My name is Liz. I need direction. I overuse commas. My house is a mess, my hair needs a trim and I have no marketable skills: It’s fun here, you’ll see!

Got a question, comment, proposal of marriage? Great! Email me at liz@theproductivecough.com

Contact Me, Folks!

Got a question, comment, proposal of marriage? Great! Email me at liz@theproductivecough.com

Show Your Love

July 20th, 2010


I’m having a great time exploring Korean cuisine lately. In doing so, I’ve been Googling a lot of restaurants. I came across the website for Keumsan Samgyetang, a restaurant that began in Korea and has since moved over here. They specialize in Samgyetang, a kind of soup made with whole young chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and boiled in ginseng and other junk.

Now, you could always just go to the website yourself, but I’d really like to point out a couple of things.

A good place to start is the menu bar across the top, which includes such categories as “Keumsan Story,” “Delicious Service,” and “Know How.” Keumsan Story tells the reader about the Taste of Samgyetang, and how the recipe came to be. The “legendary taste handed down for 20 years” is the result of “endless trials to keep the taste of Samgyetang. While running the business of chickens for 15 years,” the site continues, “to pray for the repose of mercilessly sacrificed chickens’ souls and to bloom of their youth, we will keep developing the better taste.” Appetizing, no? The story goes on…

“I have given so much torment to chickens. I have burnt over 300 chickens before,” confesses the chef. But he’s confident that Samgyetang is what he was put on this earth for and wants to pass down its secrets to his son. But: “I don’t know whether he really likes this job or he is just thinking this job position as his escape from studying. Anyhow, I am cool there is someone who wants to inherit mrecipe.” And we, dear chef, are cool that you are telling us so much about the world of boiled chickens! For further reading, I recommend you check out the bottom of the page, which explains how the two primary menu items are made. (Hint: One involves a green marsh snail that can cure your liver.)

The Delicious Service section lists the menu items (the aforementioned stews, as well as fried gizzard, spicy marsh snail sashimi, and the ever-popular “chicken cooked in an electric oven” to name a few) and explains the delivery service (“Picnics, Sports meetings, or any events, you are more than welcome.”) It is here that we also get some insight into the ingredient selection process. “It is difficult to choose delicious chickens weighing of about 420g with tender and juicy meat since they are rare,” the Chef explains. “We use chickens … making no more than 20 eggs per month. … On behalf of a farm, they must be just useless beings for the farm since they cannot make enough eggs.” I take this to mean that, while they don’t want to rob the farmer of good egg-producing stock, they have no problem abusing the “useless” chickens by insulting them before they hack them up and boil them. How bold, Korea.

But the two highlights of this section are easily: “If Korea gets united, I will deliver to the top of Mt. Baekdu!” (Here’s hopin’, man!) and the 10% discount offered on “Chicken’s Day.” Whatever that is.

Finally, the Know How section. It’s really more of a Samgyetang FAQ page. He firsts asks himself “Have a secret of the recipe?” and answers himself thusly: “Of course, yes. We have it.” But don’t worry, folks, “I am not going to keep it under my coffin.” I’m unclear on why What the hell does that mean? isn’t the very next FAQ.

He closes with the basic steps for creating his famous Samgyetang. This includes such delightful phrases as “after cleaning of the chosen chickens,” “if it is stored without ice, even a dog can’t eat it,” and “If you make broth roughly, you will get the roughNready taste broth.”

There are more sections of this site that I haven’t even begun to look at. So please, visit Keumsan Samgyetang and see its wonder for yourself.

June 9th, 2010

Chef Liz In: Barf On A Shingle

Leafing through The Heinz Book of Meat Cookery (published in 1937), you’re sure to stumble on a few terms that seem like long-outdated slang. For instance, based on the photo below, the term “Fish Cookery” must be slang for “violent and persistent vomiting.” As in: “I’m sorry I can’t make it to the cotillion, but I’ve been up all night with a wicked case of fish cookery.” Right?


Focus your eyes on the bottom right hand corner of the picture.

Yup. It’s a recipe.

And, alright, so it was 1937. Their photo printing abilities weren’t anywhere near the high standard we have today. So, I can overlook the fact that the dish looks like the result of the Flounder+Dynamite equation. But what I can’t overlook, frankly, is pickle sauce. There’s no need for that. Especially when the recipe also calls for 1 1/2 cups of milk.

In my house, pickles were always available. And after dinner snacking was not forbidden. But what my parents did insist upon is that we finish our milk. Often we would do it on our own, but occasionally my mom would have to hold us prisoner at the table until we finished our glass. Then we’d run off, and hit each other for a while, and finally return to the kitchen for an after dinner snack of Unlimited Dill Pickles. Then it was off to play “Monsters” with Dad.

Let me tell you. Nonfat dairy and brine do NOT sit well when your father has you thrown over one shoulder like a sack of giggling flour.

So, the notion of tuna fish smothered in a milky sauce containing tiny, suspended chunks of Sweet Gherkins? Words can’t describe how that makes me feel. So I’ll just leave you with this:

May 13th, 2010

Mom’s Cake

Sunday was Mother’s Day and ALSO the anniversary of my mom’s birth. So, to celebrate, and also to thank her for all of the fantastic cakes she’s made Louis and me in the past, we made HER a cake.

Coming up with a cake theme for a refined woman such as my mother is never easy. For us kids it’s a cinch. Clowns, Tron, cats that speak incorrectly. We’re usually into something pretty stupid. But mom? She paints, she cooks, she dances hip hop. She’s a classy broad. So, what could we do that perfectly spoke to all of her many interests, and highlighted her as a human being?

I give you…

…The Beefcake Beef Cake.

Love you, Mama!

May 11th, 2010

Food Diary

Every women’s magazine in the world tells you, “If you want to get healthy, keep a food diary! It’s just that easy!” Oh, so, write down every morsel of food you consume, and it will help you get your diet on track? I can think of a few words for what that is, and “easy” isn’t one of them. A few of the less NC-17 ones, though, are: “difficult,” “time-consuming,” and “craptastic.” But, if I were to do a food diary, here is what it would look like:

11:00 AM: Handful of chocolate chips; piece of cheddar cheese.

11:45 AM: Unknown number of pepperoni pizza slices.

3:00 PM: “Lunch” (contents unknown– it all happened so fast.)

4:00 PM: Glass of milk, 1 piece cinnamon toast

9:30 PM: Chicken breast w/ 8 Tablespoons of salt; 2 pieces of broccoli

10:00 PM: 3 pieces broccoli; handful of walnuts; several chunks of leftover, unfrosted birthday cake.

Yeah. I’d rather not see that in print.

April 6th, 2010

Cake 26

This weekend was my 26th birthday which marks y 26th birthday cake. In my family, this celebratory confection is always an event. Last year, I documented the cake that almost wasn’t, due to a kitchen remodel and a lack of time. This year, though, things were back to normal. Mother presented me with a beautiful LolCats cake! If you’ll recall, I’m not too big a fan of cats, or LolCats. Both categories of feline really just baffle me. I’m not a fan of Peeps, either, but they manage to wind up on my cake each year. We’re fans of confronting one another with undesirable objects to show our admiration.

In all it’s glory, I present The LolCats Cake, by Debra:

I was very impressed with her grasp of the I Can Has Cheezburger lingo. Also, it was tremendously delicious.

March 29th, 2010

Chef Liz In: It Was The Salmon Mousse

I had a terrific dinner last night. It consisted of a nice piece of fish, cooked to perfection, and then afterward a little bit of chocolate mousse. Oh, it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I began to try to think of ways to combine the two elements into one mouth-watering dish. You know, for those times when you’re too busy for a sit down dinner with multiple courses.

Then I found this (categorized as a SALAD, no less):

Perfect! Moussed fish! But of course! Grab some full-fat dairy products, and, as the card below says “fold in fish.”

Aside from “fold in fish,” another sentence I find particularly unappealing in this recipe is: “Pour into an oiled fish mold.” The last three words in that sentence aren’t even palatable by themselves, let alone all strung together into a verbal emetic.

And let’s talk “Suggested Menu” for a second, if we may. The designer of this menu sat down, looked over the ingredients and said “What goes well with be-creamed fish?” Then he bit his pencil for awhile. His roommate, Keith, happened by and said, “What about some kind of zesty sour cream thing?” (Keith is a very fat man. He blames his genetics, but he knows as well as anyone that it’s his own damn fault.) The Menu Designer, exhausted from a full day of taste-testing protein-based mousses, shrugged his shoulders and jotted down “Sour Cream-Horseradish Sauce.”

Right? That has to be what happened. And then adding BANANA CAKE on top of it all? Hell, all you need is one of those inflatable bounce-houses and you’re unintentionally bulimic.

Folks, Monty Python’s been warning you against seafood mousse since 1983. And now, I’m doing it as well.

February 22nd, 2010

What Happens When My Family Has Dinner

I was lucky enough to be able to have dinner with my dad three out of the past four nights. My dad is an excellent eating companion. First because he usually orders dessert, and second because he gets pretty silly, and doesn’t care who sees him. Louie and my mom, who were also there for two of the three dinners, are no different. Family meals are never quiet. When Louie and I were younger, we’d actually get so worked up and silly over dinner, that my parents would have to sit us down beforehand and remind us that “Dad’s been working all day, and he is tired and would like to be able to have a nice dinner and get a word in edgewise for lord’s sake. So please try not to take up the ENTIRE conversation with your endless wall of sound.” We’d sheepishly agree to the New Dinner Terms and go about our day. But once we all sat down, someone would belch, mom would crack a smile, and it would be all over.

In honor of so many loony Cole Family Dinners, I would like to present a few photos of our dinners over the years.

Here are some choice moments from a lunch we had at Pea Soup Andersons a few years ago:

Louis went into hiding after we noticed how large the Christmas-themed centerpieces were.

Dad drank his coffee “handsfree.” I can’t remember why.

And why tone it down on foreign soil? Here’s a sample of what happened in Italy in 2004:

Louie photographs me being attacked by a fork.

Someone was doing something to make my mom laugh this hard. Tears and abdominal pain are common side effects of our raucous dinners.

A work of art by Louis.

And finally, our yearly trips to Seattle, wherein the entire Cole Family gets together to laugh and eat:

Someone brought a propeller beanie to the dinner table and we all took turns modeling it…

…even the Matriarch of the family, my grandma Nina. See where we all get it?

January 11th, 2010

Chef Liz In: A Lunch You’re Sure To Lose!

Hey folks! Have you vomited recently? If your answer was no, I may have a solution. You see, long before there was ipecac, there was…

The presentation alone seems to dare even the most iron-stomached diners to keep this meal down. But it’s the ingredients themselves that really present a challenge: warmed (not boiled) sour cream, enveloped lovingly by browned beef liver and crispy bacon, and nestled on a fluffy bed of steamed white rice. That’s a hefty 495 calories a serving- if your digestive system can keep it together long enough to actually glean any nutrients from this dreary, brown nauseant.

For advanced vomiters, who prefer a more colorful gastric display, the authors of this recipe have suggested the dish be served with Fresh Spinach Salad and Sweet and Sour Beets, and be followed by Orange Sherbet for dessert. Nearly all the colors of the rainbow will be represented in your emesis!

So by all means, dig in. Sear yourself some liver, and start clearing out the ol’ gut. It’s the perfect way to start to the New Year!

January 8th, 2010



Tonight, I am making a ham. A giant, heavy ham. In my cast iron pot from my mom. I will either wind up stuffed full of pig meat and happy, or stuffed full of pig meat and hospitalized with Trichinosis. Either way, you, the reader, will win.

I’ve just placed The Beast into the oven. Now I wait. And while I wait, I must go for a swim, to prepare for the Face Stuffing that’s sure to come in a few hours. Plus, it might be the last time I fit into a bathing suit. (It’s a big ham.)


December 28th, 2009

Gingerbread Madness

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all the through the house, my brother and I were trying decide what to do with this giant hunk of gingerbread dough that we’d made the previous night.

Originally the plan was to make a basic gingerbread house, but we soon realized that was stupid. “An aircraft carrier!” suggested Louis. “What about a gingerbread tall ship?” I asked. We laughed, and then each spent the next 25 seconds attempting to mentally construct sea-going gingerbread vessels. “Nah…We don’t have the capabilities,” was the general consensus. Then Louis had a stroke of genius: A head.

Yep. That was the answer. Here’s how we did it:

STEP 1: Select two bowls over which you will mold the dough into two halves of a head. (Pyrex works.)

STEP 2: Roll dough out, and drape over buttered Pyrex bowl; Trim edges.

STEP 3: Ask a master craftsman (in this case, my brother) to lovingly carve a face into the dough.

STEP 4: Stand back and admire the tortured face of your gingerbread person.

STEP 5: Bake the poor screaming fellow at 350º for 20 minutes.

STEP 6: Allow to cool before removing face from bowl.

STEP 7: When the thing still won’t come off the bowl, come up with an ill-conceived plane: Put it in the freezer!

STEP 8: Remove from freezer and attempt to remove face; Fail.

STEP 9: Cook back of head at 350º for 35 minutes. Feel free to insert a large, rolled-up piece of foil between the bowl and the dough to create neck fat.

STEP 10: Reform another face, but this time do it over some parchment paper, dummy!

STEP 11: Finally, successfully remove the pieces of head.

STEP 12: Glue ’em together. We used our patented Caramel Bonding™ (take the fancy caramel from your mom’s pantry, melt it in the microwave, and stick in between the head parts.

STEP 13: If you’re feeling sad that your dad has to work on Christmas, you could always leave him a heart-warming message.

And that’s how you make a festive Christmas head! (You’re welcome.)