We moved into this house five years ago; it's probably the nicest house we'll ever have. Lots of room; too much room; enough room to allow Ms Thing and the grandmonster to live here along with me and the wife and her mom. Ahhh, but it does have a second story deck with a beautiful view: Downtown Seattle, Mt Ranier, the Olympic Mountains, and best of all the 4th of July and New Years Eve fireworks. We can't see all of them but we can see two, sometimes three display and best of all: No fussing with crowds! The wife hates crowds. We discovered this when we had a housewarming party on the 4th back in 2002, and have done a 4th party every year since.
For the most part my social life with my wife could be called, "The Ex-files." Seems like most all of our social contacts have something to do with her ex. Their kids, his new wife and her kids, his new wife's kids' families... you get the picture. Dale's one of these; What the fuck are you, Dale? In proper relative terms I mean? It's OK, since I actually like most of them, but it got a bit old, and over time we've launched out, and get this: We began inviting neighbors over.
Well first off I have to tire out the dog at the off-leash park, so she doesn't drive everyone crazy. She Loves to swim, but won't fetch a good tennis ball; it has to have some cuts and holes in it; it's best if it sinks to the bottom and she has to dive for it. Next I have to get going on my cooking. A short history:
Back in about 2003, the wife made what I thought was a STUPID investment: She was craving a grilled steak and bought a gas grill. "OK. So we have a couple of $100 steaks and then watch it rust. Smooth move Ms Ex-Lax." Who'd a thunk it: I fell in love with grilling. First it was just your standard fare of burgers and steaks; then the beer can chicken; then a beer can turkey; then for Christmas, our next-door neighbor and best friend bought me a rotisserie; and just after my last birthday I bought what I hoped would be my dream grill: A 4-burner, 100% stainless steel jobbie. Coulda got a better one at Costco though; one with a rotisserie burner in the back, for $50 less; guys are never satisfied. Lots more grill surface and lots more head room. Add to all that, several cook books, and web links supplied by my neighbor -- who's one excellent cook herself -- and you have the monster I am today. I'm no pro; I can still ruin a meal with the best of 'em, but I've fallen in love with the whole process, experimenting with rubs and marinades and sauces and techniques... So for today's menu:
Pork spare ribs and chicken tenders. Two racks of the ribs will first sit with a rub consisting of some brown sugar, powdered mustard, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. The recipe calls for some black pepper, but I'm going to skip that since the sauce I'll use -- after about one hr on the grill -- is a sweet sauce with maple syrup, ketchup, bourbon, oil Dijon mustard and cider vinegar. A third rack of ribs, for our booze-paranoid guests, will be a bit more traditional with an off-the-shelf sauce.
For the chicken, I'll use an Asian, sweet and garlicky sauce/marinade. The recipe was written up for pork chiops and I've used it before for both chops and a rotisseried loin, so today will be a first for me. I'll mixed up some brown sugar, fish (or soy) sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, grated ginger, salt and pepper and the ever present garlic (can never have too much garlic for my taste), put it an a bag with the chicken and let it stew for a few hours. The plan is to do the chicken -- which shouldn't take too long -- after the ribs, while everyone chows down and oooos and ahhhhs.
If anyone wants either recipe, drop me a note or comment, and I can either email it, or post it here for everyone. In other news of the day:
Today the wife and I plan to declare our independence from cancer sticks. The other day at Firestarter, Kimmy K mentioned a drug called Chantix. The wife's doc recommended it, my doc recommended it, my pharmacist spoke well of it... every seems to speak well of it. It's supposed to me MUCH more affective that any of the nicotine stuff out there. I've been a 1 1/2 to 2 pack a day guy for about 25 years now. I've tried cold-turkey before, but haven't lasted 24 hours -- even though I quit for 8 1/2 yrs in my twenties. Hopefully this stuff is all it's cracked up to be. You'll hear about it either way.
It's also been a month since I've had any booze other than weekend Irish Cream in my coffee. Not sure if I'll drink anything more than that today. My brother-in-law -- not at all affectionately known as "The Republican" -- will be here and the last time he was here socially, I drank more and more, and went further and further off with everything he said. The problem is, if I'm sober, I might just be physically able to throw him off my deck. All I can do if I'm plastered is be loud and crude. This guy comes up with such gems of wisdom as, "Why's everyone complaining? The economy's better than it's ever been," and "You know, people without health insurance heal faster." He's so frickin brillyunt. The wife's biggest job today will be to keep us separated. God help us all if she fails.
So there you have it. What's on your agenda?