Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What's Up


So, as I alluded to in my previous post, I've been pretty busy hanging out with Jen and haven't been spending much time online, hence the lack of posting. Not that I've ever been a really good blogger that way, but whatever. Anyway, said 'hanging out' has included my starting to cook again, something that I generally only do when I have someone else to cook for. Cooking just for myself seems more of a pain in the ass than anything else, so I tend to get extremely lazy when it comes to feeding only myself.

Apparently, my subconscious digs the fact that I'm cooking, or maybe it's the fact that I've pulled off a few really good meals lately.. which has been especially satisfying because I didn't really know what I was doing and sort of made it up as I went along. For example, we got some steak and chicken breasts and had some red wine in the kitchen, so I pulled off a pretty decent-tasting wine sauce using mere guesswork. I was pretty proud of myself when I tasted the end result.

Anyway, as I was saying, I guess my subconscious likes my self-congratulatory pull-it-out-of-thin-air cooking lately, because last night, I had a really fantastic dream. I can hear you all groaning from here.. yes, I know other people's dreams are rarely very interesting blog fodder, but I have to share this particular one because it was so awesome.

An indication that perhaps I've been watching too much T.V. lately, I have started having dreams involving different shows and characters from the shows I like. Last night's dream, though, was the best so far. I really enjoyed watching the first season of Top Chef, and in my dream, I found myself in the Top Chef finals. Me and someone else, battling it out for the title of Top Chef.

In the dream, I was basically me.. that is to say, not a chef. Ha. But somehow, it didn't seem weird that I'd gotten as far as I had, that I'd beaten out all the other fancypants chefs, which I'm guessing was due to my mad kitchen skillz. No matter how strange it might seem upon waking that I should find myself in the Top Chef finals, it was obvious by the way the other chefs treated me that I had earned my place there. As in, no one seemed shocked at all.. though I have no idea whether anyone knew I wasn't actually a chef.

The dream was really vivid and linear, which made it like watching myself in a movie. On the show, a bunch of chefs start out, get whittled down in number in various challenges, until two remain. Then, the final meals are these two huge multi-course shebang things, cooked separately by the two finalists and their sous-chefs, who are some of the eliminated people from previous episodes.

So I'm cooking my meal, and at the beginning, everything was going pretty well. My appetizer and first course went out without much of a hitch. No idea what they were, but I was pretty satisfied with my effort. Then the trouble started.. I started having to put out fires. I'd forgotten this, I had to do that, this didn't get finished.. until I was somewhat panicked and began to realize I wasn't going to win. The thing is, I was so honored to have gotten as far as I did, I didn't care that much that I'd be placing second. The end part of the dream was a bit like what I call 'server nightmares', which are essentially dreams of waiting tables, involving a brand of high panic because something is seriously wrong and for whatever reason, you can't fix it in the dream.

So I realized mid-way through my courses that I was supposed to be serving different wine varieties with each course, and one of the judges snarkily pointed out where they had been sitting, unnoticed, all along. It was kind of late to fix it, so I went on to the next thing. Then I was supposed to have a cheese plate go out before the dessert, but I was in the weeds and had to run around asking my sous-chefs if any of them knew anything about cheese because I didn't. I don't know whether that ended up going out, but the thing that sealed my demise was the dessert.

I had been trying to make these apple tartlets, not anything I've attempted before in real life, but the best part was I didn't have them in tart or pie pans or anything; I instead just laid down some tin foil on the oven rack (which I've been having to do at Jen's because she owns no baking sheets or pans) and put the tartlets on that. When I opened the oven and saw that the crusts had expanded into brown, unappetizing mounds on the foil, I knew I would never win the competition. I finally just shrugged and accepted defeat, but was determined to get all the food out anyway, as unappetizing as it might look. To my sous-chefs, I joked around and called the ruined tartlets "poo pies," either because they looked like crap or because they somewhat resembled.. well.. you get the picture.

In any case, I did not win the title of Top Chef, but I was so pleased with myself for having come in second. As we left the competition, my sous-chefs and I, they told me they were impressed with all I had done to get there, and I talked fondly of how cooking runs in my family. Chefs walk into the sunset.. roll credits.

Anyway, the second point of this post, aside from the uber-boring, drool-inducing dream segment, is that I have been having some really good meals lately. So good that I may have to brag... What we had tonight was so exciting and delicious and GOOD that I just had to share. I fired up the charcoal grill and made grilled corn, asparagus, and yummy, meaty short ribs with a Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. Yum!

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