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The paper towels, they tell me things. Unspeakable things.

please make the paper towels shut up, Mother

I don’t know how Rembrandt did it without paper towels. They’re the perfect studio companion — a mix of tough, absorbant and inexpensive. They daub excellent textures into wet paint, leach just the right amount of excess medium off an overladen brush, protect delicate surfaces from greasy human fingers and they’re totally the quicker picker upper. You can quote me on that.

When I have used a paper towel, if it isn’t thoroughly gefukt, I carefully fold it into a square and set it aside — a habit I picked up from an old art school friend (though I think she picked it up in her years of food service jobs). There’s always a big, tottery pile of gently used paper towel squares next to my left hand. When it’s panic stations, I’m on it. I’m a blottin’ fool.

I buy the best quality paper towels I can find, with a “good” randomized texture and always — always — in plain white. So how a roll of these vapid, preachy fuckers got in my cart, I will never know. I must’ve been in a hurry.

the paper towels can kiss my assThe paper towels picked a bad time to mock me. I was thinking blearily about the whole mortgage and financial meltdown while I made coffee and paper-toweled things this morning. Generally speaking, Washington is no more than a peripheral malignancy; a sort of slow sapping around the edges of the national vitality. But at this moment, those strutting retards are directly responsible for what’s wrong with my life. Their greed and incompetence is the only reason I am sitting at a desk today facing another eight hours of PowerPoint instead of bustling about the kitchen in my English country house making pickles.

Yes I’m going to make pickles. I’m going to make the hell out of pickles. I’ll probably wear an apron while I make them, too.

But right now, I have PowerPointin’ to do…


Comment from Jill
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:06 am

Heyyy…I made pickles this year!
I got some great cucumbers at the Farmer’s Market.
I got out my Bron mandelin and went apeshit.
Bread and butter, and kosher dills.
Also some hot pepper rings.
Wanted to do more but didn’t have time.

I was pickling like a mother-f***er.


(I’m not mocking you – I’m commiserating.)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:06 am

I was looking for a picture of a sparking electrical outlet.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:07 am

If I ever get out of this place, we’ll have to talk pickles, Jill.

I never made a pickle in my life.

Comment from apotheosis
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:21 am

Brain mashup of comments 1 and 2: electric pickle.

Comment from apotheosis
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:41 am

I don’t know how most of you view breakfast around here, on a scale of “I can take it or leave it” to “most important meal of the day.” I can only urge you to avoid making jimmy dean frozen breakfast sandwiches any part of your morning routine.

I thought they were going to be a quick and easy compromise between the banality of the pop-tart and the comparative decadence of an egg mcmuffin (which I can no longer order at the local golden arches successfully, because I no habla espany’all.) The picture on the box looked delicious, I assumed that spoke well of the contents.

Oh my lord.

First of all, microwaving all the components of the sandwich (bread product, cheese product, egg puck, glorious sausage patty) requires completely field-stripping the bloody thing. Try and do it in the package, as suggested on the carton, and you’ll end up with a frozen egg puck, sausage sizzling at the perimeter and frosty in the middle, and bread product reduced to a doughy mass by the combination of egg steam and meat vapor.

SO…nuke for 20 seconds in package to de-glaciate* contents. Open package. Place egg pucks and glorious sausage on plate. Nuke for 30 seconds. Remove sausage, place on napkin to absorb grease. Nuke egg puck for additional 30 seconds.

Reassemble. Make gestures of homage to the shrine of your ancestors in thanks for your stainless-steel-lined digestive tract. Light a candle.

Or, y’know, just go to McD’s and order a damn sausage egg and cheese biscuit. Taking into account the expenditure of time, electricity, and Pepto-Bismol, the “convenient and cheap” freezer alternative works out to approximately $23.00/sandwich. This is the sort of bargain that might appeal to a politician.

I wonder what Jimmy Dean’s political persuasion was?

Ok I’m done.

*it’s a word.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:52 am

Is. He’s still alive.

I’m not a big fan of nuked food. Jimmy Dean’s country sausage is pretty decent, though. The stuff in the tube. If you keep it frozen, you can slice off slabs of it. They thaw in an unheated iron skillet pretty quickly.

Homemade biscuits freeze pretty well, too. Fry the sausage, thaw the biscuit in the skillet with a lid. Mmmm.

Comment from Jill
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:53 am

Pickles it is, then.

Judging by her outlet array, I’d say Mrs. Ready Kilowatt up there is into threesomes.

The mister is very…Git-Er-Done-esque.

Comment from Surly Ermine
Time: September 18, 2008, 11:09 am

Apoth I too have had the misfortune of meeting this so called “breakfast sandwich” and have concluded Jimmy does not eat his (former) product. Who would put their name on this? The worst part for me was the “egg”. It reminded me of a soft silicone disk or maybe a very dense sponge.
No more for me thanks, I’ll stick to my oatmeal.

Comment from Dawn
Time: September 18, 2008, 11:53 am

No one wants to buy my house either, but I like a dummy, took on another mortgage because I was sure our other house would sell in six months tops. It’s been eight. 4 bedrooms, 3 baths on an acre of land. We started at $330,000 (a bargain) and will now take $260,000, or $250,000, or $240,000. The lookers don’t like my kitchen. Well I didn’t either! Whatever. We have over 800 foreclosures in this county that we are competing against.
All those crooks who took a cut of Fannie can kiss mine!

Comment from Dawn
Time: September 18, 2008, 11:58 am

I am so grumpy. Maybe I shouldn’t post until I can bring some sunshine ’round here.

The mister is very…Git-Er-Done-esque.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:06 pm

Bitch away, Dawn. Let ‘er rip. I’m a Very Grump Weasel, myself.

The price I’ve just dropped to is below what I was hoping the floor would be, I’m seeing some guys about replacing the boiler this afternoon (which will soak up the last of my financial reserves) and STILL nobody’s interested in the goddamned thing.

I’m currently listing it at $60K below the value the city is taxing it on, which is getting on for a third of its value.

Ow. Ow ow ow. If I get out of here, I’ll be slinking out of town with my tail between my legs, which is NOT how I wanted to start a new life in a foreign land, you know?

Comment from Allen
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:08 pm

My Great Grandfather’s recipe, yeah we’ve been doing this crap for over 120 years.

Crystal Chip Pickles

Put 25 dill size cucumbers into a brine, strong enough to float an egg, and let stand for 2 weeks.

Remove drain, and wash them.
Cut into thin slices.
Put a piece of alum, the size of a walnut into enough water to cover the cucumbers, and let stand overnight.
Drain and wash several times.
Tie in a bit of cheesecloth two sticks of cinnamon, one fourth teaspoon mace, one tablespoon whole cloves, and add to one quart vinegar and two quarts sugar.
Bring to a boil.
Pour over cucumber slices.
Every morning for three days, pour off liquid, boil the liquid for a few minutes, let cool, and pour back over cucumber slices.

Fourth day can the slices in the vinegar solution.

Comment from pajama momma
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:17 pm

make mine dill and crunchy please. I don’t like pickles that squeak when I bite them. It gives me the chills

Comment from TattooedIntellectual
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:24 pm

Swease, instead of replacing the boiler, have you looked at tankless water heaters?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:30 pm

It’s the whole heating system, TI. I’ve got a steam system (which I love) but it’s as old as the house — 1942 — and oil fired. The local gas company is offering huge incentives to switch over, and I’m hoping it’ll be a selling point in this market. But they don’t do tankless with gas, the guy told me yesterday.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:34 pm

How inefficient, you ask? Why, let me tell you. It’s a small house (about 1,200 square feet) and last December, my heating bill was $840. Just for the month of December. Heating it to sixty degrees.

Now, some of that is surely that it isn’t insulated all that well, but still…! I phoned up the oil company to see if something was wrong beyond the obvious (that I have a shitty old boiler) and she was very nice, but she was like, “lady, do you know how many of these calls I’m getting? Is your heating bill about double what it was last year? Then, there you go! Home heating oil is about double what it was last year.”

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:38 pm


*Picks up jaw from floor*

I’ll never complain about my $250 air conditioner bill again.

Comment from pajama momma
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:41 pm

last December, my heating bill was $840. Just for the month of December. Heating it to sixty degrees.

good gawd! I’m so sorry.

Comment from TattooedIntellectual
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:42 pm

Holy crap, swease, $840/month. Maybe you should just donate the house to the mission and write it off on the taxes 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2008, 12:54 pm

Well, I was hoping to get the heck out of Dodge before another heating season was upon me (though I had to put a few thousand in credit for a new boiler in my adjusted price). But one of the failsafes has gone on the boiler now (the one that shuts it down if it runs out of water), so I’m stuck replacing it now.

Comment from Allen
Time: September 18, 2008, 1:00 pm

Failsafes off… Boiler on… Insurance premiums paid up… Go away for 2-3 days… Oopsie, send the check to England please.

I keed, I keed.

Comment from Gnus
Time: September 18, 2008, 1:02 pm

Mmmmmmmmm, pickles!

Sweasel, your house was born the same year as me. It was a very good year.

I suppose I’m nekulturny, but I like Jimmy Dean’s sausage, egg and buscuit thingie. My microwave routine is a bit easier tho. I just open the end of the package thingie, poke defrost, tell the microwave it weighs .25 pound and let her rip. When that’s done I flip it over and microwave it on high for however long it says.

Maybe the secret is taking it out of the package and letting it sit a minute or two before consuming, once all the m’waving fuss is done. Kinda lets it dry a bit.

Or maybe I’m just used to eating garbage. All my cooking ends with a ding anyways. 🙂

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 18, 2008, 1:13 pm

“All my cooking ends with a ding anyways.”


Comment from bad cat robot
Time: September 18, 2008, 1:56 pm

Standard BCR breakfast biscuit — (I make the dough from scratch but I don’t see why Bisquik can’t be used too). Fry up bacon, crumble. Get bag of Costco pre-shredded cheese. Grab blob of dough, make little pocket, fill with bacon and cheese, crimp closed. bake. Can be frozen. Dunno how you would get an egg in there, but it works for me. Also microwaves pretty well.

Comment from Jill
Time: September 18, 2008, 2:25 pm

I’m gettin’ ready to make a mess o’ chicken and dumplings.
Shoo-ee! That’s good eatin’, Maynard.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2008, 2:33 pm

BCR, do you make good old-fashioned biscuits, with the layers and the lard and everything? I had chicken, cream gravy and a biscuit for lunch. They have grits (ulch!) for breakfast here, too. I think there’s a displaced Southerner in the kitchen somewhere.

I just sent off a complete draft of my PPT, thus hitting my deadline with half an hour to spare. How does she do it? How? w00t!

Comment from Surly Ermine
Time: September 18, 2008, 2:46 pm

Chicken and dumplins?! Oh yeah, good stuff Jill. I remember asking my Mom to make some for my birhday once. I had seen her add a little yellow food coloring to them many times before, you know, just to give them a little more eye appeal. So, since it was my birthday, I convinced her to make them blue. They turned out looking like mucousy blue Playdoh. Boy, what a difference appearance makes.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 18, 2008, 3:18 pm

They’ve done studies to that effect, Surly. People will report that the exact same flavors taste different when different food coloring is added.

My mom cooked by color. We ate a lot of paprika, because beige things “needed a little red” in her eyes.

Comment from Jill
Time: September 18, 2008, 3:26 pm

I abhor leftovers, but I will lick the pot clean on some chicken and dumplings, I gair-awn-tee.

I’ll root around for the recipe if anyone wants it.

(yellow food color – check!)

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: September 18, 2008, 4:05 pm

my biscuits are of the baking-powder variety. Rumors that they can also be used as Deadly Ninja Throwing Objects are a base canard.

Comment from Dawn
Time: September 18, 2008, 4:28 pm

Jill, I’ll bite. Give us the recipe.

I learned a new word. Canard.

And hey did you know that droll doesn’t mean boring? It really should mean boring.

Congratulations on getting your project done, stoaty! I am very curious of their response, what with all the extra fabulousness you put into it. And if they subconsciously love or loathe the special font.

Comment from Jill
Time: September 18, 2008, 4:46 pm

• Bone-in AND boneless chicken breasts (’bout 2 ½ lbs)
• 6 C Water
• 6 C Chicken broth
• 1 large or 2 small Carrot, roughly chopped
• 1 large onion, cut into quarters
• 2 Stalks of celery, roughly chopped
• 1 t Salt
• 2 C Milk
• 1/2 t Freshly ground pepper (or more to taste)
• Chicken boullion to taste

• Dumplings:
• 2 C All-purpose flour
• 1/2 t Baking soda
• 1/2 t Salt
• 3 T Shortening
• 3/4 C Buttermilk

Place the chicken in a Dutch oven (or heavy stock pot), and add the water, broth, carrot, onion, celery and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat. Simmer for 60 to 70 minutes, or until tender and chicken is done. Remove chicken and allow it to cool enough to handle. Remove the carrot, onion and celery pieces from the broth and discard. Reserve the broth. Easiest way is to pour through a sieve. I use boned breasts for the flavor and boneless for extra meat.

Bone the chicken (which doesn’t mean what it sounds like), discarding all skin and bones, and cut meat into bite-size pieces. Set aside. (Let the chicken cool or you will burn the shit out of your fingers. I stick my chicken on a plate in the fridge. Hurries things along.)

The Dumplings:
Combine the flour, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture is consistency of coarse meal. Add the buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times — no more. This is important! Don’t worry about the unincorporated flour. Better tender dumplings and some flour you need to toss than chewy-ass jawbreakers floating in your soup.

For drop dumplings, pat the dough down to a 1/4-inch thickness, and pinch off 1-1/2-inch pieces.
For rolled dumplings, roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness, and cut into 3″ x 1″ strips. Use a pizza cutter – it’s easier.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil, and stir in the milk and pepper.
Adjust seasonings if desired.
Drop dumplings, three or four at a time, into the boiling broth and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir from time to time to make sure dumplings do not stick together. Cook dumplings 8 to 10 minutes (they will float to the surface and then expand) .
Add the cut-up chicken to the mixture and simmer until heated through. Remove from heat. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Dumpling dough is very similar to biscuit dough and, like biscuit dough, the less it is handled, the lighter and more tender the result.

***Chicken and dumplings, also known as Crack-A-Doodle-Doo. Sometimes I double the dumpling dough. Some of the dumplings disintegrate, and it makes it thicker. This is thick as it is, so don’t expect a broth with floaty things in it. I also leave my carrots in, cuz I likes me some carrots.

Comment from porknbean
Time: September 18, 2008, 4:46 pm

Yes, Jill, you must post the recipe for chicken and dumplings. I have been looking for a good one for awhile. Back in college, there was a little diner across the river where grandma did all the cooking and her homemade chicken and dumplings made your eyeballs spin in your head. I heard that they would give your the recipe if you asked, but being in college, we were only interested in eating them.

Comment from porknbean
Time: September 18, 2008, 4:51 pm

Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, and all of the flaming f*cks who walked off with million dollar severance packages at Freddie/Fannie, need to be frog-marched to a firing squad.
Along with anyone who refuses to investigate and charge the pissants. But NOOOO, what do they do when their asses are caught in the pan, blame Bush.
‘Yeah, Raines cooked the books in the 90s, made off with 90 mil and now serves as my financial advisor and don’t ask me about my 400k payout…because it was Bush’s and McCain’s fault.’ F*cking big-earred retard punk.
I just heard my brother’s house is in foreclosure, but he deserves it. Had bad credit, got an ARM, and lo and behold, he can’t make the payments. Instead of paying back those (me) who lent him $$$ for bailing him out of other things, he buys a house he can’t afford. Idiot.

Comment from Dawn
Time: September 18, 2008, 4:52 pm

Jinx. Pinch. Poke. You owe me a coke.

Comment from Jill
Time: September 18, 2008, 4:53 pm

Bawk Bawk! Thank you Easter Bunny!!


Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: September 18, 2008, 6:56 pm

Mmmm home made pickles.

Comment from glenster
Time: September 18, 2008, 7:15 pm

Well, I’ve got myself worked up into a number 10 adult size pother about Fannie and Freddie and Barney Frank and the O-messiah and the stupid senator’s son who hacked into Palin’s Yahoo account, so now I’m just gonna sit here and think about bread and butter pickles, and Crack-A-Doodle-Doo. I loves me some carrots too. And some biscuits. Pass the butter, please!

Comment from Allen
Time: September 18, 2008, 7:38 pm

Oooo, I have a great recipe.

Gin, Tonic, ice.

Can I go home now, I’m firsty.

Gonna hit Vegas in the AM. Woohoo!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 18, 2008, 8:25 pm

I don’t suppose you put leftovers out for stray, passing badgers, do you Jill?

Ever hopeful…

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: September 18, 2008, 9:20 pm

Hey Allen, are you going to Vegas for Blogworld, perchance? ’cause I am. Well, I’ll be hanging out with the milbloggers mostly, but definitely in Vegas.

Comment from Jill
Time: September 18, 2008, 9:25 pm

I always feed strays, Uncle B.


(scratching my back with a Princess Barbie magic wand – mind you, I have no children…)

I’m committing Allen’s recipe to memory. Woo!
And BTW, Cracker Barrel’s chicken and dumplings are pretty darn good.

Comment from Allen
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:12 pm

BCR, yeah I’m going to the thing Blackfive has going tomorrow night. I told Grim I’d buy him a beer. Hey, any excuse for a bit o’ Vegas.

The last trip was to the NFR back in December so I’m hurting, Cowboy Christmas! I’ll extend you the same offer, a drink or a few are on me.

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:42 pm

OO! I’ll be at Blackfive party too! can I have your autograph?

Comment from bad cat robot
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:43 pm

erm, my clever funny code got removed. What I SAID was,
(shuffles feet) Can I have your autograph?

I blame Akismet

Comment from TattooedIntellectual
Time: September 18, 2008, 10:50 pm

Can’t stand dumplings—>huge gobs of floury yuck. Will do chicken (or pork) in gravy w/ some yummy homemade biscuits.

Comment from Allen
Time: September 18, 2008, 11:19 pm

BCR, cool. I’ll see you there.

Comment from porknbean
Time: September 19, 2008, 12:06 am

I wonder if you can roll that dumpling dough thin like the ‘dumplings’ in Sweetsue. The chicken n dumplings at that diner I mentioned had flat dumplings too…no mouthful of blobbiness.

Comment from Jill
Time: September 19, 2008, 9:25 am

PnB, I’m sure that you could get them thinner than I like them to be. Just be careful with the rolling pin or whatever that you don’t toughen them.

Comment from Surly Ermine
Time: September 19, 2008, 11:47 am

I love anything in the bread family, ‘specially Uncle Porter, Cousin Doppelbock…

Thanks for the recipe!

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