Category Archives: food

Close Encounters of the Good Eats kind.

Picture of Alton Brown, and the Good Eats logo.
All rights to the original copyright holder. Source

Since this is a long post with several videos, I decided to Add a table of Contents.

Table of Contents

  1. Table of Contents
  2. A fan blog post to Alton Brown
  3. Celebrity and Fanatics
  4. That Wednesday
  5. Past (book signing) Encounters
  6. Arrival, with an Ice cream Sandwich
  7. Anticipating the encounter while waiting in line…
  8. The Chef at the End of the Universe Line

A fan blog post to Alton Brown

(I really should have taken more pictures when I went… This is what happens when you want to live in the moment, then decide later that the experience would make a good blog post. Hashtag blogger life. 😅😑)

At the end of April, one of my heroes, Alton Brown was in town for a book signing. A TV Chef and cooking celebrity, known for years of the TV show Good Eats published a new book, and there was no way I was going to miss out. I’ve been a huge fan since my cooking awakening junior year in high school when my mom opened a bakery with a (former) friend. This lit the burner of my desire to become a Chef. To go to cooking school after high school. I got my degree and cooked professionally for a long time… But as Alton Brown would say often in Good Eats, that’s a topic for another episode (blog post).

Alton Brown was the first Chef, the first teacher of cooking that explained the science of cooking in a clear, easy-to-understand, and fun way. Though I went to cooking school myself, and have restaurant industry experience, Alton Brown opened my eyes to the science of cooking. It helped that I could relate to him as a nerdy white guy myself. Or like that older male cousin whose starting the next phase of life ahead of you, who you admire for being so wise. (Hmmm. I’m that man now 😅🥲🤷. Oof, Lol.)

I watched every episode of the first batch of Good Eats on the Food Network, have a couple of books, and search to see if he has a recipe online when cooking something new. (I’m behind on the second series/the return of Good Eats.) I did watch the food competition shows he hosted for a bit but lost interest in that genre of shows, just not my thing.

Celebrity and Fanatics

I am not a celebrity person. I don’t care about fame, celebrity worship/obsession, or famous people. Celebrity worship disgusts me. Up to this point, the closest encounter I had with a celebrity was when I was on vacation with my family in Italy.

My family saw “Elton John” walking down the street in Italy… I don’t remember where we were since it was in 2006. We saw him in full costume. A purple suit, the iconic glasses, rhinestones, and peacock feathers walking down the middle of the street in a tourist area. We stopped as he walked by and did a double take. Another tourist said: Was that Elton John?

Elton John in a purple suit.
Something like this. (source)

The person was likely an Elton John impersonator… Because I doubt Elton John walks down a busy street in full costume in Italy with no apparent security. So, a fun memory. Probably not the real person.

Ironically, comedian Roy Williams Jr has a hilarious story similar to this about Rod Stewart. Called: “The “real” Rod Stewart.” (It’s stand up comedy, so not safe for work)


That Wednesday

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from the pandemic and the past 3 years, is that you might not have another opportunity. That person might die tomorrow, they might not be the same person you knew, and that chance might slip away.

All you have is this present moment. So, when you have an opportunity to do something meaningful that’s reasonable, do it. I don’t want regrets haunting me again over what could have been.

When something comes up that I want to do, I remember how it feels to miss out. I go an do it.

I do it.

In this situation, I saw an article on Facebook that Alton Brown would be in town, for a Good Eats book signing, likely the last Good Eats book, I bought tickets immediately. 1 day ahead of time at a Williams Sonoma store in town.

The timing of this event couldn’t be better. I was stuck at home, recovering from the Moderna booster, and feeling depressed and lonely. Why?

Past (book signing) Encounters

I didn’t remember until writing this, that I’ve been to autograph events before. It’s been a long time between each. Those three were for autographed memorabilia from Seattle Mariners baseball players. One of which was a book, signed by Alex Rodriguez, a star player for us in the 90s. A-Rod later admitted he used Steroids. Between that, him going to the New York Yankees, and starting the multi-million salaries trend for athletes… I’m not sure how I feel about having that book. It’s a weird feeling. I digress.

Arrival, with an Ice cream Sandwich

The event was scheduled in the evening right at rush hour. Which for that part of town, for the Williams Sonoma store that hosted the event, has awful stop-and-go traffic. I left an hour early to beat traffic, and to beat the autograph traffic line.

The Williams Sonoma store for the event is located in a bougie (aka upscale) shopping center within walking distance to the University of Washington campus. These places aren’t somewhere I go. It’s not my scene.

I decided to get something to eat there since it had so many niche eateries, and to take in the alien surroundings of stores I’d never shop at near Williams Sonoma. I found a map and decided on an ice cream sandwich shop that used a variety of cookies/ice cream flavors for the combo. It’s called Hello Robin. The ice cream they use is from a local chain called Molly Moon. I chose chocolate chip cookies as the “bread” and chocolate-covered strawberry ice cream as the filling. Both were good. The cookie’s texture was just firm enough to bite through, and have a bit of crunch for a variety of textures, and the ice cream flavors each stood out to compliment, but not overwhelm.

Gif of making an ice cream sandwich.

Anticipating the encounter while waiting in line…

People waiting in line, old photo in black and white.
Was something like this, except the direction reversed. I was on the far left. All in all, the wait wasn’t too bad. Source

I felt fine until the line got to the store entrance, where a Williams Sonoma store employee was keeping count of how many people were in the store for covid safety. About 80-100 people in line inside the store, from the electronic kitchen appliances, along the north side of store 3 sections, to the center of the store… Where Alton Brown stood at a standing desk. As the line moved 1 person forward every 30 to 60 seconds, my anxiety and/or excitement grew.

The wait wasn’t too long, all in all, I stood in line for about 20 minutes. As the line progressed closer, I rehearsed what I was going to say.

I had something else planned for this section, about what I was thinking in line as I approached, but I forgot since I wasn’t committed to a blog post for this experience at the time in April. So… in a nod to the title, I think that this famous clip from the movie Close Encounters of the third kind, when humans are attempting to communicate with the Alien spaceship will be a good metaphor for how I feel to approach a celebrity you admire when you are starstruck:

The Chef at the End of the Universe Line

I reach the end of the line, and there he is. Chef Alton Brown dressed up like he is on Chopped or Iron Chef America. Out of nervous habit, I lock my phone. Not what you want to do when an employee from the Williams Sonoma store is taking pictures for you with your phone. Pictures? Hell. Yes.

I was content with meeting him with his new cookbook.

I was shaking because I was so excited, that I messed up my password. Reentered, and walked three places. And…. There he was 3 feet away. Behind a standing table. He’s a real person.

I froze.

I handed him my copy of his book and stared in awe at him. If I wasn’t wearing a kn95 mask, my open mouth would be open.

He asked if the name in the book was me, and signed my book.

“That’s me!…” I said.

“I hope you find it useful.” Alton Brown said.

Thanks Chef! I said. Turned and walked out. As soon as I turned I knew it was too late. I froze. Damnit. Sigh. lol… Oh well. I still loved the experience, even though it wasn’t what I expected.

I got lost trying to find the way back to my car. I tried taking the same stairs back up, but the door was locked. After getting further lost, I walked another quarter mile in the service hallways for stores. Then, found the escalators up, which were out of service. Thankfully the elevators worked. Which I got off on the wrong floor, one level down. I eventually found my car and drove home. It’s funny now, but I can laugh about that strange ending. Come on dude, you’re 36. Adults don’t get lost in malls. I followed that classic odd mall map and still had trouble. Lol.

The interesting hoodie I wore by Lunafide was a birthday present I bought for myself, and was the first time I’d worn it. I love it because it’s in my natural clothes color range, yet so wild and unlike my typical style of solid color clothes. I think I might’ve thrown Mr. Brown for a loop with it.

Signed copy of book: Good Eats the final years
Sweet!

Plot twist: I’m the alien!


Thanks for reading! Have you had an encounter with a celebrity or had a book signed by one before? If you enjoyed this post, please comment below and subscribe. I’m setting a goal to blog more often, dependent on my health.

Copyright © Reilly Anderson 2022.

Lazy Pizza

Picture of hot pizza, bread pizza

For whenever you want pizza, but don’t have time or the energy to make sauce or crust. It’s still tastes great!

Lazy Pizza

Cooking time: 30 minutes.

4 servings

  • 1 loaf of nice bread. In this recipe I use garlic bread
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (minimum, I like cheese)
  • Half jar sundried tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

The key ingredients in this recipe are: The bread, the sauce, and the cheese. Everything else in this is toppings.

Essential garlic bread. A great brand to use for this recipe. I like to buy 3 and freeze them. 1 can of tomato sauce contains about 3 recipes worth

Step 1: bake your bread.

Note, this is only necessary if using a “take and bake”. Skip if using regular bread. You want your bread to have a large surface for toppings.

Step 2: Toppings

Canned sliced mushrooms, canned sliced olives, jar of sundried tomatoes.
Canned goods ready to go.

This recipe uses (canned) garlic, and fresh rosemary, so you want to cook them first.

Remove the rosemary leaves by pinching, and slide fingers down. Discard stems.

Add the garlic, olive oil, and rosemary to a small pan. Finish with pinch of salt and a couple grinds black pepper. Simmer on low for 7 minutes. The last photo is what to look for. Drain the cooking oil, and set aside. This is now an infused oil.

Step 3: Assemble

Cut bread in half (if using unsliced bread). Spread tomato sauce in an even layer.

Add the cooked garlic and rosemary on top of the sauce layer. Spread evenly. I add this now to ensure consistent flavor.

Add half the cheese, then one at a time layer the olives, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes to the tomato sauce bread.

Add half the cheese, then one at a time layer the olives, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes.

Add the rest of the cheese.

Step 4: bake at 375 F for 25 minutes

Or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F when checked with a thermometer.

The finished pizza.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes… (The hardest part)


Thanks for reading! If you made this, tell me what you think!

Jamaican Jerk Pork in an oven

Cooked Jamaican Jerk Pork in pyrex pan
This is after the pork cooled, and I forgot to take a picture before shredding it.

Jamaican Jerk Pork

Prep time 10 minutes.

Marinate for at least 1 day. I didn’t have time to wait another day this time, and it was still delicious.

Cooking time 90 minutes.


Jerk Marinade

  • 2.5 pounds pork shoulder

Marinade spices

  • 1/4 cup whole Allspice
  • 1T fresh thyme
  • 2T salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T black pepper

Add the allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, smoked paprika, and salt into an electric grinder. Remove the thyme leaves from the stems. Toss the stems. Add thyme to grinder. Grind to a fine powder.

Picture of spices in grinder
Before grinding. I added the smoked paprika later in the wet ingredients
Picture of jerk spice mix
After grinding. This is the consistency you want for the jerk seasoning. This is without the smoked paprika.

Marinade liquids:

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup habanero hot sauce.
  • *Further hot sauce to your spicy food tolerance. This recipe would be 3/5 stars at a restaurant*
Picture of wet spices for marinade
All 5 of these hot sauces combined to 1/4 cup. 4 of these had habanero pepper as it’s pepper.

Add all the liquids into a quart glass measuring cup, and add the ground spices. Mix together. Next, pour the marinade into a plastic Ziploc bag with the pork. Put that bag into a larger container to prevent spills or cross contamination. Marinate in the fridge for 24 hours minimum.

Jamaican Jerk pork in the marinade before it is cooked.


Pour the marinade and pork into the glass pan. The liquid marinade will reduce as this cooks.

Oven shot of Jamaican Jerk Pork, and baked root vegetables
I suggest moving the rack down one layer. I didn’t check before I turned the oven on. The bottom rack is a future recipe 😉

Turn oven down to 370 F for 60 minutes. Or until the internal temperature reaches 180F. Pork shoulder meat should easily pull apart with forks or melt apart when finished.

Picture of Jamaican Jerk chicken in a pyrex pan
This is after the pork cooled, and I forgot to take a picture before shredding it.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before eating.

I am totally adding Jerk Pork to my favorites list. Apparently you can use these seasonings with most meat/proteins. Jerk seasonings are versatile.

I only wish I bought more than 2.5 pounds of pork. Oh well, I’ll have to cook it again! 😋


Thanks for reading! Tell me what you think in the comments! I’ve been meaning to post more recipes and I have 9 more left as a goal for October.

2 minute melted marshmallows with Heath bits topping bowl

2 minute melted marshmallows with Heath bar toffee bits.

Ingredients:

9 large marshmallows;

1/3 cup Heath bar toffee bits.

Microwaveable bowl

Instructions:

Place 9 marshmallows in a microwaveable bowl.

Microwave on high for 25-30 seconds.

You want them to double in size like a fluffy white cloud.

Pour the 1/4 cup of Heath bar bits, and enjoy! I recommend using a spoon.

It’s a gooey, sexy dessert. The joy of eating melted warm marshmallows! 😋

Comfort Eating…

I’ve been turning to food for comfort lately. So much has changed recently. I didn’t realize how much stress I was under until I talked to a nurse after she told me my covid test was negative. I’m in utter shock how much I’ve changed since a year ago. I feel like I have entered a new, wonderful era of my life. I’m worried because I’m trying to be mindful and accept all these positive feelings of love, and to stay realistic. Holy shit I have a girlfriend. She likes me as much as I like her. She want to see me as much as I do her. Both of us wary of coronavirus. Shit, shit, shit, shit. Being apart from my girl is torture. The vaccine can’t arrive soon enough… Never thought love would feel so good. Finally its the right time, the right person, the right me. Wow!


Thank you for reading this, if you enjoyed it, please give it a like, tell me what you think in the comments, and share on Facebook. Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list for updates!

Please wear a mask outside that covers your mouth and nose, wash your hands, clean your cell phone, and keep your physical distance (6 feet) from others to fight Covid-19! 

© Reilly Anderson. 2020. All rights reserved.

Chicken Adobo for the soul

Chicken Adobo with sauteed Bok Choy and Jasmine rice.

Last week I wrote how I felt burned out, despite my life being really privileged and easy compared to others. Coming into 2020, my goals were to continue my journey of personal transformation into the person I want to be. It’s been a difficult year for all of us in the world. Corona virus or not, that is life. I am discovering the things I need to work on, and building on my strengths. This doesn’t end for any of us. So, in order to continue to grow, I’m going back to what I am good at, which is cooking. Like walking, everyone has to learn how to cook. Despite growing up in a family of cooks, I wasn’t interested in it until after high school. Until I was 19, all I knew with cooking was: baking cookies, and making chili. Chicken Adobo was one of the first things I learned in college from my fellow Filipino classmates. This recipe is a comfort food, and delicious any time of the year. Without further ado, here is my recipe for Chicken Adobo (because I know I’m annoyed when people have a personal story before a recipe) :

Chicken Adobo:

Six Servings, Cooking time: 90 minutes.

  • (Metric to imperial notes: 2oz is 1/4 cup; 8oz is 1 cup; 15ml is 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, skin on;
  • 2oz sunflower oil;
  • 2 large onions, about 1 pound weight, sliced;
  • 2oz grated ginger
  • 2oz minced garlic
  • 8oz soy sauce
  • 8oz apple cider vinegar
  • 4oz apple cider vinegar (Added at the end to hit the right sour notes)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 4oz water
  • 15ml Sriacha hot sauce
  • 15ml chili paste
  • 30 ml fresh ground black pepper
  • 30ml kosher salt
  • 30ml black peppercorns
  • 3oz packed brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • The juice and flesh of 1/2 lime. (Added in at the end with the 4oz apple cider vinegar)

Nutrition facts label

Source

Start by sprinkling the kosher salt and ground black pepper on one side of the chicken thighs. In a large pot pour in the oil, and set the heat to high.

In the middle of sprinkling the kosher salt on the chicken thighs.
The chicken thighs seasoned on one side. I find it useful to do this while they’re in the package.

Place the seasoned Chicken thighs side down into the hot pan. Carefully place each thigh in the pan with tongs. You want to leave a little space between as seen below so the facedown side is browned. This step is to build flavor from the browned skin.

You want the cooking oil to be so hot that smoke rises. This is what you want to see in the pan after carefully placing the seasoned Chicken in. Note if you place the chicken in with your hands, wash them!

Once the chicken is in the pot, season the other side with the kosher salt and ground black pepper. Cook on high for 8-10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, cut the vegetables.

Continued on page 2…

Brownies – A comfort food poem.

Oh Brownies I made two weeks ago. I dream of you now as you are all gone. Oh wait, I bought chocolate chips again yesterday! Soon… I can eat you again.

    I hear the glass pan of the brownies, cut into a dozen, the top covered in plastic wrap. It’s whispering to me seductions of chocolate dark as night. Sweet, vanilla, bitter, complex chocolate. A hint of cayenne pepper. The line between comfort and addiction is teetering on a cliff. I resist bungee jumping into the crumbly, fudgey, canyon. Not quite cake, not quite cookie… I must ration you for the mysterious week ahead.

I can’t eat brownies that aren’t homemade. It’s close to lunch now, so I’ll eat.

Oh brownies, you are comfort in a world of intolerance, racism, and darkness. For a few hours, I melt away into the joy you give.

I don’t know why I was so embarrassed to post this poem online. Something silly. Maybe what’s that what we need as America moves forward, finally, for change. A little silliness so we can be calm to work through the problems. The violence wasn’t necessary. We just wanted to sit down and talk about issues. Peacefully.

Want to make them? Here is how: https://theunknownreillyblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/07/brownies-for-a-friend/

Brownies for a friend

Slice of delicious Brownies.

Photo from the brownie batch I made for myself earlier in the week.

Brownies

3 cups almond flour (if substituting for regular flour, use 2 cups)

4oz butter (or one stick)

1 cup cocoa powder (The quality of your cocoa powder makes the difference in how tasty your brownies are. I haven’t found a cocoa powder as good as this one yet… https://amzn.to/3gYL6a9

3 whole eggs (2 if using regular flour. Almond flour needs an extra egg in the recipe to have the same consistency)

1 cup chocolate chips

1.5 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Pinch cayenne pepper

Equipment needed: A whisk, a spatula, mixing bowls, glass 8×8 pyrex pan, a metal pan if using stove melting method.

Start by combing the almond flour, salt, cayenne, and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl.
Mix together with a whisk, or fork.
It needs to look close to this to be mixed properly. It’s okay if there are little chunks of cocoa powder. Mixing properly ensures that the brownies turn out.
Add the eggs,sugar, and vanilla extract into a bowl, and vigorously whip them with a fork or whisk. Unrelated, but also included in the pictured… A dirty cutting board from cooking dinner, and 70% isopropyl alcohol for cleaning.
This is the consistency you are looking for your egg mixture to be after whipping. It should run in a stream like this when lifted from your mixing instrument, in this case a fork.
Add the chocolate chips and butter into a pan on the stove on low heat. The goal is to emulsify the butter and chocolate into a new mixture. You can also do this in a microwave. If you done in a microwave, slowly heat in 20 second increments, stir, then melt another 20 seconds, stir, until it is the same consistency as this picture. Low and slow melting is the goal.
Pour the egg-sugar-vanilla mixture, and the chocolate-butter mix (also called a ganache!) into the center of the bowl of dry ingredients.
Mix the shit out of it with a spatula. Note: if using regular flour, you must be careful of over mixing as the gluten in flour changes the process. Almond flour doesn’t have gluten so you don’t have to worry about this.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, or 176 C. This is the batter partially mixed.
Your brownie batter should look like this when fully mixed. Before spooning it into the Glass Pyrex pan, spray the Pyrex with nonstick oil spray.
Spread the batter around the pan with your spatula. This is how it looks when ready. Bake in your oven for 45 minutes at 350F/176C
This is how they look, hot out of the oven. To tell if they are ready, poke the center with a toothpick or thermometer, and it it comes out clean, they’re ready. It’s okay if it has cracks like this. Once cooled the cracks should recede. Its important that you allow the brownies to cool for a minimum of 1 hour. Almond flour brownies are much more delicate hot and will fall apart if not given enough time to cool. Its hell when they smell so good, but patience is key.
Money shot at my computer desk of the finished brownies.

A look into America this week…

My neighbors tribute outside her house to George Floyd.

As American as….

    I first must acknowledge that I despise the current format for recipes rewarded by google in food blogs, so I’ll leave this entry after the recipe for those interested in reading it. Gimme the damn recipe, not your story about it. Put it after the recipe. So I will, even if I get less views. Be the change you want to see in the world. I apologize for being two days late on this post.

As a white man of privilege on the autistic spectrum, I only know a little bit about being an outsider, to be considered different from society. I’ll never know what it feels like to be a person of color in America. I’ve been absolutely ashamed and disgusted at America since 2016. Growing up, it seemed like things were finally getting better for everyone in this country. I thought the future was finally here in 2008 when our first black president, Barack Obama was elected. That change was finally on the way. Like many progressives on the left, I was disgusted at the outcome of 2016’s election with POTUS 45. I never thought things would be this bad. 

I’m 34, so the first election I could vote in was in 2004 with Bush v Kerry. I didn’t agree with George W Bush’s policies, but at least he cared about America. At Least he considered the voices of everyone, and reached across the aisle when things got tough. POTUS 45 never  has given a fuck about anything other than himself since 2016. Republicans took their masks off, and fell in line treating him like a king. This is a direct attack to the very soul of being American. Our country is built upon protesting the King of England, “No taxation without representation!” Where the hell is the representation? Seems rich old white men continue to rule the world, while everyone else is supposed to beg for scraps with the government. 


Image source: https://wyrz.org/governor-mike-pence-directs-flags-flown-half-staff-statewide-honor-law-enforcement-officers-killed-dallas-shootings/ Thanks Pence, we can use this image to honor those brutalized by police too!

    “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong

This week I have been questioning how I can make an impact. How I can best use my voice to help those that are struggling. It felt like a weight too heavy to bear alone. So, after running into paths that led nowhere, I had to simplify things and recharge from this emotional ride this week. I felt like I had to be there for my family and friends. I didn’t know what to do, thoughts racing, feeling paranoid even going outside at night past curfew to smoke so I could even sleep… When every other self care method I used wasn’t working. I realized that I was overwhelmed by PTSD from this traumatic week. I needed to recharge. Making decisions while angry isn’t productive if you aren’t able to use your anger in a healthy way. 

Sometimes, the answer to what to do is right in front of you. My answer to all this is: Meditation, cooking, music, and anime. All of which are cultural symbols from across the world. I’ve learned from meditation that you can always close your eyes and focus on breathing to calm yourself. To clear your mind of  thoughts. It is our ultimate privilege as the living. Nothing made this more apparent than the murder of George Floyd. Unfortunately kneeing a person on the neck is common practice by police across America, as demonstrated as the protests amped up and police brutality escalated by the worst departments such as the Seattle Police Department.  Maybe all this suffering will finally lead to an overhaul of the American police system. November can’t come soon enough. While dumping the current POTUS will greatly help, even more important is to vote in your local elections. Change starts at the local level, and every vote counts. As broken as voting for president is, it’s still effective in enacting change at the local level. Vote!

Voting info below:

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