Monday, April 25, 2011

Food, Bikes, Bliss

It's the last day of Passover for Reform, so I had the blessed opportunity of sleeping in and leisurely sitting in my living room with a cup of coffee. Soon I'll head to the gym and then I think I'll spend the rest of the day at home reading. It's raining and a perfect day for such things. Plus I haven't been home much and Frankie has been clearly annoyed by that fact.

But it's been good, this moving and etcetera.

I travelled. I read poems in faraway cities. Like Tucson, with Noah Eli Gordon and Sommer Browning. I forgot to get a picture of that particular crowd. But I did get a picture of me and my friend Marybeth at all the various amazingnesses that we saw.

Like Marybeth rocking out to Kansas:

And raptors at the Desert Museum:

And then I read in Portland. They were all so lovely. I wanted to take them all home with me and feed them pot roast or something.

And finally, the fine folks in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, those Slash Pine magicians who made put my poems in such a beautiful casement and then invited me down into their southern hospitality just to listen to me read some poems:

Look at all of their glorious, smiling faces. They were so kind. And there were so many of them! And I was so nervous and had to speak into a microphone behind a podium that was almost as tall as I was. In fact, if you counted the microphone, it was as tall as I was.

But I survived and then got to chill and listen to everybody else amaze and wow with their awesome languages.

Now I'm back in Seattle and back for a good long while. No more mini reading tours for me for a while. Since being back, I've been hitting ye old gym hardcore. Got to train for my forthcoming giant bike ride. No longer Seattle to Portland, thanks to its selling out. Now the Seattle Century. 100 miles around the city-- 100 miles of rolling hills and probably leg, and wrist, and neck misery. But that happy kind.

I've been working hard on the bike, outside of the gym as well. Thanks to my gym's spin class I felt ready to tackle some long bike rides. One week, 25 miles. The next week, 45 miles. My legs are sore, but that 45 mile ride was worth it. It was sunny and clear blue skies with the lake on our right the whole way up.

Here's the view at Matthew's Beach:

I have, however, been going out to eat too much so cooking has been less and less. I've done a few things... developed a cayenne honey glaze, which was amazing on beef and broccoli. And even more exciting was my finally, finally breaking out my cast iron dutch oven.

I've been thinking about it for a while, and the sunny weather this Saturday made me realize I was running out of dutch oven weather. I mean, who wants to turn on the oven for hours in the middle of summer in an apartment with no air conditioning, right?

But the weather cooled as early as Sunday, yesterday, and so I took the opportunity, after work, to do a test run of a dish I've been thinking of.

I bought two free-range chicken breasts and a yam and a can of light coconut milk. After seasoning the cast iron, I dumped the coconut milk in the pan with some sesame oil, white vinegar, a scoop of massaman curry paste, and fish sauce. (I meant to include some soy sauce... but didn't realize that I was out... so it just wasn't available.) I whisked that into an even consistency. I placed the whole breasts into the mixture then peeled and cubed the yam and put it around the chicken. I put the lid on, and stuck it in the oven at 200F for about 3.5 hours.

What came out was delicious:

I fully intend to do this again in two weeks when I go down to Portland. I'm going to make some changes though. A tiny bit of brown sugar and definitely some soy sauce...both to bring out the richness of the massaman. I think the vinegar (a snap judgement made from my experiences with pulled pork) was a definite must... but maybe I didn't need the sesame oil. I'm worried it made the consistency too greasy. Then, I think I'll separate the chicken and yams, puree the yam mixture, and recombine. It'll be amazing served over jasmine or sticky rice. Which makes me really wish I had a sticky rice basket. Maybe I'll purchase one of those soon.

I'm also slowly designing my perfect spring rolls, which I imagine I'll serve with this dish. It'll definitely include fresh thai basil... and i think shredded beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and maybe sprouts. Not bean sprouts, but maybe alfalfa or something. I'm not sure yet. And maybe some unripe papaya... hm...

More on this as it develops.

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