Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Eggs Go Marching One By One...

Hurrah...hurrah.  The eggs go marching one by one, the little one stop to suck his thumb...and they all go marching the get out of the rain.

My oldest son used to love singing this song when he was little.  Except, we would sing "ants" instead of "eggs".  Nowadays, he prefers Maroon 5 and Macklemore.  Alas.

Oh.  My teenage sources inform me:  It *is* supposed to be ants instead of eggs.  In the song. 

Okay.  But, that's the beauty of one-syllable words.  Makes song lyric substitution a beautiful thing.

So.  Easter.  Rabbits.  Fertility.  Rebirth.  Eggs.

I like hard-boiled eggs.  Cooked just right, bright yellow yolk, little salt and pepper...?  Yes.

And when someone brings huevos de diablo to the family potluck, I enjoy them that way too.  In fact, they often are one of the first things to disappear...especially if Brent is present at the same family potluck.  He's always good for a half-dozen, at least.

Standard Easter dinner at the in-laws this year: glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, corn.  I chose to make something that embodied the season: eggs and green stuff.

Instead of a typical deviled egg filling (mayo, egg yolks, mustard powder, salt, pepper, etc), I chose the Egg Road Less Traveled.  Egg yolks, a handful of cilantro, two avocados, half a lime's worth of juice, cayenne, salt and pepper, two tablespoons of mayo.  In my food processor.  Piped back into the empty white shells with the snipped-off corner of a Ziploc baggie.  Paprika sprinkle garnish.  Done.

But here's the thing.  I started hard-boiling the eggs at around 8:30 last night.  And I remembered why I've probably made deviled eggs only, like, three times in my whole life.  They are a freaking labor of love.  Between boiling, cooling, and peeling the eggs, there is a lot of waiting and fine motor skill usage.  You really gotta love the people you're making these for...otherwise, you'll find yourself halfway through the whole thing wishing you'd just signed up to bring chips and dip, for Pete's sake.

They turned out delicious.  Fresh-tasting and a different spin on a classic hors d'oeuvre.  Two other important things today:

1. My in-laws discovered what cilantro is.
2. I scored the bone from the Easter ham.  Threw it in the crockpot with some aromatics and water.  Going to have some excellent ham broth tomorrow morning.

Getting ready to bid March adieu!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Suspending The Alphabet Kitchen Project

When a simple project that should really take 26 days ends up taking over three months...then it's probably time to table it for awhile. 

And honestly, I didn't want to post here unless I had a letter for you.  But I rarely had a letter, so I rarely posted.  Trapped, as it were.  So, I'm letting the project go for awhile.  I want to write more often here, and now, I suffer no more from the paralysis.

WanderLunch the food truck is now open for the season.  Our first day, Saturday the 12th, was a long, but profitable day.  Then, we opened for our weekly lunch crowd on Thursday and Friday, and those days were a disappointment.  We had low turnout both days, and I have no reason why.  Maybe it's still too cold, maybe people have forgotten about me - hard to say.  It's completely possible people really are not liking my sandwiches anymore and instead of telling me, they're just not coming 'round.  Worst case scenario, right there.

There.  Now that I have let my paranoia run away from me, I'll remind myself that I'm only one chilly March week into WanderLunch season.  Tomorrow, we're supposed to get cold and snow, and I've made the executive decision to be Not Open.  I guess that's the bonus to being your own boss.

Did I ever discuss my menu with you all, dear readers?

We made a few changes.  We took two sandwiches off (The Midwest of Eden and the Hamlet) and added three sandwiches (Brave New PB&J, Turkey Fight Club, and The One Reuben).

We ran the Reuben as a special last season, and it was a hit.  This year, I tweaked it.  No potato chips, and a housemade Russian dressing.  I attempted to corn my own beef in test runs, and while it was interesting, I'm not sure it's worth the effort.  This sandwich's name reflects my love of Tolkien; its full name is The One Reuben (To Rule Them All).

This is my Fourth Child.  My baby.  I personally love grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and I'm baring a little bit of my own soul with this offering.  The peanut butter (with a handful of rough chopped peanuts for crunch) is made by moi, as is the jam.  Not just strawberry, but strawberry-lavender.  Lavender buds really bring a subtle floral quality to all that sweetness.  Brave New Peanut Butter and Jelly.

I don't have a picture of it, but I've added a turkey sandwich as well: Swiss cheese, bacon, turkey, tomato, lettuce, and garlic aioli.  The name? The Turkey Fight Club.  And hey, Rule #1: Don't Talk About It.

For the three days we've been open, the Reuben, TFC, and California have been the top sellers.  This is not a surprise.  Meat is good, and people want it.  We also offer a half-sandwich portion this season as well...that was a request we heard a lot last year.  Still got Cream of Tomato every week, plus one rotating "guest" soup.  When the hot summer rolls around, we'll probably try some cooler, lighter, fresher alternative sides...salads, fruit, etc.

So, yeah. Time to just wait and see how things shake out.

And now...let's talk for a moment about chili.  Chili is something we eat a lot of at Chez Nelson.  It's versatile, tasty, easy to throw in a crockpot, etc.  I could go on and on, and forever extol the virtues of chili.  But I won't tonight.

Three things: cubed sweet potato, coconut milk, garbanzo beans.  In with a standard chili base and a can of red kidney beans...this particular chili is sweetly satisfying.  I would definitely do this combo again...maybe dish it over some farro next time?  I think I might still have summat sitting around.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Go Placidly

My food truck business started back up this past weekend, and from here until November, the weeks will be packed.  Sandwich-slinging Thursday-Saturday and bartending work Monday-Wednesday.  And Sunday, I guess, is the day to sleep in and hide in my house.

Hiding out is the one thing I feel like doing a lot of these days.  My food truck's ReOpening wasn't the only thing happening in my hometown this weekend past.  A 13-year-old boy was accidentally shot and killed on Saturday and then yesterday, the police department busted one of the biggest meth labs in a long time.

Both are is a sad loss, one that will devastate a loving family for the rest of their lives.  One is tragic only because of the profound stupidity/ignorance/addiction of a few people who happen to be living in a town mostly filled with good-hearted, hard-working people.

And if it's not drama at the local level, then there's the constant bombardment of news that seems to be vividly illustrate the obliteration of decency and sensibility in our nation's politics.

And on a personal level, I have children who are reaching "that" age.  The age of discovery and curiosity and difficult decision-making...and I don't mean about Nickelodeon programming.  On top of that, people I respect greatly are passing on, leaving me to think about my legacy, my life.

Life is tough sometimes.  Well, actually, it's tough a lot of the time.  I know I'm just a speck in the universe and all I really know is that I know nothing...but I still wish I knew what the hell was going on around here.  It's no wonder to me that I retreat to the places I know home, my friends, my writing, my kitchen.  There - things make sense and if I don't have the answer, I can find it.

I often wonder if I should be doing more.  Should I be reaching out more?  Should I send more cards and letters and make more phone calls?  Am I wrong to hole up in my kitchen and brainstorm myself silly over the 5 pounds of pork belly I have in my freezer?  The universe is still waiting for an answer, and so am I.

Yep.  This is a blog about food...but there are other things that are more important than food today.  I am remembering the words of American writer Max Ehrmann...I often turn to his poem "Desiderata" when I feel like this.  "In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."