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.

 

Musing About Grilling & Life

So where are we?

Well we are here of course.

From the stand point of where are we, as in me and mine…that is another story…

The good and bad news continue to roll in like the tide. Nothing world ending, that we are aware of, but just enough to make for some bumpy surf and set back most of our remaining summer plans. What are you going to do?  We, we try to ride out the bumps and while we ride we do our best to enjoy what we have.

To that end, last night I have three chicken breasts that need to be cooked. However, I was not feeling like cooking after another day of unpacking and screwing around organizing. Going out to eat, an option, but only as a last resort. Given that there was chicken in front of me, not near last option. What to do?

We are enjoying grilling. I am getting pretty good at making cooking fires. Turns out there is a big difference between a fire for cooking and fire for smores. Once I cook the chicken then what? Kids say make chicken sandwiches, great idea except the children have yet to eat a grilled, read non-fried, chicken on anything. Barb has been jonesing for Moo Goo Gai Pan, but that would mean making a mess in the kitchen late a night.

Have I mentioned there is no dishwasher? Not a big deal, except we had one for the last five years, thus the non-dishwashing crowd (everyone other than me) does not see the big deal about making a lot of dishes. I do. While I do not mind washing dishes by hand, another good sideways thinking time for me, I do not have any desire to wash dishes late at night. What to do, what to do?

Grilling the chicken got my mouth watering and the cook inside me fired up (ha). While the chicken cooked it occurred to me that I would only have to prep vegetables for any wokable dish. That right there cut down the number of dishes to something very manageable. Between checking the chicken, Barb and I prepped broccoli, mushrooms, garlic, snow peas, and made the Moo Goo sauce. I have not had an easier or quicker time cooking in a long time. By the time the chicken was finished, I had the wok heated up and ready to go. Five minutes later, dinner.

Living here has been a learning experience, from figuring out how to cool the place off, to how the rain falls into the windows, arranging for garbage pick up (not something we thought about until here), to how to arrange a kitchen for cooking. I have an awesome kitchen set up compared to the last place; still I have to organize everything for ease of use. I only mention this because, it is raining here and the kids, who I asked to let me know if what raining inside, said to me, “we didn’t feel it.” I’m going to guess they were waiting for the puddle to reach them. Ugh.

Finally, to end this rather rambling post, as we get this place organized the table and floor which was home to Rivet Wars for a few days, will be cleaned off of laundry and NAPLEX books for gaming once again. HOORAY!

 

I Tried

I was hoping to have a WOW post to start off the week, but I don’t. I spent most of my day in the kitchen cooking food for the rest of the week. When I wasn’t in the kitchen I was in a hot car driving around town. It is hot out today and that is a good thing. Once I get done with this post I will be returning to the kitchen to work on dinner.

As you can see there nothing WOW about any of that. For those curious, I cooked the following:

Orange carrots, yes I know that carrots are orange in color, this is giving them the flavor of orange.

Honey carrots

Blanched broccoli to turn into blanched broccoli or blanched broccoli with cheese, hardly original, but people like them

Cucumbers into pickles and cucumber wedges

Curry Cauliflower, damn head of cauliflower was a being a pain and took longer than I like to breakdown

Slow cooked pork, to turn into mexican pork for tacos, and throughout the week into other flavor for bentos

Pork Loin Medallions to make for bentos topped with a tonkatsu sauce or some other sauce that suits my mood

Chicken breast, sliced thin and cooked in a sweet and spicy sauce

and a few other things. See I can’t remember all I cooked, but I can tell you I have to break down a whole chicken and start cooking that.

I tried. Sorry.

The One Where I Screw Up The BBQ Sauce

Some of you may remember where I recently said that I would be posting recipes for wing sauces. I did post some sauces, but wing sauces…well…how can I say this…I screwed up. I didn’t screw up the recipes. Well, I guess I did from my current perspective of making as much as I can without relying on pre-made stuff. Any way, back to the old recipes.

There I was yesterday, sitting in front of this computer, stack of papers next to me. I put the recipes on top and began to type. Then I stopped typing. Then I started reading and pondering, “What had I been thinking?” Then I remembered, back when I wrote most of the wing sauce recipes,

  • I was in love with Frank’s Wing Sauce
  • I was in a situation where cooking was not easy
  • And most of all I had not gotten to where I am today cooking wise

Thus most of the recipes begin like this:

  • 1 cup Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce

That is great if I wanted to give you a Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce. Doesn’t matter what ingredients come next, the base flavor, the foundation if you will, is Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce. If you know what that tastes like and you do if you get “hot” wings just about anywhere.

In fact, allow me to take a brief detour, I get really pissed when I order “hot” wings or “hot” wing sandwich and the wings or chicken is slathered or drowning in Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce. It is tantamount to a culinary crime to serve “hot” wings using Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce. No, I am not opposed to Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce, I love the stuff, but when I go out to eat I don’t want a sauce from a bottle that I can get from the local store. I want YOUR hot wing sauce or your BBQ sauce. Show me your skill and creativity.

Detour over, you can see and understand why I don’t want to print my old recipes. I believe that I can do better or at least something that is mine. I wouldn’t print/pass off a recipe as mine that wasn’t mine and that is how I feel about my old wing sauce recipes, they owe more to Frank than they do to me. Which, brings me around to the whole point.

I am working on my own wing sauce recipes. I already know how to make a couple really good BBQ sauces and a really good teriyaki glaze. With those as my starting points and a lot of cooking knowledge in my head and my fingertips, I should be able to make a whole bunch of sauces that are mine. And that is why you have to wait. For that I apologize, but in the long run this will be better.

 

Swimming in Meals

Swim lessons are almost over for the summer and both children have been promoted to the next level, for next year…which if you read Button Pushing Day may be problematic as we may (most likely) will not be in this area. Ah well, at least they know how to swim and did well enough to get promoted. Living in Michigan with all of the lakes knowing how to swim is as important as how to drive and grocery shop effectively.

The kids fixed the mess that got them grounded and did so without as much fuss as we expected. By day 4 of no television or games they were more than ready to admit that they caused their problems and worked overtime to fix them. In the process of picking up the mess they found some “missing” toys and ended up packing away more than I had, which is bonus.

While they were cleaning, Barb and I were arranging the kitchen for the excess food and I was planning what to do with the food. First step, what to do with the last of the food on hand. A day and several dishes later I can say with confidence that good head of cabbage goes a long way. I bought a head of cabbage a week ago and have made six salads, slaws, and toppings for burgers, brauts, and hot dogs. Absolutely amazing to me.

I had chicken thawed to make, something, and while stocking the freezer found unlabed pork something. Based on the bag could have been pork chops poorly packed or pork butt, curious I let it thaw. The chicken had to get cooked and the pork I did not expect to thaw until the next day. I was wrong on the pork butt, yes pork butt or shoulder. Crap, now I have a lot more to work with.

Ketchup, honey, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, with a squirt of sriracha* makes a quick BBQ sauce. The plan was to make some BBQ chicken for sandwiches or tortilla roll-ups and I did make some of them, but there was a lot more BBQ sauce and a pork butt to deal with. Into the slow cooker went the pork butt on high with some salt, pepper, and chicken stock. The remaining chicken was turned into sweet corn and chicken soup. At the end of the night, we have cabbage and cucumber salad, a slaw, pickled cucumbers and radishes, sweet corn and chicken soup, and a large amount of BBQ pork.

Hopefully I can convince Barb to make some buns and bread to go with the pork. 🙂

* Quick BBQ sauce (adjust any of these ingredients to taste preference)

1 cup ketchup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 squirt or around 1/4 tsp sriracha

Mix together in pot over medium heat, bring to a boil for one minute while stirring. Remove from heat and apply to food or store in airtight container for two weeks.

 

“Everything Tastes Like Chicken”

“This tastes,” our boy’s finger went to his chin as he tried to think of the word, “nothing. This tastes of nothing.”

“Kinda taste like ramen,” our girl says cheerfully.

Last night was “Everything Tastes Like Chicken” dinner. And it was the worst food I have ever served my family in ten-years. And I did it on purpose. The more I learn how to cook and the more I cook the more I have been reducing and removing pre-made food from the kitchen. First was frozen dinners and frozen food. I still have bags of frozen peas and corn for fried rice and some other dishes, but TV dinners and frozen meals in a box are gone. Then came boxed and bagged pre-made things like noodles and stuffing and “just add X meat” things.

I thought all of those things were gone until we found a bag of “chicken flavored” noodles and “chicken flavored” stuffing. What to do? What to do? I know! Make them for the family to see if they notice the difference between home cooked food and “chicken flavored” food. Real chicken was added to the noodles and carrots, not “carrot flavored,” were cooked to have something healthy to eat.

“What is that?” our boy asked pointing at the stuffing.

“Its like turkey day stuffing,” our girl volunteered.

“This tastes like chicken,” Barb said.

Two mouthfuls later.

“No it doesn’t,” from both of them.

It was the worst meal ever and the best lesson on what they could be eating every day verse what they can eat. By the end of the meal they were asking for food from the fridge. It was a delicious lesson, pardon the pun. 🙂

I have already had requests for home made food. Tack that onto a request from our girl to play Rise of the Runelords and things are looking better.

This Is Not The Food You Are Looking For

Taco Meat

Meat Balls (taste like breakfast sausage in ball form-this is what “italian seasoning” from the store taste like)

Chicken for gyros

Chicken in Curry (leftover New Bride Chicken)

Teriyaki Steak Strips

Falafel

Blanched Broccoli

Blanched Cauliflower

Cauliflower with Curry

Curry and Parmesan Cheese Smashed Potatoes

Sesame Seed Bell Peppers

Honey Carrots

Brown Sugar Carrots

Pickled Beets

Pickled Radishes

Pickled Cucumber

Cucumber and Cabbage Salad

Teriyaki Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Rice, Long Grain for those interested

Rice, Jasmine

Cold Udon Noodles

That is a list of the food in the refrigerator, made during a day of bentoing and putting all of the food to use. Good example, a plan of mine was to take chicken thighs (bone in) to make new bride chicken curry and kijiyaki chicken. However, I did two things-one, not look at the size of the pan and thighs; two, “remember” that one child enjoyed the last batch of new bride chicken curry. These two things resulted in me skinning the chicken, because chicken skin in a batch of new bride chicken curry is gross. Skins are necessary for kijiyaki chicken, thus skins removed took that off the menu.

Following along? Recap-chicken thighs with no skin, new bride chicken curry is cooking away and time to add the chicken, except the pan is not big enough. Now I have thighs with no skin and no plan. What do I do with the skinless thighs, because kijiyaki chicken does not work without skins. Crap. Back up plan, toss thighs into crockpot to make soup.

Well now I have a fridge full of bentoing food (is anyone else using bentoing?), a large batch of new bridge chicken curry (because I thought the kids would be eating it…), and a soup in the works. Meanwhile, Barb has chapatti bread, banana bread, and caramel fudge brownies in the works. Did I forget the carrot and raisin raita (yogurt with shredded carrot and raisins)?

Getting the mental image of a lot of food, good food at that? I hope so. The “plan” was to have a bunch of food in the fridge, ready to go, for anyone to eat anytime that they were hungry. How awesome is that?

I thought it was awesome. I still think it is awesome. However…

“But I don’t want any of that.”

“Do we have any hotdogs?”

“Can I have some ramen?”

“Can you get me the bread so I can make a sandwich?”

What more can I say? I can say that one day, years from now, when I am visiting the children they will pay. I will get up in the middle of the night to ask for a glass of water. And do it again. I will sit through dinner prep, get the food in front of me, take a nibble of a nibble, and then I will hold up my thumb like a Roman Senator at the Coliseum and imperiously give the thumbs down while telling how the food was too spicy, sweet, or just now what I wanted. Speaking of which, could they make me a sandwich, fried chicken strips, or a hot dog. Hell to pay!!!!