March 7, 2013

Who Wants Meet A Millionaire & Chicken Schnitzel With Lemon Butter & Garlic Potatoes

Ross: Well umm I, I just never think of money as an issue.
Rachel: That’s ‘cause you have it.
-  F.R.I.E.N.D.S Season 2, Episode 5: The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant

There’s this argument the husband and I get into all the time where he claims that I conceal key information. I don’t paint the whole picture. I keep him in the dark. In other words, I deliberately delay dishing out details.  My answer to that is this: bear your own burden, buddy! I’m not an external hard-drive, memorizing the minutiae you’re too lazy to log.

Put plainly, my policy is that even if I do possess poignant pieces of information, I will make them public when I please.

Plus, in my defense, he has a habit of barging in right while I’m basking in a bit of blank brain-time to conduct a quick Q&A. That isn’t cool.  It’s crazy.

But it’s been almost 4 months into blabbing and blogging and it’s just hit me that I have been holding something back. Don’t roll your eyes. I know that seems strange coming from someone who’s squawking 24/7, but when it comes to spilling saucy little secrets, stealth is more my style. Frankly, I find that awaiting the ideal opportunity to unload amplifies the intended effect of the information, but that’s a separate story.

Also, I’m a sadist who likes ceaseless suspense. P.S. I loved Scooby Doo, but, man, the blatant bad-guys were such a buzz-kill!

Anyways, in light of where this litany is leading, I think it’s time to divulge the dramatic little detail.

Or not. 

Some things are better left unsaid, right?

Jokes aside though, I’m absolutely enamored with the inappropriate. It says so right there in the title of this blog. The “Haw Hai” is a heads-up that I don’t really care for clamming up and I’m definitely not shy about sharing. And yes, tittering over taboo topics -jaw-dropping jokes, crazy confessions, bungling bloopers,  eww-inducing experiences - might be a tad *tsk* *tsk*, but it totally tickles my fancy.  

By the way, in case you’re interested, nothing makes people uncomfortable like a little honesty.

Anyhow, in the spirit of spilling all, I feel the need for full-disclosure.

Brace yourselves, besties and resties ‘cause I’m ready to reveal the real me.

The reality is I’m really rich. That’s right; I have a Benz to buggy me around and a dollar account that’d make you drool. I only fly Business. I think we can agree that Economy is for equals, right? Last summer, my beau took me to Bali and bought me a beautiful Birken on the way back. I don Dior and D&G because really, darling, only the desperately destitute do darzis these days. And just between us, last season’s lawn is for losers.

What can I say, I demand decadence, dammit!

Take that, husband! I told you I can totally tell all.

Quick question: is your skin crawling? Did I repulse you? ‘Cause right about now, I’m repelled by myself.

For one, a large part of what I listed is a ludicrous lie. And two, even though my foot-in-mouth disease is far from faded, while the world has progressed to political correctness, there’s a fine line between passé and poor taste.

The truth is, there’s very little in life that makes awkward. Although, excellent examples include inebriated uncles who get overly affectionate, Misbah-ul-Haq’s mope-y expression when we muck up a match, and Emraan Hashmi’s in-yo-face acts of on-screen intimacy. But nothing makes me cringe like a conversation about cash. 

And if there are two kinds of people who never stop talking about their money it’s rappers and posh Pakistanis. Obscenely ostentatious and over-the-top, when it comes to living large, these loud-mouths lead the pack. Just like rappers rhyme about Lamborghinis and the luxe life, particular Pakistanis worship wealth and the big-bucks life.  So much for the land of the pure. It’s all about the bling and the Benjamins, baby.

So what is the money-is-my-mantra mentality?

Well, according to Snoop Dogg’s slow, signature drawl, it means I “got my mind on my money and my money on my mind." Talk about nailing the neurosis.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not saying money doesn’t matter; I’m just implying that it might mean too much.

Allow me to illustrate the extents to which this obsession extends.

When I was getting married, the Evil Aunties Association declared my nuptials a ‘marriage-for-money’. Yeah, that assessment was about as accurate as saying I was a broke bum or a derelict drifter before being betrothed. The rest of the story, according to the aunties? Well, *BANG!* I broke free from the shackles of bad luck and flew straight into the biceps and big bucks of my boyfraand, of course.  The paltry pauper had procured a prince. Yup, just like that, I went from being a homeless hobo to riding a high horse with my hero. As you know, ordinarily, I’m a little offended by the EAA’s opinions (this is their standard stance on any fair maiden who happens to marry a man with a meaningful income), but this attitude is so airheaded, I’m halfway to hiring a hit-man.

Just so you know, it doesn’t end there.

As much as I avoid material matters, I'm a magnet for awkward interrogations about money; the victim of a never-ending variety of needling nags. 

I say we sample a small, but special, selection of some of these shockers.

Today’s top prize goes to, "How much money does your husband give you every month?" Ummm, okay, for the record, I'm his wife, not a waitress. But if you must know, I've been calculating and contemplating this question for years, just in case you happened to ask me, and I'm happy to report that the total comes to a healthy sum of $NoneOfYourBusiness.

The runner-up to this ridiculosity; “how much money does your father-in-law give you?” Yes, another excellent question, because if not the husband’s hired hand, I must be a salaried staffer for my susar. 

And the humdinger that deserves an honorable mention: “Do you still take money from your parents.” All the time! Baba’s the bank and Mom’s the mean, green money-machine. They’re great with gearing their little girl up to guarantee that her good times keep ‘a rollin’. Besides, Daddy’s dear daughter deserves diamonds for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s also a super scheme for sustaining superiority over their son-in-law.

Honestly, I have nothing against rich people.

In fact, if you’re a self-made millionaire and your means are legit, congratulations and kudos! Also, I understand that it’s unlikely you’re interested in sharing your cash, but I could use a cut of your karma.

But if your wealth is all you’re worth, well, then we have a problem.

That’s the flipside; Daddy’s demonic darlings and Mommy’s materialistic monsters. Born into big bucks, these brats are bred to believe that sitting on your backside like a bum is better than busting your behind at a nine-to-five "nokari".

Goethe got it right, “Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.And let’s be real, work really isn’t worthwhile when money can conveniently cover-up everything from questionable credibility and concocted college degrees to boorishly bad manners and a boring, barely-there personality.

It doesn’t help that these obnoxious offspring find all sorts of avenues to flaunt that they’re in the flush.  Posh parties, massive mansions, va-va-voom vacations, bloated bank balances, alarmingly asinine egos, and the mind to use moolah to malign, mock and manipulate us mere mortals.

This is the kind of ‘rich’ that really riles me up. And money starts making me mad. Excuse me, while I explode.

We now take a break for a word from my sponsor:

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We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.  

Okay, I’m back to breathing and I’d like to inform you that these crazy kids turn into the same types of aunties and uncles that make me awkward in the first place.

Also, in case you’re a concerned parent, cough up some cash for this brilliant book called The Entitlement Trap. The gist; how to nip a brat in the bud. Brilliant bang for your buck, all puns intended.

Ultimately, all I’m saying is, there’s a line between openness and over-sharing. I could tell you every inch of my story, but I’ve got a feeling this friendship would spiral south at full-speed.  Also, I’m a sucker for secrets.  But the bottom-line is if you throw your money in my face; prep yourself to watch me run the one-minute mile.

To close this rant, I’ve rustled up a little rap and rhyme of my own. It’s called Outta Ma Face! And now the world premiere:

So you got big bucks, it ain’t ma bizness
Lifestyles of the rich and famous, is that what this is?
Keep them cash 'n' cards outta ma face.
You’re a spoiled rich brat, whatta disgrace
Think ‘bout this, keep it on the down low
Yeah I know, to that ego it’s a big blow
Got a fat bank account, leadin’ the pack
Too bad yo attitude’s totally whack
Got no money, I love ya still
Wait, you loaded, mind pickin’ up ma bill?
Better start runnin’, it’s a helluva rat race
One more time, keep yo money outta my face!

This week, I’m putting together the perfect poor man’s meal. That’s right; I’m going to tell you how to bust out a beautiful feast that’ll fit neatly into your budget. A play on the classic meat and potatoes, I promise this chicken schnitzel with garlic potatoes will be quite the crowd-pleaser.

German in origin, schnitzel is ordinarily made with veal or pork. I substitute it with chicken for a couple of reasons; first, pork is a no-no for personal reasons and veal is hard to get your hands on in Lahore. Most importantly though, chicken is the cheapest option; poultry is a third of the price of meat. Finally, a fantastic way to feed a few friends without the feeling that your financial future is being flushed away.

The key to a kicking schnitzel is a crisp, crunchy crust encasing moist, tender meat. By the way, another pro of using poultry is the quick cooking time.  From prep to plate, it takes about 20 minutes to serve up a scrumptious schnitzel. And these breaded breast fillets are fantastic for freezing. Make a couple of extra cutlets, chuck them in the chiller and you’re good to go for a great dinner at the drop of a hat.

Traditionally, these cutlets are served with a side of potatoes and a cream-based sauce. But since spring is here, I skipped the cream for something a little lighter; a simple lemon-butter sauce. Honestly, I love lemons! And in this case, the acidity adds a fantastic freshness to the fried chicken. I even pour some on my potatoes, to perk them up.

By the way, because I’m a sucker for starch, the potatoes are the prize-winners on my plate. Par-boiled and then pan-fried with plenty of whole garlic cloves, what you end up with are spuds that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I use whole cloves because I want the flavor of the garlic to be an undertone, not over-powering and because it keeps the garlic from burning and turning bitter.

Ingredients Chicken Schnitzel
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded very thin, scaloppini style
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
- Beat the eggs and water together.
- Set up an assembly line for coating and breading the chicken with 3 shallow bowls, filled with ingredients in the following order; put flour in the first bowl, the eggs and water in the second bowl, and breadcrumbs in the third. 
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Dredge each cutlet, first in flour, then the egg-wash, and finally the breadcrumbs. This breading station is a super time-saver.
- In a deep frying pan, heat enough vegetable oil for shallow-frying, over a medium-high heat. Fry each cutlet for no more than 3 minutes on each side.
- Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.
Ingredients Lemon Butter Sauce                                Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Lemon Butter Sauce, by Martha Stewart
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold butter, cubed
  • Salt
- In a medium saucepan, over a medium-high heat, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Boil until the stock has reduced to ½ cup, approximately 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in lemon juice.
- Whisk in cold butter until the sauce reaches a smooth consistency. Season with salt
Ingredients Pan Fried Garlic Potatoes                        Adapted from Pan Fried Rosemary Garlic Potatoes, by
  • ½ kg (1lb) potatoes, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 – 8 whole garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • Dried rosemary or tarragon (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
- Place the whole potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with room temperature water. Over a medium heat, par-boil (blanch) the potatoes for approximately 10 minutes (15 minutes for larger potatoes).
- Remove from the heat and drain. Cool slightly.
- Cut the potatoes into halves (or quarters for larger potatoes).
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the whole cloves of garlic and fry until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add potatoes, salt and pepper (and optional herbs) and fry for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned and crispy on the outside. 

Until next time, playas, keep it real!

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  1. Dammit! Why didn't I see this blog three years ago when I needed it most?? (I've given up on cooking since.)

  2. heehehehehe. i love your writing, it's hilarious!

  3. Anonymous, I wish I knew who you were so I could thank you properly, but 10 points for keeping the mystery alive!

  4. Blue, I insist you get back in the kitchen! Cooking is cool. And being cool is on everyone's wishlist,right?

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