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. 🙂

500 And 1 Words At A Time: The State of Life

For the first time in five years I feel like I have done right by my family. Don’t get me wrong the whole back to college thing was necessary, but for much of it I felt like my family, specifically the kids, were getting the proverbial shaft. Their interests and well being were placed on-hold so that the two adults in the place could get their shit in gear the way they “should have” years/decades ago.

20160915_162649Our kids did not go outside much for five years. There was no front yard. There was no back yard. There was no safe playground. There was no safe place to play period on campus housing. Now, they have a front yard, a side yard, a front front yard, and a small sliver of back yard. Where I used to tell them “no” when they wanted to go outside for fear of some student fucktard hopping the curb and killing them or some non-paying attention campus employee driving a vehicle (VAN) on sidewalks killing them, now I tell them “Have fun.” And I mean it. Other than some rather large sized gopher holes, the yard is far away from traffic. Plus, from any window in the house I can see them, even if they are at one of the far edges.

20160910_174714The kids are happy. The come home with smiles on their faces. Even if school sucked they know when they get home that they have a room that is more than a glorified closet with paint peeling off the walls. They know they can go outside and enjoy life without fear of some fucktard student. Want some proof of happiness, our daughter is teaching our son how to ride a bike out in the yard as I write this. 🙂

The adults are happier. We have a place where only we have the keys to the doors. We have a place that is being improved weekly by us and the realtor. We have a place where we can relax and enjoy life. Barb has a job that she likes and is wrapping up a craft room where she can work on her multitude of crafts without making a mess in another room. She also has a garage, not for the car although I suspect the car will end up in there, but for her wood working. She has not been this happy in at least 5-years.

20160915_075527Me…I am writing for myself. I am wrapping up setting up this house. I am cooking and grilling. I wake up each day with a few more mosquito bites and a beautiful view out the windows. I spend my day taking care of stuff for me and mine. I write in a space designed by me, surrounded by books. Long before I go to bed I spend time outside watching the sun set, a bat hunt, and the clouds roll on through. No, I do not have a job, but I know there is one on the horizon. Life is good.

After Nap and Storm, We Game and Cook

I woke up early. How early? Roughly three hours after I went to bed. I went to bed very late. It was a great evening. It was not such a great morning.

Wrath of the Righteous is going much better than our previous game. We are still being challenged and there was a close call, but in the end we triumphed and felt pretty good about how we performed. A slight mistake with the Knights of Kenebres card, we choose Wisdom as our first medal, thinking that we should focus on a weakness of the group. The mistake, the die bonus only applied to barriers with the army trait and none of us had any Wisdom centered checks to use to defeat the Undead Army. On the upside, in a few more scenarios we will all get a nice bump to our Wisdom. At that point it will have been a good choice.

Waking up early, gave me time to think about food. Lots of food. So much thinking about food that I went out to the grocery store while everyone was asleep to get a big roast and some wings. No, they don’t really have anything to do with each other than, I want to grill them. By the middle of the day, my list of things to cook included:

steak, roast, wings, jalapeno poppers, fried garlic, crab rangoon, and so on…

I did get the steak and roast marinating before the storm rolled through. Weatherdude indicated today was supposed to be all storms. Not that far off, the rain only recently stopped, bringing blue skies. The blue skies are unexpected and welcome, because at the height of the storm the rain was sideways and dreams of grilling were being washed away.

To cope with my dreams being washed away and the fact I had been up for a long time with no sleep, I took a nap. Nap successful, blue skies in sight, we set up for more Wrath of the Righteous. Yes, that step seems backwards given marinating steak and blue skies, but honestly I and others wanted to get back to gaming as soon as possible. As possible includes eating. Eating means I need to get cooking.

Enjoy your weekend, I know we are. 🙂

 

I Can’t Taste It At All And I Like It

My hands are covered in charcoal, not ink today. I woke up with a list of things I wanted to cook for a Mexican feast. I also woke up with a sinus ick. And I woke up with little desire to write today. Last night, after posting I worked hard gathering together all of the writing I want to work on and work into something a bit more. This explains why today, my head is full of ideas, but not full of energy to write.

Into the kitchen I went. Marinating is fun, I don’t have to do anything other than put some ingredients in a bag or bowl with meat and every now and again flip. Meat that has been marinated on one side only, due to lazy flipper, is half-as-tasty as flipped marinated meat. I’m sure there is a sex joke, innuendo, or advice in that somewhere I just can’t put it together.

Steak, big thick chunk marinating soy, I was going to do garlic and soy and a bit of ponzu, but the meat was looking more like it needed moisture, thus soy only. I will dry rub the shit out o it before putting it on the grill. Now there I am sure is a sex innuendo. 🙂 Chicken on the other hand is getting nothing but salt and pepper before grill time. I have a double batch of tortilla soup slow cooking away, so the chicken is for later.

Because I spent a dollar on a flimsy aluminum tray-pan thing, I want to try it on the grill. I expect it will burn up, but before that happens I am hoping the mess of bell peppers, onion, and garlic cook up well enough to pass as fajita topping. I have hope. I also have hope that I can take a mess of jalapenos, into something equally fun on the grill. I’ m glad the lady at the market gave me extra, she likes to top off containers and she did not know I am the only person in the house who will eat jalapenos. Oh well, time to experiment and I seem to recall something about throwing jalapenos on a fire.

Speaking of experimentation, Barb figured out how to cook corn on the cob on the grill. No, not a great discovery, but given we have owned a grill for all of three weeks, this was pretty cool to us. So where is the experimentation? I am going to try to make some flavored corn, now our boy swears that his cinnamon and sugar corn on the cob was great, “I can’t taste it at all and I like it.” I believe that is an exact quote. I think I will go with some different spices.

While working on meat, setting up for fire, making tortilla soup, I tried my hand at making a non-spicy salsa. Seems all I had to do was chop up everything I normally dice and chop up-onion, tomato (normally roma, but my grandparents gave me some non-roma tomatoes), cilantro, and garlic.

I could go on, but I have to get cooking before it gets dark. Cooking meat in the dark, not so much fun.

Teachable Fireball Interruption

hanks2Last night was starting a fire. This, much like peeing in a bottle in a moving vehicle, is a skill that requires practice from time to time. Okay, maybe the peeing in a bottle or cup is a guy thing, but I am sure there are plenty of things you do rarely that turn out to be skills. Trust me on the pee thing, practice that and if you are the father of boys, teach them how to do that early on. Nothing like a golden shower and screaming in a moving vehicle; ah memories.

Back to the fire. Up until last night, Barb had been making the fire and up until the night before the night before last night, she had been creating fireballs. Honestly, the flashes of light didn’t register with me until she came in and announced that letting the charcoal sit for a few minutes after applying lighter fluid did not create the fireball. So there I was outside embracing my inner cave person or pyromaniac, creating fire. No fireball, just a tower of flame that slowly collapsed into a great cooking fire.

Onto the grill, burgers and brauts. Which quickly forced me to remember all of the lessons about food and fire, mostly, shit leaks and leaks lead to flare ups and flare ups lead to char or burn or crispy or…I think you get the image of me rapidly rearranging food over my most awesome fire trying to keep everything from burning to a crisp or burst the casing spilling sausage everywhere. I would love to tell you I was successful.

I was successful!

See, I loved to do that. Being successful as a cook is measured by more than keeping everything from burning. It is measured by how much people enjoyed the food…although, after last night not burning the food to a crisp should be part of that equation, “Oh you didn’t like the food, did you notice I did not burn the food to a crisp? I feel that should count towards your enjoyment. Don’t you?”

Maybe owning a restaurant, which is not a dream of mine thank you Mr. Bourdain, is not in the cards for me because at times I do not take criticism as well as I could or should or maybe they should keep their thoughts about my food to themselves. Damnit!

That’s right, the food was great. The picker eaters of the family, read children, devoured burgers and brauts without complaint.

Sorry about the sudden break…seems a writer is never respected while writing. I love that, anyone else doing just about anything is doing something, but a writer, writing with headphones is worthy of interruption, do they realize how difficult writing is? No. Of course not, much like singing competitions on TV, anyone can open their pie hole and make noise, thus they must be a singer, everyone has to write something, thus everyone is a writer and because of that interrupting a writer is something you must do, just like jam on the button for the elevator or doorbell or bitch about the burned food.

Rivet Wars Wok

Rivet 7The Allied march continues on, although opposition has gotten tougher. Another day of unpacking and playing Rivet Wars. And, the first Woking. Not bad for another day of moving and settling in. There was a brief setback when I discovered that the kids had not unpacked as asked, but instead had “unpacked” the toys they wanted to play with and dump the rest around the room. Think, giant box of Cracker Jacks, where the Cracker Jacks are Legos and the toy prize is whatever the kids thought was cool or fun. Suffice to say, time was spent unpacking for them.

Rivet 1I promised the kids more games of Rivet Wars, so they could get “revenge” on me for winning. This time instead of working as a “team” they decided to play me one at a time using the same scenario. Whoops of joy from them when they learned they were getting 6 deployment points and a rivet a turn (a rivet is a special resource used to purchase heroes and larger units, like tanks). The last game they had six deployment points and a rivet, they as a “team” attempted to overwhelm me with Dragoons (mono-wheel things) and infantry until they could deploy their tank and forgot to play for the objectives.

Rivet 3This time our boy played for one objective and played well for it, but that left the other two mostly unopposed which netted me the win. I cannot take complete credit for the win as this was our first game with secret mission cards. Secret Mission cards are a way to score victory points by completing tasks during the game. The net effect, to make an already quick game quicker. Half of my victory points came from secret mission cards. End score 3 to 10.

Rivet 4Our girl had a plan and if not for a few lucky rolls might have done a lot better. She flooded one half of the board with infantry and followed that up with a blitz of mono-wheel Dragoons. Caught me off guard as I deployed to take as many objectives as I could. This worked out for me in the end, but for a few turns it was touch and go. I had to abandon one-third of the map to her tank (yes, every game both of them save up to drop a tank), Dragoons, and masses of infantry. End score 7 to 10.

Rivet 6Two games down, back to work unpacking and organizing. Laundry is coming along…although if you listen to Barb, laundry will never get done unless we all stop wearing clothes for a week. While I do not have a problem with this, other people might.

Drum roll please….and I wokked last night and it felt great. Read that how you want. Cut up some chicken, bell pepper, and onion into the wok. Add some hoisin, soy, sugar, Sichuan peppercorns and first wok meal in at least a few years. Did I mention how much fun I had tossing ingredients around in the wok? No, I did. Years of cooking Chinese in a pan pay off in a wok big time. Quick mix, quicker cook, equals delicious.

I’m So Excited!!!!

The kitchen is open for food.

Boxtopolis continues to fall.

And is there such a thing as a fancy bar?

These questions and many more will or may get addressed in today’s issue of Adventures In Unpacking.

My kitchen is at a state where I can begin to cook regularly. I cannot express how excited and happy this has made me. I could, but I would have to use vulgarity and I am not that guy…oh who am I kidding, I had a full-on Kitchen Works Chubby once the last plate was stacked. Is everything where I want it, not yet but I know where my cooking equipment is, I know where my ingredients are, and best of all I found my spice racks.

Already I am planning the first series of meals. After the obligatory rice will be a dish of cold noodles. Then I want to…oh my I forgot to mention this, my wok. I found my wok, five years in storage because the stove at the college did not work with my wok. This stove, WOKABLE! Wok Chubby!!!! So after the rice and cold noodles, practice my woking skills. I am so excited.

Obviously, Boxtopolis continues be taken down. The kitchen alone was 12 boxes and that does not include the 3 boxes of cookbooks. Next up would be games, but I unpacked many of them first in the hope of gaming this weekend, even thought I only had a place for 5 of them. Which five, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Krosmaster Arena and Quest, Star Wars Rebellion, Rivet Wars, and Munchkin, of course. 🙂 With the kitchen table assembled we have a place to eat and game.

In a few moments I will start unpacking books and putting them on shelves. This will clear space for me to start working. Remember back when I graduated and had goals? Yeah, I don’t remember that time either. Yet, I am told I had goals as such, once the books are on shelves there will be space enough for me to put in a desk and start…what is it I do again?

Writing?

Are you sure?

Why that degree does include the word write. Hmmm…I will have to take your word.

Food, Games, and some life. Sounds like things are heading towards center again. As part of that process, it took two days of sweltering muggy heat to figure out how to cool this place out. When hot and muggy apply fans is usually the answer, but that made things worse. Today, I turned the fans around, so that they sucked the air out, after I woke up from passing out from holding my breath (I didn’t want to assfixIate), I immediately noticed home is much cooler. Ahhhh.

Lastly, a friend of ours has been invited to go to a fancy bar while on vacation. The friend has no idea what a fancy bar is. I tried to explain that fancy bar was code for either place with boobs and wings or wings and banana hammocks. Our friend insists that the person who invited them to the fancy bar would not go to a place with wings. So I ask, is there such a thing as a fancy bar? Lets ask The Todd from Scrubs.