Hello LJ. I still love you, I’ve just been going through stuff and feeling even less inclined to post than usual. I’m still reading you almost daily.

I started an account on Tumblr, but I’m not sure where it’s going to go. I’m thinking I’ll use it for some very specific topic or other. It was kind of silly to start in the middle of a big posting ebb, but in my own mind at least, I’m on the brink of becoming more active again.

For now I’m off to cook grownup dinner. It’s a new menu: chicken turkey patty pita sandwiches with a cucumber mint yogurt sauce, and sesame eggplant on the side. First time cooking both recipes, but they both sounded pretty good.

Chicken Mole Short Stack

Last night I tried to replicate a dish from my favorite casual Mexican restaurant in New York. They called it “budin poblano,” which is a bit of a misnomer because it’s not like a pudding at all. It did resemble a small cake, though, so maybe that’s where they got the name.

Anyway it’s a stack of tortillas layered with chicken, refried beans, sour cream, and mole. I served it with my ridiculously simple Ro-Tel and frozen corn combo. It turned out really well, I’m psyched because I have missed this dish so much over the years.

Here’s what I did.

Asheville part 2

We started today with a ride on the trails at Bent Creek, in Pisgah National Forest. The trail we were on climbed up along a ridge and eventually circled Lake Powhatan. It was nice and shady, and the path itself was double-wide and gravel.

I have no idea how high it was or how much the elevation changed over our ride, but it was a lot more than we’re used to. It was pretty challenging, but fun, we just walked the bikes when we had to. It was mostly just really long uphill stretches for the first half, and then of course much more downhill on the second half. My hand is actually a little sore from all the braking coming back down. It was great fun to do, the only drawback was that I was so focused on the road that I didn’t see as much of the surrounding forest as I maybe would’ve liked. The air did me good anyway, though.

After that we headed back to Biltmore. We had a little snack, did the winery tour and sampled a few wines, and explored the old farm buildings out there. After a quick change of clothes, we dined at the inn. Oh man, what a meal. My brain quivered from the sensations my mouth was sending it. Sweet pea and wasabi soup. Crisp frog legs with goat cheese cake, apricot marmalade, and bell pepper tapenade. Prosciutto wrapped pheasant breast with smoked onion potato puree, broccolini, and carrot jus. NOM. Not quite ready for dessert, we took a brief constitutional around the grounds while the sun started toying with the idea of setting. Then coffee and a peanut butter bananas foster sundae.

We’re missing the kids, but apparently they’re having a great ol’ time with their grandparents. Hopefully they’re having as much fun as we are. Can’t wait to hug ’em though.

Thanksgiving ’08

The menu:

  • Cornish hens, brined, grilled, basted in a vinegar sauce. Positively succulent. They took longer on the grill than expected, but that’s probably because we grilled six birds rather than the four called for in the recipe. Also because I had the grill open a lot to flip them or check the temperature.
  • Bread stuffing, made from scratch. Just baked in a casserole dish, though, not actually stuffed into the birds. Turned out very crumbly, but oddly enough, not dry. Excellent flavors and texture in the mouth.
  • Baked sweet potatoes. I did these ahead because I thought we might need the oven today. They got a little overdone, and didn’t reheat well in the microwave. They had yummy caramelized bits in them though. We doctored up the potatoes by mashing them with cream cheese, which turned out delicious.
  • Steamed broccoli with garlic vinegar dressing. We have it pretty often anyway, but what it lacks in “special occasionality” it makes up for in flavor. A nice kick to add punctuation between bites of comfort food.
  • With special guest: Store-bought pumpkin pie. It didn’t blow my socks off but it served its purpose.

My mom’s here visiting for the weekend, she got here last night. Riley’s been pretty open with her, right from the beginning, which is great to see. He’s interacting with her on a level that he hasn’t before, it gives me hope that his communication issues are on the way out. Lydia showed some predictable skepticism of Mom at first but is warming to her quickly.

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. It’s so laid back, free of expectations. It’s about appreciating, sharing, and food, and nothing else. It’s a pity that it’s perpetually eclipsed by Christmas in terms of travelling home. Hmm, maybe I should stop letting it be.

Recent studies here at the BryceLand Institute of Culinosophy indicate that wasabi peas and pumpkin ale are not best friends in your mouth. The origin of the pairing has yet to be ascertained, but scientists have concluded that it was not divine inspiration.