"Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it." ~Unknown

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I'd Give My Right Thumb To Make Food This Good

We spent last week with Family in Kentucky. One night for dinner we went to our Uncle Clark's house for dinner (and of course to play a few board games). The main course was bacon wrapped, avocado stuffed, duck breasts. But the show stopper was a side dish called potatoes Anna. Mandolin sliced potatoes covered in butter and baked. The potato slices on top became crusty, almost as if they were potato chips.
While we waited in the Houston Airport for our flight back to Portland on New Year's Eve, eating sandwiches that Grandma had packed for us, Mom mentioned how much how much she'd like to have beef stew. So tonight that is what we'll be eating, potatoes Anna and beef stew.
Cy's practicing his trumpet in earnest right now because he hasn't practiced all week. We're cubing the beef and removing fat from it right now. If Cy plays a note that's much higher I doubt I'll be able to hear it. Underneath Cy's trumpet one can just barely hear the beef sizzling and popping, sounds wonderful. We just added a portobello mushroom to the pot. Mushrooms are strange stuff. They're not animal, not plant, not minerals either. Current research on mushrooms shows that the caps and stems are not the mushroom itself, but merely the mushrooms spore-bearing fruit. Mushrooms, like animals, are incapable of photosynthesising. One type of mushroom appears only in areas destroyed by wildfires, the theory is that this mushroom's mycelium (the tree to a mushroom's apple) coexists in a positive parasitic relationship with the trees. When the tree's die, the mycelium thrusts out it's spores in earnest as it will die soon too. But really all that is known for sure about mushrooms is they're not plants or animals.

We forgot to buy beef broth. Dad ran up to QFC to get some leaving the stew sitting there, onions dyed purple from the wine. Dad just got back with the broth. I poured it in along with the meat and a pair of bay leaves. Despite being watered down that broth is such a deep purple. It's The purple of the cloaks worn by ancient phoenicians, or those of the sails on the yachts of ancient Egypt's ruling family. It's a really deep purple.
Now the stew is going into the oven for an hour-and-a-half.

We are now going slice the potatoes for our potatoes anna with the mandolin. I'm a little scared about finger removal but I'll be fine.

Or not. I wasn't even done with the first potato either. I sliced the tip of my thumb off. It didn't hurt at first but then the pain came welling up. I went to show it to Mom and she thought I was trying to trick her. I didn't want to take my hand off the paper towels because I thought the blood would run down my arm. It took about 3 minutes to convince Mom it was real. Dad picked the tip of my thumb up; it was hanging from the edge of the blade. Dad finished all of the cooking from then on. I sat on the couch flipping between the food network, the Blazers game and the Seahawks game. My right thumb wrapped in an inch worth of paper towels and clean cloth rags until the bleeding died down. Apparently what happened was a "Level One finger amputation" Which means I need to take a few pictures for bragging rights, put a Band-aid on it, and suck it up. If your wondering what the pictures are they're of one of the plates, the potatoes anna, and my severed chunk of finger next to the piece of the mandolins instruction booklet telling you, "never let your finger touch the blade."
I'll make Dad take over to talk about the food:
The stew was excellent. Thick, rich broth and chock full of hearty vegetables -- parsnips, carrots, potatoes and kale. The potatoes anna were super tasty too. It was like a potato chip casserole. Crunchy and buttery. A great winter meal. Looks like Tucker is not going to be able to be a hitchhiker though.


  1. T -- Sorry to hear about your thumb, although I submit that tragedy and comedy drive traffic on the blog (think exploding propane tank/turkey fryer). I would suggest that you should have left the thumb fragment in the potatoes and treated the dish like a Mardi Gras King Cake -- whoever finds the thumblet gets a prize!

    Your Anna looks better -- crispier -- than the oversized one I attempted on 12/30 for our huddled masses. I should have done two smaller ones, having two thumbs.

    But any way, a word from you over-protective uncle --- do NOT use your mandolin without the guard!!! I've come close to taking a carpaccio shave of all four knuckles on my mandolin and have decided the skrid of vegetable as you get close to the blade makes a fine compost, even with the guard.

    We sure enjoyed your visit to KY!!!!

  2. Nice knifework tucker!!! You should have tried filletting a halibut in Alaska like that!!! Drew.