Hmm Weekly for April 14, 2020

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THOUGHT DEP’T.

Do you have a thought? Send it to hmmweekly@hmmweekly.com.

CANNED PRODUCE DEP’T.

I DIDN’T KNOW till I opened the can if the pigeon peas were going to be a vegetable or not. A vegetable, for meal-arranging purposes, can't just be something that comes from a plant and isn't all sugar. Maybe some culinary traditions can get away with that, but it's no way to live. A potato? Not a vegetable. Black beans? Nope. Sweet potato? Only if it's a puree and you're under 12 months old.

Not every valid vegetable is leafy or even green. Cauliflower counts, absolutely. Carrot sticks or bell peppers at lunch. Nor is everything green a valid vegetable. Cucumbers don't really qualify, but you can get away with them at lunchtime now and then. The little salad of iceberg lettuce and stiff tomato at one end of the halal cart box shouldn't count, but it's part of a meal taken under some sort of difficult circumstances. 

The beans present tough cases. Edamame might be the greenest object on the menu in some places, so they have to get over, but I wouldn't try putting them in heavy rotation to balance the meat at dinner at home. Fava beans are green enough. I never came around to lima beans because they're lima beans, but also their lima bean–ness includes that mealy not-a-vegetable quality. 

The pigeon peas were a matter of emergency. I was looking for possible vegetables on the depleted grocery delivery website—ideally, some canned or frozen ones, to help smooth out the vicissitudes of the supply chain. I'd never cooked with them before, but the picture on the can was bright green, as green as regular peas, which I'd been cooking up fresh a couple times a week. The internet suggested their natural degree of greenness was a matter of maturity: the older ones were definitely just a kind of beans, while the younger ones had vegetable potential. I ordered a couple cans and stashed them in the pantry until I might need them. 

I'd spent enough time gaming out worst-case food scenarios, however, that I wasn't going to wait till I was fully desperate for a vegetable. By then, if I was wrong, I'd be stuck. The pigeon peas would be deployed at lunchtime, as a sort of Plan A Minus. I'd work them into a dish I was cooking, with a real vegetable ready to go as a side dish. 

There were a few scraps from a roasted chicken, plus the fat and juice from the roasting pan, so I poured the liquid over leftover rice in a frying pan with I think some bits of salted lemon, let it cook together and get brown around the edges, and considered the peas. They were: not green. If they were olives, you'd call most of them "green olives," but a few Kalamata olives might have accidentally fallen into the bin. They were as far from the picture on the label as a solid month of cooking every meal at home is from the improvisational delight of building a meal around a seasonal harvest. In they went; I was making rice and beans. The chicken meat went in at the end, just enough to warm it up. I've already forgotten what ended up being the vegetable. 

CELEBRITIES WANT TO BE WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE DEP’T., PART III

THIS IS A followup to last week’s followup, in which I apologized in advance for having this probably be a series of my complaints about the new Celebrity-studded version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on ABC television, 10 p.m. Eastern o’clock time, on Wednesday nights. Always consult your local listings.

This week’s game really made me angry because they gave one of the celebrities a total do-over on a question. I got peeved and tweeted on that shit.

The PARROTS are at a bird sanctuary that celebrity Nikki Glaser was playing for, and to make things even more irritating, her celebrity-contestant helper was ANOTHER fucking celebrity, the disgraced former top celebrity doctor, Dr. Drew Pinsky, who, as a non-celebrity, used to serve up solid medical advice back in the day on radio’s Loveline, but my diagnosis is that mutating from a radio personality to a TV celebrity did something to Mr. Dr.’s judgement. This jackhole needs to not be on teevee for a while, and yet here he is, “helping out” on a game show that used to be for regular people. Look at this smug so-and-so.

Comedian Nikki Glaser messed up on her answer to which movie was made to appear as if it was done in one shot, which, c’mon, no offense, but if it’s not really one shot, who cares if somebody Photoshopped it together or whatever to make it look like one shot? She did appear to know the answer, and she tragically suffered a lapse in the brain/thought/mouth connection, and, out loud, said the incorrect answer (which was obviously a brain thought/afterthought) and then said “final answer,” which according to the rules as described to all contestants, means that was your final answer. She said an Answer, and then said Final Answer. I don’t want to harp on this, and I’m certainly no celebrity, but I am a qualified expert on this particular game show.

Even that putz Dr. Drew knew Ms. Glaser blew it, and that it wasn’t The Lighthouse, which was weird enough without any “one shot” tricks. The correct movie was 1917, a solid picture which didn’t really need a gimmick.

The judges decided to go with what Ms. Glaser meant and not what she said, which makes perfect sense for a TV show where celebrities are supposed to be shown scoring cash for charities, and not a show featuring real people, who could use the dough, in a contest to win some, with genuine risk in the process.

Will Forte answered $32K worth of questions in his appearance, and that determined the jackpot for the evening’s after-broadcast app contest, which looked sort of familiar in my phone. The Millionaire Live app is mos def a mild lift of the (briefly) wildly popular HQ Trivia game.

Left: The late lamented “HQ Trivia” game, and host Scott Rogowsky. Right: “Millionaire Live.”

No offense to Kay Adams, the current Millionaire Live game presenter, but if they didn’t try, ABC Television really missed an opportunity to secure a host who was already connected to hundreds of thousands of people who used to play HQ Trivia and enjoyed one of its more entertaining and manic presenters, the affable Scott Rogowsky, who did not part on good terms with the downward-spiraling HQ enterprise. Just saying, ABC, you shoulda signed the erstwhile Quiz Daddy.

The Millionaire Live app game is where real people get a crack at some cash, and the first night somebody grabbed $150K for about a half hour of effort. Not bad! Anybody who played HQ will have an immediate familiarity with the way the game plays. I didn’t get very far, but I’m hooked and will be in there next time, which should be around 11 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, April 22. I don’t know if I’ll want to get irritated by watching the TV show before, though. Especially if it’s one with Dr. Phil, bleargh. Why are all these teevee doctors such loads?

UPDATE: If you are Eastern Time Zone and you miss a particular 11 p.m. after-show game, the West Coast version (i.e. version where you’re playing for the amount of money won on a particular week’s broadcast), is played the following week at 8 p.m. Pacific Time, and I don’t know what time that is, but I think it’s 5 p.m. Eastern, and maybe 7 p.m. Mountain Time. Do they still have that, Mountain Time? I don’t know. Consult your not-local listings.

So I think maybe if you don’t play the Eastern Time game, you can log in to the Pacific one, possibly. Good luck winning some cash!

VISUAL CONSCIOUSNESS DEP’T.

Spring, Part 6

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HARDLY COOKING DEP’T.

How to hardly cook a ham

Look at this beautiful ham. I hardly cooked it.

IF YOU DON’T know anything about cooking, one of the best things you can cook (assuming you are OK eating this item), is a Ham. Why? Because unless you are crazy enough to locate and purchase a “fresh ham,” a ham you buy in the supermarket is already cooked. It’s either baked or cured or smoked. It’s ready to eat, the same way a hot dog is already cooked, OK? All you do with a hot dog is make it hot.

Anyway, it’s very difficult to screw up a ham. All you do is open the package, put it in a roasting pan, dump in a cup of water, wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil, and heat it up in an oven. Then, to finish it off and really make it look like you cooked something, take the foil off and let it cook in the oven for another half-hour or so. That will brown it up nicely. Done. Nobody will die of undercooked pork or trichinosis or scurvy, because the damn thing was cooked before you cooked it. But again, like the aforementioned hot dog, you should heat it up, it’s so much better when you cook a cooked ham.

Very cooked hot dogs

There is some math. Generally it’s about 15 minutes of 350-degree oven time per each pound of ham, so DON’T THROW THE HAM TAG AWAY until you write down how many pounds of ham you have.

I like to jam a bunch of cloves into a ham because that really makes it look like you cooked it, plus it smells great as it is cooking.

Along those lines of really making this already-cooked thing look like you cooked it, you can glaze it. Take the foil off the ham about 30 minutes before it’s supposed to be done and get to glazing. Usually the spiral-cut hams come with a package of stuff that you mix with hot water and dump all over the ham. If you didn’t get one, just boil down maybe a half-cup of brown sugar in a cup of water until it’s syrupy and use that.

Another trick is to slap some canned pineapple rings onto the ham before you cook it, during glazing, or even after, it doesn’t matter, they’re cooked too, the rings. Congratulations on heating up some ham!

RECIPES DEP’T.

WE DRAW EVER closer to the time when we will cease presenting our selection of recipes for ancient but reproducible sandwiches, found in The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich, by Eva Greene Fuller; 1909; McClurg and Co., Chicago, found in the public domain for the delectation of all. What will we do for Public Domain Content when we have exhausted the supply of sandwich recipes?

PRESSED MOCK CHICKEN
Boil a piece of fresh shoulder of pork until tender, adding pepper and salt to the water in which it is cooked. When done, run the meat through the meat chopper and return the liquor in which it was boiled in the kettle. Add enough rolled oats to absorb and thicken the liquid, season to suit the taste, and simmer from twenty to thirty minutes; then pack into a bowl or crock; when cold, slice and place between thin slices of lightly buttered white bread. Garnish with pickles and radish roses.

CHICKEN AND HAM SANDWICH
One cupful of chopped ham, one cupful of cold boiled chicken meat; season with salt and pepper and moisten with mayonnaise dressing. Spread this mixture on thin slices of lightly buttered white bread, cover with another slice, and cut in halves. Garnish with a pickle.

HAM SANDWICH NO. 3
Slice cold boiled ham thin; spread with French mustard, place between thin slices of rye bread. Garnish with a pickle.

If you make one of these sandwiches, before you eat it, please send a picture to hmmweekly@substack.com

APPRECIATION DEP’T.

This thing! On the air pump! Apologies for the bad photo, I was in a hurry.

I HAVE A motor vehicle, and one of the tires has a slow leak that eventually achieves its potential as a flat tire, so to fight it, every few days I go to ROYAL FARMS, a nearby convenience store that also has pretty good chicken and I help my self to FREE AIR. The thing about FREE AIR is the FREE AIR machine gets a brutal workout, and sometimes when I stop by, the business end of the FREE AIR machine—the thing that goes on the valve of the tire so the air can go out of the hose into my softened tire—is broken. That means I have to go someplace and pay like a buck, buck-fifty for some PAID AIR. Getting back to my beloved FREE AIR, even when it’s not broken, the connector-thing has always been really difficult to hold onto the tire valve for the transfer of the life-giving air.

The previous bad connector-thing

It always seems like it’s not on correctly and some of the FREE AIR is going out into the regular air and not the tire. Until now! Suddenly all the FREE AIR machines have a new type of the thing that goes on the valve of the tire, and it has a lever that clamps it onto the valve and you can just leave it there and wait for the FREE AIR to finish inflating! I salute whoever is individually or collectively responsible this technical improvement, and thank them, and the ROYAL FARM stores.

HMM WEEKLY IS written by Tom Scocca, editor, and Joe MacAir, creative director. If you enjoy Hmm Weekly, please let a friend know about it, and if you're reading this because someone forwarded it to you, go ahead and sign up for a copy of your own right now.
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