Sunday, February 16 2020

coffee in church, groceries, and nasi goreng

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Hope you are feeling relaxed and refreshed today. This morning, Rodney and I woke up around 9:30. I changed him into a nice pair of dress pants and a spider-man t-shirt and set him up on the couch to nibble on some cereal while watching water slide videos. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, I picked through our packed dishwasher for the coffee machine funnel and spout and brewed a full pot of coffee, filling our thermoses for church.

Lately, one of my favorite things about our church is that they let you bring coffee into the service. This was quite a shock to me. As someone who even had hesitations about taking a sealed coffee traveler into a church sanctuary, you can imagine the culture shock seeing people sipping from open mugs and even Starbucks cups. Now I'm used to drinking coffee in church, and I've even come to expect it and look forward to it. And why shouldn't we be able to drink coffee in church? People are more alert, relaxed, and comfortable when they can drink coffee. I'm telling you - once you start drinking coffee in church, there's no looking back.

Sip. Yesterday was a wonderful day. After publishing a journal entry, Marissa, Rodney, and I hung around the house through the afternoon. Marissa worked busily on the resin tent in the basement, taking a break to make us some omelets for a light afternoon lunch. After a quick lunch, Rodney and I left for the grocery store to pick up dinner.

We had a nice grocery trip, but Hy-Vee gets pretty busy on the weekends. Even Rodney, who normally likes to walk alongside me and wave to people, chose to just stay in the cart and eat a banana. We navigated the crowded aisles, picking up vegetables, chicken thighs, and other things we needed for dinner. Lastly, Rodney grabbed a chocolate egg from the candy basket.

Back at home, once Rodney was done eating his chocolate egg, I let him pick out a few toys and put him in his room for "quiet time" - which is our working term for re-branded nap time. As a parent, I'm already kind of sad to bid farewell to the long daily naps where I'd have two hours to myself. I especially miss the morning naps Rodney used to take after breakfast when he was still a baby. He's all grown up now, and instead of a nap in the afternoon, now he just hangs out in his room with a few toys with the blinds closed. He still falls asleep, however. Usually when we have to wake him up from afternoon quiet time, he's sitting on the floor with his head flopped down on his bed underneath the blanket.

Back in the kitchen, I began to prep for dinner. I was turning the leftover white rice in the fridge into fried rice - nasi goreng to be specific. I opened a beer, put on some music, and got to slicing up cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, and chicken thighs. I crushed some garlic and diced some ginger. I had all the ingredients line up on the counter, in order.

"I'm about to start the fried rice," I told Marissa, coming down the stairs to check on her. She was still busy wiring up the resin tent. "It could go fast, and it will probably be a huge mess, so just be ready to eat soon, I have no idea when it will be ready."

I was pretty nervous to make fried rice. It has almost always been a disaster, and I felt the need to sit for a few minutes in my kitchen staring at the ingredients and visualizing the recipe from start to end. I decided to go with a wok. I figured whatever pan I would use would have sticking problems, so it would be better to go with a pan that's light and easy to toss around.

I dumped in sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. I added a beaten egg, and began to wildly toss and turn it with a wooden spoon. The egg quickly scrambled. I added the diced chicken thighs, which immediately turned ghostly white after hitting the hot oil. I changed my footing, then dumped in the rice, continuing to wildly shake and stir the wok. The rice clumped at the end of the spoon and began to cake on the bottom of the wok, but through vigorous stirring and scraping I was able to keep the rice moving. I added the sweet soy sauce and a dollop gochujang, stirring it into the rice before dumping in a handful of sliced vegetables. Things were starting to smell good.

By the time I was finished, so much rice and been flung out of the wok and onto the stove that I needed to make a second batch. I dumped the first batch into a platic bowl and quickly scrubbed out the wok in sink. The wok hissed when I turned the water on. After scrubbing out the burn rice and quickly patting it dry with a towel, I returned the wok to the stove and added more oil.

The second batch turned out better. I used much less rice, which allowed me to better keep things moving around. When it was finished, I combined it with the first batch and gave it a final toss. I finished the dish by frying two eggs in some leftover clarified butter, and a third well done egg for Marissa. I plated the fried rice, then, completely exhausted from the effort, crumpled into my seat at the dinner table. Marissa joined us, grabbing a water bottle out of the fridge.

"So here's nasi goreng," I said. "It was awful. I'm exhausted. But I did it." As we sat at the table eating, the dogs helped themselves to the globs or rice stuck to the floor and garbage can. I was grateful that they were getting a head start on things for me. "So I'll probably just be cleaning the kitchen the rest of the night," I laughed. I got up and grabbed the wok out of the sink, showing Marissa the caked and crusted rice stuck to the metal.

After church today, we're running some errands, and we'll go to Bed Band & Beyond to shop around for a big nonstick pan. I'd like to make fried rice again, and I'm hoping that with a big nonstick pan, the recipe will be a lot easier to make. I'd love to be able to make fried rice without throwing half of it around my kitchen and running a smoking hot wok over to the sink between batches.

That's what I got today. Hope you have a great day today. If you think you can get away with it, take some coffee into church with you.