Oh man. Friday, March 30, 2007It has been one of those months. The kind where I find all sense of propriety has gone out the window and I find myself saying outrageous things.
Which is fairly common but in the last month I've really kicked it up a notch. Things have come flying from my mouth that would make a sailor blush.
In fact I'm wholly convinced that my boss thinks I'm an alcoholic lesbian with a butch wife named Bob and we like to go to dive strip clubs in Parkersburg.
Why, you might ask should he think that? Uh, because I've said all those things to him at various points during this last month.
And all of you who know and love me know that I am an alcoholic lesbian with a wife named Bob, and that we do like to go to divey strip clubs in Parkersburg but Bob is in no way butch.
One leg at a time. Tuesday, March 27, 2007This morning I was tying on my shoes to go to the gym, and I happened to run my hand down my leg.
It felt weird, oddly seamed.
It was then I realize I had put on my pants inside out.
I even looked in the mirror after I pulled them on and deemed myself ready to go.
Clearly I need to pay closer attention.
Cooking Club- Meeting 4 Monday, March 26, 2007Saturday night was my turn to host Cooking Club, and I stressed and stressed over what to do for it. I have a large kitchen at my disposal and I wanted to do something fun that we all could participate in, but for the month preceding the event I couldn't think of a single group activity that would really work well.
Then the afternoon before it hit me- pickling! We pickled some okra that will be ready in 3 weeks, and I taught everyone how to can. I've been canning things for quite a while and I hope I adequately described everything- everyone seemed to grasp it ok.
If you've not had pickled okra, I highly recommend it. You can pick some up in your grocery store (I find mine near the pickles), and it is a fantastic addition to bloody marys. Or eaten straight from the jar. I know a lot of people have an aversion to okra because cooked it does have a slightly slimy consistency but pickled it looses that quality and instead it is just crisp and tart.
For a starter I made fried pickles. I have to admit they were quite fantastic, and since I'd never tried the recipe before I was so happy they turned out well.
For my portion of the meal I made Nigella's One Pan Sage and Onion Chicken Sausage Bake. It was fantastic, and very easy. I used Italian sausage from my local farmers market and then some garlic sausage from the grocery store (actually Johnsonville Irish Garlic Sausage- the sausage choices in this town are a wee bit limited). Both were actually divine, but one person preferred the Johnsonville because they felt it was more juicy. This is probably due to the fact that the local Italian sausage is pretty lean from the very lean pigs the farmer raises. I hear his bacon is fantastic, but every time I get there he is already totally sold out of it.
Summer made crispy potato wedges, Nancy made perfectly roasted asparagus with lemon juice and Yumi made Alton Brown's Peach Upside down cake.
Fried Dill Pickles
3 to 4 lg. dill pickles, whole
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
3 dashes hot pepper sauce
Vegetable oil for frying
Heat oil to 375 degrees F. in a large, deep saucepan. Or use your deep fryer.
Cut dill pickles into slices of 1/4 inch thickness- the overall consensus was that people preferred the round cut to the long slices. Drain them for at least 30 minutes on a paper towel. Combine flour, beer, paprika, pepper, garlic powder and hot pepper sauce in a medium mixing bowl. It should be a nice slurry- you may have to add more or less beer depending on the weather and such. Dip pickle slices into batter.
Fry pickles until they float to the surface, about 4 minutes. 4 to 6 servings.
One-Pan Sage-and-Onion Chicken and Sausage
Recipe courtesy Nigella Lawson
1 large onion or 2 small onions
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons English mustard
1 tablespoon dried sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (4-pound) chicken, jointed into 10 pieces
12 sausages (I used 9 and it was enough-she uses small english sausages)
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped
Peel and cut the onion into eighths, and put into a freezer bag with the oil, mustard, dried sage, a good grinding of pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Cut lemon in half, squeeze juice into bag, and then cut the halves into eighths and add them. Squidge everything around to mix (the mustard needs help to combine) and then add the chicken pieces. Leave to marinade in the refrigerator overnight, or for up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature in its marinade.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a roasting tin skin side up with the marinade, including all the bits and pieces, and tuck the sausages around them. Sprinkle the fresh sage leaves over the chicken and sausages and then put the tin into the oven to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the sausages over half way through to color them evenly.
Arrange the chicken and sausages on a large platter.
This American Randomness Friday, March 23, 2007Please, please, please tell me that you all regularly listen to This American Life. You all must listen to this last weeks episode on "What Television Taught Me". Dan Savage made me laugh so fucking hard that I got an email from my coworker about it.
I am not often home or around on Saturday mornings when it runs, So I podcast it, and you should to. Ok, honestly I'm usually entirely too hungover to do anything but lay on my bathroom floor cursing that the long list of drinks I had thought were a brilliant idea the night before. Actually I've found the best cure for hangovers is fountain coke and fresh air.
When did I start getting hangovers? I used to be the champ in college of the 'pop up in the morning and feel like a million bucks even though I and my roommates drank all the liquor in our house the previous evening.
Now that I've entered my late 20's (oh my god, my late 20's- sometimes it hits me hard that I really am).
Recently I was in one of the "college" bars, a bar I never frequented even when I was in college. This place is/was the sorority and fraternity den of hookups (The Crystal), which is probably why I avoided it like the plague. I managed to make it through college with only one minor indiscretion, and was so minor most people wouldn't even have put it on their radar. It taught me after 4 beers and 3 shots it is never a good idea to kiss that guy from your junior English class. NEVER.
You will have to sit next to him for the next 4 weeks and it will be pure torture.
But now I've been hitting up the The Crystal like it is my job. Mostly because they have cheap Leinenkugal's Sunset Wheat ($1.25 per pint!) and the music is good for Friday night happy hour. This of course has led to many drunken shenanigans of recent months, which if I chronicled them here we would never make it back to the original story.
So one fateful Friday night we are all drinking and having a good time- when I excuse myself to use the ladies room. While in the bathroom another patron asks me what I think of her earrings. For a point of brevity lets call her Dumb Youth. Why? Because this is my blog and that is her name. And while I'm glad to offer her my opinion I'm nothing of an expert on the subject of earrings. I tell her they are fine/cute and somehow it comes up that she is from Cleveland.
I'm not usually one for chatting up random people in public restrooms but it does happen on occasion and usually when all the parties involved have been drinking. At least in the ladies' room it does, I cannot say for sure whether men talk to each other or under what circumstances it would be ok to ask your fellow bathroom partaker if "your belt looked ok?"
So after discovering that the girl in the bathroom and I both were from Cleveland we come to find out that we are from neighboring eastside towns. The conversation continues to go on, and while it seems like this bathroom chit chat has now occurred over hours it is actually taken place in just a few minutes.
It then somehow comes about that her brother and I both went to the same high school. This is exchange that occurred:
Me: What's your brother's name, maybe I know him.
Dumb youth: Uh, how OLD are you?
Dumb Youth: AH! Maybe you know his teachers because you are way to old to know him.
Me: Uh, actually one of the religion teachers used to a crush of mine when we went to school together.
Dumb Youth: You're so GAY!
So I'm not only OLD but also GAY.
Veni, vidi, vici Tuesday, March 20, 2007This last weekend was my first ever bike race. It was a friendly competition with 5 checkpoints. 5.
The fact that there were 5 checkpoints became very important when I hit the finish line and was told I'd missed the 3rd checkpoint and I needed the pin from that checkpoint or I would be disqualified.
But I should back up and set the scene a little bit. I've been training for a triathlon (a sprint), and have been averaging about 13 miles in 45 minutes on the gym bike. I totally realize that riding a bike in the gym is NOTHING like riding on one the road.
It is also nothing like riding a bike on the road in 25 degree weather. For an hour and half.
I still don't think my lungs have recovered, and by the end of Friday night I sounded like a half dead emphysema patient who also had an advanced case of pneumonia. Which, since I was mildly buzzed, seemed very hilarious. Sober it is just as funny.
So here is the part where I fucked up, I completely missed checkpoint number 3. Totally didn't even see it on the map at all since it was so far away from the other checkpoints.
I didn't have to go back out, but I just can't give up-it isn't coded into my DNA according to my father. So off I went to Sell's Park. As I rode down Madison my face/ears hurt so bad and the tears of pain I was crying froze on my cheeks. That isn't some exaggerated alliteration by me, it is what really happened.
Eventually I made it back to Pete and Mer's, more frozen than I had been the first time I got there. Lets put it this way, as I was pushing my bike up Madison (there is no way I could ever think to ride up that hill especially not at this point in the race) I realized the my underwear had migrated so far up my bottom but I had no idea because I could not feel my bottom. Could not feel it at all.
But with all of the cold and missed checkpoints and lungs nearly exploding I still finished, and I feel awesome about it.
I was also the only person to carry their bike up these stairs, which is what Pete and Meredith (the race organizers) thought would be the most logical thing to do. It was really hard and my bike is no light deal so by the end my muscles were really screaming.
But seriously, look at how fucking awesome my thighs look. LOOK!
I'll admit I'm more than a little in love with my thighs lately. They frigging rock.
The rest of the evening was spent laughing and drinking Blue Moon with the other racers and friends.
I have to say I might be hooked.
Sunday Dinner: Crispy Pork and Baconed Brussel Sprouts Monday, March 12, 2007Growing up my family almost always sat down to dinner together. Which, if I'm to believe what the TV tells me, is a rarity these days (again I'm not sure if I believe it).
Sunday dinner of course holds a special place in my heart simply because it does. No explanation needed.
I am single and live alone, but I still like to make Sunday dinner for myself. This week it was Nigella Lawson's Crispy Pork Chops and my recipe for baconed brussel sprouts.
I'm not usually a fan of pork but these chops were exactly as they said they would be. Crispy and delicious, and still tender and moist on the inside.
A lot of people say they disdain brussel sprouts but I really think that has a lot to do with improper preparation of them. Steam or boil them too long and they become soggy little piles of slightly gaseous mush. Which unfortunately I think a lot of people do. But if you prepare them properly- perfectly steamed and then allowed to caramelize a bit in the pan with the bacon they are lovely little gems.
Of course the bacon really does help to make everything better, which I believe is the reason bacon exists.
Crispy Pork Chops
2 pork chops, approximately 8 ounces each
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup ground nut oil or similar, for frying
Trim the thick white fat off the pork chops, cutting carefully around the outside edge. Lay the chops between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and, using a mallet or a rolling pin beat them until the meaty part of the chop is half as thick. You will need to beat around the bone, so turn them over once as you go.
Beat the egg in a shallow wide bowl with the mustard, oregano, and salt and pepper. On a large plate or platter, combine the bread-crumbs with the Parmesan.
Press each of the chops into the egg mixture, coating either side. Then dip the eggy chops into the bread crumbs, covering them evenly. Let them lie on a cooling rack to dry slightly while you heat the oil in a large frying pan. When a small cube of bread sizzles if dropped into the oil, then the oil is hot enough. Cook the chops until they are a deep golden color, about 5 to 7 minutes a side (depending on how thin you've managed to get them and how cold they were before going in the oil).
Baconed Brussel Sprouts
1 package of FRESH brussell sprouts
1 package of hickory smoked bacon
Seriously. It is that easy. 2 ingredients.
I like to trim my sprouts of their hard little nubby bottom. And depending on the size of the sprout itself I will cut them in quarters or halves. I put these into a steaming basket over boiling water to soften up a bit.
I use half the bacon from the package, so about half a pound, and cut it up into little strips. In a large frying pan over medium heat I let them sizzle and brown up.
After the sprouts have soften up a bit, I can best describe it as al dente. They are neither overly soft but yet neither overly hard and raw. I drain them well, because often I'll get a wee bit impatient and toss them into the boiling water if I don't feel like waiting for them to finish steaming. But if you have the patience they will be just fine steamed to al dente.
Toss them into the pan with the bacon and let them caramelize on each side. Usually I give them a good 10 minutes in the pan, turning occasionally. At this point I'll nip one out of the pan and give it a taste, often I find it needs just a hint of salt. Then I'll decant onto my plate and on occasion eat the whole lot myself.
Daydream Believer. Thursday, March 08, 2007I'm daydreamer. And a fan of the Monkees, these are two very important things you should know about me.
I spend at least portion of my day lost deep in thought, so if you see me wandering around and I don't acknowledge you it is probably because I'm off in another place entirely.
When I was little I had an imaginary friend, her name was DeeDee. She was a half mouse/half human hybrid that lived in the stairs of my house with her mother. To this day I can see her in my mind, she's not changed one bit since my childhood. And although she's been replaced by my musings about real people and places she'll always have a place in my stairs, where ever I may live. Even if my father did accidentally eat her one night when I handed her to him. Granted he had no idea what his 2 year old daughter was doing and assumed it was a game of 'Here Daddy, eat this!"
Luckily imaginary friends bounce back very quickly from injury.
I've had entirely imaginary conversations with people in my head. In fact I've probably imagined one with you.
Sometimes they are completely nonsensical things and others they are sometimes pretend rehearsals for what I'd really like to say. That doesn't mean when it comes to the actual real life conversation I don't trip and fall all over my words. Because I do, I also apparently trip and fall over my own feet. Or the bathtub. Or a chair. These are all actually objects I've fallen over in the last 3 months, clumsiness is a new thing I've apparently aquired.
It isn't just conversations that might actually take place, I've also imagined myself on a island and thought about how I would survive and who would make the best person to be trapped on the island with. I've run down a list of skills and such that I think would be important to help me either
A. survive on the island
B. figure out how to get the hell off it.
Last night while at a concert I closed my eyes and I could see myself slow dancing in my apartment. Which may sound entirely unexciting but for me it was an absolutely lovely scene, and really- you don't get to judge my fantasies.
Of course there are much racier scenarios that get played out in my head too. But I'm not going to share those with you, (The you being the internet at large, you don't need to know that much of my business-ok.)
I'm curious, if you don't fantasize/daydream what do you think about all the time?
What I should have said... Monday, March 05, 2007I baked a cinnamon raisin bread for the office today and one guy just told me I need to get married because I like to bake so much.
I told him I'd get right on that.
What I should have said is "I know, right? That combined with my incessant need to BANG BANG BANG would make me the BEST wife." (tm Rachael)