Moroccan Bisteeya (chicken in pastry with cinnamon).

Okay vegans, look away for this one. I promise I’ll make it up to you with a Moroccan recipe for beets that will knock your socks off.


Bisteeya (alternatively pastilla, besṭila, bastilla, b’stilla or b’steeya) is a traditional Moroccan savory pie, usually served on special occasions as a first course. When I first started exploring Moroccan cooking, bisteeya was my Holy Grail. I fell in love with it in Morocco many moons ago; here in New York, the late, great Cafe Noir used to serve it up (and well).

This is the most delicious chicken dish I have ever tasted, bar none.

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Greenmarket Day.

With the exception of Gay Pride, summer weekends in the West Village are very quiet. Especially the mornings. I took a stroll to the Saturday Greenmarket at Abingdon Square to acquire some provisions for the week, and along the way I took a bunch of pictures with my iPhone like a goddamn tourist. I was thinking you might enjoy them.


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This is…just. What? No.

Yesterday My Amazing Lover™ brought to my attention a devastating development in the War on Squirrels: some ridiculous jackasses apparently thought it was a grand idea to deem January 21 “Squirrel Appreciation Day.” This is treason, people. And when the coming Squirrelpocalypse is upon us, justice will be swift and fierce.

Purely coincidentally (I swear!), earlier in the day I had asked my local meats purveyor whether his shop ever had any squirrel meat on offer. He said yes, by special order only, 2 days in advance. I’ve marked my calendar for January 19, 2017 to put in my order, so on the 21st I can appreciate some braised squirrel with bacon, mushrooms, and Pinot Noir.





10 Situations Where Christian Bakers Should Refuse To Bake Wedding Cakes. Corey, B.L., Patheos (Mar. 2015). (“we need to have the courage to radically expand our discrimination as we apply the Bible to everyone but ourselves.”) [No cake for you! Or you! You either! –Ed.]

CIA Torture Whistleblower: Wake Up America, You’re Next. Abby Martin interview of John Kiriakou, Media Roots (Mar. 2015). (VIDEO)

Costa Rica is now running completely on renewable energy. Epstein, A., Quartz (Mar. 2015). [Yes we can’t! -Ed.]

Starbuck’s CEO Just Made A Shocking Announcement That Has Christians Standing Up For Their Faith. Rachel, Q Political (Mar. 2015). [Shocking. LOL –Ed.]

Forget terrorists — be terrified of Harperites. Siddiqui, H., The Star (Mar. 2015). (“Stephen Harper’s government wants us to be terrified of terrorists, niqabis, criminals, thieves, etc. But it’s the Conservatives we should be scared of.)

Women on 20s. (“It’s our mission to generate an overwhelming people’s mandate for a new $20 bill, to be issued in time for the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.”) [What are you doing lounging around the Palace? Go vote! -Ed.]

“You Grow Up Wanting to be Luke Skywalker, Then Realize You’ve Become a Stormtrooper for the Empire”. Crimmins, D. via Garret, Upriser (undated). [An amazing piece of writing from an Iraq veteran. -Ed.]

Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories. Ferdman, R.A., The Washington Post (Mar. 2015).

France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panelAgence France-Presse via The Guardian (Mar. 2015).

If Motivational Posters Were For People Who Hate People. Bailey, L., BuzzFeed (Feb. 2015). [I hate people, and I can attest that these posters are totally for me! -Ed.]

everyoneistheworstEven in nursing, no equal pay for women. Rapaport, L., Reuters (Mar. 2015).

Virtual reality is coming to sex, sports and Facebook. della Cava, M., USA Today (Mar. 2015). [h/t SJ]

Big Bank’s Analyst Worries That Iran Deal Could Depress Weapons Sales. Fang, L., The Intercept (Mar. 2015). [OH NOEZ!!! –Ed.]

Amazon’s trees removed nearly a third less carbon in last decade – study. Mathiesen, K., The Guardian (Mar. 2015). (“Fall in amount of carbon absorbed by rainforest means even greater cuts to manmade emissions are needed to combat climate change, warn scientists.”) [Today in We Are So Fucked. –Ed.]

Mother-Daughter Duo’s Photo Project Features 5-Year-Old as Iconic Black Women. Gilchrist, T., For Harriet (Mar. 2015). [Amazing and adorable. -Ed.]

If Purvi Patel delivered in hospital she could have declined neonatal care, but she delivered at home so faces jail. Gunter, J., Dr. Jen Gunter (Mar. 2015). (“So to be clear, had Ms. Patel delivered in a hospital she could have declined neonatal care had her baby been born alive. But because she delivered at home she is a criminal. Now tell me this wasn’t a reproductive witch hunt designed to both test the limits of Indiana law in curtailing reproductive rights and score points with pro-life donors and voters.”)

This Woman Says She Had A Miscarriage. Now She Could Face 70 Years In Prison. Culp-Ressler, T., Think Progress (Mar. 2015). (“Critics say there are a lot of issues with the way Patel’s case has unfolded over the past two years. For instance, Patel was first questioned in her hospital bed without a lawyer present. Expert witnesses could not come to consensus about the gestational age of her fetus. The prosecution relied on a highly unscientific method to try to determine whether her fetus was born dead or alive.”) [UPDATE: Purvi Patel was just sentenced to 30 years, with 10 suspended. -Ed.]

Two Cops Arrested for Beating 3-Month-Old Into Vegetative State; Baby Not Expected to Recover. Fairbanks, C., The Free Thought Project (Mar. 2015). [h/t Tony] [I can’t even. –Ed.]

Black Woman Locked In Psych Ward For 8 Days Because Cops Couldn’t Believe She’s A Businesswoman. Kerry-Anne, Addicting Info (Mar. 2015). [I. CAN’T. EVEN. –Ed.]

One Model Tried On 10 Different Pairs Of Size 16 Jeans And This Is What They Looked Like. Ospina, M.S., BuzzFeed (Jan. 2015).

This Photo Was Removed By Instagram. The Owner Writes A Powerful Open Letter In Response. Rupi Kaur via Chaudhary, S., Scoop Whoop (Mar. 2015).

Trillion Dollar Fraudsters. Krugman, P., The New York Times (Mar. 2015).

Shakespearean Insulter. [“Thou clouted fly-bitten boar-pig!” Hahaha. -Ed.]

Stunning Photos Reveal Beauty in Medicine. Live Science (Mar. 2015).

She’s back! Arizona legislator suggests church attendance should be mandatory. Mother Mags, Daily Kos (Mar. 2015). [Okay, player. –Ed.]


For the Quote Collection:

I think America has the best assholes in the world. I defy the Belgians or the Japanese to produce something like a Donald Trump. –Matt Taibbi

Women have always been an equal part of the past. They just haven’t been part of history. –Gloria Steinem


PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Free Market™ Fail. Again.

A dated article I just came across today really pisses me off, so my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ will get a nice little rant this morning.

Workers at biggest fast food companies need billions in public assistance

Walmart isn’t the only corporate giant relying on government assistance to make up for the low, low wages it pays its workers. According to a new report from the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center, 52 percent of front-line fast food workers are on some form of public assistance, at a cost of nearly $7 billion a year. And the 10 largest fast food companies account for $3.8 billion of that, the National Employment Law Project estimates.

The UC-Berkeley study only looks at participation in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; if it included all government programs, such as child-care subsidies and reduced price school lunches, the total would be higher.

Accompanying the article are two charts that are quite revealing:

public_assistance_10_largest_fast_food_companies public_assistance_share_of_workers_by_industryIt is just so…interesting how the Free Market™ works best without any of that pesky government “interference.” Interesting, too, that of all the industries listed, public administration (i.e. government employment) has the lowest participation in public programs. I mean golly, why should ridiculously profitable corporations pay workers a living wage when they can soak their own taxpaying customers to pick up the tab? So their employees don’t, you know, starve or die of preventable diseases. Frankly, this should piss everyone off, liberal or conservative.

But remember, too, that the beneficiaries of this system are the exact same people lavishly funding right-wing politicians who are hell-bent on slashing, privatizing and ultimately destroying the already inadequate social safety net, in all its forms. (Among many other despicable aims.) I don’t know how they can sleep at night. But they do—and probably much better than you or I do. Operating in a Social Darwinist economic system will tend to foster a lack of conscience, especially among the fittest.

Here’s a thought: if it is just not profitable for McDonald’s to pay its workers a living wage, then it should go out of business. Perhaps all that capital can instead be put to use for businesses involving less factory farming, less trucking, less unhealthy food and less labor exploitation. Why not profit from sustainable industries that help instead of harm the very communities where they operate?

Any politician that does not support a living wage and a robust safety net including single payer healthcare—and I’m talking with actions, not just words—will never, ever get my vote. And they shouldn’t get yours, either.



Oh yeah, and one more thing:


Iris the Idiot’s Kitchen: classic coconut custard pie.

ccpie5…with fresh whipped cream and toasted coconut.

For Ultimate Pi Day (March 14, 2015) I set my sights on making a coconut custard pie—My Amazing Lover™’s favorite. TRUE FACT: I had never made a pie before. But the lover has. He is apparently able to whip up an apple pie on a whim without too much trouble, so I figured the whole pie thing can’t be terribly complicated, right?

Hahaha. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Just to refresh everyone’s memory, there are only 2.5 rules in the Palace Kitchen: DELICIOUS, and SIMPLE.*
* Or, to whatever extent not simple, worth the extra trouble.

Very important stuff you should know before you decide to make this pie:

Delicious: YES.

Simple: All the nope. All of it.

Worth it: An entirely subjective call. While I am not 100% sure about the pie, I am 100% sure the lover is definitely worth it. YMMV.

Timesuck: EPIC. My best time from start to pie-is-cooling-on-a-rack is 5 hours—and at that point of course it’s still too hot to eat and hasn’t been garnished yet. The good news is that the pie is actually better after it sets for a day or two in the refrigerator.

Mess: Category 5. As in hurricane.

ccpiemoneezExpense: $$$. As with everything else, better quality ingredients cost more, and if I’m going to spend a day making a pie I will buy the best I can find. But really it’s all the tools and other stuff you need that can rack up the price, depending on what you already have on hand. For example, I had a standing mixer, but I had to go buy a “food processor.” ME! A food processor! Between that and everything else (don’t forget the rolling pin! and the pie plate!) this pie has already cost me like a thousand dollars.

Mortal danger: RED ALERT. Between the sharp blades, burn risks and the coconut shell shards you will be stepping on, this pie is a fucking menace. I really cannot stress this enough: do not forget for one second that this pie is constantly trying to kill you.


If you’re still in, there’s just one more thing. This was quite an adventure, so I fully intend to blather on and on (and on) in this post documenting and musing and complaining about all of it. As a courtesy to my beloved Loyal Readers™ who just want to make the fucking pie, I will leave the essential recipe bits in black font, and color the font of my tl;dr rantings. In teal, dear.


ccpie1Yum. Also: yikes.


I know this d00d, a regular at one of my neighborhood watering holes, who is a food stylist (yes that’s a thing). Went to culinary school, supervised teams at Martha Stewart’s kitchen, blah blah blah—in other words his skill level is the complete opposite of mine. I mentioned my coconut custard aspirations, and told him I didn’t even know where to begin. “With a great crust,” he said without the slightest hesitation. “Use lard.” WHAT.

At first I could not even find lard in the West Village, and ended up ordering it online from Amazon. (I eventually found it here.) But I did find a pie crust recipe with lard in it at epicurious called Best-Ever Pie Crust. The rave reviews sold me: “PERFECTION!” “OUTSTANDING!” “AMAZING!” “NO FAIL!” “EXCELLENT!” “easy to work with, sublimely simple to roll out, and the most user-friendly crust I have ever made.”

Okay! Glad I got that sorted!

It turns out that these people are all lying shitweasels. It took me six attempts to finally get some semblance of a fucking pie crust, and it sure as hell wasn’t pretty. (I also tried this one: easy! flaky! lying liars gonna lie.) Crust number 8 turned out pretty good though, so that’s the recipe you’ll find here. Later, I would come to find out that even expert bakers use Pillsbury ® Refrigerated Pie Crust all the time. (FWIW, it has lard in it.) Regardless of what you decide to do about a crust, the thing to keep in mind is that coconut custard has a much more delicate flavor than most other pie fillings, so you really don’t want a distinctly flavorful crust (e.g. graham cracker). Shoot for buttery, melt-in-your-mouth flaky, and not too sweet.



  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and re-chilled
  • 1/4 cup chilled lard (or frozen nonhydrogenated solid vegetable shortening) cut into1/2-inch cubes…blobs? and re-chilled
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) ice water

YIELD: 1 pie crust. (Double this recipe for double crust pies—i.e. pies covered on top with crust—or for lattice-topped pies.)

Other stuff:

  • food processor with the chopping/mixing/dough blade
  • 1/4-cup measuring cup
  • cutting board
  • 1-tablespoon measuring spoon for adding ice water
  • flat-ish standard tablespoon
  • glass for ice water
  • sharp knife
  • containers to store butter cubes and lard blobs while re-chilling (I used ceramic coffee cups)
  • plastic wrap
  • 3 sheets of wax paper
  • rolling pin (chilled)

Highly recommended:

-approximately one million paper towels
-safety goggles
-well-stocked first aid kit
-cell phone programmed to call 9-1-1 with one touch or voice command
-large tattoo of your blood type on your forearm


Start by chilling the flour and a rolling pin in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Cutting cold butter into cubes is easy. First cut the stick in half—you can even do it with the wrapper on it.

butter1Then make these cuts:

butter2Then make these:

butter3Or vice versa. Whatever. Just so you end up with half a stick of butter cut into cubes chilling in your refrigerator.

To get lard blobs, I removed the entire chunk of lard from its container with a flat-ish tablespoon, and plunked it on a cutting board. Then I pressed a metal 1/4 cup measuring cup down into it with the palm of my hand until it hit the cutting board, and pulled it out. With the flat-ish tablespoon I removed the 1/4 cup of lard from the measuring cup and “sliced” it—sort of—into 1/2-inch-ish blobs. The I put them back in the refrigerator to chill until just before use.

Yes, it is likely there is a much better way to obtain lard blobs—maybe even cubes!—but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what that is.


Set up the food processor with the chopping/mixing/dough blade, preferably without drawing blood.

ccpiechopbladeGuess what? ^This blade is really fucking sharp!

Cold temperature is critical. Once you begin to combine your ingredients you will need to work quickly. Have your flour, butter cubes and lard blobs well chilled and your ice water ready in the glass with the measuring tablespoon in it.

Put on your safety goggles, and brace yourself. 

Put the cold flour, sugar and salt into the processor and blend it with one quick pulse.

Do you now have a face full of flour because you forgot to put the plunger in the tube to close off the processor BEFORE you pressed the pulse button? See? Safety goggles.

Open the processor and add in all of the butter cubes and lard blobs and close it back up; with a few short pulses, minimally process the mixture only until the butter is broken up into pea-sized bits and the texture resembles a coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water one tablespoon at a time via the food processor tube, with a quick pulse of the mixture as you add each one. Check the consistency by gently pinching the mixture between your fingers to see if it clumps; add more water if necessary, checking the consistency again after each additional tablespoon (or teaspoon). DO NOT OVERPROCESS IT. Even though it looks kind of crumbly and doesn’t seem entirely well-mixed, as long as it clumps together when you gently pinch it you’re good to go. If you overwork it, it will not only be more difficult to roll out properly, it will have a hard texture after baking.

ccpiecrustdiskExtract the dough mixture from the processor WITHOUT slicing your fingers on the cutting blades, and gather it all together on a sheet of plastic wrap. Lightly form it into a disk and wrap it securely in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough disk for at least 1 hour before rolling it out.

The prepared dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and you can also freeze it.

Rolling out (after your custard is prepared).

NOTE: I did not try this woman’s very simple pie crust recipe, because Pi Day was fast approaching and oh yeah I was out of flour from all the previous pie crust experiments. But I did steal one trick from her that worked wonders: wax paper. You won’t need more flour to work the dough, and it’s less mess to clean up. She just might be a pie crust genius! 

If necessary let the dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling it out, but in general you want to work with it chilled.

Place two sheets of wax paper, overlapping a bit, onto your rolling surface. Put the unwrapped disk of dough in the center of it, and cover the disk with another sheet of wax paper. With the chilled rolling pin, roll the dough out between the sheets of wax paper. Always work from the center outward, in every direction. You will know you have rolled it out far enough when you set your pie plate on top of it with the open side down, and see that it is surrounded by a good 2-inch border. The 2-inch border is important because after it’s in the pie pan, you should not stretch the dough further to reach places where it doesn’t quite make it over the rim of the pan: stretched dough will contract unevenly as it heats up. (What you can do if you come up short is cut a little dough off from places around the rim where there’s extra, and just press it right onto to the spots that are too short or too thin.)

ccpiecrustrolloutCarefully peel the dough from the wax paper (or the wax paper from the dough as the case may be), center it in your pie dish and gently press it into the shape of the dish. Don’t sweat it if it breaks into two (or three…) pieces as you peel it off. Just reassemble the pieces in the pie pan, and lightly press them together.

When you’ve got it more or less evenly distributed around the dish, roll the edges inward and fashion it into some kind of even-ish border. You can go around the edge pressing it between your fingers and thumb to make a wavy pattern. Or, you know, not.


Carefully wash and dry all food processor parts and related accoutrement, because you will need all of it again to make the custard. DO NOT CUT YOURSELF HANDLING THOSE BLADES. But when you do, rinse the wound(s) under cold water, dry with clean paper towels, apply antibiotic ointment, and bandage immediately. Use tourniquet to staunch serious bleeding if necessary, and dial 9-1-1 for the EMTs BEFORE you pass out. You don’t want to have come all this way just to ruin everything with blood splatter. If you have survived your injuries, drink the remaining ice water, plus extra water to make up for any significant blood loss. You are just getting started, and you need to stay hydrated for the long haul!



As critical as the crust is—and it is—there is also the minor matter of the actual coconut custard. It didn’t help that once I started researching recipes and reviews, I discovered that there appears to be very little agreement about what does or does not make for a winning coconut custard pie. Two eggs, five eggs. 350°F, 400°F. Some call for a package of pre-shredded sweetened coconut, some require plain flaked coconut, maybe a can of coconut milk, and/or condensed milk. Eventually I discovered a recipe that started with an actual coconut. “Oooh,” I gushed, “That sounds like the one for me!” Christ, what an idiot. Exactly like it says right up there at the top of this page. And I had to order coconuts from Amazon, too.

ccpiecoconutWhat a weird fucking thing.


  • 1 large, fresh coconut, about 1 1/2 poundsmadagascarvanilla
  • 2 cups whole milk (+ a splash more)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs
  • Tiny pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Other stuff:

  • 9 inch Pyrex pie pan
  • food processor, with both the medium shredding disk and the chopping/mixing blade
  • standing mixer with whisk attachment
  • ice pick
  • mixing bowl
  • water glass
  • linen or cotton dinner napkin
  • rubber band
  • dish towel
  • thick Ziploc or plastic bag, gallon size or larger
  • vegetable peeler
  • sharp knife
  • cutting board
  • saucepan
  • wooden spoon
  • strainer
  • 2-cup capacity measuring cup
  • standard measuring implements
  • containers for various coconut products
  • cooling rack
  • toothpick

Highly recommended:

-staff of cleaning personnel.
-corkscrew, wine glass and a nice bottle of red wine.
-manicure appointment for the following morning.

Prepare the coconut:

Set a rack at the middle level of the oven, and preheat to 350°F.

A coconut has three “eyes,” only one of which can be punctured fairly easily with an ice pick. You’ll have to try each one until you find it.

ccpieohaiPuncture the hole and drain the coconut milk out over a strainer into a bowl (about 2/3 cup yield).

ccpiestrain1There will still be flecks of shell and stuff in it, so make a contraption with a water glass, a linen napkin and a rubber band like this:

ccpiestrainer …and strain the liquid again by slowly pouring it through the fabric: ccpiestrainRemove the napkin and set it aside (you will need it again). Cover the glass of coconut milk and set aside.

Place the drained coconut directly on the oven rack and bake it until it develops a crack, about 10 to 15 minutes. (If there is no crack after 18 minutes, take it out anyway.) Let it cool slightly. Wrap it in a dish towel, and put it in a gallon sized, freezer thickness Ziploc or other heavy plastic bag. Get a good grip on the towel and the bag at the top, and smash the fucker a few times, hard, against an unbreakable surface.

ccpieonoesccpiesmashccpiemess1You will be able to tell by feeling through the bag and towel when it’s broken into pieces. Remove the shell: it will come away pretty easily, but that ice pick or a knife might also come in handy. With a vegetable peeler, remove the brown, fibrous skin from the white coconut meat. Rinse the meat clean, and pat dry.

ccpiecoconutreadySet up the food processor with the medium shredding disk. Try not to shave off too much of your skin.

ccpieshreddiskProcess coconut through the shredding disk to obtain 1 cup coarsely shredded coconut for the filling, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish. (One packed tube yielded a little more than enough.) For the most consistent results, pack the tube with pieces of coconut that are all cut to roughly the same size.

ccpiecoarseWhen you’ve extracted 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of coarsely shredded coconut from the processor, set them aside in separate containers. Set the processor up with the chopping/mixing/dough blade, and process all of the remaining coconut until it is very fine.

ccpiefineIn a large saucepan over low heat, scald 2 cups of milk just until there are bubbles around the edges of the pan. Stir gently and frequently as it heats. Do not let it boil.

ccpiescaldI.e., Google “how to scald milk.” Click on some results. Find a good one (number 2 of 3). You’re welcome.

Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in all of the very finely processed coconut. Allow the mixture to cool completely, about 45 mins.

While it cools, you could start cleaning up the colossal mess of coconut shards all over your kitchen, and carefully wash, dry and put away all food processor parts and accoutrement. DO NOT CUT YOURSELF HANDLING THE BLADES. (Again.) When you do, try to remember the drill from the prior crust incident(s). Using your non-severed hand, open the bottle of red wine, pour yourself a stiff glass and take a couple big gulps. You have damn well earned it. Ahhh. Jeezus.

Once the milk mixture has cooled, pour it through a fine strainer into a bowl; press the coconut against the strainer mesh with a spoon (or your fist) to extract as much liquid from it as possible. Remember that linen napkin? Spread it out, and in 3 or 4 batches, place coconut from the strainer into the center of it, wrap it up and twist it closed, then squeeze it over the bowl to extract all remaining liquid. Throw the wrung-out coconut away: it will have very little flavor remaining.

ccpieextractionPour the coconut-flavored scalded milk into a 2-cup capacity measuring cup, and add a splash more milk if necessary to bring it to 2 cups. You can prepare this earlier in the day or the day before, and store it tightly covered in the refrigerator.

But for fuck’s sake! You’ve already come all this way and now you’re almost there! No point quitting now. Besides, your kitchen is a disaster zone: do you want to clean it all up now and then have to clean it again later? No! Pour yourself another glass of wine, and chug it down.

Now at this point, you astute pie-bakers will discern that your now have four separated coconut products (not counting the bark shards all over your kitchen floor—don’t worry, you’ll find them all later as you step on them).

  • ccpie4things2 cups of coconut-flavored scalded milk.
  • approx 2/3 cup of coconut milk you drained from the coconut approximately 127 hours ago.
  • 1 cup of coarse shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons coarse shredded coconut (for garnish).

And you will wonder how the fuck your life has brought you to this point.

Adjust your bandages and/or tourniquet if necessary, and refill your wine glass.

Preparing the custard:

Set up the standing mixer with the whisk attachment. Pour into the mixer bowl the 2 cups of coconut-flavored scalded milk, and whisk together with the sugar, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg and the coconut milk you extracted what seems like days ago. Blend well. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir in the reserved 1 cup of coarsely grated coconut.

Set a rack in the middle level of the oven, and preheat to 375°F. Roll out the dough for the bottom crust, and arrange it in the pie pan as discussed above.

Pour the custard filling into the pie crust, and bake about 45-55 minutes: check that the pie is wobbly-textured (like Jello) when the pan is gently shaken, and when it is remove it from the oven. With a toothpick, poke several holes into the pie to help moisture evaporate more evenly as it cools. Cool the pie on a rack, about 3 hours. Refrigerate at least overnight; a day or two is optimal. (Garnish just before serving.)

ccpiecoolingWhipped cream & toasted coconut garnish:


  • 2 tablespoons of coarsely shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon confectioners powdered sugar

Other stuff:

  • standing mixer with the whisk attachment
  • small metal roasting pan
  • frosting bag with flower attachment (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour heavy cream into the standing mixer’s bowl and whisk in the confectioners powdered sugar. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks are forming.

Sprinkle the coarsely shredded coconut into a small metal roasting pan. Bake until golden brown, shaking and stirring the pan occasionally, about 10-15 minutes. Check frequently and watch intensely toward the end as they burn easily.

Speaking of burning, try not to burn yourself when handling the pan.

You can prepare the toasted coconut in advance, and store covered at room temperature until ready to use.


Garnish the chilled pie. For taste test purposes on the first two pies I made, I spread the whipped cream in the middle and sprinkled the toasted coconut on it.

ccpie3It doesn’t look all that great as a pie, but the slices look good.

ccpie2For my third and final Pi Day pie, I piped the whipped cream through a frosting bag around the edge just inside the crust, then sprinkled the toasted coconut all over the pie.

palacepiday31415Palace Ultimate Pi Day Celebration
left: Coconut Custard from the Palace kitchen.
right: Salty Chocolate Chess from Petee’s Pie Company [h/t Mr. Born]



Here are links to some of the resources on which I based this recipe.

Caution: lying liars.

Perfect Pie Crust Recipe: Nana’s Secret Recipe and Tips! (youtube)


library4An Ex-Jewish Camel’s Sad Epiphany on Israeli Fanaticism. Centre, B., Atheist Camel (Mar. 2015). [h/t SJ]

5 Near-Identical Jesus Myths That Predate Jesus. Richard, L., Liberal America (Mar. 2015). [h/t Ian]

Researchers may have solved origin-of-life conundrum. Service, R.F., Science (Mar. 2015). [The headline overreaches, but the science is interesting. -Ed.]

Nightmare in Sin City: How a Rumor Sent a Teen to Prison for Murder in Vegas. Smith, J., The Intercept (Mar. 2015).

27 Black Women Activists Everyone Should Know. Foster, K., For Harriet (Feb. 2014). [h/t Sally]

Humanism and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. Kirabo, S., The Humanist (Mar. 2015).

Support for government help has fallen among those who rely on it most. Ehrenfreund, M., The Washington Post (Mar. 2015). [Deja vu. *yawn* –Ed.]

Teaching Doubt. Krauss, L.M., The New Yorker (Mar. 2015). [h/t SJ]

Anti-Abortion Website Whines About Being Bombed… With Glitter. Merlan, A., Jezebel (Mar. 2015). [Hahaha. The fine folks at Glitter Bombs for Choice are clearly kindred spirits, although I prefer to mail coat hangers myself. –Ed.]

The Cops Don’t Care About Violent Online Threats. What Do We Do Now? Merlan, A., Jezebel (Jan. 2015).

Woman killed by flying plywood from NYC construction site. Rosario, F., et al, The New York Post (Mar. 2015). [The luxury condo construction at the site of my former neighborhood hospital now has a body count. (For background see here.) –Ed.]

Bad News for Those of You Who, Like Us, Drank Cheap Wine Each and Every Night of Your 20s. (Mar. 2015). [SPOILER ALERT! Arsenic poisoning. Which sounds almost as bad as the crap wine. –Ed.]

Intersex advocates correct and clarify Nightline news report. Murray, R., GLAAD (Mar. 2015). (with VIDEO)

How activists are responding to the NYPD’s attempts to thwart Black Lives Matter. Rugh, P., Waging Nonviolence (Feb. 2015).

How Prison Stints Replaced Study Hall: America’s problem with criminalizing kids. Owens, J., Politico (Mar. 2015). [An excellent piece on the school-to-prison pipeline by the managing attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi office. -Ed.]

Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership Promises Echo Clinton’s On NAFTA. Johnson, D., Campaign for America’s Future (Feb. 2015). [Lying liars lie: film at 11. –Ed.]


PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Happy Ultimate Pi Day everyone!

piWe have written about Pi Day before, noting that we and our fellow geeks the world over looked forward with great anticipation to once-in-a-lifetime Ultimate Pi Day—March 14, 2015 at 9:26 AM (and 53 seconds)—because it was going to be so freaking awesome.

Well, it is now mere moments away. And yes, it is so freaking awesome.

I’ll be biting into a slice of homemade coconut custard pie at 9:26 AM (and 53 seconds) local time—and another slice at the same time PM.

coconutcustardsliceIs this the best holiday ever or what?


palacepiday31415Palace Pi Day Celebration
left: Coconut Custard from the Palace kitchen.
right: Salty Chocolate Chess from Petee’s Pie Company.
[h/t Loyal Reader™ Mr. Born]

Iris the Idiot’s Kitchen: Samantha Irby FTW.

Samantha Irby, proprietress of the gut-bustingly (literally) hilarious bitches gotta eat, is a chef after my own heart. Also: she is a much better person than I am, because she licenses her work under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-ND 3.0). This means I am perfectly free to steal her latest for the Palace and its Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ to enjoy. Thanks, Sam!


easy human meals to make in your tiny joke kitchen.

samanthakitchenyesterday morning i had a lunchable for breakfast. don’t worry, it was the bologna and cheese kind so it was v v healthy. here’s the thing, though: I REALLY LIKE TO COOK. the problem is that 1 cooking for myself is kind of boring and 2 it kind of sucks when you threaten to knock mixing bowls and shit off the counters of your miniscule galley kitchen every time you turn a goddamned hip. i used to housesit all the time for wealthy people and their snooty purebred dogs and the best part of that life, hands down, was spending a week or two in a big ass top chef kitchen. i’m talking: gleaming pasta makers, towering walk-in pantries, every tool to be found in the sur la table catalog. it was like living in a tv show, but without a red-faced british dude yelling about what a donkey i am because i accidentally double-dipped my tasting spoon. (lol “accidentally.”) THIS IS MY WEALTH OF COUNTER SPACE, Y’ALL. well, half of it. the other half is across from it and has a dish drain and all my tax documents and shit i gotta return to zappos and boxes from nutrisystem piled on top of it. i don’t have room to make a goddamned thing. except for a mess.

i keep trying, though. ugh it’s still kind of the beginning of a new year, which means we all gotta pretend we care about ourselves until it’s warm enough to wear a bathing suit in public then realize it’s not worth it anyway and go back to eating cheetos for dinner because fuck it. and nothing goes with a brand new maybe this is the year i get skinny gym membership like trying to cook your own balanced meals. at the end of every december i start feeling bad about having spent the eleven months prior getting 99% of my calories from carbohydrates, and this guilt propels me into relatively-healthy eating for at least the first three months of the year. but 1 i’m kind of lazy 2 i hate grocery shopping and 3 i work all the goddamn time and just want to watch tv with my water-logged ankles propped up on a wedge pillow when i get home, not burn calories chopping vegetables for a wholesome dinner. but in case i drop dead i want whoever finds my body to know that sometimes i go to whole foods. i mean, they’ll have to kick a lot of dusty slim-fast boxes out of the way first, but once they do? EXEMPLAR OF HEALTH.

so every now and again some humorless drone is all WHY YOU AIN’T GOT NO FOOD ON A BLOG ABOUT BITCHES EATING and i’m like, uh well i sometimes do? but it’s more about the jokes and stuff? and then we stand around awkwardly shifting feet without making eye contact while trying to figure out a way to gracefully end this painful interaction, after which i go crawl into a guilty little hole to rethink my life choices. so this is a post about food. all made in my tiny-ass kitchen while i texted fools and kept leaving the room to watch tv.

nutritious, grownup ramen-type bowl.
cooking oriental foods is always terrifying to me because, other than a couple raggedy old packets of soy sauce left over from delicious takeout meals, i don’t keep a lot of asian spices and shit around the casa. occasionally i’ll buy calrose rice in case i throw together a ghetto stir fry or whatever, but i don’t regularly have turmeric or kaffir leaves just lying around in case i all of a sudden become inspired. i have a general idea of how much basil is too much basil or when to lay off the cumin, but i don’t really know shit about star anise. (wtf is that even.) this noodle pot is an easy way to feel learned and cultured without the danger of seriously fucking your tastebuds up if you measure incorrectly or fall asleep while the shit is cooking.

you need:
miso paste
tom yum paste
chili paste
solid chicken bouillon paste
soy sauce
noodles of your choosing (i use medium-sized flat noodles)
assorted vegetables (i used pre-cut trader joe’s broccoli carrot slaw and pea shoots because i’m fucking careless and don’t want shaved-off bits of my fingertips in my broth. you could also use shelled edamame, napa cabbage, baby corn, spinach, or whatever you have the patience for.)
tiny frozen shrimp (or: cooked shredded chicken, cooked sliced sausage, fried tofu, whatevs)

here’s what to do with it:
bring some water to a boil in a both a saucepan and a kettle.
while you wait, scoop a teaspoon of each of the pastes+bouillon+soy sauce+sriracha into a little bowl, add a splash of hot water and mix it together with a little whisk.
the pot noodles i use cook in two minutes, so i drop them into the water once it’s boiling, hover impatiently while shifting anxiously from foot to foot, then dump them out under cold water and drain them. once they’re mostly dry i put the noodles in a mason jar BECAUSE I AM ADORABLE, add my defrosted shrimp (to defrost: rinse under cold water until rubbery then pat dry), pour over the paste/soy sauce mix, and top with vegetables. then i pour water from the kettle i set to boil at the beginning of this whole thing (remember that?) over all of it, stir a couple times, then let it sit for a few minutes with the lid on before maxing all the noodles and meat then getting mad at myself when all i have left is salty broth and bits of cabbage.

egg muffins.
i don’t always love eggs? but they’re cheap and they last for-fucking-ever and you can’t make cookie dough to eat straight from the mixing bowl without them, so i always have a couple hanging out in the back of my refrigerator. breakfast for me is always the hardest because i need to leave my crib at 645, IN THE FUCKING MORNING, and i can barely get a stretch and a shower in between the alarm clock and the train which means i definitely am not cooking shit before work. i envy you coffee and newspaper in the comfort of your own home people. the last time i ate breakfast in my own crib was never. when i still had the taurus i was that bitch trying to smash a bowl of milk and cereal at every red light, but now with no ride i have to, like, be prepared. or spend $17 every day at starbucks.

so these aren’t really muffins as much as they are portable egg clumps with cheese and shit in them, but they are easy and delicious and you make them in a muffin tin so whatever. i just throw in whatever old meats, cheeses, and vegetables i have dying a slow death in my produce drawer, then bake and freeze them. and since you make a bunch in advance you have ready to go breakfast options all week.

you need:
assorted chopped vegetables. i am partial to: spinach, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, corn, green onions, and broccoli. but for real you can use whatever tastes good to you.
chopped tomatoes
grated or crumbled cheese, whatever you got
green chilies or jalapenos
fresh coriander, whatever herbal shit you’re into
you can add chicken or other lean meats or tofu
6 eggs beaten with 2 tbsp milk, black pepper to taste

here’s what to do with it:
preheat the oven to 400 and grease your goddamned muffin tin. (i use pam, the coconut oil kind) add vegetables of your choice along with cheese (if you choose, and why wouldn’t you?) to each cup, then pour the beaten egg mixture into each cup.

place the muffin pan on the center rack of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins are light brown, puffy, and the eggs are set. let those bitches cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan. loosen gently with a butter knife if they seem to be sticking. eat immediately or let cool completely before storing them in plastic bag in refrigerator or freezer. they can be reheated in the oven or microwave and eaten in the shower while trying to catch another depressing weather report on the morning news. or so i’ve heard.

curried tofu.
i adapted this one from the homie martha stewart. i don’t like to cook a lot of meat at home because it’s messy and a ton of work, also because achieving the perfect sear on an expensive cut of grass-fed beef is not what i want to come home and do on a random fucking wednesday. there are basically fifty-eight minutes between the time i peel off my eight layers of winter outwear and the time empire starts, and i refuse to spend a single one of them tying up a fucking chicken.

you need:
1 container (14 ounces) firm or extra-firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon curry powder
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
1 box (10 ounces) frozen green beans, defrosted
4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (3 cups)
cooked calrose rice, for serving (optional)

here’s what to do with it:
halve tofu horizontally; then crosswise. (GOD I HATE GEOMETRY; also, you should have 4 equal squares). cut each square diagonally into 2 triangles. arrange tofu in one layer on a baking sheet lined with 3 layers of paper towels; cover with three more layers. place another baking sheet and a bottle of wine or something heavy on top. let tofu drain until towels are soaked, about 20 minutes. so this part is kind of irritating on paper but it really isn’t as hard as it looks. you can slice your onions and mince your garlic while the tofu is draining to save time.

heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. add tofu and cook, turning once, until golden-brown, maybe 10 minutes. remove from pan to a plate then reduce heat to medium. add remaining tablespoon oil, onion, and curry powder. season generously with salt and pepper. cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

reduce heat to medium-low. add coconut milk and 1/2 cup water; bring to a gentle simmer. return tofu to skillet. add green beans and tomatoes, cover, and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. serve over rice if desired. (true story: i always desire the rice.)

sausage and kale stew.
soup is kind of depressing to me. like if i order a cheeseburger at a restaurant and my companion across the table orders a bowl of soup for dinner it’s like, “bro…? are you sick or something? should we leave? why aren’t you getting any goddamned food!?” and then you gotta sit there and watch that motherfucker eat SOUP, one of the least appealing to foods to watch being consumed. insult to injury: pretending that that gross, wet slurping isn’t killing you a little bit on the inside. especially since most soups taste like the flu. but at home you can make stew, which is the perfect remedy to both bullshit ass weather and the gaping hole of starvation left in your gut when you try to pass off soup as a real goddamned meal.

you need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 12-ounce package fully cooked chicken sausage links, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 19-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 box of low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 bunch kale leaves, torn into 2-inch pieces
kosher salt and black pepper

here’s what you do with it:
heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. add the sausage and cook, stirring once, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. stir in the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. try not to eat handfuls of sausage directly from the pot.

add the beans, broth, and tomatoes (including the liquid) and bring to a boil. then lower the heat and add the kale and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. simmer, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. THEN IT’S DONE. super quick, right? i like to eat mine in a bowl the size of a cauldron with a heap of shaved parmesan on top, but i am a human with minimal self-control. seriously, every time i make this i can barely get it all cooked before i start “tasting” the hell out of it. eat yours how you see fit. i wouldn’t judge you if you just got in bed with the pot.

i get rul tired of people talking to me about water. snoozapalooza. it’s boring and it tastes like crushed dreams, but bitches is always trying to tell me about their supple, luminous skin and hydrated muscles and healthy kidneys. YAWN. but i will drink it if there’s vegetables and fancy grass floating in the shit. bottle of evian? no thank you. glass of filthy tap water with a withered sprig of mint and half of a decrepit old lime? JESUS GOD MORE PLEASE. every time i take a sip of water my dry ass hair whispers “thank you” while praying for rain, yet i only drink it because michelle obama told me to. and even then there better be some dandelions floating in it.

here are some delicious flavor combinations you can try, according to people who get paid to think about that kind of thing:
strawberry, basil, and lemon.
blackberry and sage.
pineapple orange and mint.
grapefruit and rosemary.
pear and ginger.

i am on day three of the 96oz of water a day challenge. i cannot stop peeing. my skin looks the goddamned same.