Sunday, August 21, 2011

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

You know those studies that discuss the beneficial effects of petting dogs and cats? Well, I'm a believer (note to self: thanks for the ear worm. Like things weren't bad enough, I have to have Micky Dolenz in my head). I know that homebound invalids as well as nursing home residents do feel better after a visit from a volunteer pet.  There is something so relaxing, so calming, about stroking a small, furry critter who purrs or gently licks your finger.

Well, I feel the same way about yarn.  Yarn may not lick your finger (it does purr occasionally, however) but the feel of fiber under your fingers is extraordinarily calming.  During the last week, I found myself picking up one of the two projects I've been shlepping back and forth, just to hold them and maybe finish off a couple of stitches.  Knitting is better than Xanax.  Now there's a slogan worth promoting.

Moving is stressful under the best of circumstances.  Moving crosstown from one office to another when one is a professional clutterer, is painful.  I am that clutterer, although my office clutter is always neat.  I like to feng shui my office with all sorts of stuff.  I get a lot of compliments from coworkers.  Of course, they are not the ones who have to pack all this crap these adorable collectibles, and then move them personally, because I neither expect nor trust the movers to do so.  And because we were not sure when we were being moved, I spent a good part of each day last week carefully packing the personal items, and then transporting the boxes to my husband's office near the courthouse, getting them out of the way of the traveling furniture.

So I'm more tired than usual, which is a really sad thing.  I have cooking to do, and we are going out to dinner with friends to a new restaurant in downtown Orlando.

So now that I've indulged in my requisite old-lady bitching, let me move on to the good stuff.  I noticed there is lobster bisque on the menu at tonight's restaurant, so I'm smiling.  My chicken ratatouille, which I pulled out of the freezer, was a very big hit with the folks who attended the Open House at Victory Martial Arts.  I have made some very fine progress on my pi shawl and on the "aunt-imony" blanket, while destressing.  Nice multitasking, if I say so myself.  My boys scarfed up all the ribs and wings from last week, so no leftovers and a perfectly good excuse for a cooking frenzy.

I have already been to Publix today.  I had a vague notion of what I wanted to make, and after much internal debate about the beef, I broke down and bought an eye round roast as the main ingredient in my still-developing recipe for pot roast.  I also bought the ingredients for jambalaya.  Yesterday I was talking to my friend and coworker Brenda about Puerto Rican rice and gandules, and trying to pry the recipe from her (she graciously complied with my unsubtle request) so I already had rice on the brain, and then I came across one of my four million cookbooks scattered around the house which touted the benefits of Johnsonville sausages, and there you have it.  Jambalaya.

The pot roast has been in the oven for the last ninety minutes or so, and the house smells divine.  Better than air freshener.  If the taste matches the smell, I will be sure to share the recipe with you tomorrow.

And now that it is tomorrow, I am somewhat disappointed in the pot roast.  It's good - okay good, if you know what I mean.  The meat is quite tasty, as eye round is an extremely versatile cut of meat, despite it's lack of marbling.  You can roast it, pickle it (like corned beef), and pot roast it.  Most cuts of meat are not that talented.  But the sauce is just okay, in my estimation, and my idea of putting the dish together with oven-roasted carrots and sweet potato chunks, and dried apricots and prunes, is falling flat.  I am my own worst critic, I know.  We'll see how it does upon reheat.

To assuage my disappointment, I am going to put together a traditional jambalaya, replete with bacon, chicken, ham, andouille sausage, shrimp, and oysters. 

Last night we had dinner with friends at Terrace 390, in the Bank of America Building at (what else?) 390 North Orange Avenue, right across the street from the Orange County Courthouse.  I did not go with the lobster bisque, but decided to follow the lead of my fellow eaters and ordered maple bourbon glazed chicken breast with sides of spinach sauteed with garlic, and truffled mac and cheese.  The chicken breast was incredibly moist, enhanced with the flavors of applewood smoked bacon, roasted corn, salsa, and topped with melted cheese.  What can I say about the truffled mac and cheese?  Incredible.  Even the vegetables, usually a throwaway item, were delicious, sauteed lightly with enough garlic to please my palate, and to keep me safe from vampires until the year 2024.  Another of the diners at our table ordered from the appetizer menu, and her seared sesame tuna tacos were also a big hit, served with guacamole, jicama, cucumber and mixed green salad,  and a cucumber honey wasabi drizzle.  Now that the craziness of the Casey Anthony case is over, I would recommend you head on over and check out these and other items on their menu.  Oh, and don't forget the drink menu.  I had a key lime martini.  Wheeeee!

Jambalaya recipe is up.  The pot roast is good, but not blogworthy.  The jambalaya is spectacular, if I say so myself.  Which I did.  Check it out on the recipe blog.

Any Words with Friends players?  Always looking for new competitors.

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