Thursday, January 12, 2012

12 in 2012, including Sous Vide!

I am not a fan of resolutions. I find it highly unrealistic to make sudden drastic changes, so I won't 'resolve.' I did, however, make a list of goals- one that I can look at on my vanity mirror every day to remind myself of the path I am hoping to walk on in 2012. And I wanted to share them with you.

Ditch the Jesus complex.

There is a weird trend in my head that urges me to perpetually try to save and change people. I can’t, I know that. But somehow I still try under the pretense that I need to know that I did all I could. No mas. I may love you and support you unconditionally, but I cannot save you- not this year.

Practice saying no more.

Compulsive volunteering, giving, accepting has been a lifestyle choice for me for as long as I can remember. Under the umbrella of Ask and you shall receive I always said yes whenever a helping hand was desired. 2012 is the time I tone that down to allow myself a new lifestyle, one where saying no is not a rare occurrence but just a rational decision.

Honor my priorities: my family.

It is easy to take the things you have for granted, to treat them like obligations, chores, things you have committed to and now must do. At the end of it all, the most important thing for me is my family and I know I have failed to treat my family with the joy and excitement it deserves. I want to be present, engaged, happy to have them in my life- even when I am down, hormonal, exhausted, or anything in between.

Publish more.

Last year, Dining Out Magazine, the Denver County Fair Cookbook, and the Gabby Gourmet replaced my previous writing life in the Colorado Lawyer and citable judicial opinions. In 2012, I am ready to face the pitch game again and submit my ideas with more focus, more intensity, without floundering around throwing stuff against the wall in hopes it sticks. I will pitch with intent and purpose after extensive research. Fingers crossed!

Allow myself to fail.

Whatever I do, I do 100% and until and unless I am ready to give it 120% I just don’t try. Unless I know I’ll make it, I won’t risk failure. So, this is the year in which I will pursue those projects that I have built in my head - the granola, some teaching, the new blog. And if they fail, I will be ok.

Take the leap to learn.

Nothing freaks me out more than new stuff, especially if it has buttons or any technology involved. The conundrum is that there is a good load of new stuff I’d like to know- SEO, photography, all the bells and whistles that I want on my website and blog. I need to plunge - take the leap and do it- learn it no matter how much my older-stuck-in-my-ways mind tries to hold me back.

Have a better relationship with my mother.

You know that typical let’s talk about your mother question? I thought that question was a joke until I thought about it myself and realized that there are issues, breaks, problems that I avoided for a while in that relationship. This year, I will make them better. Love you mama!

Read more.

If you asked me what is the one thing I wish I could do more of, I’d say read. It gives me the biggest joy. It is mine- just mine and I read just for me. Nothing is like it, but physical time and lack of energy keep me from it. I declare 2012 the year of 12 books to read. I know I can and I know I will love it. I just have to commit to it.

Forgive myself. No one is harder on myself than I am. I beat myself down, cast tremendous amounts of guilt onto my actions, and dwell on every misstep with great skill. Also, no one can hold a grudge against me better that I can. I can’t promise to do a 180 on all of this but I will do my best to give myself a break this year.

Go to Montreal and the French Laundry.

Montreal has been on our radar for a long time for its urban edginess, Pied du Cochon, Joe Beef, and French culture. We have talked and talked about going and the time has come. We're booked to go in February! As for the French Laundry, after cooking nearly every dish from the book, some many times, I really just have to go and see the place for myself. Soon...

Return to the professional kitchen for more. In the late summer, I started working in a professional kitchen a couple of days a week. I did this to practice, to learn, to get a feeling of how food is made in that setting, how it feels to be on your feet for that many hours, how it feels to have to do things a certain way, in a certain time-frame, while working in a busy environment. I loved it but stopped as my schedule got busy.

I did not get enough and no matter how much motivation it takes to go back, I want to do it.

Master this.

Santa, aka the husband, decided I was ready for the immersion circulator, and not just any one but the PolyScience. I have lots of work to do. I am intimidated and excited by the process but I started already - and I can't wait to share those experiences and the learning process with you.

What's your goal or resolution?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Make a Wish, Make It Happen

Biting into what was supposed to be some of Denver's best fried chicken, I wished it away - another let-down. I wished it would have been brined. I wished the breading had some flavor, any flavor. I wished it was a tad saltier. I wished it had the guts not to have any breading at all aka Momofuku fried chicken. I wished I could close my eyes and exchange mediocrity for a mouthful of another one of David Chang's version of a dish that both breaks the rules and amazes the senses. Wishes don't always come true.

Last time I strongly wished something away and something else in return was on a trip to California. This was supposed to be relaxing. A weekend away - no kids, no husbands, no laptops- just my best friend and the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. The mandatory spa moment arrived. Instead of that blissful glance at warm fine sand, a breeze over my mostly naked body, and tan and ripped massage therapist, I found myself in a motel room with Magda, a short stockey middle-aged Polish lady, wearing too much eye shadow. Staring at old carpet, shielding my eyes from the bright neon on a massage table that rhythmically shook to the beat of the techno blaring outside, I prayed for ear plugs or temporary loss of hearing.

The Ace, a former motel all hip-ified, was buzzed to be the place to see and be-seen. And it was- for a swarm of Jersey Shore refugees who paid the small fee to get into the mister-equipped pool, where a DJ was spinning live six hours every day. Extra bonus by the pool: ping-pong tables. The alleged spa consisted of the dumpy-70's-wanna-be-cool lockers, ridiculous robes, and a waiting room the size of a closet equipped with a noisy table fan.

There I was, naked under a thin sheet, with Magda bearing down on me. No escaping for 60 long minutes. I closed my eyes and made my wish. I tuned Magda out and channeled my crush into the room: Robert Downey Junior. Slowly, the thump of the techno base seemed to ease up. As strong hands ran up my tense shoulders, I almost felt his breath, heard his whisper, smelled his skin. Eyes closed, gentle prayers that Magda keeps quiet, I let the stress melt away, smiled at myself, and made my own wish come true.

It didn't work quite the same with the fried chicken. So I made it. The first dish of the year at our house and first blog post of 2012. What's your wish? And how are you going to make it come true?

Momofuku's Dreamy Fried Chicken

Ingredients: one whole chicken; 4 cups lukewarm water; 1/2 cup salt; 1/2 cup sugar; 4 cups grapeseed or canola oil; octo vinaigrette (recipe below).

Break the chicken down into 6 pieces: 2 legs, 2 wings, 2 breast halves. Combine the water, salt, and sugar and brine the chicken in it for at least one hour and no more than six.

Set up a steamer on the stove and steam the chicken on medium heat covered nearly all the way for 40 minutes. Chill it in the refrigerator on a cooling rack for at least two hours or overnight and remove 30 minutes before frying.

Heat the oil to 375 degrees and be sure there is enough oil to submerge the chicken pieces, otherwise cook in batches. Fry it, turning it once until the skin is deep brown and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and drain. Toss with the vinaigrette and serve hot.

Octo Vinaigrette: combine 2 tablespoons minced ginger, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup light soy sauce, 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, 1 tablespoon sesame oil.

Make a wish! Make it Happen!