Other Guys Dream About Girls

So last night, I dreamed that I had been trying to sleep outside in some North Hollywood park for some reason, and maybe about 4am or so, with the sun coming up, I gave up and figured I’d better head home and call in to work to let ’em know I wouldn’t be coming in.

I walked down Moorpark street in my pajamas trying to make my way back to Burbank (even though I don’t live there anymore), and then found myself in an underground parking garage of a large mall in Universal City.

I thought about catching a bus, but then I looked up the escalator and saw Donald Trump heading my way.

So, I went up the escalator and figured I’d meet the guy, regardless of mine or anyone else’s politics.

I introduced myself and shook his hand, still in my pajamas.

“You look really tired,” he said.

“Well, I’ve been up all night sleeping in the park, gotta get home,” I said.

He laughed and said “I hope you have a pitcher of Margaritas waiting for you there.”

I shook my head no, and then he added. “Watch, now they’ll talk about how I’m drinking pitchers of margaritas.”

“No,” I said. “I know you don’t drink at all.” (And this is true, if you’re curious.)

And then Trump added an observation that has had me pondering all day:

He began “You know when someone puts out a tray of muffins to sell, they always take the best tasting muffin and put it up front, to draw you in. But you know, it’s the best muffin and it’s only there up front to make you buy the others which are inferior. So when you think about it, that muffin is a total lie, a total lie.”

The dream breaks up after that, I woke up chuckling over the muffin speech… but the more I think about it, the deeper it gets.

It’s like a Zen muffin koan.

Avoid the muffin that LIES.

Now, I’ve had some psychic dreams before – I’ve written about them and worked them into the plots of my Wagstaff detective books – so now I’m hoping that Trump tweets something about muffins that tell lies. The more I think about it, it’d be on brand.

I also remember the distinct feeling during my dream that Trump didn’t give off a “Presidential vibe” while I listened to him discuss the muffins. Granted, I’ve never actually met a President. The closest I came was shaking hands with a Presidential candidate, Senator Frank Church, back in 1976 when he appeared at a discount store in Warwick, RI… very fitting for a discount candidate, but it was nonetheless cool to go when I was a kid.

And biggest-loser-in-history Walter Mondale attended my college graduation, and I walked by him and saw how much weight he’d put on since the previous November. He definitely drowned his sorrows in donuts. Or muffins, perhaps, who knows? I didn’t meet or talk to the guy.

But the deeper meaning of my dream is pretty clear to me, at least: when you go into the voting booth, avoid the muffin that lies.

Or just try the chocolate muffins from Costco. They’re pretty damn good, liars or not.

Tonic Water Adventures

It’s not easy to be a healthy drinker.

When I needed to cut carbs out of my diet, it meant cutting down on my consumption of beer. I used to be pretty much a beer ‘n’ wine guy, depending on whatever I had for dinner. Italian food? Wine. Chinese, Indian? Beer. BBQ, pizza, American? Well, either, really.

When I wanted to maintain variety and not drink wine every night, I figured I could work in some cocktails into the rotation, since I also enjoy having a drink while I cook as well as matching a drink with my meal.

So I learned which whiskeys I like, and how I like them (rather simply) with water or seltzer and a little lemon.

But I also love tonic water – the sweet/sour flavor of it, as well as that hard-to-pin-down quinine flavoring. I prefer gin to vodka, so gin & tonics have served as a nice drink to have now and then….

…. but while I found various gins that I like (and I can get giant Tanqueray bottles at Costco, yay!), it’s been the tonic water that has been the bane of my existence.

Why?

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.

Yes, the EVIL that is HFCS turns up in nearly EVERY brand of tonic water. I’d totally cut out soda from my diet to help with weight loss. And regardless of what the science is behind cane sugar versus high fructose corn syrup, I’m willing to settle with the mere FEELING that HFCS is WAY worse for my metabolism than regular cane sugar.

And I can tell the difference in flavor – Mexican Coca-Cola, made with cane sugar, tastes superior to the HFCS version normally available.

And judging from the way they market Mexican Coke as well as other cane sodas, I’m not alone.

So where is the cane sugar tonic water?

For a while, Trader Joes sold a tonic water under their own label with cane sugar – and then stopped, those BASTARDS.

There’s a cane sugar tonic water made for Whole Foods – it’s not bad, but it’s pretty sweet, and my G&Ts have a candy-esque quality to them/

Recently I discovered Fever Tree tonic water – it’s a little pricier even when found in the supermarket or Target or Wal-Mart, but it uses lower amounts of sweetener, doesn’t use HFCS, and doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the gin or lime I add to my G&Ts. So I’d highly recommend the stuff.

I’m tempted to try their other mixers now. And considering how cheap & set in my ways I am, that’s saying a lot.

Some Boneless Short Ribs In The Slow Cooker

It’s gray and gross outside today. I got some chores to do around the house and will do them intermittently with farting around on a Sunday… so what better day to make my entire house smell like thyme & braised beef?

And a lazy recipe it is… perfect for my mood today. I took about 2 pounds of boneless short ribs, salt & peppered ’em up good, and then browned them nicely on all sides in a little olive oil.

Removed them to the slow cooker insert, then threw one cut-up onion (I cut it half, then just cut big 1 inch slices out of each half, jumbled it up a bit with my hands for big pieces), 3 chopped garlic cloves & a half tablespoon of dried thyme into the cooked oil/brown bits miscellany.

Cooked it for a bit, scraped up the brown bits, then added 1 cup chicken broth and a cup (maybe more) of a nice Italian red wine blend.

It’s mostly Nero with something else, making it just like Agrippina’s sex life. Hiyo! But seriously folks, it’s great to be back at the Circus Maximus. I’m here all week, until the lions show up… thank you and try the dormice and flamingo…

Brought the wine/onion mix to a slight simmer, added it to the slow cooker insert, and then put the cooker on high for 4 hours.

Will remove the beef to rest under foil for 10-15 minutes while I return the sauce to the stove top, cook down a bit, adjust the seasoning and then toss with the ribs. I’m figuring on two big HE-MAN sized portions, one of which will go into the freezer to taste even better as a leftover.

In the meantime, the music is on. The local jazz station has a blues show on during weekend afternoons. Maybe I’ll watch a movie during the day and another this evening. Maybe I’ll read a little. I look forward to drinking the rest of the wine with my dinner… maybe a nice big Italian-dressed salad (I’m thinking Armani) and a nice big piece of crunchy bread will suffice. Or maybe I’ll make some polenta as a bed for ’em, something I’m sure Agrippina did at the orgy more than once.

Have A Healthy Day, Jack!

So I’m at the grocery store on the way home, loading up on a few items, grabbing some ginormous shrimp for dinner and the like.

I get into the checkout line and in front of me is some kid who works at the store, cashing out a couple of snacks. It must be break time.

Then the other kid starts to ring me up, and goes “Oh, how’d that happen? It’s giving you his employee discount.”

So I say “Does that mean I have to grab a uniform and start stocking shelves?”

The kid smiles, and I regale him with stories of my brief days working at a supermarket as Jimmy the Bagboy™ for minimum wage many years ago. He finishes ringing me up & bags my stuff and hands me the receipt. “I couldn’t reset it, whatever!”

Oh YEAH! At the bottom of my receipt reads “Team Member Discount -6.49 Have a Healthy Day, Jack!”

So thanks for that six and a half buck discount of my bill, Jack. I hope you have a healthy day as well.

Oh wait, it WAS too good to be true. A customer had an allergic reaction to some guacamole they were giving samples of, and the bathroom is an ungodly mess. They’re handing me a mop and bucket. The hazmat suit is extra, and I’m not giving back that $6.49. Well, here goes…

A Wonderfully Cooked Steak

“One measly steak!” to quote Jimmy Stewart, but I cooked it up quite nicely without a grill. And here’s how.

I started with a 3/4 pound NY strip, maybe 1 1/4″ thick.

I patted it dry & sprinkled kosher salt on it. Let it sit about 20 minutes to get to room temperature.

I heated up my nonstick T-Fal 12 inch saute pan, then added a little peanut oil. Steak went in under medium-high heat. Three minutes on the first side, two minutes on the other. Then I put the pan into a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes to get a medium pink on it.

When it came out of then oven, I put it on a plastic cutting board and covered it with foil for 10 minutes.

That was it – it came out great. Nice crust from the oil, nice lack of gray-pink border on the inside from the oven – pretty much a nice shade of pink all the way through. Your oven may vary – I used a meat thermometer to get a 130 on it when I removed it from the oven.

Had a nice salad, some fresh French bread & a cabernet with it.

Continue reading “A Wonderfully Cooked Steak”

White Cooked Chicken With A Ginger Soy Dressing

Saw this one on TV, made some minor modifications to it, and came up with a wonderful simple way to cook chicken, especially when I’m in the mood for something light and not piping hot on a warm summer night.

“White cooked” is the Chinese version of sous vide – cooking in simmering water. If you’re someone who demands crispy skin, this ain’t for you. The skin will come out flabby and unusable, kinda like I am in the eyes of most women.

You’ll need a pot big enough to submerse a chicken or its parts in water. I saw this done with a whole chicken, I did it with a bone-in breast.

Into the water: at least 2 big tablespoons of salt – the water should be 2x as salty as pasta water.

At this point, you can pick your flavorings. When I planned on making a chicken salad with mayo afterwards, I stopped with salt. For the ginger/soy recipe, I added about a half cup of sherry, some chopped scallion and a few nickel-sized pieces of smashed ginger to the water. Any sort of aromatics in the water at this point will subtly infuse the meat, however.

Bring it to a boil. Add the chicken, bring back to a boil, and then lower to medium to keep at a simmer.

Cook uncovered 20 minutes. Then, flip the chicken over, simmer another 20 minutes. Turn the heat off, lid the pot, and let it sit another 30. Finally, take the chicken out onto a cutting board and let rest another 15.

That’s it!

You’ll have a nice pot of homemade chicken broth as well, to save for later. Consider this when you’re adding stuff to the water at the beginning.

Peel off the rubbery skin and separate the meat from the bone. Chill in the refrigerator if you want.

I cut up the meat and tossed it in a ginger-soy dressing made up of: 2 tbs soy, 1 tsp finely minced ginger, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil and some chopped scallion.

Serve over some crisp lettuce or cabbage. Or, you can do what I did – take the homemade broth and use it to cook some rice in the time the chicken was sitting & resting.

That other chicken, sitting and resting in front of my TV after a long day? He’s for dinner tomorrow night.

 

 

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