Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cooking Challenge - Week Six Revisited

Carlos is off watching the US Open (the Tennis one not the Golf one) so I have some extra time. I thought I'd post the Poulet mettre en pot la tarte recipe that I didn't post in my last Cooking Challenge entry.

Poulet mettre en pot la tarte
(also known as Chicken Pot Pie)


2 1/2 pounds chicken breasts and thighs (I bought a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken)
2 to 3 cups canned chicken broth
3/4 stick butter
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/4 cups half-and-half or milk (I used half-and-half)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup diced celery, including some of the inner yellow leaves
3 medium carrots, diced
1 cup frozen tiny peas, thawed
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, separated (See Figure 1)


Put the chicken in a microwave-safe dish and pour the chicken broth over it. Cover with plastic wrap and poach in the microwave on high for 12 minutes or until the juices run clean when you pierce the chicken with the tip of a knife. If you are making the chicken ahead, take it off the bone, discard the skin, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap before refrigerating. Strain and reserve the chicken broth.

To make the sauce, keep the broth hot in a small pan on the back of the stove. In a 2-quart saucepan, melt all but a tablespoon of the butter over medium heat and, when it is sizzling, add the flour, whisking well to make a smooth golden paste. Still whisking, gradually add 2 cups of the stock and the thyme. When it is smooth, increase the heat slightly and cook the sauce until it thickens. Add the half-and-half, whisking again, and cook until the sauce is smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more stock or water if needed. If you are making the sauce ahead, cool it and refrigerate it, then reheat it just before you put the pie together.

To assemble the pie (see Figure 2), melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large skillet and add the onions, mushrooms, celery, and carrots. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables just begin to soften. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cut the chicken into large cubes.

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large ovenproof casserole or 6 individual ones, mix the chicken and vegetables, including the peas. Pour the warm sauce over and mix everything together well. Fit a sheet of puff pastry (see Figure 3) over the casserole, sealing it well around the edges with a little beaten egg white. Paint the top with beaten egg yolk. Cut slits on top in a decorative pattern for the steam to escape. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is puffed and golden.

Until Week Seven, Bon Appétit!

Buy More Pepsi

Church boycotting Pepsi over gay marriage debate

BRANDON, Florida - The Cola Wars aren't just between Coke and Pepsi. Now, a Tampa Bay church is taking on one of the largest corporations in the world.

"We would like to send them a message," said Terry Kemple, President of the Community Issues Council that is organizing a boycott of Pepsi products because he says it "advocates the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle."

In addition to hundreds of church-goers who have joined the boycott, Kemple just got his mega-church, the Bell Shoals Baptist Church, to remove its 10 Pepsi machines. They have been replaced with Coke machines.

"They (have) begun to utilize the money we've helped them build up to trample on what we consider family values," said Kemple of Pepsi.

He said the company donated more than a million dollars to organizations that fought California's gay marriage-banning Proposition 8. He also says the Pepsi Corporation has sponsored gay pride events and commercials that accept cross-dressing and homosexuality.

"We're concerned about that diminishment of the ability of Christians to speak what the Bible says," Kemple said.

But Nadine Smith, the Executive Director of Equality Florida, called the boycott offensive to her and embarrassing to those who participate.

"The irony is that - in moving from Pepsi products to Coke products - they actually switched from one company that supports full-equality to another companty that supports full-equality," Smith said.

Pepsi is one of the largest corporations in the country, boasting subsidiaries like Gatorade, Tropicana, Frito-Lay and Quaker. However, calls to the company's headquarters went unreturned on Tuesday.

Representatives from the Bell Shoals Baptist Church, which draws several thousand members every Sunday, declined comment as well.


Note to Self: Buy more Coke too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cooking Challenge - Week Five and Week Six

Cooking Challenge Week Five was Italian food. See this blog entry for the details on the food.

Looking at that past entry, I said that “The meal will be a bit calmer. The crowd from the first four weeks is ‘rotating out’ and my parents are joining Carlos and me for dinner.” That night’s crowd was one of the loudest yet – even with only four people. Both of my parents can get quite boisterous.

Carlos’s fresh basil plant was almost dead by the time Wednesday’s dinner came around. See the picture on the left. He bought it on Saturday. We need to figure out how not to kill a plant in five days!

Looking further at that past entry, I said, “After this meal, I am going to take a couple of weeks off, and then invite over some friends for dinner.” That didn’t happen either. Carlos and I decided to invite some of our friends over for Cooking Challenge Week Six, which we held last night. Our theme was French food.

Jason, Jason, and Julie came over. Here was our menu:

A salad (Arugula, tomatoes, and shredded cheese)

French Onion Soup – Carlos’s contribution. Go to his blog for his pictures and description. (As of 9/11/09 - He hasn't blogged about it yet.)

Poulet mettre en pot la tarte – My contribution. In English, that translates to Chicken Pot Pie, which I have wanted to make for awhile. Translating to French, I was able to shoehorn my dish into our French food night.

The recipe is taken from the cookbook Classic American Food Without Fuss. The recipe is quite long so I am not going to reproduce it here.

I can show you a picture of what I made though!

Julie and Jason S. brought over wine. Jason K. brought over some delicious bread. We finished with four types of Sorbet, left over from the Italian Cooking Challenge night.

I think everyone left full.

We had such fun last night that Carlos and I are going to go at least one more week, inviting the same crew over – plus Debbie and Bart, who both had to work last night. Then we may take a break. Eventually, we want to invite my old friends Steve (and his wife), Morgan, and Lloyd.

Carlos wants to make his Caprese Salad again. I am going to pick from page 67, 167, or 267 of this cookbook, one that Carlos gave me for my birthday this year. More details after next week’s dinner. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for those who both read my blog and are coming to dinner.

Until then…

Bon Appétit!

Monday, September 07, 2009


From Margaret and Helen: Best Friends For Sixty Years And Counting:

The name of their post is "I remember an America where black men didn’t grow up to be President.", but I didn't want you to get the wrong idea so I didn't name my post that.

Margaret is it just me or did combing your hair become optional when going out in public? I’ve been watching news clips of these town hall free-for-alls and we have definitely become a nation of tired, poor, and huddled masses clearly tempest-tossed, but without access to a good beauty salon. Universal Hygiene – now that is something I could get behind. And all of them are asking for their America back. I wonder which America that would be?

Would that be the America where the Supreme Court picks your president instead of counting all the votes? Would that be the America where rights to privacy are ignored? Would that be the America where the Vice President shoots his best friend in the face? Or would that be the America where an idiot from Alaska and a college drop-out with a radio show could become the torchbearers for the now illiterate Republican party?

I fear that would not be the America they want back. I fear that the America they want back is the one where black men don’t become President.

Read the entire post here.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Cleaning Out The Attic

Whenever I have an idea for a blog post, I scribble it on a sheet of paper, later transferring it to a Word file.

I have tons of Word files.

Tonight I'm going to clear out a lot of them.


Sometimes the ideas are just the title of the Word file, that I know for sure I will remember later the significance, but of course over time forget. Song titles seem to be a popular starting point for me:
Desolation Boulevard (the name of an album by Sweet)
Love Vigilantes (the name of a song by New Order)
Tiny Dancer (from Elton John, resurrected by Cameron Crowe)

The references for the first two are lost to me, but my best guess about Tiny Dancer is that I wanted to discuss "Music Heals All Wounds" or "Cameron Crowe" as one of the answers to "Name the people in history you would like to have dinner with."

Here's the clip from Cameron Crowe's movie Almost Famous to help explain the former. The set up: Billy Crudup ditched the band to go party. The next morning he is found. The scene opens with the band's manager wishing the party goers goodbye, while the rest of the band are still resentful that Billy disappeared. Music heals the wound...

I have before mentioned how cool I think Dave Grohl is. Here is another reason:


Sometimes the ideas are snippets of thoughts:
- Scott and the bus stop trash can
- $5000 bank error in my favor
- Larry Tyler Moore Parties
- My job: Like a frog in water slowly boiling
- Paw Paw Was A Rolling Stone (We called my grandfather "Paw Paw")
- The Sauna and Super Balls
- In early 2009, I was an expert witness for a case involving the hospital I work with.
- Artificial Hoops
- The Monty Hall Paradox

Expanding on the last one: I have always been fascinated with math, math problems and math puzzles. The more complex the better!

In college, I tested out of my first two semesters of math. I got an A in both my third and fourth semesters. To make extra money, I tutored in the Math Lab during my freshman and sophomore years. I was even a math major for one semester. (When I discovered that I would have to take advanced calculus, I changed my major. Not because I was scared of the challenge. Because the course was only offered at 8 am five days a week. Back then, sleeping late was more important to me.)

Here is the best explanation of the Monty Hall Paradox/Problem that I have found. Plus David Krumholtz is kinda cute.

Or if you're a Kevin Spacey fan, here is a clip from the movie 21 explaining the same thing...

Any of those snippets could be turned into a 1000+ word blog post. I just never seem to run out of current thoughts to explore in details my past ones.


I am also a big fan of lists. Here are some lists that I never finished enough to blog about...

Name the people in history you would like to have dinner with:

Bob Costas
Larry Mullen Jr.
Jeff Buckley (RIP)
Ryan Adams
Cameron Crowe

Why do I want to have dinner with them? I need time to discuss. That's the reason I haven't posted about that subject yet.

The Top 10 songs of the 1980's:
Change - Tears For Fears
I Melt with You - Modern English
The Great Commandment - Camouflage
The Promise - When In Rome
Dreaming – OMD
Just Like Heaven or The Lovecats or Boys Don't Cry - The Cure
Strangelove or Nothing (or really anything from their album Music for the Masses) - Depeche Mode
Don’t You Want Me - Human League
A Little Respect – Erasure

I can't finish the list because I could add to that list forever - and I can't narrow my choices down to ten.

As you can see, I was a fan of New Wave, pop and dance music in the 1980's. Interestingly though, back in the 1980's I was actually listening to Led Zeppelin and other classic rock gods much, much more than any of those other types of music. I don't think of any classic rock as having a time period. That music to me is timeless.

Here is the video for Camouflage's The Great Commandment. No matter how much I prod, Carlos swears he has never heard this song before.

And here is The Promise, When In Rome's only hit. This is my cousin Casie's Favorite Song of All Time...

I can't find a video for Depeche Mode's Nothing. How about a cute guy lip syncing to it?

In 1987, I was living in our fraternity house. That same year, I was the co-Social Chairman (along with my friends Todd and Sean. More on them one day soon), which meant in part that we had to plan and play the music for our parties.

Imagine 100+ (straight) frat boys dancing to Depeche Mode's Strangelove...


This summary post of Cleaning Out The Attic is long. Imagine how long the actual posts could have been.

I do have enough material to fill another really long post, but I will stop here. I will finish this post with...

Quotes I Live By

Again, the explanation of each could fill a blog post...

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." - Ernest Hemingway

"Tart words make no friends; a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar." - Benjamin Franklin

"It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission." - Grace Hopper

"Alcohol. The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems." - Homer Simpson