Sunday, November 22 2020

chicken dishes and getting smooshed by christmas

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Dear Journal,

Good evening, everyone! Hope your Sunday is going well. Time to pour a drink and cling to the last few precious hours of the weekend. But first, time to update the old blog.

Speaking of drinking, tonight's beverage is a white wine I nabbed from Hy-Vee while making our thoroughly premeditated Thanksgiving week grocery run. Our fourteen pound bird is safely nestled into his temporary spot in the back of our fridge. I spent pretty much the whole afternoon cleaning out the fridge and cleaning vegetables for the big day this week, leading right up to dinner.

Tonight's dinner was an interesting French dish called Chicken Gaston Gerard. The recipe began with a whole chicken cut up into chunks. I lightly browned the chicken in butter and oil over medium heat, then shut the lid for forty minutes. The cool part of the recipe was how it cleverly utilized the whole chicken - the carcass sits on the bottom of the pot while the other pieces sweat out the juices, which get turned into the most wild sauce you could ever imagine.

Blast the heat. Add 100 grams of shredded gruyere to the boiling chicken juices. Add a whole glass of white wine, cream, and finally a squirt of mustard before broiling it with cheese and bread crumbs.

Being my first time with the dish, I had some execution problems. Things started to go off the rails when I removed the lid from the Dutch oven forty minutes later and discovered that my stove wasn't nearly hot enough. I rushed the rest of the recipe, adding in the cheese before the broth was hot enough. A ball of rubbery grey protein wadded up at the end of my whisk.

"Look at this," I said to Marissa, retrieving the mass from the pot. "I think this is literally just cheese with all the fat taken out. If I didn't know any better I would think it was just a piece of chicken."

Marissa tried to act amused, but the queasy look in her face betrayed her. "I don't like it," she said, quietly retching to herself.

"I should have guessed you wouldn't think that was cool. I'll go show Rodney." Rodney took hold of the congealed mass and started to bounce it on the kitchen table like a bouncy ball.

Sip. It's been a great weekend. The weather has been warm enough to go for walks outside, and yet somehow also cold enough to enjoy hot chocolate spiked with brandy. Each of us is starting to show our Christmas spirit in our own special way. For Rodney, that means bogarting our nightly story time to lead aimless, abstract discussions about Christmas.

"Oh I know," said Rodney sitting up in bed. "Let's talk about Christmas." I liked how he went through the trouble of acting like Christmas just happened to pop into his head. We both know Christmas is always on his mind, and the more he can talk about it, the more he can stave off his imminent bedtime. On this particular night, I felt like indulging him.

"OK," I said, taking a seat next to him on the bed. "Tell me about Christmas. What do you got?"

Rodney leaned in like he was divulging a dangerous secret. "Christmas is coming soon," he said.

"I know dude," I said. "It's like next month."

Rodney shook his head. "I show you," he said, spinning on his butt to face his pillow. He planted his left hand down on the bed.

"This is our house," he said. Rodney turned and planted his other hand on the bed on the other side of his pillow. "And this is Christmas. It's coming... really slowly..."

Rodney began to draw his right hand closer to his left. "And then SUDDENLY, it's here." His hands mere inches apart, he craned his neck towards me to make sure I was tracking with the explanation.

"Oh I get it," I said. I raised my hands to match his. "And then when Christmas is here... clap."

Rodney looked horrified. "No no no," he scolded. "It comes here." He spaced my hands apart. "Christmas comes slowly and slowly until it gets to our front yard, and then it stops."

I broke out in laughter. All at once I realized what Rodney was getting at. To Rodney, the expression Christmas is coming had nothing to do with time. To him, Christmas was a physical object that was traveling to our house.

"It can't hit us, because our house would get smooshed," said Rodney gravely. "The walls would get smooshed. My toys would get smooshed. Baby Miles would get smooshed. Everything! Everything would get smooshed."

"I got it," I said. "So Christmas is coming, but it's just going to stop in our front yard?"

Rodney finally nodded in approval, satisfied that his lesson had finally stuck.

You have to admit that Rodney's understanding of Christmas captures an imminence lost in the usual cliches. Like Rodney, I think I prefer to also think of Christmas as something barreling towards us. It makes me picture Santa sleigh careening through side streets, smashing mailboxes and side swiping cars. Indeed, Christmas is almost hear, and you best pray that when it gets here it doesn't smoosh you.

I really related to that this weekend. Sitting down at the computer last night, I began to organize a TODO list around all the things I'd like to do this holiday. Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas cards, Christmas presents, Secret Santa gift exchanges, virtual get together's, and most important of all, I have to begin my careful curation process for my yearly hip-hop mixtape. Things are about to get serious. This weekend has been like my last water break before re-joining the race and powering through to the finish line.

At least the holidays are a good kind of busy, aren't they? It's been such a quiet year, and I'm in a place where I just feel like doing things with people. Even doing something as boring as standing in line at Hy-Vee waiting for a register to open, I just felt so stimulating to be around people.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Sunday, everyone. See ya tomorrow.