Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A 10-minute recipe, described in ... less than half an hour!

(This post is aimed at my co-workers. There will be insider-ism.
Apologies. Feel free to ask for clarification.)

Gave the recipe on page 2 of the current flyer a shot.

TL;DR? It was easy and delicious. Recommended as a Try At Least Once, minimum.

I hate buying pre-made food, as many of you already know, but this seemed like one of those times where I had to let reality and rationality rear their ugly heads: I am not likely to make chicken soup from scratch anytime soon, so, okay, pay for two tubs of the Kettle Cooked Chicken Soup (Flyer item, in the Fresh section), be glad about the 20% discount, and let's move on.

Pro tip. Open the tubs of soup in your kitchen sink. Well, remove the outer lid wherever, but immediately after that, put the tubs DIRECTLY into the sink. Do not try to remove the inner liner thing on the counter, or at a table, or in your hands, free-standing anywhere. The plastic film is about as easy to remove as BoJo at ten minutes past nine, and whether you are able to use the pull tab (I was one for two on this) or have to deploy your boxcutter at home, you will be glad you did put the tubs in the sink: spatter is inevitable, in both cases. This is supposed to be a ten-minute meal. You don't want to double that time with the thankless task of mopping up a slightly fatty liquid.

Okay, tubs are open.

Yes, I opened them in the sink, wiseass. I have, occasionally, learned from experience, and this is one of those times I was able to apply it.

Dump them into ... whoa. Not sure what kind of kitchen the people who wrote this recipe live in, but forget the "medium." You want a LARGE saucepan. We're talking three pints of liquid, just from the soup tubs alone ...

... and you know that the gnocchi is going to swell, at least a little bit ...

... and then there's the cream. (This is, per the recipe, a box of the shelf-stable heavy cream. If you are, like me, no longer buying much from the dairy section, but still occasionally interested in creaming up a sauce, so to speak, this definitely seems like a pantry item worth adding to your mental bookmarks.)

And also, there will be stirring.

The directions did not say whether to cover the saucepan or not. I chose not to. I am paranoid (this will shock approximately none of you) about cooking anything with cream, so I wanted to be able to see what was going on. And what does "heat to a simmer" mean, anyway? To me, "simmering" means just a hint of bubbles, even after stirring. So, I was a little poised.

Once it got to where it looked like this ...

... I turned the heat down to way low. Tasting it at this point told me that the temperature was already there, so I didn't think the recipe's direction of ten more minutes of heating was in order; I thought, maybe a couple more minutes of slow heat would help things thicken or coalesce or whatever the right word is.

Pro tip #2/note to self: there is something about heating liquids involving cream that make them waaay hotter than, say, anything cooked in just plain boiling water, like rice or pasta or vegetables. Do your tasting with care, here.

Turned off the heat, covered it, will let it sit for a couple of minutes. Real cooks will very often tell you to let things rest for a bit before serving. (Also, mouth still a little sensitive from last tasting.)

And now, we have ... a bowl of soup! Dinner time!

P.S. About the pairing: My habit, when wine-shopping, is to get a few of the old reliables, and to get a few that I haven't tried. In the latter area, I am always looking for something cheap, that I've never heard of, in the hopes of discovering that next Great Buy. What's in the glass pictured above has nailed that from Day 1, and continues to do so, and the real beauty of it is that despite my massive influencer clout, the price has remained unchanged from the first time I bought it. It's a Cabernet Sauvignon, from Casas Patronales, in Chile, and you can get it for $12/bottle. At Station Liquors, across from the Mamaroneck Train Station, at least. It's not fall down fainting from amazement good, but it is whoa, I'm really happy to pay this price for a bottle of plonk that more than boosts a quick dinner after work good.

Also, great logo.

P.P.S. The recipe says "serves 4-6." I can attest that you will have 4-6 more or less average bowlfuls on hand. Whether that will actually serve 4-6 discrete *people* is ... an open question, to put it politely. I am on my third bowl, as we speak. This most definitely speaks to the goodness of the output of the recipe, but does leave me wondering, again, about the TJ kitchen, where, it now seems, not only are the saucepans massive, but the stomachs are tiny.

P.P.P.S. About the garnish mentioned in the flyer recipe: ain't nobody got thyme for that.

P.P.P.P.S. (Translation: Forgot to buy.)

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Minor weirdness

One guy convicted of stealing $300K, gets 1-3 years. Another guy convicted of stealing $250K, gets 8-24. Both were convicted of several felonies.

Here is a little more backstory on the guy who got the longer sentence. One suspicion: he got the book thrown at him for rejecting a plea deal and insisting on a trial. (The plea deal was, comparatively speaking, nothing -- five years of probation and community service.)

At any rate, thanks to our state controller and associates for nailing a couple more fraudsters.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Remember "Gilligan's Island?"

From yesterday's Nextdraft newsletter (link):

3 men rescued from Pacific island after writing SOS in sand. (Wait, that actually worked!!?)

I have many memories of that show, and one of the most vivid (why, I have no idea) was a time when they somehow knew an orbiting spacecraft was going to be flying overhead, so they made a huge SOS sign out of logs and set them on fire.  Only, Gilligan tripped over the last letter, so the people flying above thought it said SOL and ignored it.

(Just now realized the irony of what the message morphed into, but I don't think that back then anyone used SOL to mean "Shit Outta Luck.")

[Update 2020-08-05 13:35] I never thought to check, but thanks to a DMer on Twitter, here are more deets.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

No Goings On

Most times, when I read The New Yorker, I skip, or at best, skim, the opening section, Goings On About Town. I feel mildly guilty about this, as though I'm a boor who waves off all of the culture available to me, just a short train ride away, not to mention a spoiled brat who ignores the work that went into reporting on it all.

Sometimes, I take comfort in the existence of this section, thinking that if I have had the foresight to bring an issue of The New Yorker with me to a place where I'm going to have to wait, and I have read all of the articles in it, and my waiting time is still not up, then I'll always have Goings On About Town to fall back on.

Yesterday, around 1pm, I called my regular place to ask if I could bring my car in for a while-I-wait oil change. Ralph, the owner, said, "Uh, I'm actually not there. I forwarded the phone to my cell. I sent my guys home and closed up at noon. I only sold sixty-eight gallons of gas all morning."

Turned out he was fine with my coming by this morning, so I did, and even though I had to be there at the ungodly hour of 9am, I had had just enough coffee to remember to bring the latest (Mar. 23, 2020), as yet unread, issue of The New Yorker. Got to the station, handed over my car key, settled in to wait. Opened the mag ...

screenshot saying 'As a result of the coronavirus crisis and the closing of New York City venues, Goings On About Town will not appear this week.'

Okay, not to worry. How long could an oil change take, when I was the only customer in the place? The Talk Of The Town was good. Thoroughly enjoyed the first of the long articles, by Jill LePore, on the census, But Who's Counting?, and the second, by James Somers, on the study of avalanches, Cold War. Had just started the third, Emily Nussbaum on Fiona Apple, Skin In The Game, when Ralph came into the waiting area. Oil change was all done. HOWever. I did need an air filter. And a new belt. And a brake job. I asked if they could do it now. He said, sure, and that it would take about two hours.

As is usual with this fine place, he offered to give me a ride home and then come pick me up when the job was done. A small part of me felt like social distancing ought to apply (why be in an enclosed car with someone else, if you don't have to be), and a large part of me did not want to take him up on his usual generosity: since there was a skeleton crew in place, just Ralph and one mechanic, I thought it might stress him out to have to be away, even for ten minutes. So, I said, "No, thanks. Appreciate it. But I don't mind waiting." I went outside for a cigarette to go with the complimentary cup of coffee and contemplated time spent reading so far, approximate number of pages left, odds that I was going to like any of the rest of the articles, having totally scored on two already, thought about the missing Goings On About Town, and tried to remember if I had seen anything else to read in the waiting area. Aside from signs on the wall and hanging bags of snacks, I could not think of anything. Not even a tube of toothpaste [1]. I suppose anxiety would be putting it a bit strongly.

In the end, all the work was done before I got to the end of the magazine, and it only cost me $700 for an oil change! #winning

P.S. Weird thing when I got home and checked the snail mail. When I opened my box, I saw a new issue of The New Yorker. Dateline? Mar. 16, 2020. Well, it is the Styles Issue. I suppose it's appropriate that it's fashionably late.