Deadbeat Donald & The Art of the Steal + Pie: Not Just for Trolls!

Valued commenter Immanentize shared a couple of tomato pie recipes with me the other day in response to my recent Attack of the Killer Tomatoes thread. Here’s the pie:


I trust it will taste as good as it looks and smells.

Speaking of trolls, Combover Caligula was in Tampa today (my closest media market). He said something that made my blood run cold even on this very hot day:

“I’ll be here so much, I’ll be in Florida, I’ll be with you so much over the next five months that you’re going to say, ‘Please keep him the hell out of Florida. He’s driving us crazy.’”

That clown car done left the big top parking lot a long time ago, Hair Furor.

But if there’s any justice, things should get more heated for Deadbeat Donald since a USA Today piece exposed him as a serial stiffer of working folks. Here’s a NY Mag summary:

USA Today has posted an explosive investigative story about what appears to be a deep aversion presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has to paying his bills. The short version: USA Today claims that, based on what looks like some rather impressive reporting, Trump has for decades looked for just about any excuse he could find to stiff everyone from plumbers to — can’t make this up — lawyers who represented him in non-payment lawsuits.

The longer version is something of a bloodbath for Trump: “At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work,” writes USA Today’s Steve Reilly. “Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.”

The striking thing about Reilly’s article is that there’s no standard script for why a given person or company didn’t get paid in full by Trump — he seemed to withhold payment rather capriciously. While Trump would often claim shoddy work as his reason for not ponying up, Reilly presents pretty overwhelming evidence that in many, if not most, of the cases, this was not a credible claim.

This tendency to screw people seems in line with Fuckface von Clownstick’s general philosophy of grift, including the Scam U thing. I’m guessing a not-insignificant percentage of the tradespeople and service providers The Cheato fucked over outside of the Scam U context might be willing to tell their tale of woe in an ad.

Turkeys, Turtles and Pie — Oh My! (Open Thread)

We went hiking yesterday at an inland nature preserve near Brooksville, Florida. It’s called Chinsegut, and we’ve been there before. It’s a lovely place with easy trails through sandhill and hardwood hammock habitats:

Chinsegut June 2016

It’s usually an easy hike, but yesterday, it was hotter than a red-headed roofer. We got a late start, so we were traipsing through the woods during the suffocating heat. The birds had more sense than we did — they mostly stayed hidden in the woods. But we did see a couple of wild turkeys on the way to the preserve:

wild turkeys June 2016

We also saw the gopher tortoise pictured below on the trail. It was greedily devouring a plant when we first noticed it. I interrupted its meal long enough to take this photo:

gopher tortoise June 2016

Gopher tortoises dig burrows all over the place, so you have to watch your step around them. They are otherwise harmless, unlike this snapping turtle* we saw, which gave us the most evil look, as if we’d trampled its eggs (we hadn’t). They can be nasty customers, so we kept our distance:

snapping turtle June 2016

After a relatively short but sweaty hike, we figured we deserved a treat, so when we got home, I made this peach pie, pictured below when it was still hot and bubbly, fresh from the oven:

peach pie June 2016

I need to work on my crust-crimping game, but the pie is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. The trick is to mix the sliced peaches and half the sugar in a bowl and let it set for a bit. Then put a colander on a saucepan, dump the peaches into the colander to drain and return them to the bowl.

Then you boil the sugary peach juice in the saucepan until it reduces down to a syrup and add it back to the peaches. That way, your pie won’t be too runny, which is always a danger with peach pies.

Anyhoo, that’s what we did with our Saturday. Today is the last day of our vacation, so we’ll have to make the most of it. We’re still deciding how — baseball, beer and BBQ are under consideration. Got any plans today?

Open thread!

* A couple of commenters pointed out that this is probably a Florida softshell turtle. I think they’re right.

Late Evening Open Thread: And Now for an Opposing Viewpoint!


Bets and the Beanstalk (Open Thread)

One feature of living in the sun-blasted hellscape of Florida, in addition to the giant, flying, indestructible cockroaches and invasive alien reptiles — one of whom has purchased the governorship — is the option to start spring gardening in February.

Our beanstalks are already 11 feet tall! Here’s today’s haul:

The best way to cook these beauties is to sauté them gently in olive oil, add a split garlic clove, then finish them with some lemon zest and pecorino cheese. Unbelievably good.

But tonight, we’re gonna fry some up in beer batter and dip them in homemade boom-boom sauce. What are you having for dinner?

Anyway, open thread!

Random Food Prön Open Thread

Hey y’all.  Some mid-morning entertainment here.

I’m home today with a pair of bum knees (bursitis flying out of control) and — as I’ve compensated for my bad wheels — spasms around a bulging disk around L4 or L5.  I feel like a water heater with a ten year guarantee staring glumly at my eleventh birthday.

But it’s hard to complain (actually, it’s not) when these are actually minor and remediable dings.  So I’m getting on with things.  First task to do was to get a standing desk going.  I’ve got one of these at my office and it works fine, but at home it’s just the kitchen counter, which isn’t quite high enough.  So here’s my solution:


For those straining to read my crap photo, that’s Vol. 2 of the Gourmet Cookbook from 1957.

My favorite recipe in this particular tome — and what I find to be something of a metaphor for this election? That would be his one:


“Turn the pressure wheel and force the sauch and blood through the press…”  Sounds about right.

And finally, for a little bit of sheer madness, here’s something from Alain Ducasse’s Flavors of France.  I picked this up years ago at a used cookbook sale for something like five bucks.  I’ve yet to make anything out of it; I chose it for the utter decadence of both recipes and photos.  True “don’t know how to define it but know it when I see it” food prön from soup to nuts.  To keep within the bounds of my fowl obsession, here’s Ducasse’s ingredient list for boiled chicken:

I mean, whut?

What’s the most insane recipe you ever attempted (and what happened)?

Oh — and open thread.

Excellent Read: “Farm to Fable”

When “we” go out to eat, we want freshly sourced, local, pesticide- and GMO-free food. We also want asparagus in September, oranges in New England, and a menu that reliably includes our favorites. And keep in mind that we’re using McDonalds — well, maybe Applebee’s — as a cost yardstick. (The economists’ Golden Triangle, reduced to a bumper sticker: Good, fast, cheap: pick any two!) In the back of our minds, we know these demands are, shall we say, difficult to balance. Tampa Bay Times food critic Laura Reiley is getting attention for her excellent reporting on how “At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction”:

… This is a story we are all being fed. A story about overalls, rich soil and John Deere tractors scattering broods of busy chickens. A story about healthy animals living happy lives, heirloom tomatoes hanging heavy and earnest artisans rolling wheels of cheese into aging caves nearby.

More often than not, those things are fairy tales. A long list of Tampa Bay restaurants are willing to capitalize on our hunger for the story…

It’s a trust-based system. How do you know the Dover sole on your plate is Dover sole? Only that the restaurateur said so… Your purchases are unverifiable unless you drive to that farm or track back through a restaurant’s distributors and ask for invoices.

I did.

For several months, I sifted through menus from every restaurant I’ve reviewed since the farm-to-table trend started. Of 239 restaurants still in business, 54 were making claims about the provenance of their ingredients.

For fish claims that seemed suspicious, I kept zip-top baggies in my purse and tucked away samples. The Times had them DNA tested by scientists at the University of South Florida. I called producers and vendors. I visited farms.

My conclusion? Just about everyone tells tales. Sometimes they are whoppers, sometimes they are fibs borne of negligence or ignorance, and sometimes they are nearly harmless omissions or “greenwashing.”…

The menu reads: This menu is free of hormones, antibiotics, chemical additives, genetic modification, and virtually from scratch. We fry in organic coconut oil and source local distributors, farmers, brewers and family wineries … Our fish is fresh from Florida or sustainable/wild fisheries.
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Speaking of Chicken…

ETA:  Not sure I’ve ever big-footed anyone so thoroughly, but consider this a thread for everyone who doesn’t care about hockey, of whom I am one.

Hey all.  You may recall that roast chicken is an object of obsession in the Levenson household. It is the one true votive food, as far as I’m concerned, comfort and connoisseurship and all that.


Since that prior post (it’s only been ~4 years…), we’ve played around a lot with the Melissa Clark recipe that prompted it.  Our standard fast variation on that (given that ramps (a) aren’t that much of a favorite in our house and (b) are only available for about twenty minutes a year) is to replace the original vegetable medley with a couple of leeks and a mixture of mushrooms — usually shiitakes with creminis or oysters or whatever’s on hand — together with capers, garlic and lemon rind.

A wonderful change up on that has been to use this recipe for curried cauliflour instead of leeks and mushrooms, whilst still following Clark’s basic method. (We add these to the cauliflour dressing: 3 papadew peppers, sliced; ten coarsly chopped garlic cloves; and 1 tsp baharat spice mix (or any kind of random flavorful spice mix lying around).We start the splayed chicken breast side down for ten minutes, and then add the dressed cauliflour at the turn.  For a 3.5 lb chicken, allow for roughly 40 minutes total — and when you’re done you get this lovely curry – esque roast chicken.  Not the crispest of skin, but very tasty.

But all that’s prologue to two new-to-me roast chicken recipes I made this week, both of which rocked my world.  Given that I’m really trying to spend a whole weekend without writing about politics*, I’m offering these up as both a gesture of peace to both the Bernistas and  Hillarions that may visit this site — and as a displacement activity to ensure I don’t start talking the relative benefits of Glass-Steagall vs. rigorous capital requirements and so on.

First up — this lovely recipe from an old NY Times column on what chefs like to eat when they seek a meal they didn’t cook.  It’s dead simple, and very quick:  a 3.5 lb chicken** roasts in just over half an hour.  The only even mildly tricky bit is the removal of both the back and breastbones:  two different good knives help (a big chef’s knife and a robust boning knife).  Other than that, it’s just a matter of basting the thing a lot and making the green sauce.  My only change-up on first trying it was to add some sherry vinegar to the salsa verde; the capers alone didn’t give it enough bite.  But allowing ten minutes for prep, the whole meal takes about three quarters of an hour and the result is a simple, clean chicken with a lovely spring-summer sauce for counterpoint.

And second, from a chef who’s work has really shifted the palette in our house, this not-quite-roast chicken turned out beautifully this Wednesday.  It’s Yoram Ottolenghi’s Chicken Sofrito, slightly modified to avoid the occasional pitfall of Jewish cookery, the felt need to make sure the damn thing is really, really done.

Our amendments:  no potatoes.  Only about four or five good sized garlic cloves, roughly chopped, instead of his twenty five (sic!).  I butterflied a 3 lb. chicken (I like the smaller birds), rather than quartering it.  Having seared it as the recipe calls for, I pulled it and sauteed on large white onion, sliced, and then added sliced up yellow and red sweet pepper — a half a pepper of each — then the garlic.  Cooked those down for a few minutes before returning the chicken to the pan.  Most important — I substituted pimenton — Spanish smoked paprika — for the sweet paprika Ottolenghi specifies.  Takes it to a whole different place.  And I squeezed just a little lemon in, because I always do.

This is another quick-cooking dish. The chicken was above refrigerated temperature (I pulled it from the icebox about an hour before cooking), small, spatchcocked, and seared pretty good.  Cooking time after reassembling the chicken and vegetables was around a half an hour.

The result was simply fabulous.  Where the first recipe was the essence of simple, clean, chickeny-ness, this had a lovely sense of secret knowledge and the romance of the East and all that.  Both dead easy; both fast enough for mid week.

I know, I know — I’m babbling.  But while I’m no evangelist in most domains, roast chicken in almost any variation, done right, is as near as I get to heaven in this vale of tears.  So I hope y’all won’t take it amiss if I spread my poultry gospel.

And even if you do, take solace in finding in this post something to kvetch about that doesn’t involve orange scalp ferrets or the proper way to consume pizza.

Now — over to you.  Talk about the essential foods for your tables or anything else you damn well please.

*I’m not sure if spending manic hours gutting David Brooks most recent two risible attempts at rise-above-it-all civic moralizing/thumbsucking would count, but my nearest and dearest are.  Let me thus say here only my now-standard reaction to BoBo:  intercourse yourself ninety-degrees-off-bilateral-symmetry-axis with an oxidized farm implement.

Image:  Osias Beert and workshop,**  Still life of a Roast Chicken, a Ham and Olives on Pewter Plates with a Bread Roll, an Orange, Wineglasses and a Rose on a Wooden Tablebefore 1623

**better known for artistic craftsmanship than originality of titling.