Monday, May 25, 2009

Cake Decorating 403: How to Decorate Your Cake with a Shotgun

Cupcakes have grown in popularity over the past several years, but their brutality has remained depressingly low (e.g. in England, they're called Fairy Cakes (the name "fairy cake" is a fanciful description size, which would be appropriate for a party of diminutive fairies to share)).

After eating way too many fairy cakes (half a crown (equal to 10 bob, a quid, and a half-groat of cakes)) we hallucinated an army of fairies riding vampire unicorns all over the ceiling. Using the crystal ball we stole from a ghost that time we spent the night in the abandoned gypsy circus, we divined that the only weapon that could save us was that quad-barrel shotgun from Phantasm. Lacking access to this technology, we improvised.

We will use the lead shot from these shells to construct a sap. We will then use the sap to knock someone unconscious and steal their french fries, this creating material for another entry.

This method worked well for both decorating the cakes quickly and for fighting off the demon-possessed toys. Highly recommended.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Razor Clams part 1: The Secret of the Knight’s Sword

The Pacific Northwest is great for a number of reasons, but foremost for its many opportunities for ripping animals out of the ground, cutting them to pieces while still alive, and then eating them. It's brutal in the way that doesn't bother you because so many other people are doing it.

So, we went digging for Razor Clams (so called because they carry straight razors for self-defence, à la Bad, Bad Leroy Brown). The easiest way to dig for the clams is using a clam gun. The model we used was a 500-calibre job loaned to us by a coworker.

After obtaining the necessary license, and getting to the beach an hour and a half before low tide (which meant we were up at 4:damn:30 in the morning), all that's needed is to scour the beach looking for clam signs.

This is a "show." You might need to click on this picture to enlarge it. The sign is a little dimple in the sand, located in quadrant IV of this picture, at about (1, -2). A little tricky to see, no? At least it was light out and not raining. Our first time we were looking for these things with a Coleman lantern, a case of Black Butte Porter, and a willow divining rod.

Razor Clams part 2: Danger on Ice

Razor Clams are specialized for two things: 1) quickly digging downwards to escape being eaten, and 2) being eaten. We, personally, love this second part. Anyhoo, here's how one goes about using a clam gun:

So, briefly, we found a clam sign, placed the clam gun over the clam sign, angled it slightly away from the ocean, and started to dig. The important thing here that you can't see in the video is a small hole in the handle of the clam gun. Uncovering the hole allows air to escape when pressing the gun into the sand. Covering the hole allows you to strain your back as you try to break the suction while lifting a 5in diameter, 12in long core sample of wet sand. If you're lucky, the vibrations will only have scared the clam and started him digging down. If you're unlucky, he pulls out his straight razor.

How easy this is a complicated function of: how low the tide is, how wet the sand is, how big the clam is, how long it was since someone last walked near the spot (Razor Clams can smell fear), how you hold your mouth, and whether or not you're lined up with a toilet. It also helps to have a good poker face, and not to count your chips at the table.

The limit is 15 clams person-1 day-1 and you have to keep the first 15 you dig, regardless of size or condition.

Razor Clams part 3: The Feathered Serpent

Here's the brutal part: cleaning the clams. This is done while the clams are still alive, as you want them as fresh as possible. We kept them in a cooler full of frozen/slushy seawater on the trip home, then used them as after-dinner entertainment for our guests (one of said guests is telling a story in the background, and it would have been impolite to tell him to stuff it, so there's some background chatter. Not that it really matters, anyway, as you can't hear the clams scream.)

Then, because that's the kind of guy we are, we made our guests get their hands dirty. No one eats for free in this house.

Thanks to the T. for helping us out. It's harder than it looks because the little buggers squirm around as you're trying to cut 'em open. It raises the question: would we vivisect clams if they could scream? You bet we would. Especially if they screamed all the time, and for no reason.

Razor Clams part 4: Secret Cargo

We've decided to do a quick pasta for tonight, so we softened some onions and bell peppers and threw in some chopped garlic and oregano. We degaussed (<- this word was recommended by FireFox's spell check and I like it better than deglazed) with white wine, then added the clam nectar from our bag of clams to the pan along with some crimini mushrooms and some seeded cherry tomatoes.

Then we chop our tasty bivalves into hilarious little pieces (we put the laughter in slaughter) and add them to our sauce. The clams really just need to be warmed up, as overcooking them will turn them to clammy pieces of shoe leather.

Toss in some fresh basil...

Now we pour the sauce over the noodles, grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, and crack a little black pepper over it all.

In case you're wondering, that's a slice of toasted, homemade sourdough with a garlic/herb butter.