Saturday, August 25, 2007

Grilled Tequila-Lime-Chipotle Shrimp

Great for shrimp, lobster, and scallops:

The marinade:

1/2 cup tequila
juice of two limes
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp chipotle powder

Marinate fresh shrimp and other assorted seafood
favorites for 90 minutes or more.

Remove from marinade when fish appear partially
"cooked" from their exposure to the tequila.

Arrange on skewers, 3 shrimp to a rod.

Grill 4-6 minutes per side, depending on size of
seafood favorites.

Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My recent reading list

The books I have finished recently...

Brave New World: Yes, it was about time I got around to reading this.

Skipping Toward Gomorrah: loved every word, and agree with it all.

Can't Buy My Love: scathing indictment of our consumerist culture.

A Long Way Gone: first person recounting of a child soldier of Sierra Leone.

The Truth (With Jokes): current events. And good jokes.

The Guy Not Taken: a bit boring and mundane compared to the review excerpts.

Where the Girls Are---Growing up female with the mass media

Garden of Mine: End of an Era

The Cliff Notes version: Everything but the mint died.

The longer version: It started out like most other gardening
years of the recent past. We have raised beds and a compost
tumbler so the soil is rich and easy to work with. I planned
for a big salad garden and a not so intense tomato-pepper-cuke
garden for later on.

Everything got planted in on time and well. Then the weirdness

the spinach never ever even sprouted, in spite of two different
plantings, two different types;

the basil never ever even sprouted, in spite of the fact that
for years and years running, it's been the best crop in the

it hardly ever rained this season, and I hardly ever watered
to compensate. And now, only the mint remains. Perhaps I will
turn it into my science experiment. Hypothesis: plants need
steady water above and beyond what is available to them in the
water table during a very dry season.

Also, I was busy with baseball, CD wrap-up in the studio, a
beach trip here and there, and lite entertaining. I let the
gardening tasks fall right off my to-do list. But I've never
done that before. I find myself trying to figure out if I should
tear it all up and put grass seed down in its place, or only
a major fraction of it. Or better yet, replace it with an
in-ground fiberglass pool. Or, perhaps more easily accepted by the rest of
the family, a batting cage.

In either case, I think that redwood colored swingset in the
middle of the back yard will also have to go. The child was
on that less than his mom was in the garden. Hard to imagine
the yard without those things, but I'm sure we'll find other things
to fill the space with.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cooking with Alcohol: Soundside Swiss Sunset Fondue

I enjoy recipes that are enhanced with alcohol. This
past week, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with
our friends, we had a request from one of the boys for
fondue night. This child has requested fondue night on
each of our last seven beach vacations. And since fondue
requires alcohol, I an only too happy to oblige him.

Only problem: in the outer banks, you must buy specialty
alcohols like, for example, KirshWasser---the required
element for swiss cheese fondue---only at ABC stores. Which
are few and far between in our soundfront dwelling.
We had to improvise.

What we did have: Rum. And maraschino cherries in syrup.

What we did with what we had: Improvise.

Here is the wonderfully tasty result, that even my picky
eater boy gave a taste. It will have a light pink hue due
to the cherry syrup. Think of the sun setting on the sound
when you see the pink.

Swiss Cheese Fondue with Cherry Rum

1/2 pound run-of-the-mill Swiss cheese
1/2 pound Gruyere cheese (required. Get this at Avon Wine and Spirits)
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp rum
1 tbsp syrup from maraschino cherries
2 cups cheap chardonnay
1 clove garlic
A loaf or two of crusty, stale french bread
(staleness can be hastened by cubing and placing in a warm oven)
a fondue pot (preferred) or a regular saucepan (bit of a pain)

Cube the bread into 1-inch cubes or smaller.

Cube the cheeses into 1-cm cubes or a bit smaller.

Mix together the rum, cherry syrup and the cornstarch. Set aside
and let meld while you prepare the fondue.

Peel skin off garlic clove. Rub the inside of the fondue pot with
the garlic clove, crushing it a little as you go.

Put two cups of wine in the fondue pot and start it simmering.
Finely chop the garlic, and add it to the wine.

When it is just about to boil, add 1/3 of the cheese cubes.
Maintain this temperature carefully; don't let the wine really boil.

Stir til nearly very well mixed.

Add a second 1/3 of the cheese cubes and stir again until nearly
well mixed.

Add the last 1/3 of the cheese cubes and again stir til nearly
well mixed.

At this point, and while stirring continuously, slowly add the rum-
cherry-cornstarch mixture, and continue to stir, adjusting heat if
necessary, until the fondue has reached a uniform consistency. At this
point it is ready for taste testing.

The taste tester should skewer a bread cube, dunk into the fondue mixture
and see if it is perfect. If it is "not", she should repeat the process. Keep
taste testing it until it is perfect. There is very little you can do at
this point to adjust it. It *will* be perfect, or nearly so. And in a moment,
the rest of your party will devour it. So keep taste testing it while you can,
and tell the folks "yup. It's almost perfect. Just another second or so..."

Serve and watch the feeding frenzy in amazement.

Next time: Chocolate fondue. With, guess what?!, rum!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

What a Doll

I love the Ladies. Barenaked Ladies to be more specific.
I'm a huge fan of their talent for not taking themselves
too seriously while writing deeply touching songs about
suicide, loss, relationships and other complications of
life. Here is my favorite BNLadie doing a great solo
performance of a straight-up well constructed song. In
his bathroom.