Sunday, August 21, 2011

A good lesson

I learned a good lesson today.  Well, it's one I already knew, but it's a good reminder.  I grabbed some veggies at the Waterford Farmers' Market today and instantly started to crave kebabs on the grill.  I'd been focused on a grill-based dinner as I was planning to have friends over for some much needed quality time and it's an easy entertainment approach.   The larger gathering was postponed due to an under the weather munchkin, poor guy, but I had company nonetheless.  It had been a challenging day as a close friend is going through a rough time, and I really needed the therapy of standing in my kitchen preparing a meal.  I think there is little else in this world that can put me at peace as quickly as some quality kitchen time.  Sharing the meal makes it that much better.
How pretty are these?

I grabbed a london broil on sale and cut it up into cubes.  It soaked for a bit in a quick marinade I with onion, garlic, vinegar, oil and some char grill spice blend I had.  On my drive home from other obligations today it dawned on me that I'd probably discarded the package of skewers I had during my kitchen meltdown and was about to stop and grab some more when I remembered I'd received these grill/kebab/cage things for christmas.  I figured I'd play with a gadget and save myself a trip.  I didn't even snap a picture of them, but you know what I mean.

I only had two of the fancy grill cage thingies so that  limited the volume of meat and veggies I could cook at once.  They got hot and messy.  I may have dropped one.  I might have uttered an expletive.  I found myself missing simple bamboo skewers soaked in water.

Lesson:  Sticking with simple tradition is not always a bad thing.  Plus, there's something cathartic about shoving a skewer through big chunks of meat that loading up a metal cage just doesn't replicate.

Still, dinner came out pretty good.  I let a bit of olive oil soak up flavors from some onion, garlic, salt and pepper and then quickly tossed the veggies in it before grilling.  The orange and red cherry tomatoes may have made my week.  All in all it was a fairly healthy, fresh and satisfying meal and, as with any good kitchen time, I felt better when I was done than before I'd started.  Maybe there's a lesson in there too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gummy Chicken?

I have this fun little device that tells me about five of you are out there in the world reading Green Peccadilloes.  I love you all dearly.  Second to the idea that anyone at all is reading, my favorite part of the tool is that when someone stumbles on the blog via google (or, I suppose, some other search engine - but really, who uses another search engine?) I can see the search terms he or she used.  Occassionally it's good for a smile or, like today, a bit of puzzlement.

Someone in Kansas found me (and if you're still reading...welcome!!) by typing:

"How do you cook chicken breasts for chicken salad so it's not gummy?"

I do realize I just wrote a post on chicken salad, but I'm still surprised google analytics put GP high enough in the search results to get a hit on this.  Further, gummy chicken salad?  Can someone explain this phenomenon to me?  I'm completely fascinated.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Go Jeni's!!

It's been a while since I extolled the vitures of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams here on Green Peccadilloes.  I know there's little reason to beat a dead horse, but my very favorite ice cream in the whole world just received a nice honor - to be named one of the Top 5 Ice Cream Parlors in the world by a travel mag

I enjoyed myself a little Queen City Cayenne just the other night, a remnant of my last shipment.  Might be time to sell a kidney and order another 9 pints...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chipotle Chicken Salad

I threw some chicken on the grill on Sunday night.  This was very exciting for me as I've had a grill sitting sans tank in my backyard for longer than I care to admit.  I don't really like messing around with propane tanks so I just never dealt with it.  But facing a beautiful evening and thawing chicken on Sunday, I bit the bullet and decided to finally get the grill functioning.  By that I mean I offered this proposal to someone with a Y chromosome "I'll make dinner if you will make my grill work."  Deal.  I'm a little ashamed a made a boy help me, but it's less of a girl thing as a "if something can go wrong it will and I don't want to blow myself up" thing.  Either way, problem solved.

So threw two of the four chicken breasts I'd thawed on the grill with a fantastic marinade I made with Penzey's Trinidad spice and enjoyed a tasty Sunday dinner.  Determined to stop wasting food, I knew last night that I had to cook the remaining two breasts. (Please don't ask why I didn't just do it on Sunday, there is no good answer).

I was tired, and wanted to neither eat nor cook so I put NO effort into these chicken breasts.  I thought I'd make chicken salad for lunch, so I didn't even bother to season them.  Shameful, I know, but straight onto the grill they went while I sat down to watch Ally McBeal on Netflix.  Off the grill and into the fridge with not as much as a second thought went my poor, neglected chicken breasts.

This morning, feeling a tad less apathetic, I set out to make chicken salad for lunch.  No celery, no nuts, no tarragon.  Nada.  My poor cuppords are still bare.  I ended up starting out simple with just some salt, pepper, and mayo then I decided to give the salad a little shake of chipotle powder.  Genius!!

The chile plus the char from the grill work together perfectly to make what was going to be my very boring lunch much less so.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Picnic Dinner

The other night some girlfriends and I descended on Tanglewood.  Our college was doing a little alumni thing and we used it as a great excuse to all get together, as it had been far too long.  The four of us were all in a freshman year mentor class - something our small college was trying back then - so I met them all even before our first day of class and too infrequent visits aside, we're still together even after our ten year reunion.  Needless to say, I love these girls.

And I love Tanglewood.  I've been there three times now - which shocks me as it's so amazing and so close - and each visit is special to me for different reasons.  It's hard to have a bad time in such a beautiful spot.  The alumni even provided us with light dinners and we brought along wine, cheese and chocolate.  As you can see, I am not above wine in a Solo cup.  Sometimes that is just how I roll.

The dinner came with a quinoa salad with corn and black beans that was great.  It reminded me that I haven't made quinoa in forever.  I don't have any in the house after the great grain purge, but I'll have to pick some up soon.  It was a perfect evening, with good food and wine, better company and a sky full of stars as I lay on my back and listened to John Willams conduct his ET score.  A week later and I'm still smiling over it...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A meal like no other

This post is WAY overdue.  A few weekends back it was hot and I didn't especially want to do my weekend chores, so I called and invited myself to my Uncle's pool.  It's family, so it's not really inviting yourself, right?  No one was home so I left the "hey, haven't seen you guys in a while, are ya sitting by the pool?" message and crossed my fingers.  In fact, I ran out to cross some things off my to-do list and inadvertently left my phone behind.

When I returned, I had an email from my Uncle and a voicemail from his girlfriend.  The gist of both was this:  Grab your suit and bring a live lobster with you.  It's not a message one gets every day, but boy was it a welcome one.

The kitchen is always an
adventure for Wonderpup!
Needless to say, they'd picked up a few lobsters and suggested I do the same and get my butt out to the hilltowns for a fantastic evening.  I probably left tread marks I flew out of the door so fast!  My main issue, however, was securing the lobster with wonderpup.  It was one of those days where I refused to leave him in the car for even a second.  Thank goodness for quiet, suburban strip malls.  I parked in a slightly inconspicuous spot outside the Yuppie Chopper and left the car running and the A/C cranking.  I've done this before, but this time for some reason, I didn't have my spare key.  I made the mad dash for my singular crustacean and was back in no time.  Thankfully, my guy didn't really notice there was another live creature in the car and the rest of the drive was without incident.

A little pool floating, a pitcher of something purple and potent, and some snacks made for a nice lead up to the main event.  Wonderpup was introduced to a new creature - he was intrigued.

I'm not sure how to describe the dinner to those who don't know my family, but to those that do, this makes perfect sense.  My Uncle insists on french fries with lobster, a combo I don't remember having before (not counting lobster rolls, of course) but I will most certainly enjoy again.  To compliment the lobster and fries was a fantastic bottle of white.  This coming from someone who can often take or leave whites. I wish I'd snagged the name, but of course I didn't.  Again, knowing my hosts, it wasn't an inexpensive bottle.  Then, for ambiance, Zappa was blaring in the background.  A toast to family who also happen to be good friends and the evening was just perfect.

Whatta meal...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Time for cukes!

Maybe it's the WASP-y roots I try to cover up with allegiance to my poor, Irish-Catholic ancestors but I do love me a good cucumber sandwich.  None of this brown bread at tea time crap though, the cucumber sandwiches I grew up with came on wonder bread and were slathered with mayo.  Gummy, processed white bread really is still a necessity for me this time of year - neither cucumber sandwiches nor tomato sandwiches are quite right without it.  I've tried to use better bread and tomato sandwiches can come close because they're on toast, but I just can't stray with cucumbers.  Moreover, the sandwiches can only be consumed this time of year with fresh from the garden cucumbers.  Don't even bother with off season store bought junk, not even the same sandwich.

My cukes are coming in slowly and they're small, but I think they'll come.  My plants have lots of flowers.  My dad sent me home with some bigguns' this weekend, but without white bread (or any bread for that matter) in the house, I had to resort to enjoying them in a healthy, fairly-unprocessed fashion with a dollop of spinach tzatziki sauce which I did not make myself.  I may have to stop at the store for bread on my way into work in the morning and make myself a sandwich for lunch (week two, no lunches out!).  I might look strange walking into the office with a loaf of bread though...