Saturday, November 9 2019

french fries, cheesesteak, and ice cream

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Saturday. This morning, I'm up a little early to get a jump on things. By 10 AM, we hope to have the car packed and ready to hit the road. This weekend, Marissa is having a meet and greet at a restaurant up in Minnesota, so if you happen to be in the lovely little city of Rochester this afternoon, stop by Forager brewery and say hi!

Even though we will probably be in a hurry this morning, I still blended the ingredients together for a Dutch baby. At the moment, my cast iron pan is heating up in the oven with clarified butter. The plan is to write a journal entry, then dump the batter in, and twenty minutes later I'll just casually sit it out on the table to tempt Marissa and Rodney while we're packing up. The great thing about breakfast is you never need to ask permission to make it.

Yesterday was a pretty wonderful day. Throughout the day, I got two packages delivered to me at work. They were two pieces to the new computer case I'm going to try on the router. I felt very obnoxious folding the big stack of cardboard at my desk. My boss teased, "what do you think this is the UPS store?" The open air case will have to wait until Sunday, I didn't get a chance to break it open yesterday.

When I got home, Marissa was teetering on the edge of a nap. Rodney was climbing on her, and even the dogs looked annoyed. "Want to go to Hy-Vee, dude?" I asked, as Marissa's sleepy eyes lit up.

Rodney and I drove to Hy-Vee, and we took our time. I let him check out the new holiday toy aisle, we snacked on some bread, and we looked through the kitchen section for a funnel. We didn't find it. The Hy-Vee kitchen utensils section has an amazing way of disappointing me every time, no matter what I'm looking for. We did, however, pick up some potatoes, a sirloin steak, cream cheese, kimchi, and sandwich buns. It was philly cheese steak night, but this time I wasn't going to succumb to usual bag of frozen french fries - I was going to try to make my own.

When we got home, Marissa was still asleep on the couch, so I did my best to keep Rodney busy in the kitchen. We peeled the potatoes, then cut them into fry shapes, which wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. For a while, I've assumed that there was a difficult trick to cutting every type of vegetable, and that has held me back. I've found instead that most of them just come down to common sense - just picture what you want to end up with, and try something.

We tossed the delicate little shoestring shaped potatoes in some cold water and rinsed, then dumped them out onto a paper towel. I put Rodney on drying duty. He tamped them dry with more paper towels as I dumped two bottles of corn oil into my Dutch oven. We slipped the fries into the cold oil. Rodney threw the last few in from as high as he could, and the oil splashed onto my face. "PERFECT," he yelled as I dabbed the oil off of my nose and chin. I clicked the stove to HIGH and we moved on to the steak. Rodney helped me salt the steak while I flipped and dried it, then we threw it on to some smoking hot olive oil in my biggest pan. As it seared, we chopped some white onions. Rodney actually managed to chop one of the onion quarters in half with a butter knife. He handed me the chunks, then started to rub his eyes. "Dad, crying?" I looked at him, and saw a tear rolling down his face. I laughed. "Oh dude, cutting onions makes you cry. You're crying, even though you're not sad. Isn't that weird?" He repeated the fun fact aloud to himself a few more times.

We dropped the slices of white onion around the steak and seasoned with salt. The kitchen air started to bloom with the aroma of burning meat and onions. Rodney and I cut the sandwich buns. After I finished cutting the middle out of two of them, I looked over and saw Rodney was just ripping one of them up into pieces. "Oh nice dude, that's PERFECT," I said as I moved the other buns out of his reach. That one would keep him busy for a while. I was happy we bought a small french load to split while shopping, because I was able to use the rest of it for the missing sandwich bun.

The steak finished cooking, and Rodney and I combined cream cheese, the grilled onions, sliced steak, provolone cheese, chopped kimchi, and just a squirt of Korean hot pepper paste. Marissa joined us in the kitchen after emerging from her nap. Just as I was sliding the assembled sandwiches into the oven, I glanced over at the fries. To my delight, they were golden brown, floating on top the oil. They took about 45 minutes, and at no time did I have to measure the temp of the oil or adjust the heat. I scooped the fries onto a paper towel and sprinkled them liberally with salt. Marissa and I sampled one, and in the best way possible they tasted like they were fresh from the McDonald's across the street.

We sat down and ate dinner, then spent an extra twenty minutes at the table goofing around and eating some ice cream for dessert. I grabbed baby giraffe and put on an impromptu puppet show in the kitchen, using my arm to make it look like the giraffe was snatching my hat off my head. "It's funny because even though I can see your whole arm and elbow, Rodney thinks it's hilarious," Marissa remarked.

After Rodney went to bed, Marissa and I caught up on chores, then finished the night off by watching the Matirx. I fell asleep on the couch with Ziggy in my lap. It was a good night.

That's what I got today. Hope you all have a great weekend. As for me, I probably need to get this Dutch baby in the oven and start waking my family. We need to hit the road in about an hour and a half. Thanks for reading, everyone.