Friday Five: June 14th

HAPPY FRIDAY!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

I’ve missed writing these!  But I’ll probably be revamping the logo for the future.  FYI.

(Because your investment in these things is great and powerful, I know.)

In advance; I’m apologizing for this being The Longest Friday Five Ever.  I’m blaming writer’s withdrawal, or maybe just having a lot of juicy stuff to talk about this week.

1. Graceland

Graceland airs Thursdays at 10 on USA

We’ll start with Graceland.  My family were huge fans of Rescue Memostly because Denis Leary is one of the wittiest pieces of shit ever to walk the Earth.  (Sidebar, I do not even know what it is about him but I would do him in a heartbeat.  Skinny Irish ass and all.  So would my mother.  And incidentally enough, he shares her birthday.)  So when mamabear heard Daniel Sunjata (aka Franco, the token Puerto Rican and general sex machine) was going to be on a show called “Graceland”, she was a little confused.  Mostly because she thought it was going to be about Elvis, and probably because I think she was confusing it a little with Nashville.

Which is totally unrelated.  In case you don’t know, Graceland is about undercover agents who are all working out of one house (…Graceland.  Get it?)  Sunjata plays this Super Agent with a rogue side and some super sekrit something that we don’t know about yet (hey, you can only reveal so much in a pilot).  Aaron Tveit, who I’m seriously regretting never having seen before, is the top-of-his-class rookie who is assigned to him for training– but wait, he’s really there to investigate Sunjata.

It has promise.  It’s from the creator of White Collar, my love for which has absolutely nothing to do with Matt Bomer.  (60% or more of it, anyway.  Honest.)  Either way, I’ll keep watching until either a, it stays awesome, or b, it completely fizzles out (and I continue to watch it anyway because that’s what I do.)

2. Hannibal

Hannibal also airs Thursdays at 10, on NBC. And is not for the faint of heart.

Along the lines of television that I have been completely devouring (I’m hilarious), I give you Hannibal, which I have NOT been able to get enough of.  (Seriously.  This show is sickeningly good.  And so well thought out that it makes your head spin.  And full of little things that just make you go “squee”, like the fact that the episodes are all named after elements of classic French cuisine?  And the fact that the show has a tumblr and it’s actually the best thing ever?  I can’t.  Gold star.)

Mads Mikkelsen is Dr. Lecter, and he’s brilliant in that way he is.  Hugh Dancy is borderline-of-psychopathy FBI profiler Will Graham, who is not only working on a series of murders actually committed by Hannibal at the moment…he also goes to Hannibal for therapy.

Hannibal wants them to be friends.  I think this is a great idea.

The show is pretty brutal, and I’m not sure how Bryan Fuller is getting away with showing this shit on network TV, but I’m super thrilled that he is.  And with the exception of Laurence Fishburne (aka Craterface 2) the supporting cast of characters is pretty damn brilliant.

Also, Eddie Izzard.  I rest my case.

3. Gillian Flynn
You guys are going to think I’m just in super twisted mode right now.  (This is probably not true.)  But aside from being able to construct some seriously twisted stories, Gillian Flynn is an excellent writer and you should give her a look if you’re not finding your usual summer-reading-list fodder to be as gripping as you’d like.

YOUR NEW READING LIST

My book club read Gone Girl for our June meeting, and we all loved it.  I foisted it on my mom, and she loved it.  Everyone I have talked to who has read this book has loved it.  (That could have something to do with the fact that it’s really, incredibly well crafted.)  I’m not going to tell you a peep about it because I don’t want to spoil anything (and trust me, you don’t want me to risk that) but basically just find it, read it, and come back to smash your fingers wordlessly against the keyboard in a comment or something when you get to The Twist.

After we both loved GG, my mom went ahead and requested Sharp Objects and Dark Places.  I gave her a dose of “but mom, I’m already reading another really excellent book and I’m getting back to Infinite Jest after that and when am I going to have time to read these things?”

I’d forgotten something in the weeks since finishing Gone Girl: Gillian Flynn is an amazingly compelling storyteller.  I started Sharp Objects Wednesday at work; I was finished by Thursday night.

Not a big.

I probably would have been done faster if I hadn’t had to, you know.  Work.

TL;DR: check this woman out.  Doctor’s orders.

(Sidebar #2: I would suggest reading them in publication-order, not because there’s any continuity or chronology to think of but because her writing builds so much.  The difference is hugely noticeable between SO and GG; they’re both fantastic, but SO has a much more subdued punch (and this one I actually saw coming, thanks to more overt clues.  GG is like GJAE;ROIYJHROT out-of-nowhere-you-expected) and I think letting your experience unfold with her development as a writer would be a good way to tackle these.)

I’ll stop writing about things like an English major now.

4. Sirens

Oh, E4. You so rarely fail me.

If you’re currently going through some Red Wedding PTSD (because that shit was as hard to watch as it was to read), may I direct your attention towards the gentleman pictured above: Richard Madden, our favorite late-great-King-in-the-North.

(May he rest in peace.)

Sirens was sadly shortlived, but it’s good comedic fodder in that crass-buddy-E4 way.  Madden and Company are a team of EMTs, and the show chronicles their antics on the job and off.  It’s a bit silly, but in a good time-wastey way with just enough heart and just enough time spent on the Big Questions to keep it engaging past that point.

Plus, Madden.  But we covered that.

I’ve been rewatching it as filler in the mornings, so I’m remembering that it’s actually a pretty decent show.

(Sidebar #3: it’ll be brought to the US next spring, thanks to Denis Leary (who is a huge softy for emergency services, if you couldn’t tell) and USA.  I’ll forgive you if you wait until then to check it out.)

5. True Blood

The wait is over, Truebies: season six starts Sunday!

I’m excited.  I want to see what’s up with Billith!  I want to know what’s going to happen with Jason and Jessica!  I want to see Niall!  I want to see Skarsgård again!  And Alcide ripping off his shirt for no reason!

Sue me.  Sometimes, I’m a really simple creature.

What have you been into this week– and what are you looking forward to over the weekend?

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Cook the Book: Terry’s Jailhouse Chili

There’s a funny thing about True Blood: sometimes I actually care more about the characters in the background than the ones you’re supposed to be tuning in every week for.  Sookie’s latest dramas aren’t ever interesting unless they involve shirtless Eric and/or Alcide; Billith….not even going to go there.  But stick in a little bit of Terry action and I am there.  Terry is never not entertaining.  Even when he’s fighting his PTSD and going crazy over an Ifrit, I still always want to see his face.

(Though he will always hold a place in my heart as Zach.  Gilmores for lyfe.)

It probably has a lot to do with the fact that the rest of the show is so out there and the list of relatable main characters has gotten so short (um.  Sometimes Jessica and Jason, and that’s about it for me) but it’s the guys on the sidelines that make the show seem more down to earth.  Yeah, in the last two seasons Terry and Arlene have dealt with 1) the potential demonic possession of their child, 2) the actual haunting of their child by the tormented ghost of a murdered woman, and 3) that whole business with the Ifrit, but they’ve handled it all like people.  Arlene freaked out, Terry told her to calm down (and then freaked out later), and we all watched and thought that might actually be a reaction to the above situations that a normal person might have had.

And Terry, rest assured that out of all the characters on TB, you’re high on the list of people I would let handle my kids.  Good job, man.

Terry Bellefleur's Jailhouse Chili

Chili, Fritos, and a hairy-armed dude in the background. Sounds about right.

On today’s edition of Cook the Book: True Blood: Terry Bellefleur’s jailhouse chili.  Apparently he made this for the men in his unit overseas, and apparently it’s not the same without the Fritos.  I’ll be taking the intro’s word for it, since Terry’s not really around for me to ask.

Half of this book is pictures and I don't even mind.

Half of this book is pictures and I don’t even mind.

I promise you one of these days I’ll be cooking complicated things again.  One day real soon, honest.  But this is weeknight food, man.  And if Terry wants to help me make food real easy on a Wednesday, I’m going to let him.

Recipe didn't call for peppers.  I didn't listen.

Recipe didn’t call for peppers. I didn’t listen.

Chili is definitely on the perfect weeknight food list: just throw it in a pot and call it a day.

Chili is definitely on the perfect weeknight food list: just throw it in a pot and call it a day.

Salting of the chili was minimal, and with very, very good reason.  See, also, the serving suggestion of this chili:

Salt situation: covered.  Delicious situation: also covered.

Salt situation: covered. Delicious situation: also covered.

Terry’s Jailhouse Chili

Adapted from the True Blood Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 chopped bell peppers
  • 2 chilis, diced
  • 2 15oz cans kidney or cannelini beans
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • corn chips

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, crumbling with a wooden spoon until you can’t see any more pink.
  2. Add the onions, chilis, and peppers; cook until softened, about eight or ten minutes.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, and tomato paste; stir to combine. Season with chili (2 tablespoons for milder, 3 for hotter) and cayenne.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer, uncovered, for an hour and a half. Keep an eye on it and add more liquid if it appears too dry.
  5. Serve hot in bowls with shredded cheddar and crumbled corn chips.

 

Linked up at A Glimpse Inside, 36th Avenue, and the Mandatory Mooch!

Cook the Book: LaLa’s Gumbo

True story, it’s weirdly hard to find gifs of Lafayette.

Me neither, LaLa.

You have to be weirdly specific, apparently.  For instance, searching “Lafayette tip yo’ waitress gif” gets you this:

Mm. AIDS.

Okay, anyway.  My struggles finding gifs are not the point of this post.  This post is about food, right?  And not at all about how excited I am for the next season of True Blood.  Because that…well.  That’s just kind of a constant.

To kick off my season of Cooking the Books (see also: all the cookbooks I got for my birthday) I cracked the spine on True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps with Lafayette’s “Gumbo Ya Ya”.

Aka, I made gumbo.  Aw heck yeah.

Lafayette's Louisiana Gumbo

New favorite font? Yes.

I have this idea and granted it may be a very incorrect idea but in my head gumbo is like Louisiana’s answer to chicken soup.  And by “answer”, I really mean something more along the lines of someone in Louisiana once took all the things that are great about chicken soup and decided to make it sassy.  And then added shrimp.

(In my head, this was probably the fault of some long-lost Lafayette ancestor.  Doesn’t even matter that Lafayette is a fictional character.  Don’t crush my dreams.)

A good gumbo has a thick sauce with enough oil to coat your throat and more than enough spice to clear you out.  That sauce should be vegetable-laden, and the whole thing should be something you want to stick your face over for long enough to steam every ounce of bad juju out of you.

That’s what I think, anyway.  And I mean, what do I know?

But whatever.  My gumbo fit all of the above criteria.  It’s a little off from LaLa’s recipe (mostly because we couldn’t find a piece of chicken small enough to thaw in the time we had because we are sometimes airheads) but it was still mighty delicious.

The great part about gumbo (other than the “eating it” part, which I think is pretty inarguably the best) is that all the hard work happens right off the bat.  Yeah, you have to make a roux, and yeah, you have to babysit the shit out of that sucker to make sure it gets dark enough but doesn’t burn.  But after that, gumbo is smoooth sailing.

Making a roux will make you feel a little disgusting at first with the amount of oil you're unabashedly pouring into the pan.  Embrace it.  It gets better.

Making a roux will make you feel a little disgusting at first with the amount of oil you’re unabashedly pouring into the pan. Embrace it. It gets better.

(Roux: pronounced like “rue”.  The basis of many great things, used in French and by default Cajun cooking.  Made from cooking together fat and flour.  Varies in color depending on what you’re making; for a béchamel, you’re going to want a very light roux, but for a gumbo you want that sucker browned.)

Casper, the friendly roux

Pale chocolate milk..

Liquid gold chocolate

Liquid gold chocolate

Once you’ve got your roux situation under control, it’s all easy.  You’ve already got enough oil to cook any/all veg your little heart could desire, so go ahead and dump all that in.

Stir to coat.

Stir to coat.

Except the okra.  The okra has to wait.

Sad okra is sad.

Sad okra is sad.

(Also; yes, I cheated and used frozen okra.  I say again, don’t judge me.)

There’s a few more things that go in here– chicken broth, spices, some sausage, and, if you’re using it, the chicken itself; with about ten minutes to go, add the okra and shrimp if you’re using either of them.

Okay, so LaLa didn't say to use either.  But a, okra, and b, there wasn't really a good deal of protein otherwise unless we DID put the shrimp.

Okay, so LaLa didn’t say to use either. But a, okra, and b, there wasn’t really a good deal of protein otherwise unless we DID put the shrimp.

Again, planning ahead helps so you don’t wind up using still mostly-frozen shrimp and having to pull the tails off while you try and eat it.  Live and learn.

Mmmm-mm.  Tastes like summer.

Mmmm-mm. Tastes like summer.

Lafayette’s (modified) Gumbo

Generously adapted from the True Blood Cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • 3/4 pound andouille or hot sausage, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne
  • 1 pound shrimp, veined
  • 1 pound okra

Cooking Directions

    1. In a large Dutch oven, combine the vegetable oil and flour over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is dark brown– this will take about 30 minutes.
    2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and cook until the vegetables have softened (about 10-12 minutes).
    3. Add the broth and stir to combine. Add the bay leaves, cayenne, and thyme; bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for about ten minutes.
    4. Add the sausage and let cook for 10 minutes more. Pull the bay leaves out and adjust the seasonings as you wish; add in the shrimp and the okra and let cook 10 more minutes.
    5. Serve over white rice.