the forum for my personal soapbox

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wanna be Griswold's

Just a quick background of my childhood and Christmas's:

A- we bought our Christmas tree for $100 dollars from a "tree farm" in a grocery store parking lot on Christmas Eve

B- we lived in no close proximity to any extended family members so we went on vacation and kicked the Christmas tree out of our celebration.

So in a nutshell: the Lortie's are not the most festive group of holiday participants

That being said- the whole "concept" of cutting down your own Christmas tree was very foreign to me until recently. Obviously, we have all see National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation a million times. (thank you TBS) Please see the below imagine to refresh your memory if you are drawing a blank!
We are all able to laugh and giggle at Clark's shenanigans until it turns into our real life. Well, it is my real life now. When I decided to settle in the very cold and snowy upstate New York I reluctantly adapted this Christmas tree "tradition." To set the scene: last year it was me, my father in law, my two brother in laws and my sister in law Karen. (D was strategically at lacrosse practice) we paced the aisles of trees in the depths of the tree farm in sub zero temperatures and found nothing. After two hours of the empty searching I vowed once again to do my duties to the grocery store parking lot trees.

And- of course that did not happen.

Like my mother always says "God does not allow you to remember the pain of child birth  because if you did you would never another child!" well I am pretty sure Anne's saying applies to Christmas tree hunting. Except- the difference is childbirth gives you a child.... in my eyes that is a bit more exciting than a Frasier Fur, but the equally painful!(not that I know what child birth feels like, but I am sure I will blog about that one day!)

So at 4:00 on a bitter cold snowy Saturday our hunt started. (With an adorable little boy)
 And, sadly to say it did not go to well.. check out this empty farm. Obviously didn't plant in phases...
So we trecked out a little farther into the country and came to a "promising" farm. The lumber jack's grabbed their saws...
Dusted off some prospects:

Had our Clark Griswold family moment
AND (drum roll please.........)
We found our tree soul mate in a stack of pre-cut Frasier Furs shipped in from Pennsylvania....(just to remind you, we live in NY)

And children- the moral to the story is: support your local boy scouts :) But, needless to say: we had a ggggggreat time... with the fried food and beers after the two hours in the dark bitter cold!

Oh but the plus side is:
We found a nifty little bird nest! Felt it was suiting for my bird obsession!

So with our Christmas Tree tale being told we hope that everyone has a wonderful and safe Holiday Season!!! (stay warm, we have 2 feet of snow! Thank God for AWD)

Brenna, David, & Rupert (shown as a reindeer)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I am one with my All Clad

Since I consider myself to be some what of a "self taught semi-professional chef" (a Rachel Ray in training if you must) it was obvious to me, that we needed to go with a beautiful stainless steel pots and pans set when we cashed in our Macy's gift cards from the good old wedding registry. Well, like most things in my life that I refuse to do because I  strategically convince myself I am better than that one particular thing (a dominant trait I inherited from the one and only Joseph Lortie.) I refused to read the instruction book that conveniently came along with our All-Clad. I naturally placed the perfectly wrapped package of knowledge in the "never going to use, let a lone look at drawer" in the office.

With that anecdote- let me fill you in with how my cooking has been for the past few months- lots of grilling, rice cooker use and pasta boiling. I do not know what happened! I brought  home these beautiful "you are an instant professional chef" pans and the gourmet meals were suppose to cook themselves! Unfortunately, that did not happen. I actually gave up  and contemplated returning them (it was an obvious manufacturer's defect) when my fifth round of "chicken sticking to the pan" got the best of me.

Stainless Steel- 5
Brenna- 0

I could not understand what I was doing wrong! I heated the pan, put the oil in, letting the oil slightly smoke, put the chicken in, did the fancy lift the pan shake it around movement and watch the meal cook to perfection like it always did in my $10.00 dollar Calphalon pan from Marshalls. But, no. it is never that easy. (I won't even describe the heartbreak I felt when I tried to cook Basmati rice in these "devil pots")

So tonight, I was feeling good, I asked D what do you want for dinner- the typical pasta & sauce or some scrumptious Patak's Jalfrezi Curry with chicken and basmati rice. He got the hint and chose Indian (obvious tribute to my new favorite show Out Sourced- new episode airs tonight) Tonight was the night- I will make the chicken and stainless one with each other, and that is exactly what I did. Folks! I had an epiphany.... heat the pan on medium heat, put the oil in, heat the oil till it slightly smokes, put the chicken in....and here is the kicker.... let the chicken cook for a minute before you try and move it. Freaking shocker, let something cook. Once, I tried this and it worked! Yes, worked. I let out a triumphful peep of victory and explained my silent and secret on going battle with these damn pots to my beloved husband. And- what was his response: "Oh- I knew that, you didn't?

Silly me- I forgot that I married Anthony Bourdain!

 So the new stats stand as:

Stainless Steel- 5
Brenna- ONE!!!!!

So please lick your lips and apologize to your taste buds as you enjoy a picture of my perfectly simmering Indian cuisine.
But- I obviously still do not understand the concept of not cooking "red" things with a white stain-able spoon... next weeks cooking lesson.

His and Her's finished products:
 Don't be fooled, this is the remains of my seconds, not the initial bowl. Portion control is not my strong suite.