Tuesday, April 30, 2019

If That Ain't Love Then Tell Me What Is, Uh Huh, Uh Huh

Chicken Leek Soup - Chopped: Home Edition
So during our road trip one night we did a Chopped marathon because it was a little cold and rainy but the room was so cool, facing a river out back it was cool to spend time in it.

  So I became addicted to this great show again.  When we got back, I also got my food groove back a little and found my love again.  We did a speed round after work.  It only lasted two times before I got bored but this was fun.  In my basket:  Old mushrooms, boneless chicken thighs and leeks.  I was able to use potatoes from my pantry and the key was cutting them into Campbell's sized chunks so they'd cook in time.  The leeks were sauteed with celery & mushrooms before adding the chicken stock and potatoes.  I cooked the seasoned small cut up chicken pieces separately and added them in last minute to make sure they were done.  I was disqualified because I went over 5 minutes in time.  But we don't eat desert so no need to go onto the next round.

Who needs the Botanical gardens either when you can wander and find all the trees blooming even in the Red Hook housing where apple blossoms were full on white, whereas last year the same trees were filled with tiny red flowers.  

The Eastern Redbud was in bloom all the way from Brooklyn to Kentucky.

Monday, April 29, 2019

When the Tingle Becomes a Chill

Charred Romaine Caesar Wedge with Greek Patty
Chopped: Home Edition
Related image
In my basket: Romaine Lettuce, ground turkey, one green bell pepper.
So I charred the lettuce in the oven and covered with a warm dressing made from anchovies, garlic, mustard, Parmesan, lemon and olive oil.  I topped it also with chopped artichoke hearts and Kalamata olives.  The burger was a mix of green bell pepper, anchovies, parsley, onion, ground turkey and hummus to bind.  This one was a hit.  And I finished under the clock.
On the way to work I was reminded of my mom's lilac bushes that lined our back yard.  To my recollection they lasted all summer and spring but now I see that the flowers are a week and 1/2 to two weeks tops before they begin to brown and drop.  Isn't that interesting the way the mind works.  All those memories of rhubarb, blackberries, lilacs, lily of the valley and green apples from our first house growing up are most likely collective bunches from several years in a row, making it seem like everything was always in bloom.  Most of my good memories are in spring and summer, warm weather and playing by the creek and in the woods while it was all high and green.  Here and there I'll recall a tiny portion of fall while living in that house but the winters were more like nightmares, so I stop all my reminiscing and rush back to the present before the demons follow me. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Til We Reach That Blissful Shore

 deep thoughts with the food monkey
If you listen to the link you'll hear, I really do try to work on myself.  I want to be a better person.  It's just such a never ending battle inside. You also might be surprised at how ignorant I am about learning to cook unfamiliar meats, like top round steak.  I see it a lot and have bought it but never have I ever just sat and read a stupid recipe on how to make it.  This was so super easy and it tasted amazing, not like tough grey beef.  Tender like the recipe states with tomato & garlic penetrated in.  I thought the cheese addition was weird but it actually works quite well.  It's a great after work dinner because you can just roast your vegetables on a sheet pan alongside while it's in the oven.

tender round steak recipe

Recycled Green Chili

Another great thing about having a vat of beans around is that you could make a quick chili.  A recycling of your dinner so to speak.  I added ground turkey to the black eyed pea soup, added more cumin and chile, can of black beans and the rest of my Tomatillo Sauce to make a green chili.  Layers built in so it's a concentrated boost of flavor punch.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

What Do I Do When Lightning Strikes Me?

I jokingly call myself Touretta Lynn because I often blurt out things I shouldn't, spout off color jokes and curse like a sailor.  My friend said he would name a perfume after me, called Forever Sorry as I apologized to everyone for everything constantly.  Very bad habit.  I believe there are levels of disorders and oftentimes we each hold a bit of one or the other.  I also carry a portion of that compulsive affliction. I think this was brought on at an early age by a confusion to grasp religious concepts as a small child.  A Catholic guilt disorder if you will.  I made this amazing soup yesterday.  A homemade chicken soup from scratch with that bountiful rich broth and vegetables ready to heal my soul and bad gut from days of eating rich salty, fried foods on the road trip. I posted it on Instagram and it felt a little like bragging, so I immediately felt sort of shamed inside.  And when that happens I tend to believe something bad will happen to me or that I deserve to suffer in some small way.  In my head I hear the Old Testament God condemning me to pay for my sins.  And like a child, I accept the punishment because deep inside I know I'm a piece of worthless shit. 
And I did.  We had one small serving of this soup.  I made enough for days of comfort and lunch.  But since P ate his later, I needed to let it cool down before I stored it.  I asked him to please remember to put it in the refrigerator later as I knew I would never remember.  When I said that, right then I knew neither of us would indeed remember and fate had already locked in.  I had to sacrifice that soup because I had showboated my sopa de pollo.  I'm sick I tell ya!  And I couldn't watch while P poured the soup into the toilet bowl this morning. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

High on a Mountain Top

We embarked on a road trip and called it the Salvation Tour or the Search for the Hot Brown, which we never found.  
We used to go lay on a beach and that is never bad but long rides in a car with ridiculous destinations is more fun and maybe more rewarding to your spirit.  Everything is found by chance and adventure can be found in the oddest places.  Less stress invites humor and I think P wrote his funniest joke yet on this trip.  I immediately recorded it and sent it to his brother and nephew who would be the ones to fully appreciate it.
These were pizzas for one.  One giant human.  From Blaze Pizza.  It's a chain but we loved the convenience of ordering to our individual desires.  And they drizzle unnecessarily decadent sauce on the top!  I ordered my salad just as I like it and P thought it was his and remarked how great it was.  I didn't have the heart to switch at that point.

The hotel rooms had chaise lounges, which I've always felt was the sofa made for me.  A perfect place to write and think.
We went through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and Kentucky after leaving New York. The spring trees were blooming and we had some amazing views. 
P played an impromptu private show one night and that was the night I think we both found some sort of salvation and newfound hope for the future.

We had an amazing Super Duper Sampler for Two at Smoke on the Water in Elkins, West Virginia.  Enough to have late night snacks in the room and then some.  Every meat was better then the next.  By the time I got to the brisket which I thought was gonna be dry, I was shoving it in.  So moist and flavorful!  Those shrimp!!
They had something called River Sauce.  I liked that name.  I love that they served the sauces on the side.  We're not much for sweet BBQ sauce but the meat didn't need it anyway.
My sister kept texting me that bears were coming out of hibernation and would be everywhere and we did find them in Pikeville, Kentucky.  Allegedly home of Mr Dwight Yoakam but no statue or sign. When I asked the locals they said he actually was born in a neighboring town. 

We came to the home of the best Hot Brown and the waitress informed us that it was not on the menu that night.  She said it was too bad because it was the most delicious sandwich and there really isn't anything else like it.  P stopped me from punching her and we decided to stay and try their other fare.  That ended up being a huge bonus.

My Reuben, they called the Rachel was fantastic and I got my Cheese fries.
P's fried chicken sandwich was a dream as well.  Definitely this place has the Goldilocks factor.
We also had the Fried Green Tomatoes and the sauce was amazing. 
This was one of the best days of the trip.  You know when you finally shed the stank of your life and truly begin to relax into a new world of fun, food and rest?  This is that face.
Free Continental breakfasts at the hotels.  Always a little funky but good if you want to just get a little something in your stomach. P drank his weight in their free coffee.
We did a few fast food stops.

Another highlight was this Los Mariachi's Mexican Restaurant in Morgantown, West Virginia.  Somehow it was the hottest day so their new location that boasted huge booths and A/C sounded great but instead we went to their older, equally huge place and had a great time.  Give me a bowl of chips and sauce and I'm happy!

Combination plates are my thang because I love the variety and a chance to eat almost everything.  P got the Fajita plate.

This is my face when I have plenty of food and far from the stresses of my everyday life.
It's a strange almost holy type feeling standing next to the Don Knotts statue on this cute city street in Morgantown, West Virginia.  I felt misty eyed.  It really did hold some significance for us.

One morning we took a long white knuckled drive up to Bickle Knob Observation Tower and it was not a disappointment.  A 360 degree view of the entire mountain range in the morning, by ourselves, no one for miles.  We had to climb up a big tower and at the top somewhere we've never been before, high on a mountain top.  I wanted to hike but P kept assuring me this was a driving tour.  It was all about the drive he said and I struggled to get good pics at 70 mph from that road but we did see some amazing vistas.

The ultimate most insanely amazing part of the trip was definitely seeing the home of Loretta Lynn and driving up to Butcher Holler just like in the movie I have seen so many times.  And even though so much has changed, up there in that hill you really do feel what it must have been like all those years ago. And that was no joke in the song about walking miles to find those little red shoes.

It is a long stretch, from the little community that lives in the 'town' below of Van Lear.
And when you reach the house it's like being in your mom's womb.  There is a warmth that fills you when you open that car door.  First it's only the birds and the breeze that you hear.  There were two horses in the barn next door that came out to look.  Then you just hear Loretta singing from the house.  And the house is just there, no ugly tourist signs or silliness. So I immediately lost my shit and bawled.

this is THE room and bed that Lorettas parents slept when Doo came to ask for her hand in marriage!!!
Then like an angel this woman resembling Loretta comes walking up and asked if we wanted to go in.  And she showed us everything, talked to us about her father who had just passed, Loretta's brother Herman.  This was Hermalee Webb and she was about as welcoming as you could be.  I was so struck by her deep blue eyes, a color I had never seen before.  I couldn't talk so thank goodness P did all the socializing.  I cried and took bad pictures like Ray from Rain Man.

This is Webb's Grocery store and a must stop.  We picked up a t-shirt, a CD and some local flavor. 
I couldn't really focus at that point because we had just left the house and I was on a big high but this was insane, the little shrine area with a hodgepodge of Loretta memorabilia in the corner of the general store next to the cereal.  What was on those shelves?  I saw Minnie Pearl and that deer head and felt like I was dreaming. 

The hardest part is beginning to get your relax on and work calling P every 10 minutes.  
Not sure why Townes is on the country music highway in these parts but it sure was cool to see him.

The entire ride home was 7 hours of torrential rain that stopped after we parked the car and unloaded.  For about an hour it was the kind of rain where you stop talking and concentrate on the car in front of you because you really can't see much else.
Did we find salvation?  I believe so if only for those 4 days with a little caught between our teeth to pull out and ponder later.