Sunday, November 3 2019

groceries and gumbo

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! This morning I'm feeling a little thrown off by the time change, even though this was 'the good one'. I feel like that extra hour of sleep was swallowed into oblivion, and I feel more frazzled than I'm supposed to.

This morning we're going to try to make it to early church, which is exactly one hour from now. The plan is to write for a half hour, then somehow shower, change, and get Rod dressed and fed in… fifteen minutes? Sounds totally doable, right? At least Rod's breakfast is pretty easy. On the weekends we like to eat things like bacon, scrambled eggs, and Dutch babies, but on most mornings he just eats a half of a stroopwaffel and a dollop of yogurt.

The coffee is just about to finish brewing. It was a risky decision starting this journal entry without any caffeine, but this morning it was necessary. I'm relieved that I can finally pour a cup and start to feel human again.

Sip. OK, maybe it wasn't quite finished brewing yet. That's a cup of super coffee, but it will get the job done.

Let's recap yesterday. Yesterday was a pretty wonderful day. I had high hopes for redoing the IT shelf, but the day was just kind of lost to cooking, errands, and relaxing on the couch - which is just fine too, if you ask me. In the morning I cooked some french toast, then we all ran some errands as a family. We first swung by the flower shop. The art fair was going on and one of Marissa's Instagram homies had a booth this year. We checked out her booth, then spent a few minutes wandering around. The greenhouse was warm and humid, and it was nice to take a break from the cold, even though we had only been outside for a few minutes.

Afterwards, we went to Hy-Vee to pick up dinner and other random things. I always forget how busy Hy-Vee gets on the weekends. Lately I've been taking Rodney to the Jenny Street market on Saturdays. I think because Jenny Street is a little smaller, it's harder to buy in bulk, so you don't get as many of the one-day-a-week shoppers that crash the place on Saturday morning.

Me lazily walked around the store, working through our grocery list. For dinner, I was planning on making chicken and sausage gumbo. I had never had gumbo, and was excited to make it and try it for the first time. For a side, I was also planning on making pork belly bits braised in wine.

We packed the car with our groceries, and since it was almost exactly refrigerator temperature outside, we decided to park the car at the Grover street mall and get some pizza for lunch. We ordered some slices, and found a quiet booth inside. Afterwards, we walked around the new complex, which had a few more stores and developments since we last saw. Marissa and I continue to be perplexed at what the ultimate goal of this renovation is. The pizza shop was a solid choice, but the rest of the building is a wide open warehouse. There were picnic tables set up, and then a random speaking venue tucked in the corner, with a small stage and microphone, and a bunch of chairs pointing in the same direction. Wandering upstairs, there were a few more shops and offices tucked behind narrow corridors. All throughout the building, they set out some old original factory equipment for display, but everything was crudely labeled and just sitting on the floor.

"This place is like part shopping mall, part office building, and part half-assed museum," I remarked. "And why would you set out all this stuff on the floor if you're not supposed to touch it?"

Maybe I have nothing to complain about. If we get an Ian's pizza out of this, it was worth it - even if the rest of the building becomes a weird disjointed physical manifestation of somebody's pinterest board.

We got home, and I put Rodney down for a nap and started cooking. The gumbo needed a few hours on the heat, so I basically had to make the whole thing by 4:30. I made a dark roux from smoking hot vegetable oil, which was very exciting, and used it to deep fry the slices celery, onions, and bell pepper. I mixed in chicken stock, seared chicken thighs, chopped sausage, and a whole New Glarus Staghorn beer. Per Isaac Toup's instruction, I also kept adding black pepper to the pot until my arm got tired.

The gumbo turned out really well, but it wasn't a very popular choice with the family. Marissa thought it was too soupy, but appreciated it when the thick gravy was strained out. Rodney was rubbing his tongue, yelling "SPICY!"

After dinner, I put Rodney to bed and did the dishes. One of my favorite parts of making soup is cleaning up afterwards. I rinsed out my Dutch oven and poured the slurry through a strainer, rinsing with hot water. Turning an entire pot of hot soup into a small, condensed puck of solids is gratifying. It's also a great opportunity to pick through the ingredients and examine them up close. It's like a soup autopsy.

That's my time - and my target word count. Hope you all have a wonderful day today, and put that extra hour of sleep to good use. Today, we're going to church, then hanging out with some friends to watch the Bears game. Happy Sunday, and I'll see you all in the next entry!