2 Girls 1 Cup (of Pudding)

Why Rice Pudding?

The first time I came across rice pudding was in one of my Time-Life books, those Japanese children’s encyclopedias sold door-to-door in the 80’s, which I’d read over and over all through my childhood for lack of human companionship. The pudding was in a feature on rice dishes from around the world. The French, apparently, ate rice in sweetened milk, and at the time I really couldn’t fathom how that could be any good at all. I’d imagined regular, short-grained, boiled white rice swimming in a bowl of milk, like a thin, milk-rice soup, and concluded that France was kind of retarded.

Then, when I got older, I decided that the pudding just had to be made of malagkit or some equally sticky equivalent, much like budbud, biko, or champorado. I couldn’t accept that it was made of regular, non-sticky rice, because its consistency just seemed so off. The likes of goto and arroz caldo were different, as they were savory. So, when I read a recipe recently for rice pudding and read the words white short-grained rice, my brain exploded and I knew I had to do it.

Choosing Ingredients

This was my first time to buy uncooked rice. I have no clue as to rice variations, so when I got to the rice bins at the supermarket, I stared at the ghetto names—Sinandomeng, Jasponica—and decided to just pick a random bin and ask for 70 grams of the stuff, as the recipe prescribed. Now, my man-slave and I are not big on rice, and only buy them cooked by the cupful at the isawan near our place, so I couldn’t have known that kilos were the saner form of measurement. Thus, Rice Measuring Lady looked at me like I was high.  She asked me if I was sure I wanted just 70 grams, and I said yes 70 grams and tried to keep a straight, non-panicked face. So Rice Measuring Lady grabbed an itsy bitsy handful of rice, set it on the scale, and gave me another withering look. You sure just 70 grams? she asked. Make it 150? I very very softly replied. Rice Measuring Lady rolled her eyes, added another teensy handful, and bagged it up with what I’m pretty damn sure is the cheapest price tag she’s ever slapped onto a bag of rice in her entire rice measuring career ever:

Booyah.

Sufficiently humbled by my first brush with rice selection (yet slightly satisfied for having rocked Rice Measuring Lady’s world), I then headed to the milk section to do what I actually could do well: buy things with dirty names. In this case I bought three tetra-paks of Cowhead whole milk, because Cowhead has to be the most inappropriate (and, likewise, highly appropriate) name for an udder-borne product, and that is just totally awesome.

Cooking

This was also my first time to cook rice on my own.

(Technically, the first time I tried to cook rice was in partnership with my cousin Whammy during our stay in Singapore. We had been left alone in the flat to make dinner for our uncles, so we decided to cook up some rice with the rice cooker. I can no longer recall what we did with the cooker, exactly, but I clearly remember the rice exploding all across the kitchen counter minutes later.)

This time around, however, I used a regular pot, lots of milk, and a bit of salt. I was supposed to boil the stuff up, then reduce it to a simmer up until the rice got nice and tender. But my rice, of course, did not get tender. It did get cooked, but the stuff was still pretty gritty, like mush mixed with pebbles. This was when I realized that I must have bought the really shitty rice variety, something like bits leftover from the good stuff, and hadn’t really noticed because when I do things for the first time such as approach Rice Measuring Ladies, I don’t fucking pay attention.

Oh, and I burnt the pot.

The bulk of the pudding did get good and creamy, though, so I figured that’d make up for the rice’s texture. I then added one egg, a lot of muscovado sugar, and a bit of vanilla to the mix, kept stirring, and watched it thicken sufficiently. The thickening part I enjoyed very much, because it felt like I was doing something right at last. What I didn’t enjoy very much, however, was the pudding’s growing resemblance to a crock of shit.

The Outcome

If you’ve had the opportunity to witness the viral masterpiece that is 2 Girls 1 Cup, then imagine the substance venerated therein, and then imagine said substance slightly more accurate-looking, with all the tiny chunks and everything. It was the muscovado that did it, as it turns into dark brown sludge when liquefied. (The photos do no justice; it’s way, way darker in real life.)

It looked like diarrhea, but at least it smelled sweet and rich. And looked like diarrhea.

The Verdict

It was equal parts hit and miss. My man-slave actually perked up upon spooning some of the stuff in his mouth, but then the grit came soon after and he never went back to the Tupperware again. Basically, the diarrhea tasted like a standard sweet and creamy base, the kind of no-brainer flavor anyone can like well enough, but the cheap rice I chose made the pudding a chore to eat.

In a way, then, I still haven’t proven to myself whether regular rice makes for decent pudding or not. The bits of okay rice in the dish tasted semi-okay with the cream, but I still can’t tell if it would have been fine had I cooked the rice perfectly. Methinks kakanin would still be a great deal better.

The Tupperware of pudding is still sitting in the back of our fridge. I take a spoonful every now and then to try and convince myself that it’s okay, but it’s never okay. I can, however, make a poverty-porn film a la Brillante Mendoza now, with me smearing pudding all over my shanty town set. Which is actually a pretty sound plan in the end. Like, I make shit, I win the Palme d’Or.

NEXT ON THE MENU: Makiling Gruel (a.k.a. Potato Cheese Soup)

March 22, 2010 at 9:43 Leave a comment

Pasta Bolognese a la McCormick

Ingredients:
200g of pasta
¼ kilo of ground beef
1 packet of McCormick Bolognese Pasta Sauce Mix
1/3 cup tomato sauce

For my inaugural dish, I decided to go with Pasta Bolognese, since the packet of McCormick Bolognese Pasta Sauce Mix was all we had left from my pasta sauce mix hoarding from a few weeks ago. The other flavors—Herb and Garlic, Creamy Garlic, and Pesto—were each squandered thanks to some dumbass oversight, namely: forgetting that the recipe called for 200g of pasta and making 500g instead; forgetting to buy full cream milk and having to make do with skim; and forgetting to salt the water the pasta was boiling in. I usually have a decent memory—I still remember the full names of the girls who made my life hell in 7th grade for not liking the Moffats, and I can sing the entirety of “Semi-Charmed Life” including that really fast crystal meth part—but when it comes to cooking, my recall’s all shot. This current pasta endeavor, then, I approached with little hope, and much foreboding.

Even my kitchenware served as an omen. Behold:


My spatula-thingy’s handle had melted into the rim of my frying pan. I’d left it there after frying up a batch of very wrinkly pancakes that morning, and only found it fused when I got home later that night.

After wrenching my spatula-thingy out of the pan, I started the pasta water boiling, making sure to add about a tablespoon of salt. Now, the amount of salt needed has always been a source of contention for me, because I distinctly remember that Giada elf from the Food Network telling me not to be afraid of putting lots and lots of salt in the pot, as the water was supposed to taste like the sea, and I also distinctly remember putting in a whole fistful of salt because that’s what she did and ending up with salty crap. So that night, I just threw a bit in there, and tried to forget that the elf had ever said anything to anyone.

Once the water came to a boil, I slid in half a pack of angel hair pasta. I chose angel hair partly because it only took about 6-8 minutes to cook (the package says 2-3 but, as I had come to learn from that Giada elf, all them Italians are liars), and partly because it’s fun to eat. The pasta then cooked through, and I set it aside, properly drained.

And then, dear reader/s, came the Moment of Extreme Despair, which has turned out to be mandatory in all of my cooking attempts, and shall henceforth be noted in succeeding entries. This Moment of Extreme Despair came about thanks to a glaring omission in the pasta sauce mix’s instructions. See, the first step stated: Dissolve McCormick Bolognese Sauce. Mix in tomato sauce. Set aside. Now, and especially since I was a grammar Nazi, I was completely confounded as to what to dissolve the sauce with, since this detail wasn’t part of the statement at all. Common sense told me to use water, but then my not-so-common-but-still-logical sense told me to use the actual tomato sauce. Tomato sauce, after all, is a liquid and can very well dissolve the pungent, coppery powder that constitutes the Bolognese Pasta Sauce Mix. Plus, both the ingredients list and illustration on the packet made no mention of water whatsoever.


I was fucking confused. With water, there was a chance the sauce would be diluted and bland. Without water, the sauce would probably get too salty and paste-y. But these were just assumptions, and one of them had to be right, and I was starting to get that familiar twinge in my gut, the one I’d get right before I make the brash decisions that ruin dinners. And so, just to get it over with, I stirred the Sauce Mix into a bowl of water, squeezed in some tomato sauce, and stared at the blood orange mess with nauseous resignation.

It didn’t get any better when I combined the gunk with the freshly fried ground beef. The packet said to wait ‘til the sauce thickened, but it wasn’t thickening, and I was starting to get mad both at myself and at whoever dipshit wrote the copy on the Sauce Mix packet. Having waited long enough, and with the sauce still watery, I dumped the pan’s contents onto the angel hair, tossed it a bit, identified it as throw-up, and decided that was that.


I then called my man-slave out of his cave for the taste test.


The sando and bedhead deceive. My man-slave is, in fact, quite particular about his food, and is vocal about whether what I’ve cooked is shit or not.


And the verdict? Well? What does my man-slave think about my latest and likely failed attempt to curb my self-loathing through food?

“It’s okay, babe.”

HOLY CRAP, TSUMAMBA. Yay! In hindsight, though, it was probably because of my pasta choice. The sauce remained watery throughout, but the slim noodles fared well with the lighter flavor. If the noodles were any thicker, there probably wouldn’t be that teensy flare of faith within me now.

My man-slave wasn’t all gaga over it, sure, but he did sincerely like it and we did end up having it for dinner. We first cooled it down in the fridge, though. We’d developed this habit of eating cold pasta, because this made the flavors far more pronounced. We discovered this thanks to my previous pasta fuck-ups, since we’d end up not eating the stuff and stowing it away in the fridge. We’d then try some the next morning, when the oil’s all congealed and salty-creamy, and the stuff would suddenly be edible.

And as expected, the Bolognese I made was better cold. Unlike the other pasta attempts, however, it truly was passable hot, and thus legitimately delicious chilled.

NEXT ON THE MENU: Rice Pudding a.k.a. The First Time I Will Ever Cook Rice, and It’s in Damn Pudding

March 15, 2010 at 9:43 6 comments

An Introduction

Howdy.

I’ve been blogging for nearly a decade now, but I haven’t really latched on to a particular theme save for myself and what’s been ticking me off. And this was passable up until two years ago, when my utter disregard for propriety began to dwindle and all I wanted was a steady job, a decent apartment, time to write, and a loyal man-slave, all of which I was very thankfully able to have.

Still, I wanted to blog on a regular basis. I just needed a topic to anchor me. But I didn’t want to do a blog on music or film or any other topic that I knew would just make me echo some other, more knowledgeable dude’s opinion. And then it hit me: ever since my man-slave and I moved into our apartment a few months ago, I have been proving week after week that I suck major ass in the kitchen. I am horrible at it. For a multitude of reasons. And still I try.

Thus, I have decided to start a blog about the most ill-equipped person to ever start a blog about cooking ever. And I have decided to call it Appetite for Destruction. I am not as great a fan of Guns n’ Roses as I am of drippy wordplay, and I accept myself for who I am.

Now, besides my lack of technical skill, which is intrinsically connected to my impatient and oftentimes depressive disposition, I am also ill-equipped in that I am a) not very knowledgeable about gastronomy, and b) literally ill-equipped, as my kitchen is a barren hole compared to most any food blogger’s.

First, on the not being knowledgeable part. I do have a certificate for the 10-session Children’s Summer Cooking Workshop (Set B) from the Sylvia Reynoso-Gala Cooking School, which I earned rightfully when I was 9. I don’t know where it is, though. The certificate and whatever knowledge I had managed to gather trying to peer over a dozen sweaty kids clustered around a demo table. I am also not a Julie and Julia-type person. I am not a food connoisseur as I can neither afford to be so nor pronounce coq au vain without wiggling my eyebrows with lecherous glee.

As for my shitty kitchen, I have only the following contraptions to my name: 1 stove, 1 medium-sized pot, 1 small frying pan, 1 spatula-thingy for stirring things in pots and pans, 1 strainer, 1 cheese grater and 2 knives. I assume that these comprise some of the bare necessities, but I will really have to undergo some restrictions with my recipe choices, as some of them will require some other metal thingy that cannot be compensated for by my existing metal thingies. I am not that poor, but I am stingy enough.

Suffice it to say that my ingredients will be quite limited as well, but I will try to add something a little nicer to the basket every now and then, my salary permitting. On the whole, though, common and inexpensive ingredients shall be de rigeur, including diabolically convenient one-step sauce mixes and flavoring packets. While I do admire healthy eating, life’s too short to deny MSG.

Obviously, I am not about to get all food snob on anyone; that’s the complete opposite of what I want this blog to be. And it’s not about sharing awesome recipes (however unsophisticated) anyway. Instead, the biggest reason why I’m doing this blog is that I have the trappings of a tragic cook, and I am sure there are other food-lovers out there who are also frustrated/shit-scared of cooking oil popping in their face, and I am sure they wish to find someone far more horrific than they are. Now, thanks to this blog, they will get a serving-sized boost of morale once a week. I will attempt to cook something, my man-slave will be forced to eat it, and I will document the whole ordeal to the best of my abilities. Fun for everyone.

Welcome to Appetite for Destruction, everybody. My name is Margie, and I will be your butcher this evening.

FIRST ON THE MENU: pasta bolognese a la McCormick

March 11, 2010 at 9:43 2 comments


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