Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Wow. The first of five days off for me. It's going to be a busy one too.

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. This year actually will feature one of Ms Thing's friends from her recovery groups (another subject), a couple who are friends of she and her brother and a co-worker of mine; we're reeeeeally getting out there. So what to do..?

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.
Lots of recovery type stuff going on around here.

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?


kimmyk said...

I forgot you were in Seattle. I'm completely and utterly jealous of the fact that every day you wake and you can see Mt Rainer. I plan on coming to Seattle this August I'm hoping possibly Sept. for a long weekend getaway. I love the Emerald City and miss it everyday. The ocean and the mountains? Soooo jealous.

I hate cooking, but for some reason I love grilling. You really can't mess that up unless of course you walk off and forget it but usually the black smoke calls you back to reality and viola! all is well.

Congrats on not drinking for a month. That's pretty impressive and the desire to want to quit smoking too. I hope all that works out well. Don't let the BIL push you over the edge to pick up a ciggie or drink this weekend. If he does I agree, shove him off the deck. Accidents happen. I'm just sayin.

Have a great 4th!

Chris in Seattle said...

Thanks, Kimmy. You'll have to tell me about your connection to Seattle. Maybe you already have, but I've forgotten. If you do get out here, maybe we can get together somehow.

I gotta scoot. Soon as I blog roll you, I'll start setting up the yard and then work on the ribs. I wanna get em rubbed by 2, on the grill by 4 or so and ready to eat by 6 or so. Funny... a long time ago, whenever I'd grill I'd forget like you said, and cook everything from one side. LOL

Have a good day.

Dale said...

Ahhh, "The Republican".....enough said. Anyway, hope it went well. Speaking of grilling, I got volunteered to BBQ for my store today. So I got paid 2.5x my normal pay to do about 3 hours of work, take a lunch break, then grill burgers and hotdogs for 3 more hours. The downside, 3 hours BBQing in the sun can do damage to a bald guy's head. I should sue for hazard pay. Good luck on the smoking, or lack there of. Here is a great summary of what happens to your body when you STOP smoking. Should be very encouraging for you. Let me know how it goes.