Monday, May 18 2020

krang, mise en place, and big fleshy bag pipes

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody! Happy Monday. How are you holding up so far in the work week? My morning is a little thrown off today. I was expecting another repair guy today to take a look at our struggling oven. Isn't it annoying how eight to twelve really just means 7:55 AM if you're the first appointment of the day?

At least this guy was a lot nicer, and frankly a lot more helpful than the last guy.

"Let me guess," he said kneeling to our kitchen floor. "About every other day, you go to start it, and you hear click-click-click, then it shuts off?"

"Yes, that's exactly it," I said finishing a tired sip of coffee. I was relieved it didn't take much explanation.

"It's a thing with older Whirlpool models," he said. "The company won't admit fault for it, so there's no recall, but they got so many complaints thy redesigned the part on the newer ones."

He seemed pretty confident about it, but I guess I should withhold my glowing review until we put it to the test about 2.5 weeks from now when he returns to install the newer part. Until then, I live one day at a time at the mercy of the faulty Whirlpool igniter.

Sip. Yesterday, it rained pretty much all day. This was great news for our new grass seed, but the confinement took a toll on Rodney. I kept him calm through the morning with some compulsory Mr. Rogers exposure therapy, but his rising tide of boyish energy broke the damn just before lunch.

"I feel like I've been yelling at Rodney all day," said Marissa.

"Same," I replied. "He's had a rough time finding stuff to do inside."

And the funny thing about Rodney is that on his bad mornings, he's still, in essence, good. The problems crop up when he tries to be too involved, too helpful, or take too much initiative with something.

"I caught him trying to climb into Miles' crib," laughed Marissa. "He was saying oh honey and trying to comfort him - so be on the lookout for that."

"I yelled at him because he tried to squeeze into the chair with me while I was working on the computer," I said. "He wanted to work on stuff with me."

But in between cleaning up the house and fending off a hyper-involved Rodney, I did manage to bake another loaf of bread. This was trial #2 of my sourdough recipe. Per a tip from breadstagram, I left this loaf in the oven for much longer. The extra heat carmelized the crust, and I had much better oven spring as well.

"It's too bad I waisted an Instagram post on the last one - just look at this thing," I announced, holding out the specimen for Marissa at the dining room table. She gasped.

trial 2

The loaf from trial #2 went to our neighbors. While we were in the hospital for Miles' birth, they were kind enough to hang out with our dogs and feed Krang, my insolent bread starter.

And just as Krang's culture is growing stronger, so is his personality. Yesterday I taped a little villanous screenshot from TMNT to his container. We've also given him some fledgling personifying characteristics. To sum up, Krang thinks my bread sucks and he hates me; and perhaps some of that strife is warranted. I recently switched him off the bougie unbleached flour he was eating and onto regular all purpose flour.


After a grocery run, I remained in the kitchen most of the afternoon. Yesterday I decided to try out my first practice recipe from my French cooking class. It was a simple vegetable soup, but the preparation was deceptively onerous - each vegetable rinsed, trimmed, dried, and turned to evenly sized paysanne cuts.

But as long as I was committed to embracing mise en place, the work was meditative. Watching the rain roll down the kitchen windows, catching up on podcasts. rinsing vegetables in the sink. Additionally, I feel like I finally got to see our big cast iron farm sink truly in its element. The wide, shallow surface gave me lots of room to pile the peels and off-cuts, and I had a nice round corner for shaking the grit out of the parsley bunches.

The highlight of the preparation was making the boquet garnis. Just a bay leaf, a few folded sprigs of thyme, and some parsley stalks wrapped in a leak and tied with butcher's twine. "This, according to Staphane, is the French cooking secret weapon," I said holding up the little aroma grenade for Marissa to smell.

As the soup finished, I threw together a last minute dining ambiance, shoving the outgoing mail to the end of the table, dimming the lights, lighting a bathroom candle, and putting on some jazz music. Rodney entered the dining room first and immediately got into character.

"Thank you, sir," he said. "Can I have a cookie, sir?"

"I'm sorry, sir," I replied. "But cookies will be served after the main course."

After dinner, we got Rodney into bed, and I cleaned up the kitchen while watching Miles. "Just a fair warning," I said calling down the stairs to Marissa. "He's changed, lotioned, fed, and swaddled, but still kind of fussy. I think I'm just going to let tough guy here cry it out for a bit."

Miles hissed, cried, and yelled in the living room. Rodney, a heavy sleeper, remained undisturbed. And with Marissa in the basement, and me in the kitchen aided by a noisy kitchen sink, Miles cried himself into a short power nap.

"Does the crying get to you?" asked Marissa as we were cleaning up for the night. "I feel so bad for him."

"Yeah, I feel bad for him," I said. "But the sound itself doesn't bother me. I remember for Rodney, I used to grit my teeth and have to step outside, but the sound doesn't agitate me anymore."

I took a swig of beer and threw my apron over a chair. Miles, as if he knew we were talking about him, awoke, resuming his hoarse, rhythmic weeping.

"It just kind of sounds like someone is playing a big, fleshy bagpipe in the other room," I laughed. To emphasize my point, I mimed a squeezing bagpipe motion, timed perfectly with his short gasps between the screams.

Have a great Monday, everyone. Thanks for stopping by today.