Aug 12, 2010

I procrastinate the heck out of everything.

Three things: One, I love camping. Two, I actually enjoy the chore of preparing for a camping trip. And three, I am a horrible procrastinator.

Lets break things down, one by one, shall we?

1. I love camping:

Ever since I was a little child, even as far back as I can remember, we have been a camping family. As a child I have fond memories of racing our bikes around the loop at Fallen Leaf Lake, or hiking to the crater at Mt. Lassen, driving for hours on end as we made our way into Canada in order to do genealogy projects, or just taking a road trip across the salt flats on the way to Utah to see relatives who live in Holiday.

Back then, we didn’t have DVD players in cars and we didn’t have iPods. We drove station wagons, and our entertainment came from each other, from the use of the CB Radio (which we always had when traveling in a family caravan). And if all else failed, we always had books (What? Reading? What is that?). So for hours on end (and if you have ever driven across Nevada on Interstate 80, you know there is almost nothing to see there; once you get to Utah and salt flats start, there is even less to see). But as a whole, I don’t remember complaining too much about being bored when traveling. Once we reached our destination, tents were made, fires were lit, bikes were ridden, and lakes and streams were swum in. And once things settled down, we sat around the campfire pit and roasted marshmallows and ate smores.

Now, a few years later in life, I still enjoy all of those things, except maybe the bike riding around the loop. But I love to swim, I love to sit around the campfire, and I love to be away from the hustle and bustle of life at home while I sit around the campfire with a warm cup of coffee.

In a few days, Iver and I are headed to Albion for five days of fun on the California coast. The worst part (or the best, depending on how we look at it) is our wives are not going. And without them there to keep us in check, there is a good chance the two of us will do something stupid.

So what’s not to love about that??

2. I enjoy the chore of preparing for a camping trip:

When I was young and just a lazy kid, I rarely had to go through the pain of actually making sure things were ready for a camping trip. So I can’t say much about that. That particular task probably fell to my father who never bothered to check in with me about what he was doing. But now, if I want to go camping, the task falls to me. And this is something I enjoy.

Sadly, the next two nights are going to be very busy for me. I have a union meeting tonight, I have to go to the gym, and I haven’t done a thing to actually prepare for this trip (which I will be covering in more specific detail in the next section). So tonight, after I run at the gym, I’ll be in the garage getting things together for my trip down to the coast. And I can’t wait. I enjoy going through my gear, finding the things I need, weeding out the things I don’t need. And for this particular trip, I’ll actually be packing pretty light. I don’t need a tent, or mattress. So I don’t need the tarp or some of the other accoutrements that goes along with that. I don’t need to pack a stove, nor any other cooking utensils.

I need my sleeping bag, a pillow, clothes and personal items, my dive gear, and some miscellaneous food items. And that’s it. Sounds easy right? So why on earth, after having three days off, did I not get this all done when I had plenty of time to do it?

For this answer, I come to the next section.

3. I am a horrible procrastinator:

This, in and of it self, should be pretty self-explanatory. What else is there to say, really? I had three days off. And I had very little that actually needed doing. And I got none of it done. So what can I really say about that? Procrastination has always been one of my weak points. In fact, as far as I can remember, it’s always been one of my weak points. So I’m simply planning on it always being a weak point that I need to over come.

So tonight, I will begin the process of getting packed. I have tonight and tomorrow night that I need to get this done. Saturday night, after work, I’ll be going to Iver’s to load up the truck with firewood. And Sunday morning we are planning on leaving.

So I need to get the packing complete so the stupidity can begin.

Aug 11, 2010

My chicken was curried.

When I was a wee lad I had to make my own lunches for school. At a quick glance, one might think my mother was either uninvolved or simply uncaring, but nothing could really be farther from the truth. In fact, my mother was quite involved and caring, and made my lunch for me every single day, up until the day when I complained so relentlessly over the contents of my lunch she told me something like this, “If you don’t like the lunch I make for you, you can make your own.” And so I did. And if I didn’t make a lunch, I simply went hungry at school, and I had no one to blame but myself. And thus I began to cook for myself.

Over the years I had spent more and more time in the kitchen, but my forays into the culinary world were somewhat brief and rather timid in their very nature. It all began with the egg sandwich. A devilish little bugger, the egg sandwich can be varied according to whatever whim strikes you at the moment. Want ham on that? You got it. Want a different kind of cheese? You got it. Want a biscuit instead of bread? You got it.

And thus I entered the realm of making food according to my own desires and whims. Granted, this wasn’t a very big step towards culinary greatness, but it was a step none the less.

Over time, my ambition into the realm of food has grown, and I have found myself taking bigger and bigger steps. This is not to say there hasn’t been some stumbling along the way. For example, I made some fried bananas not to long ago and was extremely disappointed with the results. Our friends, who were with us for dinner and attempting to eat this dessert, made a good showing of pretending to like it. Of course, there have been some great successes long the way as well. For example, I tried my hand at baking not to long ago, and made crepes for a desert. And wow, were they tasty. Tasty!!

I am somewhat sad to admit, though, I am a timid chef. For one, I am completely lost and confused when it comes to the subject of spices and herbs. Any baboon probably knows salt, pepper and garlic are one of the sweetest combinations on earth. So what about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme? According to Simon and Garfunkel they go well together; but even if they do, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue what type of food to prepare with such a concoction.

And so it is with me. I do love food. And there is so much of it out there, and so many ways to prepare it, and I am too lazy to look for them.

Pathetic, I know. But now I am working to overcome this deficiency. This weekend, I am going to prepare one of my favorite dishes: Yellow Curry Chicken over Rice. There are lots of types of curry in the world; this particular version originates in South East Asia.

I have spent my entire weekend here at work obsessing over this venture. I have scoured the internet looking for curry recipes. I have read eleventy-billion comments people have written on the different recipes. What I really want to do is basically recreate a recipe from a little diner in Arcata, called Japhy's.

Japhy's, located in hippie heaven, is really quite an amazing little restaurant. Soups made to order and the curry of the day.

And the curry, wow. So good. Thus far, I think my favorite is the yellow curry. And it is worth the drive to Arcata just to try. I highly recommend you do so.

So with some determination, and a little bit luck, I set out to recreate this recipe. I had an idea of how I wanted to do it. So first I went to the Asian market. Ten bucks later, I was on my way home with some curry paste and coconut milk. I did a little chopping of vegetables, and a smashing of garlic, and everything went into the slow cooker. I threw the chicken into the cooker as well, thinking to let it just sit in the combination of broth and milk and spices for about four hours before I return to it.

About 4 hours later I returned and removed the chicken and shredded it. Then, stirred it back in, added in some cilantro, and let it sit for about another two hours. And walla!!

So good, so juicy, so tender, and poured over rice, so comforting in the belly.

What?? I strayed from the easy and predictable formula and found myself doing something new and fun and wham-o! Dinner was a complete success.

So what does this tell me? I need to stray from the formula a little more often.

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