May 27, 2007

700 pounds of wild boar sausage, anyone? [update -- no thank you]

Jamison Stone, 11, holds the .50 caliber pistol he used to kill a wild hog weighed a staggering 1,051 pounds and measured 9-feet-4 from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail near Delta, Alabama on May 3, 2007.

If confirmed, that would be even bigger than "Hogzilla" in Georgia a few years ago.

That is one BIG feral pig.

UPDATE: I just listened to a NPR news story that really, really bugged me. It turns out that the gigantic pig pictured was no wild hog at all. He was an immense pig raised elsewhere, on a farm, purchased and then shipped to this game preserve where he was released four days prior to this hunt. The previous owners of "Fred" have come forward, first to protest that this was not a wild boar and also to note that allowing a boy to shoot the animal eight times with a pistol was neither humane nor particularly sporting.

I'm really more sickened by the episode than anything else, including any part I had in glorifying the youngster's achievement. While it's no different, in practice, than the release of farm-raised trout for anglers to catch in stocked ponds or the seeding of grouse or pheasants for hunters to shoot on other game preserves, in both cases I imagine the sportmen paying the animals more respect with quick, merciful deaths.

(AP Photo/Melynne Stone)

May 24, 2007

Angelina Jolie gets geotattooed

According to this story in the Daily Mail, Angelina Jolie has geotagged herself in a rather permanent way.

Lockets of hair just don't cut it in 21st century celebrity, apparently.

The coordinates of the tattoo on her arm, above, represent coordinates in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Namibia, and Vietnam, each string of characters representing the location of birth for one of her four children.

I admit it: I think this is pretty cool.

May 23, 2007

At home in Huron Village: In Search of the Perfect Fish Taco

There may have been a fish taco extravaganza in my backyard Monday night.

I love cooking like this. I took inspiration from both new neighbor's tastes and the newfound return of balmy weather to Boston and lept in to the creation of the perfect grilled fish taco.

I surfed through a few dozen Googled recipes and culled out my favorite combination of ingredients. There wasn't any one that was perfects, so the recipe that follows is definitely both a mashup of styles and original.

In my experience, for a truly memorable meal, most of the effort happens on the front end in planning, shopping for and choosing your ingredients. 1/4 planning, 1/4 ingredient selection and shopiing, 1/4 prep and 1/4 actual cooking. Maybe even less on that last fraction, when presentation occupies some portion of that as well.

Anyway, I started with choosing the fish itself. Local wild bluefish and some very fresh monkfish and tilapia were all quite affordable and held together well on the grill. Preparing the fish was simple. I placed all of the filets in a Pyrex pan and slathered them in safflower oil, citrus salt and pepper. I cut up a Vidalia onion into thick discs and de-seeded the jalapeno, added both to the fish in the dish and set them the pan aside, out of reach of the ever-present Roberta. She's quite the chowhound.

After that, the sous chef de jour and I got to work prepping the rest of the groceries.

Those included, first and foremost, a dozen soft corn tortillas for soft tacos and another dozen hard corn taco shells. I've always hated hard tacos that break when you eat them, so I planned to enfold the hard shell with the soft to avoid taco in the lap. That worked out well -- especially when I melted cheese and added grilled, chopped onions between the layers.

While I could have liked to have had avocado, I couldn't find any suitably fully ripe ones at the market.

Even without it, the essential fish taco I wanted included the following:

chopped red cabbage seasoned with soy, mirin, pumpkin seed oil and S&P
minced red onion
roasted sweet corn
chopped cilantro and diced scallions
sour cream

The corn prep was satisfyingly easy. I just de-silked the ear, retaining the husk, and then soaked it in water. When grill was ready, I put it on to steam. Easy, simple and tasty. I sliced the kernels from the cob; this is definitely a new favorite way to eat corn.

The finished fish taco, with two layers of corn tortillas, grilled sweet onion, melted chedder/jack cheese, sour cream, red cabbage and onion, cilantro, salsa, scallions and key lime juice was one of the better scratch dinners I've done recently.

Economical, too. I fed five people and had enough for two more today.

While there was a brief concern as the gas grill failed to get up to full strength, I actually preferred using the pot-bellied Weber with charcoal briquets. I like the taste more and the loving attention required speaks to me on some fundamental level. It may be about the fire -- pyromania of a modest sort has been with me since the very earliest age.

Snow gets full cred for plating and inspiration, some sweet sous cheffery & most definitely for the photography above. And helping with the dishes.

Here's to 278/280 Walden -- I like the new digs.

May 21, 2007

RIP Cutty Sark

My uncle pinged me first thing this morning with the sad news about the burning of one of the world's greatest maritime treasures, the Cutty Sark.

It's a shame the whiskey named after her isn't top notch. It's a blend (and not my favorite) but probably still much better than what the Cutty Sark's sailors drank.

Like the Royal Navy, maybe I'd feel better if I drank a pint of grog or more every day myself.

I was glad to read that the Cutty Sark's metal skeleton did not buckle in the heat of the blaze -- and that firemen preserved her figurehead. She may be preserved yet.

It's extraordinary to think back the days of epic tea races as the clipper ships scudded across the world's oceans, coursing over the waves. . . how else to explain a trip from Australia-to-Britain in as little as 67 days? Under sail?

According to Wikipedia (ahem), the Cutty Sark's best run, 360 nautical miles (666 km) in 24 hours (an average 15kt, 27.75 km/h), was said to have been the fastest of any ship of its size.

Viva windpower

May 17, 2007

Video: Italian Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes. Animated. In Italian. I don't think Bill will be thrilled to see his work used by yet another unauthorized party...but this is, as is noted in the comments, a labor of love. It might just squeak in under "fair use" -- but I doubt it. Either way, the animated short is a delightful trip down memory lane. I adored Calvin and Hobbes as a kid. Still do, really. Whenever I mention to a friend that something will "build your character," it's a direct homage.