Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Adventures in Craigslisting

After weeks of back and forth emailing, and other potential buyers flaking, and rainstorms, and lions and tigers and bears, I was able to set a date and time to get a supercool vintage recliner for just sixty American dollars.
The time was 8am on a Sunday morning and the place was Not My Bed so my heroic husband volunteered to pick the chair up for me.  Apparently, the chair's former owner was just lovely, and helped him manuver it down skinny slippery steps lined with flower pots.  She had an adorable toddler that was crying the whole time.  Husband asked about the little darling, wondering if mommy should stop helping him move the chair to go see why the munchkin was so sad.  And she said, 'oh, this is just her favorite chair.'  Aw.  Poor kid. 
Now it just might be my favorite chair.  I don't know where she's going to live yet.

Then yesterday evening I went to pick up the perfect side table for this chair.  Only twenty dollars; I love Craigslist.  The nice lady gave me super specific directions to her house, telling me what shops I would pass and what neighborhood signs I would see.  She led me directly to her front door.  Almost.  She forgot to mention her front door was actually just a door to six apartments.  And she didn't tell me the apartment number.  I didn't have her phone number, and I wasn't about to drive home to email her, so I guessed.  Found her on the third try.  Her neighbors were quite nice.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Scoreboard: Emeril - 1 Jaguars - 0

Today the Jacksonville Jaguars played the New Orleans Saints.  Like every week, I optimistically believed my Jags would triumph.  And like most weeks, lately, they did not.  But I was the winner of Sunday Dinner with my Saints-inspired Jambalaya.

I used Emeril's recipe here, with some tweaks in the portions because we love freezing one-pot meals for weekday lunches in my house.

First, I mixed up the Creole Seasoning here, exactly like Mr. Lagasse said so because he is the boss of New Orleans.

- 2.5 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt  (I only had kosher; it seemed to work fine.)
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup

You will end up with extra; I saved it in an empty paprika container.  But I suspect any empty container will work.

Then comes my favorite part of cooking:  chopping.  I see all the pros chopping at lightening speed on Iron Chef, Next Food Network Star, etc.  But I much prefer Leisurely Chopping.  Below are the ingredients as I made them, but for a small batch you can refer back to the original recipe.

  • 25 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped

  • 2 chicken breasts, diced

  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, recipe follows

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 chopped onion

  • 1 chopped red pepper

  • 3 large stalks celery, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic

  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

  • 6 bay leaves

  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce

  • 1.5 cup cup rice

  • 5 cups chicken stock

  • 1 12 oz. package Andouille sausage, sliced (I used Aidells)

  • Salt and fresh ground pepper

  • Rub the cajun spice mixture all over the chicken and shrimp so it can get yummy and flavory.  Then wash your hands about five times.

    Heat the olive oil on medium-high in a pot that you think is going to be big enough.  When the oil gets runny, add the onions, peppers, and celery.  Let it cook for a little while (the recipe says 3 minutes but I let it go about 6-7) while the veggies get a little soft.  The onions will start to get translucenty.

    Add the garlic and give it about two minutes to brown a bit in the hot oil.

    Add the can of diced tomatoes, juice and all, along with the bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.  I used dried bay leaves only because I forgot to buy fresh ones and I had the dried kind on hand.  But I think you should use fresh.  Next time I will.

    Once the tomatoes and juices are hot, stir in the rice.

    Slowly begin to add the chicken broth.  At this point, if you are me, you may find that the pot you originally chose is too small.  And then you may notice that you only have one other pan and it is gigantic.  Heat up the giant pan on medium heat with a bit of the broth in it (so you don't burn the pan) and then transfer everything to the larger pot.  Or....just start out with a bigger pot in the first place, but still turn it down to medium heat at this point.  Totally up to you.

    When the rice is no longer crunchy, after about twenty minutes or so (longer if you have to change pans), add the chicken and shrimp, along with a little salt and pepper.  Keep it on medium while the meat cooks.  Once you've tested it (and tested and tested, depending on how hungry you are), you can turn it down to simmer for awhile to really mix all those flavors.  I left it another 30 minutes and it was perfect.

    BONUS KNOWLEDGE:  I discovered a cool trick while making this dish.  It turns out, my stove is made of METAL.  And do you know what sticks to metal?  That's right!  Magnets!  I can keep my printed out recipes right in front of my face while cooking.  Convenient.  Did everyone already know this trick?  Yeah, I thought so.