Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Morning Coming Down

It's 9:43 am here in New Mexico, I'm listening to Serge Gainsbourg sing Initials B.B. and the skies are overcast with what looks like the makings of another good thundershower today.
The monsoon season has got an early start this year, usually the storms don't come 'til late July or August, but they are here.
Thank Lilly.
Lilly is a small, stooped Apache lady whom I have known for years. I first met her when I was a cop as she is a bad alcoholic. There is no crime of public intoxication in New Mexico but we would often get calls on Lilly, that she was drunk, bugging people, or just a danger to herself and we'd go out, pick her up and either take her into protective custody (detox) for a few hours or (more often) drive her over to the res and hand her off to one of the BIA cops to deal with.
About ten years ago one of the BIA guys brought her in to our jail for some charge and as he was getting her out of his car she tried to take his gun. It was sad, but funny, this tiny old woman trying to take this young cop's gun. Funny because he was laughing, "Lilly, knock it off," in that wonderful accent Natives here in the West have, and slapping her hands away as they turned in circles with the pistol as their axis.
Now days my contacts with Lilly are not quite as entertaining. She comes into the cafe every once in a while, sometimes a couple times a week for a while, then I won't see her for months, and we always feed her. She always just asks for a slice of pepperoni pizza and a glass of water. Sometimes, if she has money, she'll try to pay. Sometimes I let her.
Often she talks to people at other tables and frankly I enjoy this, because people don't know how to act when strangers approach and start telling them a story, or worse, asking questions.
So, I like to watch people squirm a little. Not a lot, just a little. Though one time I watched an ER nurse very roughly clean a wound on the hand of a guy who had beaten his wife with a beer bottle. I did enjoy that. A lot.
But Lilly just tells people things like she turned into a bird, or that she made it rain.
A couple of days ago, the afternoon after the first of the monsoon rains, I saw her as she was walking and she stopped and, with a proud grin, told me that she had made it rain.
And I think that she did.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sausage 1.5

Ok, folks, I've adjusted the recipe a bit more and now have what I consider the MOAISINA, the Mother of All Italian Sausage in North America.
Do the recipe as listed below but substitute Ancho chile powder for paprika and cayenne for the listed Ancho amount. Bump up the black pepper by about a tsp and the red pepper flakes by about a TBS. Enjoy. No, really someone make this and tell me what you think. Or come by and have some here. Whatever.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sausage-making Primer

This is the recipe for the Italian sausage that we use now on our pizzas. I fry it loose no more than the day before use as it has a tendency to dry out. I adapted the recipe from one in Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.

10 pounds boneless diced pork butt.
6 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons toasted fennel seeds
1 tablespoon ground coriander
6 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon Ancho chile powder*
8 tablespoons dry oregano
8 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
4 tablespoons red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
11/2 cup cold beer
1/2 cup cold red wine vinegar

* I make the chile powder by using the dried chile pods available in most markets and roasting them in the oven until completely dry and brittle. Remove the tops and pour our the seeds and then grind. The powder has an amazing smokiness which I love.

As soon as you get back from grabbing the stuff you forgot the first (and second) time you went to the store, begin drinking.

Place equipment in freezer, you want to keep the meat as cold as possible throughout the process for safety reasons.

Gather all your seasonings and repeat step one.

Toast the fennel seeds...

...and add to other seasonings and mix well.

Get a nice sharp knife, I like Howard here...

...and about ten pounds of pork butt.

Dice the pork into one inch cubes and combine with the seasoning mix. You can grind immediately, or cover and chill over night.

Be sure to save a few chunks to saute and wrap in a flour tortilla for a tasty snack.

Grind chunks, I prefer using a course plate. If you use a hand grinder you should set the bowl you're grinding into in an ice bath. Using an electric grinder, properly chilled equipment and meat, you should be able to work fast enough to skip this step.


Add beer and vinegar and mix for one minute using the paddle attachment. Sausage can then be fed into casings to make links, formed into patties, or fried loose.

If you don't have a meat grinder or counter top mixer you can get decent results using a food processor (gonna need to be a burly one though) and pulsing in short bursts to the desired consistency. Be sure to use an the ice bath if doing it this way and pre-chill the blades and bowls as this method creates a lot of unwanted heat.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cafe Z pics

Finally got some pics from Cafe Z. She's been open for almost two weeks now and the reviews are good.

Tattoo pic, finally.

By 10:30 am yesterday I was reclining as a burly, heavily inked and gauged young man in a Rebel flag cap gently shaved my leg.
It's not what it sounds like. A couple of hours and a fair amount of pain later the food tat was done.
I finally got it colored yesterday after having to wait for a fairly serious contusion (drunk soccer), chigger bites (Oklahoma visit), some puppy scratches and a minor burn to heal.
I think I'm calling this piece Omnivore's Dilemma.
Design by my friend Lindz, ink by my friend Gypsy.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lovin' the Modern Age

I just fired someone by text. No shit. I really didn’t think it was possible, but when it came down to it, it was just so much easier than doing it by phone. Besides, she started it.
I’d already fired M once, a few months ago, she was one of the red shirts beamed down to…well, you know, and here we go again.
Last time it ended with her, “I’m in high school, I can’t be there every day!”
To which I responded, “I’m not expecting you to be here every day, just the days you’re fucking scheduled!”
This time it was a no show and a lie about a wreck. Ok, bring me a police report. She’d already told me that her friend had been hurt and taken to the hospital and was having surgery. But she said there was no police report..
Accident with injury equals mandatory police report.
Nope, no report.
There has to be, it’s the law, the hospital would have called it in even if she hadn‘t. Totally picked the wrong thing to lie about this time.
"I have the hospital paperwork."
"I don’t need that, bring the police report."
Finally an admission that she’d lied, friend had gotten sick…blah, blah, blah, then the defensive, “I knew this was going to happen, C said you were talking shit about me…”
“Not true, and irrelevant. You no-showed, you lied, you’re done.”
Anybody want a job?