Red Beans And Rice Monday

I know today is Wednesday, that being said, I made red beans and rice on Monday. My first time. Not so long ago we stopped at Popeye’s Chicken, again a first. There Barb and I had red beans and rice, again a first. We loved the dish. Me, being the cook, said, “Why not make this at home?” Several recipe searches later the cooking is on.

First up, what is pickled pork? Turns out chunks of pork shoulder in a brine. That didn’t seem to hard, except being in a rush (for no reason other than I wanted to make red beans and rice) I discovered our local stores had no pickled pork and based on the looks no clue what it was either. Thus, I learned how to pickle pork. Took 3 days of brining.

Next, smoked ham hock. I live around farms, lots of farms. You would think I should be able to find all sorts of meats. Except there is no butcher in town. Just the people claiming to be “butchers” behind the meat counters. The kids no nothing and my knife skills are better. There is a woman, however, who knows her stuff. She and I spend a few minutes talking shop every time I see her, she doesn’t work as much as I would like. Thankfully, she was there, knew what I wanted, knew where it was, and knew what I needed to do with it. Awesome.

Next up, red beans. Easy enough, on the shelf. However the package says soak for X hours, recipe one says X hours, and recipe two says X hours, and if you guessed all of the X hours were different you would be right. I didn’t really choose, I accidently left them soaking overnight. I have no defense, I put them in a lot of water and forgot about them because actual cooking was the next day.

Lastly, cooking. I woke up early because according to Emeril’s recipe, 3 1/2 hours of cooking. Right off the bat a conundrum, do I blanche the pickled pork for 5 minutes per Emeril or do I rinse for 3 minute per the pickled pork recipe. I chose rinse, mostly because I…fine I was feeling lazy. At the moment, because the dish is still cooking, I have no idea what will happen.

Another conundrum, I cannot tell how much space things take until I get to this point…I need to add six more cups of stock and the pot is full…crap! What to do? Rush out to the store to purchase a new stock pot. Yep, while what I could fit into the post was cooking I ran to the store to get a bigger pot. Better yet, expecting to spend a bunch of money, the pots were on sale. Must be a sign, today (two days ago for you readers) is the day to cook red beans and rice. 🙂

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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.

Mother’s Day Rant

I guess I should start with Happy Mother’s Day.

I am not a fan of holiday’s like Mother’s Day, not because in theory I am a Father and have to wait for Father’s Day, but it seems hollow to me to have to have one day to remind people to do something nice for their Mother. Then, again I am not really one to speak. Shrug.

The kids are watching My Little Pony, some sort of marathon before something. What that something is I have no clue and I don’t think they do either. If the sun was behind clouds, rain, thunder and lightning, or any of one hundred other reasons why they couldn’t go outside I would be fine with them spending the day in front of the TV. I want them to go outside and play. However, after taking a Frisbee to the mouth yesterday, I can understand why our girl wants to My Little Pony and chill.

Barb is at work. I think that is my issue with holiday’s like Mother’s Day, if the day really is to celebrate/honor/acknowledge (although acknowledge is pretty low on the list of honorifics; “Hey, you’re a mother”) then why not have the day off? Make holidays like Mother’s Day a specific Sunday in a month, make sure to have tons of commercials (not that we watch TV anymore, I assume there are commercials) of people visiting their mother for a family dinner. Shitcan the cards, flowers, and stupid shit, go full bore holiday, like Thanksgiving. Images of families gathered around generations of mothers celebrating that they took the time to give birth to them and raise them to the best of their abilities given their circumstances.

That right there! The difference between platitude and honest celebration. Mother’s Day and holidays like them are platitudes a literal “Oh shit we should say something nice to our mom’s” by some politician somewhere. Maybe there was an honest intention behind the idea, but now…what do we have? Cards, flowers, chocolates, and kids making gifts at school. Maybe if the mother is lucky, dinner with immediate family.

WHAT THE FUCK!

Keep in mind that I am not close to my family. I’m not. I admit it. But I can acknowledge this situation because I can see it from a different perspective than I had before, as a parent.

Let me put it this way, if Mother’s Day was the holiday it SHOULD be I would not have had to force my children to do nice things for Barb. Now the nice things were cleaning related (thus the resistance), but still if Mother’s Day was promoted the way I envision the children would be properly indoctrinated via school, TV, and society that one this one day a year they do for their mother without question without hesitation and with all of the love I know they have for her. We as a family spend the day doing for her in the same way we do for Thanksgiving…I’m not talking stuff, cook, carve, and eat her (although…there is some innuendo in that)…but…take for example Thanksgiving; for weeks before Thanksgiving the message is

FAMILY

FOOD

BLACK FRIDAY SALES

SHOPPING

MORE SHOPPING

BE THANKFUL

SHOP SOME MORE BECAUSE THE NATION’S RETAILERS NEED YOUR MONEY

In spite of the nauseating plea by retailers, the message of family gathering to give thanks to a reasonably stupid bird has maintained both in practice and imagery. So with that in mind why can’t the same thing be done for Mother’s Day and holidays like that?

Two weeks before the day, get the commercials rolling of family gathered around mom over a home cooked meal, not a turkey or ham because they are spoken for holiday wise. Jack up the emotional appeal with images of soldiers returning home in time to celebrate time with mom and a home cooked meal (NOT cooked by mom unless everyone else in the house is unable to cook and that is another post altogether-someone other than mom learn to cook!). Food TV could do endless specials about cooking special meals for mom. Retailers could go NUTS with more than cards and flowers, full on Mother’s Day specials nationwide. Barb would rather have yarn or a power tool than a card for damn sure.

Black and Decker is proud to announce our 4th annual Mother’s Day Tool Time Special. Buy the woman who gave you birth and raised you the best in powered tools. (images of chainsaws ripping cards apart, arc welders melting chocolate, and a final image of a gigantic metallic flower arrangement made with…you guessed it Black and Decker power tools. I’m feeling the love are you?)

And to top it all off, because we are a money grubbing retail sale oriented society have an AFTER Mother’s Day (insert some color associated with moms or assign one) SALE!

This is the kind of stuff I’d do if I was President…I mean in addition to ruling the world. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day.

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. 🙂