Friday, September 13 2019

thunderstorms, bulgogi, and pto

Dear Journal,

Good morning everyone! Happy Friday to you, reader. Wasn't the rain beautiful last night? By us, the gentle thunder continued into most of the night, providing a great soundtrack for evening work and relaxation. However, not everyone enjoyed the rain. Rodney had trouble falling asleep, being scared of the thunder. Marissa gave him a quick snuggle and tucked him in, assuring him that the noises outside were just like music. After Marissa went back into her studio, I heard his quiet voice sleepily repeat "it's music" just a few more times before drifting off for the night. Mom's are the best, aren't they?

Yesterday was a pretty busy work day, but I got my work done, and in the last thirty minutes of the day instead of attending Thursday's happy hour on the lower floor, I prepared to make bulgogi. I watched the video a few times, made a grocery list, and planned out the timeline. The recipe involved making a marinade from grated onions, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, pears, and hot pepper paste, then using the mixture to soak and soften thin strips of beef for exactly one hour - a difficult feat for a weeknight meal. On the bus ride home, I sent Marissa a slack message warning her that I would be moving pretty fast when I got home, sacrificing the usual five minutes I take to put my stuff down and play with the dogs while we catch up.

At 4:58 PM, I walked in the door and trotted upstairs to wake Rodney up. He was in a deep nap, and a little groggy, but I told him we were going to Hy-Vee and he rallied. These days, he likes taking his large giant stuffed giraffe on our grocery store trips, which isn't nearly as distracting as you might think.

Rodney, Giraffe, and I hit the road and got to Hy-Vee at 5:15 PM. We made a quick lap around the store picking up what we needed for the marinade, and Rodney grabbed some goldfish to snack on as well. Rodney is pretty helpful at Hy-Vee - he stays by my side, or sits down below on the lip of the cart, sometimes getting up to take direction and put things in the basket. By 5:26 PM, we were heading through the parking lot back to the car.

We pulled into the driveway at 5:35 PM. That gave me about 15 minutes before I had to get the beef in the marinade. Before I even put the groceries away, I was grating onion, garlic, and ginger, which gave me a good cry, and felt pretty nice. By 5:45 PM, I started to slice the steak, and 5:50 PM the prep was finished, steak happily resting in the fridge in a slurry of deliciousness. I breathed a sigh of relief, plopping down on the couch with Marissa and Rod to have our postponed daily catch up.

The rest of the bulgogi recipe was pretty simple. I made some rice, then spent the rest of the hour preparing to make a lot of smoke. The recipe calls for searing the strips of beef in cast iron heated to literally the hottest temperature your stove can reach. Marissa helped me open up all the windows, and I took the batteries out of the smoke detector.

After an hour, while wearing my BBQ heat proof mits, I started to sear the beef. It made a wonderful sound, as a plume of wet delicious steam billowed toward the ceiling. I did my best to sear each piece for two minutes per side, but I overcrowded the pan just a bit, so I did my best. Dinner was ready by 7 PM on the dot, and even though I didn't get nearly as much delicious brown crust as I would have liked, there was enough to prove the recipe worked - a great home recipe peeking through a minor setback. And even though the timing was just a bit too tight for a weekday dinner, there's always the weekend. Next time, I'll try marinating the beef for longer and searing the strips in smaller batches.

After dinner, Marissa spent time in the studio painting, and I hacked a bit on my blog. I added a "streak calculator" to the home page, which measures how many consecutive days I've made a journal entry. I also re enabled my RSS feed, which was a bit startling because the automation started spamming my twitter and slack, spuriously sending out updates for every entry I've made in the last week.

Today will be kind of a strange day. I scheduled some vacation time for the second half of the work day, planning on heading to Chicago with Marissa for a party, but Marissa is not feeling well, so we cancelled. But the whole thing happened pretty recently, and I didn't have time to remove my PTO entry, so I'm still going to take a half day off. And that's fine, I had a pretty busy week of work, and I'll happily use the time to walk somewhere with Marissa and Rod and enjoy the afternoon.

Hope you have a wonderful day today. Remember, thunderstorms are just like music, and open all the windows in your house before making Korean BBQ beef.