Perception vs reality

We took a quick trip to Florida for a friend’s birthday. I booked a hotel that looked nice on their website and was 5 minutes away from the party site so…cool

Looks all real groovy and tropicale and everything
At least the rooms were nice. The pool was, well, let’s say I’ve had warmer frozen margaritas

Again with the tarts

I had the dough. And company coming, I made tarts, well, tartlets to be more precise. Nectarine tartlets. On the whole they were fine even if the pastry was too thick and the nectarines were less than fully summer-flavorful. I drizzled it with some ho-made (not by me) raspberry jam. As I have said before, you can hide a lot under ice cream. And you’re good if no one complains.

Easter pie

My family has mostly shed the traditional meals of the holidays years and years ago. We do have turkey at Thanksgiving but at Christmas we have an assortment of lasagnas for every taste and food issue. It’s about coming together with family and friends and eating something special. For Easter this year I made chicken pot pie. I mean, you just cannot lose with this amazing dish and the end of meals like this is coming soon. This is a winter dish, soon it’s going to be all cucumbers, tomatoes and grilled things.

Yes Carol, I made the pastry crust (easy as pie, as it were). And the chicken thigh filling and unlike most times when I send all the leftovers home with people, I kept some for myself. And that’s as big a compliment as I’ll ever give myself.

Imagine my surprise

While waltzing through a friend’s cabinets looking for oh, I dunno, salt, I ran into this horrifying item. You think you know someone and then bang, you’re back to square one and need to reconsider either your sanity or theirs while you’re wondering at the same time if that envelope of potential gravy might not be delicious after all.

Caution thrown to the wind

Without thinking (pretty much how I conduct my affairs) I bought some pork chops. This is stepping pretty far out of my comfort zone. I like to make things that can cook for 3 hours or possibly as much as 6 and be good no matter the length of time it’s been simmering/braising/roasting, and served preferably on a starch, say, pasta, potatoes, on a bun or as a last resort rice.

Pork chops are another matter altogether. They are more in the steak realm of anxiety provoking cooking-attendance. I rarely make them because they need constant supervision and can go over to the dark side in a matter of a few minutes. And while I personally may be fussy, I don’t like to cook foods that are fussy. I took the precaution of brining these although that’s not something I think is usually necessary. But in this case it will reduce the chances of serving guests something that has more in common with shoes than food.

These were perfect and didn’t require nearly as much fussinizing as I’d imagined. I guess with a pork chop there’s not really the many distinctions that steaks have. Rare, Bloody, Medium Rare, On the Rare Side of Medium Rare (my own personal dictum), and we won’t even discuss Well Done. Who would do that to a steak??

Super Bowl food sorta

First off, yes, Super Bowl. I mean, you don’t have to exactly cheer for a team, you can just watch and hope that the team that beat the Packers dies a slow and painful death or you can just watch for the super-hot quarterback, the commercials and the half-time show. I really go because my high school friends have been getting together like this for decades. And really, any excuse to cook something is reason enough for me to get involved. I’ll make something incredibly complex just because someone is celebrating having a wart removed.

These are Jamaican hand pies, called patties in Jamaica, and I have a very clear memory of the first time I ate one on the beach in Montego Bay from a woman walking up and down the beach selling them. What I don’t recall is having any qualms about eating something from an unknown person who may or may not have made these meat-filled pastries 6 weeks ago. I ate that and many other weird things and lived without incident.

I made these too small. They were cute (and delicious) but jeez the razzmatazz to make them. I could have made them twice as big and they’d have been better, more meat, less pastry and half the labor.

I made a cilantro chutney as a dipping sauce at the urging of he-who-will-be-obeyed. It was excellent. And I used the not-quite-to-size limes off my very own tree which is thriving in my greenhouse. Thank you Carol.

Generally speaking, though, I think of Super Bowl food as more along the lines of an open bag Cheetos with a jar Totinos cheese sauce hottened in the micro and dumped into it. These were hugely fussy. But no one had to know that.

Canning Tomatoes: The Movie

Just when you thought it was all over and you wouldn’t have to read about it anymore…another batch of tomatoes. I’d run out of jars but Carol came through with a boatload of them and I was able to put away another couple of quarts. I had a hard time not drinking it all. 

So now I’m set for my fall and winter tomato sauce meals. I can hardly wait.

The Intrepid Traveler

My friend Carol returned from a trip to Georgia. That’s on the list of states I’d least like to visit so I knew I had to throw her an extra special Welcome Home party. Risking your life to go to that miserable part of the country deserves…wait, what?

Georgia near Russia? A country named Georgia? Really?  Oh, my bad.

I guess she went to a country named Georgia. Who knew?

Anyway, I made her ribs on the grill. I should have made potatoes on the grill too because these stuck to the goddam non-stick pan. არა ჯოხი, ჩემი ass. (non-stick my ass in Georgians apparently the Georgians do not have a word for ass.)

Buffalo wings, sorta

You’re supposed to deep fry them but I baked these instead. 475º. Deep frying in the house is a stench nightmare for days. But I had Carol coming over and, well, needed some wings. This seemed like a viable possibility. And it is. I think they could have been in longer (they were browner than pictured below) but they tasted OK. The skin was not all that crispylicious which is pretty much half the deal with chicken wings. Sauce and meat being the other half. But they worked.

The larger issue was that I neglected to make the bleu cheese sauce it needed. And the bummer of that was that I had a goddam wedge of it in the refrigerator. She didn’t complain but I noticed she put chip dip on hers.

Produce report: Limes

This may be my best crop. My friend Carol gave me this lime tree last year when I moved in to this dump. The tree spent the winter in my garage and as soon as spring arrived it blossomed like crazy. I’ve got lots of limes…just in time for pumpkin spice season. I took 3 of them to my niece in Denver. (More on this trip later.)

Imma make a bunch of lime pickle before I head off to Germany next week.