Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Cookie monster

December 24, 2022

Star with royal beauty bright.

Yesterday we made a batch of shortbread cookies for distribution throughout the cul-de-sac.

We were a tad late to the holiday party. Four neighbors had already laid goodies on us by the time we got our asses in gear. And had I been in the driver’s seat, we would still be idling by the curb.

As usual, it was Herself who got us rolling. She dug out the recipe, added a few items to my grocery list, and started cranking out cookies like Mrs. Fields once I came back with the fixin’s.

I provided tech support for our elderly oven, which is the baker’s equivalent of driving a stick. I also took on the gruntwork of sliding trays of dough in and cookies out so that the baker could focus on her Art.

In the end we had just enough cookies to accommodate everyone who hadn’t fled The Duck! City to spend the holidays shivering in a snow-covered ditch or kipping on an airport floor.

While Herself distributed the sugar bombs I pulled on the rubber gloves and started policing up the kitchen. I was in dire need of a haircut and shave and didn’t want to frighten any children looking forward to a visit from St. Nick rather than Old Nick.

“Mommmmmmm! We already did Halloween! It’s supposed to be Christmastime!”

The fast, and the feast

November 24, 2022

Top o’ the world, ma!

“When out of sorts, walk a hundred miles,” wrote Jim Harrison.

I only managed a hair over six miles, but then I’m not a lionized poet, author, and screenwriter describing the perambulations of Doug Peacock in “The Fast,” written for Smart magazine and collected in “Just Before Dark.” I’m just a retired free-range rumormonger who felt a tad frazzled after a week of backwash from the abrupt departure of Herself the Elder.

She was not my mother, and I am spastic in financial matters weightier than a crisp Jackson in the wallet, so with sister-in-law Beth in town to backstop Herself I felt my place was in the kitchen, feeding the women to keep their strength up as they rassled various fiscal and familial alligators. I think Jimbo would’ve approved.

I baked, sliced, toasted, and buttered bread; scrambled eggs and cooked oatmeal; sliced apples and assembled sandwiches; and made turkey chili with red kidney beans, a more substantial chicken posole verde, pasta with a mildly spicy sauce of tomatoes, garlic, onion, chile, and black olives, and spread the leftover sauce onto prefab shells for pizza.

Not exactly the labors of Heracles. Nothing out of the ordinary, really. I’d have done most of this cookery anyway, just over a longer period of time. But with Herself fetching a head cold home from her visit to Maryland, and Beth occupying the spare room we use to confine Miss Mia Sopaipilla at night, what sleep I’ve been able to scrape together between cookery, cleanup, coughs, and meows has been less than restful.

When yesterday proved to be a beautiful day, I decided to get outdoors for a while. But with the brain firing erratically trail running seemed iffy and cycling positively suicidal.

Looking west from the corner of trails 365 and 365A.

So instead I grabbed my hickory stick and took a two-and-a-half-hour skull-flushing stroll along the hem of the Sandias to the edge of the Cibola wilderness and back again.

The universe mostly accommodated my desire for relaxation, solitude, peace, and quiet, perhaps with an assist from the Albuquerque Police Department.

The APD is disbanding its Open Space Unit, dispersing its four officers and one sergeant to the mean streets of The Duck! City, and giving police service aides the responsibility for locking and unlocking trailhead gates.

This changing of the guard isn’t supposed to happen until February 2023. But maybe someone missed the memo, because the three parking lots I passed on my hike were locked up tight and as a consequence the foothills trails were mostly empty. I took a small water bottle and my own sweet time and thought not at all about food.

This afternoon the sisters are taking a break from estate management and eBaying to whip up a raspberry cobbler. Once that’s squared away Beth will prepare lobster tails, I’ll tackle the salmon, spuds, and asparagus, and Herself may or may not do a small green salad. It’s been a long week, and she’s still not 100 percent. We’re all tired. So it goes.

If you observe the holiday, or even if you don’t, give your loved ones a little more gravy on their taters, maybe a bigger slice of pie. A little sugar, don’t you know. Don’t forget to raise a glass to any empty seats around the table.

“Salmon? Did someone mention salmon?”

A friendly gesture

November 24, 2022

We’re taking out the garbage, but we’ll be back later for some observations and a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat (if Officer Obie doesn’t get us en route).

While you wait, walk into the shrink, wherever you are, and sing a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant.”

The Dog, the Cat, and the Voices

August 2, 2022

Dark-thirty at the DogHaus.

Tuesday is “Pay Your Dues Day” at El Rancho Pendejo.

Herself gets up at stupid-thirty to prepare for the first of two weekly 10-hour shifts at the Death Star, and somebody has to make her breakfast and lunch. I keep hoping this somebody will turn up and clock in, but nix.

So I crawl out of my coffin like a dime-store Dracula with the insomnia, head out to that kitchen, and rattle those pots and pans.

By this time Herself has brewed a cup of what she calls “coffee,” given Miss Mia Sopaipilla an amuse-bouche, and returned to her sanctum sanctorum. So I toast a thick slice of bread, slather it with Irish butter and French jam, and deliver it posthaste. Miss Mia gets a butter-finger out of this and another small helping of cat food.

Next it’s lunch, which is usually leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. But honey-chipotle chicken tacos with black beans and Mexican rice seemed a tad aromatic for a business lunch, and so this morning I whipped up a basic tuna salad and built her a sandwich with provolone, lettuce, and tomato, plus a side of watermelon chunks.

Miss Mia is always very interested in tuna or anything even vaguely tuna-adjacent, so she got a couple tidbits in the process.

After Herself hits the door running at 5:30 I’m free to do whatever. Going back to bed always seems attractive, but so does a midafternoon nap, and what the hell, I’m already up.

So I have a couple mugs of authoritative black joe and sit in the dark living room for a while, half-listening as the birds sing up the sun, Miss Mia snores on the back of the couch, and the voices in my head start tuning up.

This is the sweet spot of a Tuesday morning. No NPR, no Zoom meetings, no phone calls, no online exercise/yoga classes … just the Dog, the Cat, and the Voices. And the distant grumble of traffic, which is someone else’s bête noire.

Going nowhere fast is just my speed on a Tuesday morning. I’ve paid the toll and everything.

Piece of Cake

April 7, 2022

OK, I know you folks floating around out there in the Innertubes are dying to know all the deets about the exotic life of the retired velo-scribbler.

So, hold my fake beer and dig this:

Yesterday I went to Lowe’s for some lawn soil to spread over the recently seeded bare patches in the yard and gave ’em a good watering, then mowed the healthier bits of grass. Later I cooked up a big ol’ pot of jambayala.

This morning I toasted and tea’d Herself, who has a full day at the lab. Then I fed and watered Miss Mia Sopaipilla, giving her a few head-bumps in a sunny spot for dessert, and emptied her litter box.

Next I got a loaf of bread going and set about watering a few shrubs and one tree out front, using SuperDuper! to back up The Main Mac to an external drive, downloading an OS update, and washing the breakfast dishes (two cups of strong black coffee and one of strong black tea will lead to multitasking).

And now the garbage is going out. Boom! You can’t stop me, so don’t even try.

I hate to go all Hollywood on you little people like this, but I figure the few of you who still have jobs deserve to know how I’m pissing away your Social Security contributions on my rock-’n’-roll lifestyle.

Run!

March 19, 2022

The wind smears clouds like a finger over pastel pencil.

Running was the order of the day yesterday. Not from the Russians, or even from the cops. Just ’cause.

Mostly just ’cause it was all we had time for.

Another round of visitors was en route and I had been instructed to deploy my mad posole skillz. The cooking is not difficult but does burn a bit of daylight, even with Herself handling the salad, cornbread, and ice cream. So instead of a refreshing bike ride we did a half hour of the old hep hoop hreep horp along the foothills trails.

I was not at the top of my game, with seasonal allergies using my snotlocker for a speed bag and the Worm Moon wiggling into my REM sleep the night before. I don’t like taking drugs that don’t make you see things that aren’t there, or vertical blinds that make you see things that are there.

Next time we need window treatments I’ll stay in the kitchen where I’m useful, maybe whip up a batch of posole for the installers. Either that or go for a run or ride, come home just in time to sign the check.

Weather, or not

March 10, 2022

Looks like weather. Whether we get weather remains to be seen.

The best thing about riding trails on a cool, gloomy Thursday is that you will not have much company.

Herself’s elder sis and one of their longtime pals flew into town yesterday for a weeklong visit. I whipped up too much grub — turkey enchiladas in red chile, turkey tacos with homemade salsa fresca, and Mexican rice — and this morning I felt the need to balance my caloric budget. So I kitted up, grabbed the Voodoo Nakisi, and rolled out.

Water you doing up there?

The forecast called for wind and snow, which is why I decided to log a little dirt time on the Elena Gallegos trails, just in case they turn into ice rinks, mudslides, and/or drainage channels. The NWS did not sound particularly confident in its prediction, but hey, even a blind dog finds a Milk-Bone now and then.

I exchanged compliments with a couple cheerful hikers early on as we took different routes around the same rockpile. A third reluctantly stepped aside for me as I cranked cautiously up a sketchy bit of Trail 341 that most double-boinger types ride as a descent.

Putting a foot down and waving her through, I explained that I hadn’t ridden this section in a while and was likely to intercourse the penguin right about where she was standing. She complied and trudged on down the trail, mumbling something about having been denied “a little entertainment.”

She didn’t miss much. I cleaned that sumbitch right up to the rock garden just below where 341 intersects with the Pino Trail. That obstacle has me completely buffaloed. I nearly rolled the dice but figured that I’d been lucky so far and didn’t need to break any bones with the womenfolk off raiding The Duck! City’s thrift stores for their eBay empires.

Made it home without incident, tossed a light lunch down the gullet, and started a pot of posole for the evening meal, when Herself the Elder joined the throng.

I am seriously outnumbered here. Why, I can hardly hear the voices in my head.

What’s cookin’?

February 15, 2022

Today’s Wall of Clouds.

When I woke up without a big ol’ knife quivering in my rib cage I knew it was going to be a good day.

The morning clouds were back, which ordinarily makes for a great sunrise, but the iPhone’s camera was not cooperating, so you’ll have to settle for a less colorful snap from later in the morning.

At least I could step outside to take it. How’d you like to be jailin’ with Tobias “Julio Child” Gutierrez, who Duck! City police say spent Sunday slicing and dicing his way along Central? No thank you, please. And don’t give my homie anything sharper than a rubber spatula come chow time at the lockup. God only knows what he’s cooking up in that head of his.

Dude was riding a BMX bike, too, so, more positive press for cyclists. Yay. I bet he wasn’t wearing a helmet, either.

Speaking of cooking, we finally ate our way through a fridge full of Southwestern goodies that I started cooking back on the 10th — chicken enchiladas in green chile, turkey tacos, beans with chipotle chile, Mexican rice, etc., et al., and so on and so forth — and so today I will have to cook again instead of simply reheating leftovers. My suffering knows no bounds.

Let’s see here, what else is going on? Super Bowel? Didn’t watch, don’t care. Winter Olympics? Not watching, don’t care. There are very few actual sports in the Winter Games. If the winner is determined by a finish line, timer, or goals/points scored, it’s a sport. Anything that depends upon judges is a performance.

Especially if it happens in a courtroom. You have any idea how many times our man Tobias went to jail before Sunday?

Beans and rice, rice and beans, beans and rice

February 10, 2022

Back to basics.

Inflation rises, earnings fall.

Happily, literature has the answer.

There’s “On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac:

“You know what President Truman said,” Remi [Boncœur] would say. “We must cut down on the cost of living.”

And also, “Tortilla Flat,” by John Steinbeck:

Beans are a roof over your stomach. Beans are a warm cloak against economic cold.

Thus, yesterday I labored mightily and brought forth the plato combinado. Green chile chicken enchiladas, frijoles, and rice. Not pictured: The appetizer created by Herself; sliced avocado with halved cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. We will be gnawing on this carcass for days.

The mantra around here when money gets tight is “Beans and rice, rice and beans, beans and rice.” So there you have it. Go forth and do likewise.

Chili today, hot tamale

January 27, 2022

Sun’s out, but my guns are still in.

I don’t remember when or where I first heard that old gag. “Chili today, hot tamale.” It sounds like something the old man would’ve said.

He picked up some Spanish down in Panama and he’d toss fragments of it at me and my sis as a call-and-response joke come bedtime. We had to repeat each phrase after he uttered it. (“Repitan ustedes.”)

“Hasta la vista.”

“¿Como se llama?”

“Buenos noches.”

This last became “Buenos snowshoes” at some point. Lord, what white people will do to someone else’s language.

Anyway, it’s chilly today, so I plan to make chili today, from a Pierre Franey recipe. No tamales, though. Eso es demasiado como el trabajo.