Monday, November 27, 2006

on being dumb

i'm buying a couple of things from chef's catalog, the nonstick oven liner in particular. the disclaimer on the bottom of the page reads this:

If the oven liner is misused it may cause the death of pet birds.

it took me a few seconds before i realized that people must use these to line their bird cages. for a moment i thought that people were caging their animals in the oven. i thought, Why are people stupid?


on thanksgiving

Last week I only worked two days, and had the rest of the week off. Which was fine, because I had a lot of cooking to do. On Wednesday, I woke up and began making my cranberry sauce. Last year I found a recipe for a savory cranberry sauce, so I decided to try it; and I’ve since decided that it will be part of our usual Thanksgiving menu. Usually I make it with orange juice and segments, but found a recipe that calls for roasted shallots and cooking the cranberries in a mixture of brown sugar, red wine and port. It’s really delicious. So I woke up early Wednesday and reached into the cupboard on the left side of the stove for a roasting pan. My knee went one way, my foot the other and damn, if that wasn't terrible pain. I have no idea what happened, but my knee seems to be screwed up. I put a knee brace on (the boy always has a few in the house since he has a recurring knee problem and is actually going to have an operation in a few weeks). I’ve been kind of limping around since, although today I feel better. My knee still throbs a bit, but not as much as it did on that first day.

Our usual Thanksgiving tradition is to wake up, make coffee, add booze to coffee (complete with whipped cream), and sit in our pajamas in front of the TV watching the Macy Day parade. This year, I was half asleep at 8 am contemplating getting up when I heard a POP and a loud fading whirrrr. And just like that, our power went out! I immediately jumped out of bed to look out the window to see if our electric company was out front shutting us off (for a moment I couldn’t remember if I’d paid the bill or not), and then it occurred to me that the whole neighborhood was out. Damn! And I had planned on making crème brulée and start proofing the bread rolls in the morning. So the boys woke up (j came over late Wednesday and stayed the night) and we went to Waffle House to contemplate our next move. We had planned for the turkey to go in the oven around noon, but what if the power wasn’t on by then? By the time our food arrived, the place filled up, and turns out all the patrons around us all lived in our neighborhood and had come to Waffle House because there was no other place to go for hot coffee and warm breakfast. We got some coffees to go, and when we got home, I doctored them up with some Frangelico and Baileys. By then, the boys decided to take naps because there was nothing better to do. I made a fire in the fireplace and sat in front of it to read cookbooks. At some point, I started thinking. It could have been worse; what if we didn’t have a nice house, or fireplace, or Waffle House nearby? If worse comes to worse, we could always make Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. I shrugged my shoulders. I thought, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. What’s a little power outage? And BANG just at that moment, the power came back on. I hollered at the boys to wake up, and then we all rushed into the kitchen to begin cooking. I thought it was kind of funny that I had just been telling myself that things weren’t so bad and could be infinitely worse, and at that precise moment, the power came back on. Someone up there was watching.

The rest of the weekend was leisurly; i watched the James Bond marathon. i did run a few errands here and there, but i mainly watched Bond and tried to stay off my bad knee.

Monday, November 20, 2006

on public idiocy (no, not mine for once)

friday's traffic on the way home was pure hell. it took me 3 times as long to get from work to the GA 400 onramp, then another 3 times as long to get from our exit to the publix near our house. i had a bunch of errands to run and last minute items to buy so that i could make patty's croquembouche for her birthday.

overheard while staring at the back of a label of blue cheese-stuffed olives:

lady: "Hey! You! Where can i find cranberries?"
grocery clerk: "They're in the produce aisle next to the oranges".
lady, exasperated: "NO, i don't want the REAL ones, i want the FAKE ones in a can".

am i the only one that finds this funny? FAKE ONES IN A CAN! hyuck hyuck.

i went home and had a briny vodka martini with blue cheese-stuffed olives, which turned out to be pretty gross. mental note: next time, stuff the olives myself.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So. um. it's cold here.

30 degrees F.

I don't remember Atlanta being this cold when i lived here before. i spent 5 mn scraping ice off my windshield this morning, and another 5 sitting in the car waiting for it to thaw before heading out. both cars are in the driveway since the garage is full of boxes, and we only have one garage door opener (mental note to find out if i can order another this week), otherwise i would totally park in the garage and be rid of morning car issues altogether..

i spent the entire day yesterday cooking. i made lunch food for the week: an enormous pot of lentils and enough falafel to feed a small village. for dinner last night, i decided to try a different version of roast chicken, and i don't know why i bothered. i have mastered roast chicken; i do not need to make alternate variations of it. i decided to modify a roast turkey recipe, and spent a good deal of time screwing around with shallot and garlic paste only to have the whole dish suck in the end. oh well, you live and learn. i wasnt heart-broken over it; just stashed it away in my What Not To Make Again list. i did make a nice gratin dauphinoise though. can't go wrong with a boatload of heavy cream and potatoes (i just wanted an excuse to use the mandoline).

Friday, November 10, 2006

on being big and gay

i look forward to thanksgiving each year like the comin' of the messiah. okay i exaggerate a bit, but you know. it's a holiday that revolves around FOOD. and other stuff, but you know. Food. not processed crap food, but food made with really fresh ingredients (except those french fried onions, if you use them :) ) and food made love.

this year the boy and i will probably be alone, which is a first for us in a really long time. we usually host a small gathering. we've invited the mcgrady's to come, and they're all for it; but they don't think that either of their cars can make it from maryland. if anyone happens to be in atlanta and is bored and needs a nice, warm, and rather nutty environment to hang out in that day, please swing on by. as usual, we'll have enough food for an army because we love to cook, and we love leftovers even more.

the boy and i have traditions; and if you don't have traditions of your own, i urge you to start some. they're a whole lot of fun and give you something to look forward to for the next year. one of our biggest and gayest traditions is to wake up on thanksgiving morning and drink Nutty Irishmen* and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while still in our pajamas. the parade is kind of gay, but seeing how the boy and i are kind of evil, we like to watch the Broadway skits that they pepper the parade coverage with on television; not because we are theater-going kind of folk but because it's usually colder than hell in new york that day and those actors are freezing their butts off and we think that's kind of funny. i told you we were evil.

another tradition we started last year is to make creme brulee french toast for breakfast. the thing about creme brulee french toast is that it's so decadent that you really can only eat it once or twice a year. last year we had it for christmas breakfast, and this year the boy says that he also wants it for thanksgiving morning. since we don't sit down for the feast until mid-afternoon, we don't mind a little custard-soaked challah and boozy coffee to start our day with.

i love traditions and am always looking for new ones to begin. my best friend in high school, dawn polk, had a really funny tradition for christmas eve. she had 6 sisters and brothers, and every christmas eve that she could ever remember, the kids all went to McDonald's and their parents stayed home and had shrimp cocktail. patty's family goes to Red Lobster every christmas eve. i think this is pretty great.

i'll end this blurb with something i read in the wine newsletter i subscribe to.

Thanksgiving is the one holiday that has similar meaning and style of
celebration no matter what ethnicity. We all pretty much do the same thing.
And statistically, the number one dish most likely to be served? If you said
turkey you're wrong. How about green-bean casserole.

What sort of wines go with green-bean casserole, volcanos of gravy, cranberry
brick, lime chiffon marshmellow mold, and sweet potato scuffle? Actually, none.

Thanksgiving is for lots of things, but if you open fine wines, make sure it is
during the appetizer. But no matter what you open, the most important thing is
who you are with that day.

* Nutty Irishmen: usually one part Frangelico, one part Bailey's Irish Creme, coffee. Top it off with fresh whipped cream, although if you have a canister of it in the door of your fridge that you've been saving to do whippets with, i'll allow you to use that too.