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What’s With the Pretzel Buns?

Pretzel buns seem to be the new fast-food and not-so-fast food fad.  You want a bun that tastes vaguely like the cousin of a soft pretzel?  Okay, fine.  Whatever.

The pretzel-bunned burgers billed as totally awesome because of their amazing pretzel buns, though… that misses the mark.

A burger or a sandwich is about the filling.  The bread is a sideshow.  It can be a delicious sideshow.  The sideshow can change the way you taste the main event, enhance it.  But the advertisements I’ve seen reverse that.  They’re all about the wow holy shit it’s kinda like a pretzel oh nom nom nom and the patty and trimmings and condiments are just kind of there to prop up those two halves of the pretzel buns and keep them from touching each other for some reason.  Maybe it’s like Ghostbusters where you can’t cross the streams.  Don’t cross the buns, it’ll be terrible.  Which makes me wonder how we can get away with something called ‘hot cross buns’ without a catastrophe befalling us, but that’s a different subject.

In any event: burgers and sandwiches shouldn’t be about what’s outside first and what’s inside second.  Sort of like people.


Where’s the Good Corn?

Corn is starting to show up in the grocery stores in my urban habitat.  What I am used to this meaning: figuring out which store has the yellow corn this year, not the white corn that is most prevalent.



This is what I’m looking for.  So far this year, nobody has it.  Instead, they have white corn.

What, you ask, do you have against white corn?  Well, just that it is bland, flavorless, and tastes more like sugar than anything else.  It doesn’t taste like corn.  It doesn’t have that corny corniness that is corn.  White corn is sweet baby food.  Yellow corn is corn.

So where is all of the yellow corn?  Is the white corn early, greenhouse-planted corn, earmarked (no pun intended) for the supermarket?  Is it all white because that’s what most people seem to want to buy?  Is the yellow corn still all in the fields, is it going to be late summer before I see any?

Is it all being made into ethanol to add to gasoline?  Is the less desirable yellow corn all slated for export?  Is it all being turned into syrup to make soft drinks and bread and… well, that crap seems to get added to damn near everything, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it was in the ground beef, too.

Maybe I should have my eye on the field corn being grown in the fields right outside of town, waiting to be made into animal feed because it’s too starchy for my fellow Americans’ taste… which is itself sort of odd, because we’re all about potatoes, and it doesn’t get much starchier than that.

I bet that field corn is the corniest tasting corn that ever corned.

Culinary Adventure: Chocolate Rosemary Bread Pudding


From time to time… okay, often… I decide to embark on a culinary adventure.  Sometimes it’s as simple as buying a new spice and trying it out on everything that I cook for a week or two.  Usually it’s trying something I haven’t tried before.  Lately it’s bread pudding.  This is the second one I’ve made.  The first was much the same, only with the zest of an orange rather than the cocoa powder.  Both have come out delicious.  I’ll give you the recipe of this one, if you’re interested in trying it out.  It’s not as sweet as some bread puddings I’ve had.  So pairing with ice cream or a sweet sauce of your own creation is recommended.

I am a ‘by eye’ home cook.  By that, I mean: I am not a chef, I have never been a food service professional of any description, my understanding of recipes is that they are rough guidelines meant to be played with, and my concept of measuring ingredients is sloppy at best.

Stuff for Chocolate Rosemary Bread Pudding: one jumbo ramekin… I guess the thing is about 8″ across.

One loaf of french bread or similar (about a pound)

One loaf of rosemary olive oil bread (about a pound) (I’d have added the leaves of a healthy (what, maybe 3 or 4 inches long?) sprig of fresh rosemary, minced, if it hadn’t already been rosemary bread)

A stick of unsalted butter

7 large eggs

3 1/2, maybe 4 cups of milk (I measured 3 and freehanded the rest when the mixture was too dry. You want wet, but no free liquid wandering around)

Cocoa powder — I’m guessing I probably put half a cup in.  Maybe a little more.  It’s definitely chocolatey.

1 cup sugar

Molasses — at a guess, a quarter cup?  I drizzled it in until I was happy with it.

Cayenne pepper — a pinch. Less than half a teaspoon, more than a quarter.  You don’t want to taste it, you just want it in the background giving the chocolate a little boost.


Cut the bread roughly into cubes.  Put about half of them into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter.

Drizzle the bread with melted butter and sprinkle with cocoa powder & cayenne.

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl of their own.

Add the milk, sugar, and molasses to the milk and beat until the sugar dissolves.

Pour about half of it over the bread and mix it around a bit with your (clean) hands until the bread soaks up the liquid.  This reduces the volume of the bread, giving you room to add more bread and liquid until it’s all in there.  Try not to mix it up too much.  You don’t want mush, you want the bread soaked but most of it still holding its shape.

Grease (butter, shortening, lard, or other edible solid cooking fat) the ramekin and flour it.

Put into a 350 degree oven and cook it until a knife plunged into its chocolatey heart comes out mostly but not completely clean, and hot.

Let it rest for half an hour on the counter.

Remove from ramekin, slice, and devour.  If you haven’t tried it before, chocolate plays remarkably well with a bit of rosemary.  If you want to try it with ice cream, I’d start with good old classic vanilla.  I think it’d be a good counterpoint to the relatively aggressive and rich flavor of this bread pudding.

Bleuuuuurg for the Whole Family!

So, for the last 3 days we’ve been a plague house.

First, the baby spent an entire night waking up every half an hour to puke.  And it’s particularly pitiful when someone not-quite-two gets sick to his stomach.  He kept assuring us “I’m a good boy!” and “no want nummies” during bouts of vomiting.  And everyone out there who has raised a baby is just nodding their heads because the 😦 factor of a little sick kid is universal to the raising a little kid experience.

A day went by.  The rest of us thought we were safe.  Then the 15 year old got sick  and spent most of the day in the same state.  At night, my wife took her turn, which alarmed her doctors to no end since she’s got about 6  weeks to go until New Baby arrives.

This morning, just when I thought my Rasputinlike constitution had spared me, boom.  Technicolor yawn alarm clock.  Just how I like to wake up.  I’ve just spent most of my afternoon consuming about three cups of rice gruel (1 cup rice, 6 cups water, let the rice cooker work on it until it’s the consistency of loose oatmeal) with egg in little tiny batches.  At this rate, I might be able to eat serious food by tomorrow morning.

Why am I telling you this?  It doesn’t have much to do with writing, or creativity, or my books, or someone interviewing me, or…

…you get the point.

I’m telling you because the name of the place is “Seriously Eclectic” and I feel like telling someone.  I still feel like crap, I’m not driving anywhere and nobody else in the family is interested in going anywhere, and everyone locked in this blighted house already knows the horrors—horrors, I say—of the Puke Plague.


(Editor’s note: WordPress wants me to link ‘Technicolor yawn’ to graphic videos of people vomiting.  I’ll spare you.  Bad, WordPress.  Bad.)