Saturday, June 27 2020

paella, llama meat, and ghost pictures

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Dear Journal,

Happy Saturday, readers. I hope you took it slow this morning. Quarantine Saturdays are long, and there's no reason to rush into anything before the coffee pot is finished brewing and the aspirin has kicked in. This morning, the dogs are fighting over a tattered stuffed dragon. Ziggy is licking her chops, probably feeling very proud of herself for being fast enough to steal three bites of Rodney's scrambled eggs. The smell of bacon lingers in the air.

Sip. What a wonderful day yesterday. Our Friday morning began with all the usual suspects. Rodney eagerly slugged his milk and ate his granola bar in one swift motion like a tree chipper. I tidied up the house, then threw on some clothes just in time for 12 o'clock story time with Rodney's cousins.

For lunch, I threw together leek and potato soup, toasting some little stukjes of bread with cheese in the oven. "We can't eat grilled cheese every day," I explained. "Sometimes, we have to settle for eating smaller, open-faced grilled cheeses submerged in soup."

In the afternoon, we decided to take a trip to Home Depot to pick up some supplies we'd need for yard work this weekend.

"OK," said Marissa mentally scanning the house. "Would you just put the dogs away? Then I think we're ready to leave."

"Would you mind if I put some pants on too?" I laughed.

"I didn't even notice," laughed Marissa.

After parking at Home Depot... erm... the orange store, Rodney and Marissa headed inside to shop. I hung out with Miles, who immediately got to work filling the car with powerful wailing.

"What's a matter, cHaRlEs MiNgUuuuuS?" I sang, collecting him from his car seat. "What's with all the draAAAaaaaamaaaa?"

After getting home, we decided to take a nap. We sent Rodney to his room, then Marissa and I shared a beer in our bedroom before sailing off to sleep for the afternoon. I sprang out of bed a little earlier than the rest of the family to start on dinner. We made paella again, only this time, inspired from some other youtube videos, I decided to leave the comfort of my Dutch oven and try making the dish in a large, flat cast iron pan.

My cast iron has a questionable history with rice dishes. Before I discovered the miracle of non stick pins, I've had some full blown mushy disasters while attempting to fry rice in a cast iron pan. But I had faith in paella. I read that paella is traditionally made in flat, wide, heavy bottomed paella dishes. The pan hissed and sputtered as I poured the broth into the center. I hurriedly arranged shrimp around the top before carefully sliding the pan into the oven.

The switch to cast iron worked out very well. The wide, open shape of the pan must have allowed more steam to escape, which really improved the texture. I even developed a nice socarrat around the edges - the special name for the bits of charred, crusty rice that you can scrape and re incorporate into the dish while serving.


Paella. Or as Gordon Ramsay would call it, "pie-ella".

"I'm obsessed with these crusty pieces," I boasted after we had gathered at the table to start eating.

"So going to be honest here," said Marissa. "I prefer the middle I think."

"What?" I exclaimed. "You're crazy."

"I know," replied Marissa. "Momma's got weird preferences."

"Maybe we ought to make Chilean food one night - to pay tribute to that one-eighth portion of your ancestry. I wonder what Chileans eat." I produced my phone and began to scan through the wikipedia article on Chilean cuisine.

"Maybe it's all stuff that I have special preferences for," laughed Marissa.

"Ope - so North Chile eats a lot of llama meat. Llama stew. Alpaca stew. Roasted llama." I read on, listing several tradidional dishes featuring llama meat.

"Please don't make Chilean food," said Marissa shaking her head.

"Wait - OK I think just North Chille has all the llama meat. Central Chille actually sounds pretty lekker." I flipped through the ingredients, reading the highlights that stuck out to me. "Lots of tomatoes, cilantro, bananas, raisins, beef..."

"That sounds like stuff I like to eat," said Marissa.

"Maybe you do have a Chilean pallet. We can try something if you want, but it could be hard finding llama meat," I teased.

I cleaned up the kitchen while Marissa put Rodney to bed. I joined them as a spectator just as they were beginning story time. While Marissa read to Rodney, I messed around with the spherical image feature of my phone, carefully taking a wide screen picture of Rodney's room.

rodneys room

I could have probably gotten more of the room in the picture, but Ollie was very content, and I didn't want to move him.

I imagine that someday, being able to virtually look around rooms in our house as they exist now might be pretty cool, especially if VR is more of a thing in the future. There's still some bugs in it, though. I've noticed that if there is someone moving around in the frame while the camera moves around, it can make for some very ghostly results, as seen in this footage I took of a disembodied Marissa floating above her art studio table.

"This looks like a ghost picture," I laughed. "The kind I'd put on the Internet if we wanted to sell tours of your haunted studio."

marissa floating in studio

Wasn't there a Patrick Swayze movie about this?

We finished off the night on the couch. I forfeited my movie pick for the evening, instead trolling around YouTube for new food recipes. By the time we turned in for the night, my head was swimming.

"I declare tomorrow a cozy day," I said, groaning from a belly full of popcorn and dessert wine. "Movie. Breakfast. Coffee. Pajamas."

"We... have a lot of yardwork to do tomorrow," laughed Marissa. "Remember, we have to do the rock bed?"

"Ah yes," I said rubbing my eyes. "OK - well maybe that will be relaxing in its own special kind of way."

Thanks or stopping by today. Have a great Saturday, everyone.