Archive for December, 2008

Xmas 2008 recap

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

I’m not sure if the following Christmas song makes me want to have a drink or never drink again. 

I’ll decide over a glass of Bushmill’s.  [shrug]

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We celebrated Christmas with my folks on their farm down in sunny FL.  We flew out before the big pre-Xmas snow storms hit Albany and returned after almost all the snow had melted away [whew].  Cati’s family flew in from Spain and joined us; it was great.  The holidays, in the house I grew up in, were mainly about the food (shocking, eh?).  Here are some highlights from our week with the folks on their farm.

We arrived at my father’s well maintained farm and he immediately wanted us to see the garden. 

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Jerk it out.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

People have asked me how I make such good jerk chicken [not really, but humor me].  Well, dear readers, I’m prepared to reveal my secrets.

  • Aquire some Misty Knoll Farms’ chicken (or other high quality supplier’s version thereof).  I prefer to use either the skin-on breasts or a bunch of wings.
  • Make a Jamaican friend who can smuggle in his parish’s best jerk sauce.
  • Marinate chicken for an hour to several hours in the refrigerator.
  • Grill (I prefer charcoal).  I grill the thick breasts skin-side down in a hot spot for 5 min (gives a good black char to the skin– we don’t eat it), flip and then 8-10 min on less intense heat.
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The two key steps here are the quality chicken and the good jerk sauce.  That’s 90% of the job. 

I get my jerk sauce from my Jamaican friend.  The whole importation/smuggling process seems a little sketchy but I don’t ask too many questions.  Check out the last jar he brought for me:

It came in snapple-type bottle and was duct-taped shut.  Should I worry about how sanitary it is?  Probably.  Do I?  Nah, nothing can survive that kinda spicy. 

Each parish (like a county) in Jamaica has its own jerk sauce, and of course, the denizens of each parish regard their respective parish’s sauce as the best.  When I gave my buddy a bottle of Winston’s (which I buy online, by the case), he immediately flipped the bottle over to see what parish it was from, so as to pre-judge it accordingly.  We’re no strangers to proximal geographical rivalries.  Ask a European what s/he thinks of his/her neighboring town’s football club– and stand back.  Or heck, ask a Texan what his favorite college football team is and you’ll get some crazy-strong opinions. 

The jerk sauce my buddy brings me is tasted by dipping a toothpick in it and touching the toothpick to the tongue.  Eating it straight, even a little bit, is like macing yourself with pepper spray- pure pain.  It can only be used as a marinade.  This stuff is so hot. 

The peppers and spices for this jerk sauce are grown on a farm that was once used by monks as a graveyard for insane heretics and criminals.  It’s said their souls contribute to the other-worldly spicy hotness– okay, I just totally made that up for effect– but the stuff is really hot, and oh so good.  We like to have the chicken with something green.  The last time we made it, we had green beans and aioli (with sliced tomatoes added to the mix for no good reason). 

Ok, now for a way-off-topic public service announcement.  Do not give your dog cooked bones, especially if he is a little dog, EVER. 

We went to Creo’ (yeah, we know, that superfluous apostrophe on the end of the ignorantly mispronounced CREE-OH is a pretentious embarrassment) and brought home what appeared to be a solid pork-bone for Nacho.  Big dumb mistake on our part.  Nacho crunched the bone up into little bits and wound up getting a major– ahem– back-door blockage, shall we say?  Long story short– $1000, a night in the dog-hospital, and a week of antibiotics later he was/is back to 100%.  Please people, be ye not so stupid as me; stick to treats recommended by your vet.  Learn from my mistake.  Oh, and as for the restaurant– great ambiance and service, but the entrees were way WAY too salty (and I am the guy who often gets scolded by his wife and/or parents for adding too much salt to his food at the table).  The desserts were good.  Based on my one and only visit, I’d say go for drinks or dessert, but go elsewhere for dinner.

Here’s an x-ray of our little guy (after the blockage was cleared):

Big thanks to the talented professionals at Parkside Veterinary Hospital and the Animal Emergency Clinic in Latham for fixing up our little hijo peludo.  This x-ray finally proves that indeed “outside of a dog a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”*

*Groucho quote.