Saturday, September 20, 2008

3 yr anniversary = Chez Panisse Reservations

Just had to share the excitement.

In other news, I made a soufflé from Julia Child's Vol 1. The presentation was dramatic and the taste was amazing.

Do is conquering the world of stews. Found a fabulous new beef stew recipe.

Made Guinness cupcakes for an office party/potluck yesterday. 4 other (female) office mates and I got lost driving to the party in the Berkeley hills, the car gave out on the slippery (super steep) slopes, and it was super foggy. We had to continue on foot, each gal carrying a pot or tray of food, wandering the streets, in the fog, lost. Perfect setup for a horror flick. Thankfully, we made it.

Alright, enough procrastinating.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Going on Hiatus

So this isn't working out too well. Blogging has gone from being a hobby, an outlet, and a community to being a walloping big guilt trip. I feel like I have to start every post with an apology for being absent. Neither one of us has time or the energy to keep this up.

We do eat, and we do eat well, but we barely have time to cook. We cook enough during the weekend to last us all week, throwing together a salad or somesuch to round out the weekday meals. It's kind of nostalgic: whenever we have a success, I still hover over the dish and take a ton of photos, knowing fully well that they probably will never make it to the internet.

Just as important, blogging is more draining than helpful these days. Our brains are full; it's actually not satisfying to take the time to write creatively and well. It's a chore.

So please forgive us, we're going on a hiatus. I don't know for how long. Do suggested that we try blogging once a week, so we may give that a try for a bit. But yeah, don't hold your breath. The world of grad school has awful long tentacles.

Thanks for your friendship,

Neen and Do

p.s. Family: photos and pithy commentary may still surface on Neen's flickr account. Gotto put all those masterpieces somewhere.
pps. For the ludicrously curious, this weekend I made my first Julia Child recipe (fish filets poached in white wine with a mushroom cream sauce, with buttered potatoes) and Do made an astonishingly delicious beef stew from Chronicle Book's Braises and Stews in his brand new Le Creuset Dutch Oven (a belated birthday present).

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Beer-Butt Chicken

Saturdays are great. I'm sitting here in the kitchen as Do makes Veal Stew and Lentil Soup, and the smells are getting better and better. He's been getting really in to "Freezer cooking" -- making large batches of stews, curries, or pasta sauces that freeze well on the weekends, so that he doesn't have to worry about cooking during the week. So far, the convenience far outweighs any nostalgia for last year's daily kitchen dances. It's not like I have time to hit the grocery store mid-week either!

He's currently manhandling 5.5 pounds of chuck roast. Sexy.

Last weekend, I decided that it was high time to introduce Do to beer-butt chicken. Most people know it as "beer can chicken" or somesuch nonsense, but c'mon. You stuff a beer can up a Chicken's BUTT people. Five year olds dissolve into giggles. Adults, moderately intoxicated (1st step in BBQing is to souse the cook), follow suit. And then you end up with the best chicken ever. Good food and a story, what's not to like?

My Mom gave my Dad a webster grill for his 50th birthday, which he then happily dragged to Switzerland and the Dominican Republic (the movers were really disturbed that they were being paid to ship woodchips across continents), taking diplomacy to a whole new level with Southern Bar-B-Q. I don't remember when Beer-Butt Chicken first made its appearance, though I do remember thinking it a rather deliciously heathen practice. Everything else was eclipsed by the amazingly succulent meat. This is really the most luscious way to cook chicken ever. The meat is spiced by the rub, emphatically not dry, and the skin is crispy.

My parents use Real Simple's recipe, so that's what I'm giving you here. We're probably going to reduce the sugar next time. Also, "medium heat" is relative -- our grill got really hot and the chicken was perfect in 40 minutes.

We then vegged out with really good chicken and watched West Wing. True Escapism. Just think that we used to live there...

Real Simple's Beer Butt Chicken

2 whole dried chiles, such as chipotle or New Mexico
2 tablespoons sugar (Consider reducing)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 3 1/2- to 4-pound whole chicken
1 12-ounce can of beer

In a blender, food processor, or spice grinder, combine the chiles, sugar, salt, and spices.

Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken and discard. Rub the chicken inside and out with the spice rub. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Light a charcoal grill and allow the coals to burn until covered with gray ash or heat a gas grill to medium. Drink half the beer; leave the other half in the can. Slide the chicken over the can and place in the center of the cooking grate, balancing the chicken on its two legs and the can, like a tripod. Cover grill.

Grill about 1 1/4 hours or until an instant-read thermometer registers 170° F inserted in the breast and 180° F in the thigh, or until the juices run clear. Carefully remove the chicken and hot can from grill. Let the chicken rest 10 minutes before lifting it from the can.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

CALORIES 528(0% from fat); FAT 28g (sat 8g); CHOLESTEROL 223mg; CALCIUM 84mg; CARBOHYDRATE 9g; SODIUM 1912mg; PROTEIN 56mg; FIBER 2g; IRON 5mg