Musings

Can’t Even Think of a Post Title

*Warning:  This post may roam from topic to topic with no regard for wrapping one up before drifting to the next.  Do not expect closure or conclusions.  Or logic.  Or dessert.

Ooh, look!  A bunny!

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See?  Baby bunny!  Right in our front yard!

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I had weird dreams last night and I’m sleepy today, though I think some of that sleepiness is also because of the days and days of drizzle and rain and cold.

Now, I like cold, drizzly, rainy days.  I love to curl up with a book and a cup of coffee or tea and just read and listen to the pattering of raindrops on the roof and revel in my cocoon.

But it’s been days.  Days and days.  We had a little bit of a break Friday night, which was good, because that night we had a bunch of people over here for a feast (yes, feast) of various Asian (mostly Thai) dishes that Bill and I prepared.

You know, not to toot our collective horn, but Bill and I do a fabulous job with meals like that.  Here’s what we made.  Some of the dishes have appeared on this blog in one form or another, and some haven’t.  I’ve linked to the recipes where possible, and those things that don’t have links – those are things I need to make again so I can take pictures and share those recipes with you, too.

Anyway…we figured out the menu a week or two ago, and ended up leaving out a couple of things in the end (we were going to make Soft Shell Crab Rolls, but then we decided that because of time constraints the day of the dinner, Bill would just pick some up at the sushi place near work.  We decided we didn’t have to prove anything by making them – we know we can do a lovely job of it – so if it would save us some time and labor, we’d just buy them.  And then in the end, Bill nixed that idea, too, because we already had a ton of food in the works and didn’t really need them.  We were also going to serve fresh mango, but couldn’t find any that were the right ripeness.) 

Here’s what we did make, in order of appearance that night (we just served it all buffet style, in stages.  It was sort of fun that way.  Cook a little, eat a little, hang out a little…repeat.):

Crispy Seaweed (It’s not really seaweed – it’s kale, cut into strips and deep fried, then tossed with a mixture of sugar and salt.  It looks kind of like seaweed.  Very easy to do.  The kids liked it once they tried it.)

Green Papaya Salad.  This is one of Bill’s favorites.  Think very spicy slaw.  No mayo.  Lots of fresh, bright flavors, some heat from red chili peppers, lots of cool crunch from the shredded green papaya.  A great balance to some of the heavier items on the menu.

Thai Meatballs with Red Curry/Peanut/Coconut Milk Dipping Sauce.  (I have to make these again soon and share them with you.  Basically, it’s regular ol’ little meatballs with the addition of some red curry paste, lemon grass, garlic, shallot…they’re kind of spicy but not over the top.  The flavor is bright, complex, and addictive.  The dipping sauce is the perfect complement – made with more red curry paste, peanut butter, coconut milk, and I forget what else, it, too, is addictive.)

Gai Yang (This is a marinated, grilled chicken dish served with a hot/sweet dipping sauce (yeah, we’re into the dipping sauces here) that includes sugar, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.  Traditionally the chicken is bone-in and cut across the bones in small pieces.  For the party, I boned some chicken thighs and marinated those, then Bill grilled them and I cut them into bite-sized pieces and served on a platter with the bowl of dipping sauce in the middle.

Shrimp and Avocado with Wasabi.  (Sorry – no picture – I posted that back before I took pictures of food)  (We used to make this a LOT.  Haven’t made it in a long time and once we did, we were whisked back to our first little home with the tiny carpeted (yes, can you imagine?) kitchen and the weird, bumpy yellow countertops.  We learned a lot of Japanese and Thai recipes while there.  And this was an instant favorite.)

Chive and Chive Blossom Pancakes with Ginger Dipping Sauce.  (If you click on that link to my post, you’ll see that it’s titled “Scallion and Red Onion Pancakes.”  Feel free to use whatever you want.  We had lots of chives AND chive blossoms – I thought the green chives and the purple florets from the blossoms would be really pretty.  And tasty.  And yes, they were.  Tasty, pretty, and gone soon.)

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Red Pork Curry  And white rice.  Oh, yum.  So many flavors…so little time.  It’s not for everyone – bamboo shoots have a kind of funky taste…and the red curry it pretty hot (or can be – depends on the peppers you use and how much of the curry paste you use in the recipe)…but the coconut milk wraps everything together in a slightly sweet creamy embrace, and it’s just….yum.  Not everyone liked it, but that’s fine by me.  Leftovers!

Pad Thai.  Why haven’t I done a post on this?  Well, probably because Bill is always the one who makes it.  Simple as that.  But I’ll have to have him make it again soon so I can give you the play-by-play.  See, you make this in a wok; first all the flavor components and then the meats or tofu or whatever you’re adding…and kind of at the end, you toss everything together with rice noodles that have been mostly – but not completely – rehydrated in a bowl of warm water.  Now, Bill would make this in our old wok – one that had been my mother’s and she gave it to us years ago because she wasn’t using it any more.  We’ve used it – and still do – often.  But.  Things get crowded in there, frankly.  Especially for dishes like pad thai, where you add the noodles to all the other stuff you’ve been cooking.  Not too long ago, Bill bought another wok.

He calls it Wokzilla:

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It’s something like 24 inches in diameter.  Yeah, two FEET in diameter.  It’s HUGE.

For comparison purposes, here’s the other wok:

(of course, I’m looking through my blog for a picture and can I find one?  No, of course not.)

Okay, finally – sort of.  You can see the smaller wok on the left front burner on the stove.  See how the large knife block is there on the counter next to it?  Now scroll back up and look again – big knife block isn’t there.  Why?  Not enough room for it.  Yeah.  That new wok is BIG.

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Now, there’s one funny story (well, probably more, but this is the one I’m thinking of now) about all this.  See, we did lots of the prep work during the few days before the actual dinner.  Things like making the red curry paste…cooking the red pork curry…annnnnnd…making “The Best Eggplant Dish Ever.”  No, we didn’t name it – that’s the name of the recipe.  And it’s really, really good, too.  Bill made that as well.  And then we never remembered to serve it.  Which is probably just as well.  By the time we served the red curry pork and the pad thai, people were pretty full. 

Anyway – yay, another successful dinner.

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I had a weird dream last night.  As usual, I don’t remember all of it, but here’s what I do remember. 

I was (apparently) in a class of some kind, and we had a project assigned that was about (near as I can guess) how much food we waste (or don’t) in our house.  (This was probably triggered by some article I read online about how much food families waste and ways to change that.)  So in the dream I had arranged the contents of our kitchen garbage can on the floor (???) and I took pictures – first, one of everything, then I think I removed foods that we typically compost and took a new picture of what was left.  Then I removed other stuff that (apparently) we do something else with and took a picture…I’m figuring the garbage on the floor was meant to represent typical family kitchen garbage…and then I was removing the components that we DON’T throw away – that we compost or reuse or recycle or whatever.  In the dream I had a stack of photos 2” thick. 

New scene – I’m at school – it looked vaguely like my home room in 6th grade, now that I think about it – and the other “students” are some of the other moms of my daughter’s (real) classmates.  Weird.  And – I felt that horrible tightening in my stomach because I hadn’t finished my project.  The other moms had poster board displays that looked all square-edged and organized.  I had a 2” stack of slightly blurry and poorly lit pictures of garbage on my kitchen floor.

And inside I knew (in the dream) that my project would have been GREAT – but I’d waited til the last minute (I assume) and didn’t get it done.

Now, I did that a lot, but I never DIDN’T get it done.  Lots of sliding into home in the past.  But I was always safe.

Not in this dream.

Not sure what it all means, other than it’s a good idea to plan ahead, pace yourself, and get your work done on time so you’re not stuck in your 6th grade classroom with the mothers of your 6-year-old (now 7!) daughter’s friends, with nothing to show for yourself but poor photography skills.

Let that be a lesson to you all.

There was another bit of dream after that, but I can’t remember it any more.  If that changes, I’ll certainly let you know.

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Speaking of huge cooking vessels…here’s what I got for Mother’s Day:

Well, here’s a hint, first.

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Any guesses?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to guess.  Here’s another look at the box:

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And that’s enough teasing and torture.  Here it is – my new toy:

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Woo hoo!!!  It’s a 21 1/5 quart pressure canner!!!  So now I can not only make jams and jellies and stuff like that using the hot water bath method, NOW, I can can stocks and lots more vegetables and soups and who knows what!  Yay!!

Very exciting.  To me, at least.

The first thing I’ll probably can will be chicken stock.  I’m saving parts and pieces of chicken carcasses in the freezer until I have enough to make a bunch of stock.  And then – pressure canner time.

I remember my mom had a pressure cooker when I was a kid.  I was kind of afraid of it.  The noise of the little pressure valve thing on top…the fear that it would get louder and louder and eventually (maybe) explode…I pretty much stayed out of the kitchen when she used it.

But I’m not planning to cook food in this – just to can things.  Stray cats…pesky squirrels…oh, the possibilities are endless.  (Just kidding about the cats and squirrels.)

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That broom I mentioned recently?  It works great! 

Just thought you’d like to know.

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Here’s a picture of the first strawberry I mentioned in yesterday’s post:

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Bill picked it. 

Later today, when everyone’s home, we’ll cut it into quarters and each have a piece. 

It’s how we roll.

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And that’s probably enough of my rambling for now.

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