Monday, September 27, 2010

Goat Cheese and Spinach Non-Hipster Cooking; or, Reminiscing with Huskers & Hobgoblins

The writer of this blog routinely gets accused of being a hipster, by friends and new acquaintances alike. True fact, ladies and gentlemen. In his defense, our blogger wishes to draw your attention to the following facts:

1) He is a mathematician.
2) He lives in Oklahoma, not Brooklyn, NY.

Is the reader satisfied? Is our blogger off the hipster list? No? Ok then.

The writer of this blog has, on several occasions and by independent parties, also been accused of telling long, meandering stories that fail to captivate the listener, provoking instead a certain desire to, well, hit our narrator in the head. With a stick. Repeatedly. Well, as he is pushing thirty (fast!), he feels that he has earned a certain right to, on occasion, reminisce about the past in a semi-organized manner. Especially when it helps him elaborate on why he is not a hipster. And what better forum for this activity than a blog.

Sooo. In his childhood, our Swede spent a number of summers in Mississauga, ON. And these two-months-or-so long visits seem to have had a lasting effect (a fascination with the North American continent, a love of Reese's Peanut Butter cups and other American candies,  an inability to learn to pronounce the word "water" correctly (ie. BE) in school in Sweden). 

During one of these stays, in 1988 more precisely, our blogger learned to love Marvel comics! On a random visit to a record-and-comic book-store in a nearby mall, he bought a couple of issues of the Amazing Spider-Man-and he was hooked! (He also heard a certain, back then pretty new, record playing in the store; more about this later.) He spent the next 6 or so years reading as many titles as he could get his hands on in back Sweden (remember that ordering things on the internet was not yet possible, youngsters!) Mostly Spider-Man, some Silver Surfer, and a little X-Men. In fact, it would be fair to say that whatever our temporary Oklahoman knows about the English language, he learned from reading Spider-Man. He certainly did not speak it when he started out. And surely, dear readers, that is not the hallmark of a hipster? Reading about grown men in yellow jumpsuits tossing exploding pumpkins at grown men in red jumpsuits with spiderwebs glued on? Nah.

An aside: for an in-depth analysis of Spider-Man and his significance in popular culture, we refer the reader to
Especially the essays beginning with
are masterpieces of Spider-Man writing.

If you are still not convinced, one might add that our old non-hipster later got his undergraduate degree in engineering physics. Unexpected, given the above, huh? Hipster or no, he learned many things during those years (as one usually does when one goes to college); in particular, he learned to cook the following dish. One or two of our readers may recognize it (I'm thinking f-man, f-mbl, f-mab and f-psu on this particular occasion.) 

1 roll of French goat cheese
1 package of (organic) spinach
2 apples
1/2 package of half & half

olive oil



Wash and dice the apples. In a frying pan, saute the apple cubes with the walnuts in a modest amount of olive oil. I used about half a of a small bag of walnuts. Wait until the apple pieces are brown around the edges, and then add the spinach. You might want to add a little olive oil.

Wait until the spinach is soft and stringy (but still green of course, you don't want to deep fry things). Now add a little half & half (I used about half a pint), and let the sauce simmer. In the meantime, crumble the goat cheese into small pieces. Then toss them into the sauce and stir to make the cheese dissolve. Add lots of pepper to the sauce (but no salt). A little brandy is optional (I didn't use any this time), but it was part of the original recipe. Let the sauce simmer.

In the meantime, cook the rigatoni. It is not difficult; as usual, make sure to serve the paste al dente. Pour the water, then pour the sauce onto the pasta and mix. Done!

Serving suggestions: "Warehouse: Songs and Stories" by Husker Du on the side (yes! the very record that was played in the store in the mall, and later accidentally purchased for $1 at a record sale in Mörby Centrum); a glass of Tres Suenos, a Pinot Grigio from Luther, OK. Pumpkin for show.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Live Orange; or Chicken Cuts the Mustard

It has been a while since our postdoctorally employed Swede in Stillwater, OK, last posted something on this food blog. "Has he not eaten since August?", we may ask ourselves, worriedly. Fortunately, he has. For instance, a recent trip to Austin, TX, featured chilled cucumber soup, country-style toast, delicious Mexican cuisine, agave syrup drinks, and some very fine margaritas, chips, and salsa at Takoba in East Austin. Some of these treats were sampled in restaurants, some of them were prepared by friends; all were great.

Now that our hero is back in Stillwater, where Oklahoma began (Apparently.  At least this is what a wall downtown maintains.), and he will be staying put for a while. Hence he needs to feed himself once more, and just as before he will share the results of his efforts on the internet. Unlike the previous posts, this one will not be vegetarian, for the following reason.

Today is game day here in Stillwater. The OSU Cowboys are playing Tulsa, people are tailgating, feasting on assorted barbecued meats and, well, Coors and Budweiser, and generally rooting for their team. Football is a big deal here! "Live orange" is one of the slogans of Oklahoma State University, and while the Swedish mathematician writing these lines does not know much about football, he likes the idea of supporting his home team by living, or at least, eating orange. But what should he eat?

Tags on huge SUV style cars parked in the lots close by politely offer "May we suggest beef?" I should think not, this blogger thinks to himself, vaguely disturbed by the concept of a pumped-up, beef-eating SUV. Carrots and oranges? "Not very supportive of your team, are you Mister?" But maybe, just maybe, fried chicken might work for us. But we want something orange with it. Ah!-bell peppers come in orange varieties. So why not make the mustard chicken pasta with peppers some of our blogger's friends in Sweden have been exposed to on numerous occasions? Perfect!

In the store, our wannabe blogger/math guy is reminded that it's pumpkin season-those things are everywhere! Pumpkins. Pumpkins are orange. Hm, he thinks, let's go past Brown's Bottles on the way on the way home... and get some pumpkin ale.


2 chicken breast filets (organic)
2 orange (!) bell peppers
1 onion
16 oz. sour cream
1 jar of Dijon mustard

olive oil


Starts by cutting the chicken into reasonably thin strips. Then, in a frying pan, fry the chicken in a generous amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. We are handling chicken here, so you want to make sure it is properly cooked before proceeding to the next step. Wait until the chicken strips have a golden brown surface-but don't wait to long. You don't want to burn the chicken or let it go dry. Turn down the heat for a while if necessary.

In the meantime, chop up the onion and the (orange!) peppers. Let them go the way of the chicken, into the frying pan! Note how the peppers orangely liven up the pan.  Turn up the heat a little and fry the chicken, peppers and onions until the vegetables are soft. You may want to add some salt and pepper.

Now open the sour cream and add some; I used about half a 16 oz. package. You want a creamy but not runny sauce. Next, add the mustard using a spoon. Use lots of it and don't be afraid-it's supposed to be strong! I used up about 1/3 of a jar of good imported Dijon mustard. Then let the sauce simmer for a while.

In the meantime, prepare the fettucini. It is not difficult, but remember to serve the pasta al dente. Read the instructions on the package or trust your instincts; it should typically take about 10 minutes. Serve the pasta and the sauce in a bowl, or possibly on a plate. Done!

Serving suggestions: "Monster" by R.E.M. on the side, a "Chuck's Pumpkin Ale" by Battered Boar Brewing Co., Oklahoma City, OK. (It is brewed using pumpkins and pecans.)