Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Snow Days Part 2; Gift from Laughing Orca Ranch

I'll bet you didn't even know there was a Part 1, did you? Well, I had such a lovely weekend I felt the need to boast share more of it! We woke up Saturday to an inch or so of snow, which, though a bit wet in the afternoon, eventually froze into a solid sheet. Areas that weren't heavily trafficked, while smooth, weren't particularly slick, so on Sunday I took Rosie for a "slide" instead of a walk.

Above and below are pictures I took around the pond in our neighborhood common area. I had little idea if they would come out well, since the sun was so bright--you know how impossible it is to see the screen on a digital camera. Fortunately, mine also has an old-fashioned viewfinder. This was the first time I'd been so completely dependent on it.

As we walked along, a troupe of four Canada geese came sailing in, honking their arrival and sinking through the air to land on the pond. Instead of the usual "kasplassshhhhhh" of a long water landing, I heard more of a "ksssshhhhh" as they landed agilely atop the thin layer of ice! They then proceeded to stroll around, while I wondered how likely they were to step onto a thin spot and fall through. Not very, I'll bet.

Backtracking a little...since Saturday's snowfall melted with the express intent of refreezing that night into smooth black ice, Chef Adam told Miss Chef to stay home. Which is why I had such a great weekend; once again we had Saturday and Sunday off together, just like REAL people! However, about an hour after he called, Miss Chef started getting antsy. Cabin fever, already?!?

Turns out, she was getting hungry, and craving "something cheesy, and something with gravy." None of which we had ready to hand. So we ventured out to the grocery store--after I had gone through all the trouble of going for milk the night before! I consoled myself with the fact that Miss Chef had actually used some milk already, to make biscuits (from Jiffy mix, don't get excited).

Her first concoction was mac 'n' cheese...

We like to put broccoli in ours, as you can tell. 'Cause, you know, cheddar and broccoli are a delicious combo, too. Miss Chef has taken to adding corn, too, mostly as an attempt to get more vegetables into me. The first time, I didn't notice until I was eating it, which is fortunate, because it sounded too weird to contemplate. But corn adds a lovely sweet contrast to the salty cheesiness. Really, it's good!

Now, I had planned ahead for Sunday dinner by pulling a turkey breast out to thaw on Friday night. And then, Saturday morning, I remembered...our oven only has one working element, and we have yet to figure out how to adjust time and temperature to work around it. (Witness those biscuits I referred to earlier, which turned out very white, and both under- and over-cooked at the same time. Neither one of us was upset when Rosie stole the leftovers off the counter later.)

Well, Sous-chef Flartus to the rescue! I had recently read an article about a family whose oven was broken at Thanksgiving, and who cooked their bird on the grill. It turned out so well, they've been doing it that way ever since! I mentioned it to Miss Chef, but wasn't sure it was an option for us. See, we have a 6-year old Weber-style kettle grill: very small, getting rusty, needing replacement. So I was thinking maybe we'd opt for asking the neighbors if we could borrow their oven, for a share in some turkey breast.

Miss Chef, however, had seized on the grill idea, and was ready to make a go of it. She seasoned the breast with salt and pepper, then put it in a shallow aluminum pan with water in it (to keep it moist). Then she just popped it on the grill, put the lid on, and walked away.

That's right--she set it and forget...ted it.

As I sat around lazily surfing the net and reading the paper, Miss Chef kept busy in the kitchen.

From front to back, those are glazed carrots, gravy from turkey stock (save those bones, people!), and chives on the cutting board ready to go into the mashed 'taters in the mixer. Oh yeah, I love it when Miss Chef has time to cook!
And the turkey? It took a few hours, but it came out looking gorgeous!

No basting, no glaze, just salt and pepper. I could have done the same thing, and it wouldn't look half this good. And it tasted amazing! Reminiscent of the smoked turkey legs at the Renaissance Festival. Some of the outer meat was a bit tough, but the flavor made it worth the extra chewing, and most of the meat was tender enough.

And for dessert...s'mores, of course!


As you can imagine, heading back to work on Monday was a harsh dive back into reality. But when I got home, there was a lovely surprise waiting for me! Lisa of Laughing Orca Ranch had a giveaway a little ways back concerning some amusing chicken pictures, and chose my caption as a runner up. I had no idea what kind of "literary" award she had for me, but I was amazed at how well she nailed it!

Lemme tell ya, this is a great book for anyone who's ever lived in France. It's the (mostly) fictional story of a young Englishman working for a French company in Paris, and the ensuing linguistic and culture shock. All told in that charmingly dry British humour. Every scene brings back memories of my own experiences: figuring out clothing, greetings, waiters, and the weird ways the French re-interpret English words for their own use...but it's a lot funnier seeing somebody else deal with it. (And that's all just in the first 30 pages.)

Excellent choice, Lisa. Very well played! Thank you very much, I shall greatly enjoy it! I will be happy to recommend you as a personal shopper for anyone having trouble picking out gifts; you seem to have a knack for it.

On a related note, I'm hoping to have my own giveaway soon...though I still have to figure out what kind of hoops to have you jump through fun task to have you all do. Stay tuned!


  1. That mac and cheese looks good, I am seriously addicted to "cheesy" food. I am so glad Miss Chef puts corn in her mac and cheese because I like it that way too! It is good, I have put peas in mac and cheese before. Good but not as good as the corn. Now I can finally tell my husband it is not weird because the chef that did those beautiful tree log cakes (I showed him the pictures) puts corn in her mac and cheese too! So there, ha!

  2. Now that's using your noggin! I love how you creatively navigated around your issues and still managed to create heaven on a plate. I would have made Larry take me out to dinner. Cuz I'm lazy and stupid that way.

    Your grilled turkey breast reminded me of what Ina Garten did yesterday on The Barefoot Contessa... she butterflied a chicken flat {removing the back and breast bones} and grilled it whole. Looked amazing! I think these grilled poultry suggestions are trying to tell me something...

  3. mac 'n' cheese, grilled turkey breast, gravy, mashed taters, GLAZED CARROTS, oh my, I'm sitting here salivating, any leftovers? I wish y'all would open your own little cafe and serve food like that, and make a reservation!

  4. Maybe you and Miss Chef could come to my house and make me a fabulous dinner? That would be a great giveaway!

    I've done turkey breast in the crock pot. Love it grilled... but the crock pot was so easy, too! Just did a small amount of water in the bottom then lots of butter under the skin. Yum!

    I love geese on water- something so graceful about it. Even though they are mean, vile creatures. :)

    Word Ver: shytho I just think that's cute.

  5. Oh- and I love to add stuff to my mac n cheese. Tuna and peas was what my mom used to make so that's a total comfort thing for me. Haven't done corn but totally willing to try it. Broccoli- yum-o!

  6. Congrats on the snow. It looks so pretty! And the geese look like they're ice skating. hehe!

    I am SO going to use that great new word you've created 'forget-ted' That's just brilliant!
    It really should be added to the English language as an official word! :-D

    I'm impressed with the ingenuity and creativity the two of you have when cooking, too. Your meal looked delicious. And I am all over those S'Mores!

    I'm so tickled that you like the book. The moment I saw it, I thought of you!

    Enjoy your snow and keep warm, my friend :)


  7. Great photography! I don't need to even think about Mac and cheese though!

    Enjoyed my visit to your blog!

  8. Julie, welcome, and thanks for your comment!

    I'm so glad to know there's a plethora of additives out there for mac 'n' cheese. Maybe we'll have to experiment more here...

    Liz, if you were to provide airfare...and maybe move to the Caribbean... :)

    Joanna, that's the idea. Someday we will have a restaurant. The menu keeps evolving, though.

    Alix, I've seen Alton Brown do that, too, under the broiler. As he puts it, it's almost like an upside-down grill.


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