Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sugarpie, honeybunch

Good luck getting that song out of your head for the rest of the day. If you don't know it, you're welcome.

No excuses for not posting over the past several days. I've been so busy sleeping 10 hours a night and watching awful amounts of Star Trek and cramming my gullet and reading numerous books. I finally picked up A Better Angel by Chris Adrian, with whom I am now mildly obsessed. He's a physician-scholar-author with a bizarre, sinister style like no other. Read this interview with him, then go out and read A Better Angel or The Children's Hospital while I binge-read the rest of his oeuvre. Next stop is Hans Fallada's Wolf Among Wolves.

Food of interest: a rustic mushroom tart (delicious, probably because of all the butter), many salads (delicious despite exiguous butter) and a bruschetta of fava beans with blood orange vinaigrette (also tasty, but unwieldy to eat).

No recipe needed: puree some freshly cooked favas with lemon juice,
salt, pepper, garlic, and a little cooking liquid. Spread on toast. Top with
slices of blood orange and arugula and dressing made with blood orange.
Actually, make a sandwich with eat, because eating this was impossible.

Mmm, cheese and butter. Also mushrooms.
And then there was licorice. Did you know that licorice, if made with all-natural flavoring, can cause hypokalemia and metabolic alkalosis? This is now pertinent to my life because I have eaten so much of this. In honor of my likely death by arrhythmia, I give you something I haven't done in a long time:

Komm, süßer Tod, Part VII: Philip II of Macedon

Licorice root has a number of medicinal qualities, actually. It contains glycyrrhizin and phytoestrogens, and has a number of physiological effects both proven and homeopathically touted. In fact, Alexander the Great may have given it to his troops to sate their thirst during long marches. How did Alexander the Great come to power, you ask? I'll tell you!

It all started with a somatophylax named Pausanias, who was at first content to watch over Alexander's father Philip II as he captured his way around the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, in 336 BCE, something went wrong. Accounts vary; my personal favorite is that Philip II cast aside Pausanias as his lover in favor of a younger, handsomer man named Pausanias. Whatever the cause, Philip was headed into the theater--what is it with theaters and murders of public figures?--when Pausanias pounced and stabbed him in the chest. The assassin immediately turned and ran; he theoretically could have made it to his horse and escaped, had this clumsiest of killers not tripped over a root and thus gotten himself speared to death (and crucified post-mortem). Thus did Alexander ascend to power on the back of Philip II's numerous accomplishments.

I thought cutting it into little squares instead of big twists would limit my consumption of it, but this stuff is just way too good. I modified this recipe simply by omitting the food coloring* (thus the chocolatey brown color) and using honey with a little molasses added to it instead of dark corn syrup. Oh, and I gave it a generous sprinkle of sea salt while I was cooling. All in all, 10/10, would make and devour again. Maybe I'll use buckwheat honey and orange extract next time. One other warning: while I suspect my thermometer is improperly calibrated**, boiling the mixture to precisely 265 degrees F gave me a tougher candy than I expected.

*I swear to god no grocery stores in New York carry this stuff. To find the red coloring for the cupcakes and cookies, I went to no fewer than four grocery stores (thanks, Food Emporium), and I distinctly remember noting that they only carried the typical four-color packs and big bottles of red. No black.
**If anyone else has a digital thermometer and would like to help me check on this, let me know!

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