Friday, July 08, 2011
I somehow got roped into making Family Dinner. This vexed me, but it was hard to blame my kin completely. I am a Master in the Kitchen, at least when it comes to creative ideas. The only reason I do not cook more often is my broken battered body which cannot hold up to the rigors of fast-paced culinary powers - or hell, even standing!
The only way I could really make it work was to prepare the food in shifts, all day long, with down-time in between each stage so that I could mini-recover. This necessity lended itself well to the idea of a salad, which has many ingredients that are prepared separately and thrown together at the end.
The first thing I did was freeze a pound of brown-sugar bacon, to make it easier to cut. Then I chopped it up into little pieces (although they were sticking together in their line, but soon separated) and fried them up in two batches.
While the bacon was crisping I opened four little tubs of Sweet N' Sour sauce I had leftover from Burger King. (I may be poor but I'm creatively efficient, or efficiently creative; not sure which.) To the Sweet 'N' Sour I added some Teriyaki marinade from the fridge (I wanted to add Soy, but there was none; not even little packets from Chinese take-out!) and a little bit of corn syrup. I then added some Raspberry Preserves jam and a few grinds of the pepper mill and started stirring. When the bacon was all cooked off I poured the hot grease into my little concoction and stirred like mad to make an emulsification for my dressing. (Because the bacon grease was hot, and because the temperature in the house was so blasted hot, the emulsification kept breaking, but I would just restir each time to satin it back up.)
I put the bacon pieces in paper towels to soak up excess grease and to cool. After a short rest I started heating water. While that was happening I peeled two mangos and cut them up into little pieces.
When the water was boiling I added six packages of Ramen. After a couple of minutes I poured the noodles into a collander and put the pan back on the stove. I added two tablespoons of butter (which melted readily in the super hot pan). I added the noodles back into the pan, added a little more butter and tossed the noodles around. After a minute I added the six flavor packets (chicken), and tossed very thoroughly to evenly coat the spices. I spread the ramen out on my cutting plastic to cool.
(Like an idiot I put a napkin on top to protect the ramen, and when I removed it I had a bunch stuck to the napkin, which I had to pull off one noodle at a time and eat myself.)
Once the ramen was cooled and dried out a little I chopped it up a good bit, since long strands would not be condusive to salad.
I now had done most of my prep.
I went to the store - on a Friday night, me! - and knew that I would never make it without the cripple cart. I have never used one in the daytime, which basically means i haven't been in a grocery store during the day in years. It felt weird.
I picked up two packages of Asian-style Teriyaki-Honey boneless wings (about 16 oz.) in the deli. I also got 2 pints of grape tomatoes and a bunch of organic red-leaf lettuce. (I already had Romaine-in-a-bag, but I wasn't sure that was enough.)
I couldn't get just one carrot (my plan was to shred it), but I found shredded carrots for only $0.99 so that was good. I wanted to buy pistachio pieces but I could only find in the shell and whole - a small tin was ten bucks! I ended up getting a Blue Diamond tin of Honey Roasted almonds. I ended up smashing half up into little bits and leaving half of them whole.
I got to the house and dried the organic lettuce (they keep that stuff wet!) best I could. I chopped it up and added it to the romaine.
My biggest problem now was that I didn't have a bowl big enough for all this. I ened up having to take some of the lettuce out, and in the end I'm not sure I shouldn't have just skipped the lettuce and called it a pasta!
I chopped up the boneless wings into bite-sized pieces and added them to the lettuce, along with the bacon, cold ramen, almonds, mangoes, tomatoes, shredded carrots and...I'm forgetting something. Oh yeah, golden raisins!
I coated it all very lightly in my dressing, and served with this really cool loaf of French bread I found that had ridges on the top that were so deep it was almost like pull-apart.
Also, I bought a Boston Cream Cake for dessert. (It was half off, just like the chicken. I often get meats or bakery items that way when they are day-old. Hey, they are still good to me!) My dad told me it was actually called a Boston Cream Pie, even though it was a cake. I'd heard of BCP, of course, but never seen one, so I learned something there.
To drink I got Jones Sugar-Free Black Cherry soda. I like Jones because they put pictures on the bottles, cans and packages that customers send in. I had to search a long time because my brother will not touch aspartame, but luckily Jones had sucalose so it was all good.
Everyone seemed to love the salad, so I guess I did well. I blew my entertainment budget for the entire month. (Sorry, Optimus Prime and Hermione), and I may not be able to walk across my room for at least a week, but it made my family happy and gave them good memories and....well, that's not doing it for me right now, but I'm sure there's an upside I'm not seeing.