A couple of weeks ago, we had my parents over for dinner. The theme was Hawaiian, so I made kalua pork and chicken long rice, and as an added treat sliced up a fresh pineapple. Now, you’d think I’d know what I was doing, having been born in Honolulu and spending nine years of my life there. However, surprisingly, it was the first time I had ever cut a pineapple. I actually had to follow the instructions that came on a tag affixed to the stalk, a move that cost me what little Aloha Cred I might have had.
“Hmm,” Tara said. “That’s an interesting technique.” Which was really just a polite way of saying I didn’t do a very good job of cutting the pineapple. My mom, on the other hand, was a little more direct. “What on earth did you do to that thing?!” she wondered.
My response – “cut it” – didn’t cut it.
Apparently, I made the mistake of leaving too much of the fruit itself attached to the outer rind, which had been discarded in the trash. In my defense, have you ever tried slicing a pineapple? It’s tricky as hell. Not only do you have to remove the spiny skin, you’ve then got to poke out the “eyes” and then turn it diagonally, cutting this way and that to achieve perfect little cubes. Or you could get really bold and go for pineapple rings. Man alive, that’s a lot of complicated work. I have enough trouble getting squares; there’s no way I’m going to attempt circles! Next time I’ll just open a can, or better yet, serve coconut. It’s every bit as Hawaiian, and I’m sure waaaayyyy easier to open.
OK, maybe not so much.
On the plus side, I was showing off my spirit by wearing a Hawaiian shirt and playing Hawaiian music. That’s gotta count for something, right?
Magician In The Kitchen
Tara, on the other hand, is quite good at slicing and dicing and chopping and mixing and everything else cooking-related. She works magic with leftovers and can take the most innocuous ingredients and transform them into new and wonderful meals. Yesterday, for instance, she turned leftover barbecued pork chops into a breakfast skillet layered with crispy hash browns, sweet onions, sliced mushrooms, and topped with a fried egg that, when cut, oozed its warm, golden yellow yolk over everything.
Hot damn, that was good.
She has created breakfast tostadas and burritos out of leftover chicken, a frittata from ham, and even once heated up a slice of leftover pizza!!!
OK, that last one wasn’t quite as impressive, but I am truly in awe of what she can whip up using leftovers. I’ve never been good about eating them; they sit in the fridge for four or five days because, first and foremost, I’m an Optimist. Also, I feel guilty about just tossing them, even though they inevitably end up in the garbage eventually anyway. Not any more! This proves that having Tara move in wasn’t only a romantic move, it was also an economical one. Waste not, want not and all that jazz.
In The Shadow of a Volcano
Saturday was one of those sunny, warm-verging-on-hot summer days that are pretty rare around here. I mean, we do get our share, but they’re pretty much confined to July and August, so we pasty-skinned PNWers have to grab ‘em when they come, otherwise before we know it the perpetual overcast and drizzle will be back. Grab we did yesterday, heading out to Saddle Dam for a day of fishing, swimming and picnicking. All in the shadow of Mount St. Helens, still clad in snow.
My mom e-mailed me this morning to ask what kind of fish we ended up having for dinner and I had to answer “burgers!” because, once again, we didn’t catch a damn thing. We did have a few nibbles though, and it was the first time the kids had been fishing so it was a day well spent. This was a great spot for a day outdoors, with plenty of picnic tables in the shade, fire pits, and a beach, all surrounded by deeply forested hillsides. We worked up our courage to take a dip finally, and though the water was icy cold, after a couple of minutes your body was numb anyway, so it didn’t matter. First time I’ve swum in a lake in years.
Sadly the weekend is rapidly coming to a close. Two days off seems distressingly short now, but if nothing else I’ll appreciate my weekends more. I’ve got five more days of on-the-job training before Vanessa, my safety net, departs for the East Coast, leaving me completely on my own. Yikes! Scary thought, but I’m catching on and I’m sure after another week I’ll be fine.