Trouble at In-N-Out

News from the west, my friends: Wherefore the Double-Double?, "A family feud has left In-N-Out Burger, that iconic Western enterprise, at a crossroads. Will it still be ours if its bright yellow arrow points east?" I hate to read such things, but if there's a possibility that In-N-Out will be coming east, I rejoice! Some days I miss the hills of Marin. Some days I miss my misty morning runs in Golden Gate Park. But many days I miss my trips to In-N-Out and their delicious fries, and tasty burgers (which often I got as "grilled cheese", everything but the burger.) Oh how I'd love to see that yellow arrow pointing at me here in New York!

The fatty glory of confit

The New York Times has a look at one of my favorite culinary techniques, confit, in Florence Fabricant's article, By Fat Transformed: The Confit, in All Its Splendor. Chef David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos, CA says,

"I once had chicken livers confit in a small bistro in the north of Italy and couldn't forget them," he said. "They were smooth, like ganache, or good foie gras. You can spread them on toast."

To achieve this consistency, his technique is unusual. After carefully trimming the livers, Mr. Kinch lets them soak in milk overnight, a French technique that makes them less bitter. To cook them, he places them in clarified butter in a saucepan, enough to cover the livers completely. A sprig of thyme or a bay leaf can add a subtle dimension.

Hmmm…this sounds like something I might have to try here at home. I love confit of anything, but especially of duck. I almost always order it in Paris when I see it on the menu, and am rarely disappointed. I haven't gotten into the confiting of vegetables as much as meat though, and in general it seems the word has been applied quite liberally by American chefs to various preparations. A stricter definition (some might say the only definition) from Larousse Gastronomique:

A piece of pok, goose, duck or turkey cooked in its own fat and stored in a pot, covered in the same fat to preserve it.

Or as a chef I worked with once said, "There's no such thing as onion confit! An onion doesn't have fat, so you can't cook it in its own fat!" Well, right or wrong, when something's cooked long and slow so that it's amazingly tender and rich, whether animal or vegetable, I call that delicious!

Attempt at a salmon sandwich

Canned salmonThe other day I wrote about eating less fish, Less fish and more cow in my belly, and I decided I'd try and eat more salmon. Canned wild salmon seemed like a good idea for lunch, and so I began dreaming of the salmon sandwiches I'd create. Over the weekend I went to Whole Foods and bought two cans of wild salmon, some fresh dill, a nice loaf of whole wheat bread, and a red onion. And today I set out to make my delicious salmon sandwich!

Step one: open can of canned salmon with can opener. Step two: remove lid. Step three: recoil in horror!! Ewwww!! What is this? Skin! Lots of salmon skin! I don't mind salmon skin when it's been seared nice and crisp in a pan, but I sure don't want it all gummy and slimy in my salmon sandwich! And wait, what's this?! Bones! BONES!! And not just pin bones, but like, a slice of the salmon's spine! Right in the can! It is so gross-looking and smelly that I can hardly bear to taste a small skin-free bone-free nibble.

Also: it looks like cat food. In fact, it looks worse than cat food. In fact, it is worse than cat food! My cat came into the kitchen when he heard the can opener, hoping for some early dinner. After I decided there was no way I was making my sandwich, I put the bowl down on the floor. Someone should eat this, I figured. After one tentative sniff and bite, the cat decided it would not be he, and he walked away.

Meat-in-belly Meg: 1
Salmon-in-belly Meg: 0

Less fish and more cow in my belly

The New York Times examines what's going on with the 'contaminants in fish' advice that's been coming out lately, Advisories on Fish and the Pitfalls of Good Intent. I think they're talking about me!

SHOPPING for fish these days is fraught with confusion. There is so much contradictory information about what is safe and what isn't. Some nutritionists are worried that people will throw up their hands and choose steak instead.

Yup, that's me! I used to eat tons of fish, but I've really cut back. Partly because I tired of salmon all the time, and partly because I read that farmed salmon and white tuna were dangerous for women of child-bearing age. I eat some wild salmon when I can find it, but in general my fish consumption has declined. And I'm eating a lot more red meat. Of course, that doesn't really mean a lot of red meat, just a lot more than I used to. Now I have it maybe three times a week, max. And boy, is it good! So sorry nutritionists, I'll try and eat canned wild salmon sandwiches for lunch from now on!

Picabo Street’s got a blog

Former US ski team member, and gold medalist, Picabo Street has a blog! You may remember her from the 1998 games in Nagano. She won the gold in the Super G. She's in Torino now as a special correspondent for NBC. While there, she's keeping a blog on the Torino experience, especially now that she's getting to enjoy the Games as a spectator rather than a competitor. Neat.

No gold for your subjective criteria

Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins give US skiers Bode Miller and Darren Rahlves a hard time in her column, U.S. skiers 'Best in the World'? Not a chance, for not 'podiuming' (that's what the snowboarders call it, dude!) in Sunday's men's downhill event.

Miller skied with more abandon, actually leading the race after the first time interval before he inexplicably let time leak away in the lower section of the course. But afterward he was vague and esoteric, suggesting that he skied to some purer, invisible, inner standard of excellence.

"I feel I skied the way I hoped would reflect a positive objective end result," he said. "But when there's a discrepancy there, you have a moment of confusion and disappointment. But after that, what can you do? My subjective criteria was satisfied. Subjectively is how I ski."

Maybe I'm too dense to appreciate the subtleties of Miller's subjective goals. I thought the point was to ski faster than everyone else. The trouble with Miller's articulacy is, sometimes it sounds like excuse making.

Usually I hate the focus on winning a medal at the Games, especially the "quest for gold" bs that consumes the US broadcasters every Olympics. But this time I think Jenkins may have a valid point. Rahlves and Miller both had the fastest training runs. And then before the event there was all this crazy last-minute changing of equipment, with Miller skiing on some new factory-fresh pair of skis, and Rahlves planning to and then switching back to his old skis only minutes before his run. That just struck me as odd.

Then the races themselves. Both guys looked fine out there, but not aggressive. Not like they wanted to win. Sure it's important to be satisfied. And sure, you don't want to beat yourself up when, as Rahlves said, "I did what I could, and that's how it turned out." But come on! It's the Olympics! You gotta want it! Enough with this new-age touchy-feely satisfaction of some inner criteria, bring home the hardware!!!

If I only had flour

I'm in Vermont right now, and for some reason we don't seem to have any flour in our kitchen. If we did, I would be making these delicious sounding Bread Pudding Pancakes! I [heart] bread pudding and I [heart] pancakes, so this sounds like the perfect recipe for me! If only I had flour…

I’ve joined the RSS Board

Though this was announced nearly two weeks ago, I've been distracted so much with other things I've failed to mention it on this site: I've joined the RSS Advisory Board. With the continuing (and surprising to me!) growth of RSS, I'm looking forward to working with the others to help make RSS easy to use and easy to understand, for the techies and the non-techies alike.

The best thing about the 21st century

Without a doubt in my mind, I'd like to go on the record and say the best 21st century happening is the "invention" of really soft cotton t-shirts and tank tops! It used to be you had to wear your t-shirts forever and ever to get that super-soft and thin shirt. But now, through some technology I can only imagine was developed in collaboration with NASA (perhaps that's what the mission specialists do on the Space Shuttle?), you can just go to any store and buy a brand new super soft t-shirt. And it's not even expensive! You can get them at Forever 21 and H&M for like $5.99!! The future *is* here. I thought it wasn't, but I was wrong. Oh how I love you brand new super soft shirts!!!