Thursday, October 15 2020

a clean fridge, french salads, and paella with rodney

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Thursday. I hope the week is going well for you so far, and that you can find the strength today to finish things out.

This morning, I'm feeling a little out of it. You see, I like to clean out my fridge every Wednesday night, which inevitably leads to lots of taste testing, which further leads to snacking. Between olives out of the jar, wedges of cheese, a butt of bread, and the bottle of wine we broke into, I rolled out of bed this morning feeling like some kind of gluttonous Roman emperor. Too often, my Wednesday nights become their own miniature Friday night - a Friday light, maybe. Not quite as debaucherous as the real thing, but still brutal in the middle of the week.

I'll get there. With each sip of coffee, I can feel my brain slowly lighting up again. And it's nice to have a clean fridge today. The vegetable drawer was starting to spill over into the common shelf and I had fallen behind on washing and peeling some carrots. There's only so many things that can go wrong if, at least, your fridge is clean.

"Look at this," I said to Marissa, standing at the door of the kitchen with two bags of vegetables. "This is kind of an unforeseen drawback of buying those fancy colorful carrots I like."

"What do you mean?" asked Marissa.

"We eat all the yellow, orange, and purple ones first, leaving us with the pale carrots," I said. "Coincidentally, they're the exact same color as the parsnips."

I held up the second bag of parsnips beside the carrots. Marissa began to chuckle.

"See? Virtually indistinguishable."

"Well they taste different, right?" asked Marissa.

"Oh sure," I replied. "Of course they taste different. But I'm going to open this bag and smell it every time I forget which is which? Who has that kind of time?"

Sip. We had a great day yesterday. I capitalized on a day without meetings to take this week's task over the finish line. Nothing left to do this week but update some documentation and install my code in our production environment. And since I'd be signing on later that night for an evening infrastructure change, I took an extra long lunch.

For lunch, we heated up the rest of Marissa's braised pork and made some sandwiches. As of late, our go to sandwich has been two slices of sourdough, turkey, swiss, and a little French salad I whip together with sliced cabbage, sunflower oil, white wine vinegar, and red pepper flakes.

And speaking of French salads, they have single handedly restored my faith in salads. I used to hate making salads. I hated the silly farm imagery and flowery names on the bottles of dressing. I hated how much space Romaine lettuce takes up in your fridge, how quickly it goes bad, and how long it takes to rinse and dry. And don't even talk to me about salad spinners, because those also take up too much space.

But the beauty of the French salad is that it works with almost any vegetable, and the quick dressing thrown together from literally any kind of oil and vinegar combination actually gets more delicious as it sits in the fridge. In an instant, you can magically compress an entire cabbage into a compact, fridge stable slurry of deliciousness. Needless to say, it makes for a great sandwich topping too.

After finishing out the work day, I made my way into the kitchen to start on the paella. I got a little ambitious about the ingredients I used, at suddenly while trying to get dinner in the oven by 6:30 so we'd have time to let it cool and eat it before my change window, I felt pressed for time.

"Dada," said Rodney. "I have some candy corn?"

"No, dude," I said, hurriedly bouncing between the sink, fridge, and stove. "Just wait until dinner."

"Dada," said Rodney. "I have paw patrol fruits?"

"No dude," I said. "We're gonna eat soon, no snacks."

"Dada," said Rodney. "I have a piece carrot?"

"Sure," I said curtly. "You can eat all the carrots you want. In your paella. For dinner."

Rodney started to dig his step ladder out of the corner of the kitchen. "Dada, I help," he said.

I snipped at him. "No," I said. "Not this one dude, Daddy's in kind of a hurry." Rodney slinked out of the kitchen, hanging his head in disappointment. My impatient words bounced around in my head after he left. After I had finished prepping the ingredients, I wandered into the living room after him.

"Rod?" I called out. The TV was on, there were toys strewn on the ground, but Rodney was nowhere to be found.

"Rod?" I called out again. I saw a pile of blankets on the ground - blankets that we usually kept in the ottoman compartment by our couch.

"Ah," I laughed. I bent over to open the lid of the ottoman. Rodney was stuffed inside, holding his little keychain flashlight close to his chest. He was wearing his night vision goggles.

"Sorry for snipping, dude," I said. "Hey, I could use some help now. What do you say?"

Rodney was quick to forgive, trotting into the kitchen after me. I put him to work swirling a little pot of chicken stock simmering with shrimp shells.

"OK, dude," I said. "We gotta work fast. I'm going to pour the broth in, and we need to arrange the shrimp and red pepper slices on the top as quickly as possible."

Rodney nodded, holding the bowl of red peppers at the ready. I tipped the pot into the skillet. It hissed and gurgled over the rice.

"GO!" I yelled. Rodney and I took turns dispensing peeled shrimp and red peppers. Only half of Rodney's peppers made it to the dish. He ate the rest.

"Dude, you're just like some kind of snack monster, aren't you?" I laughed.

I had a nice half hour to enjoy paella and wine at the table before I had to head upstairs for my team's opschange. I sat down at the computer and joined the zoom call with a glass of wine. Sathish and I watched some dashboards and monitors while Alex proceeded with the change.

"Last node," announced Alex merely twenty minutes later.

"Do you think you can sand bag this one a little?" I asked. "If you finish too quickly, I might actually have to put Rodney to bed."

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