I'm currently about 2/3 way through Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World. if that doesn't ring a bell to you, that is the first book in his never ending, detail laden, time-space continuum tearing "Wheel of Time" series. here are some of my thoughts as i was reading the book:
page 100: damn this guy is good!
page 200: so this is what would happen if the Bene Gesserit ran wild in Middle Earth. . .
page 300: damn, this guy is still good! not sure if i give him much points for originality, but still decent. (high king Artur? is it so bloody hard to find a name for your high king that doesn't sound like "Arthur?" come on!)
page 400: wolfman dude rocks. are we there yet?
page 500: no seriously. life is too short. are we there yet?
as soon as i come to terms with the fact that this series is something to be enjoyed over a lifetime (or five), as opposed to being enjoyed over a summer, i will start enjoying it much more. it's not like i can't wait 2-3 years between reading the next books in the series. i'm sure Jordan will fill in any and all possible details i might have forgotten from the previous installment. the biggest complaint i've heard about him is his obsession with detail - telling us what everyone ate for dinner, telling us what everyone is wearing, what their horses look like. . . but i like the way he does it. it flows smoothly. you know you're getting insane amounts of detail, but it isn't painful. you don't even know what's happening until you've read 200 pages, and only 2 hours have passed in the story.
so i shall finish this volume, i shall enjoy it, and this time next year i'll get the 2nd book. it's like Chess: it only takes a few hours to learn the rules, but it takes a lifetime to master.
for something completely different, i feel this primal urge to read my Kurt Vonnegut collection, and find more of his stuff around town. One day i will own all his books. Too bad i can't get past this fetish of having to buy them used. new books just don't smell right. they smell dead.
now for food. you didn't think i'd post without talking about food, did you? i looked through my previous entries, and it looks like i haven't yet tortured anyone with Coq au Vin. the what-what? Coq = Cock, au Vin = in wine. What did the french farmer do when the rooster stopped, roostering? slaughtered it and ate it for dinner! and the only way to get that nasty rooster meat tender enough to eat was to simmer it in wine for an hour with onions, bacon, and whatever vegetables were handy. This is the epitome of french provincial-ness, so of course, i consider it a special treat!
serves 6, usually with some leftovers for lunch the next day.
1 tbsp butter
2-ish lbs chicken parts. doesn't matter if they have bones, doesn't matter if they have skin. you don't really have to eat a nasty 12 year old rooster.
2-3 slices bacon
small package pearl onions (about 16 onions)
8oz fresh button mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups red burgundy wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
mix of herbs - rosemary, thyme, savory, lavender, sage
salt & pepper
chopped fresh parsley
french bread (for serving with)
how to get the skin off pearl onions: submerge the onions in boiling water for about 5 minutes. drain them. on a cutting board, chop the bottom off, then with your other hand, push the insides out through the bottom. sounds odd, but it really works!
you will need a pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients at once. trust me, it's no fun learning half way through the cooking process that not everything will fit in your pan.
in a very large non-stick skillet or large non-stick sauce pan, melt the butter and fry the bacon. when the bacon is cooked, remove and drain it. then chop it. add a little olive oil, and the onions. fry them until they start to turn brown. remove w/slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. follow the same steps with the mushrooms. turn the heat up to medium, add a bit more oil, and add the chicken peices, turning them so they brown on all sides. they don't need to be close to cooked, but we want some brown bits. when they are at that step, remove and drain on paper towels. add chopped onion and carrot to the pan, when they start to brown a bit, add the chopped garlic. add flour, and stir continously for 2 minutes. now add the wine, and stock, and bring to a boil. allow to boil for a minute or two. this will boil off some of the alcohol, but trust, me not all of it.
return all ingredients to pan, add salt and pepper and herbs. stir well. cover and simmer on low heat for 50-60 minutes, or until chicken is tender. when done, remove all meat and vegetables, and boil the sauce to thicken. return all meat and vegetables to pan, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve in bowls with crusty french bread.
you will dirty every knife and bowl in your kitchen, and once you eat this, you won't mind.