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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

With the holidays (shudder!) fast approaching, I was thinking tonight about recipes. I'm not talking about the new recipes I've acquired thanks to Mom's impending move, but about the ones I've printed off various food-related web sites over the last year or so. What I'm wondering is if there's anything I can make that I wouldn't be afraid (or ashamed) to take to family gatherings.

The holiday season, in the case of my family, includes many, many birthdays and a couple of anniversaries, along with the holidays themselves. We are so into this time of year that we celebrate a lot of things we don't even believe in. Now that's commitment!

These thoughts were running through my mind tonight as I was making Rachael's Dijon Tarragon Chicken Breasts for the second time, and wondering why I didn't take better notes the first time I made it. My sauces never turn out as thick as they should, and I'm sure I could have reminded myself to use more flour (or less liquid), if I'd thought of it.

This dish doesn't have much taste, either, but that's not the worst thing that can happen. Adjustments can be made, and leftover cooked chicken has many wonderful uses. But still, I probably wouldn't try to palm tasteless chicken off on the family.

I also made Oil and Vinegar Slaw tonight, because I like salads with vegetables that will keep for several days. I don't much like cooking vegetables, although I did buy some fresh asparagus today. I also make a tasty Carrot Raisin Salad that I've had compliments on. I think either of these salads would be a fine addition to the next picnic (or whatever), especially since neither uses nasty old spoil-it-if-you-leave-it-out-too-long mayonnaise.

I need to go through these recipes again to make sure, but I didn't find many that I'd happily share with unsuspecting family members. There were several that I made just once, and then never even tried again, some because the ingredients are hard to come by (Tilapia with Tomatillos, for example), and others because the work involved wasn't worth the final product. I had such high hopes for Pesto Mashed Potatoes that I actually did make it twice before realizing that it just wasn't that good.

Maybe I'm not ready yet. I can always fix my grandmother's Tamale Loaf again, because I'm satisfied that it's something I can't ruin and don't have to watch every second. (Plus, it makes a ton.) I have two tested recipes that I've successfully used for crowds — Baked Beans with Bacon and Red Onions, and Sage Sausage Bites with Balsamic Apricot Dip. I guess those are the "signature" dishes that I made such a big deal about when I started my cooking adventure. But I'm looking for a little more variety.

And I'm going to keep looking. As I went through the recipes, I found several that I obviously had enough interest in to print and save, but that I've never even tried. And of course I still have all those old recipes that Mom would have thrown away if I hadn't salvaged them. So there's still hope.

29 September 2004

How can one guy use up this many dishes in one night?

I have two main dish recipes that I keep going back to, because they're easy and tasty. I like the Tangy Pork Chops I found on the Mr. Food site, although I don't like having to buy a whole jar of orange marmalade every time I fix them. And I really, really like the Israel Spice Chicken that Rachael makes. I like the taste, and I love the fact that the spice rub keeps for up to six months, so I can save it without having to throw out the excess every time. I'm funny about those kinds of things.

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The Giants might have tossed away their season in the tenth inning tonight in San Diego. They were in perfect position, with the useless Rockies finally managing to hold onto a lead and beat the Dodgers, but they couldn't take advantage. Two bad throws on the infield in that tenth inning set up a situation they couldn't escape from, and the Padres pushed across the winning run, 4-3. Three games behind with four games to go? Possible, but not promising.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Spreading It Around
"At least today it wasn't one big monster stomping on my head. It was more like a thousand gnats buzzing around me. It's just as big an annoyance but a lot harder to swat away."

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Don't you feel the day is coming,
And it won't be too soon,
When the people of the world
Can all live in one room