In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

How To Remove a Broken Lightbulb From The Socket Without a Bloodletting or Electrocution

When a light bulb breaks (often when it's really old, burns out, and you are trying to replace it, but sometimes when your boyfriend removes his t-shirt with a flourish and like Bamm-Bamm doesn't know his own strength and smashes a $4 silver-tipped light bulb all over your bed and then you cut your finger and it bleeds*):

IGNORE THE POTATO LOBBY. No spud will help you. Did I write this already? You'll just get potato juce down your forearm, and your arm will fall asleep from all the pointless jamming and turning.

Get your self a wadded up piece of Duct tape or electrical tape. Jam it in the stuck cylinder. Oh, first turn off at least the light switch if not the breaker in the fuse box. Let's not tempt fate. Anyway, jam it in and start to turn it lefty loosey. Ta daa!

You're welcome.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Make Things Taste Like at Full Kee

With a  tip of the hat to artist Richard Barry from whom I lifted this lovely image... (visit  his site, buy his paintings and assuage my guilt!) these are the three ingredients you need to make many things taste like the most  delicious thing on the planet, if you like garlic, chili and ginger, which you should because all of them are cancer relieiving super foods or whatever. But mostly delicious.

There's a fabulous Chinese restaurant in DC called Full Kee. 

I have a very hard time moving past a few things on the menu because they are so flipping delicious.  So if you go, you should order the roast pork appetizer. Their egg rolls are good if you are an old school Chinese food type eater. Order the stir fried chive flowers. Don';t ask me questions, just do it. And order the SPicy Fried Grouper (it might be called Crispy Spicy or something). It is most likely going to be catfish but they will tell you it is grouper. Sometimes they will tell you they are out of grouper, but then a more experienced waitress will tell come over and say, no we have grouper, and then she'll look real hard at the younger waitress. This dish is on the wall, not on the menu. Don't bother looking for it. You may have to get up and point at it for the young waitress.
It will come to your table looking like this.

For the record, Full Kee identifies this as crispy spicy canadian cod fish. Trust me, it's catfish.

Anyhoodle, when it comes, you'll fall in love with it and think, I've never had anything so delicious as these chive flowers, and this spicy grouper/catfish/species unknown.

Now, I can't help you with the chive flowers (which are truthfully long green thick chives (not scallions) with unopened buds on the end, stir fried in a ton of garlic) but the fish I can -- and this same preparation can be applied to many things that are sauteed quickly and need flavor -- ie shrimp (do them in the shells), thinkly sliced pork, chicken, chicken wings, beef, most likely scallops and I bet lobster would be delicious, if yuou live in Maine and have way to much of it. But for the lobster I'd steam them first till almost done, then sautee them in this, and let it get all over your fingers.

You need equal amounts of garlic (lots), peeled minced fresh ginger (lots), and fresh chilis (serrano, jalapeno, whatever). Mince them to all the same size. Stir fry or saute whatever protein (including tofu) you want in a hot pan with oil (peanut oil can take the heat), then when it's a minute or so from being done, throw in the garlic, ginger and chilis and saute it for a minute. give it a good sprinkling of salt -- it makes the spice easier to take for some reason, and lets you really taste things besides heat. Then throw in a few chopped scallions, green parts included, and toss it again, then serve.If you've got cilantro, throw it on there.

Super super delicious and you'll be all what is this fancy fusion restaurant i have stumbled into? And then you'll me like, oh that's just me.

To do the grouper like Full Kee, get some catfish filets (ha!), slice them into fingers, toss them in buttermilk, then roll them in seasoned flour (salt and pepper is enough but you can other things if you like them) Shake off the excess and fry. When it's cooked, removed the fried fish to a paper towel or brown paper bag to blot the excess oil, then toss them all back in with the g/g/c and a bit of salt. Remove and serve.
For chicken wings, give them a little oil massage (maybe include some toasted sesame oil in the mix) and put them in a hot oven till their done. Then remove them, throw them in a hot wok with the g/g/c and scallions, maybe  a touch of soy if you really want to, a little dribble of toasted sesame oil, and mow mow mow.

You're welcome.