Thanks to everyone who actually sat down and not only started May’s book of the month club pick, but actually finished it.  And an especially big thank you to those who took the time to offer their thoughts on The Rich and the Dead.  I kid you not – your reviews were infinitely more entertaining than the book itself which, in retrospect, is like a deeply textured masterpiece of awfulness.  With every new review I read in the comments section of this blog, I discover additional narrative contrivances, silly character moments, and just plain dumb developments that I failed to notice the first time.  It almost makes me want to re-read the novel.


Better luck next month I guess.

On a more palatable topic – check out some of the inspired creations that came out of our kitchen over the past month…

Akemi's doggy carrot cake and puguccino (peanut butter and sweet potato-based ice cream)
Akemi’s doggy carrot cake and puguccino (peanut butter and sweet potato-based ice cream)
Yak rib-eyes.  Before.
Yak rib-eyes. Before.
And after being cooked sous-vide and seared.  Tasty but notably chewier than your regular beef rib-eye.
And after being cooked sous-vide and seared. Tasty but notably chewier than your regular beef rib-eye.
Braised lamb neck and riblets.
Braised lamb neck and riblets.
Lulu's special dinner.
Lulu’s special dinner.
Jelly's Japanese-style meal.
Jelly’s Japanese-style meal.
Doggy watermelon snacks (made with watermelon, gelatine, and black sesame seeds).
Doggy watermelon snacks (made with watermelon, gelatine, and black sesame seeds).

Tricky to eat!

And you?  What was the most interesting thing you made/ate in the last month?

26 thoughts on “May 6, 2014: What’s cookin’?

  1. That food looks fabulous!

    I’ve been pretty boring food-wise lately. Work has been, well, a lot of work lately. But I did manage this:

    Polenta made with chicken stock, onion, garlic and Parmesan as a side wtih seared scallops with lemon butter. Yum!

  2. Most interesting thing I made /ate? Well, you know I don’t cook very much, and I can’t recall any truly memorable restaurant or takeout meals.

    But we FINALLY had Nolamom’s spouse, who designed our bath renovation, back out to look at our kitchen. He’s bringing some designs for our review tomorrow. Now THAT should be interesting. 😁

  3. Even Jelly’s food looks more interesting than what I’ve made recently. I did have some catfish, fried green tomatoes, and fried okra when I was in Georgia last month, though.

    And as for what I made myself, I got into a funk last week and wanted some comfort food, so I made up a batch of boardwalk fries…complete with vinegar and Old Bay:

    Oh those were good! Better than my health could stand if I’m not careful! 😉


    I had thought about Teddy taking back $1M in cash, but could think of no plausible way he could deposit it without it raising red-flags at the banks (deposits over $10K are recorded and reported to the Feds, so a $1-million cash deposit should have raised some flags). And surely a good cop would be looking at large transfers of money just prior to a murder. Of course the “good cop” bit was assuming a lot 😉

    I also thought he could take back some checks (from accounts active in the past) and transfer the money that way, but that runs into the account problem…surely past Teddy or his accountant would notice?

    The real problem though, is the whole presupposition (such as it was) falls apart if Teddy was already back in time himself; he could just stake-out the property and observe. He could’ve also hired a couple of PI’s to track escape vehicles. There was no need to send Lila back in that case.

    To fix this, the author could have provided some back story and also made up some rules to justify the premise better:

    – Wormholes only connect specific points and places in time, so someone had to go back to exactly 3-months before and come back a day after the murders; it was the only available “window”.
    – Teddy had already gone back through another time-specific wormhole and observed, but missed the killer then and couldn’t go back to the same point in time for fear of running into himself at the observation point (which had not happened the first time). The author could make up some causal consequences (space-time rips, paradox loops, whatever).
    – When Teddy realises he failed, he concocts the Lila/Camilla scheme, and using another time specific wormhole, he goes back to an even earlier time (say 20 years), and with the help of a lawyer and trust fund manager, he sets up a trust fund investment scheme in Camilla’s name with a small amount of seed money targeting very specific investments over the next twenty years (hey, he should know how the stocks performed over the last few decades!) This would get around the large deposit problem, and also provide some back story for Camilla…she inherited it.
    – The killer found a way to gain entry and escape without being observed (Secret tunnels? Hidden compartments in vehicles? He uses his own time machine wormhole?) which is why Teddy failed the first time.

    In short, there were ways to fill the holes, but the attempt just wasn’t made and the reader was expected to just ignore the obvious questions. It was all a bit sloppy.

  4. The watermelon and the doggie bento bowls look amazing! Your dogs sure do eat well. I better not ever let Sadie see those photos. She’ll get jealous.

  5. I haven’t been cooking much lately since Mr. Das started working nights. Seems when we do have a free night we eat out somewhere, or I just make something quick and basic. In fact, the best thing I’ve made lately was out of a box: gluten-free brownies from .

    These things were delicious – and easy! (You have to be like some sort of crazed alchemist to attempt gluten-free baking: a little tapioca flour here, a little xanthan gum there, blah, blah, blah…) There was no difference in texture or taste from regular brownies…other than these may have been even better! Very chocolate-y! Delish!

    That’s about it.


  6. It looks like I dodged a bullet not reading The Rich and the Dead. Pity, it is an interesting concept but obviously not executed very well.

    I reckon your dogs eat better than I do!

    We picked up some Donna Hay recipe books last month and have been working through some of the recipes. So there has been some new and interesting cooking going on. The most interesting (if you could call it that) thing I cooked/ate last month was my Volcano Roasted Blackened Pork Belly. It was supposed to be Slow Roasted Pork Belly but after an hour in a low oven I could smell something burning and entered the kitchen to find it filled with smoke and a blackened lump of meat in the oven. It turns out that the thermostat in the oven had failed and it was over 300°C in there (572°F)! After ventilating the kitchen and pulling the black crackling off the pork I covered it with foil and finished it in the second oven. It still tasted pretty good but no crackling. 🙁

  7. Like you and many of your readers/reviewers, Joe, I suffered my way through “The Rich and the Dead”. Reading your follow-up column and its comments helped (a little) with the trauma that ensued.

    Just realised, however, that any publicist worth his/her salt could mine both column and comments and come up with some quotable quotes:

    “dazzled … a great idea … A tremendous achievement” – Joseph Mallozzi

    “Liv Spector is the next Dan Brown!” Kathode

    “I enjoyed the pulpy writing style of the author” gforce

    “I really enjoyed reading” Sparrow_hawk

    “Sounds like a good book” Ponytail

    “i loved this book!” whoviantrish

    “@whoviantrish: I was totally thinking the same thing” Kathode

    With selective cut and paste, one doesn’t even need a time machine to re-invent the past.

  8. All looks very well but i liked the puguccino, one King size for me please. 🙂

    On the other hand Doggy watermelon snacks are simply AWESOME! <3
    I'm turning into a pug? where are my toys? :bear:

    About the Yak beef i think is more a Beef aging problem this type of beef need a long dry maduration only few providers do nowadays. I think this yak need 4 week of controled dry-agging before you can cook it properly.

  9. That doggy food looks so much better than anything I can cook or create. I am not an imaginative cook and I hardly ever eat out. So… :-/

    @arcticgoddess Woof. 😉 What did they do before there were people like you to help them? That’s a rhetorical question, although if you have an answer I’d like to know what it is. A man I knew said his brother made it through WWII but was “shell-shocked” and was never quite the same when he came back from Europe. Good for you for counseling those who needed it. 🙂

    Here’s a link to the W5 report, if you’re interested:
    It’s in two parts on the site.

  10. The watermelon snacks look fantastic. Just like watermelon. But apparently more difficult to eat.

    I made shrimp pad thai for the first time last week. It was quite good. Although I decided to add stir-fry cabbage. And it just happened to be purple cabbage. Which turned everything purple. I won’t do that again.

  11. I experimented with filo pastry for the first time and made a strawberry yoghurt cream cheese log that tasted unsurprisingly of warm strawberry yoghurt. I think it would have worked better as a pie with sweet short crust pastry. I then experimented with cream cheese and olive logs with boccocini in the filo pastry. This one was more successful.

  12. Most interesting?

    Well.. I had some absolutely fabulous lemon ricotta pancakes topped with lemon curd, strawberries and fresh mint. I know you’re not a fan of mint, Joe. However I am. I usually love to slather my pancakes in better and syrup. But these? They don’t need anything besides a side of bacon. Now I’m hungry again.

    I love how all that food is for the pups. Just too fantastic! 😀

    My youngest is 13 today! Erin is a teenager now. Look out world. She’s now on Facebook. That was a glorious two days of freedom from teenagers. 😉

  13. I am trying out HelloFresh and really enjoying their wonderful recipes. They send it all to you ready to prepare and cook. I had not made Tuna in many years because meh.. just never was great. Their meals fantastic. And the recipes cards allow you to repeat on your own, though I do like the “ready to rock and roll” convenience! I am really liking cooking more than my usual basic throw it in the pan. 🙂

    The Mediterranean Seared Tuna with Zucchini and Couscous

    Black Olives
    Sun-Dried Tomatoes

    Mango Glazed Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

    Chicken Breasts
    Fruit.0 Mango Pear Pineapple Pouch
    Basmati Rice
    Red Bell Pepper
    Red Onion
    Chili Powder

  14. All my dogs have loved watermelon, but Akemi’s presentation was prettier. Did she mix the watermelon with the gelatin? Sorry to say, the food for the pups looks better than some of the stuff that came out of my kitchen this past month.

    Having said that–just made a pretty decent low-fat, pork tenderloin shredded barbecue. Season a 2-lb tenderloin with sea salt, pepper and a little thyme, then toss in slow-cooker with bottle of root beer for 7-8 hours on low. Ok, I hear you laughing from all the way over on this coast! The RB acts as a tenderizer. Really.

    Anyway, add 2-3 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce in the last hour. It’s actually quite tasty, though I’m making another one this weekend for guests using a pork shoulder, which is more tender. I also have a killer recipe for root beer barbecue sauce–always a huge hit with guests trying to figure out the ‘secret recipe.’ But I’ll save that for another day.

  15. My that food looks delicious!

    I’ve only done basic cooking lately. Chocolate Chip Cookies, Strawberry Lemon cupcakes, shrimp and we’ve been experimenting with steaks (filets) for hubby. He likes them well done and you know how hard it is to retain the tenderness when cooked that way?! Thanks to foodnetwork, I almost have it down (at least with fillets).

    My mom is coming to visit Friday to see my son graduate high school. I’m going to get her a filet too and try out my new steak skills. Filets are nearly $20/per piece, so wish me luck! (I’m sticking with shrimp)

    Has anyone found Evening’s Empires in ebook form? That book looks good.

  16. Thanks Skua but on the link it says: This title is not currently available for purchase. Maybe, they will have it later on kindle? I’ll keep checking amazon.

  17. Nothing exciting regarding my family menus. I make the usual family meals, all from scratch. I like to know what is in the food I eat, so I rarely buy anything that has been pre-made by some company. With the increase in the price of meat, we’ve simplified many of our meals and increased the veggie amounts while decreasing the amount of meat on a plate. I have been making lots more family heritage dishes from both my side and my husband’s side. My husband’s side is French Canadian, so, Pea Soup, Tortiere, Cipaille (Recipe:

    Has anyone been following the Russian/Ukraine standoff? If anyone does not need more land, it’s Russia.

  18. Simple: Pan Fried Tamales.

    Yup, fried. Another one of my “How can I make this better” modifications/experiments that seems to be working, so far. Of course, I’m really the only one testing them so it’s kind of a lopsided judging panel, but so far so good!

    After the prerequisite cooking, steaming, etc., I’ll pull out the one or two I plan to have for dinner(depending on what side dishes I’ve made to go with it). Then with a pat of butter in a pan set to a little over medium-high heat, I’ll put a little pressure on each size to make them flatten out as much as possible for maximum real estate browning, per se. It’s important not to let them sit on the heat for too long or let the butter soak in too much as it will make the casing too hard to cut through with a fork and make it more of a chore than it should be. Besides, it’s more about a simple browning, adding that crispy-thin edge to it that’ll snap under pressure, and add that extra little bit of dimension to the flavor that’s not normally there in tamales.

    I’ve used this trick with both chicken and pulled pork tamales and both respond well to the added flavor. I honestly have no clue if this has been done before or not. It’s just something I decided to try recently and it worked out well. After further refinement of the process and really nailing down a set pattern that reaches a desired goal, then I’ll write something down to keep for future reference.

    Versions of this “enhancement” that didn’t work involved trying about 5 different cheeses melted on top of the tamale while the second side was frying. You’d think it’d turn out to be a fantastic new way to enjoy a tamale…..not so much. The only thing I started to taste after trying the fried tamale topped with cheese was “regret”.

    I do this kind of stuff all the time simply because I get bored in the kitchen sometimes making the same things over and over. I have my own unique recipes for lasagna and a schezwan stir-fry that took a long time to perfect, but man are they fun to make and enjoy with friends, especially when they ask where I bought the main dish and I tell them it’s my own version I came up with and made from scratch!

    -Mike A.

  19. @Michael Carney: So funny!!! You should work in marketing! I love that Joseph Mallozzi calls it “a tremendous achievement”, and that you even have a conversation about the book’s awesomeness between whoviantrish and me. The sad thing is the fact that there are many, many people who would consider “Liv Spector is the next Dan Brown” a compliment. *sigh* Sometimes I worry for the future of our culture.

  20. @Tam Dixon: Are you committed to only reading it in digital form? I ask, because unlike some previous BOTM selections, I found it pretty easily at the library. Even though it’s a recent release, there weren’t any other people on the wait list for it.

  21. Most memorable thing I ate in the last month? A lemon bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes that my regular Wed/Fri puppy client’s mother gave to me on Friday. I do remember eating in the last month, but it’s the boring stuff I usually eat. I’m into watching other people cook and present. Not so much on the eating part. Even the truffles Jeff got me for Mother’s Day yesterday from Godiva isn’t making memorable for me. Akemi is so talented. She needs to copyright the “puguccino” brand right away. Your dogs have more memorable food than I do. Not complaining. Everything is just a blur lately.

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