Author Archives: crjoker

Beef Bourguignon

  • 2 lb. beef chuck, cut into 1” cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4oz pancetta, minced
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled, sliced into large chunks
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1 cup pearl onions (or another regular onion, large chunks)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. dry red wine (Traditionally it would be a Burgundy/Pinot, but whatevz)
  • 12oz beef stock (chicken or pork stock will work too)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme, fresh and minced
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, halved
  • 3oz cognac or brandy
  • Freshly minced parsley, for garnish

Combine the beef, celery, carrots, chopped onion, garlic, mushrooms and red wine in a large ziplock bag. Pour in two cups of red wine. Let this soak overnight. If you skip this step if you are a lazy shvantz.

When you are ready to cook, strain out the solids and set aside the wine marinade liquid. Pick out the the meat, pat dry, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep the strained veggies aside but put pick out the mushrooms and put them in a separate container. Pick out the bay leaf and put it in the container with the reserved wine marinade.

Heat a dutch oven or a very large sauté pan (5 qt or so) on the stove top. Add the oil and cook the pancetta until crispy. Remove with slotted spoon and place in large bowl. Next, brown the beef in batches. If you cook all the beef at once the surface temperature will drop and it will not brown as well. Sear until all side have a good color. Remove and place in the bowl with the pancetta.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Add the wine marinated veggies, except the mushroom, to the dutch oven and sauté for 10-15 minute or until soft. Stir in the flour until mixed well with the veggies and fat. Pour in a little of your reserved red wine or stock and scrape the bottom to get the brown fond off the pan. Add the tomato paste and stir. I had extra yellow grape tomatoes (shown in these photos), so I used them instead of tomato paste. Pour in all your remaining stock and wine, plus the browned beef and pancetta.

Cover dutch oven/sauté pan with tight lid and put in the oven. This will all be done in two hours.

After 30 minutes: Take the lid off to evaporate water so the sauce will thicken in the oven.

After an hour: Check the beef in the oven, stir a bit, and return to oven for the final hour. Stirring gives the all the beef a chance to braise and roast.

After 90 minutes: Using another skillet, cook pearl onions (or large onion hunks) and mushrooms over medium heat with butter until mushrooms are golden and onions caramelize. This is why we cook them separately from the other batch of veggies. You want the pan to develop the burnt fond that sticks to the bottom. Deglaze this pan with cognac or brandy and scrape up the fond. Simmer until the brandy boils off but the pan is no longer covered in fond. Remove from heat.

After the full two hours: Take it out of the oven, add the mushrooms and onions, and stir. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Serve with potatoes, mashed or roasted, or thick egg noodles and garnish with minced italian parsely.

Bone. Ape tit.

Golden Ticket

This song has been stuck in my head for a week thanks to Harry Connick Jr.

Roasted Fennel Veggie Ragout

  • Two large fennel bulbs
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, cut in quarters
  • 2 bunchs mustard greens, washed & chopped
  • 1 red onion, cut into thick rings
  • 1 cup mushrooms (small or cut into small hunks)

For the fennel… Trim the fronds (they look like dill weed) and set aside. Remove the tough stalks (that look like celery). Cut the bulb and the softer stalks into quarter inch strips. Blanch in boiling salt water for 5-10 min until soft. Drain and let dry. If you don’t want to waste food, you can use every inch of the fennel. Just know some of it will be tough. It’s still perfectly OK to eat

Cut onion in half and slice into thick slices.

Remove garlic skin and cut cloves into peanut-sized hunks.

Strip mustard green leaves from thick stalks, wash, and cut into bite sized hunks. Massage with olive oil..

Place fennel, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and garlic into a bowl and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and balsamic vinegar. Mix and dump into cast iron skillet. Place in BBQ, grill, broiler, or oven on high bake. You can do Thurs on the stove top it you want. Cook until garlic is soft and onions/fennel start to caramelize.

At the very end, add the mustard greens to the top and return to heat unto greens wilt and crisp.

Remove from heat. Toss with the raw fennel fronds and eat.

White Knight Syndrome

I think this is something I have dealt with most of my life and I am only now starting to see it so I can fix it. The hardest part is realizing that I’ve always thought of this behavior as being generous and “feminist” in a way. It’s not. The farther you go back in my life, the more selfish it was. I still do it today to some degree, always looking for a pat on the back or wanting someone to be impressed by me. I’m slowly shifting towards me doing things just because or for the joy of doing it. But still. I need to own this behavior.

http://iameduard.com/whiteknight/

The White Knight Syndrome essentially stems from two erroneous beliefs that all white knights have in common. Deep down, they believe that 1) it is imperative for them to be liked by all women and 2) they are not good enough to be liked by women as they are.

Thus, the White Knight Syndrome ensues, as sort of a coping mechanism.

The white knight craves female approval, attention and companionship, as well as sex, a romantic relationship and perhaps marriage. But he doesn’t believe that he can obtain these things by just being himself, because he thinks he’s not good enough.

He believes he has to do something special to cope with this predicament. And the something special he discovered is trying to save women from their troubles. It’s no wonder he is drawn to women who need saving like a fly to honey.

At some level he thinks that if he can find women who are weak or in dire need of help, and he will swiftly jump in to provide that help, he will get these women to like him and give him all that he craves from them. Without him openly asking for any of it.

Even though the white knight asks for nothing in return for the help he offers and he may seem to offer it out of pure kindness or morality, make no mistake about it: he has a personal agenda, which he keeps hidden (often so well even he’s not truly aware of it). He wants something from the women he helps. Sometimes it’s only something emotional such as their approval, other times it’s something more material.

Unfortunately, to the white knight’s utter surprise, instead of providing him what he wants from women, his behavior mostly generates steep negative consequences.

When I was 11 years old my father had since moved out. My brother was off drinking and doing drugs with his 15 year old friends. My mother, severely depressed and with lupus, was either at work or asleep that entire year. I ran the house in 1985. I cooked, cleaned, went shopping on my bicycle for groceries.

I think my White Knight Syndrome manifested as a sorta Freudian need to make my mom happy and have her acknowledge that I was one of the “good males” unlike my father and brother. To this day I feel this need to have women validate that I am a good man//husband, that I cook and clean, that I am attentive to women’s needs, etc. I am realizing that is a primary motivator for why I post so many videos of me cooking elaborate meals. The meal was good without advertising it to the world! I’m looking for praise, specifically from all the woman I know. I thi k I subconsciously am trying to get the attention of women who wish they had a man who is like me. I’m think I’m seeking a pat on the back and I’m just now realizing how totally disingenuous and self-indulgent this is.

I am improving as I get older. I feel more comfortable with myself and have the means to just be generous for generosity’s sake. By discovering and acknowledging my White Knight Syndrome tendancies, hopefully out outgrow them. Mostly, I still want to be the best man I can be but be mindful as to WHY and do it just for self improvement instead of validation.

And yes, part of me wants women to praise this blog post for showing that I am self-aware and can become a better man.

HA! #Irony

Oh well. Baby steps.

Chicken Cacciatore

• 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs. (or breasts if you like it lean and dull)
• 1/2 cup flour
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp paprika
• 8oz. mixed mushrooms, I’m using crimini and shiitake
• 1 onion, diced small
• 1 red pepper, diced medium
• 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
• 3 celary stocks, diced small
• 4-6 garlic cloves, minced (or sliced paper thin with truffle shaver)
• 1 pint chicken stock
• Half bottle of dry red wine
• 6 oz. can tomato paste
• 1 cup (or half pound) fresh grape or cherry tomatoes
•Assorted herbs: Parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme. About a teaspon each, minced. (I am using a rosemary branch from the bush in my front yard).
• Olive oil
• 1/2 stick of salted butter
• 1 tbsp balsamic (or a squeeze of lemon)
• Salt to taste

Marinate the chicken in one cup of your dry red wine for at least an hour or overnight. Remember to save that wine marinade when you start cooking. It will go into the braise.

Place the flour in a wide bowl and mix in the paprika and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour. Using a very large saute pan or dutch oven, brown the chicken on high heat until golden. Take the chicken out and set aside.

Add a quarter stick of butter to that pan and then saute the onions, carrots, peppers, and celery for about 10-15 min. Half way through add your minced herbs and garlic

In another pan, saute the mushrooms in the other quarter stick of butter and saute until they express their liquid and turn golden brown. I do the mushrooms seperate from the other veggies specifically so they will get golden. I may splash in a little red wine or sweet vermouth with the shrooms too just for shits and giggles.

Deglaze the mushroom pan with red wine, scraping up all the scraps. Combine all the veggies and mushrooms into your larger pot. Add in the rest of your wine and scrape the bottom to get all the crispy goodies loose. Place the chicken into the pot on the bottom, under all the veggies. Add the grape tomates and the rosmary branch. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer for an hour.

Remove the chicken and set aside while you finish the sauce.

Mix in the tomato paste to thicken it so it sticks to the pasta. Add your acidity to taste. A tbsp of balsamic adds both sweet and acidity. Lemon is way more acidic. Don’t go crazy with the lemon juice. Just a sqeeze.

You can add the chicken back in if you wish or just serve up the meal.

Place a hunk of chicken over the cooked pasta of your choice (I use angle hair), and then spoon the sauce over it. Cover in parmesean. Garnish with fresh basil.

Eat that shit, ya jaggoff!

Kale Salad

The Kale Salad at The Eagle in Indianapolis is just about the best I have ever had. This is my attempt to recreate it.

  • 2 bunches Kale. Tuscan or Dinasaur kale prefered. Washed with the center stem removed.
  • 1/4 cup bourbon soaked raisins. Dried cranberries, or any dried fruit, would prolly work too. (recipe below)
  • 1 julienned granny smith apple (core removed)
  • 3-4 oz graded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • Maple cider vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Cornbread croutons
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion. Optional. (My idea. Not in The Eagle’s recipe)


Bourbon Soaked Raisins

You’ll want to do this in advance to get them properly bourbon-soaked. If you don’t want to deal with bourbon or you are in a rush, normal raisins will do. I think dried cranberries or apricots would be delish as well. I’m using some old-ass dried cranberries that are so old you can barely chew them. Perfect for a good overnight whiskey soak.

Place your raisins, or whatever, in a mason jar. Top them with bourbon, screw that lid on good, and let them sit overnight. A few hours minimum is fine if you are in a rush. Or you can soak several quarts of them them for a month to use as needed. The bourbon will preserve them for years, but they might turn to goop after a while. You’ll need to figure that shit out for yourself. You can do this with any dried fruit and any alcohol. Rum and brandy are great as well.


Maple-Cider Vinaigrette

Be sure your vinaigrette is made before you prep the kale. This will enough for 6-8 salad servings. Save the left over dressing in a bottle and keep it in the fridge for later.

• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
• 2 mashed garlic cloves (Mash into a paste)
• 2 tsp dijon mustard
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Kale Massage

Wash the kale and remove the thick center stem. Chop into hunks that will fit into a normal human mouth. Place in a bowl and drizzle in some of your vinaigrette. Massage the kale with your hands. No need to go to town on ’em. The kale doesn’t need a good rogering. This is massaged kale, not Happy Ending kale. You want the oils, salts, and acids to soften the kale so it’s more lettuce like and less like eating mulch or wicker. Feel free to smack the kale around, but please get consent first! And use a safe word, like ARUGULA!

Granny Smith Apples

While the kale recovers from your molestation, take the core out of a granny smith apple and cut it into either matchsticks or thin slices. I cut the apple in half, use a truffle shaver for the thin slices, and then cut it down further with a knife. I don’t peel apples just like I don’t peel potatoes. It’s a waste of food.

Croutons

I am pretty lazy and doubt I will be making cornbread croutons just for this dish. Buy croutons at the store or skip them if you want to avoid carbs. Otherwise, croutons are easy to make. Cut up your bread/cornbread into cubes. Spray with oil. Put in the oven at 400°F and bake until they are dry and crunchy. Easy peasy.

Batch of old cornbread / bread / french loaf / etc

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut leftover or day-old bread/cornbread into cubes, any size. Place cubes on a baking sheet.

Drizzle/spray with olive oil and toss lightly to coat.
Sprinkle with of salt and pepper to taste.
Toast in oven until sides are a dark brown, about 10-15 minutes, flipping once during baking.

Cheddar

I love cheddar. Use the sharpest cheddar you can find. Hard, sharp cheeses are intense in flavor. You don’t really need much to punch up a salad like this. You can use is sparingly the way you would use Parmigiano-Reggiano. Or shred the cheddar into large hunks and add enough to make your arm go numb. I think you get it up to restaurant quality by drowning it in dressing and going ape shit with the cheese.

Kale Salad

Combine the kale, onion, raisins (or cranberrries), cheese, and apples in a bowl and mix in the dressing. I will let you decide if you want it floating in dressing or not, but be generous. Toss your salad. Be sure to stretch first or you might injure your neck or back. It’s always safer to have someone else toss your salad.

Add more dressing as needed. It should be well coated but you should not have a puddle of dressing at the bottom of the bowl.

Serve the salad and top with the croutons. Eat that shit, yo! And enjoy your nice superfood dump tomorrow.

Tomato and Roasted Pepper Salad

  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves or quarters
  • 1 cup roasted red bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, or a mix)
  • 1 cucumber, cubed
  • 1 red onion, diced into medium chunks
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles or chunks
  • Half cup Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Half oz fresh basil leaves, minced (about 10-20 large leaves)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  1. Combine
  2. Eat

Loophole

I often go to casinos for work and have my food comped. It makes sense for them to comp my food, otherwise I charge it to my corporate card and we bill it back to them. Comping my food means they can feed us at cost rather than retail. They use the same comp system that they use for gamblers. They don’t track what you had or when. It’s just a “comp”.

Usually when I check in they inform me of my comps and explain the restrictions. Typically they comp food only, no alcohol, and you can eat anywhere except their big steakhouse or fancy-pants restaurant. The restriction is imposed through the point of sale machines at each restaurant.

Most every casino/resort has a lounge or bar that serves food and they always comp the bar food because it is cheap. These bars almost always let you order a steak from their big steakhouse if you ask. When they ring it up at the bar instead of at the steakhouse it is flagged as a comped meal.

💡Loophole💡

The second trick is to charge all the alcohol to your room and pay with the company card. The hotel bill only shows the amount and that it was from a restaurant. I then expense this as dinner. They still bill it to the client; the client can’t dictate where we eat. The expense billings we send them are huge and involve hundreds of employees. They just pay.

Food comped. Alcohol expensed.

💡LOOPHOLE!!!💡

F**k ‘Em!

Doing stand up comedy in the beginning is strangely terrifying. Nothing is going to hurt you up there, but when you’re doing poorly the crowd feels your fear and they seem to amplify it with their reaction. They get uncomfortable and that makes you more self conscious about bombing. It can take years for comic to reach that point where they stop caring about bombing. It’s like learning to ski or ice skate. You have to fall down in order to get over your fear of falling down.

On Sunday, July 10th, my improv troupe The Sandbox Association performed during half time for the NBA Summer League Game at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. There were at least 2000 rabid NBA fans there. Of the six people in our improv troupe, only three of us could be there. We did a game called “Sports Center.” This is how we described it on our website (seen in the screenshot above):

“The Sandbox asked for a simple everyday household activity and one basketball fan yelled ‘mopping’, and with the help of another audience volunteer the crowd witnessed the mock Olympic mopping competition narrated by none other than Sandbox newscasters.”

Many comedians I know remember the moment when they stopped being afraid to bomb. It’s usually a heckler they remember or some set when they did really well. For me it was this NBA halftime show. This was the single most brutal incident I’ve ever experienced performing in front of people going all the way back to doing stand up for the first time as a freshman in high school.

The fake “mopping” competition started and I went to TOWN, Jack! I was all over that floor like a spastic. The kid who volunteered to “compete” against me looked at me as if I was insane and quickly walked off. The crowd did not just boo us, they were ANGRY booing. They got up in droves and fled to the concession stands. “YOU SUCK!!!

In my mind I was glad they were upset. I wanted to perform harder to make them even more angry at me. It was a turning point in my life. That was the moment I stopped looking for validation from other people. Being on stage no longer frightened me. Speeches, presentation, comedy, acting, playing music, doing anything before an audience does not phase me anymore. I don’t care how large the crowd or how unprepared I am. That event made me fearless.

The organizer of the event apologized and paid us. We left a bit shaken and glad it was over. My two troupe mates said to me, “Wow you really committed to that.” And I said, “Yeah, the harder they booed me the more I gave.” They asked why. Why perform harder for people being that rude?

“Because, “ I said.

“Fuck ‘em! I hope I ruined their whole goddamn week.”

Pol Roger: Sir Winston Churchill – 2002

In recent months, potential good fortune presented itself to Misty and me. Shortly after I left my job I immediately had interviews with Kronos, an HR systems company, for a fantastic pre-sales solutions consultant position. It had great pay, it was work from home, great place to work, and exactly the kind of job I want. I aced my interviews. They flew me to Indianapolis for the final test: an in-person presentation to the pre-sales team, which I nailed.

After eight years of seeing a neurologist for chronic daily headaches, Misty’s doc wanted her to have a lumbar puncture, a spinal tap. She was in a car wreck decades ago. Whiplash can wreak havoc on the skeleton. A previous MRI showed that Misty has bone spurs, disc problems, and a small syringomyelia in her spine. All of these things can cause problems with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). If low pressure was measured during a lumbar puncture it would be a clear sign of a CSF leak. She has all the symptoms of spinal fluid hypotension. We were very excited because if confirmed, a CSF leak is curable. She’d finally have an end to her headaches.

On March 28 I arrived home from Indianapolis fully confident I would get that job. I’ve never had a job interview go better. The hiring manager seemed proud of me. She gave me advice after the virtual presentation I gave her the week prior. My improved presentation impressed her. The people in my final interview gave me nothing but overwhelmingly positive feedback and they acted as if we’d all see each other again. I left Indianapolis feeling on top of the world, convinced I was about to get a fabulous new job with a large jump in pay. I was so confident that I stopped at Total Wine and Spirits on the way home, hours before Misty got off work, and dropped over $200 for a vintage bottle of 2002 Pol Roger Winston Churchill champagne.

I tasted the non vintage Pol Roger at a Vino Volo shop at the Portland airport and was completely blown away by how gorgeous it tasted as the waitress informed me that it was Churchill’s favorite champagne. To be honest, the bottle was $240 but I had a 20% off coupon for Easter. It would have been crazy NOT to buy it with that kind of savings!!! I am not one to be overly optimistic as I usually prepare for the worst. Standing in that wine shop with that expensive champagne, I heard that little voice in my head tell me not to count my chickens until they are hatched. I told that voice to piss off. I got home before Misty got off work and I hid the bottle with the plan to surprise her once I had the job offer in hand.

Today I drove Misty to get her lumbar puncture. She had been worried about how much it would hurt and thankfully she said it wasn’t bad. After her procedure she came out into the waiting room with her eyes floating and shaking her head. “Nope. Normal pressure.”

She cried off and on for a few hours feeling that this was the last chance to fix her headaches. I did research and found that normal CSF pressure does not rule out a CSF leak. They drew CS fluid and will test it for further signs of a leak like white blood cells, proteins, and some other things. This is not over, but today Misty felt defeated, hopeless.

This is common knowledge by now but I did not get that job at Kronos. I felt like a schmuck for spending $200 on a bottle of champagne before I got the news. I kept it hidden, figuring I would hold it for when I do finally get a job. Last night, on the eve of Misty’s lumbar puncture, I decided to surprise Misty and pop that bottle of Pol Roger in the event that she came back positive for a CSF leak. We got back from her test with the reality of normal CSF pressure. I already mentioned that her results so far do not rule out a CSF leak, but it’s discouraging. Low pressure would have been conclusive today and a great reason to celebrate, knowing her headaches will be cured soon.

I try to stay in the moment in life and I try to remain in a good mood but I anticipate the worst so I am not disappointed. Optimism can really set you up for horrible disappointment. It’s hard to remain positive, yet practical, and be persistent in spite of many let downs. This is especially the case with Misty who has endured more than eight years of constant daily headaches with no end in sight. That is why I am generally pessimistic about things. Yet, for some reason I went in the opposite direction with my Kronos interview and with Misty’s lumbar puncture. I threw caution to the wind and splurged on an expensive indulgence. After so many disappointments , that champagne remained in my house having outlived its original objective.

After we got home today, Misty asked me to please stop talking about CSF leaks and just let her watch TV while she recovers from the back pain caused by this procedure. She will push forward and keep seeking answers on her head pain, but today she earned the right to be in a bad mood. Meanwhile, I’ve been looking for work in the best job market in 18 years and nobody is calling me. I’m frustrated and time is running out for me, financially.

A few hours ago I went into our wine fridge and pulled out the bottle of Pol Roger that Misty didn’t know was there.

“I bought this right after my final Kronos interview. When I didn’t get that, I figured we would have it when I got some other job. Last night I decided I would surprise you today once you tested positive for low CSF pressure. This bottle was supposed to be for a celebration, but I think we should drink it tonight.”

“Why?”

“Because. Fuck ‘em!”

“No, we should save a champagne like this for a special occasion, like your birthday! Or when you get a job.”

“No. Let’s have it tonight. Carpe diem, rock out with your cock out, YOLO, and all that other bullshit. Good champagne doesn’t need a special occasion. It just needs to be chilled. If you need a reason to celebrate then we’ll toast to each other and then toast to the puppyheads.”

“I love you.”

“I know.”

(Solo: A Star Wars Story. In theaters May 25!)