Hi J - every year, at the beginning of the grilling seasons, after the long winter break, we seem to have to relearn how to grill and bbq to make a presentable meal. So with that disclaimer out of the way, I present our fail St. Louis ribs.
The ribs look really good when I saw them, late afternoon. I was shocked at how they looked when I saw them on the platter. Yikes. G said something something about a grease fire. Sorry about that. Good thing he also made potato. Yum.
I was sad that it is still too early in the season for watermelons, so we settled on strawberry margaritas. Frozen strawberries, lime, silver tequila, Tarantula, thrown in blender with ice. Easy Peasy. It was ok, but didn't satisfy my craving for watermelon margarita, like the one from last year, and the year before...
I attempted to make a Lemony Pea recipe, with the preserved lemons I made.
I think I may be the only one who likes peas? Also, it was definitely better warm. I didn't catch or misunderstood the "chill' recipe instruction. Nevertheless, the preserved lemons was really interesting. The rind tasted like a cross between a pickled and salt lemon. I can barely taste it in the finished pea mash. On ward to look for other preserved lemon recipes.
It was a meal to forget. We will try again in a couple of week!
Good afternoon, E!
Last week we celebrated the final birthday of the year: G! Yay! Chester was not impressed.
N decided on kabobs, served in a pita. We had a discussion:
N: How about lamb and chicken?
J: No chicken for G!!!
So instead N marinated lamb and beef in a paste of seasoning for many hours before grilling them on the egg.
I convinced N to make the salads by explaining that he "makes pretty salads." His Greek salads are usually very pretty: kalamata olives, feta, tomatoes, green bell pepper, cucumber slices, romaine, and pepperoncini.
N making salads
N assembled the sandwiches using a plate of fixins: cucumber sticks, feta, shredded romaine, and heirloom tomato slices. I made tzatziki using this recipe. I strained the Greek yogurt and the cucumber chunks, but not for as long as the recipe suggests. You and N thought it was a little too minty!
I also made a bit of quick-pickled red onion for the sandwiches. Yum!
After dinner G picked 7 Wonders (BGG) to play. We had quite a discussion this time about the wonder boards -- apparently we had missed one very important aspect of the boards. Some of the boards have a bonus in the second phase of the wonder instead of more victory points (VP). This is to even out the board scoring since some of the boards are worth 15 VPs as complete while others are only worth 10 VPs. However your board and my board we had some question about whether the second stage had to be built in order to use the item of the second stage. The instructions are not clear about this.
E's 7 Wonders board
I really like 7 Wonders because it is quick and not difficult, but still interesting. I understand your point about not having enough interaction with the people around you -- it is a sort of stand-alone sort of thing. Even buying resources from your neighbor isn't that interactive -- you just toss a coin or two his way.
However I try to keep an eye on what my neighbors are doing -- what resources they have, how beefy their military is, and come Age III, how many of each type of cards they have. The guild cards won me this game once again, mostly because you had a LOT of yellow cards and I used one of the guild cards that gave me VPs for the yellow cards my neighbors had in play. I think the game tries to make it interactive -- you can't ignore your neighbors completely if you want to win -- but at the same time, you're not doing many actions with your neighbor.
A winner is J!
I also beef up my resources in Age I as much as I can because it seems to help in the later stages. But there are so many different ways to play and win this game. I've seen games where the person won on Science cards. On Guild cards. On free points from the Buildings. I like that aspect of it, too. There's always a way to eke out a victory, even if you're behind in some category.
So: I still really like 7 Wonders! It's a bonus that it's quick to play and not difficult to set up.
When you told me that G had requested ice cream cake for his birthday, I thought that meant you were going to make one. Ha ha ha! Instead you ordered one from Coldstone and we were all pleasantly surprised at how good it was. A++++++ would order again!
G's birthday cake!
As for G's gift of Memoir '44, I was looking for something in the Axis and Allies vein without the lengthy gameplay and possibly with a little more interest for you and I. It's supposed to be good! (though I admit I feel a little guilty for adding another game to your stack when we haven't played all of them yet). I hope it's fun!
Happy birthday, G!
Dear Birthday People -
G was in charged of dinner on Saturday, which means meat and potatoes. Dinner was a variety of sausages from Fischer Meats - chicken tarragon, lamb, and eye-talian. He grilled them simply and served with regular and deviled egg potato salad from the store. I also had some Chicken and Waffles Lays potatoes chips. The consensus was the lamb was real good. The limited editions Lays not so much, they lacked chicken flavor.
After a light meal of tube meat and potatoes, we played one round of Settlers of Catan while we wait for the cake to warm up to room temperature.
Do you know that moment of regret when you realized you have screwed yourself in the first placements? I was so distracted by the 3:1 port and dodge-the-block from the blue people, that I failed to realize I only have two kinds of resources. Sigh. I deserved to fail.
Every year, I look forward to your birthdays.
By which, I mean I look forward to make birthday cakes for you and N. There was Red Velvet Cake, Brulee Lemon Tart (that Chester enjoyed too), Boston Cream Pie, Chocolate Charlotte, Eleven Layers cake, and Cinnobon cake ...
This year, you gave me a couple of options and I chose Black Forest Cake. I rationalized black forest is a less adulterated chocolate cake plus booze, thus a good choice for people who prefers plain chocolate cake. Plus, a trip to the new big box liquor store? why yes. At the big box store, I picked up some Made in Germany Black Forest Kirschwasser. There was two kinds of cherries-in-a-jar. I inquired which the helpful sale person prefers, "these are ok, but if you are making a good martini, go with these." I didn't have the heart to tell him I am only making cake.
Even thought I've had black forest cake before, I never looked up the origin of the cake, until now. Curiously, according to wikipedia,
Traditionally,Kirschwasser (a clear liquor distilled from tart cherries) is added to the cake, although other liquors are also used (such as rum, which is common in Austrian recipes). In the United States, Black Forest cake is most often prepared without alcohol. German statutory interpretation states Kirschwasser as a mandatory ingredient, otherwise the cake is legally not allowed to be marketed as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.
No wonder I never really liked the black forest cakes I've had. I search around and selected this Hubert Keller Black Forest Cake recipe. I started on Friday night with the cakes. I approached the cake recipe with trepidation. I have never been 100% satisfy with my genoise. This one deflated very rapidly when I was folding in flour and coco. Yikes. It turned out ok, on par with others I made, phew. I did the first assembly step Saturday morning, cake - syrup- whipped cream-cake-syrup-whipped cream. I wanted to give the flavors plenty of time to melt together. I also drained the cherries and macerated them in the kirsch for a few hours before topping the cake.
I was shocked the texture of the cake turned out good, I didn't expect that texture with that genoise and a cupe of syrup + kirsh. However, I was sad how little the kirsh flavor showed up in the cake, ever thought I had double the kirsch quantity the recipe called for. Hope you and N liked your light cake
Happy birthday again. And our best wishes.
Good afternoon, E!
Late last week, N and I had a discussion that went a little like this.
J: It's your turn to plan a menu, ok?
N: How about burgers?
J: We already had burgers twice this week.
N: Grilled individual pizzas?
J: There's not enough time for me to make and ferment the pizza dough.
N: Steaks from the freezer?
N: You are not being helpful!
N gave up on me and did some web searching for inspiration and landed on stuffed flank steak. The flank steak was stuffed with bacon instead of prosciutto, spinach instead of arugula, and N added bell peppers to the filling as well. He also made a quick mushroom sauce to go with it. Mm.
I made Smitten Kitchen's ribboned raw asparagus salad with lemon to go along with the steak. We also roasted some quick potatoes when you informed us that unfortunately G was not going to make it.
As we picked up the flank steak at the butcher, we decided that it wasn't enough meat for four people. N and I conferred on what to add to the meal and N decided on his version of Daniel's Broiler filet mignon teriyaki steak tips as an appetizer. Yum!
teriyaki steak tips
After dinner, N wanted to play a simple card game, so we pulled out Nuts! (BGG) Nuts! is sort of juvenile and not in the least bit complicated, but it is an alright filler game.
After a 3-player game of Nuts!, we finished off the night with some Uno and dark chocolate pretzels from nuts.com. Mmm pretzels... See you next time!
Dear J - It was gorgeous on last Saturday. I took advantage of the weather to do some work Outside - mowed and gave some ferns haircuts. All of which meant our Saturday meal suffered. Not only was it a poorly planned meal, none of the food pictures turned out. Good thing too, since N said no one wants to see what we had for dinner.
However, I do have an unrelated picture, a trail for another grill item, for another time.
We started with some chicken pate, a repeat. This time, I had to cut a lot of fat and nasties from the liver, so I didn't have the full amount of liver the recipe called for. It was a lighter texture, mousse like.
I wanted more chicken wings. Because having chicken wings at Kukai earlier in the week was clearly not enough. I tried this Korean chicken wing sauce recipe. Doesn't taste at all like Stone Korean Restaurant chicken wings. I was not happy with how these turned out.. The flavor was not balanced for grilled wings. That just means I have to try again. More. Chicken. Wings.
I also tried spiral cut hot dogs like you do. Fortunately, there are no pictures to show you how poor of a job I did. I agree this technique requires a bigger hotdog.
A simple salad, your tots, and store bought potato salad rounded out the meal.
After the meal and trouble shooting our house's electrical issue. We played a new game in honor of Tabletop night. (Really? there is such a thing?!)
Coloretto (BGG link) This little game exceeded my expectation, thus it was 'good'. It is a definitely an end of the night low brain wave game. The art is pretty good, pretty colors.
The object of the game is to maximize the number of cards of the same color. The 4th+ colors are negative scores. Each player takes turn drawing cards, to place in one of the rows, or the player may take the row. G tried a technique of drawing a lot of cards.
I think we agree take the whole stack is not necessary a winning strategy. However, he did win the second game. Even thought there is a lot of luck in this game, which I normally do not enjoy, but it is pretty good for an end of the evening game.
But wait, you just found we missed a major rule. We were doing it wrong!
Until next time.
We grilled the last two weeks. Is spring here?
I guess not, since I woke up to this on Friday morning. One step back to winter and away from grilling.
Chester didn't get the memo that G was back this week.
In the farm share this week, I got two huge bunches of spinach along with a recipe for the Afghan dish Qorma e Sabzi. It's not complicated -- sautéed onion and spinach with some spices.
I love Afghan food. My favorite Afghan dish is kadu/kadoo, a delicious braised pumpkin whose sweet taste goes very well with lamb. I wasn't sure how it would go over so I decided against it (thinking about it this morning, I wish I had made it anyway).
To go with the spinach, I made what is often called the national dish of Afghanistan, qabili pilau.
Making the quabili pilau was a dance with the french oven. Sear the meat. Remove the meat. Cook the onions. Add the meat back. Cook. Remove the meat. Sauteé the julienned carrots separately. Add the rice and half of the spices to the main pot. Wait. Add the carrots, meat, and rest of the spices to the pot. Cook. Lots of moving pieces. I was a bit skeptical.
I did double the spices and meat and omit the raisins (ahem). It was alright. A hearty meaty pilaf.
The farm share has us swimming in apples and pears in addition to spinach. I decided I'd throw together a crumble, my favorite of the pie-cobbler-crumble trifecta.
I have my own crumble recipe in my head, but a quick web search handed me this Dave Lieberman recipe. I thought the inclusion of pecans in the crumble topping sounded delicious. I added more apples and only used about 2/3 of the topping since I was using a pan slightly smaller than the recipe-suggested 9x13. It still turned out more dry than I expected, but tasty enough with some vanilla ice cream.
After dinner and dessert and some conversation, we played a round of Settlers of Catan.
N kicked our butts. You got blocked in with nowhere to build. I just stopped getting resources despite being built on 6/8 -- all the 7s I was rolling didn't help! G started to catch up but a little too late. Dammit.
Our Catan board is making me mad.
Hi J -
BUT IT IS GRILLING SEASON. Your steak and veggies last week was tasty and simple. So we did burgers this week. Plain burgers, with some caramelized onions, Kettle Potato Chips, and romaine salad.
First grilling of season for us. I chargrilled some bacon and started a pretty good grease fire, then burnt some burgers. Hope they were eatable.
After dinner, we moved the game to more comfortable seating area. I took advantage of everyone else's low brain activities and won the pizza game, with all the pizzas made, 1/3 of the way through the third shift. First time for everything.
That was definitely a fluke. I do not think it will happen again, ever. Until then, I will keep trying.
It seems every winter we tap our feet impatiently waiting for the weather to dry off and warm up just enough to grill.
This was that time! Unfortunately G was out of town and didn't make it. At the store, N and I couldn't decide between his current obsession with spiral cut hot dogs or steaks. Easy answer: both, with dogs just grilled up as a sort of snack to munch on while N grilled the steaks!
Here's how to make a spiral cut dog: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyieI2bxyIk
I guessed that you'd like the spiral cut dogs for two reasons: tube meat & more crispy bits. It will be interesting to have them on a bun with condiments since the cut is supposed to help hold things like chunky relish on them. Mm. Maybe later in the grilling season.
Nothing interesting this meal - steak, grilled asparagus, and a salad I threw together. Simple stuff.
This ongoing cold N and I have combined with your allergies and the lack of G made this a low-energy evening! Simple dinner followed by the simple game Carcassonne (BGG).
low brain game
We played two rounds. I won the first round handily, which is a sign that N was SICK. I never beat him at Carcassonne!
If we grill next time, can we agree that grilling season has begun? See you!
Dear J - Wow time flies with all the busyness. Excuse me for being I am a couple of weeks behind.
Thank you for letting me do laundry at your house. For the second time in the last few years, our dryer stopped working. I attributed the early death of this Bosch Dryer to poor quality. A few months into it's life at this house, the display panel went out. Granted, the last few weeks have been very heavy laundry load weeks, but ... it is only a few years old.
After pizza and salad and wings takeout from Malty Pizza.
We play Unexploded Cow from Cheapass Games.
Cheapass Games reissued this via Kickstarter. BGG link. Mad cows and unexploded bombs make strange company. It is chaotic as described. I liked the concept and the art, and will definitely play it again. Thank you for giving me a copy. We can play it at our house too!
And I was craving cake.
I blame the Internets which brought me Irish Cream Mud cake recipe. I substituted palm sugar (no brown sugar in the house), yogurt for some of the Bailey's to make a less sweet cake. It is a everyday cake, no layers, no fanciness, just cake. And someone, N?, had the brillant idea of using your pastry cream. Yum.
Thanks again for letting me do laundry and bring cake.
Happy Belated Birthday, E!
It is always a good bet that you will request something deep fried for your birthday (beignets, cannoli). N did not want to make your first request Chicken Fried Steak (though he did a year ago and the year before that) and denied you! How rude.
Undaunted, you requested Boston Cream Churros like the ones S had (here). I decided I would make them. How hard can they be?
But first we had to figure out dinner. We considered Thai before finally deciding on shrimp + grits.
shrimp, andouille & grits
Rather than making my usual shrimp creole, I loosely followed this recipe from Bon Appétit. It included a hot sauce made from green pepper hot sauce (I used Green Jalapeño Sauce by Tabasco), shallots, white wine, vinegar, lemon juice and cream.
I complained to N that we needed a light green salad to go along with the shrimp, andouille, and grits. He came up with this spinach, caramelized onion, goat cheese, and candied pecan salad. Sorry about the dried cranberries in the pecans (held aside).
We took a short break to clean up and then I started heating up the oil for the churros.
I followed this churros recipe. I had no idea churros dough is just like pâte à choux dough! Boil water and butter, add flour, then add eggs individually and mix until smooth. Fun dough!
team effort dessert
I read a lot about the filling in Boston Cream Pie while researching. Some recipes used vanilla pudding. Other recipes used a very thick custard. Others said to use a thin pastry cream. Since we were not filling the churros and didn't need the filling to be so thick, I opted for a pastry cream.
I made pastry cream (CIA recipe - I only used 3 Tbsp of cornstarch based upon comments that the 1/3C of cornstarch made the pastry cream taste like ... cornstarch) for the churros early that morning. I made a quick thin chocolate dipping sauce while we were frying the churros.
boston cream churros
While you created food architecture, N and I fried the dough. Next time we'll try a closed star tip instead to see if we can get more crunchy bits.
After all!the!birthday!food! we only had enough brain for Uno. Maybe we'll try a new game next time... (do I say that every week?)
I hope you had a lovely birthday, E! Thank you for celebrating it (belatedly) with us!