Monday, July 20, 2009

Midsummer Night's Dream

Temperature was 108 yesterday, and it felt like it while I was out on the bike, wearing me down to the need for another shower and a little lie-down. It was a good idea. I awoke refreshed enough to decide it's time for a little pseudo-California cuisine. Some of my best friends have done time in California, so a little toast to them was in order.
Food o' choice was chicken-broccoli-walnut salad, plus a fresh-herb salad with olives, pickled asparagus and pickled green beans and some five-grain artisan bread. This was accompanied by a bottle of Night Harvest Chardonay, which is basically a supermarket wine, so not expensive, but quite good. Dessert was key lime pie. And yes, I can get key limes here in the High Desert.
To make the salad, cut the florets off a a head (is that what they're called?) of fresh broccoli, blanch them in boiling water for about a minute, drain and let them cool. Thoroughly cook two skinned and boned chicken breasts in a small pan of half water, half white wine, with a little salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to simmer for at least 20 minutes. Drain and cut the chicken into small cubes. You will want about a cup of chopped walnuts. Beyond that, other ingredients are your choice, but I like to include a stalk of celery, half an onion and about three garlic buds, half a red bell pepper, some cilantro, basil, Italian parsley, and lavender (yes, lavender leaves or the seeds that come after the blossoms are done). I also add a tablespoon of finnes herbs, simply to round out the flavor. Combine the chicken, herbs, broccoli and walnuts, and add a dressing mixture made with four tablespoons of real mayo (not salad dressing), a teaspoon of prepared mustard and two teaspoons of brown mustard, a tablespoon of raw (unrefined) sugar, and three tablespoons of the juice from a jar of bread-and-butter pickle sticks. Blend this in a big bowl, cover and allow to chill about a half hour in the fridge.
Key lime pie for summer should use a graham cracker crust, and I make a simple egg white merengue with a dash of vanilla essence and a little (maybe a tablespoon) of powdered sugar, with just a bit of key lime juice and the grated zest off the lime itself.
That was pretty good stuff, and I think my friends would approve. Cheers.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mojito Time

Boise was characterized for me as being in the High Desert, with average humidity of 11 percent or less and temperatures in summer ranging from damn hot to hotter than that. So far, though, it has been very pleasant. Temperature has gotten into the low 90s, but, maybe because of the low humidity, it has not felt hot. I am also fortunate to have a solid apartment with good insulation and good air conditioning, which I have used a little bit. Since I am on the second floor, I get the breeze off the river, and big trees and the river itself help, I think.
It is also good to have a mojito now and then. The mint, the lime, the fizzy water and, ahem, the rum, work just fine to make heat tolerable.
I am having one now, sitting on the balcony watching people go by on the river in their rafts, inner tubes, and whatever, listening to the river and the breeze in the trees. Would this be a time to say "It doesn't get any better than this?" I've not been here long enough to know, so I will just appreciate it as it is and try to avoid comparisons. I can say it is a lot better than being stuck in Tokyo during the prolonged rainy season and watching the mildew form on my shoes.
I believe I could use another mojito.