Sunday, October 20, 2013

Feeding Time at the Circus

You will recall, Dear Readers, that Agnes's cousin Bernadette and Bernadette's husband Richard have been our house guests for the last three weeks. They will leave tomorrow, having learned many amazing things about living in the US ... not the least of which is the amazing variety of goods and the impossibly low prices (by European standards and at the current dismal rate of exchange for the dollar against the euro) at Costco. Yesterday afternoon Bernadette packed a large box to mail home with all the things they've bought that didn't fit into the big suitcase, which they also bought.

One of the things we've tried to do while they were here, in addition to all the touristy stuff that I've already reported here, is to convince them that it is possible to find really good food in America ... not just the McDonald's hamburgers that are the European stereotype of American haute cuisine*. Before they arrived, Agnes sat down and carefully made up a detailed list of the things we were going to cook for them, and the places to which we would take them where they could enjoy things other than hamburgers. In addition to my famous Baked Macaroni and Cheese, we made them our delicious Grilled Catfish with Fresh Corn Relish, Stir-Fried Hunan Beef with Red Peppers**, Grilled Castillian Chicken with Bean Salad, my Sausage-Stuffed, Molasses-Glazed Acorn Squash, and even "Surf and Turf" ...

We also took them to more-or-less traditionally American-style restaurants like Mike's American Grill***, the Bonefish Grill, and the Korean Grill+.

Last night, the plan was for us to make my absolute, all-time favorite meal: Corned Beef and Cabbage. Of course, this is not the "traditional" version of the recipe, in which the cabbage is cut in wedges, chunks of carrot and potato are thrown in, and the whole is boiled into a tasteless pink mess ... this is our version, in which the brisket is baked low and slow in the oven, the cabbage is Agnes's wonderful Bavarian-style Cabbage, and it's served with garlic mashed potatoes. It's what she makes me for my birthday and other special occasions when fall rolls around and the nights are getting colder. Yum!

Unfortunately, we had to go to Plan B, because - until I went out to the auxiliary refrigerator in the garage at 2:00 PM to get the meat - I didn't realize that Agnes had bought a brisket cut from Babe the Blue Ox. It was a staggering 6.99 pounds, which, with a minimum baking time of an hour per pound, would have us dining sometime after 9:00 PM - well past the bedtime of us high-powered swingers.

So ...

Plan B was to go ahead and flip to the Last-Dinner-In-Virginia menu, originally intended for this evening - grilled steaks and Agnes's marvelous julienned jicama and carrot salad.

Unfortunately, when we began cooking, we found we had to go to Plan C because when Agnes cut into the jicamas she'd bought at the local market, she found them to be dried out and mealy. Okay, she decided, instead we'd make the excellent fatoush salad she learned to make in the local Lebanese cooking class, since we already had many of the ingredients. She put Bernadette and I to work slicing vegetables while she raced to the local supermarket for the other things we needed.

Bernadette and I hunched over our cutting boards with knives flying and had successfully generated the required amounts of onions, tomatoes, and red peppers when the phone rang. It was Agnes, calling to tell us that she'd decided to go to Plan D ... involving the much simpler mixed green salad, corn on the cob, and french fries to go with the steaks.


Well, as things turned out it was an excellent dinner. The carefully-cut onions, tomatoes, and red peppers ended up in the mixed green salad, the steaks were grilled to perfection, and the corn on the cob was sweet and cooked just right. I think we've successfully proved to Richard and Bernadette that Americans do, in fact, eat things other than McDonald's hamburgers++.

And we're having the Corned Beef and Cabbage tonight ... I plan to put the brisket in the over right after breakfast!

Have a good day. Eat well. More thoughts tomorrow.


* See, Angel, I know some French!

** Okay, it's Chinese ... give me a break, here.

*** I love their slogan: "Be Nice or Get Out."


++ Although I must tell you that I'm very fond of the "Angry Whopper" at Burger King.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

That sounded like a heactic process before coming up with Plan D, which sounds great! Meals for company can be like that!

I'mglad their visit went well, and the day was saved.

Thanks for the shout-out!

Mike said...

All this talk of food is making me hungry. Time for McDonalds.

Big Sky Heidi said...

McDonald's is a good default option for the lazy and for those limited by small town cuisine choices.

John Hill said...

Sounds like Chris and I need to visit you at dinner time!

Duckbutt said...

Sounds like the quintessinal American dinner! The corned beef and cabbage sounds great, too!