A Pizza Hut and Three AK-47s

As someone who spent an entire two months working at a fast food joint, every year at this time I have to celebrate the anniversary of the great Pizza Hut heist. This particular robbery involved three young women who were teenagers, all of whom were packing AKs.

The locale was Bessemer, Alabama, part of the Birmingham Metroplex. When you have a new AK, the impulse is to use it, so they decided to knock over the local Pizza Hut. And they were not after the bread sticks.

The news for this trio went from bad to worse. Anyone who has worked in retail lately knows that hardly anyone pays cash–it’s all on the plastic. The teenager’s reward was twenty something bucks and change, which they promptly lost in the parking lot. Then the police, who must have mistaken the Hut for a doughnut shop, nailed them right away.

Moral of this story? Don’t mess with the Hut in this state. It’s enough to make Mikhail Kalashnikov proud.

Genovese Style Pesto

Bring Out the Marinara Sauce

Munich has a Beethoven Ambassador, the brilliant young pianist Sophie Pacini, but Genoa in Italia has a Pesto Ambassador, one Roberto Panizza. Pesto alla Genovese even carries a special designation from the Italian government. Leave it to the Italians.

I am all out of basilico Genovese, the only basil officially allowed for their genuine pesto, so I made this with just garden variety sweet basil. I also substitued sunflower seed kernels for the mandated pine nuts.

Ingredients

Basil leaves, enough to pack a Food Processor

Sunflower Seed Kernels

2 cloves Garlic

2 pinches coarse Sea Salt

Time to turn this into a paste. Give it a few buzzes with the processor. There isn’t a lot else that these things are good for.

Add the following.

1 cup grated hard Cheese

The standard cheeses are parmesan and peccorino, but all I had was piave, so I used that. Buzz that in, then start to drizzle in olive oil. Keep adding until you get the consistency you want–the current standard is a paste. Then I preserve mine by freezing them in an old ice tube tray, and then storing the cubes in a zip-lock freezer bag. Then my processor gets a break for another week or more.

The framework for this recipe comes from Panizza himself, and an interview he gave to Domenica Marchetti for the book Preserving Italy. That’s why the man is the Pesto Ambassador.

Remedial Linguistics–The Difference Between Weary and Wary

Though this is really a post about not drinking bleach or taking medicine intended for livestock, both of them point to the pitiful state of American education. This headline is from CNN today.

New mother who was weary of vaccine while pregnant dies of covid before holding newborn.

CNN

Don’t drink bleach, take your dogs heartworm medicine, or your cow’s de-wormer, and for god’s sake, get a dictionary, CNN. Also try looking at it.

Creole Grillades and Fresh Peas

Before the Swallowtails Eat All the Parsley

This is a close copy of the Grillade recipe in The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook. As I cannot follow any instructions, I added one ingredient.

Ingredients

One cube Steak, cut into small pieces

Bacon Fat

1/2 Onion, Diced

1 clove Garlic

1 tablespoon Flour

2 medium Tomatoes, milled

Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper

Chopped Parsley

To start, cook the onions in the bacon fat. Add the garlic, and cook for a few seconds. The addition of the flour makes the roux–brown it properly. Add the steak, and cook for about a minute. Finally add the tomatoes and chicken stock for something of a creole sauce. The parsley is garnish.

We use LA rice to go with this, and we just bought a basket of perfectly fresh pink eye purple hull peas. What we didn’t eat went into the frizzer for the winter. We are the ants in the Ant and Grasshopper fable, as we also buy twenty pounds of rice at a time. We just about need a bigger frizzer.

Eastern Red Cedar Bench

Karma is being unkind to the unvaccinated, and rightly so, but gave us a truck load of Eastern Red Cedar lumber. Actually, it was my in-laws, who we have practically buried with free eggs. This tree grew on the same property where Melanie Jane grew up.

I’ve never made something this large from slab lumber, so I made sure it would not fall apart–the stretcher is through tenoned and held together with a tusk wedge.

It Really Came with that Burl

I still have to finish the ends of the slab. The other leg on the bench is full of heavy-osity.

Not Going Anywhere

The finish is super blonde shellac, though I think super blonde is Melanie’s nickname at her office. ESPN has a similar looking coffee table made of red cedar in their main studio, but they painted the live edge with gold glitter paint. There really is no accounting for taste.

Hop Hornbeam Knife Block

Live Edge or Free Edge?

After this piece of Hop Hornbeam log rolled around on the floor of my shop for a good couple of years, I had had enough. Then we began buying these French made Laguiole utensils, and the answer appeared. Make a knife block out of it.

A few vertical cuts with the miter saw, and some walnut spacers, and the job was done. I had just bought a Swiss-designed Bessey web clamp, and it will hold practically any shaped object tight while the glue dries. The Swiss, they are so clever.

Hop Hornbeam grows on our property, and this is from one specimen that expired during a two month drought. It’s incredibly strong and heavy as a sea anchor, so this is not likely to tip over. Those are steak knives and cheese knives, and one sliced my finger open while making this. That’ll learn me.

Turkey Schnitzel with Shoestring Potatoes and Fried Egg

A Stack

Twice a week I am dispatched into a land that is riddled with followers of the VLF–the Virus Liberation Front. Mask-less marauders are legion, but I am an expert at evasion, and they rarely come within ten feet of me. If one tries to, I give them the dreaded contemptuous stare of disapproval.

Let’s have a celebration, a classic German dish, to honor the Fauci ouchie shots. I’ll be ready for the booster in a few months. Schnitzel time!

Ingredients

Two Turkey breast cutlets

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

1 Egg

Pork fat and olive oil, for frying

Schnitzel-izing the Turkey breast is actually the middle thing you want to do. Cook these first.

One Large Tater, Precious

The tater is peeled and sliced with a mandolin–not the musical kind. I have to have some pork fat to cook mine in. As with all taters, don’t forget the salt. This is the base layer the schnitzel rests on.

The last stage is to fry two eggs for the top layer, and these are from our birds. I always fry eggs in olive oil, though that is looked down upon by some experts. Fine, experts, just don’t come to our house looking for some eggs. Make them as runny as you like as well.

The VLF reminds me of an actual group, the ALF, or Animal Liberation Front. I can only look at their website a couple of times a year, because I am still too young to die from a terminal fit of laughing. ALF is a group of militant Vegans, whose goal is to liberate all the livestock on Earth. Their home page formally featured an attractive young woman wearing a Ninja suit, holding a pink nosed bunny that she had no doubt liberated from some tyrant’s rabbit hutch.

They are also the topic of a magnificent short story, “Carnal Knowledge,” where a group of them attempt to liberate an entire farm full of Turkeys. The narrator, who is something of a dipstick, gets trampled by an whole building of gobblers, and finds himself face down in a pile of Turkey shit. Naturally, all the liberated Turkeys end up being run over by a semi.

Irony rules. Let’s just hope the VLF don’t get their hands on a vial of Smallpox virus.

Sjobergs Workbench, and Sloyd in Sweden and the USA

Woodworking Utopia or Dystopia?

Sjobergs of Sweden makes literally thousands of benches and go alongs every year. This one is headed for its forth decade soon, and still has many years left in it. Professional woodworkers prefer mortise and tenoned benches the size of a Buick or a beached whale, but this has had at least four different homes, and it was easily moved. Was–it is now bolted to concrete in four places by lag bolts.

This is a realistic picture of the condition my bench stays in, as I am always making something. It would probably cause laughter from the nine year olds in Sweden, which is when they begin studying sloyd (sljöd in Swedish), which is the Swedish word for crafts. This study continues until after the child is fifteen.

Here’s the kind of thing that Swedish public education gives to nine year olds.

Not the Shavings, but the Knife

That’s a Sloyd knife, in this case a quality Swedish knife made of laminated steel. Instilling quality and character into students is what Sloyd is all about. Sloyd is also a good substitute for physical education, as all I learned in PE was how to become a tolerable free throw shooter.

Alas, the US hierarchy chose to follow “the Russian system,” which is vocational training. The current system here is not to build character and intelligence, but to churn out workers to make some greenback dollars for somebody. As an anecdote, I was the chair of the English department at a “Liberal Arts” University, where the school’s VP told me that English was a department that was a “service” department, there to help departments like the nursing school. So much for building character. My bench has more character than that.

I really should stop using it as a place to mix my various home made paints. If you look close enough, you can see gold glitter paint, that I spilled while mixing it. That’s too much character.

Crayfish Tails in Creole Sauce

Also Known as Mudbugs

A good Crayfish, like an honest man, can be hard to find. We had some decent ones from Spain, and then I was wandering through a big box store trying to find some edible seafood, and I saw a big bag of crayfish in the freezer section, festooned with a giant gold fleur-de-lis, so I thought, here are some real Louisiana crayfish. I picked up a bag, and the back had printed on it, “Product of China.” Puke. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been there.

I finally found good pre-cooked crayfish from LA in our southern based supermarket chain. Here’s my favorite recipe.

Ingredients

12+ Crayfish Tails, shelled and de-veined

1 Tablespoon Butter

1 Tablespoon Flour

The last two are for the roux. This needs a blonde, aka un-browned, roux, so don’t cook it too long. Then add the following.

1/2 chopped Onion

1/2 chopped sweet Pepper

Saute these together. If it’s summer, add–

2 fresh Tomatoes (I mill mine)

Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper

Cook these until they are right tasty. Then add the no longer secret ingredients

Garlic Paste

Hot Sauce (I like Tabasco Cayenne and Garlic here)

Because the tails are already cooked, they only need to be re-heated. This dish takes about as much time as it does to make the rice to go with. Naturally, we use Louisiana rice. About six mudbugs per person is a decent serving. Now if only Santa Clause can bring the Saints a spot in the Super Bowl.

Pickled Sweet and Sour Peppers with Capers

Free Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Our seventies vintage Mirro-Matic has a couple of new parts, and pressure canning has gone into overdrive–it will process 16 pints at one time. Our local supermarket, not to mention the entire tomato farming regions of Italy, could go bankrupt.

Speaking of Italy, these pickled peppers are a take on a classic Italian condiment. Their’s is preserved in olive oil, but it’s pickle country here. This will make two half pints.

Ingredients

8 sweet Peppers

1 clove Garlic (I used Elephant Garlic)

A few Capers, chopped

White Wine Vinegar

Sugar

A wine glass of Water

Salt (not much)

Olive Oil

Cook the peppers and garlic in olive oil, just until they are soft. Dissolve the sugar in vinegar and water–the sweetness is up to you. Combine all with the capers, and pressure can, or just use an interminable hot water bath. Or find a Mirro-matic at a flea market.

My mother almost burned down our house, because she let a pressure cooker boil completely dry, and the top blew off of it. No one was harmed, but we thought our parakeet was a goner. A little fresh air, and he was chirping like crazy again. Don’t let that happen to your Budgie.