I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror this morning, complete with Star Trek science officer bathrobe, and thought “me, single? UN. POSSIBLE.”
In other news, I quit my job at Marquette University. After fifteen years, my last day is May 24th. It will be hard to leave, but exciting opportunities await. More on that later.
It’s been all over the Facebooks, but I apparently haven’t mentioned it here: Endless Blue’s Undercover album has been released! Get yours here:
We are having a CD release party, too, and you’re invited! May 25, 8 to 10PM, Riverside Brewery & Restaurant in West Bend. I really hope you can make it if you’re local. And if not, I hope you find a favorite on the album.
Lately Siri has been really handy. On long drives, she’s great for dialing the phone. She’ll even read incoming text messages to me and let me compose replies. I’ve also been spending a lot of time in an unfamiliar town. It seems like every day there’s some new thing that I need to find for the first time. Where’s the nearest branch of my bank? Where can I get a haircut? Siri knows. And then gives me directions. I kind of forgot she was there for a while, but this is really practical and useful technology.
I’m not a big lo mein guy. Which is why this recipe intrigued me. The premise: most lo mein you get sucks, but this one is good! So yesterday I made it. The verdict? It’s good! It’s not life-changing, but it’s good. I think if I try it again, I’ll make an effort to use good Chinese noodles instead of the linguine I had on hand. And if nothing else, the marinade and sauce are worth applying to other Chinese dishes.
Also, Watch the video, it’s less boring than reading the recipe.
Use a cast-iron skillet for this recipe if you have one—it will help create the best sear on the pork. When shopping for Chinese rice wine, look for one that is amber in color; if not available, sherry wine may be used as a substitute. If no hoisin sauce is available, substitute 1 tablespoon of sugar. If boneless pork ribs are unavailable, substitute 1 1/2 pounds of bone-in country-style ribs, followed by the next best option, pork tenderloin. Liquid smoke provides a flavor reminiscent of the Chinese barbecued pork traditional to this dish. It is important that the noodles are cooked at the last minute to avoid clumping. See below for information on buying noodles.
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (see note)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 pound boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed of surface fat and excess gristle and sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch pieces (see note)
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine (Shao-Xing) or dry sherry (see note)
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps cut in halves or thirds (about 3 cups)
2 bunches scallions, whites thinly sliced and greens cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 small head Napa or Chinese cabbage, halved, cored, and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (about 4 cups)
12 ounces Chinese egg noodles (fresh) or 8 ounces dried linguine (see note)
1 tablespoon Asian chile garlic sauce
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat.
2. Whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and five-spice powder together in medium bowl. Place 3 tablespoons soy sauce mixture in large zipper-lock bag; add pork and liquid smoke, if using. Press out as much air as possible and seal bag, making sure that all pieces are coated with marinade. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Whisk broth and cornstarch into remaining soy sauce mixture in medium bowl. In separate small bowl, mix garlic and ginger with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil; set aside.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in 12-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of pork in single layer, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon. Cook, without stirring, 1 minute. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons wine to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is reduced and pork is well coated, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer pork to medium bowl and repeat with remaining pork, 1 teaspoon oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons wine. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
4. Return skillet to high heat, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add scallions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes longer; transfer vegetables to bowl with pork.
5. Add remaining teaspoon vegetable oil and cabbage to now-empty skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Clear center of skillet; add garlic-ginger mixture and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into cabbage; return pork-vegetable mixture and chicken broth-soy mixture to skillet; simmer until thickened and ingredients are well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
6. While cabbage is cooking, stir noodles into boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh Chinese noodles or
10 minutes for dried linguine. Drain noodles and transfer back to Dutch oven; add cooked stir-fry mixture and garlic-chili sauce, tossing noodles constantly, until sauce coats noodles. Serve immediately.
I’m just making some changes in the look of the site.
The “Undercover” project proceeds apace! There are now around 17 songs recorded in at least a preliminary way–some more preliminary than others. And not all with make the cut. But still, that’s a lot of work accomplished and the consensus is we’re still on target to release around May. There are a few more to record and then a whole lot of polishing, rerecording, mixing and mastering before that can happen.
No, you cannot hear what we’ve done so far. These songs have never before been heard by human ears–nor will they until release day.
But oh how I’d love to let you. Some of this stuff will blow your mind!
Remember when I used to do this with photography equipment?
Onward! My bass rig now includes of only one guitar: the Ibanez Soundgear SR505 5-string electric bass: mahogany body, rosewood fretboard, passive Bartolini pickups and an active EQ. It’s light, gorgeous and has a terrific modern sound.
For amplification, things are in flux. I’m still using and loving the Gallien-Krueger MB500 amplifier. I got rid of my big cab, though, the GK 410MBX. Sold it to a nice kid from Madison last week. It was just too big and too heavy. I risked injury every time I moved it. I’m keeping the Neo 212. Great cabinet. I’d get a second one, but for the fact that it’s still 50.5 pounds and I desperately want a lighter option. Later this winter perhaps I’ll pick up a Neo 115 (40 lbs!) to sit on top of the 212. Mis-matching like this is not ideal, but it does have advantages. For one thing I’ll have three rigs: small (the 15), medium (the 212) and large (both).
The pedal board. I’m very pleased with the TC Electronic PolyTune tuner. I’m very pleased with the MXR M87 compressor. Neither one are going anywhere, probably ever. Likewise with my Source Audio distortion and envelope filter pedals. Not only are they good at their primary functions, they are so flexible that together they nearly obviate the need for a synthesizer. I think I’ll ditch the Moog expression pedal, though. For a time I used it to morph between distortion pedal presets, but It’s really not necessary and it takes up a lot of real-estate I could use for other things. Besides which, I have the Hot Hand wireless ring controller for that stuff now.
I ditched the SansAmp a while back–and I sort of regret it. It’s true that I struggled to make its overdrive usable and that the built-in EQ was rather inflexible, but it did give me something important: a retro, tubey rock sound that the digital Source Audio distortion unit can’t muster. In light of this, I have been looking at various products to fill that niche and will probably go with the MXR M-80 Bass Driver DI+. It’s everything the SansAmp was but with a more musical overdrive and a somewhat more flexible EQ.
I have a few other music-related do-dads. The Behringer mixer and the Sony headphones I use for practice and recording; The M-Audio keyboard synth controller; Garageband on the Macbook Pro. But these are incidental and not in line for changes or upgrades anytime in the foreseeable future.
So basically I need me an analog overdrive/preamp/DI and a Neo 115 cab.
After the holidays.
My Review of Juan of the Dead:
Juan is played by Alexis Díaz de Villegas, who is immediately evocative of the skinny guy from the Bugs Bunny cartoon, “Waikiki Wabbit,” the final scene of which features two starving castaways imagining one another to be hot dog and a hamburger. De Villegas is the skinny hot dog guy.
Also: zombies in Cuba. The end.
Ok, I’ll say a bit more.
In the long tradition of zombie films before it, Juan of the Dead actually has something to say. In this case, it’s Cuban politics. Fun fact: Juan’s iconic weapon of choice is a boat oar. The Cuban media constantly refer to the zombie hordes as “dissidents.”
Well worth seeing if you’re a fan of the genre.