Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Raking Leaves, Eating Shrimp

So yesterday I was pulling into the Two Bucks liquor store parking lot to get two mini-bottles (airplane bottles) of James Beam and just before I entered I had the sickening revelation that before I left the parking lot--about two minutes total, including the store time--I was going to have a flat tire. And dammit, as I started to drive off, I felt the rear left thumping along. I turned around and went back into the lot and sure enough, there was the flat I knew was coming.
   The people at the store know me so it was no problem to use the phone to call Chepa to have her text Italo to come and save me. I wouldn't have needed to phone if the spare was in the car along with a jack, but there was neither. And since I just bought this car from Italo and he's so meticulous about those sorts of things, it never occurred to me to double check. [Note to self: Even though your son Italo is fantastic, check things like spare tires when you buy another car from him cause he ain't perfect.]
   Anyway, the work I was going to get done didn't get done with the loss of a couple of hours, as I wound up getting home at 7ish rather than 5ish. Which meant it was dinner time. What to make?
   I looked through the stores. Two hours twiddling my thumbs--and I was really, really glad when Italo showed up, brought me to a meeting place where his wife, Sarah, was waiting to take me home--and I was in the mood for red meat. I had none.
   So I took out some fresh (formerly frozen) shrimp, maybe 16-25s (16-to-25 to a pound), from the fridge, pulled out 11 of them, cleaned them, cut them open. In a nice sauté pan I put olive oil with garlic. When that was hot I put in the shrimp and salted and peppered them with good pink sea salt and cracked black pepper. While they sizzled, I cut and trimmed five scallions and diced one Roma tomato. When I pulled the shrimp I put the scallions and tomato into the sizzling hot pan, added a touch of a good light soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of butter (that was to replace my meat fix for available fat). Veggies cooked I pulled them, then put a huge handful of organic spinach in the pot with a bit of white vinegar to pull out any pan bits, sauteed that till just done, put that on a plate, covered it with the shrimp, then tossed on the veggies. No starch as it was too late in the evening.
   Man, that meal took all of 10 minutes but was really good. Every bite a epicurian delight. Try it. I'm not lying.
   Then today, after we got the wheel with the flat from the car at Two Bucks, brought it back to Joshua and had a new tire put on and then brought that back to Fort Worth and got the car in running shape, I stopped at the store. I was still dying for that red meat I wanted yesterday. So I bought a good full-inch-thick rib eye for tonight. But I also bought some chicken drumsticks just in case--and hoping--that Chepa and the girls would come for dinner. They did. So I quickly put on good Jasmine rice, put the dogs' food--chicken backs and necks today--in the oven, put on a large sauté pan--a rock solid pan I've used almost daily for more than 20 years as it was a wedding present back in 1994--put in vegetable oil and got that good and hot--about 8 1/2 on my hottest burner with 10 being the hottest. While that was warming up, I washed the drumsticks then dredged them in organic flour, then sauteed them till a lovely brown. When I got all 12 drumsticks done--made the whole flat because Chepa might want to bring a couple home for Marco and Sarah might want to bring a couple home to Italo--I put them in a good glass Corningware pan and put that into the oven at 350. They should be done in 20 minutes. All the flavor of fried chicken without the grease. Rice should be done at the same time. Kids can eat early. I've lost my appetite from the cooking so I can skip a meal tonight--or just have a good salad--and I can stand to lose a meal now and then.
    So life's perfect, right? I mean, one night it's shrimp, one night chicken drumsticks, one night skip food. I try to remember to thank the universe every day that in this incarnation I came here poor but middle-class poor, not poor, poor, and I came here smart and I came with a good set of parents and a great brother and four great sisters, the whole shebang. Not everybody gets that by a long shot. I know I won the Earth Being Lottery and I'm very thankful. A couple of billion of us did not win that lottery. I hope they find enough to eat. I hope I put in my fair share to help make that a reality. Because my kids eat and a lot of parents cannot say that, and it's not their fault. They just did not have the same beginnings I had. Dammit, this was a story about a busted tire and food, and now it's taken the right hand fork in the road into something else. But that's okay. Everytime we eat, and eat what we choose to eat, not what we can find, we ought to remember that someone else doesn't have that choice and that's not generally because that's their choice. That's what they were dealt. Thanks Universe. And I will try to keep remembering to share what I've got.

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