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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

@!#%%%% Potato Pasta Disaster

If any of you faithful readers have followed this blog for any length of time then you know the story of the great blackout of 2008. I spent about three hours before the power went out making gnocci for the first time. Well, I finally got around to cooking the little !@$!#!# turds and they were absolutely horrible. Either because of my leaving them too long in the ice water after initial cooking or because they absorbed water when thawing or just because the little !@$ turds didn't like me, they were a complete disaster. They were so water logged and mushy that they were completely inedible. Never again. They're just too difficult to make.

On the positive side, the rest of the meal went well. I made a pork cutlet dinner in a mushroom sauce that was great and I paired it with fresh green beans and braised fennel. We drank too much wine though, about 4 bottles among 4 people. It was the old standbys, nothing special for wine. One Hess cabernet, one Q cabernet, A Beringer Pinot Noir and a Puiley Fuissey (SP?) white burgundy. All of them great everyday inexpensive wines.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ham a Lamb a Easter Diner

There were thousands of people in our house for Easter dinner on Sunday. OK, it was only 20 or so people, but it was fun. The butcher shop threw me a major curve when they gave me one large lamb leg instead of 2 smaller ones, but it worked out well. The recipe wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped, but it was still tender and moist. I should have spread an herb blend on the outside in addition to the stuffing. Some highlights were the Easter decorated cupcakes from Sarah, the turtle cheesecake from Amy and the veggie casserole from Sue.

Now we have a bunch of leftover lamb and ham to eat, probably for the next month. On Monday night I made a lamb stew by using the lamb juices and making a gravy and adding a little thyme. I combined it with some potatoes and carrots. It made a nice stew. Tonight will probably be a ham and noodle casserole with some cheese and peas. Any suggestions on additional leftover lamb or ham recipes would be appreciated.

We did open the bottle of Jessup Cellars "Table for Four". It was very tasty, without being at all dry. Strangely, the bottle was very large and heavy, yet the amount of wine inside was actually less than in a usual bottle of wine. Very deceptive but it was still worth it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bad Habits

By now the intrepid reader has found that I'm all about the taste. The taste habit has grown from loving food, evidenced by my ongoing battle to keep the weight down below the big 220 number, to the enjoyment of cigars. There is a lot of psycho babble that goes along with the cigar habit. When I was growing up Dad was a cigar smoker. Back in the day when it wasn't illegal for minors to buy cigars or cigarettes for their parents Dad would send me to "the corner store" to buy cigars. The corner store was officially titled Miners Grocery but everyone in the neighborhood knew it as either the corner store or Miner's. This place was a classic of the fifties and sixties inner city life. It was located in the basement of a three decker at the corner of Clifton and Oberlin Streets in Worcester, the city I grew up in. Worcester was a very ethnic city back then, with clearly defined neighborhoods. There were Irish, French, Italian and Jewish sections of town. Worcester was primarily an Irish city, but Clifton Street bordered the French section of the city, so there was a mix of Irish and French that lived there. Having DeLisle's and Caissie's on both sides of the family, we were clearly French interlopers.

I went to Downing Street School for grammar school (1 to 6). It was a 100 year old building, run down and pretty dingy at the time. It now houses part of the music school for Clark University where my daughter Sarah occasionally teaches. It was about four blocks from home, an easy walk to and from school each day. Miner's was at the corner of our block and we had to pass it each day on our walk to school. Back then we went home every day for lunch (there was no place to eat lunch at school even if you wanted to). On a fairly regular basis after lunch Mom would give me either a few cents for penny candy or a nickle for one of the big bars. These big bars now cost a dollar or more. Ring Dings, Devil Dogs and Sno Balls were a dime on special occasions. Today you can't even find the big Ring Dings any more. I think Miners made most of their money on the neighborhood kids that stopped to but sweets or bread and milk for the house.

Dad loved his cigars when I was little. Unfortunately he liked Phillies, a mild tasting nickle cigar. He would send me to the store to pick up a five pack (25 cents) and give me a few pennies for candy. I remember this vividly, as if it really meant something to me back then. If you have to smoke, cigars are fairly benign since you aren't supposed to inhale. It's all about the taste in the mouth. Dad would inhale (Whew). I started on cigars a few years ago and now smoke about one a week. My favorite is the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos, but the Ashton VSG and CAO Cameroon aren't very far behind. Today I tried a Kristoff Maduro and really enjoyed it, a surprise since I don't usually like the Maduro wrappers.

Every time I light one up, I think of my father. Maybe it's not such a bad habit.