Tuesday, November 30 2021

state quarters, eggnog addiction, and pot pie filling

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Tuesday. We have all the makings of a wonderful day in front of us. The sun shines. A fresh loaf of bread proofs in the oven. Birds chirp and cars whistle by. The house sleeps, and the ugly truth is that I really wish I could be sleeping now. I wanted to sleep so badly, I greedily added an extra five minutes to the power nap I take before jumping into the shower now.

Why so tired? If I had to guess, cleaning the basement may have finally worn me down. We had another vigorous de-cluttering session last night, and while it was pretty cathartic to banish all that extra stuff out of our house in time for garbage day, it sapped my energy. I think we're going to need some respite before we return to battle. Today will be the mellow counterpoint to the random burst of cleaning we saw this week. Tonight will be blankets, YouTube, and maybe even takeout food.

De-cluttering your house isn't just a physical act. It's an emotional one too. Going through your stuff inevitably leads surfaces old memories. Last night we discovered a box of things from Marissa's childhood. She had some painted Christmas ornaments. She had an old envelope stuffed with school photos she exchanged with the other kids in her third grade class. She had a giant US map with hole cutout for each of the fifty special issue state quarters.

Do you remember collecting those? Just in case someone from the future is reading this and has no idea what I'm talking about, we used to have these metal coins called "quarters" that were worth a quarter of a dollar. Each US state released their own special issue coin with their emblem, flag, or official bird on the back. Kids like me and Marissa went through the trouble of trying to collect them all. I wasn't nearly as patient as Marissa. I remember as soon as it dawned on me that I was sitting on ten dollars of spending money, all those quarters started to burn a hole in my pocket. I popped them all out and bought a yo-yo.

Marissa still had her collection. She was only missing about ten states. So with her blessing, I popped them all out of the plastic, folded the empty poster board into the trash, and bagged up the loose change. The good news is that now these ancient relics of the past may finally have a chance to stimulate the economy - probably in the form of a pumpkin spice latte later today.

Speaking of liquids - grab your coffee, and lets have a toast to Tuesday.

Sip. I'm thankful for coffee today. Here's to coffee, and to the other liquids we use to get through life. To me, coffee represents everything about my personality that is peppy and vibrant. But there is another liquid I enjoy in the evenings that I fear is running my life into the ground. My vice, my dark master, my holiday morphine. I'm talking, of course, about eggnog.

I couldn't even wait until December this year. I bought my first quart over the weekend, and it barely sat in my fridge for an hour before I broke the seal. I poured a small taster glass and finished it before I closed the fridge, then I had four more gulps straight out of the container. Cleaning the basement last night proved to be a good distraction - I didn't have even one sip. But I know that's going to make me feel like I deserve extra eggnog tonight. That's the toxic cycle - eggnog's heartless grip on my life.

What is it about eggnog that makes it so delicious? Have you ever seen it prepared? Out of morbid curiosity, I watched a "make your own eggnog" video on YouTube. I was disgusted to learn that eggnog is practically uncooked cake batter. It's just a bread's share of flour, a shovel scoop of white sugar, and somewhere between five to forty eggs. I am addicted, but let me be clear - I don't want help. I haven't hit rock bottom, and there is still more eggnog to enjoy.

In other news, I have an excellent spider feeding to show you. This video was taken last Sunday before we went to bed. After filling Glassy's water bowl, he darted out of his cave and pounced - uncharacteristic of shy little Glassy, and undoubtedly evidence that he was starving.

I popped the lid and lowered a small roach pinched at the tip of the tongs. I held it an inch above the top of his hide, thinking I could get him to stretch out and reach for it. But I certainly didn't expect him to leap for it.

Such an elaborate, acrobatic takedown. The whole thing left us speechless. The video you just watched was slowed down to an eight speed. In real time, it was all over in a flash.

One thing I love about Glassy is that he seems to prefer the acrobatic way of doing things. He's always loved to crawl into his cave from the top, flipping upside down. He painstakingly cleared all the dirt from his burrow, heaving it straight up the wall at a ninety degree angle. I think if Glassy were a person, he'd probably have his own YouTube channel chock full of homemade parkour videos and dangerous stunts. Glassy is a little adrenaline junkie.

I'll close this entry with a quick tale of how I whiffed dinner. Last night's meal had a promising start. With Marissa's help, I seared the pieces of a quartered up chicken in a pot. The butter, sizzling brandy, and crisp vegetables wafted magic into the air. I braised the flour-dusted chicken in white wine and stock until the tender meat was falling off the bone. Marissa gave the boys a bath while I finished up, but I finished early, and my idle hands began to look for ways to modify our staple weekday recipe.

I reduced the sauce down to a thick stew. I chopped up the cold green beans into bite sized chunks and threw them in the stew. Next, I plucked out the chicken breasts and shredded them with a fork, stirring them back into the mix. It was too late - the transformation was already complete.

"Oh god," I sighed. "I think I just accidentally made the filling of a chicken pot pie."

Yep. Thick gravy colored sauce. Shredded chicken. Chopped green beans, carrots, celery, and onion. It was exactly what you'd expect to find inside of a flaky, buttery crust. But there was no crust to be found on our dinner table last night. We all just ate straight bowls of my creamy chicken and vegetable stew, like we were new converts of the Atkins diet trying to carry on with our pot pie night.

So if anyone is curious, I have a great recipe for chicken pot pie filling, and I'd be willing to trade you for a good pie crust recipe. Thanks for stopping by today. Go have a good Tuesday.