Monday, November 1, 2010

Life of Pie

Hey Pie! Where've ya been?
Well since my last entry, which was also in the midst of this clusterfuck of an October:

Wednesday: work, 2 hr league practice, 1 hr all-star practice
Thursday: work, 3 hr all-star practice
Friday: dinner date with Jon :)
Saturday: derby fundraiser event (we raised $16,000!)
Sunday: visit Jon's dad
Monday: work, cook casserole for derby fried who had surgery
Tuesday: work, visit derby friend who had surgery
Wednesday: work, 2 hr league practice, 1 hr all-star practice
Thursday: work, 3 hr all-star practice
Friday:  work, food shop, leave for a Jersey family visit
Saturday: visit my family, movie with friends
Sunday: family visit, drive back home
Monday: work, plan practice, coach 2 hr league practice, 1 hr all-star practice

This past weekend: working at the last game of our home season, and some friends from CA (plus their THREE children) came to stay with us.

Next weekend: in Chicago for the WFTDA National Championship. Hence, all the practicing.

AAH! It's no wonder I never want to wake up come morning. I am completely overwhelmed just typing out the last two weeks.
Holy shit, October was super busy!

But fortunately, so was the kitchen.

It is quite the conundrum – how the hell was there time in the past month for any sort of food escapades besides the pizza delivery variety? And yet, somehow there was. I really think that it was these small, squeezed in moments of kitchen meditation that kept me from completely losing my shit and shutting myself up in the bedroom to sleep until it all went away. To me, instead of just another thing that has to be done, being in the kitchen is calm-happy-me-relaxation-time. It really is like a meditation, because you have to think calmly and clearly about the task at hand, and not all the other crap you're dealing with from day to day. You can't approach it with a distracted and unfocused mind – wait... did I salt this already? Did that say half a cup or 3/4 cup of flour – how much did I just put in? Aw crap, I forgot to stir this and now it's stuck to the pot. The only thing that cooking like that gets you is more aggravated because now you have a crusty pot to scrub and a burnt risotto.

Ask me how I know.

Maybe it's a directly proportional relationship: the more stressed and busy life becomes, the stronger my urge to be in the kitchen is. Something was fueling my creative culinary juices to the point where even doing the dishes was relaxing. Right? Strange. But I am not going to complain, no way. I'll just happily devour the product (and bask in the joy of an empty sink)!

Mayhem had a team tattoo brunch party the Sunday after our last home game, and I had the sudden strong urge to bake an olive bread to eat with fresh chevre.

I started proofing the dough in the afternoon before I left for the game. When I woke up the next morning (ok, it was the afternoon), it was ready for the oven.

Did I mention it was team tattoo day? Finger tattoos are not pleasant.

Captain goes first
Fisti Cuffs demonstrating how the Mayhem "prison teardrop" tattoo works

Good thing Jon and I decided also to make popovers to distract from the pain. And really, popovers make a good brunch into a great one. Fortunately in the process, we FINALLY discovered the secret to making super poppy-popovers: using a convection oven! AHA! Our little Manhattan apartment strikes again! Ours definitely pop, and they taste great, but since it's just a rickety old gas stove, they don't get the extreme height and the magnificent pastry-like crust like when they're made in a convection oven – like Fa and my teammate Mayday have.

Lookit! Look how they were popping over! And they still had like 5 minutes to go!

Then there was an entire afternoon dedicated to using all the hot peppers we bought at the farmers market...

remember those "sweet peppers"?
pretty lil' habaneros
I call this "Strawberry Daquiri of Death" hot sauce
Dehydrating cayenne peppers to make chili flakes

...which somehow transitioned into an entire evening dedicated to chocolate confections.

Bittersweet chocolate with chili ring and sea salt
Semisweet chocolate with smoked habanero flake and chipotle powder
homemade peanut butter filling for...

One of our teammates just had some major hip surgery, so the Mayhem decided to hold a Tuesday practice hanging out in her living room. I figured she could use some good food to brighten her day. There's this recipe for Tamale Pie that Jon and I have been wanting to make for some time. I thought this to be the perfect opportunity because nothing says "Get Well Soon!" like some good old fashioned pork lovin'.

Roasted poblanos, corn, pork, and other yummy stuff simmering...
Cornbread topping
Good thing I made an extra for Jon and me (I have no idea where that hole came from...)
Looks good, right? Break a hip and Ill make you one too

Fortunately for me and my sanity, today is November 1st and crazy October has concluded. 2010 derby is quickly coming to a close – one more week of protein shakes and heavy practices, one weekend of games and a few orders of business to take care of – and then I can disappear into the offseason and recoup for a few months.

And by recoup, I mean spending time in my kitchen for some good ol' R&R.

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