tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal

31May/110

Mismatched Memorial Meal

Dear E,

Memorial Day weekend in Seattle doesn't bring with it the same "it's summer!" feeling as it does on the east coast... but the weather was nice, you requested fru-fru drinks (that we were happy to supply and enjoy!), and N smoked some beef!

mai tai
N's mai tais

N made a pitcher of mai tais with the appropriate garnish. I love maraschino cherries more than one should!

Early Saturday morning, N prepped a grass-fed brisket and the big green egg. He was a little worried and skeptical, having never smoked a brisket before (other than as pastrami). He went for the simple seasoning -- salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika -- and smoked it with oak wood for a few hours. It ended up tasty with a slightly over soft texture. Definitely passable -- I liked it.

brisket
brisket

Along with the brisket, I made a pea salad. I had been daydreaming about a light pea salad for a week and I happened across this recipe which sounded promising.

pea salad
pea and radish salad

I swapped out the feta for ricotta salata and added some baby greens instead of the pea tendrils. N didn't like the salad -- he said it needed to be either sweet or savory but walking the line of both wasn't doing it for him. I think feta would have been better than ricotta salata. I thought it was a refreshing salad.

Along with the brisket and pea salad, I made a semi-southern style potato salad.

plated
plated

I didn't really like how it came out. I made a few changes to my family recipe -- left the skins on the potatoes, added bacon and diced dill pickles, used a lot less celery, and swapped half of the mayonnaise for sour cream and vinegar. It ended up too sweet for my taste.

We even attempted a new game this weekend, Amun-Re (BGG)!

amun re
Amun-Re

The week after we played Ra, N did some searching on boardgamegeek and discovered Amun-Re, also designed by Reiner Knizia. He thought Amun-Re sounded like a good game and ordered it... or so he thought. Instead, Priests of Ra (BGG) appeared on our doorstep. Oops! I flexed my superior internet ordering skills and ordered Amun-Re for him.

Amun-Re is another auction style game. It took us a while (almost 2 hours?) to make it through the "old kingdom" phase while we were learning the rules. I think it is interesting how the first phase of the game we build and farm only to have the farmers and civilizations and our player ownership disappear -- until the "new kingdom" phase when we all attempt to land-grab certain kingdoms. The game did not have a lot of downtime and I think it will play much more quickly when we try it again.

The power cards were a little confusing since they were not obvious in their meaning -- I'm going to print power card cheat sheets to use during play for the next time. I also dislike the process of calculating points but I think that's just the nature of the beast.

We finished up the evening with a Bohnanza nightcap. It had been a few months since we'd pulled out the bean game and it was fun to end the night with it (even though I lost both games!).

bohnanza
the bean game!

I do love the bean game.

26May/111

Repeat

In a classic me too move, G wanted to make pulled pork this week. This is his first pork butt this season. He mentioned last week that he wanted to modify the smoker / grill. Turns out he added a metal plate, which makes the temperature hotter. (I am confused!)

He went to Fischer's Meat Market in Issquah for the pork butt. He asked for a 4-lb and he got a 4.7 lbs. I thought it was an unusual shape, probably due to the butcher tying it. I offered to brine it. I usually brine the country ribs he slow cooks. So I'd thought I'd give it a go with pork butt also.

sliced pork, nom nom

G started the fire at 2:30pm, target 7:30pm eat time. He used his rub, store bought bbq sauce, and finished in the last half an hour with apple wood. Somehow, he forgot about the resting time. Total rookie move.  Anyways, he was having much trouble wrestling with the chunk of meat when he took it off the heat. And it did not want to be pulled apart, so I ended up slicing it. No pulled pork for us.

relish, salad, you decide ...

This Corn, Avocado, Cilantro relish / salad is from the Summer Issue of Martha Stewart Living. I added diced red onions & shredded lettuce to the mix, a shot of fish sauce & tiny bit of sugar to the lime juice for the dressing. Verdict - uncertain. G suggested adding bacon. Although a good idea (everything is better with bacon), with copious amount of pork waiting, I decided against it. I put the mixture on romaine leaves and G picked it up and ate it like a taco, heh!

heading west, and staying within the boundary

I suggested New World, which I wanted to try again after uncertain feedback the first time. I apologize for making us restart the game after you discovered a missed rule. I wanted to see how the additional surveyor bonus impacts the score, plus I was so annoyed by the little bag. The second time around, I still think it is a low-brain-power-simple fun game. I had to remind myself to stop playing it like Carcassone, and the surveyors ceased to annoy me. We also found a discrepancy on the surveyor bonus in the printed rules. G, being his usual stretch the rules to fits his needs, pulled out a north and south boundary. He recanted after his made up rule stopped him from completing a settlement.

Btw, from FAQ on BGG

Q. Can you play a tile NORTH or SOUTH of the edge of the board?
A. Yes. However, You cannot play a tile EAST of the coastline.

Q. Is the Surveyor bonus +2 points per Surveyor OR +4 points per Surveyor?
A. +4 points per Surveyor.

Oh, I couldn't resist the urge (retail therapy!) of getting a game - Imperial (BGG link). I am looking forward to it. Also, the rhubarb is growing crazy in the garden,  help me of something savory? chutney, pork, ginger ...

Filed under: dinner review, games 1 Comment
22May/110

Welcome Barbecue Season

Dear E --

When N said that he planned to make pulled pork for dinner last Saturday, I was surprised. With this summer's BBQ competitions ramping up, I thought he might be sick and tired of cooking pork. Apparently not!

At the end of my fork
plated

N made two pork butts in his usual method which involves his special rub ™, mustard, and a long time smoking in the egg. I threw together a quick cabbage slaw -- 1 whole shredded green cabbage, half of a very thin sliced sweet onion, caraway seeds, shreds of carrot (for color), and a mayo + apple cider vinegar + horseradish dressing. I was impressed that we managed to eat all of the slaw!

bacon explosion
bacon explosion

I almost forgot about the bacon explosion. In preparation for following weekend's BBQ competition, N also made a bacon explosion. He added apples and pasilla peppers to the center, which I enjoyed.

I also threw together another vegetable because all of the meat was scaring me. I had a ton of zucchini from the farm share, so I just seasoned it and N grilled it up quickly. It made me feel a little better about all of the meat on the table!

This weekend we finally tried a new game, Ra (BGG)! Before everyone arrived, I read through the rules and played a few rounds by myself to learn the mechanics. After dinner, the boys watched a video review explaining the game and I printed a cheat sheet and player mat for everyone.

Ra
A new game for us!

We played two games and it actually went very well for all five of us learning a new game. I think the video watching before the game really made a difference and the game was very well received -- even if you and I are not sure about auction games! I'm pleased to have a 5 person game that doesn't suck and even more pleased we had a relatively argument-free experience with a new game. I look forward to playing Ra again.

8May/111

“Would you hand me that bucket?”

Good morning J -

I woke up with that distinct too-much-charred-food thirst, I drank two tall glasses of water and feeling a little better now. We made, and ate, a lot of chicken wings last night, except for N.  He exhibited good self control, or he didn't like them! Or he was worried about G's chicken. 🙂


oh hey, picture of indistinguishable charred food

There were two and a half types of wings - the original wingz recipe and trial of a new one.

The original one is a many generations modification of Wings of Fire from Chevy's Fresh Mex Cookbook. I used G's variantion - spicier mix of peppers, garlic, oregano, etc.  (We have a milder one that we use for non-spicy eaters.). The wings are tossed in the rub, grilled, then doused with store bought Armadillo's BBQ sauce.

The new trial one is Trini Tamarind Wings from Throw Down with Bobby Flay. We occasionally catch his show on Food Network. I am not a Bobby Flay fan, but this show is not bad. I enjoy the featured cooks and Bobby Flay's interpretation. The odds are stacked against him. Newly interpreted recipes are no match against the native local cooks and judges!

I followed the marinade recipe (*chopped herb instead of food processed, and faked Cajun seasoning). The wings were marinated for two days, grilled (*instead of fried), then doused in tamarind sauce (*used tamarind paste instead of pulp). I used G's spicy rub for the 'secret recipe of peppers' and skipped the sugar for the lava sauce, which I added to half the wings.

The consensus was the double sauced wings is a keeper. The 'goop' was tasty.  I feel like G over grilled the wings (coals too hot? flare ups?). I enjoyed them all. What is not to like about giant platters of chicken wings!

After we stuffed ourselves with wings, you alerted me that N and G were doing something outside. The multi-months in progress of G's attempt to take down an old apple tree with very deep roots. With D's help, they managed to uproot it.. Oye.

D OCD fixing the tile audit

When they came in, I preempted the discussion by declaring we will play Acquire. I tried the 'flip this property' strategy early in the game. I did a little better this time, came in the middle of the pack. G's strategy, buy low, sell high, and location location location worked really well for him. You also rescued him just in time with a merger, he was out of cash.  Lucky G. N and D cooked up an alliance on Worldwide, but I couldn't get in Worldwide. So, didn't work out for them since I kept the merger tile out of play.

Baklava by e for g's birthday
Happy Birthday to G!

After a contentious game, we took a break to have a large piece of Baklava, recipe found on Epicurious. G shelled the almost 2lbs of pistachios, and I followed the recipe advice and hand chopped it. (I don't think it makes any difference). I also added Rose water. I used Athens Fillo and either I counted poorly or the stated 40 sheets was inaccurate, or both. I kept losing count between the layers. Then midway through the assembly, I ran out of butter. Er yeah.

We finished the evening with a game of Mama Mia. Five persons Mama Mia plays slightly different than 4 persons. I kept expecting to draw ingredients but did not. I had a terrible game, only made two pizzas. Boo. Good thing I was full already.

Hope you enjoyed the evening!

Filed under: dinner review, games 1 Comment