AT&T: Evil Masters of the Uverse(?)

AT&T Complaints Department
1 Happy Street
Fiery Depths of Soulless Hell, TX 66666-666

Dear Sir, Madam or Other Miscellaneous Corporate Child-eater:

I write today with a great burden upon me, for a mountain of regret threatens to press the very trust in humanity from the depths of my consumer drone lungs. For thou hast slain me – not by any tangible measure but in a way far more malicious … a way that stains my metaphysical blood deep into the scaly flesh of your greed-mangled claws. Oh Captain, my Captain… My King of Kings… Please smite me not, for I present to thee … a complaint.

“Just sign the contract,” he crooned with great seduction, the brim of his heavenly blue cap perched upon the gnarled horns of a goat-hearted demon-agent of the great Satan himself. Oh, how I should have known – for you cannot spell SATAN without “AT” … while the origin of that blasted extraneous “T” remains far too mired in dark sorcery for my feeble comprehension. “Your beloved New York Yankees, 24/7… It shall all be yours for the taking … if only you sign.”

Satanic Demon Goat Mask

Yeah, sure. Like YOU could resist those eyes…

I remember the day as if it were yesterday: the air thick with potential, honeysuckle and sulfur. He knew exactly where to hit me – knew my softest of soft spots. I fell powerless against the call of the postgame extravaganzas I once knew and loved … drunk on the promise of Girardi and Jeter, Pettitte and Cano, all on-call at the press of a button. And, my God, did you say Francesa? The palpitations, they did thus commence…

“Just hand me a pen!” I shouted with glee, as he delved deep into his pocket to retrieve a lump of black avarice with which to etch my mark. Oh, how I should have known…

For a time, I must confess, things could not have been grander. For I had entered into a contract with Corporate America for the provision of services… And Corporate America had contracted back. On a day such as this, fortune shone oh so bright.

Heavenly sun rays and oak trees

Pictured: fortune. Much, much fortune.

And then, the skies darkened – metaphorically, of course, for this is still Texas and the welcome relief of cloud cover remains a taunting mistress indeed. Eagerly, I bound before the Altar of Truth, igniting its wisdom in a blaze of electric glory. But where were my pinstripes and the exalted arches of my beloved Yankee Stadium? Andy? Derek? Nothing. Not even a passing Ichiro.

cat in an empty room

“I don’t know, Mr. John Sterling Fluffykins… I don’t know where they all went… :(

Needless to say, vexation consumed me as I reached for my phone to call the caring harbingers of customer service. There must be some mistake. For I had contracted with Corporate America… And Corporate America had contracted back.

The gauntlet I faced was cold and lonely, populated with talking heads and mindless mouths, eerily chanting pre-programmed responses to inquiries not yet made. But through toil and diligence, I found my way, sweeping aside a final thicket of thistle to bask in the grandeur that is Cindy (in Billing).

Demon goat 666

Oh, hi Cindy… I was referred by Mouthbreathing Bob in Sales.

Humility descended upon me with the stifling calm of a warm blanket. I was in Her presence: the presence of Greatness. Cindy had no need to boast of Her own importance, for the brevity of Her tone spoke volumes in Her stead.

“But I have contracted with Corporate America,” I pled before Her almighty gavel of justice, “and Corporate America contracted back.”

“Channel changes happen,” Her heavenly voice rang down.

“Yes,” I cried with futility, “but did I not pay for said service? Have I somehow angered the Altar with my most benevolent of intent?”

“Channel changes happen,” She said once again.

“And yet, I pay all the same, sans the services withdrawn?”

“And you shall continue to do so, lest ye wish to face the fiery trials of The Penalty.”

I recoiled in dread. Had my brazen bravado cost me more than I had bargained for? But wait, that which I had bargained for now itself hung in limbo. The shower of confusion intensified…

Hot bikini girl in shower

Please, I wish…

My beloved was gone, never to return – held captive by a premium of superior rank than the premium with which I had acquired her.

But what of the contract with Corporate America, you likely ask? Needn’t even a Master of the Uverse abide by the Cosmic Code of Law and Common Sense? Should not the unilateral rescission of services without recompense of consideration constitute breach and fraud, every bit as much as it would were the tables turned?

Or do you stand by your General, the Almighty Cindy (in Billing), shouting stalwart down the mountainside to we minion in the valley, “Screw you, walking wallets, we’ve already got your money. For you are bound by a contract with Corporate America … and channel changes happen”?

Demon goat 666

And there’s not a da-a-a-a-a-a-a-mn thing you can do about it!!

Love is in the Air … and I Have Allergies (Stuffed Shells in Red Wine Sauce)

stuffed pasta shells with ricotta mozzarella and parmesan and spinach in a red sauce of sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic and california cabernet sauvignon

Ah, ‘tis February once again – that eerily mystical time of year when ground-dwelling rodents emerge from a subterranean slumber to dominate the media with meteorological prognostication … when the dangling residue of holiday gorging still drapes seductively from our necks and mid-sections … when gently-used resolutions for a just born new year sit nestled back in their packaging, awaiting their inevitable recycling come next January … and when common sense gives way to a groundswell of collective hysteria as every man’s hopes of seeing his girl naked at some point between now and his next anniversary hinge precariously upon a suitable sacrifice of pink and white in appeasement of the industrial complex.

box of valentine's chocolates in red heart and roses

BAD VALENTINE’S DAY IDEA #1 – “Because I would rather see you get fat than have to go shopping at a real store… Ooh, is that one coconut?”

Yes, pitchers and catchers report. Yes, the cosmic rejuvenation of Opening Day draws nearer by the moment. And yes, you heathen Angels fans of schizophrenic geographic designation (Anaheim? LA? South Central? WTF, dude?) have a big year ahead. But do not be fooled!!

Seriously, you still don’t believe me about the corrosive powers of winter’s bleakest harbinger?

Consider then, if you will, the following entirely discrepant philosophies on conscious awareness and theoretical humanism:

But Boss, you say, “I think, therefore I am. I needeth not make bauble-laden offerings to the fairer sex in order to sustain my masculine virility; for my uncompromising identity rides, unbridled, across the plains of liberty and my oats sown at will.” Ladies, gentlemen, I present to you the sound of unsown oats and a single-serve dinner on a very lonely Valentine’s Day.

giant oversized stuffed teddy bear with bowtie and hot blonde in red lingerie

BAD VALENTINE’S DAY IDEA #2“Look, he’s got a better body than me AND he’s less afraid of commitment. Why are you not thanking me?”

Like the chubby, diapered cheeks of a winged archer-assassin, for every left, there is a right … and you’d better have plenty of pucker to kiss them BOTH, lest chaos reign throughout the land on a particularly Frigid Fourteenth.

nicholson in show shining

“Come on, Wendy. Just one little redrub? Damn Donner Party had it so easy…”

As anybody from Astley to Armstrong, and from Martin to Morgan, will tell you, “You’re nobody ‘til somebody loves you.” And I would dare posit the follow-up presumption that, should somebody decide to UN-love you, you must necessarily flicker out of existence yet again, returning to an inter-existential dimension of hellish nothingness typically reserved for French mimes and Adam Sandler movies.

keanu reeves whoa

Indeed

The male chromosome brings wth it a host of relationship inequities. Such is the burden of rugged manliness … but the bottom line is, we ain’t gettin’ a piece unless we’re keeping the peace. So let’s all just suck it up and play ball before someone gets hurt, shall we?

Yes, my forlorn friends, February is a dark time, indeed … created to confuse and terrify even the most stalwart among us with the icy shrinkage of self-doubt. But fear not, for together we shall replace the pitchforks with dinner forks and swap torches for candlelight and, with any luck at all, we can all enjoy our own happy endings. (oh please, you knew it was coming sooner or later … Ha, see what I did there?)

sexy lingerie trail to the bedroom

“Daddy? Where do babies come from?”
“Well, Timmy, I’m no doctor but I believe you came from Kay Jewelers and a bottle of Jägermeister …”

But how?? One simple word, amigos: gooey, cheesy, wine-y, decadent, color-coordinated Italian awesomeness.

If we can agree on one thing as a species, it’s that Italians are pretty damn sexy…

dean martin with cigarette

‘Nuf…

monica bellucci green top

…said.

joe pesci

And if we can agree on a second, it’s that there will always be exceptions.

…and on this most sacred day of hard-earned nookie and shamelessly purchased affections, where better to turn to ensure that each of us holds our own, while not left holding our own? (ok, ok, I’m totally stopping now … for real)

Rows of cheese stuffed pasta shells ricotta mozzarella Parmesan spinach

Stuffed Shells in Roasted Garlic and Cabernet Red Sauce

Ingredients
One box pasta shells

Sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 Tbsp fresh sweet basil, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 cup julienne sun-dried tomatoes (rehydrated, if necessary)
16 oz tomato sauce (no salt added)
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup California Cabernet red wine (applied ¼ cup at a time)
2 Tbsp turbinado cane sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (20 year)
One entire head roasted garlic (~12 cloves)(No, it won’t kill the mood. Yes, you’re still getting laid. Shut up and roast.)

Cheese Filling
32 oz ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Spinach
6 oz baby spinach, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp garlic, minced
Pinch of kosher salt

First things first: like any lovesick pazzo looking to tickle the tongue of his ladylove, you’re going to need to roast up some garlic ahead of time. Peel away the excess husk layers and lop the top one-third or so off the top of a medium-sized head to expose the cloves.  The easiest option is to place the entire head into a foil-lined muffin tin and drizzle with olive oil and a dash of kosher salt, then cap with another piece of foil and cook for 45 minutes to an hour at 400°. If you’re feeling really ambitious, do the same with a second head and cook them together so you can mash a few cloves over garlic bread later on.

twilight vampire

Sauce Boss disclaims all liability when serving this dish to sparkly vampire types, though I strongly condone it. Damn sissy vampires these days. Get a haircut.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium and add your onions, (UN-roasted) garlic, salt and white pepper and sauté until the onions are more than translucent but less than thoroughly browned. A caramelized onion gives this sauce a ton of depth but too dark a brown just kills the subtlety of its other ingredients.

skeletons facing each other

Take a long look and tell me the words “I want to be with you forever” didn’t just get a little creepy…

Add your fresh herbs and ¼ cup of the Cabernet, then stir and allow the wine to reduce by about half. This shouldn’t take longer than 30 or 45 seconds. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop down and leave a praise-filled comment about how ridiculously awesome your kitchen smells right now. Seriously. Right down at the bottom there…

onions garlic and herbs in wine reduction

Now, add the sun-dried tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, sugar and balsamic. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Roasted garlic sundried tomato and cabernet wine red sauce

At the 30-minute mark, add the mashed roasted garlic and give it a stir. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes until the flavors blend. Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to cool, covered, before transferring to the blender. Begin with light pulses of the blender to prevent a buildup of heat from sending sauce EVERYWHERE, then blend it down thoroughly.

man with flowers behind back

BAD VALENTINE’S DAY IDEA #3 – “I showered, I put on pants … how much creativity do you want from me?”

BOSS BONUS: If serving over basic pasta, this sauce is just perfect as-is. Top and serve. But for baking a dish of shells, you want to puree it down to a smooth texture so it properly coats and prevents any burnt tips. Ouch.

Cook the shells according to package directions. If you made your own from scratch, then you don’t need my humble help – but I would welcome an invite.

wilted spinach

While the shells cook, add olive oil, minced garlic, kosher salt and chopped baby spinach to a pan and wilt gently, then drain between paper towels and set aside to cool.

cheese filling

In a medium bowl, mix your cheese filling by thoroughly blending the ricotta, mozzarella, freshly grated Parmesan, salt and black pepper along with the drained spinach.

With a spoon or spatula, lay down a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9”x13” casserole dish before tightly lining your stuffed shells and finish by layering the remaining sauce smoothly over the top. Cook with a foil cover at 350° for 30-45 minutes or until bubbling, then uncover and cook an additional 10 minutes.

Stuffed pasta shells in wine sauce

Dessert, of course, is up to you. I really don’t want to know about it.

But if you’re still dead-set on going a different way, there’s always…

woman in pink adult onesie pajamas

BAD VALENTINE’S DAY IDEA #4 – Because nothing says I want in your pants like a raging sex offender like an adult Valentine’s onesie…

My Name in Print (Boss Gets Published!!)

Ladies … Gentlemen … Riff-raff … On this Eve of All that is Hallow, I forego the customary recipes for ghoulish goulash, lady fingers and other ding’bat’ culinary puns in favor of some old-fashioned braggadocio. It would appear that the modestly strapping lad behind the mask is on the cusp of literary immortality (ok, not really).
Thanks to the incredible people at Recovering the Self, a truly awesome literary journal, my first personal essay will be published as of tomorrow, in the November issue. The theme of this edition is “Animals and Healing,” and my own humble contribution chronicles the awesomeness of my favorite furry amigos: Hudson, Cooper and their big sister Tory.
It would mean the world to me if any of you chose to seek it out and let me know what you think. I know the journal is available in print, as well as etailers like Barnes & Noble. Anyone who reads it and lets me know might just get a surprise!! Probably not, of course, but who knows, right???

The Great Obamneycalypse of 2012 (and Herbal Cheese-Stuffed Pretzels)

Cheese stuffed homemade pretzels with herbs mozzarella parmesan basil oregano

In the waning hours leading us ever closer to the intellectual apocalypse of Election Day 2012 – presuming you survive to tell the tale at all – where do you want to be able to say you were when it all went down? Who were you with when the last vote was tallied and the gods snickered down from Olympus, forever mocking the deity who forgot to give us brains with a viable shelf life?

Minerva being mocked by the other gods

“Hey Minerva, nice Snooki … HAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA … LOSER!!”

And, seeing as you’re currently aboard this unsinkable gluttonous vessel with me, what were your last meals amid a civilized society – before the sky turned sooty black and neighbors routinely impaled each other on slightly outdated political yard signs?

As for The Boss, I ain’t gonna lie. I’m already cowering in the corner, clutching my (culinary) bible, a crossbow and can of string cheese.

caveman holding crossbow aimed at viewer

You want my fire? Come and take it, you chad-hanging heathens. “Sharp” cheddar, indeed. Here, have some!!

Amid the good-natured federal fraud, bipartisan intimidation, inexplicably patriotic zombie voters and general rainbow coalition of redneck hatred toward our fellow man, now is precisely the time when those left with a shred of sanity (aka, independents) are busy navigating the angry seas of political turmoil and the pools of vitriolic vomit cast upon the floor, in search of the warm and stable ground of the familiar. I don’t know about y’all beeches but if you know Boss, you know that means I’m taking my titanium ass back to New York – STAT.

Of course, seeing as we are mere days away from all forms of public transportation bursting into flames or otherwise rendered obsolete in dramatic fashion, this journey home will have to occur in the vast recesses of my not inconsequential mind … and, of course, in my belly!!

Lest you presume I would do this half-assed, I welcome you back from your subterranean holding cell and shamelessly mock your terrible timing. No, if this recipe were any more New York, it’d be wearing a navy blue pin-striped yarmulke and rolled around the upper west side in an ergonomic baby stroller by a hefty Puerto Rican nanny.

What?? Oh come on, the world is ending, people!! If you want to waste your energy on 11th hour political correctness then I am totally stealing your daughter and your Spam. We’ll be holed up in that big cave on the ridge. If you want them back, I accept euros, shiny seashells and cabinet positions in the next regime.

mozzarella parmesan cheese basil oregano on white table in colorful mixing bowls

Herbal Cheese-Stuffed Pretzels

Pretzels
• 1 1/2 cups warm water (to around 115° F)
• 1 Tbsp sugar
• 2 tsp kosher salt
• Active dry yeast (1 pkg)
• 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 ounces unsalted butter
• Splash of vegetable oil
• 10 cups water
• 2/3 cup baking soda
• 1 egg yolk beaten into 1 Tbsp water
• Kosher or pretzel salt

Marinara Dipping Sauce
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 3 Tbsp sweet onion, finely diced
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 84 oz (3 cans) whole, peeled tomatoes, roughly torn by hand
• 3 sprigs french thyme
• 4-5 chopped basil leaves
• 2 tsp kosher salt
• black pepper to taste

Stuffing
Mozzarella, grated
Parmesan, finely grated
Fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Greek Oregano, finely chopped

Blend warm water, sugar and kosher in a mixing bowl and let it sit until it starts to foam like Joe Biden in the VP debate. Seriously, dude HAD TO BE high on something … all bug-eyed and giggly … *shiver*. This will really work best with a stand mixer but if I know my peeps, you are nothing if not enterprising.

Mix in the butter and flour slowly and crank it up to medium for about 5 minutes. Move the pliable dough to a bowl, oiled with the vegetable oil, and let it rest, covered, for an hour.

Add baking soda to 10 cups of water and boil in a large pan.

While the water is heating, separate the dough into 8 roughly equal balls and roll them out over a floured surface like a snake to around two feet. The dough will retract so allow it to rest, lift from the rolling surface and roll out again until it keeps its shape.

With a floured rolling pin, roll each rope flat. Run a fine layer of mozzarella slightly off-center, allowing space to roll over and pinch closed. Top this with any herbs you choose (fresh basil and oregano just happen to work flawlessly) and a dusting of parmesan.

Pretzel dough with mozzarella parmesan basil and oregano

Fold the dough over and pinch closed down the length.

Stuffed pretzel dough folded over and pinched closed

Finish with a gentle roll to reshape and form into the shape of a pretzel … or whatever else your artistic little heart desires. Hey, keep it classy!! Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brushed with olive oil.

Pretzels on cookie sheet panties in a bunch

Little pundit comes out of the cave… Swims into the hole… Comes out of the hole… Goes back into the cave again… *BOOM*, little pundit has his panties in a perfect twist.

When your water is boiling, give each pretzel a thirty second bath and return to the baking sheet. Give each a brushing with the egg wash and dash with pretzel of kosher salt, herb flakes and any parmesan you may have left. Hint, grate more parmesan. What, is this your first rodeo?? More cheese!! ALWAYS more cheese!!

Mel Gibson in face paint war paint Braveheart

They may tax our lives … But they will never tax … OUR FROMAGE!!!!

In a preheated 450° oven, bake for 10-15 minutes, keeping a close eye and removing when they turn golden brown.

Stuffed homemade pretzel dripping with cheese

If you’re not excited right not, I don’t want to know you…

SAUCE:

Let the pretzels rest as you whip up a perfectly basic marinara for dipping. It makes a decent amount so let’s be clear: you are supposed to have pasta on hand for “leftovers.” It’s kind of a package deal. A boxed set of Sopranos DVDs is optional but if you know what’s good for ya……….

First, heat up your olive oil in a saucepan. When hot, drop in your onions and garlic and a pinch of kosher to help the blend “sweat” a little. Stir constantly until translucent and slightly browned. After discarding approximately half of the juice from the tomato cans, add in the remaining ingredients and simmer until the mixture thickens. Remove the herb sprigs and season to taste. This is just *fuhgedaboutit* when served fresh and warm but tastes damn good reheated. Your call.

ALTERNATIVE:

Of course, should you wish to cut back on the awesomeness (for health reasons or something … go back to Jersey, ya wuss!!), foregoing the filling turns these beauties into the perfect walking-around-Central-Park-on-a-chilly-Autumn-day pretzels. And not to shamelessly self-promote, but what is any pretzel without the world’s finest homemade mustard? Or, you can flip flop like one of those aggravatingly indecisive purple states and split the recipe in half to try both. I’d be curious to see how the popular vote came on out such an issue where the American people actually had two WINNERS to choose from, for a change.

Pretzel political ad debate

Just remember, my friends, when the Trumps and the Allreds of the world have fired their last salvos of cancerous stupidity across the bow of our tiny little sanctuary, we will remain. And we will be freaking starving. As the elephants and jackasses wage ongoing war across the barren wasteland of a once-proud culture, we will raise our bread and cheese and proclaim proudly into the night, “We are the Foodocraticans (I just made that up, you can’t use it!!) and we shall inherit the Earth.”

Never again shall we elect a President based on the color of his skin or the depth of his offshore accounts. Mister Candidate, we care not about your position on green energy but rather your stance on green salads. Sure, you would defend the Mexican border, but what are you doing to protect our fine Mexican food? Long ago, we gave up the hunt for viable nuclear fusion but, my good sir, when will someone finally take a stand on Asian fusion??

The future is ours, my friends. Shall we continue to scavenge the outskirts of the beltway for the strewn scraps of self-interested politicos, or shall we finally stand up to the bland and tasteless status quo, and fill our plates with the feast of … liberty, or whatever?

Who’s “hungry” for better options? Come on, fellow eaters of life… Who’s with me???

angry frenchman Jacques flipping the bird

Damn it, Jacques… Ok, who’s with me and NOT French???

Hudson Yankee Blue: In Memoriam

Hudson Yankee Blue 2003-2012

Hudson Yankee Blue - 2003-2012

Farewell, But Never Goodbye

The last jagged fragments
trickle over stuttering lips.
I have nothing left to cry.

So bravely you fought,
through a world filled with pain.
Accepting peace with more grace than ever.

A warm pool of shards.
So many fond memories.
I smile at their brilliant reflection,
and bleed as they cut ever deeper.

Your road has not ended.
Such roads never do.
They simply transform into new.

Now free of the structure
and harshness of life,
finally free to walk your own path.

I will carry you forward
in this new life I find,
and bury my anger beneath gratitude.

I know you were ready.
Well, I never was.
I hope I made you proud,
as you have always made me.

Today, I awaken to a somber grey sky.
A mourning world relays my emotion.
But later on, in a day or two,
The sky will clear again.

The sun will shine through
and deliver your warmth.
This time not from beside,
but high above.

I will see you then,
and I will know
that we truly never part at all.

Hudson

Sleep well, brave girl…

I Hate You, Mark Zuckerberg

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

I hate you. Oh god, how I hate you. No, seriously. I’m not talking about the usual “boo hoo, you won’t let me hide my stoner party pics and now my parents found out and I’m grounded for three years” hatred. I’m talking the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, all gone supernova in a simultaneous cosmic display of gamma ray despisal.

Why, you ask? Yeah, it’s about time, ya self-obsessed jerk.

I hate you more today than yesterday due to one simple little post I found slipped into my news feed, as though you thought I’d never notice. Ah, Zucky, I thought you knew me…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If so, let me summarize with the following:

President Obama hijacking my facebook news feed for political gain

Note the elegant lack of UNlike option, the inability to comment and the complete void where a “delete” option once stood… I understand this is exactly how Krushchev greeted his staff every morning.

Really, sir? When did Facebook become such a political tool (not to be confused with the human tool at its helm) that it grants the incumbent leader a free pass to mark its territory with the proverbial piss of oppression over the domain of anybody and everybody he so chooses? I assure you, good sir, I am NOT the type of masked man that one wants to incite into a proverbial pissing contest. Indeed, crossing these streams shall likely lead to catastrophic consequences not seen since 1984 … and I ain’t talking Orwell.

Sauce Boss Retort Image

“You did not build that” news feed; the good and humble and hard-working and patriotic and attractive people of Boss Nation did. Mister Zuckerberg, tear down this wall! And ask NOT what this country can do for you. October 7, 2012: a date which will live in infamy … ATTICA!!!

Yes, the site was once your glorious domain – and it may be again, for all I know. I mean, does anybody else still own public stock after that IPO for Titanic, oops I meant to say Hindenburg, crap sorry, that should read Facebook? But let’s be clear, sir. Granting me a forum on which to engage arm’s-length acquaintances and complete strangers does NOT give you or your political affiliates the right to claim my opinions as your own, any more than inviting you into my home gives me the right to slap a politically charged Sauce Boss tattoo on your pasty Ivy League ass.

Sauce Boss tattoo on marble sculpture butt

“I’m Lefty Cheeks, and I approve this message.”

Here’s the thing, my little billionaire buddy. I fear that you, along with the majority of your messaging minion of petulant posters, are too young to remember a day when the air held legitimate potential for ideological subrogation.

Should you have chosen to arbitrarily defile the news feeds and timelines of your users with promotional “Romney and Big Bird 2012″ posters, I dare say the globe may have reversed its polarity on the spot and and the earth groaned beneath an irate assemblage of hipster-geek fury.

And therein lies my own disgust. Zucks, baby, the unmitigated gall reflected in such overtly brainwashed actions is rivaled only by the shortsightedness of its arrogance. How easy it is to drug the unsuspecting masses when the narcotic of choice is known to appeal to the majority. And how easily we forget to be enraged at the narcissistic imposition of violently partisan ideology as long as it is a partisan ideology we support.

Of course Mr. Obama has every right to spend his campaign dollar as he reasonably chooses. However, prior generations would never have stood for ANY candidate’s attempt to speak through the mouths of involuntary pawns. By coercing your users into the appearance of endorsing one candidate’s words through the unprecedented removal of their ability to retort, you have shown a frighteningly narrow understanding of the free-flow of information that you claim to hold dear.

Granted, many of those who already drink from the altar of Obama will see no problem whatsoever with such democratic disregard. As long as one agrees with the message, why heed any warnings from the method of its delivery? Similarly, an army of pro-Romney disciples is likely to miss the underlying subversion of your actions in its rush to blind rage.

To be clear, Sauce Boss has no love for either horse in this race to the bottom. And perhaps this is precisely what allows such unfettered disdain. No, Boss stays true to his first love: freedom of unbound expression, independent of the tyrannical shackles of corporate agenda. Allowing users the option for removal would have added strength and purpose to any decision to leave it in place. For the apolitical and undecided among us, it would have shown respect for your user’s individuality.

I believe it was Aristotle who once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I have entertained the thought, sir. You made sure to give me no choice. That said, I have to ask you, Mr. Z, what mark is borne by the man who will impose a thought without any intention of tolerating unacceptance?

Great men lead by example, with the confidence necessary to embrace and learn from dissent. Perhaps this has become an archaic ideal: a relic from a different time. But I hold out hope that our nation will find its way back someday. If only there was some way to bypass the partisan machinery of social media and send a resounding UNLIKE to those who presume to speak for, and indeed through, their citizenry.

people voting behind curtains at polling booths

Hmmmm … if only…

Fallen Heroes

September 11 9/11 memorial floodlights aside the Woolworth Building shining in the financial district Manhattan New York City Brooklyn Bridge

On a day such as today, may we all stand as straight and reach as high: grounded in somber remembrance, yet unshackled from our fear.

May we honor their memories, and fill our own, with an equally brilliant display of that which makes us resilient.

May we transcend the scorched bonds of vengeance and rebuild a solid foundation on which our humanity may flourish.

May we open our hearts to a brighter world and revel fully in its colors, without need to discriminate by them.

On this random day, saddled with the sacred weight of death and elevated through the prospect of rebirth, may we remain vigilant against the hateful among us and afford them only pity … that they will never know the warm embrace of our similarities  and what it is to be human.

I wish this as a defiant New Yorker.
I wish it as a proud American.
And I wish it as a global citizen.

Never forget.

September 11 9/11 memorial floodlights aside the Woolworth Building shining in the financial district Manhattan New York City Brooklyn Bridge

Raid the Melon Patch and Fire Up the Coals One Last Time (Grilled Watermelon Salad)

grilled watermelon, goat cheese, baby spinach and chocolate balsamic vinaigrette

My friends, Labor Day is once again upon us: a day of smiling through tears as we send another summer into the Great Unknown not with sorrow in our hearts but with beer in our bellies. Also, charred meat. Oh god, the charred meat. Like a proper jazz funeral, it is a festive and bittersweet day for celebrating the journey rather than mourning its end.

crowd gathers around jazz funeral in new orleans

Looks like a crowd … better throw on more meat!!

As a child, I always detested the day. After all, what kind of savage sub-humans could derive such glee from a day that heralds a return to the morbid confines of another soul-sapping school year?

children screaming

You cold bastards!! You said we were getting up early for pony rides!!!!

As I have grown into a matured mind (and rock-solid, taut, muscular, ageless body),  however, I have come to appreciate the true sadism of such a holiday.

kids crammed into yellow school bus

Goodbye, ‘hey you damn kids, get off my lawn’ … and HELLO to another nine months of laughing and pointing as that big yellow bus drives away.

But Labor Day is about so much more than taunting the incarcerated youth of the neighborhood while sipping my coffee and reveling in my fluffy slippers; it is also about finding another excuse to eat and drink like heathens between the patriotic feast on the Fourth … and the generally idiotic feast on SuperBowl Sunday.

On this day of prideful tradition, I would not dare suggest what form of small animal you roast over your open flame, or what alcoholic concoction you wash it down with. But might I humbly offer a single suggestion for the coming weekend … a new ritualistic sacrifice over your personal pit of despair. Rustic enough for the county fair, yet plenty fancy for you finest cutoff denims.

creepy man in short cutoff denim shorts and leather jacket

If you’re not grilling in these bad boys, then you’re not grilling.

grilled watermelon, baby spinach, vinaigrette and goat cheese on white plate

Grilled Watermelon Salad

1 big, juicy seedless watermelon
Coarse sea salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Baby spinach leaves, washed
Crumbled goat cheese (or drained cottage cheese to cut down on salty taste)
Chocolate-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Cut your waterlemon in half, across its widest point. Place the flat side down on a cutting board and cut away the rind, leaving a solid dome of red flesh. Cut lengthwise into 1 1/2″ thick filets.

watermelon slices on cooling rack and salted

Salt both sides of the watermelon slices and rest on a cooling rack to sweat for 20 to 30 minutes, placing a cookie sheet below to catch the drainage.

macro of salted watermelon slices and salt crystals

After the rest period, rinse each side thoroughly and set aside until you’re ready to grill. Brush a fine coating of olive oil on each side and grill over medium-hot coals for about 3-5 minutes per side.

charred grilled watermelon with char marks
While this makes quite a delicacy fresh off the grill, with a little salt added back in, its most ridiculous application is serving as the base for a simple summer salad. Referring to the link above, whip up a quick batch of Chocolate-Balsamic Vinaigrette sufficiently in advance to allow it time to cool.

Cut watermelon into squares approximately 3 to 4 inches across and top with crumbled goat cheese or cottage cheese. Add a few baby spinach leaves and drizzle conservatively with vinaigrette. The smoky, intensified sweetness of the melon, coupled with the acidic kick of balsamic and bitter greens is refreshing and truly unique.

grilled watermelon salad with baby spinach and goat cheese cottage cheese and vinaigrette on white plate

And, if you really want my respect, tell me that you remembered to set aside just enough to wash it down with an impromptu watermelon margarita.

Put a Little Mustard on that Blog!!

Mustard in rameken and spread on white cheddar and wheat cracker on cutting board

Since my earliest cognitive days, I recall being thoroughly taken by that damn Grey Poupon commercial. The rich, creamy texture … the enticing flecks of spicy black heat … the pompous regality of name and label.

Yep, then and there – as a wide-eyed culinary toddler – I simply knew: I REALLY freaking wanted a Rolls Royce and pretentious British accent so damn bad!! It would be mine, I thought to myself…

Rolls Royces passing Grey Poupon

…oh yes, it WOULD be mine.

Life, it appears, can be a cruel, cruel jokester… *shrug*

Two fat rednecks next to car up on blocks

…what ya gonna do…

Still, as we have all learned in the midst of the bleak intellectual apocalypse brought down upon us by the Kardashians and Snookis of the world, with a little self-absorption and an absence of self-awareness, you too can pretend to be valuable and relevant … and I can show you how – right from the comfort of your own home!!

No longer will you hang your head in lowly shame when confronted by that ‘rich-guy-gray’ Rolls, fully stocked with sandwich fixings yet woefully ill-equipped with condiments. Nay, my friends. The next time Thurston Howell reaches his money-counting hand YOUR way in search of blue chip investment advice and flavor-infusing handouts…

Thurston Howell fron Gilligan's Island

Wait … what did I ever do to you?

…you can scoff at the notion of a bourgeois store bought mustard while instructing your driver to hand him this recipe instead.

Benito Mussolini in arrogant pose with nose in the air

Remember, nose up! Proper scoffing requires a very clear nasal passage. This guy “nose” what I’m talkin’ about… HA!!!

Yes, relish this moment, my friends … for it mayo just be your finest.

Sous Chef Cooper laughing maniacally

I see what you did there. HAAAAAAAAAAAA!! God, stop your wicked word sorcery, you’re killing me.”

honey mustard seeds dry mustard powder kosher salt thyme herbs

Honey Herbal Spicy Mustard

1 cup cold filtered water
1/2 cup dry yellow mustard powder
4 Tbsp yellow mustard seed
2 Tbsp brown mustard seeds

3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
0.2 oz (by weight) fresh herbs

1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

In a medium glass bowl, combine the mustard powder, mustard seeds and cold water. You’re going to set this aside and let it soak for a couple hours, stirring it up occasionally. I can’t stress this enough – you want the water cold when you add it. The colder, the better…

Giant iceberg

TOO COLD … don’t be a jackass.

See, here’s the thing: there’s a lot of crazy-ass scientific logic for this but the bottom line is that mustard in its raw form doesn’t have any heat. The heat and pungency come from chemical reactions that take place when the compounds in mustard are exposed to cold. Using hot water will strip away much of this heat – and once it’s gone, much like the whimsy of youth, you ain’t getting it back. On the flip side, if you retain the heat through the process, then you can always reduce it down the road by exposing it to heat at any point. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to cook with this mustard versus adding it after the fact.

Mustard seeds soaking

While the seeds and powder are soaking, place your vinegar and herbs in a small covered pot. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and set it aside to steep. Once it’s cooled a bit, you can run it through a strainer and *BOOM* you’ve just made your own herbal vinegar. You can use any herb mixture you wish and it’s always fun to experiment, but I try to stay away from the more pungent herbs (e.g., the heavy hitters like sage, oregano and basil) because they can really overwhelm everything else. For mine, I chose English thyme (LONDON 2012, baby!!), sweet marjoram, winter savory and a 1″ sprig of rosemary. I might have gone with some tarragon too, if it weren’t such a demanding little diva of an herb and if I weren’t doing this in the dead of summer.

Once your mustard seeds have softened – that is, when you can squish them against the edge of the bowl with some ease – puree the mixture, along with the infused vinegar, in a blender until it reaches your preferred smoothness. It may take a couple minutes and it’s always a good idea to stop a few times and stir it up with a spatula to get all of it down into the blades.

Back into the glass bowl, add in the chopped herb, turmeric, salt and honey. Stir and allow to sit for another couple hours to mellow at room temperature. Check occasionally to gauge the heat and refrigerate once it reaches a level you like. Remember, the flavors will not fully meld for 24 hours or so. At this point, you are just testing for heat before refrigerating – not overall flavor.

It’s not a bad idea to bottle a bit for year-round use since it does make a decent sized batch. If you’d rather keep it simple, it will last months in the fridge, as long as you keep it adequately covered.

Pair a dish of this mustard with a platter of stoned wheat crackers and sharp aged cheddar – and maybe a few apple wedges – and your friends will look up to you with the fanciest of fancy admiration.

mustard in rameken with spreader stoned weat crackers and aged sharp white cheddar cheese on cutting board

Spread on a hot, fresh pretzel and they will spend the rest of their lives chasing your condimentatory (it’s a word now, shut up) prowess … but don’t worry, they will never ketchup.

Sous Chef Cooper laughing maniacally

KETCHUP!! *snort*

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes (Little Orbs of Summer, Creepily Kept Suspended in a Jar. YUM!!)

Admit it … you’ve missed me. C’mon, GROUP HUG.

sliced cherry tomatoes

For those falling victim to the widespread rumors that I had been killed in a bar fight, called back to my home planet or kidnapped and sold off for scrap metal, I cast shame upon thee. I’ve never met a bar fight I couldn’t handle, I’ve held DUAL planetary citizenship for years now, and my platinum visage is fully insured.

No, the truth is I have been an inexcusably lazy bastard – listening intently for the siren song of inspiration, yet hearing only the tepid footsteps of pedestrian mediocrity. A shell of my formerly glorious self, swapping muscle for blubbery reserves and reapportioning hair from where it should be to where nobody wants it…

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito from Twins movie

Oh wait, no, that was some other guy who I’m not. I’ve been busy as hell!! Between my efforts to breed a superior alpaca and the nurturing of my rooftop jiujitsu superhero hobby…

NYC Rooftops from above

Leaving NYC has really done wonders for my vertigo.

…I have also thrown myself into a couple new writing ventures which I might share with you someday, once I verify the complete lack of suckage contamination…

CDC hazmat suits and lab

…no suck so far … but we are seeing symptoms consistent with dangerous levels of awesome.

Alas, this is no excuse for being so remiss in recent weeks. Even through times of trial and burdensome stress, a man’s gotta eat – most women do too, I hear. And then the children … oh god, the children!!

That said, and by way of humble apology, I shall start you off with a suitably extravagant, and entirely timely, little snacker that smacks of gentle, warmth-kissed summer breezes and vibrant, garden-grown flavors. It’s a sexy little garnish that screams “high class,” yet does so in a suitably classy way. Just be sure to plan ahead. Don’t wait until you’re already hungry, though … because it takes about 4 weeks to prepare to perfection. Sorry, probably should have tossed this one your way about 3 1/2 weeks ago, huh? I suck as a friend. But they’re still pretty darn good right out of the gate. Come on, give ‘em a try now AND bottle up a couple jars for the short, cold, bleak, suicidally dank days of winter (WHAT? I’m a writer now … I’m SUPPOSED TO be a buzzkill)…

And on THAT high note:

Pickled cherry tomatoes in jars

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp cane sugar
Approximately 36 oz (by weight) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 sprig fresh dill per jar, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic per jar, halved or quartered
2 whole black peppercorns per jar
1 thin onion slice or three small slices of shallot
2 fresh Tabasco chiles per jar (dry red pepper flakes will do, to taste)

Honestly, this is something of a quick throw-together, so there is very little finesse involved. The vast majority of time goes into the prep and the canning, although you can just as easily prepare and refrigerate in an unprocessed jar for up to two weeks. That said, summer ain’t gonna last forever and I don’t want you to come crying to me in February when you can’t get your fix of garden fresh goodness. I am enabling you right now – if you don’t heed my warning, I will shed no pity on your wintertime shakes and cold sweats. Tough love, mes amis!!

I have found that 36 oz of small cherry or grape tomatoes will just about perfectly fill three 8 oz canning jars, once juice is added. The ones in the included photos are fresh off the vines of an underproductive-albeit-tasty home garden. Store bought works fine, obviously, but we all know they can’t compare to tomatoes sun-ripened in the back yard. Either way, halve the tomatoes and stuff right into your sterilized jars. There are 500 ways to sterilize a jar for canning, and everyone has their favorite method, so I will leave that part to you.

Cherry tomato halves in jars

Don’t go crazy on stuffing them in but give the jars a little tap and shake to settle the tomatoes. You can bring them right up to slightly below the neck of the jar.

Combine the vinegar, water, salt and cane sugar into a medium sized pot and bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat and set aside.

With beautiful and elegant simplicity, chop your dill…

Sprig of fresh dill on cutting board

Smell the elegant simplicity?

finely chopped fresh dill

Ok, how about now?

…and toss it into your jars, along with peppercorns, garlic and onion or shallot. I find it helps to remove a bit of tomato and slip these ingredients deeper into the jar, then replace what you removed … especially if you’re going for a quicker processing for more immediate consumption.

shallots and herbs added to tomatoes in jar

Line up your tomato-packed jars and ladle in enough of your vinegar-water solution to reach to right around 1/2″ beneath the mouth of the jar. Seal and process for 15 minutes in a covered boiling water bath. Store in a cool, dark place and write me this winter to tell me how freaking awesome life is everytime you toss a few over a salad or garnish your martini.

tomatoes and tabasco chiles pickled in jar

NOTE: Sauce Boss does not endorse pickling your own insides with excessive consumption of pickled-tomato-garnished martinis … but I do applaud your commitment to the craft.

Coming soon … SOMETHING ELSE!!