Saturday, November 23 2019

sexy chicken fingers, rodney's gibberish, and turkey brine

1350 words

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Saturday. This morning I’m up a little earlier to get a jump on cooking breakfast, but I’m having a difficult time getting the blogging juices flowing. Last night to my utter horror, I pulled out our glass coffee carafe from the dishwasher and saw there was a big crack running down the middle. I could of sworn this happened a month ago. So until one of us makes the perilous trip across the street to Moka in the morning chill, we are coffeeless. Send help.

Yesterday was a pretty great day. I worked in the morning until around noon, when Marissa and Rodney met me on the square. I love catching Rodney’s attention outside in the busy square - usually I can get within fifty feet of him before he notices me. He’ll yell “DADA” loud enough for the whole street to hear, then take off running towards me. We put some fliers up for Marissa’s art gallery in the coffee shops, then decided to go to Argus for lunch. We sat in the basement next to a pool table.

Argus is probably our favorite bar on the square right now. The food is good, while still being on the cheaper end. The beer selection is great. And inexplicably, despite these truths, it’s never busy. Their big thing is sexy seasoning, which is really just a combination of the Cajun seasoning and garlic parmesan seasoning. It’s just a bit over-used. Kids chicken fingers? Well, we only have sexy chicken fingers, would you like us to hold the sexy? Great - so chicken fingers - hold the sexy - would he still like a side of sexy fries? Yes, he would, my son will have chicken fingers - hold the sexy - and a side of fries - go light on the sexy. Can the fries be lightly sexy? I was willing to overlook the annoyance, though, because our waitress brought me an accidental double pour of beer.

After lunch, I waved to my little family as we parted ways. Rodney offered be a final YOU’RE AWESOME as I turned away to walk back to my building. I worked through the afternoon until our end of the week meeting. We finished off the work day chatting in the conference room and sipping on some beer. I took the bus home, greeted the family, then threw together a deep dish dough with Rodney in the kitchen so it would rise while we bought the rest of the groceries. At Hy-Vee, along with tomatoes, garlic, and cheese, we also picked up some bacon and eggs. Marissa’s dad was going to be spending the weekend with us, and we were eager to prepare a big breakfast in the morning.

At Hy-Vee, Rodney also picked out a football from a ball bin. There was a big bin half-filled with footballs with the Badger insignia, and half filled with footballs with the Packers logo. “You can have the one with the W,” I explained. “The ones with the green G are bad. We don’t bring those in our house.” Rodney tossed the football to himself as we bought our groceries. Later, as we were waiting for the pizza to finish in the oven, Marissa and I sat on the floor tossing the football to each other. Rodney was in the middle, having fun just reaching his arms in the air and trying to block our game of catch. Rodney knew Pappa Wilke was on his way to our house, and even though he wouldn’t see him until the morning, he was already planning his part of the weekend. “DADA - play football with Pappa Wilke?” “Oh, dude, that’s a great idea. Add that to the list.”

As we ate pizza at the table, Marissa and I chatted about the weekend, Rodney chiming in with things he wanted to do in between bites of pizza. We got on the topic of Rodney’s gibberish. Rodney knows how to talk, for the most part, but there are still some phrases he uses that puzzles us. Phrases like ICH-ih-MAH, that continue to perplex us. While we had him as a captive audience at the dinner table, we decided to explore this phrase that has puzzled us since Rodney started talking.

“Rodney, what does ICH-ih-MAH mean?” Marissa asked. Rodney nodded while chewing. “Yeah,” he said. “/ICH-ih-MAHHHHHH,” he replied, drawing out the last sound as if he was correcting Marissa’s pronunciation. “What does it mean?” Marissa repeated. Rodney furrowed his brow, then repeated it more slowly. ICH-IH-MAHHHH. He held his hand in a claw out in front of him, like he wanted to grab my wife’s mouth. We’re already aware he likes to grab our mouths when he wants our attention, and we figured they were loosely correlated. We were just hoping to unravel some of the mystery behind what the phrase meant. But that’s as far as we got. After we finished eating, we threw in the towel. “Did you know he can’t say gorilla?” Marissa remarked. Rodney perked up and repeated it: OKILLA?

We put Rodney to bed, then spent some time tidying up the house. Marissa left to pick up her dad from the airport around 11, and I decided to use the hour before bed to make a turkey brine, which turned out to be a really fun recipe. The recipe I was going for called for 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of kosher salt per gallon of water. I had a 5 gallon bucket, and I figured I wanted to fill 4 gallons, trusting the 18 pound turkey’s volume would account for the rest. At first, I went down the path of trying to calculate the turkey’s exact volume from the average density of turkey meat - which is really a thing, it turns out people who deep fry their turkey absolutely need to know this - but I gave up and just decided to estimate.

So I already calculated I needed 4 cups of sugar and 4 cups of salt. Here’s where it got interesting. I definitely didn’t have room to store 4 gallons of liquid in my fridge, so my task was to find the minimum amount of water it took to dissolve the sugar and salt, trusting I’d be able to dilute it later in the five gallon bucket. It took ten cups of water, which would work out perfectly, filling up my largest Tupperware bin to the brim. The other tricky part, of course, was simmering the peppercorns, bay leaves, and garlic cloves without boiling the solution. Boiling it would lose water to steam, and then I’d risk letting the salt and sugar fall out of the solution.

Marissa came home with her Dad just a little after 11:20 - we had the perfect amount of time to catch up at the dining room table with a glass of wine and some reheated pizza. We talked for about an hour and a half, then sleepily retreated up to our room to bed.

Today, after eating a big breakfast (and introducing Chris to the wonders of the Dutch Baby), we have a big placeholder in the late morning for doing something fun with Rodney. Right now, going to the downtown science museum is at the top of the list. Afterwards, we’re going to go for a walk around the Atwood neighborhood and drop off some more fliers, then finally swing by the Jenny street grocery store to pick up dinner. We may stop and get lunch along the way - the Jenny Street grocery store is right next to a great Laotian restaurant.

So that’s what I got today. For now, I’m trying to bribe my wife into making the trip to Moka so I can feel human again. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I offer you these sincere, solemn parting words - ICH-IH-MAH.