Thursday, June 30, 2005

Cleaning Out the Closets & Comfort Food

This week has been a "hit the ground running" one. Sunday night Frank and I celebrated his return to Austin after I got off work at the Can. (Those of you who are wondering why in the world I am moonlighting at a bar, just look at the price of gas these days. The few hours I spend servin' up burgers to the crowd fills my tank.) We had a great time, spent too much money and got home way too late, which is what always happens when you party with the bar staff. Even with employee prices, drinks add up. I pay regular price at the bar I work in since I'm not an employee of the bar, but work for the contract catering company. The Can doesn't give spiffs to contract staff. But the fine bar staff at Rain are generous to those of us who work at other establishments. Maybe that is why I saw so many employees of Oil Can's and Fabric hanging out with the off duty Rain bartenders & barbacks. Frank had wandered over to Rain early enough to catch Hedda Layne's show. Hedda's singing is enough of a reason to go by Rain on Sundays. She is wonderful!

The beginning of this week was spent packing up the last of Frank's belongings and moving the items that won't fare well in storage to my house. He'll be out of his apartment tonight, bringing one more box to stay with me until his condo is finished. I added his boxes to the few of my own leftover from last week's tossing binge. I'm determined to go through the rest of my cartons and then move on to organizing my little storage closet on the balcony...not to mention my bedroom closet. I'm sure there are items destined to be given away that are hiding in one of those places and I shudder to think of what may be left out at the family storage casita at our El Chiquito Rancho Grande, as the property is known. How the heck can I fit so much junk into one or two closets? It's like the Leaning Tower of Pisa on one side of my closet shelving...any time now I expect an errant book to knock me on the head while I'm pondering what shirt to wear that day. Which reminds me of a quote by George Bernard Shaw "If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance."

I wonder if I've gotten rid of all the skeletons in my closet? My life is pretty open book. My parents know all about my misspent youth. Okay, let me qualify that by saying they know most of the details of my misspent youth. There are probably one or two things they aren't aware of but are far less apt to turn their hair grey than the things they already know. The reason I'm thinking about skeletons in my closet is because I'm contemplating something that can be life changing. So far this is something that I'm simply mulling over and may or may not happen.

No, I'm not thinking of dating a politician. Heaven forbid! He'd never get elected with me in tow. My past life might be well, past, but it's been scandalous enough to ruin any chance of holding a public office. I'm trying out the idea that if my life stays the same as it is now, when my lease is up in April I might, just might look for a two bedroom apartment in a cheaper area of town. Although finding a larger apartment in a cheaper area may mean that I trade living above one meth lab as I currently am to living among many meth labs plus a lively prostitution trade. At least the neighbors will be interesting! Just think of the entertainment to be had at a block party.

The reason behind a two bedroom apartment is that I would need one if I become a foster parent. For those of you who know me well, you can stop hunting for the number for CPS and put the phone down! If I decide to foster, I am fully aware that I do have to give the child back when asked. Before anyone freaks out, remember that I'm just thinking this over. I haven't made any decisions at all. I'm not even certain I'm cut out for foster parenting.

Whew!! After dropping that potential bombshell, let me move on to lighter things. "Lighter" may be the wrong description to use for this calorie laden delicious treat. While emailing with one Vickilicious, late of Austin, currently of Milwaukee, the subject of comfort food came up. In honor of my Wisconsin wife and in order to avoid pissing off my Austin girlfriend (love ya, Leslie) I am posting my recipe for a comfort food that is sure to please. My boyfriend likes it, although we don't eat it often since it is a sure fire artery clogger.

Fettucine Alfredo with Chicken & Mushrooms
10 oz fresh fettucine
8 Tb unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated parmesiano reggiano cheese, also at room temp
1 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips (or tenders)
1 tsp. minced garlic
Salt & ground pepper (use white pepper if you have it)
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil

Season chicken with salt & pepper. In a large deep pan, heat the EVOO and add chicken & garlic. Pan grill until done on one side, turn over and add mushrooms. Continue pan grilling until chicken is browned and fully cooked and mushrooms are soft. Remove from pan and cover to keep warm. Begin boiling the water for the pasta. Rinse out chicken pan and melt butter over low heat. Slowly add the whipped cream and whisk or stir continuously until hot and slightly reduced. Add pasta to boiling water. Slowly add the grated cheese to the cream as you continue whisking/stirring. Continue to whisk as cheese melts completely. Season to taste wtih salt & pepper. Add the cooked & drained pasta and fold together with a wooden spoon (so as not to break the pasta). Turn out onto a serving tray (or individual plates) and top with chicken & mushrooms.

Ahhh....comfort food. Gives me fond flashbacks to Sunday night Sex In The City dinners at Vickilicious' cute little Austin abode. There's no cooking like cooking done while constantly checking the floor for marauding scorpions or ducking the invasion of wasps. So glad she found a solution to the stinging insect issue in time to sell her house and move across the country to a land where nachos are thick, hard tortilla chips covered in day glow orange glutinous faux cheese with a few pale pickled jalapeƱo slices on top. Come home, Vicki! You'd enjoy our family dinners at Frederick & Jed's house. The last pizza party was a blast, even though several attendees turned up their noses at my smoked salmon, anchovy, caper & goat cheese creation. Hmmph! More for me.

"A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness"
(Elsa Schiaparelli)

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