Moments to Myself

Maintain heat, keep an eye on the food.

“Dad can you help me?”

A text from someone.

Back to the food, while one dish cooks, prep another.

“Dad…”

Two days of cooking, one long trip to bring someone replacement pants, and I finally have some time to myself. I know that sounds bad, as in, I have not had any time to myself…boo hoo. Nothing like that, more along the lines of feeling like I have been doing so much other stuff that I have not taken time to myself. Thus, no boo hoo, more of a whew, cooking and mowing the lawn have kicked the crap out of the still working off a winter of nothing me.

Bentoing is in full swing. Our refrigerator is packed full of goodies. I am not exaggerating either. Each time I make something else I have to spend five minutes arranging everything to make room. There are four types of chicken, three types of cauliflower, two types of carrots, a ton of rice and cold noodles, tamago, and at least a dozen other dishes in there waiting for hungry people or me to pack a bento for Barb. Once I find some place in the fridge 7.5 pounds of pork shoulder is getting turned into pickled pork for red beans and rice, pork for asian dishes, and pulled pork because pulled pork is yummy.

All of the cooking is tiring. And hot. I hope I have sweated off 10 pounds. I have not, but the summer is young. Between rounds of cooking, what is a round of cooking you ask? When I dirty up all of the cooking utensils the cleaning crew, kids, come in and clean up. While they clean, I figure out what is next, then back to the kitchen. They are tired of cleaning dishes. I told them they get a break…I lied, in a bit I will be making sauces. 🙂

Around the cooking, is cleaning, mostly mowing. With almost 2 acres the lawn must get mowed…when the lawn has been watered via rain and is not mostly brown or completely weed grown. This time, much to my chagrin, weed grown. I have a mowed almost 2 acres, took three days, and most of it is brown. I am not a lawn person, in fact if the weeds didn’t look so weedy I would let the lawn grow for the whole season in the hope that next year there really was green grass. Alas, mostly weeds until rain arrives in force. Scattered rain for three days is not what our lawn needs. Just the humidity.

Here I am after two days, sore, tired, happy belly, awesome smelling house, a fridge full of food, and I have not done much for myself. What is stuff for me? Writing, painting, and reading. Oh I forgot, a few smaller projects, such as the list of games I would like to sell or trade which I keep meaning to do…but…you read the last few days. Once I get that out of the way, back to working on Puddles and Whiskers and painting some miniatures for the new version of Warhammer 40k.

 

Father’s Day Surprise In Song and Bento

I went to bed worn out from the drama of before Father’s Day. I woke up expecting next to nothing. Not because nobody cares, but because Father’s Day is a low key event around here. Imagine my surprise.

I woke up feeling like I had been drinking, odd given that no drinking happened. Possibly rain, oh well most of the night before was spent discussing opening up the bento kitchen. I am all for that given how much I love to cook. The biggest stop to cooking around here has been Barb’s schedule and the fact that most of the stores she works at don’t have fridge or a microwave. However a solution was found and the bento kitchen is open.

Meaning my morning was spent in the kitchen.

  • Honey curry carrots
  • Curry smashed potatoes
  • Sweet and spicy bell pepper slices
  • Cold noodles
  • Rice
  • Tamago rolls
  • Garlic and butter mushroom quarters
  • Burnt onions, sounds wrong, but really good

If that had been the extent of my day, I would have been happy as the kids were being pretty good.

A quick trip to an over crowded store for additional ingredients and storage solutions for all of the food where my favorite meat counter lady knew exactly what I was looking for when I said smocked ham hock for red beans and rice. Not bad at all.

Then at home I get the real surprise.

Ever since an off-hand lengthy joke about the kids forming a band named Curb Service after an ill placed sign seen during C4*, our girl has been practicing the guitar. Almost everyday.

I don’t think about her practicing other than, “good she is practicing” and “good she is getting better.” So when I was pulled out of the bedroom where I was working on the recipe list for more bento stuff I was unprepared to find our girl sitting on a stool, music stand in front of her, guitar in her lap, ready to sing.

She wrote me a song.

“Violets are purple. Roses are red. I love you so Happy Father’s Day dad. Rhinos are grey same with rocks. Have a fun Father’s Day dad. I love you more than purple pie. So Happy Father’s Day dad.”

I have the video. I would share it with you, but I am saving it for when she becomes famous and is out of control. You know how famous people get.

Then to top it off, I was given a pair of plaid shorts. I saw a pair on an elderly man and commented I would like a pair too because he, like me, didn’t seem to give a shit and people gave him what he wanted and were nice to him to boot. My thought, the plaid shorts have magical powers otherwise why wear them when not on a golf course.

And that is why I cannot play the piano and had an awesome Father’s Day.

* This curb service sign was at least 200 feet away from the restaurant on the busiest road imaginable. My story was someone parking alongside the curb and yelling to the people outside about wanting service. This triggered an hour long bout of laughing, a band, their number one song “I want my wiener,” and numerous other good memories.

Food We Eat: Fondue, Yes Please

I know, normally a Games We Play day, but the only other game we played this weekend was Epic Tiny Kingdoms or Tiny Epic Kingdoms, either way small and fun and for another day.

Warm weather is here…for about two hours a day, but that is a start and that start has me thinking about all of the wonderful things I can cook outside on a grill. I have not been much a grill person due to a variety of living circumstances now that I can grill I want to grill. Grilling goes well with the Asian cooking I love; grilled chicken cut up into stir fry or grilled steak in steak and broccoli and grilled vegies…my mouth is watering and my stomach is rumbling.

Grilling? Isn’t the title of this fondue? Why yes it is.

I like fondue. Okay, I like the idea of fondue. People sitting around a communal pot of whatever eating and talking. However, until very recently I have not had a fondue device worth a shit. We had a fondue device that resembled the shit emoji, I’m told it is a chocolate chip, given that all it ever did was burn chocolate, the shit emoji is closer to the truth for me.

Cue beam of sunlight, we have a fondue pot that is good for two other things I have always wanted to do; tempura and hot pots. Dipping food into cheese or chocolate is great, but dipping food into hot oil or a seasoned broth even better. And this fondue wonderdevice does all three. However, before tempura and hot pot came the obligatory chocolate dip.

When given a choice of cheese or chocolate, everyone wanted chocolate. Great more food goes in chocolate than in cheese. Yes, cheese is good, but after a short while cheese, especially melted cheese wears itself out. Chocolate is good for a while. Last night proved that.

As this was an impromptu, meaning we bought the fondue wonderdevice and put it to use almost immediately we needed ingredients. Word to the wise, never send hungry people who love chocolate to shop for food to dip into chocolate. While the shopped, I prepped for dinner; nobody eats desert (dip or otherwise) without a good meal in them. Dinner prep took an hour, twenty minutes after that they returned loaded with groceries…lots of groceries…

  • graham crackers
  • Star Wars grahams and yes dipping Chewbacca and C-3PO into chocolate was more satisfying than a graham cracker 🙂
  • marshmallows
  • kiwi
  • strawberries
  • bananas
  • raspberries
  • blueberries
  • blackberries
  • angle food cake
  • oranges
  • apples
  • pretzel sticks, rods would have been better
  • mango

See, a lot. Washing and cutting all of the fruit took longer than cooking five rice bowls for everyone. Once everything was ready and rice bowls consumed fun and dipping ensued. Here are some fondos and fondon’ts:

  • kiwi is slippery no matter how you skewer them
  • marshmallows melt fast when they fall into the fondue which they do often
  • berries are next to impossible to dip, throw in and fish out with a spoon easy, but on the end of a skewer, next to impossible
  • mango…I like mango, mango in chocolate not so much

For me, the highlight is the shared experience all of us had dipping food, fishing food out, eating, and talking about a whole host of topics. If you can, find a good fondue wonderdevice and have people over. Soon hotpot. 🙂

 

Cookie Days and Snow…Lots of Snow

cookie-days-1 cookie-days-2 cookie-days-3 cookie-days-4 cookie-days-5 cookie-days-8 cookie-days-7 cookie-days-6We have so few family traditions that are easily explained. The easiest and most well known (feared if you work in the kitchen with Barb), is Cookie Days. Two days in December when Barb bakes cookies. Lots of cookies. So many cookies that two planned days has stretched into four days one year. This year is special, we are away from the college, in our new place, and watching lots of snow fall onto the yard.

While Barb bakes, the kids decorate, play inside and out, hope for a snow day, and I work on expanding Puddles and Whiskers even more. Good times. Enjoy pics from Cookie Days. 🙂

 

100-Year Old Foggy 99,556 Sex Rules Wait

I wrote in a moving car, not something I recommend. I am looking forward to taking my car writing and putting it to screen soon. However, until that time (shortly after I finish this and eat dinner) allow me to regale you about my day in picture and verse.

Morning…We Wait

I woke excited about the day. First day without the kids and some time to go do non-necessary stuff. I also awoke excited because today is the release of Rise of Iron. While tempering my excitement because I burned out on Taken King hype, new material has me excited. I have a morning routine, after the kids leave for school, I boot up Destiny and play for an hour or two. Then I go about my day. This routine is without fail.

Excited for new material I booted up Destiny and saw this…

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Wow…I had time to check my mail, bank account, surf the web, read some news and then I got to play. HOLY CRAP AWESOME! The wait, which despite how I wrote it, only took around 10 minutes, was well worth it. I played for two hours before forcing myself to turn off the game. Remember, kids are gone and we have fun non-necessary things to do.

Look out the window and see this…

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Wow again…the dot in the middle is a bush, normally clear to sight, and just behind that is a dirt parking lot for the business at the corner and just beyond that the road. There were cars on the road when I took the photo. Do you see them? No, you can barely see the bush…so we waited or they waited while I took a shower.

Lunch…I Find Happiness for $4

I love biscuits and gravy. Barb makes an awesome gravy and Shannon makes awesome biscuits, but I feel odd asking for them to make these things every time we get together for Pathfinder. In town, the biscuits and gravy are expensive and weak. Denny’s…yes, Denny’s…has always been my go to and today was no different. On the road talking about lunch, Denny’s on the horizon and a few minutes and four dollars later my belly was happy and onto…

100 Years Ago…They Wrote About Sex

100-sexI am a used bookstore whore. I will buy books I have next to no intention of reading just because the price is right and the back sounded interesting. There are two areas I always find in every used bookstore: cookbooks and sex books. I am always on the look out for a cookbook that I do not have especially old cookbooks. Sex books, not erotica (although I have a small collection of erotica), are my favorite. Why, because book stores tend to go out of their way to put them in the least accessible spot that no one can find, because who would want to read about sex. You know about sex, don’t you, why do you need a book? Because everyone can learn something about sex. Now of late, I have not found any sex books that caught my attention. Honestly, most sex books are poorly written. Today, I found four. However, after reading them I was disappointed and then…I found a book published (7th edition) in 1908, which makes the book…2016 – 1908 = 108 years old. I love old books and this book went home with me to an honored space on my bookshelf. I can only hope my sex writing is around 100 years from now and me in the future finds it and loves it. 🙂

They Have Rules For This…Mall Life

20160920_130041Malls are a waste of space. Yet, we found ourselves at one because they had a Gamestop and a toy store. Gamestop was a bust, never been a Gamestop where the employees didn’t even look up or say anything to us and didn’t have the new releases on display, but here was one. The toy store was fun, some glow-n-the-dark fish, a physics kit, and pirates. While traveling from one floor to another using an escalator I stumbled across this sign of rules. When did this happen and why? Seriously, people need rules to stand in place while being carried or pushed up or down? What has this world come to?

Back Home…

I did mention I got a lot of writing done on the road and in a Denny’s?

 

 

Necessary Costs of Fruit Sauce Insurance

Back to work…sorta…in the kitchen today instead of the office. My plan was to resume work on collating the notes and then to continue editing Tumbledown Patrol and Puddles and Whiskers. However, fruits in the kitchen called. Not called, in that fashion of “Hey, make something cool out of us,” but in that “Oh shit, we are about to go bad, please do something with us.”

So fruits going bad took precedence overwriting and editing. I hoped this would only be for a short amount of time, but…starting with fruits that did not make the cut: a mango and several peaches. Try as I might to cut the bad out, the bad was the fruit. Sad chef. Over a dozen small farmers plums, named farmers plums by me because I bought them from a farmer who was happy to learn that his really small plums had another use, making a plum sauce (he was genuinely surprised that I would purchased these tiny plums and even more surprised to learn I had no intention of eating them).

My Quick Sauce Quick Recipe*: Macerate plums with sugar (2 cups), a generous squeeze of honey, a capful of cider vinegar. Squeeze plums through a colander. Put sauce back on stove and reduce by 1/3, tasting along the way…add additional sugar or honey to round out flavor.

Plum sauce is good on rice and egg rolls. I am sure it is good on other things, but those are the two uses around here. Next up on the sauce parade an orange sauce and finally a lemon-lime sauce. Both made the same was as they plum sauce only at the end I added a slurry of cornstarch and water, let cook to boil for one minute stirring entire time, to thicken them up.

By the time the sauces were finished it was time to begin dinner prep. I went from sauces, to cutting up potatoes, onions, and garlic. Barb has an idea to make individual foil packets of each to go on the grill with the drumsticks. Drumsticks which may get a homemade BBQ sauce or some of the orange sauce (after I add a drop or two of sesame seed oil for some heat) or a quick homemade faux teriyaki of soy and sugar. Who knows? I won’t until I start cooking.

Free of the kitchen, time to get the kids from school, but before that a quick stop at our insurance agent. Why? Because our bill arrived and I crapped my pants at the increase. As I told the agent, “For this bump, I should’ve hit a deer of something last billing period just to have something to justify this bump.” Why the bump? No reason, just one of those things, “You know how it is?” Yes I do. If a company can charge more for a service that is necessary, but not wholly useable such as insurance-I must have it, but I only need it when something has gone wrong-they will. Until that point, the company takes my money but does not give me anything in return (for example: if I do not cause the insurance company to have to do anything for me for that billing period, should they not give me some of my money back?), so in that theme, why not charge me more even though I have moved to a safer place and have not (knock on wood) had any accidents. Yep, I know how it is…necessary costs. I only wish I had stayed in the kitchen. On the plus side, I have time to write because I don’t have all of these sauces to make. 🙂

* Full length recipe has more accurate measurements, heats and times. Ask if you would like it. 🙂

And Then That Happened

My apologies for the very late post.

Allow me to share my weekend with you…

I ate some pizza Barb brought home and woke up positive I was going to puke. Then my stomach leveled out long enough for me to get just hopeful enough that I would have a great evening only to stab me in the proverbial back and literal gut. Strange but true element of the this story, a beer, an ill advised beer, normalized out my stomach. I have no explanation and I make no recommendation for those with brought home pizza stomach funk.

While my stomach was tricking me and before the ill advised, yet ultimately best for the event beer, we played Wrath of the Righteous. Due to a late start, in part due to my stomach, we were not able to finish Adventure Deck 3 and start Adventure Deck 4. Overall, I continue to be amazed at the work put into Wrath of the Righteous. The challenges continue to escalate in a please, not frustrating manner, that tell me that the designers understand that there is a difference between upping the challenge to the player instead adding more bad guys to fight…looking at you hard mode of most video games, adding more people for me to kill does not make it hard, just longer.

Around stomach, singular beer, and Wrath of the Righteous came Destiny. I enjoy Destiny. I took a break when things were getting stale, which was more my fault than anything Bungie or Destiny did or did not do, came back and rediscovered the joy and fun. All of my talk with our boy about Destiny intrigued a friend who had never played. Which is how we found ourselves in a marathon session of Destiny.

At first, I used a high level character, not on purpose, just that is what I had loaded, but then I made a new character to match the friend’s new character. Holy crap, what fun. Having to learn a new class, teach Destiny skills, go through missions with a friend really does change things; very similar to how playing Pathfinder Adventure Card Game with a character from a class deck or different sets of characters changes the game.

Feeling better and wrapping up the last of Adventure Deck 3, I decided to cook on the grill. If there was a theme to this weekend, it was despite something going wrong or off, something good came out of it. Grilling was no different. My idea was to put foil over the grill to cook chicken thighs. The hope that I could get crispy skin slathered (poor word) in teriyaki sauce. What happened was some crispy skin, a grease fire, and a broke handle to the grill. I kid you not, I thought I had accounted for the grease from the thighs, but nope not enough accounting. Grease fire away! However, once the fire burned down, the vegetables were cooked on the remaining fire, the chicken turned out better than expected. I have no explanation. Just is.