Sunday, November 27, 2011

Three Beautiful Things and a Bonus 11/26/11: Saturday Breakfast, Mary Goes Macro, Yi Shen Combo, BONUS: Belgian Ales

1.  People just kept coming and coming, over 250 in all, but we had enough eggs, potatoes, link sausage, and toast on the serving line to give each person a full breakfast.  I don't know how the oatmeal, grits, gravy, juice, coffee, and milk held up at the other serving tables, but we were happy, and a bit relieved, that we were able to meet the demand in our area of the Saturday Breakfast at St. Mary's Episcopal Church.

2.  Mary joined Russell and me for a photo walk on the southeast part of the U. of O. I tried to capture my nostalgic feelings for Mac Court by taking picture after picture after picture, but it never seemed like the images ever matched my feelings.  Mac Court held mythic significance for me when I moved to Eugene 32 years ago and I hoped I could capture some of its grandeur, grandeur that was mostly in my head, but grandeur all the same.  I'll look at my pictures soon and see if I even sort of succeeded.  Mary, by the way, went macro mad on our photo walk, with special attention to a ladybug on a gravestone.  It was really fun to bear witness to her enthusiasm.

3.  Mary, Russell, and I went to Yi Shen after we were done shooting.  Russell and I enjoyed sharing our favorite Eugene place to eat with Mary and she seemed delighted with her meal.  I was beyond delighted with mine.  I ordered Yi Shen's combo soup -- bbq pork, shrimp, scallop, beef (I think) with bok choy and Vietnamese noodles and I can't remember what else.  My inability to remember details is directly related to the euphoria I felt eating this soup:  I don't think I've ever tasted a more satisfying, flavorful, complex broth. 

BONUS:  After doing some shopping, I enjoyed two particularly tasty half pints at 16 Tons.  I decided to focus on two Belgian ales and they pleased me completely.  I can't write beer review language.  All I can say is that I sat there, by myself, and stared, speechless, I enjoyed these beers so much.  The first came from Hopworks, and is called Muscles From Brussels; the second came from Japan: Hitachino Nest Barrel Aged  Commemorative Ale.  The second is a Belgian Strong Ale.   I could only drink a half a pint of it because of its 10% alcohol by volume. 

Three Beautiful Things 11/25/11: Ye Olde Corned Beef, Solo Photo Walk, The Deke is Back

1.  It was a solid way to start the day:  corned beef hash, three eggs, hash browns, English muffins with strawberry jam, a pot of coffee, and lots of water at Ye Olde Pancake House on west 11th. 

2.  I had a very satisfying solo photo walk today down by Autzen Stadium.  The light was wonderful, the fall colors reflected appealingly off of the Mill Race, heron and geese cooperated, and dogs were happy and handsome at the dog park. 

3.  The Deke is back after a couple of weeks in Georgia to see Molly, Hiram, Olivia, and David.  She gave my Thanksgiving leftovers a try and liked them, a plus, and then we went to her office (the Cornucopia) for an hour or so and spent some time getting our bearings.  I had really enjoyed my solitude at home from Wednesday afternoon until the Deke returned; at the same time, I really enjoy the Deke being home again.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/24/11: Prep, Shove, Cook and Eat and Drink

1.  I read that the cut of roast I bought, the eye of round, is not, on its own, very flavorful.  So, salted it, peppered it, garlicked it, and rubbed it with olive oil, rosemary, and ginger.  I let it sit all day at room temperature.  I was bound and determined to draw flavor out of this roast!

2.  I browned the roast on all sides in the cast iron Dutch oven, let it cool down, and then poured a pint of Guinness Extra Stout and a bit of water, forming a malty-yeasty-hoppy-stouty puddle for the roast to cook in and added Brussel sprouts, potatoes, onions, and mushrooms to the pot, covered it, and shoved it in the oven. 

3.  I kept a close eye on my dinner as it cooked:  good thing.  The Brussel sprouts were done first and I took them out and covered them.  I didn't want mushy sprouts.  The roast was done before the other vegetables and I got it out of the pot just in the nick of time, maybe even a little late.  The roast was more medium than medium rare, so I wish I had removed it about five minutes earlier.  No harm, though.  The potatoes and onions needed more time and the mushrooms stay in the pot for the ride.  All that liquid from the Guinness stout was now really beefy and oniony and musroomy and sort of spuddy, so I brought that liquid to a boil, mixed up some cold milk and flour, dumped it in the juice and, after a few minutes, I had gravy, the first I've made.  I had also decided that I would crack open my bottle of Black Butte XXIII.  I could have let it age, but I decided to go for it and it was a rich, complexed flavored complement to the roast beef dinner.  It took me about an hour to drink the Black Butte XXIII and I decided to top it all off with about three oz of Figgy Pudding Strong English Ale.  I hope recorking that bottle works.  I enjoyed that small amount of Figgy Pudding, but the bottle still has over a pint left to be enjoyed. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/23/11: Chickpeas, Beef, Stout

1.  I was really happy that one of my students chose Rumi's "Chickpea to Cook" as a poem to study together in class today.  Those of us in the class who love this poem had a particularly good time with these lines:   

Eventually the chickpea
will say to the cook,
"Boil me some more.
Hit me with the skimming spoon.
I can't do this by myself.

 2.  I figured out what I want to cook for my Thanksgiving dinner, went to the store to buy a small beef roast, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, onions, and mushrooms.  I began to imagine this cut of beef being roasted in a pool of Guiness stout, so I'll need to do a little research to figure out how to make this happen.

3.  Well, imagining a roast beef in a puddle of Guiness stout made me think that they sure have some nice stouts and porters on tap at 16 Tons so I dropped in and enjoyed a half pint of Upright Barrel Aged Stout of Monte Fisto, a half pint of Bison Baltic Porter, and finished my evening with two half pints of The Abyss.  My 16 Tons evening was enhanced by sitting with Beverly and Wayne, whom I hadn't seen for a couple of years.  Wayne lived in the Silver Valley and worked at the Bunker back in the mid-sixties and we have a particularly good time talking about the good old days in Kellogg.  We did some of that and the three of us talked about a variety of other things, too.  Good times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/22/11: Ponder, Reconcile, Pork

1.  I had a classroom situation where I could have reacted defensively, and instead I replied to a confrontational remark, "Well, ponder that some more.  I don't really have a response."

2.  The book The Souvenir is helping A. sort out things in relation to her father and giving her insight into their developing reconciliation. 

3.  I marinated a three pound pork shoulder roast for over twelve hours in Stubb's Smokey Mesquite BBQ sauce and then slow cooked the roast for about twelve hours.  I poured the sauce that bubbled around the roast over my baked potatoes and over the pork and complemented the meat and potatoes with green beans.  It was a delicious dinner.  Samantha ate baked potato only.  No problem.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/21/11: Barks, Essays, Steaks

1.  Every time I watch and listen to Bill Moyers interview Coleman Barks, I'm stimulated by the vision of Rumi and by the music of the Paul Winter Consort.

2.  I'm still working my way through a large number of student essays for World Lit and WR 121.  I didn't finish the pile today, but I made significant process.  Tomorrow's another day.

3.  Samantha seemed pretty happy to learn I was frying up a couple of petite sirloin steaks with caramelized onions.  I think I was happier with the broccoli than she was -- but we were both happy with our delicious dinner.  The steaks were really good. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/20/11: Tom the Librarian, Back to The Abyss, Chicken Dinner

1.  It was a lot of fun to see Tom Beckstrand give his symposium on the church library.  He was animated, happy to be the library guy, and eager to let us know what is what in the library.  His talk was good, too.

2.  After the symposium, the Troxstar and I spent some time at the 2nd Annual Eugene Winter & Strong Ale Festival at 16 Tons.  These beers are strong and we were careful.  I sure enjoyed two 3 oz. tasters:  first, Block 15 Figgy Pudding Ale and, second,  Terminal Gravity Bucolic Plague (2009).  Then I could not resist returning to The Abyss and enjoy two half pints of Deschutes' The Abyss, a deep, dark, mysterious, and tasty Imperial Stout.  It's my favorite, although I really enjoyed that the Figgy Pudding Ale had been matured in brandy barrels before conditioning with mission figs, Ceylon cinnamon and nutmeg.  These beers were really fun to drink and required all the caution I exercised.

3.  So tasty, so easy:  a tray of chicken legs with potatoes and onions popped into the oven for an hour or so resulted in a satisfying dinner for Samantha and me. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 11/19/11: Meeting Dan, The Abyss, Spontaneous Soup

1.  I've been a friend on Facebook for quite a while with Russell's longtime friend, Dan, and this morning I got to meet him.  Russell, Dan, and I met at the Glenwood for an excellent breakfast and a lot of fun conversation about taking pictures and food in Hawaii and a number of other things.  I hope we have the chance to spend time together again soon.  It was really fun.

2.  A while back I read about a beer that Deschutes brewery releases seasonally called The Abyss.  Here's what Deschutes says about The Abyss:  "A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate."  The Abyss came on tap today at 16 Tons and I ordered a half a pint, cautiously, because the ABV is 11%.  Oh, my.  Indeed, it moved me to contemplate and moved me to order another half pint.  It's a magnificent beer.  I had read another review of it elsewhere where the person simply said, "Yay molasses!"  My sentiments exactly.  (I also bought a 22 oz bottle of The Abyss and I'm going to let it age.  I've never let a beer age before and I'll crack it open sometime in 2012 and see what I think.)

3.  The other night I browned about a pound of ground beef.  I needed to use it.  I looked around the kitchen.  Mmmm.  I've got onion.  I've got potatoes.  I've got two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes.  I've got a 14 oz can of Bush's navy beans.  I've got garlic powder.   I have salt.  Water comes out of the tap.  SOUP!  I haven't done this for a while -- that is, I haven't combined whatever is in the kitchen into a pot and made soup and I've got to say, this ground beef tomato navy bean soup is really good!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Many Beautiful Things Over the Last Few Weeks

1.  David Alejandro Diaz was born to Molly and Hiram on November 2, 2011.

2.  I had a great time making Lebanese lentil soup and cheese/fruit dessert plates for over fifty people at St. Mary's Episcopal Church when Dr. Loren Crow gave a talk about his sabbatical to Israel.

3.  Ed and I had a superb time in Pendleton where I enjoyed a superb rib eye steak at Hamley's, a most scrumptious Reuben at the Prodigal Son, cold Buds at Whistlers Pub, and a couple of fine breakfasts at the Rainbow Cafe. 

4.  The beers continue to be fun and delicious at 16 Tons.  I wish I had kept a record of all the fine beers I've sampled.  It's been especially fun to have the Deke join me at 16 Tons.  She enjoys a glass of wine and I try another new kind of beer.  In addition, I've begun to join her from time to time at her "office" at the Cornucopia.

5.  Carolyn and I had a great time as co-teachers at church, leading different groups in discussions of beauty.  

I'll leave it at that.  I just wanted to get back into action and get back to posting Three Beautful Things with the hope that I don't let how busy I've been stop me any longer.