A few weeks ago, I made a couple of jokes about women in a column about holiday traditions and, just like that, everyone called me a misogynist. That's fine, I wouldn't make the jokes if reactions like that bothered me. Also, if every joke I've ever written represented an actual belief of mine, I'd have to answer for a really long list of unfortunate personality flaws. And besides, as my girlfriend made sure to point out at the time, if anyone is in the kitchen making sandwiches in this household, it's me.
So, in the name of proving that (along with dispelling another recent accusation that I only use this column space to write about things I hate or criticize people for hating things I like), here are a few tricks I've picked up as a result of spending the past couple of years as the primary bread cooker in the house.
(Once you've learned how to cook, why not learn how NOT to drink alcohol? Check out Cracked's De-Textbook.)
#5. How to Make Lattes Without a Machine
The one thing separating the average citizen from a bottomless supply of delicious blended coffees is that gigantic, noisy, and borderline impossible to clean machine that the baristas of the world use to make the milk foam that, inevitably, becomes the canvas on which they put their art degree to its best use.
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Is that a bat?
The dirty little secret Big Coffee doesn't want you to know, though, is that you don't need their stupid gadgets to make foamy milk.
You can make cars with machines smaller than this one.
In fact, all you need is:
1. Your own milk and coffee, obviously. Both are available at any grocery store.
2. A microwaveable container with a lid. Make sure it's something you can shake.
3. A microwave (I understand that, due to the undying popularity of bullshit films like The China Syndrome, this part is a deal-breaker for some of you. To that I say, "Your loss, hippie.")
The rest of us stopped trusting Michael Douglas in the '80s.
Once you've gathered all that up, do this:
1. Pour your coffee and add your chosen sweeteners and enhancers (I mean booze). You want to have this ready before you deal with the milk.
2. Pour the milk into the container. As the last sentence clearly shows, I'm not an "exact measurements" kind of guy. I can tell you that you need to leave enough room in the container for the milk to double in size, preferably with a little additional room left at the top.
So like this, I guess.
3. With the lid firmly in place (don't get cocky, double check), shake the milk vigorously for at least 30 seconds. As you might have gleaned from the previous step, when you're done, it should look like you have twice as much milk.
Use your maths!
4. Remove the lid (especially if it's metal) and microwave the milk for about 30 seconds. Watch to make sure it doesn't boil over.
Words to live by.
5. IMMEDIATELY remove the container and, using a spoon to hold back the foam, pour the milk into the coffee.
This is what all my utensils looks like.
It's crucial that you do this right away as opposed to giving in to the temptation to just stop and marvel at all the science happening in your hands. We're working with foam here, it's going to start dissipating.
6. Spoon the foam onto the top of the coffee.
7. Tell Starbucks they can go fuck themselves.
If that seems like a lot of steps, it's not. Even if it was, it still beats the shit out of standing in line for a minimum of 10 minutes every morning while The Man uses his fancy robots to do the work for you.
#4. Skittles Are Best Enjoyed Frozen
Freezing candy before eating it is nothing new. However, it's a trick that usually works only for the chocolate-based treats of the world. Sure, frozen yogurt shops have been pushing gummy bears as a topping for decades, but the only weirdos who take them up on it are in the same minority of lunatics who enjoy pineapple on pizza.
Skittles, on the other hand, freeze up like a fucking champion. Here's how you make them:
1. Buy Skittles.
2. Put them in the freezer.
3. Wait approximately 30 minutes.
4. Remove them from the freezer.
5. Thank me out loud, by name, right there on the spot, as you enjoy them. I don't care who else is in the room, and I don't care how far apart we are. I will hear you, and I will appreciate it.
It's the candy shell that makes Skittles work so well as a frozen treat. When you put the candy in your mouth, that shell crackles like Pop Rocks. If that's a sensation you don't enjoy, you're dead inside.
Also working in Skittles' favor is the fact that, unlike the more traditional frozen Snickers, their smaller size means you run way less risk of that initial bite turning into a $1,500 dental nightmare. When they're at their coldest, they just kind of shatter when you bite them. As you power through the bag, they slowly thaw toward the same chewy consistency that made Skittles famous. That means, depending on how fast you eat them, the experience changes dramatically (and pleasingly) from beginning to end.
Shit yeah, Skittles.
#3. Refrigerated Biscuits Taste Better Fried
Here's a question: Why does opening a can of biscuits have to be so goddamn terrifying? Anyone who falls into a borderline panic attack when someone is blowing up a balloon for fear of the sound it will make should it unexpectedly pop knows exactly what I'm talking about. Of all the technological advances we've made throughout history, why are we still seemingly light years away from explosion-less biscuit packaging?
I'd rather not!
I can't answer that, but I can tell you that, along with being needlessly startling, biscuit packages are completely wrong about the best way to prepare the product inside. Baking them is your grandmother's hustle. In today's America, we fry things.
Fuck your arteries.
Biscuits take especially well to the State Fair treatment, and they're a breeze to make. Just heat up a pan of vegetable oil, separate the biscuits, and toss them in the grease. They cook fast, so a few minutes per side should be more than enough.
Fuck 'em good!
If you prefer a more labor-intensive process, use the lid of the vegetable oil to turn the biscuits into an array of doughnuts and doughnut holes, as seen in the photos. It's not mandatory, but not doing it is nothing but lazy.
After removing them from the oil, sprinkle on a little cinnamon and sugar if you desire. For best results, refrain from starting the dishwasher halfway through the process like I did, so you don't have to resort to using paper towels for plates.
Serve with maple syrup. Contract diabetes. Oh, and speaking of paper towels!