Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Cooking

It looked like it was going to be a very quiet holiday weekend. But good fortune was ours as we were able to get Gaius Derf and Agent W over on short notice for a Memorial Day meal. I was inspired to try a new fashion of prepare chicken.

Marinade for Chicken
A lot of fresh garlic

Put in the blender

A lot of fresh sage

Sherry and Olive Oil

All goes in the blender with salt and whole black peppercorns

Butterflying the Chicken

Use a kitchen shears to cut out the backbone

Cut the ribs and wishbone out
The bird now sits nice and flat. It will cook more evenly and the white meat will be very easy to cut once it is cooked.

Put the chicken in a zip lock bag and add the marinade
Marinade for at least 4-6 hours

Don't waste the backbone and other pieces
Use them to make a little chicken stock
Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I put the garlic flavor into the potatoes via the butter
I put a lot of fresh garlic into butter and cooked it over a very slow heat, around 20 minutes

I have found that a potato ricer is the best way of getting really soft fluffy mashed potatoes

Drain the garlic from the butter and use in the potatoes along with the potato cooking liquid to get the consistency you want.
Provencal Green Salad

I used a combination of romaine and iceberg lettuce along with some escarole.
The herbs below are fennel greens, lavender, and oregano - all fresh

I cooked the chicken in the charcoal grill over indirect heat after searing both sides

Guess what...this is bottle Gaius Derf is opening is not the first bottle of wine of the afternoon

Chicken, mashed potatoes, and slow roasted leeks

Of course, none of our meals is complete without one of Wife's desserts - strawberry pie in this case

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mega Hike of the Season (so far)

Michael and Bill's Sandia Outfitters (Our motto: You Have Nothing to Lose - except a bear...or a rattlesnake...or maybe over a cliff) is back in business big time. Now Bill has been lying low the last couple of years since the unfortunate 'Gary' incident. But liability has a short memory.

We have been working weeks for this big event...the South Crest Trail Challenge. 14 miles. 4000 feet plus of climb.

6:50 AM
Wild Bill readies himself for the hike ahead
He left signed copies of his will with Wife who dropped us off at the trail head.

Oh Deceptive Picture
This is picture is taken after the first hour of hiking.
We are at the start of a shortcut we take called the CCC Trail. It cuts 3 miles off of the hike.
Let me quote what Michael Coultrin author of the "Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide" has to say about the CCC Trail.

"The CCC Trail is a steep trail gaining 1800 feet over 1.8 miles (100 feet climb for each 10th of mile)...Hiking up the CCC route leaves me panting for air and stopping every few hundred yards to rest...the CCC route is a great challenge for the more advanced hikers."
I didn't bother to read any of this to Wild Bill before we left. He's a principal in this venture. He should no these things. We did not stop every few hundred yards. We slogged on up. And we suffered. But we prevailed. At the end we were back on South Crest Trail at the 9000+ foot range ready to move on.
Looking South

North along the direction we'll be hiking

Looking up toward the South Peak of the Mountain

This section of the mountain trail is very much almost tundra-ish with just short scrub oak.

Our first glimpse of our destination, the North Crest Peak in the distance

Looking East

One of a number of times we come to the edge of the crest looking West over Albuquerque city.

For many miles we are going through forested areas

We're about halfway now around 3.5 hours into the hike and look back south to the South Peak. The CCC Trail was climbing that incline to the left.

Looking due north, the peak in the distance is the Sangre de Cristo mountains next to Santa Fe

We're just about done.
However, the last couple of miles is another major climb to take us to the 10500 foot mark.
We took a long rest before tackling this.
We've learned that having plenty of water and food is important and we were fueling up for this last climb.

Hike Done
6 hours 20 minutes
It was tough
Looking south over the distance we've covered

North at Sandia Peak

Wild Bill ready to take the tram down for a welcome celebratory beer!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Leg Room Jackpot

On Monday I was catching a 6 AM flight from Albuquerque to LA with a plane change in Phoenix. I noted when I was checking in on line that this was an unfamiliar aircraft, an Airbus 321. Since I fly the same airlines most of the time I know most of the planes and most of the good and not so good seats on these planes. But this was a new one and the seating chart looked odd.

So I went to the the Seat Guru website and checked it out. And I found this exit aisle seat that they said had extra leg room and a place to put your carry on underneath in front of you.

And this is just a single aisle airplane. I was a happy air traveler.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weekend Hiking and Drinking

Gee I know those are two things I never write about :(

On Saturday, Wild Bill and I did our second big hike preparing for the mega South Crest Trail epic of this coming weekend. We had a scare because they are closing national forests throughout the state because of the drought and fire danger. We thought our epic was going to get closed off. But so far the Sandias have been spared a total closing.

We did a loop that I described years before but since I don't tag I can't easily find it - :(
It's a 12 mile loop with a steep first 2.5 miles that is similar to the steepness of shortcut next week. I did a much better job of eating and drinking properly the couple of days before the hike and made sure I brought plenty of food and water. Even though we paced ourselves we ended up doing the distance in a very good time. I was particularly impressed that after we took our sandwich and rest break that our recuperation was quite noticeable. Note to self - make sure you take those rests during the hike next week.

I also made sure that I iced both my calves and the backs of my thighs when I got back. Bill has advised me on this before but I didn't do it the week before. What a huge difference in how I felt the next day.

I had no plans for Sunday but talked to Gaius Derf on the phone and found out that Agent W was out of town for over a week. So I said if he wanted to have some wine to stop over but I wasn't planning on cooking or anything. He did come over and I asked him to bring over his popcorn pot. Derf makes the best popcorn I've ever had and it is a rare treat for Wife and I. We had two pots of popcorn with bottles of California Viogner and a California Provence style Rose. We ended up deciding we needed something to eat after all and I whipped up some shrimp on angel hair pasta.

I sent Derf packing pretty early because I needed wake up at 4 AM to catch a 6 AM flight to LA.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is There The Jihad Equivalent for Gardening?

And landscaping for that matter.

Mrs de-I over the winter decided that the backyard did not meet her expectations. I know that I've written in the past about the fact once Wife gets the bit in her teeth she really doesn't let go. It's one of the attributes about her that I love and respect most because she simply will out work and persist just about anyone I know to reach her objective. You may remember back to 2007 when there was Squirrelhad, the holy war against the squirrels that had the temerity to attack her garden.

So this year she took classes in gardening and landscaping over the winter. This resulted in major rearrangements of plant placements and soil amendments, etc., etc. Then there are the multitude of detailed graph papers (with color coding) of how the backyard is going to be redone. (Thank you Bank of de-I for the funding). I will try to sneak a picture or two of one of the plan versions.

In the meantime she is working like freaking maniac planting this, digging out that, mulching this other thing. I'm sure I will be very, very happy later in the year as the beauty and the bounty show up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Msc Pictures

Food from Saturday

Super Multi-Meat Sauce

Roasted Vegetables

Home Made Pasta

5:55 AM

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Question - An Answer

I feel this special bond with fellow blogger Terri because we met as result of having blogged about our organ donation experiences. I put yesterday a little notice about it being the 3rd anniversary of the event and Terri put on a comment with this question.

"I know that those days must have been a monumental time in your life. Do you think about it often anymore? I probably go weeks or months without even thinking about it. Everyone should know what an easy thing it is to do!"

So I decided to make another post in response. Actually I hardly ever think about it. Life has this way of going from monumental to ordinary and at least for me I get fully engaged in wherever I am now. Neither past nor future are where I dwell much.

Accept when I do.

Because as Terri states, it was truly a monumental time in my life. I won't go into detail as I wrote extensively about it here (See tabs Living Organ Donor starting here). But in short, it ranks right up there with the most difficult things I ever did. When I go through those old posts it brings it all back (by the way I don't do that often!). And I would have to say that at least for me it wasn't easy at all. But each person's experience is different. I suspect a lot of what made it difficult relates to how old I was when I did it (60). Your body just doesn't bounce back that quickly as you get older.

So in conclusion, let me just say I'm very, very, very glad I went through it, that my sister did so well both physically and in terms of contribution to life, and that knowing everything I do now, I would do it again.

However, in case you are looking for body parts, I am officially retired :)

Third Anniversary

My sister reminded me that last Saturday was the third anniversary of our kidney donation and transplant. Her last couple of exams have shown the kidney to be working excellently.

As I may have mentioned, I may traffic in my ownbody parts but only the best quality parts! Unfortunately, Wife has asked that I retire that particular business until further notice :(

If you know of anyone who is contemplating the organ donation path, my extensive reporting of my history is available to them in this blog under the tags "Living Organ Donation"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Round-up

Hike, Cook, Work

Pretty much the definition of the weekend.

Wild Bill and I are gearing up for a reprise of the epic South Crest Trail Hike on Memorial Day weekend. We have done this twice before in 2006 and 2008. The trail is 17 miles long and 4000 feet in climb though we have taken a steep short cut in years past that cuts off 3 miles. So far this year we've only done relatively shorter hikes and haven't gone that high so we needed to step up our training. So on Saturday we did the Pino trail which is 9 miles or about 50% longer than what we've been doing. We were both sucking wind. Naps in the afternoon were required.

Cooking was also done. We had Cabinet Lady and Dr. Debbie over for dinner...always a fun time. Wife did the bartender service making Kamikazes for the ladies and a Gimlet for me. I planned to take pictures but as usual I got too wrapped up in the cooking and entertaining. In short, I made a a special meat sauce for pasta the day before. This consists of a wide selection of meats cooked in tomatoes, onions, carrots and celery, herbs and spices. When the meat is done, you take if off the bone, blend the sauce and add the meat back in. I also roasted some veggies over the fire and marinated them overnight in fresh garlic chopped with salt, pepper and olive oil.

On Saturday, served the veggies with sprinkling of vinegar which resulted in a light vinegar flavor than if I had used vinegar in the marinade. I made home made and hand cut pasta for the sauce. And Wife did some fabulous hand made chocolate truffles sprinkled with sea salt for dessert. Wine of course and 10 year old Madeira with the truffles. Way good.

Sunday was a work day but fortunately a relatively mellow one.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Culinary Chicago

It is always such a treat when I go to Chicago for business because my partner (in spite of his protestations) is always happy to oblige my culinary cravings. I love living in Albuquerque but the food scene there just doesn't hold a candle to Chicago.

Lakeview blogged about the place we visited, Longman and Eagle. It's really just a bar, but a bar with great food. And old style food that I really love. Thanks and hats off to Ricardo who went out of his way to set this up for my benefit. So on to the details

This my friends is the elixir of the gods - Michters #1 Pure Rye Whiskey
OMG. It is so hard to find a spirit these days where they don't add some degree of sweetening to appease the modern palette. But this, this is pure distilled, aged goodness.

LL, fiance of Lakeview, has become a real fan of Belgian raspberry lambric since there recent trip to Europe.

I have no idea what this picture was supposed to be of. Lakeview was in great spirits so it really isn't representative.
On to food! Ricardo and I ordered a bunch of small plates.

Rillettes of pork (in the glass jar).
A classic French preparation of slow cooked pork shredded so it is like a pate, spread on bread.

These were Buffalo Frogs Legs.
The legs were very, very tender. It was actually hard to pick them up because the sort of fell right off the bone.
But the real star was the white stuff to the left - a foamed spread of blue cheese.
Imagine a can of cheese spread but made of super quality blue cheese.
LL wants to market the stuff.

Roasted Marrow Bones
These are all the rage in the complete animal movement.
You take the hot marrow which should be thought of us pure animal butter, spread it over bread and sprinkle salt on it.

Pastrami Cured Sweetbreads
Another excellent preparation.
Meantime Lakeview and LL were having more traditional main courses. While Ricardo and I were being given grief about the amount we were eating LL got...

...this bacon cheese burger and fries.
It was huge.
Fortunately for her, the three of us were more than happy to be the convenient pack of jackals that ate what she couldn't finish.

Lakeview had this slow roasted pork shoulder

Back to Ricardo and I
Tete de Veau
Literally, veal head. They actually took the meat that had been stewed and formed it into a patty and then put a duck egg on it.

And I can't even remember what this was :(

Ricardo, thanks again!