Coping: With the Amygdala Clicks & Brain-Charging

While this will be a fairly short column this morning, there are a number of important items that come up for discussion that warrant your attention.  We’ll get to the high-holy uses of leftover turkey in a moment.

On the more important list is doing a half-dozen Amygdala clicks first.


Oh, yeah.  Maybe I don’t mention it often enough, but if you want to really be a Superman (or Superwoman) (or a Super-Can’t-Quite-Be-Sure What which is now fashionable) there are about a half-dozen ways to turn-on your brain, connect higher and lower selves and toss off the chains of turkey lethargy.

One fine book on the topic of Amygdala clicking is Neil Slade’s Tickle Your Amygdala which runs about $20-bucks on Amazon, although you can find lessons and discussions of it on YouTube over here.

On Slade’s website over here, you can find additional how-to information.  But if you wonder how I can get up at 0-dark-thirty every morning and be in a great (not to mention productive) mood, here it is.

The set up for all this is that you need to have decent nutrition and a good deal of sleep in order to be well-rested and ready to “turn on your brain.” 

OK, the second part is your vitamin regimen.  While I take (and have tried) literally dozens of vitamins as part of con centration experiments, the one vitamin taken twice a day is something called  NOW Foods Adam Superior Men’s Multi, 90 Softgels while Elaine takes  Now Foods Eve, Women’s Multi Vitamin, Softgels, 180-Count.

On either one of these, two per day will get you just about all the nutrition you need, although for us, additional vitamins for eyes, blueberry extract for its anti-aging properties and other things we can go into some other time, are good reinforcers. . 

Last, but not least, is my favorite brain-charger:  Huperzine –A gives you almost Adderall powers of concentration and recall.   And example ($17 bucks worth of example) is Source Naturals Huperzine A, 200mcg, 120 Tablets.

Don’t mean to start off on a health kick the day after turkey, but this and a couple of cups of half-caf and you should be well on your way to taking over the world.

Send us a small province when you get done.

Seriously:  Slade, some good vitamins, and some practice.  That could be all that stands in your way to greatness so I highly recommend it, all ages, all IQs. PG-13, and member FDIC.

(Re)Ode to 13 Coins:  The SST Sandwich

Now we get around to the truly important part of this morning’s  report, although giving “smart for Christmas”: isn’t a bad thing.  Most people are already over-stocked on stupid…

What follows is the one best way to use up whatever is left in the way of turkey, based on a “sandwich” which used to be served by 13 Coins, a 24-hour restaurant in Seattle, catawampus  from the Seattle Times building, which serves as a kind of mecca for the broadcasters, writers, and theatrical types who made Seattle a happin’ place in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Still is, come to think of it.

‘Coins is still one of the top 5 late night food joints in the country and with good reason:  If you sit at the counter, you can watch the flaming cooking of your meal on the big gas stoves (and gas fired broiler ) of the sort most people can only dream of having at home.

It was here that the SST Sandwich was developed – at about the same time Boeing was building a mock-up of what might have been an American supersonic transport to complete with the Concorde. I always wondered if the selection of turkey as its main ingredient was so much a matter of taste or an aeronautical or economic assessment…

By far, the SST is the best use of turkey I’ve ever seen – and to my palate it is almost as good as fresh roasted turkey with all the fixin’s.  Maybe better, too, since if you can find precooked turkey in a deli, there’s little kitchen mess. Anyone can make good food in an unlimited kitchen with clean up staff.  When it’s me and/or Elaine and KitchenAid, it’s a different equation.

The inventor of the SST used a Béchamel sauce (white sauce) but for those of us who scored above average in the laziness department, I find a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup works almost as well as is a lazy-man’s substitute.

Also, in the original SST, if memory serves, the toast points had the crust cut off, but again, this seemed like an awful amount additional work that could be dispensed with.  I mention this to make sure you get the flavor of the original dish.

Buttering the toast points?  That’s up to you and your cardiologist. Once upon a time I did, but times change.

Oh…and fresh Parmesan from the Pike Place Market is nice, too.  But over the years I’ve used everything from Kraft “sprinkle cheese” to hand shaved Parmesan and various mixes and I couldn’t tell much difference.  To call me tasteless is one of those universal truths people stumble on.

The Recipe (as I remember it)

You begin with a hot skillet. 10” ought to do it.

Into this, you pour about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and fire (or electric hell) under it until just smoking a bit.  A six burner commercial Wolf would be nice, but we have what we have…we’re electric, too, so this can happen on the side burner on the BBQ.

The pan being hot and the oil starting to smoke, you add one cup (roughly) of freshly slice mushrooms. Shake, toss, and worry it a bit. Shaking hither and thither.  With gas there will be flames shooting up from here and there as you sauté it, but don’t call the fire department as we’re just making one serving.

If your stove has a commercial a range hood, like 13 Coins, a splash of whatever burns good with the oil, adds nicely to the flavor. A white wine or cheap tequila works.   I suppose brandy would be a good choice, as I could never get white cooking wine can flame, at least on an electric range. Some day I will have a gas stove again; cookertainment means having fire and being in charge, something like a magic show.

When the flames die down, (the alcohol burns off  if you use high heat on a range, too) you toss in a cup, or so, of turkey which has been sliced into 3/4-inch cubes.  This is all tossed around so the flavors get acquainted with one-another.  Flame again if using gas.

Next comes the white Béchamel sauce, or – if doing this at home – about a 2/3rd’s of a can (11 oz) of Campbell’s cream of mushroom.

Reduce heat a simmer while you get:

* Toast points to cover a shallow baking/serving dish,

* Two or three strips (long and lean) of crispy bacon, and

*  A 1/4 cup (or so) of Parmesan (or you could use an Italian three-cheese mix with little difference) and you fire up your broiler.

With gas, broiler firing if quick.  With electric, you might want to start on this 10-minutes ahead.

With the toast points (2-2/12 slices of bread worth) on the bottom of the shallow baking dish, you pour the hot turkey/mushroom sauce (which should be reasonably thick and not runny or you’ve used too much sauce) over the toast points.

If you’re using two pieces of bacon, they are placed in an “X” or, if three pieces, as parallels with a 3/’4” inch between them.

Sprinkle with the cheese and pop it under the broiler long enough for the cheese to melt and just brown to crust-color in a few places.

Serve piping hot on with 13-Coins fries and a glass of whatever suites you, but to me, this is one of those dishes that does exceptionally well with a white Zin, or iced tea.  Here lately, I seem to be doing cranberry juice more, which works just fine, too and is better for the liver and the FAA.

A word bout the fries (and why a 13-Coins visit is usually on our Seattle agenda although we haven’t had time the past couple of visits):  their fries are to die for.

They use good potatoes, which is a given, but they are not those wimpy little things like the “arches” folks turn out.  Instead, a potato is whacked into coarse slices about the size of your thumb (bigger if you’re dainty).  About 3/4’s of an inch. Maybe a full inch.  These are then deep-fried in the usual way (which takes longer because of their size).

But the real fun is they come with 13 of them, stacked up in Lincoln Log-fashion (like you’d stack railroad ties if you weren’t such  a lard butt, but then who am I to talk….) and then sprinkled with salt. Seasoned if you’d like, and a bottle of Heinz and can we get a refill on the glass of white Zin?

I don’t get any spiffs or deals for my semi-annual review of the SST. Which is a damn shame, come to think of it 

In fact, I don’t know if it’s even on the menu anymore.  It wasn’t there last time I went.  But the kitchen was able to make one but I don’t know if they still can.  (Reports welcome on this point.)

Weather at this time of the year in the Northwest is usually crappy:  Gray, cold, and rainy more often than not.  Which may have something to do with why Seattle has some really great places to eat.

Other cities do, as well, but even San Francisco (last time we were there) seems to have gone “touristy” and “institutional/commercial” even at Ghirardelli and the wharf our last time through.  I keep thinking about going back to see if anything’s as good as the food at Bertolucci’s in South San Francisco.  I fear disappointment.

The main thing about great restaurants is they were usually started (or perfected) by great restaurateurs.  Families who somehow got the balance between hospitality, beverage, taste, performance, and consistency.  For me, the Wards (13 Coins and el Gaucho back in the day), Rossellini’s, and Ivar Haglund (Ivars) were the names in Seattle.  Lemonsakis and Gasparetti, too…there were lots of good hangouts.

Every city has them…it just takes a little looking around to find them. Most people don’t focus on finding them…too much hurry, too little time, yada, yada.  But like investing in stocks, finding a great restaurateur’s prize is the GI tract equivalent of finding Apple or Microsoft stock before everyone else catches on..

Along the way, be sure and ask questions and steal cooking ideas you can bring home, too.  You never know when you’ll have some leftovers that can be turned into real treats.

Seattle victuals are about to get even better:  Daughter Allison got an offer letter last week from Microsoft catering to cook for them (they have something like 19 cafes to keep the code writers coding). 

There’s getting to be a battle of the software giants in terms of who has the better work environment:  Microsoft, Amazon, Google, or Apple.  If this is capitalist exploitation of the workers class, sign me up:  please!

Second Turkey Treat

This one is easier and quicker:  Dice up two cups of turkey.  Warm in the microwave until warm to the touch.  Remove, cover, and set aside.  Now, steam  up 2-3 cups of broccoli again, cut into bite-sized pieces.

Combine the two in an oven proof tray of the right size (8 x 10 works since it’s on top and I’m lazy).  Now drizzle about 3/4 cup of Béarnaise sauce over it.   We order the Knorr packages of Béarnaise by the case and we go through several of these per year. Knorr Sauce Mix, Béarnaise 0.9 oz  is about $26-27 bucks a case but perfect for mornings where you have the Benedict craving and don’t want to mess with the sauce mixing, or can’t find the tarragon.

We have decreed this to be a “calories don’t count week”  since Thursday’s assassination of the battery in the bathroom scale.  But this is all good stuff and you deserve a break now and then.

OK, full plate of items going on around here:  Pay bills this morning, got projects galore, since we have a recording session in the new home studio tomorrow.  More wiring to change around.  And then there’s the article Crime State, which is on tap for tomorrow’s report.  We’ll see if America could remain in business if crime suddenly dried up…

Bon appetite…and write when you can move again.  Batteries go back in the scale next Thursday.