Monday, August 18, 2014

Let's put the sauce on a low simmer for a bit...

I don't know about the rest of y'all but I've been somewhat of an emotional basketcase this past week and a half.  

I was already on shaky ground last Monday because I'd been watching the entirety of Deep Space Nine this year and saved the final episode for that night.  I came home and made a strong cocktail (ahem) and cried it out while saying goodbye to 173 episodes.  Who would have suspected such a turnaround from a show I despised to me crying over never seeing a Ferengi again?  I always like the weird/terrible ones.

And still with a Claire Danes-style trembling chin I learned of Robin Williams death.  I was too shocked at first to register emotion but then as I watched the reactions roll in I kinda lost it.  There I was drinking blood orange faery pee and making chicken gravy that was heavily seasoned by the salty rivers of my despair.  I could NOT stop crying for hours.

I didn't think I even liked Mrs. Doubtfire that much but apparently I did.  I'm STILL not over it completely and I refuse to watch the video of Koko the gorilla crying.  Every time I attempt to read an article about him I get upset.  I do not even have the capacity for Lauren Bacall right now.  My apologies.  

Then Wednesday I got SUCKED IN to the events in Ferguson.  Obsessed may be the more appropriate word now .  I was aware of the story but watching it happen in real time that night was pivotal.  And still is.

I was constantly checking for updates on the computer but couldn't seem to respond to an email or other basic internet protocol.  I had that last blog post ready to go for a week but couldn't seem to hit 'publish.'  I'm still up pretty much every night til midnight watching the protests unfold on Twitter. If you're interested in the events at all I strongly urge you to get yer ass over there pronto and follow the protesters and journalists on the street.  

Warning: "once you've committed to following the ghastliness of Ferguson, it's hard to think about anything else, watch about anything else, read about anything else."

I'm not normally so emotional but it may have something to do with hormones and spending several days working til midnight at home and being utterly sleep-deprived and Deep Space Nine residual grief.  Maybe I was also going through hot dog withdrawal?  Maybe everything hit at once.

I don't know but I cried when I learned that the Civil Wars broke up and then I cried over the sound of some of their harmonies.  I cried because I liked riding in my car at night so much (...the fuck?) and because my new bed pillows were the perfect blend of soft yet supportive.  I cried when I saw this picture of Janelle Monae and I cried when I read about Mo'ne Davis pitching in the little league world series.  I cried typing that sentence just remembering her smiling face.  There's no crying in little league, Lacy!

So basically I'm a giant gaping soul wound of flayed emotions, half-assed activism and Good Will Hunting references.  

I spent the weekend doing some emergency self care and it was most beneficial.  I need more.

I let out my frustration on a bunch of overgrown bushes in my garden, sweated a lot, helped a friend rearrange her furniture, tried to avoid electronic screens as much as possible, had some quality naked time, went to our local march (fully clothed) in solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson instead of just retweeting news, I made new friends, I drank a lot of water, I was in happy baby pose a lot, I worked out as much as possible - sometimes in the rain - and then I hung out in the rain some more.  

Not only did I check that off my summer bucket list (BOOM) but there's something about NOT avoiding the rain, being purposefully drenched in it, that is quite liberating despite its romantic comedy cliche vibe.  Just what I needed to momentarily forget about tweets.

Good thing I have a privacy fence.

The only things that make me actually laugh right now are videos of Robin Williams and Craig Ferguson together and that terrible Walking Dead 'Coral' meme.  It's so bad.  I can't stop cackling.

Birgit Jurgenssen via Alison Jacques Gallery
In light of these recent events and the fact that if I even look at a computer/phone/tv screen I get a headache, I'm taking a blogging break for the next two weeks.  I expect much more naked time and happy baby pose in my future.  Maybe even at the same time!

I'll be travelling for the next two weekends anyway so I figured this would be a perfect time.  I'll obviously be on Twitter (I CAN'T STOP!) although I'll try to respect my bedtime and  emotional well-being as much as possible.   

Hope everyone is taking care of themselves and I'll holler at you in a few weeks!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Welcome to the ModSauce School of Heavenly Libations.

We're to the point in the summer season where I'm done.  I don't care if the grass gets too high or the plants are wilting or my feet look like driftwood, it's too damn hot to garner any fucks to give.  The good news is that if you live in the South you've got another 45 days of disgusting humidity to look forward to. YAY!

Obviously the only thing to do now is get a gawddamn pedicure already, Groot toes, and drink the humidity away.  Fortunately for you I've been doing lots of "research" and "learning" about drankin' this summer to make the next 45 days bearable.  

Nay, not just bearable but ENJOYABLE.  

So here are all my favorite "research" moments of the summer.  I'm just destroying this summer bucket list of mine too.  And frankly, it's been a shitty week and I think we could all use an adult beverage.

I started the summer with my booze of choice: wine.  Wine is good for all seasons and is my best friend all year.  In honor of this esteemed status, I like to dress it up with some fruit for the summer months to get in the spirit in the form of sangria.

I love sangria because you can just throw a bunch of things together and it always tastes good.  However, sometimes it's a little too sweet for me so I found this GENIUS recipe on Gimme Some Oven.

She added arugula to her blend and I'll never have it any other way again.  It makes it peppery and spicy and balances all the sweet fruit.  I'll probably just throw in whatever fruit I have available the next time I make it but I'll be sure to throw in a handful or two of arugula.  Recipe, schmecipe.

But if you're looking for something a little stronger, channel your inner stumbling-sorority-girl and switch to Fireball.  It's the cinnamon whiskey CIN-sation (I'm sorry, I couldn't stop myself) that's sweeping across the nation leaving blackout drunks and discarded panties in its spicy wake.  

Of COURSE this brand has fan graphics.
If you listen really closely you can actually hear a girl crying on a dirty bathroom floor somewhere.  That's Jessica.  She's the patron saint of Fireball.

It's the only thing I'll actually do shots of anymore.  When I get home from work.  Alone.  Because that's how trashy it/me is.  

I have a bottle of it with a handle now for easy mobility.

If you are looking to make an actual cocktail drink out of it my favorite way to drink it is just mixed with ginger ale.   Pinterest (the collective?) named this 'Gingerball' and that's probably the best name I've ever heard so I drink it partly for that reason.  

Top quality ginger balls, right there.
Fancy it up with with some Fireball-soaked maraschino cherries; serve in a red Solo cup and a disturbing lack of dignity.  Mason jars acceptable too.

Or you can just search for Fireball on Pinterest and pick any recipe.  The college crowd has already done the work for you.  I want to make a Fireball barbecue sauce and caramel sauce so damn bad.

Fireball transitions great into Fall if you mix it with cream soda, Jack Daniel's Honey, hard cider, a splash of Cointreau, ice cream, Firefly, etc.  Not all at the same time.  

Well, now that I think of it...

Speaking of Firefly (sweet tea vodka), it has long been a staple at the ModSauce Ranch.   Normally I just mix it with raspberry lemonade or, um, more Firefly because it don't need no help.  But for my recent hot dog party, my friend and gardening buddy, Emily Rose who blogs here, kicked it into Southern overdrive by turning it into boozy fruit spectacular.  

Holding her delicious creation here. Photo via Eat Drink Frolic.
Start by soaking some peaches in a half liter of Firefly in a pitcher.  Add in a can of Sprite and some blackberries and raspberries.  Spank some mint (heh) and add to the mixture.  Fill the rest of the pitcher with water, serve over ice and then watch it disappear down everyone's throats.  So smooth.  So dangerous.

The hot dog party (Wienerfest 2014) was a big night for cocktails because we also saw the birth of another spectacular creation know as Summer Faery Pee courtesy of Slade Roberson (who blogs over here).

I ran out of limeade so I recreated it after the party with just the juice of one lime if you're in a pickle.
It's so easy: 1 part gin, 1 part limeade (like the Simply Limeade stuff, ya know), 1 part St. Germain, 2 parts ginger ale.  Garnish with a sprig of rosemary from your garden.  It will feel like a sweet summer faery just gave your throat a golden shower and you will love it.  It's deceptively strong and perfect for summer.

St. Germain is something I just recently got and is the essence of Faery Pee.  It's that thing in cocktails that takes it from 'Fireball in a solo cup' kind of night to 'impress your friends with elderflower liquer while eating hot dogs.'  I don't usually like sugary drinks but this is sweet and floral without that 'rot your teeth' feel.  I'd prefer to rot my liver and reputation, please.

Although I haven't tried it at home, earlier this summer I had a Citrus Ginger Fizz and it was also perfect for summer.  However, ginger liqueur is hard to find and expensive so just make Summer Faery Pee.  You won't regret it.

And lastly, I've also developed a mild obsession with blood orange this summer.  Well, blood orange soda.  [MS sidebar: I do not like using the word 'soda' unless it is preceded by 'baking' or 'club' but blood orange coke sounds weird so there ya go.]

I don't really use recipes (could ya tell from this highly technical blog post??) but mostly I've been drinking it with Firefly (the raspberry kind) and a dash of peach vodka with a bit of rosemary or mint.  It's practically fruit salad!

After a hard day's work in the yard I yearn - yes, YEARN, I say - for salty margaritas.  I've been making a bastardized version of these blood orange margaritas from How Sweet Eats and they hit the spot.

I just use blood orange soda instead of the simple syrup.
Not even I can sink low enough to make a 'salty rim job' joke.  OR DID I?!?!?!?!

Sometimes if I'm feeling extra naughty I'll add in some ginger beer.  Nothing is more American than "beer" after mowing the grass, right?  I feel like a real patriot.  Considering the ginger beer I drink is Jamaican that sounds about right for an American patriot.  Sigh...

So that's what I've been drinking most of this summer and it has been delightful.  I vouch for all of these cocktails but take that with a salty rim job because I'm currently drinking boxed red wine mixed with flat Sprite over ice cubes. 

What are y'all drinking or not drinking this summer?  Alcoholic or no, I want to put it in my body.  Has anyone actually tried a coconut water cocktail yet?  I'm scared to waste the coconut water and alcohol if I don't like it.  Mostly the coconut water.  That shit's expensive.  But not ginger liqueur expensive.

PS I had to google 'liqueur' every time I typed it because I'm wrong every time.  Too many vowels.  Or maybe too many wine/Sprite drinks...

PPS There is no physical way to type/say/hear "drinking" without it morphing into Drunk in Love "drankin."  However, I'm Southern so that's how we say it anyway so it's indistinguishable.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Don't cha wish I'd get more current references? Don't chaaa?

UGH.  Don't you wish you could go to a hot dog party at this place?  I bet they have a special room just for keeping buns warm.  

This is the Oban House in Australia by David Watson.  Don't you wish you could refer to your house with a proper name?  I guess mine would be Wiener Manor...?

Oh wait sometimes I call it the ModSauce Ranch...  that sounds about as cool as Wiener Manor so now I get what y'all must have been feeling when reading it all these years.

Don't you wish you had a mini-golf green AND pool in your backyard?  At the Wiener Manor it would be a go-kart track and pool but that might be harder for a landscape architect to make look jazzy.

Ahhh... this fits in with my current need for minimal junk and lots of space for twirling and frolicking.  Don't you wish you could open up the walls of your house to the outside and not be swarmed with pollen, mosquitoes and tree monsters?

This is Australia so don't they have giant flying spiders and dragonflies that are actually closer to dragons than flies so perhaps this isn't such a good idea after all...  Don't you wish dragonflies WERE actually closer to dragons than flies?

I like kitchens that look like they were carved out of the foundation rock the house was built on.  Like, "chisel me a sink over there, Bubba!" Don't cha wish your kitchen was a lot like this one?  Don't chaaaa?

The bathroom at Wiener Manor requires each user to sign a health waiver before entering...  Don't cha wish your bathroom was RAW like this one?  Don't chaaa?

*weeps softly, the tears further staining the yellowed grout in the crumbling bathroom*

All pics from here
Don't the neighbors wish they'd buy mini-blinds?

Although, nobody really gives a shit what happens at the Wiener Manor and I only have curtains on about half the windows...

I'm 12% of the way to becoming an Australian architectural masterpiece!

Monday, August 4, 2014

DOG days of summer. (Do you sense a pun?)

To fully appreciate the season and kick my bucket list into the stratosphere I decided it was time to have a party at the Ranch.  Buckle up, people!  It's about to get rowdy!  

Until 11:00 pm.

After a random discussion regarding the merits of Sonic's (the restaurant not the hedgehog) hot dog selection, I decided my upcoming party would be a hot dog bar!

via Honey Rider (NSFW)
I thought it was the BEST IDEA EVAR that surely no one had ever thought of until I went on Pinterest and saw that EVERYONE had thought of it already.  It's like the new 'cupcake' kind of viral.  Except with phallic-shaped meats.   People are having hot dog bars for tailgating, children's birthday parties and as their wedding food.  I'm late to the game.  As usual.

But despite being terribly uncool (as usual) I forged ahead.  All you need for a hot dog party is meat, bread, toppings and a high tolerance for wiener jokes.  This is my jam!  Everyone else can be in charge of the sides and appetizers.

As a single person entertaining can sometimes get... hectic.  Fortunately, this idea allowed me to do almost everything beforehand so I don't have to recreate a Thanksgiving cornucopia of oven-time fuckery in the summer.  

So let's go step by step so you can throw your own sausage fest!

Step 1: Hot meat.
I was told Hebrew National are the best so I bought 50.  Done.  I don't grill (I'm only one girl and not sure I can handle that many hot wieners at once) so I found a way to roast them.  Yes, I googled the best way to roast hot dogs and of COURSE there's a "recipe."  
Closeup of meat trench from here. Seems almost indecent...
Making the slice down the middle was actually pretty beneficial (if not a little surgical?).  It was like a little trench that holds all the toppings and meat juice in place!  This is tube meat scienze, y'all.  I could fit about 20 on a cookie sheet so it was perfect.  I kept them warm on the stove in a double boiler with about 2 inches of water in the bottom until everything was done.  Easy.

I also threw in some chicken and apple sausages in case someone wanted to switch it up.  Too much of a good thing can be dangerous.

A friend just said she's been experimenting with marinating brats in different craft beers...  I'm intrigued!

Next year...

Step 2: Luscious buns.
Make sure your high quality wiener is nestled between the best buns available.  I searched high and low for pretzel buns but couldn't find them.  I even thought about making them but remembered I'm a fucking terrible baker.  Maybe next year.

Instead I just got a variety of potato buns and wheat buns and a few hoagie buns for the chicken sausages.  I found poppyseed buns the day AFTER the party.  Thanks for nothing, area grocery stores.  Gourmet hot dog party gone to SHIT!

I went to my best friend again, the internet, for all my burning bun questions and they said you could steam hot dog buns in the microwave in their plastic bag...  Really?  I don't even reheat food in Tupperware but those flimsy bags are microwave safe?  

By the time we were ready to eat I'd already had a cocktail or two so that plan sounded like a great idea.  However I'm 110% certain I poisoned my guests with that method.  No one's complained but their future children might possibly have three eyes.

I also totally miscounted (math iz hard) and ran out of buns.  But the next morning I woke up and found a bag of buns in the microwave so... 

But it was so easy and they stayed warm for so long I'll totally do it again.  For only 45 seconds next time...

Next year I'm making pretzel dogs and possibly corn dogs...  A variety of buns is best.

Step 3: Top it off.
This is where you really get to shine, fellow hot dog enthusiasts.  It's the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the sundae, the, um... condiments on a hot dog.

I accidentally grew some cucumbers this year (more on that in a later post) so I made some homemade sweet pickle relish.  I'm practically a homesteader when it comes to phallic foods!

Making its umpteenth appearance in my kitchen was my favorite bacon jam recipe.  I jazzed it up with some pomegranate balsamic I recently got at Olive (for local readers) and maybe cut back on the sweetness for this usage.

I also made a garlic aioli and it was my personal fave topping of the night.  This was real aioli - not garlic mayo - and was so, so easy that as long as you have two arms you can make it.  Or one arm and a nice friend.  I jazzed it up with some lavender rosemary olive oil (also from Olive, you can tell I had a recent shopping trip) and trying to figure out what else I can put it on because there's only so long an egg yolk can last, right?

The other players in the condiment orgy included:
Onions a million different ways: raw, fried, caramelized.  Those are actually the only ways I know how to serve onions...  onion jelly?

Mustard for days: classic yellow because this is America, you beef-loving fuckers, a spicy brown and even a champagne dill if you're feeling fancy.  I even used some of those honey mustard Snyder's pretzel bits but I think I was the only one to eat them.  That's fine.  I'm obsessed with them and they were a perfect bit of tangy crunch.

Other options included shredded cheese, pimento cheese, feta, pickled jalapenos, pepperoncini, mayo, apple relish (for the chicken and apple sausage), vegan chili (because why not?), Fritos, sour cream, salsa, bacon, sriracha, bbq sauce and Slawsa.

Oh and ketchup.  I was going to make some bacon pickle ketchup that I found in Food Network magazine but technically all the ingredients I already had listed above so I just combined them ON the dog.  Somewhere I have a gourmet "fancy catsup" recipe in an old Food&Wine but there's only so many condiments one girl can make and consume within the next few months.

I guess technically anything can be made a condiment if you're brave enough and depending on its geography so pasta salad, baked beans and coleslaw also topped that delicious cylinder of beef.  

I'm not a fan of coleslaw but my friend (@thebex) brought this lime and cilantro version and it was fantastic.  It has zero - ZERO - vinegar which come to find out is the reason why I'm not a fan of coleslaw.  Vinegar alone can't cover up bland flavors.

Once you have all of the elements in place you really just let nature take its course and watch people get creative.  There might be a contest next year.

I think these won the prize for biggest and most decorated pair of wieners of the night:

Pic from Eat Drink Frolic.
I am a bad blogger but a fun partier because I forgot to take any pictures.  Also, I was tipsy.  I did however take this picture of my fave combo I ate for leftovers the next day.

The money shot.
On the left: garlic aioli, honey mustard pretzel bits, caramelized onions and ketchup.

On the right: pimento cheese, bacon jam, fried onions.

Two wieners is about all I can handle at once.

If you're keeping track that was 304830849382 wiener jokes and I'm exhausted.

Because I'm all dawgged out I'm going to save the alcoholic beverage portion of the party for later but magic was made there too.  It was nothing but social lubrication, yummy meat and cringe-worthy innuendo so naturally we'll be doing it again next year.  Possibly every week in the near future until I can eat the leftover hot dogs...

I'm sweating onion and bacon out of every pore of my body right now...  I might actually BE a giant beef hot dog right now, I don't even know.  I'm so sated I can't even turn that into a wiener joke so y'all work something out in your heads.

In unrelated news, this is also my 600th post!  How exciting!  And it's full of the lamest jokes about wieners... sigh... I'm not surprised.  Thanks for reading and maybe I'll see you all next year at #WienerFest2015!