Smackdown: Threat Level Yellow


I am no longer in an acute STATE, so thank goodness for tiny mercies.


However, we are still at Threat Level Yellow.

In case you were wondering, the Threat Levels are:

  • RED: I am a danger to myself and others and should be kept away from pointy kitchen utensils.
  • ORANGE: I require excessive levels of tranquilizers to function, such that you could stick a fork in my leg and I wouldn’t react.
  • YELLOW: I could stand to take some tranquilizers, but am stubbornly pretending everything is fine. Also I want chocolate.
  • GREEN: I will carry the tranquilizers around with me like a Valium security blanket, though they are not strictly necessary.
  • BLUE: The kids are all right.


Generally, cooking can and does occur without too much assistance through Threat Level Yellow. Things get dicey at Orange, and entire sectors of my brain start to shut down at Red. Luckily, that’s only happened once. And once was enough, let me tell you. Blue is like a beautiful dream.


This week, Brian requested a recipe from Big Small Plates, a book I appreciate for its lack of long and unnecessary subtitles but which gets infrequent use because every recipe has ten thousand million ingredients. Still, when we have used it the results have been delicious, so it didn’t lose its place on the bookshelf during the Great Book Cull of ’11. And that’s saying something, because Daniel Boulud got the old heave-ho.


Plus, this Mongolian marinated lamb gave me the excuse to splurge and buy Frenched lamb chops, and we all know that Frenched lamb chops are the most adorable cut of meat one can purchase. Sure, I could have saved a couple of bucks and Frenched them myself, but there’s only so much one can reasonably be expected to do at Yellow.

True to form, the marinade had a long list of ingredients: hoisin, tamari, multiple kinds of vinegar, multiple hot sauces, ginger, garlic, cilantro, scallions, sugar and sesame oil. I threw it together last night while I was at Level Green and tossed it into a ziploc bag with the lamb for an overnight marinade.


I thought dinner would be a quick study tonight – toss lamb chops under broiler, cook for a few minutes, eat – but also true to form, I’d failed to read the instructions all the way through and hadn’t noticed that the mustard was slightly more labor intensive than “mix dry mustard with liquid.” Instead, it involved egg yolks and a double boiler and cooling and mixing with creme fraiche. It was by far the most labor intensive part of the meal. For MUSTARD. Something you can buy PERFECTLY GOOD ALREADY MADE. I’m just saying.

I’m being hyperbolic because I’m at Yellow. I didn’t actually need to yell at you about mustard. I apologize, although it did feel cathartic. MUSTARD MUSTARD MUSTARD.

from above

Once the mustard was done, the chops took their spin under the broiler until they were brown on the outside and a perfect medium-rare within. Which, like last week’s steak, I completely failed to document because I was already too busy sucking every last morsel of lamb off the bone, gnawing at it with my teeth like a hungry dog.

from the side

What that means, in case you’re the dense type, is that these lamb chops were really good. Incredibly tender and juicy, and actually rather delicately flavored given the strong players in the marinade. The mustard was a sweet and tangy accompaniment that was a nice counterpoint to the gaminess of the lamb. The cilantro was just for show.

Despite the ingredient list, the marinade is easy enough to mix up, so we’ll be revisiting it this weekend with the leftovers from my three-pound pork log.

In totally unrelated news, were you aware that today is National Cheese Day? You should go share some cheese with a loved one.

UPDATE! Upon reading this post, Brian went out into the frigid night and GOT ME CHOCOLATE. I am now officially announcing a reduction to Threat Level Green.

14 thoughts on “Smackdown: Threat Level Yellow

  1. Just wanted to say thanks for speaking so openly and humorously about something so personal and difficult. I read your posts every day because you’re an awesome cook/food blogger, but I really like when you talk about your tribulations. It makes those of us with similar issues feel like maybe we’re not so crazy after all (or at least we have good company). You rock! Keep cooking! And, seriously, thank you.

  2. Hang on to Brian. Any man who’ll go out into the frozen tundra (does NJ have tundra? if not, the equivalent thereof) and get you ice cream deserves good treatment. Of course, he is well aware he’s wise to take good care of a good cook….

  3. I can never be assed frenching my own lamb chops and I have no medically diagnosed states to speak of. You are, in fact, a rockstar.

  4. jen, thanks much! love you.

    lisa, me too, lisa. me too.

    tracy, yeah, he does; and yeah, you do. they were gooood.

    c, you’re welcome, seriously.

    kay, you don’t have to tell me twice.

    sally, aw, shucks.

    tarah, true. i don’t think i had to purchase anything to make the marinade.

  5. I strive to be as good a partner as Brian is! I also strive to be as good a cook as you are. So ultimately this blog makes me want to be a better person! Thanks :) (and it also makes me exhausted, continuous striving is exhausting!)

  6. I could be assed frenching my own lamb chops. If I were sufficiently flexible, that is. Heh. Heh.

    (Oh, and glad you’re hanging in there!)

  7. Just getting around to cleaning out my feed so I’m a little late to the party, but I just wanted to echo the aformentioned sentimint that that (That always sounds awkward… Anywho…) Brian is a good man.

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