be dragons” label. And this is part of the problem I have with gods with dicks.

So you fry the seeds first. Otherwise they’ll be chewy.wpid-20150120_160220.jpg

You see I’ve had two Autumns this year. Two dying seasons, two harvest times. Last Autumn I was lucky enough to see Titian’s Diana and Actaeon series in the Scottish National Gallery, who had secured their loan for a few months. Beautiful pictures, but it kind of shocked me that he’d painted her as blonde. To my mind Diana was pale and raven haired, in line with the moon in the night sky.

Once you’ve chopped the pumpkin, put it in the pan with the seed mix. wpid-20150120_160430.jpgFry it up a bit, gives it more flavour. You can add some chopped onion at this point if you want, I do sometimes. It adds more bulk than taste, so it’s handy if you’re short on pumpkin.

Which we shouldn’t be at this time of year, despite the crazy Catholic Calendar telling us its the Festival of Eoster, telling us its spring time. Not sure whose bright idea that was, but its a damn fine way to foster ill considered farming practices.

Not that it matters so much in a modern context but seriously. Gods and their penises.

So I usually add a bit of water at this point, otherwise you’ll burn the mix.Throw in a touch of nutmeg, cinnamon and cumin at this point, though you probably don’t want more than half a teaspoon of each. Dash of salt and pepper.

A young cousin of my partner, while we were all temple hopping in Paestum, asked if I had a favourite Greek god, his being Ares, and I answered Artemis (Diana to the Romans and for that reason Titian) because she was crazy. She’s a brilliant character because she has absolutely no space in her heart for mercy or compromise. I suppose if I were to pick an actual role model from the Greek pantheon I’d probably be more inclined towards Athena, and even she did some pretty dark stuff (Gorgons, for example) but what I always liked about the Greek gods was I don’t think they ever felt the need to be role models. I tend to think that they were more like fables, stories about the kind of stuff that people get up to when they have too much power. The kind of gods that lead people’s most common prayer to be “oh great and glorious god, please find it into your benevolence to not kill us today.”

Give the sauce a fistful of spinach. A generous fistful. Remember that spinach is wpid-20150120_162009.jpgalways going to cook right down, add a little more water if you need to cover the leaves, but that will mean it will take longer to simmer. I’ll leave it to your discretion.

An I suppose we come to the crux of my problem with wanger deities. In the upper floor of the Scottish National Gallery, right above the frame of Diana arranging for Actaeon’s hounds to eat him after she had the temerity to show up without knocking, there’s the Medieval section. You run into a lot of pictures of Jaysus in the Medieval section, as well as a number of Madonna and child pictures that show a blatant disregard for how breasts work. I’ve got nothing against Jesus specifically. I mean, I’ve tended to view him and his Ma as fairly piss poor imitations of Attis and Cybele, and it amuses me greatly to think of the Madonna chowing down on a Christ sandwich come Winter. That was all intentional in the attempt to convert pagans, so… well, the ones that cheesed me off were the images of Jesus crowning his mother, as if he could somehow bestow divinity on Mary.

Here’s a fun fact Abrahamic fundy types. God didn’t give you life. Your mother did.

Put the pasta on to boil. You’ll want a little salt in the water.

I’ve been thinking about Cybele, the Mesopotamian fertility goddess who the Greeks called the Magna Mater, lately. Like Eoster, she’s had a rough time with the Christians trying to erase her. I think I like her because she’s understands that there are seasons for all things. She is the birth, life and death of her children, consuming them like the earth so that life can continue. Your dick gods tend to favour a top down, absolutist control structure that leads to things like absurd, impractical calendars, non-existent months named after dead crazy people, and violent fundamentalists murdering those weaker than them in attempt to block out the pathetic futility of their own existence in the face of the infinite.wpid-20150120_162255.jpg

Grate up some cheese, because cheese is great. Strain off the pasta, and your ready to dish up!

I suppose the real problem I have with gods that have penises is that they always seem to assume that they have to be alone. The only one. Maybe they looked down past their gut one day and counted. But having that as a core conceit means there’s not any room for change, for evolution or for variety. All it has is control, and the myriad abuses of that.

So I like the Magna Mater. I admit in my mind she’s a vicious, snapping thing, tough as Diana and twice as crazy, a goddess who doesn’t speak in words because she’s older than language and has never seen a need for them. But she recognizes that things change. That anything can die, because change is a necessity in the face of a changing world, to the seasons or the bigger changes we’re facing today. Because trying to massage your sad little ego in the face of a hostile universe doesn’t fix your problems. The universe is hostile either way.

I like to think she’s still waiting. Watching Jehovah. Watching the state of Abrahamic stagnation, waiting to begin the cycle again. She’ll still be there. Still hungry.

Sure is lucky that we made this delicious pumpkin pasta then isn’t it? Happy early Samhain everybody!

wpid-20150120_164637.jpgAstute readers may have realized that this recipe, or indeed this entire article, is not very Cyberpunk at all. Fr those of you worried by this, fear not! I have something lined up for you that I think you’ll appreciate… and photos supplied by me dangit, so this article’s mine! You can’t have it!