Still weird to me

The other day, my Lovely First Wife went to the Kroger together, which is not always as rollicking an adventure as you might think.  I, as a male-type man, have a list of three items, and so naturally one goes in and gets three items and is on one’s way.  She, on the other hand, will need one item—a bag of lettuce, let us say—and yet will push a cart up and down every aisle.  One must look and see “what they have.”

On this occasion I was willing to play along, and so we began to mosey through the produce section.  It is important for you to realize that we were at the “old” Kroger; in Newnan we have three, the original “old” Kroger in town, the “new” Kroger out a little ways past the interstate, and then the “other” Kroger way out in the middle of the exurban enclaves towards Peachtree City.

In town, we have the old Kroger.  We are allowed to call it the ghetto Kroger; those who live out with the “other” Kroger are not.

So there we are in the produce section of the old Kroger, and we are both struck suddenly that we are looking at jackfruit.  We don’t know we are looking at jackfruit—we have to look at the tag.

We were astonished.  These things are about the size of a football, and the label reminds you to wear gloves when you cut them open, since the alligator-like skin apparently will lacerate you.

Perhaps you have already heard of jackfruit.  We had not, and in fact it was only when I went to find a picture—because I assumed that no one would know what it was—that I discovered that it’s a thing now?  Serves us right for not being vegans.

Here, have a sampling of headlines:

So that was weird enough, but this post is not about jackfruit.  It was just a symptom.  Because the jackfruit had stopped us in our tracks, we paused to see what else was there.  We found three different brands of kiwi, and two versions of coconut.  Coconuts.  In Newnan.

We’ve had this weird feeling before, and I blogged about it before: the options available to us in our grocery stores in no way resembles what was available to our parents.  Perhaps your parents—and here, by “parents” I mean “mother”—cooked everything from fresh with amazing ingredients from all over the world, but my mother, faced with feeding five kids, used every shortcut, every canned item, every pre-processed food she could.

I, on the other hand, can wander down the condiment aisle and be amazed by:

Peruvian Aji Amarillo?  And what on earth is Shichimi Togarashi?  Where’s the Tabasco™ Sauce?

Okay then.  We have our choice of aiolis.

Vinaigrettes.

We have choices for finishing sauces. FINISHING SAUCES, KENNETH.

Astute readers will notice that not only are there amazing, fabulous choices for condiments in the ghetto Kroger in Newnan, GA, but these are all store brands.  (Full disclosure: we have found that Kroger’s Private Selection items are pretty awesome.)

But even so…

…I have a choice between two roasted raspberry chipotle sauces.

Here’s the deal.  I know there are segments of the population who might grumble that if canned potatoes were good enough for Mom (and Tabasco™ sauce for Dad), then they’re good enough for me.  But I say huzzah—how wonderful that I have these choices, even in the ghetto Kroger of Newnan, GA.  It’s almost as if our nation looked around and decided that there was value in diversity.

::mic drop::

A yummy recipe

Last night I intended to make a shrimp/pasta dish using some basil, kind of a pesto-like Alfredo sauce kind of thing.  But then…

After I had prepped the shrimp, the resulting sauce was too good to mess up with additional flavors.  Here you go:

Super Simple Shrimp

Recipe By: Dale Lyles
Serving Size: 2

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1-2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • sea salt
  • white pepper

Directions:

  1. Season the shrimp with the salt and white pepper.
  2. In a skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and stir briefly.
  3. Add the shrimp and cook over medium-medium high heat for about 3 minutes on each side.  Remove to a plate.
  4. Add the wine and lemon juice, increase the heat, and gently boil until reduced by half.
  5. Put the shrimp back in, toss to cover, and serve.

Yum.

A quick foodie post

This is not really a recipe, just a concatenation of ingredients that turned out fabulously well:

It’s just kale chips sprinkled on grilled salmon.  It was suggested that perhaps I should put the salmon on a bed of kale chips, but sprinkling them on top lets them stay crisp/crunchy.  Also, the kale chips by themselves were oversalted; the salmon was lightly seasoned, and together they were quite a tasty balance.

Kale chips: olive oil, sea salt, white pepper; bake at 300° for 10 min, turn the baking sheet, bake for another 15 min.

Salmon: marinate face down in lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil; turn over, season with salt and black pepper.  Grill.

New drink

I did not invent this one, but after Publix had a beautifully developed pot of basil for sale, I bethought myself of a couple of basil-based drinks I have had while on vacation here and yon, and I wanted to find a good one, needing to trim the plant so it would continue to branch out.

I checked with my Mixologist app, which had one using brandy that looked interesting, but I didn’t have all the ingredients.  So online I went, and I found this recipe.  It works.  It works well.

Last evening, I tried it both ways, with vodka (plain, since we’re out of citrus vodka) and with Hendrick’s gin.  The Hendrick’s is to be preferred.  Several times.

For those too lazy to click on the link to Boozemixer.com—and the recipe, though yummy, is a bit illiterate—here it is:

Lemon Basil Martini

  • 6 basil leaves
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 oz agave syrup (or simple syrup)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 2-3 oz Hendrick’s gin

Muddle the basil in a shaker with the sugar.

Add agave syrup and lemon juice.

Add ice, then gin.

Shake, serve in martini glass.

Most excellent.  At the moment I have used only bottled lemon juice.  We shall have to try it with fresh.

The herb garden

You may remember the herb garden:

 

So young, so fresh…

But then…

The dill plant that ate Newnan. It’s taller than I am and may weigh more than me for all I know. And who knew lettuce would grow tall if completely unharvested? And then there’s the cilantro all going to seed. I could harvest that and call it coriander.

A small but profound rant, and other thoughts

It has not escaped my notice that when conservatives put forth plans to fix our public schools, they do not involve actually fixing the public schools. More and more standardized testing, charter schools, or vouchers: which of these involves actually taking a failing school—and let’s just point to an honest-to-goodness failing school in some inner city somewhere—and solving the problems it faces in providing a free and appropriate education to the young minds trapped there?

I have a problem with that.

In other news, my media center has been undergoing a complete technological facelift.

I’ve always stayed ahead of the curve on the technology thing, all the way back to the Apple ][e’s that Alan Wood bought me for the media center in the old East Coweta High. I made the technology readily available to the students and trained them how to use it, even to program in AppleBasic. I myself, as I’m sure I’ve said around here somewhere, programmed a word processor, a card catalog printing program, and an overdue fines/notice program that everyone in the county used until the state automated us in the late 1980s.

For the last ten years, the school system has declined to purchase Apple Macintosh computers, for reasons which we will not go into here. As the years slipped by, all the elementary schools (including mine) began to divest themselves of their iMacs, the old candy-colored winners from the 90s. And they all came to me, because I refused to give them up.

For one thing, they still ran, and they were still more reliable than all the crappy Dells flooding the county. For another, I was still able to use HyperCard (‡‡‡) to create some really useful educational tools. And finally, while other media centers might have six look-up stations, I had twenty-six. Woof!

However, a decade is a decade, and the poor things began to wheeze and complain about the bulky internet pages they were having to deal with. So I began to campaign for new computers. Two years ago, after holding my breath and turning blue, I was finally awarded six new iMacs, the first instructional Macs in a regular school setting in forever.

So I began to campaign for more. I was able to demonstrate to the powers that be how well they integrated into the network, give or take a few hurdles set up by the IT Crowd themselves due to the nature of the insecure network of PCs they have to manage.

To make an uninteresting story short, I got the money for two new iMacs from our PTO, plus a new printer, which was necessitated by the death of my old Apple LaserPrinter 16/600, after eleven years of solid service. The iMacs came last week, and the printer came yesterday.

But wait, there’s more: we were suddenly able to use some Title I money to purchase twelve iPads. I will soon have two instructional computers for each of my six tables. This should be interesting, given the real power of the things—and their real limitations. It would have been nice, for example, to have known about the money for the iPads before I ordered a new printer, because they will immediately print to an AirPrint-compatible printer, of which there are currently maybe eight, all made by Hewlett-Packard.

Oh well. I don’t think that’s something I get to complain about, having twenty Apple computers at my disposal.

However, there is something very sad about unplugging those trusty little iMacs for the last time and lugging them over to the wall, to be disposed of. And I had to say a few words over the LaserPrinter. I felt like a criminal pulling the plug on it.

Now that I’m slowly returning to the Land of the Drinking (my stomach issues have largely prevented the consumption of any alcohol) I’ve been playing around with some cocktails. At the moment, I’m experimenting with apple juice, my recent liquid of choice.

I’m not sure about this one. I’m halfway through my first attempt, and it may be a bit cloying. I’ll adjust tomorrow and try again if necessary.

YELLOW FAIRY

1/2 oz. Galliano

3 oz. apple juice

2 drops absinthe

Shake the Galliano and apple juice with ice; strain into martini glass. Add the drops of absinthe.

This weekend interviews/auditions for the 2011 Governor’s Honors Program begin. I’m once again in charge of the theatre interviews at Pebblebrook High School. I was asked also this year to corral and confirm the interviewers, and if no one backs out between now and Saturday morning, I will have the full complement of 35, which is a first for several years.

I have applied to teach either Theatre or CommArts this summer, and I’m adamant that I don’t care which. It’s been kind of fun to have both Jobie and Mike desire me. Of course, there’s no guarantee I will be offered a position since I took last summer off, but honey, please. Does that make me nervous? Yes.

I should write a post about the coursework I’ve planned for each department. Maybe later.

Phenomenal dessert

I don’t know that I’ve ever posted recipes here, but this was so yummy , and so incredibly freaking easy , that I feel it is my duty to share.

Kaki’s Quick Chocolate Drops

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 stick butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
sea salt, optional

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray.
  2. In a microwavable bowl combine the milk, chocolate chips, and butter. Heat in the microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from the microwave and whisk the ingredients together with a whisk.
  3. Dump in the flour and vanilla and whisk to mix thoroughly. (The dough will be very loose.) Drop by the teaspoon onto the baking sheet. Each cookie should be no bigger than a bite. Bake in the preheated oven for exactly 7 minutes.
  4. Remove the cookies to a rack to cool. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Source: Dessert in half the time, p. 109 | Makes about 60 cookies.

Raspberry Sorbet with Fresh Whipped Cream

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 12 oz. bag frozen raspberries
8 truvia leaves, chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Stir together water and 1/4 cup sugar until sugar dissolves.
  2. Pulse raspberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add truvia leaves if available. With machine running, pour in sugar-water; pulse until mixture is smooth.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. Whisk cream and remaining tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form.
  5. Scoop sorbet into 4 classes; top with whipped cream. Insert chocolate cookies into the sorbet/whipped cream.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, July 2010 | serves 4

I don’t think you need the whipped cream at all, actually.

Start the cookies first, then make the sorbet. You can have dessert ready in 30 minutes , or whip it up the day before. It is truly scrumptious.