Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Fish Experiment (part 2 of 2)

I know you've all been waiting with baited breath for the rest of the fish story (get it? BAITed? Oh, whatever...).

So I get home with the scallops in hand. SEA scallops by the way, for those of you who needed to know. As far as I know, there are no free range scallops. So on to the cooking...

Since I realized that 1 pound of SEA scallops is more than 1 frying pan can handle, I decided to take the experiment a step further...TWO types of preparation techniques. TWO pans, folks... don't try this at home! Leave to us folks that have had our Hepititis A shot recently.

So, TWO frying pans. ONE pound of scallops. Still with me?

In Pan #1, I put olive oil, a pressed garlic clove, 1/4 stick of butter (REAL butter, mind you), some green onion, white wine vinegar and lemon juice. Don't ask me measurements...I was in an Emerill mood, yelling "BAM!" and "BOOM!" and lots of cursing (kid-friendly of course).

In Pan #2, I put olive oil, a pressed garlic clove, 1/4 stick of butter, some green onion, (my creativeness only goes so far!), some of the white wine that we had with dinner (Chardonnay for you keeping score at home). Now for the little critters...

Did I mention the flour? Yoda told me to dry the scallops a tad and roll them in flour, so I did that and lovingly put them in the pans. I forgot the "start with the handle" thing, so I backtracked and put them in the right order. They kept pushing and shoving to move to the front of the line, so I had to knock some scallop heads. I also wasn't sure where the inevitable "leftover ones that had to go in the middle" were in the pecking order. Cooking is so complicated!

They cooked. I flipped. I drank some wine. I flipped. They cooked. I drank more wine. Etc., etc., etc. When the heavens parted and Neptune, King of the Sea Scallops cried, "THE SCALLOPS ARE DONE NOW", I took them out of the pan and served them. We had some stir-fried veggies on the side, by the way.

Like any good experimentor, I separated the Pan #1 and #2 results (and gave Junior all the broken apart scallops pieces, since we were fairly sure he wouldn't like them) and taste-tested.

And the winner was.....drumroll, please...Pan #1.

From our post-dinner analysis with John Madden, we decided that since Pan #1 had less liquid (read: wine), the garlic stuck a bit more to the scallops and gave them a bolder flavor. The ones with the wine were just a little wimpy tasting.

And with the luck of a first time seafood-cooker (and guidance from my buddy Neptune), I cooked them for just the right amount of time. They were nice and juicy and not dry at all. Of course, we kept looking at their inside middles as if they would be pink if not cooked, like chicken. Unfortunatley, scallops have no "tell" like chicken does. If pressed, I would tell you that I cooked them for the amount of time it takes me to drink one glass of wine. That's about the right cooking time.

And thus ends the Scallop Saga. But feel free to keep giving me your seafood tips and side dish ideas. I'm listening...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Fish Experiment 2 (part 1 of 2)

Some friends and I went to Bluestem this past Saturday and someone ordered scallops. I had never had a scallop, but they looked interesting, in a small white half-dollar pancake sorta way. I tried it...and I liked it! So I decided we must try cooking scallops at home.

I ventured forth to Hen House, since my local Price Chopper doesn't have much seafood. It does have good MEAT though. Yum. Anyhow, I found the seafood section, complete with fake fishing nets strung from the ceiling and fake seagull sounds which auto-repeated every few seconds. No, I'm not kidding folks. If I worked there, I would go mad from the "RAWK!" seagull sounds over and over and over and over and...well you get the picture.

So there's this 75-year-old dude working the seafood counter and so I quickly surveyed the scallops and confidentally proclaimed, "I'll take a pound of scallops, please". Later I would discover that a pound of scallops is a little much for 2 1/2 people.

As he scooped the scallops into a bag, I conversationally asked, " do I know when they are done?"

He asked, "Howya cookin' 'em?" Hmmm....hadn't really thought that one over yet.

"Er...frying them, with some wine and garlic". Whew! Good answer, I think.

"WINE?!" he exclaimed. "Sweet or dry wine?" Uh-oh. What's the right answer here?

"Sweet?" Not so confident now.

"SWEET?!" Oops. Wrong answer. Dam!

"Well, don't put a lot of wine in there. Actually don't put it in until the end. Don't put a lot in. Or it will end up tasting like fruitcake!" Dude...just say not to use sweet wine. Don't fuck with me.

"Uh...okay" Just wanting to get the hell out now...and save my dignity. But I still needed an important bit of information.

"So do I cook them for a certain length of time?" C'mon old guy, throw me a bone here...

"Oh no...don't cook them for a period of time, just cook them until they are brown. Flip them every 20 seconds or so. Also, start at the handle of the frying pan and put them in a circle around the pan. That way you'll know which one needs to be flipped first." Ah! Persistance pays off! But Yoda was to impart some even juicier info...

"Roll them in flour" he said, "They'll brown up real nice and the flavors will hold better." Martha out. I'm armed with scallop-cookin' gold now!

I thanked him 100 times or so and ran from the seagull sounds to buy my $16 worth of scallops.

(continued tomorrow... Sorry! I gotta work now...)

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Fish Experiment

Loving Husband & I cooked fish for the first time tonight. Yes, the first time. Hey, we are both born and bred in the Midwest. We can make a kick-ass steak, but fish has just eluded us for, er, almost four decades.

We bought some tilapia fillets at our favorite meat counter. The grand total was $6.00. Six bucks! So I'm wondering...Why do fancy-smancy restaurants charge $18 for tilapia? Oh yeah, because people like us are too intimidated to cook fish at home.

Loving Husband was the brave chef. I provided the recipe. Thanks Cagey! For each fillet, we put olive oil on a sheet of aluminum foil, rolled each fillet in it and put the fillet in the middle, then covered it with a bit of white wine, lemon juice, green onion, roma tomato and capers. Then wrapped each package up and threw it on the grill for 8 minutes. We served it on a bed of rice. Can I get a "YUM"?

It probably could have used a bit more of SOMETHING. Not sure what. Garlic? Salt? Onion? We weren't sure and this was our first time, so we didn't want to overpower the fish with too much other flavor.

I also wasn't sold on our side dish of plain, white rice. What else goes well with fish? Any ideas? I'd love them, if you've got some good fish side dishes.

Had I known that fish was this easy (and FAST - only 8 minutes to cook!), I would have started cooking it long ago! As long as it's a fish FILLET and not anything resembling an actual, live FISH, I'm good to go.

More about my food-with-a-face aversion in a later posting...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ah! New Carpet.

It's 11:45pm and I have new carpet. Do you?

It's nice. Squooshy soft and firm and no dog vomit, mud, coffee, red wine, dog drool, blood, crayon, nor pee stains in sight. It's the little things in life that please us most.

We could have moved! We had most of our possessions, boxed, down on our first floor. We were told to do this by the carpet company. "Move all your nick-nacks, paddy-wacks, and give the dog a bone". Well, something like that. So we did. We worked for four (seemed like forty) days and nights. And the carpet layers bowed at our knees in thanks.

While we were at it, we did about twelve years of spring, summer and fall cleaning, which added up to 3 crammed trash cans, an overflowing recycle bin and a small herd of orphan trash bags huddled around the 3 momma cans. Oh yes, and the mountain of old carpet. Which is STILL HERE. Sitting on our driveway. For 3 days now. We are certain to have the Wrath of the Homeowners Association come down on us very soon.

Was it worth it? Yes. It's almost like a new house now. New carpet smell. No clutter...yet. No overflowing closets. It's very nice. Which no doubt means we will be moving soon. Sigh.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Lights Out!

Last night it stormed. Bad. I personally love storms as they give me a cozy "well I can't go outside, so I might as well settle in and be comfortable" feeling. They also make for great sleeping. Usually. Not last night though. Let me explain...

Storm, storm, storm. Turn on news station to see brightly-colored weather map with weatherwoman describing 50 mph winds, hail, etc. very close to us. See trees in backyard doing the limbo in high wind. Reassure toddler that "rain is fun", "rain makes the grass and trees grow", "rain is good", "see the fun and good rain?". He giggles and points. Loving Husband furrows brow at weatherwoman and eyes the basement door. Lights go out. Weatherwoman disappears. Toddler giggles. Husband says, "Uh-oh" and eyes the basement door again.

Since it's bedtime for bonzo, I take him up and put him in bed. He agrees with the "rain is good for sleeping" theory and dozes right off. We find camping headlamps and walk around lighting candles, only seeing what's directly in front of us, in the thin beam of headlamp light. I realize how much of a habit it is to enter a room and switch the light switch on. I do this about 20 times, berating myself each time. No power, idiot!

With no weatherwoman to watch, Husband settles in on couch and promptly falls asleep in the candlelight. I quickly assess my options. No computer. No microwave. Not tired. I straighten up the kitchen a bit, take out the trash. Feeling like I've done my share of work, I make some tea (we have a gas stove...bonus!) and decide to do some reading. By headlamp, of course. Nice and relaxing. Ah. No guilt of things to do...couldn't do them anyway. All I can do is read. And relax. Ah....

Then around 2:00 (I'm guessing because power was still out and all clocks were dark), Junior starts crying. Dam! It's not really storming anymore, so it's not noise that woke him up. A quick check rules out the typical late-night-awakening reason (POOP!). No poop. Why is he awake and crying? I pass Junior off to Husband, and go let the dogs outside, as they are now standing by the door with legs crossed. I hear coughing then a cry for help. From Husband. Junior has yakked. Vomited. Yelled for Ralph. In his crib. And (of course) on himself. DAM!

I slowly peel the crib sheet and mattress pad off, trying not to get any on me. I can't see well because the lights are still off. I only have a beam of light to work with. Not wanting to deal with the EW!-ness just now, I decide to throw the entire mess into the bathroom tub. I replace the sheet and soothe Junior back to sleep. He feels a bit hot, but not burning hot. And I am too tired to find a thermometer and attempt to take his temperature. We all go back to sleep. Until...

About 4:00am we are awakened by SCREAMING TELEVISION AND LIGHTS!!!! The power is back on and all the things that were turned on are now on again...and LOUD. Guess that wind was pretty noisy earlier in the evening. I put a pillow over my head as Husband sprints downstairs to OFF the TV before it wakes up the dead.

This morning, I groaned and got out of bed, and felt Junior's head. He was still hot, but not burning hot. I went down to eat breakfast with the guys. Junior ate well (Husband did too) and they headed off to daycare (and work). I got in shower, and in the interests of time, skipped the makeup (HORRORS!!!). I was getting dressed when I got a call from daycare. "Junior is not feeling well. He is uncounsolable (sp?). Also he seems to have a slight fever." DAM DAM DAM! Okay, I'll pick him up.

He seems grumpy when I get there, but in good spirits. "I trow up!", he proclaims. "Did he?" I ask his teacher. "No" is the answer. "Oh, you threw up LAST NIGHT." He nods to this. "I trow up". Maybe he's just upset that he threw up. Who knows?

I get him loaded in the car and the little guy babbles and giggles the entire way home and points out all the basketball nets he sees on the way. I keep telling him he's sick, but he's not having any of that. "I sick"..."Go outside?"

Great. I have a two-year-old that knows how to play hookey. Wonderful. BTW, he's fine now. No "trowing up". No fever. And I'm stuck at home watching Baby Einstein and making grilled cheese.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Got Poop?

Over breakfast this morning, I saw Junior shift a bit to one side and heard a "toot" resonate against his plastic booster seat. I waited for him to say, as usual, "Got poop!". He can't tell yet whether it's air or the real stuff moving around down there. But he didn't.

He waited a beat, then looked at me and said, "I darted". I said (as usual), "Huh?", and he repeated "I darted". A few seconds later I made the connection. "Oh, you FARTED.". He nodded and said, "I threw out gas".

The boy's a genius!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hair-Raising Adventures

No, I can't afford $500 a cut to go to Jonathan Antin, so I venture forth to my local salon. The one by work. The one with the Lamar's Donuts conveniently located next door, so I can get cut and get some "lunch" on my way back to work. A chocolate cream-filled long john qualifies as lunch, right? In my world it does. But I, I mean digress...

So I went to get my hair cut yesterday, and as I walked into the salon, I noticed that the linoleum floor had been painted. With lots of bright, retina-burning colors. In big splashes. That stopped just short of the front reception desk. "Cool floor" I exclaimed, really not knowing what else to say. And not mentioning the fact that the thick black stripes that had previously adorned the floor were peeking through the new paint treatment. "Thanks!" said the eccentric new owner of the salon, decked out in her low-cut mumu and Pippy-like pigtails (did I mention she was eccentric?), "We finished it late last night". Okay...

As my stylist steered me over to her chair and started the obligatory small talk, I mentioned the floor. She got down close to my ear and started giving me the scoop, in hushed whispers. The owner had, over the weekend, decided to paint the floor of the entire salon. She and her cohorts had entered into the back of the salon, begun painting with a vengence towards the front of the salon, until they realized that their purses (and car keys) were in their purses. In the back of the salon. Across the sea of wet paint. And the back door was locked, thus barring any "run around the building to the back door" solution.

They had called my stylist to have her come let them in. When she got there, she noticed the very strong smell of the polyurethane wafting from the salon. She whispered, "I'm surprised we didn't find them passed out here this morning from all those fumes!". THAT would have made an interesting story, eh?

This new owner is a strange bird of the wildest variety. She's a wannabe artist. But not a good one. Her hair cutting station is decked out with a variety of artistic touches, including a fabric wrap around her chair. I can't imagine how much old hair lives in that stylish wrap. Ew!

Also, I was in another time when she rushed in, in a frenzied state, picked up a little hammer-like tool and hit a gong that I hadn't seen sitting there by the front desk. The noise was deafening (the salon is not that large) and the receptionist and I had to wait for the din to finish (it lasted for about 20 seconds!) before we could finish my transaction. My face had an straight expression of "Oh sure, I see gongs in many stores that I visit on a regular big deal...yawn", but I nearly peed my pants from the shock of the noise! And she stood there, eyes closed, taking a yoga-like cleansing breath. A gong! Many Gong Show jokes come to mind, but that's just too easy.

It will be about five weeks until my next haircut. I can't imagine what my next visit will expose me to, but I'll bet it will be blog-worthy.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Goofy Ole Bag...or Trendsetter?

While surfing some blogs (do you "surf" blogs? Or is there another trendy verb I should use? Lurk? Peruse? Read?), I discovered that I am not the only Goofy Girl in cyberspace. Sniff-sniff. There is another Goofy Girl. And she has shelled out bucks for her own domain, unlike my cheap ass. I hate her for stealing my domain name, even though I would never cough up bucks to support my blogging habit.

I took a look at her blog, hoping somehow for a kindred spirit. Instead I found a goofy 24-year-old, pictured with a dog (fake? real??) on her head. How goofy is that! This somehow makes me feel old...very old.

She seems excited about her next oil change, collecting mosquito larvae and seeing a new movie about penguins. Like I said...she's 24. Isn't that what all 24-year-olds want? Maybe it's been too long and I don't remember. Could I be getting Alzheimer's? What was I writing about just now?

And just when I think I had absolutely nothing in common with this youngster, she mentions that she's a Survivor fan (hey, me too!) and she writes about a book she recently read, The Kite Runner (hey, I read that book and liked it too!) She writes a lot about food (gotta love her!) and her dog (yep, I'm a softie for the canine species too). And she's an only child (okay now we're getting scary...)

Then I get to the really scary part. She writes "I stole this idea from some person's blog that's a mom." Whoa. Hold up. A mom. I'm a mom. I write about it. Is it Me? ME? Did she steal her blog name from ME?

Wow. The idea is not so bothersome as it is flattering. In fact, I think she just made my day!