Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Video Treat: Open a Young Coconut

When you open an older coconut, you need to dig in the toolbox for a hammer. On the other hand, opening a young coconut (sometimes called "green coconut") is much easier: a sharp knife and a level surface usually do the trick.

In this how-to video you can watch me take a sharp knife (and a not-so-level surface) and open a young coconut.

Well, to be truthful... I eventually get the coconut open. There's some coconut chopping hijinks in the middle there.

Some people shave the white husk away to get at the nut inside. I usually have good luck with getting a wedge in, but I think extending my arms and working on a wooden tray rather than a cutting board were maybe not my best moves.

Thus, I have to stress the need for a steady, sturdy cutting surface. It's a must when using a knife. Nobody wants to their chop hands instead of their food.

Oh... and I owe beoucoup thanks to J, my steady-handed camera guy.

Once you actually get inside the coconut, the coconut water is cool and delicious, and the soft flesh is a sweet, creamy delight when added to coconut curries, blended into Thai-style coconut soup, puréed into smoothies/frozen drinks (daiquiris, anyone?) and mixed into the pretty green chutney I made last week.

Miss Ginsu

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What's Purple and Lies at the Bottom of the Ocean?

The first joke I remember hearing was one my dad told me when I was roughly four years old, and yes, it was a food joke.

I didn't think it was terribly funny at the time. Actually, I didn't think it was funny at all. Over the years, I've grown to appreciate it slightly more for its dry, surreal humor.

I'll lay it on ya:

Q. What's purple and lies at the bottom of the ocean?

A. Moby Grape.

Killer right? Wait, though. I've got a few more...


Yes, inspired by of a slew of bad news (the economy, war, food recalls, etc. etc.), today's post is dedicated to almost all the stupid food jokes I know.

Fair warning: I ate a lot of Laffy Taffy as a child, and I'm afraid it informed my sense of humor irrevocably.

I'll do the kid-safe ones first and leave the slightly NSFK joke for the end. You can just imagine the little rimshot after the punchlines, or get one here: Ba-dum-CHING!

Q. Why did the mushroom go to the party?
A. He was a fun-guy. (This one might work better aloud.)

Q. Why did the fungi leave the party?
A. There wasn't mush room. (Oh, it's so terrible!)

Q. Why don't lobsters share?
A. They're shellfish.

Larry: Man, times is hard. My cousin just got fired from the orange juice company.
Mo: Oh yeah? Why's that?
Larry: He couldn't concentrate.

Q. Did the grape scream when the elephant stepped on it?
A. No. It just let out a little whine.

Q. Why did the snail paint an "S" on the side of his car?
A. He wanted folks to say, "Hey, look at that S-car go!"

Q. Why did the banana go out with the fig?
A. He couldn't get a date.

Q. What's white, fluffy and loves bananas?
A. A merengue-utan.

Q. Why don't cannibals eat clowns?
A. They taste funny.

Q. What do you call a fish without any eyes?
A. A fsh.

Q. What made the cookie cry?
A. His mother was a wafer so long.

Annd, my favorite slighty NSFK food joke:

There's a batch of muffins baking in the oven.

First Muffin to Second Muffin:
Wow! It's really getting hot in here.

Second Muffin:
Holy shit! A talking muffin!

Know a good one (or a bad one) I've missed? Feel free to contribute your own in the comments. But try to keep it clean. Cupcake has tender ears.

Miss Ginsu

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The Big, Sweet Grossout

Here's a revelation that should come as a surprise to nobody who knows a 7- to 12-year-old: Kids like gross.

They're crazy for it. If it's candy gross, all the better.

And with that in mind, I know just the thing for the rambunctious young'in in your life... Behold! The Box of Boogers.

With Halloween coming up, it's none too soon to put in a bulk order for the whole neighborhood.

Box of Boogers

Suzy Hotrod recently dug up these little beauties as well as the Chef Ghoulicious Zit Poppers, which are so icky I really couldn't bear to photograph them.

But back to the Boogers... They smell like watermelon Nerds and chew like soft gummies. And although the box claims they look and feel like "real" boogers, I must say that I pity anyone who actually has boogers with the consistency of rubber cement, the size of quarters and the color of tropical fish.

Back in my day, there were plastic noses with candy snot, gummy worms and lollies with bugs in them, but it was Garbage Pail Kids that really ruled the candy store. (Interesting, considering there wasn't actually any candy in the GPK packs... could it be that by diverting allowance from candy to trading cards, GPKs saved a generation from tooth decay?)

But for anyone hosting Halloween parties this year (and those who really can't get enough gross) I recommend Candy Addict's Top-10 Gross Candies list. (The earwax one makes me cringe just thinking about it.)

Miss Ginsu

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Food Quote Friday: Rose Art Industries

Ginny eats her cotton candy

"This unit is equipped with a safety system using magnetic fields, infrared beams, thermal controllers and time base logic to ensure the accurate and safe functioning of your new Cotton Candy Machine."

— Excerpted from the Rose Art Cotton Candy Machine Instruction Manual

More sugary-sweet food quotes can be found within the food quote archive.

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Bring the Pain

One of my dear friends noted that it's been forever since I updated the site Swag Shop. And she's right, of course.

So today, we play with bread punnery. Because honestly, there's nothing funnier than an angry baguette. Well, almost nothing. An angry dinner roll is pretty funny, too.

Bring the Pain
Le pain? Oh it's already been brung.

And because an angry baguette and company just weren't enough... I whipped up a pack of mean little dinner rolls for you.

Bring the Pain
Watch out! Those buns are tough!

Find angry baguettes and dinner rolls, not to mention culinary-minded bunnies, coffee-thoughtful fishes and little ninja MissGinsu wielding her scary ninja powers on buttons, totes, tees and all that kind of stuff in the Swag Shop.

And tomorrow, we'll put down the puns and get back to the regularly scheduled food blog.


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Food Quote Friday: Kevin Fanning

Add Bacon
Illustration by Kean Soo

"In order to increase renoun, add 'bacon' to most any noun."

Kevin Fanning in Baby's First Internet

(Ladies and gentlemen, the defendant is guilty as charged.)

More salty food quotes can be found within the food quote archive.

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FoodLink Roundup: 06.02.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was located in old-timey Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post a guess in the comments.

Gummi Bear Anatomy
File under: Things you never really wanted to see...

Swansong to tube boozing
What? Heavy drinking leads to bad behavior? I'm astounded!

Slow Travel
For the tourist who prefers a dreamy pace...

A Tease for the Taste Buds
Perception-bending fruit worthy of a Philip K. Dick story.

One Country's Table Scraps, Another Country's Meal
So much waste! Pretty disturbing.

Soup Noodles in Manhattan's Chinatown
There's so many noodle shops in Manhattan's Chinatown, but how many are worth a stop?

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Food Quote Friday: George Carlin

"Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backward."

George Carlin

More cool, refreshing food quotes can be found within the food quote archive.

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FoodLink Roundup: 04.07.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was located out in the black mining hills of Dakota. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post a guess in the comments.

Antarctic Cafeteria Chef Can Boost or Bust Morale
"Sally in the Galley" creates happiness (or misery) for hundreds with canned, dried and preserved foods.

Food riots feared after rice prices hit a high
Eight BILLION people rely on rice, now at its weakest stock level in 30 years. Kind of terrifying.

Frito-Lay Angrily Introduces Line Of Healthy Snacks
"It's a brand-new taste sensation unlike anything you've ever experienced, unless you've ever eaten sisal twine."

A chunk of feta keeps tummies in fine fettle
Beneficial bacteria wins again!

Whatever Happened to Sumerian Beer?
More proof that there's nothing new under the sun... Hamurabi's bureaucracy closed the tap on ancient beer production.

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Happy SSZoYNP Day!

zucchini  with blossoms

Yes, friends... it's once again Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbors' Porch Day (or Night — your preference), one of those obscure and frivolous holidays we rootless Americans create out of festive necessity.

That said, I think the concept is solid. The zucchini (or courgette, for you Europeans) tends to hit a point of outrageous surplus right about now. Once you've already sautéed, puréed, broiled, grilled, fried and stuffed them, there's a risk of becoming bored with zucchini. Since it may be difficult to offload a stack of squash on a bewildered random citizen, "gifting" the neighbors seems like great fun.

A suggestion for would-be squash sneakers? Slip a quality recipe into that bag or basket.

In addition to the savory stuff, like ratatouilles, stews, tagines and summer succotashes, zucchinis tend to play well in sweets. Zucchini bread is a popular choice, but why not try Zucchini Blondies?

I use a variation on the recipe in Victoria Wise's Gardeners' Community Cookbook, and it's proved to be popular at my office bake sale.

Zucchini Blondies
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium zucchini, peeled and grated
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom of a 9" square baking pan.
2. Mix the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla in a large mixing bowl, and beat together until blended.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the same bowl and stir to blend. Incorporate the zucchini and nuts. The blend should be thick.
4. Spread the batter across the baking pan, and sprinkle the chips over the top.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Remove, cool and slice into squares.
They'll keep for about 3 days at room temperature, or wrap individually and freeze for future snacking.

zucchini needlepoint kit

But if, like me, you lack both garden and porch (alas!), you can always soothe your great green envy with a kitchy needlecraft kit like this one, uncovered on a recent web foray. Those crazy crafters! No stone unturned. No zucchini unstitched.

However you choose to celebrate, I wish you a very happy SSZoYNP Day, and many tasty returns.

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Food Quote Friday: George Miller

Lil Frankie's Pie

"The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you're hungry again."

George Miller (1950-2003)

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Food Quote Friday: Josh Billings

Breakfast at Le Pain QuotidienBrekkie at Le Pain Quotidien

"Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first."

Josh Billings (1818-1885)

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Food Quote Friday: Woody Allen

"Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage."

Woody Allen (1935- )

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Got Gloves?

Armadillo from "Animalloys: an un-natural history series" at the NYPL

Sometimes you run across a shining gem that requires little in the way of introduction. Case in point: Tips on preparing armadillo from the Field Guide To Meat by Aliza Green.
1. Remove the glands from the legs and back of the armadillo, then clean and cut into serving pieces.
2. Brown in a little oil, covered, until light brown. Stir in enough flour to absorb the oil. Season as desired.
3. Add a small amount of water, barbecue sauce or chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until fork-tender.

Note: Always use rubber gloves when handling raw armadillo, because it can carry leprosy.

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A little social chit-chat, etc.

Dismal weather and long hours at work got you down? Haven't seen the chums in a spell?

Take a cue from the "The Worcester Letter Writer," (the peerless 1879 edition, of course), and put together a little soiree with the help of one of their lively form letters.
"My dear Lloyd. -- Half a dozen good fellows, together with your humble servant, propose devoting a few hours on Wednesday evening to a little social chit-chat, etc., enlivened by the imbibitions of sundry bottles of wine. I trust you will be present on that occasion... believe me, we shall have a right merry party."
Just cut, paste and switch out dear old Lloyd for another beloved compatriot.

Results are guaranteed merry, and who'll be the wiser?

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Food Quote Friday: Fran Lebowitz

"If you're going to America, bring your own food."

-Fran Lebowitz

Ooo. Burn. Find more food quotes... here.

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Introducing: Darth Tater

Darth Tader
Forget Obi-Wan Kohlrabi, Luke. Join Monsanto and together we'll rule the marketplace as father and son!

I'll admit it. I find the Darth Tater figurine totally adorable.

Unfortunately, if Episode 1 and 2 are any indication, Grocery Store Wars is likely to be better than Episode 3.

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Yeah, I Know the Muffin Man

So stop me if you've heard this one before:

There's a batch of muffins baking in the oven. One muffin says to another, "Wow! It's hot in here." The other muffin says, "Holy shit! A talking muffin!"

(Thanks, folks! I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your server.)

Fresh muffins at Essex Street Market

The muffin man and me, we go waaaay back. I mean, moist, delicious, snack-sized and terribly portable... what's not to like?

The nice folks at Red Jacket Orchards were sweet enough to send me a case of Newtown Pippins (the official apple of New York city), and I made up a batch of apple muffins (the official muffin of New York state) last night.

Curiously enough, the official recipe for the official muffin officially uses the non-official Empire apple.

I tweaked the official recipe a bit (can't help it... I'm a tweaker) and have come up with a version that's perfect for those of us who need to use up apples and like chunky foods (chunky peanut butter, chunky brownies, Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk...).

If you do use this recipe, I recommend these changes:

1. Don't melt the butter. Instead, cream it with the sugar, eggs, spices and cream cheese. Then go ahead and stir in your flour and fold in the chopped apples. (The apple pieces will soften but won't break down, so keep that in mind as you're judging the size of your dice.)

2. I doubled the amount of apple pieces.

3. Finally, just drop the spoon and walk away, or you're going to overmix. Remember: nobody loves a tough muffin.

My oven required a 27-minute cook-time on these babies, but yours might run hotter, so test with a knife/toothpick for doneness.

Oh, and here's my favorite muffin website. I know, I know, you've probably got your own favorite muffin website, but that's mine, and I'm sticking by it.

Miss Ginsu

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