… to console themselves after a breakup, and some women buy the complete Tales of Chekhov. Because Katherine asked in the comments below, and because he’s been a semi-regular character here on LivingSmall, it seems only fair to mention that the Mighty Hunter will not be making such regular appearances in the future. We hope that the friendship will continue, and that perhaps there might be some game coming our way in the fall, but alas, it looks like I’m going to have a little more time to catch up on my reading, and my blogging, in the near future.
And hence, in a fit of very much not Living Small, I clicked the checkout button on Amazon the other night and now I’m consoling myself with the lives of unfortunate Russians, written by the master of the bittersweet.
Hot. It’s hot hot hot here. We’re going into another week of 100 degree weather, and with the crazy pace my day job at the Big Corporation lately, I took the opportunity to prep some cold food in advance.
I roasted a baby chicken one night last week when it wasn’t so brutal out, and so this afternoon I pulled the breasts off. I was going to make some chicken salad, but I decided that cold roasted chicken breasts by themselves would give me a wider variety of options (that’s how hot it was last week, pulling the chicken breasts off the carcass seemed like too much work). I also hard boiled a couple more eggs — I seem to be living on salad greens from my garden with oeufs mayonnaise. (Since I discovered this easy method for making mayonnaise in a wide-mouthed mason jar, it’s been all homemade mayo around here. Add a clove of garlic and a handful of herbs from the garden, and you’ve got a sauce that can go on anything.) I’m also really fond of egg salad when it’s hot like this — in general, I eat a lot of eggs around here. We have three or four great sources of local local eggs (my favorite, from Willow Bend Farm boast “9 Food Miles” in magic marker on the carton). In fact, the eggs are so good around here that when I was in California for work a couple of weeks ago, and ordered an egg for breakfast … well, sounds so snobby, but it didn’t taste like anything. I was sad.
I’m hoping that the local eggs make up the karma I burned on the bag of frozen uncooked shrimp that originated in Thailand. I know, I know — the destruction of the mangrove swamps, the destruction of the American shrimp industry in the Gulf of Mexico — but it’s hot here, and for the most part, my food tends to be local. So anyway, I filled a big pot with water, some nice rosé (because that’s what was open in the fridge), a chopped baby onion from the garden, a dried chile, a sliced lemon, a couple of garlic cloves, and two enormous pinches of “melange de poisson” that I bought in the market in Aix-en-Provence when I was there a couple of years ago. From what I can tell, it seems to be tarragon, marjoram, savory, fennel, coriander, and pink peppercorns (there might also be some other dried green herbs in there, it’s hard to tell). When the liquid came to a boil, I popped the shrimp in, brought it back to a boil, let it boil for two minutes and then dropped the shrimp in an ice bath. I strained out the aromatics from the broth, then packed the shrimp, the aromatics, and a little olive oil in Gladware and popped it in the fridge.
My cucumbers are starting to come in, and there’s no fresh dill in the market yet, so tonight I made a big batch of cucumber-yogurt salad as well. I peeled and diced the cucumbers, then salted them and set them in a colander to drain. In a bowl I combined some chopped mint, oregano, a nice little onion from the garden with it’s greens, and a couple of pickled hot peppers from last summer. Then I added about half a pint of thick Greek yogurt, the juice of a lime, and the cucumbers. I tossed it all to mix, and ate it tonight with some rice, and a lamb burger.
So, for the week, all I need is to make some rice, or a salad, or a little pasta and with the cold chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and shrimp, I’ve got enough protein variation that I shouldn’t get too bored. Oh, and there’s the quesadilla option as well …
It rained yesterday — we even got a big fat thunderstorm/downpour in the afternoon. It’s the biggest adjustment when one grows up east of the high plains where it actually rains on a regular basis — living out here where we average only about 14 inches of rain a year — well, that quarter inch that drenched my yard the old-fashioned way yesterday afternoon was more welcome than I can describe. This morning everything is still damp and cool. It’s supposed to be another scorcher today — high 90s — but that we’re starting out ahead of the game is a good thing.
Work at the Big Corporation has been crazy lately — and last night was one of those evenings where I just couldn’t figure out what to do about dinner. It was hot — we’re having a heat wave — and although I have some gorgeous fava beans, I wasn’t inspired to do anything with them. And they’re too gorgeous to squander — so I rattled around in the kitchen trying to figure out what to do about dinner. I must admit, I considered all of the following: mac and cheese in a box, fried chicken from the grocery store, ordering a pizza. However, I came to my senses and went for Rice Cooker Dinner.
I have a very chintzy rice cooker that I love very much. Indeed, when my old one crapped out a year or so ago (after 10 good years) I scoured Bozeman for an identical model. I didn’t want a big rice cooker. I hate appliances in general and I just wanted a little cooker like my old one. Eventually I found it the one I wanted — for all of nineteen dollars.
So, last night I did dinner in the little steamer thingy that came with the rice cooker. Into the rice cooker part went the California Chinese rice, water, salt. Then I used a piece of foil in the steamer thingy, added a few frozen shell-on raw shrimp that were in the freezer, sliced up a baby red onion from the garden and some garlic chives, threw in a few slices of ginger, a sliced clove of garlic, and a splash of soy sauce. I turned the whole thing on, went back to the tedious but important file-transfer project I’ve been doing for weeks now, and hit the little white switch.
Twenty minutes later, I had dinner — into a bowl went some rice, the steamed shrimp, and a dollop of Indian lime pickle. Nothing fancy, but better than mac and cheese, fried chicken, or pizza.
The Fourth of July is a three-day-event here in Livingston, although this year things kicked off a day early with the unbelievably great concert called “A Song Runs Through It”. It was worth the three hours in the blazing sun to see my beloved Rosanne Cash sing four songs off Black Cadillac“, acoustic, backed up by her friends JD Souther, Victoria Shaw (who was *so* much fun) and Jim Photoglo, friends she then backed up on a selection of their songs. I really love listening to these songwriters talk about their work — there was a lot of talk about songs they loved that never got on the radio, songs that did get on the radio, who sung which song which way as opposed to another version. It was terrific, and then Rodney Crowell brought down the house at the end with his band The Outsiders.
My beloved stepmother rode out from Seattle on her motorcycle and arrived just in time for the concert on Sunday. Monday brought the famous Livingston parade, followed by a night at the rodeo. We’ve got a great rodeo here in Livingston — part of the “Cowboy Christmas” circuit — this year was pretty uneventful — one of the local girls who carries the flag during the opening took a bad fall in the out gate, but I hear she was back out there the next night, riding with the rest of them. Tuesday we spent on the river — our sweet friend Jen took us out — Susan and Jen shared a two man “ducky” while I had a little flat-bottomed play kayak — it was so much fun. I spent a few years in my early twenties working as a raft guide and learning to paddle whitewater canoes and kayaks, and while I’m grateful for the experience, and glad I know how to read water, I’m so over anything that difficult. We floated. We had a good time. We were never in the slightest danger of flipping over or getting in trouble. It was delightful. Then we had some dinner and caught a phenomenal show by Tracy Nelson outside at the Pine Creek Cafe — she was unbelievably great.
And then yesterday the MH took my stepmother fishing — he is a fishing guide, after all, and we went down for a little soak in the afternoon at Chico Hot Springs before the MH came over and cooked us a gorgeous dinner of doves and hungarian partridge on the grill, accompanied by morel risotto garnished with the first peas from my garden and a huge salad with the first lovely lettuces and arugula and green onions of the season.
It was a lovely weekend, and now I’m exhausted. It’s going to be 100 degrees today and I think I’m heading to the cool of the downstairs office to try to get the second section of my book off the ground. It was a perfect week off — four days of company followed by four days to myself to putter, read, and get some writing done.