Monday, November 18 2019

practice turkeys, deep fried onions, and benching mitch

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Monday to all of you. This morning I’m starting my journal entry about two minutes late. I guess my shower took a little longer than expected. I was already starting to put my thoughts together about the Thanksgiving turkey, and I guess I lost track of time. I believe this is the last week before Thanksgiving week, so if I’m going to get at least one practice Turkey in before the big day, it will have to happen sometime this week.

And by practice turkey, I mean it. Before Thanksgiving I make a whole turkey, just to practice. Since last year was my first thanksgiving where I was supposed to cook the turkey, I actually made three of them out of anticipation. Last year’s turned out pretty good, so I have a feeling it’s not going to take three trials. Maybe just one bird to make sure my grill still works the way I expect it to.

Ah, last night was a fun night. In the morning, Rodney and I hung around the house. After finishing breakfast, Rodney retired to the living room to binge watch some Blippi, and I tidied up after the weekend. I got on a pretty nice cleaning streak where I caught up on laundry, and finally moved all the mugs off the coffee bar and wiped it down. The sprinkles of coffee grounds that have been collecting in and around the mugs was starting to bother me.

After a bit, we heated up some lunch, then bundled up to brave the drizzly weather to walk to the grocery store. Rodney reclined, snuggling his baby giraffe as I tucked him in using my rain pancho. “Piggies? Piggies?” he asked. In our family’s custom, “piggies” are when you get tucked into your blanket so thoroughly that even each of your toes get a fair share. Just goes to show how comfortable he really was.

We returned from the store, then I put Rodney down for a nap, changing into some dry nap clothes myself. Just as I was about to settle in and bide a few hours half sleeping and half watching YouTube, Marissa returned from her dog agility seminar. The timing was pretty comical. I did my best to hang around the kitchen and make her feel welcomed, but I must have looked really eager to crash on the couch after a long morning of cleaning and hauling a wagon to and from the grocery store.

Around five, I emerged from couch cushions and blankets to begin prepping dinner. As it was game day, I was doing something in the junk food realm. A bloomin’ onion, some homemade fries (since I was breaking out the oil anyway), and Chicago style polish sausages.

The fried onion was laborious. I was having fun cutting the petals and shaping the flower up until it came time to prepare the dredge, which inexplicably had about six different ingredients involving buttermilk, rice flour, and corn starch. In the end, it all came together in a shaggy, tart smelling mess.

As I was dredging the flowered beast in flour, struggling to find bowls and plates in my kitchen large enough to contain the work area, it dawned on me that I probably should have picked a smaller onion. In a moment of pure mental disconnect I went for the largest organic vidalia onion in the box. The cashier even complemented me - that is the biggest onion I’ve ever seen in my life. “I’m going to deep fry it!” I said loudly enough for the whole store to hear. They must have though I was some kind of weirdo, had some kind of death wish, or had some kind of underground lab with a hot oil vat big enough to actually do it. Nope - just a regular dude using a big pot filled precariously with hot canola oil.

I used the french fries as a way to measure the readiness of the oil. As soon as they were golden brown, I moved them to a pan with paper towels and gave the oil a minute to heat up. I donned by heat proof gloves and scooted the fire extinguisher close by, then once I had finally mustered the courage, flopped the shaggy dusted onion into the oil. A pillar of steam flung upwards from the pot and a shirked behind my fire extinguisher. I held it close by for the five minutes it cooked. As the steam died down, I approached the pot and gingerly rolled the flower to the other side. Well, it looked delicious.

I plated the flower next to some garlic sauce and woke Marissa up from her nap. She brought Rodney along for the first taste. We nibbled a few petals, and I have to say I was a little disapointed. Not because it turned out bad, but because it tasted exactly like the appetizer you’d order from Outback steakhouse. And just like eating it at Outback, you eat a few petals, then it cools off, then you immediately get sick of it.

At least the polish sausages were a redemptive success. And as these things usually work out, they took substantially less work than the deep fried Outback experience. I navigated the rubble of rice flour, oil droplets, and splotches of flour to slice another onion and sautee it with some sausage. I warmed the buns over some boiling water, spread them with mustard, then packed a sausage, some onions, and sport peppers on the bun before wrapping it in tinfoil. The recipe was patterned after Jim’s polish sausage cart, which despite living in the backyard of Chicago my whole life, is an ancient Chicago tradition I managed to miss. “You’re supposed to eat this on the hood of your car,” I reported. “I know this, not because I’ve done it, but because I watched the touristy YouTube video.”

After dinner, we tidied up the mess, then quickly relocated to the couch to watch the Bears game. The game was truly one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. Our kicker hero Eddy missed two field goals, and I’m wondering if he is ever going to hit a field goal again. The defense wasn’t clicking. Our run game was deflated. And on top of it all, despite Mitch playing a pretty good game, Matt Nagy benched him in the last four minutes when they were only down by a touchdown and change. It was perplexing, and continued to bother me and Marissa until we went to bed. Talking to the reporters, Matt Nagy insisted that it was because Mitch had injured his hip, but I find that hard to believe based on how he was talking to Mitch on the sidelines.

Our team may be broken right now, but I felt for Mitch. After the game, Marissa and I watched a highlight reel from last season, and I was surprised to see he played exactly the same way he did last season as he did this season, only it was successful. He was still scrambling, running the ball, and throwing with only one leg on the ground, and it was working. I’d have to conclude that it was because he had better coverage, better receivers, and better overall team chemistry. Mitch isn’t the ultimate solution, but he’s not the problem either.

So that’s what I got today. In about 3 minutes, I go off of ticket duty, so tonight I’m going to shut off my phone, cook something, clean my house, and stew about the Bears.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today.