Monday, November 11 2019

driving, bears, and my chicken caesar salad

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Dear Journal,

Good morning everyone! Hope you’re doing well today. This morning I’m feeling well-rested, as yesterday we did our best to squeeze and entire weekend’s worth of rest into one Sunday. We got back from Minnesota some time around 11:20 AM - just in time to watch the Bears game at noon. We all unpacked, then changed into some comfy clothes. I used the few extra minutes before the game to take out the garbage and wash a load of dishes.

We all sat on the couch together as we watched the Bears play the Lions. It was a great game. The Bears played strangely. In the first quarter, they were pretty underwhelming. They’re offense spent barely any time on the field, and we were barely holding the Lions in field goal range. Then suddenly Trubisky throws for three touchdowns in a row. The end of Q2 and all of Q3 was absolutely electric. Not only did the offense show up, but the defense played a lot more aggressively as well. I mean, the Bears defense is usually good, but during the 3rd quarter I thought my family was going to witness an accidental manslaughter on the field - fierce.

Then once the Bears got a semi-commanding lead over the Lions, they petered out and went back on the defensive. The Lions had some decent drives helped by crafty play calling and a pretty solid throwing game, but in the end they couldn’t add any points.

So Bears win. I know it was just the Detroit Lions, but hey, now we’re not last in our division anymore. And I think there’s nothing wrong with celebrating that.

As we watched the Bears game, Marissa heated me up a Philly cheese steak, brought me a beer, as well as my favorite hot sauce. Lounging on the couch while my pregnant wife waited on me, I felt a little like a living stereotype.

We sent Rodney to his room during the 4th quarter to take a nap. I fell asleep on the couch watching cooking videos. Marissa felt like a Caesar salad tonight, so I queued up some Caesar salad videos hoping to amalgamate all the helpful tips from my favorite chefs into one meal.

So in the past, I’ve ragged on my wife’s Mexican salad. It’s only fair I rag on mine. Here is the Alex Recker Caesar Salad:

First off, you might think this is an easy night. Just making a salad, right? Well, buddy you’re wrong. This is going to be an intense preparation, and somehow you’re going to use every dish and utensil you have stored in your kitchen.

Step one: we have to make the Caesar dressing from scratch. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients, and we’re going to need your blender, but it’s worth it. If we do it right, it will taste almost as good as a bottle that we’d buy off the shelf in the store, only this dressing will be special because it took us about an hour to make.

Two garlic cloves grated into the blender. Four anchovies, and go ahead and dump the anchovy oil in as well. If you cut your thumb on the anchovy can, pause and reflect on your decision to not buy store bought dressing.

Lemon juice, olive oil, a big scoop of mustard - something in a very tiny jar, and the more German on the label the better. I went with a jar of Wülsterstoorfendahlinkfraaght that was about the size of a thimble. Then cracked pepper.

Blend it together. The sound of the blender probably attracted your curious toddler. As you hold the lid, just use your hips and legs to keep him away from the counter, which is dripping with raw chicken. Oh, you remembered to get the chicken right? Make sure you buy two chicken breasts that are way too big so in a panic you just end up throwing out the other one after you realize you accidentally bought three pounds of meat. Cut the chicken into thin slices, and wash your hands and go add the grated cheese and red wine vinegar that you forgot to add to the dressing.

Does this sound like a lot of work? We haven’t even begun to do the croutons yet. Cut up a big hunk of stale bread into crouton shapes. Don’t worry if you accidentally made the croutons way too big, you’ve got a lot on your mind. You’re keeping an eye on the grill outside, and you’re still using your legs and hips to safely entertain Rodney. Set the bread aside, then throw some sliced garlic into olive oil and simmer some cherry tomatoes. This will wilt the tomatoes, which we can set aside, then toss in the bread chunks and soak of the oil. Arrange the bread chunks on a sheet pan and bake. Oh yes, bake it. You know it’s a special meal when you have to involve all three heat sources in your kitchen - stove, oven, & grill.

The grill is probably lit by now. Oh, baby yeah we probably waited a little too long. It’s vomiting flames into the air. Walk out onto the snowy deck in nothing but your socks and address the situation. Once the flames are contained, add the seasoned chicken on the grill, walk back inside, and start a timer for three minutes.

Crap, we STILL forgot about the cheese. Add the cheese to the dressing. How much? I have no idea, but by now the adrenaline took over and we absent mindedley grated the whole store bought chunk into our dressing, and now we need to thin it out again. Blend, oil, vinegar, taste, oil, blend, taste, oil, blend, taste. The timer goes off. Why did we set the timer? Stand there for a moment paralyzed in fear because we can’t remember why we set the - THE CHICKEN. Walk outside in your wet socks and flip the chicken. Oh, that actually looks pretty good. Walk back inside, then set another timer for three minutes.

Scrape the sides of the blender until all the dressing falls into a cup, then balance the oily blender on the mountain of dishes you have created in the sink. The timer goes off. Wait, why did we set the - THE CHICKEN. Walk outside in your wet socks, this time balancing three plastic plates on your hip and move the chicken filets onto a plate. Cover the grill, then inside smear the dressing on the chicken to allow it to cool.

We are finally ready to toss the salad. Dump in two bags of romaine lettuce into the bowl. Wow, that’s way too much lettuce, maybe one and a half bags. Still looks like too much - just one bag of lettuce. That doesn’t sound right, but we have a lot to fit in this bowl. Add the croutons, which as delicious as they look, they suddenly feel way too big. And now it looks like we have more croutons then lettuce represented here. Too late now, the sliced chicken is going in, along with those wilted chilling tomatoes, some picked dill and terragon leaves, and the rest of the dressing. Toss the salad, then stick it in your tiny freezer at an angle. Precariously wedge the bowl on an angle between your icecream and that bottle of vodka that’s been in your family since before you were married.

Call your family, then emerge from your pile of oily, smoking dishes with your chicken caesar salad.

That’s what I got today. Hope you have a wonderful day today. Please don’t attempt to recreate my salad, and if you do, I’m not responsible for your family eating late or if one of you choke on a giant croutone.

Have a wonderful day everyone.