Tinnitus hack

My tinnitus sounded like screaming mice yesterday.
My wife and I went for a hike in the woods before it rained and only got a little lost.
I ate a slice of bread when we got home.
Hey, that’s moldy, said my wife.
I spit it out but had already swallowed some.
It was whole-grain bread I had baked; it was sort of grayish anyway so the mold didn’t stand out.
I had a bad stomach ache. I don’t know if it was bc of the mold, but that’s my guess. It felt like all the other times I’ve poisoned myself.
I slept on the sofa in case it was not the mold but rather something contagious.
The cats liked that.
Today I feel better.
My wife cooked borscht, with a beet from our garden. It was good.
It’s a gray old day outside.

Mig’s Blackened Rorshach Chicken

(Note to self: prior to cooking experiments, make sure at least one camera in the house is charged)

I told Brian I was going to barbecue for Mother’s Day and he suggested whole chicken with a Greek yogurt/lemon marinade. He suggested deboning the chicken which was interesting, although very simple after watching the instructional Jacques Pepin video.

Note: this dish required no substitution for a change.

Note 2: actually, it did. I substituted an ancient Japanese paring knife we got at a dime store in Tokyo once for a new chicken-deboning-knife I failed to buy last Friday as planned because I had to work on my lunch break. The paring knife worked well, it looks roughly like a deboning knife anyhow, and being of rather soft steel it sharpens up easily.

Instructions: Buy ingredients: 1 organic chicken, enough Greek yogurt (or regular plain yogurt). A lemon. Garlic. Make marinade according to the recipe, more or less, with all the other spices. The paprika, for example, works really nicely. I also added some herbs from the garden.

Bone chicken according to the video. heads up: if you watch the video while cooking, figure out a way to pause and unpause it without getting raw chicken on your keyboard. You will feel the urge to talk in a Hannibal Lector voice while deboning the chicken, and CSI jokes will go through your head, and you will wonder if this is what the turkeys Boeing shoots at its planes from cannons to test the windshields end up looking like. This will pass.

Your chicken is boned in no time! That wasn’t so bad! Less than a minute, according to Jacques Pepin, maybe a little longer for people like me. Maybe quite a bit longer, in fact, although it’s not as bad as I imagined, because I wisely locked the cats (AKA my four best friends, when I’m deboning chicken) out of the kitchen.

Marinate the chicken overnight. I covered it in the marinade sauce, folded it up like a shirt, and packed it into a tupperware container and refrigerated it.

Do something useful with the carcass. I failed to do this, and felt bad about it afterwards.

I could have given it to the cats to fight over in the yard but what would the neighbors say?

They would say, What are you, an extra from the Hunger Games?

Anyway.

Grill your chicken the following day. I started at 9.30 in the morning, lighting the coals etc.  because there was a lot of stuff to grill: various vegetables, mushrooms, pineapple (slices with vanilla sugar sprinkled over them), sausages because this is Austria, and the chicken, and I wanted to be done in time.

Everything was done in time. Around 11.30, in fact, everything was warming in the oven waiting for the guests (my wife’s parents).

Here is how the chicken went: I grill stuff in aluminum grilling uh tray things. Put the chicken spread out, like an unfolded shirt a chicken skeleton had just shed because it was covered in yogurt marinade, in the largest, round aluminum tray. It sizzled away. Skin-side down for starters. No idea if this was a good idea or if it matters. Turned it after a while when the first side looked a little brown. In all, it cooked for over an hour.

I stood there most of the time and watched it cook, because I was afraid a cat would steal it if I went into the house. When you stare at a flat chicken long enough, it begins to look like a Rorshach blot, and you find yourself saying, in Sigmund Freud’s voice, “So, Mr. Living, tell me what you see in this chicken?”

And you give him the answer, in your own voice, telling him something you think will make you sound sane.

It takes the leg meat longer to cook than the rest, so I ended up removing the legs and letting them cook longer. The chicken was getting fairly dark. Like, black in places. But that always happens when I barbecue. I folded up the chicken and put it in the oven in the kitchen to stay warm. Then I went back out to guard the drumsticks. Of course they were engulfed in flames when I got back out, because all the marinade and oil/fat that had collected beneath the chicken in the tray was suddenly exposed to air when I removed the chicken and ignited as soon as I turned my back.

The flames were about 3′ high. I managed to rescue the drumsticks somewhat.

Carved up the chicken and it looked fine. It was much-praised by the guests. Two people remarked how moist the chicken was. The marinade did taste good. Vegetables (marinated just with olive oil or teriyaki sauce) were good. I was too tired by then to enjoy it much, and I thought the chicken was actually a little bit dry, but maybe I’m just paranoid about dry chicken. It would be great if I could find a way to cook chicken sufficiently without burning the outside.

Will take pictures next time, Scout’s honor.

WTF should i cook for dinner?

AKA Mig’s Chicken Marsala Madeira

Chances are you have at some point asked yourself, WTF should I cook for dinner. Of course, in these days of social media, you ask that question of your Facebook friends.

At least I did a while ago. Brian suggested Chicken Marsala, which I elected to try because I was in the mood for Indian food. To prepare, I read the wikipedia article.

Turns out it is not an Indian dish. That would be Chicken Tika Masala. Honest mistake.

According to Wikipedia, Marsala is a fortified wine, like port, which is reduced to make the sauce. For me, using largely American or Anglo-Saxon recipes in Austria, cooking has become a process of substitution. I must cook everything from scratch (actually, I also prefer to do that). Nearly every recipe I cook I find myself required to substitute at least one ingredient.

In this case, it was the Marsala, which was not available at my local supermarket. They had an okay shelf of fortified wines, but no Marsala. So I got a bottle of Madeira wine. Got chicken breasts, mushrooms, peppers, shallots, zucchini. Went home and cooked.

Brian has stated before that recipies are often inaccurate, especially cooking times, so I used the wikipedia article instead of a recipe. An ideal recipe would tell you roughly how long it takes to cook something, but it would tell you how to tell when something was finished, rather than tell you exactly how long to cook it.

Brian has become my new cooking mentor, if you haven’t noticed.

I rolled the chicken breasts (with skin, deboned) in flour and sauteed them. I understand sautee to mean fry fairly hot in a fair amount of oil. The skin/coating got nice and crisp. I cut into one breast to make sure it was done (good thing, as it wasn’t done yet). When they were done I removed them and put them in an oven to stay warm, and sauteed sliced shallots, mushrooms and zucchini for a while, then got impatient and added some of the wine and some chicken stock (this concentrate you can get) and cooked until the sauce looked reduced.

Then I served it with the chicken and it was quite popular.

My verdict: working from a wikipedia article instead of a recipe works, at least for a simple dish such as this. I don’t think I added enough wine (more sauce would have been nice) and I should have reduced it a little more. But it tasted great. Chicken was a little dry, otherwise tasty and attractive. I wonder what went wrong there – what causes dry chicken? The zucchini were a mistake (I sliced them into roughly 2″ rectangular slices) – they were soft and mushy before anything else was cooked. Should have added them at the end. Substituting Madeira for Marsala was no problem (maybe Marsala tastes totally awesome and I would change my mind if I tried it, who knows).

The next time I’ll take pictures.