A Three Pour Evening

A bottle of Argentina Malbec

A bottle of Argentina Malbec (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This day has been interesting. Yesterday, I discovered a cabinet on the wall of my garage falling down. The contents were too heavy for it and the fasteners began pulling out of the wall. Although, I didn’t want to tackle the job, I did. I removed the cabinet before it fell, and dragged it down to my basement workshop. There, I added new wood to reinforce the weak spots. Then I dragged the cabinet back upstairs and out to the garage. The plan was to remove the sister cabinet and to rework it before it too became a problem. A closer look at the sister cabinet changed my plan. It was very secure and already strengthened. I added more wood to it while it stayed in place. I also added a cleat under the cabinet to give it more foundation. There is no way I want to have to do this again. I finished the job, cleaned up the work site, put away my tools, and headed for supper, and some serious pain killing beverage.

The wine of choice this evening is Malbec from Argentina. I enjoyed a nice pour while heating my frozen pepper steak and rice dinner. Another pour with dinner, and a third with my dessert of pumpkin pie. By now my mind was somewhat numb, and I felt no pain. I donned my heavy jacket and left the house for a walk in the darkness, except it wasn’t dark. My neighbors have decorated their yards with hundreds of mini-lights on their trees, shrubs, gutters, and houses. It was not dark, it was beautiful.

I didn’t walk fast tonight, I kind of stumbled along. The sidewalks were somewhat uneven and I stumbled from side to side in a jerky rapid fashion. Kind of like I was trying to keep myself from falling down. I needed to make a sudden fast moves to stay upright.

The streets of my neighborhood seemed magical. A few years ago, the President of the local Homeowners Association talked everyone into decorating their parkway trees with the same colors, green lights on the tree trunks and white lights on the branches. The sight of a long curvy street lined with trees glowing in green and white lights is absolutely beautiful. The tradition continues and only those houses that are empty or those that are newly occupied do not follow the formula. They are obvious since they are dark and break the chain of diamonds glistening in the night air.

A full moon accompanied by cold crisp air added to the beauty of the evening by contributing a special aura to the electrical lights. By the end the walk my steps were less tenuous and my side to side wandering narrowed to a smooth slightly wavy line.

Sweet Miss Giving’s Cookie

I disagree with comments flashing around Facebook that 1% of Monsters consume 99% of cookies.

Grandma Peggy and I planned a beautiful evening out. We have theater subscriptions for Steppenwolf and had to reschedule our date from Wednesday to Thursday a week later. We did that because our theater date coincided with the funeral of a dear friend. Needless to say, the weather a week earlier was heavenly, warm and dry. The friends we usually go with reported the play was excellent and that we shouldn’t miss it.

The plan was to leave the house at four-thirty for the seven-thirty performance. We would valet park, dine at Gianni’s, and saunter across Halstead Street to Steppenwolf. We did leave at four-thirty. That was it for the plan. From that point on things went awry.

At forty-first street all traffic on the Dan Ryan stopped. Normally, we do not hit heavy traffic until the entrance to the last express lanes at twenty-second street. Traffic delays from twenty-second are more normal than the one we sat in Thursday.  It rained this time, and the line of semi-trucks looked like a railroad train from fortieth to the Loop.

The electronic sign at thirty-ninth said it would be twenty-seven minutes to Circle. (Chicago Circle Campus of the University of Illinois). Circle is at Roosevelt Road (twelfth street from thirty-ninth is twenty-seven blocks or roughly three and a half miles). Thirty minutes later, at twenty-second street, another electronic sign flashed “thirty minutes to Circle.” That didn’t sound so good.

Peggy and I had a wonderful conversation along the way as I watched the mpg indicator on the Death Star drop from 24.5 mpg to 22.5 mpg. We moved very slowly, so slowly that the speedometer needle never left the peg. I thought this jam would be the ideal scenario for the all-electric car. When you don’t move, it doesn’t matter if the electric can only travel forty miles on a charge. Although two and a half hours with head lights on would drain the battery too.

We finally, passed Madison Street, the geographic bisector of town. Traffic began to move north out of the loop at a light warping speed of ten miles per hour.

We pulled into the Steppenwolf parking lot a seven o’clock. Both of us made a mad dash to the rest room for relief. Once the pressure was off our mind the stomach growls kicked in.  We headed for the snack bar, where I spotted the cookies. Not just any cookie, these were Sweet Miss Giving’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I took two off the rack and waited in line to pay. “That’ll be six dollars please.”

Whoa, six bucks for two cookies! It didn’t matter I became the monster and Peggy was the monsterette.

I have to blog about this cookie, I told myself. I stuffed the empty package in my pocket.

The play was as great as our friends told us. I’ll write about it later. We left feeling pretty good about ourselves for having stayed awake for the entire performance, and we actually understood what was going on. Steppenwolf does, at times, present some weird stuff.

Our drive home took a sweet forty-eight minutes.

The following morning I read the label on the cookie package. No wonder these things were so good, one cookie is two servings for a total of five-hundred calories, but Sweet Miss Giving’s cookie made up for missing dinner at Trattoria Gianni’s, and the ridiculous two and a half hour drive.

Hungarian Comfort Food

Today was a day that chilled my bones. The temperature was relatively mild, but the dampness was gross. It started with a meeting of Lions this morning, and moved to an appointment with a doctor, then on to the grocery store for provisions. My plan was to come home and cook up a batch of chicken paprikas. By the time we got home, I was so chilled, the act of cooking warmed me over. The anticipation for the meal was building and I recalled memories of when I helped my mother make the same dish.

The recipe is so simple anyone who knows how to read and turn on a gas stove can make this stuff. The ingredients are spelled out in a photos below. The main ones are chicken, onion, sour cream, and some simple spices. Combine them in the right order and you get a dish to die for.

When I began cooking I was not hungry. By the time the dish was completed, I was ravenous. Between the aroma, and the flavor, my stomach sent signals to my brain that shouted “Feed me.”

I had to have a wine to go with it, so I went down to the wine rack and picked out a bottle of red. The wine turned out to be as great a winner as the meal.

I had problems making the spatzle. It certainly wasn’t as good as Mom’s. This is the fourth time I have made spatzle as an adult, and I need more practice doing it. Mother’s was uniform in size, and firm in texture. My dumplings were rather random in size, shape, and texture. Oh well, another day, another dollar. If I don’t wait another seven years between attempts, I should be able to improve.

The paprikas smelled great, looked great, and tasted great. The spatzle tasted great but looked like hell. The appearance did not deter me from attacking it with appetite.

The chosen wine  was accidental. It was the last bottle in the rack. I love Cabernet Sauvignon which is full bodied and flavorful. This one called “Dynamite.” was exactly all of that. It made a great pairing with the colorful red and rich paprikas.

If I were in a restaurant and had to rate this meal, I would give it four stars. If the dumplings were uniform in size and texture I would have rated the meal a five.

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