I tend to work with FoodTV on in the background. For awhile, when it was rerun after rerun, I had switched over to watching all the Law & Orders that were on various channels throughout the day. Now that I’ve caught up on those, it’s back to FTV.
The other day, Everyday Italian is on when one of my sisters breezes through. She stops for a moment, points to the tv, and says, “Can you make that? Let’s have that for dinner.”
“That” happened to be chicken cacciatore.
“Surely, ” says I. “When?”
We all compare schedules and decide that Thursday is best. Since my little brother has forgotten the cardinal rule – sponge off your family as long as you possibly can before moving out – and is leaving for Orlando on Friday, we’ll consider it a going-away dinner for him. Piece of cake, I think, and start putting together my recipe and my grocery list.
So I invite a dear friend over, and that makes five total for whom I’m cooking. That turns into six when one of the girls invites her boyfriend, then seven when the other invites hers, then eight when my mom informs me she’s invited a friend of the family.
The boyfriends also brought along their respective dogs – three, total.
Have I mentioned yet what a madhouse it is when the family starts getting together?
So, Thursday’s menu was: chicken cacciatore, risotto with parmigiano-reggiano, steamed broccoli, and salad (which my sister made).
No photos of this one because I was running out of gas by the end and they were all hungry. The reviews were excellent, and one day I’ll be able to actually eat the food I’m cooking. One of my sisters took some of the chicken to work, where her boss termed it (and I quote) “Fucking kick-ass chicken”. I’ll put that one in the plus column. She also received a request from one of her coworkers to bring some in. At least the letovers won’t go to waste.
For tomorrow: barbeque sauces, the rub for the ribs, and some fresh foccacia. Sunday: an hour or so in the brine for the ribs, and then we be smokin’!
There used to be a little Chinese restaurant down the road from here. It was in a rather unfortunate location, with bad access unless you were heading the right way on the street. The building sits back a bit from the main road, is not very large, and is there alone, with no supporting characters to help it along. Every time we would drive past the place, it was deserted.
Now, however, the parking lot is busy during the day and packed in the evening. The place is no longer serving up Chinese food, though. It has been converted to a Latin-inspired place called La Puerta Plata (The Silver Door). We decided to stop off there and pick up some food to see how it was – and if it justified the traffic the place seems to get.
The menu is not very large, but has enough of a selection that I wouldn’t walk out immediately were I there to eat. The menu is in Spanish with some English translations, although some of those translations leave a little room for improvement – simply translating something as “meat” for instance, is not helpful to someone who does not speak Spanish, like my mother. I walked my mother through the menu, from the stew (with chicken, beef, plantains, and potatoes) to bistec y cebolla (steak and onion). She wasn’t very interested in the stew made with goat or the seafood items, which consisted mostly of shrimp (or shrimps, as the menu said, translating literally from camarones). We settled on the steak and onions and an order of chuletas (pork chops), with an order of stew. The entrees come with a choice of white or yellow rice, red or black beans, and salad, or plantains and salad. We opted for the salads and one of each of the rice and beans.
The food is not spectacular, but is serviceable. The steak was a bit overdone, and the chops uninspiring, although my mom perked those up a bit with a little of one of the hot sauces that I have (Blind Betty’s Pineapple Pizzazz). Both the rice and beans was standard fare, not bad, but not great. Since I couldn’t actually taste the other food, I did have a small taste of the broth of the stew. It had a curious undertone to it, most likely the result of so many ingredients and seasonings in it. It didn’t help that it was more soup-like thatn stew-like – Rachael Ray would probably term it a “stoup”, halfway between a soup and a stew.
Overall? The place most likely will not be given another chance by the family, but I’ll probably try something when I can eat again, just to make sure they’re given a fair shot.
I think that like most geeks my age, WarGames was the first movie I’d ever seen that had more reality than fiction in it about what you could do with computers. The movie was released the year after I had gone to this summer camp at the University of Western Maryland (real camp name: Gifted and Talented Summer Camp – I think someone’s creativity burner was on low the day they came up with that one). For one glorious week, a group of us had access to the computer lab, where we learned to do some BASIC programming and wrote a small text-based adventure game, complete with dragons, treasure, and goblins. The second week was spent reading Flatland and talking about perceptions of reality. Fun. The title of this post comes from WarGames, and is what Joshua (the computer) would ask the person who had connected.
In our case, it’s a simpler game than global thermonuclear war. A visual one. There are some images below, but for the purposes of the game itself, only the first two are important. It’s a game of spot the difference, and your challenge, should you wish to accept it, is to determine the difference between the first image and the second. The other images are for illustrative purposes. Ready? If so, click away to continue.
Wait, there’s more of Shall we play a game?
Yesterday, I did something that I have not done since the middle of last year.
Believe me, I’ve wanted to get back to cooking before this. Between healing, pain, and energy levels, though, it simply has not been possible. I decided that yesterday would be the day, and if it wiped me out for a few days afterwards, that would be fine. At least I could say I did it, and I could use the rest time to prepare the next menu.
Alas, I am still not eating, but the family said it was all delicious. In addition to working on getting strength back and getting back in the kitchen on a regular basis, I also need something to help the photography side of the food. I think what I need is a portable studio type of thing, to have a suitable backdrop and also be able to control the light better. In any case, the menu was this:
Balsamic glazed boneless pork chops with caramelized shallots, steamed broccoli with toasted garlic crumbs and lemon, and basmati rice.
I wish I had been able to get a better shot of the full plate, but this will have to do, considering there were few places to set it up properly.
This shot came out better. A closeup of the chop with some of the sauce.
I’m sure there will be more to come as I slowly get back into what used to be my life.
These images (and others) have been sitting on my camera for quite some time. I don’t know why I haven’t pulled them off before – I suppose it’s simply because I really didn’t want to look at them. You may not want to look at them, either. If you’re easily disturbed by medical photos, do not look at the extended entry. Really. You’ve been warned.
Wait, there’s more of Reliving the past