Red & Rover is one of my favorite comic strips mainly because of the perfectly illustrated Labrador Rover. And the insight that Brian Basset has for the dog owner.
You can Follow Red & Rover at http://www.gocomics.com/redandrover
So it took an extra day to get to try out my blackberry sauce, not to mention have a real dinner. The last step in making the sauce was to give it another whirl in the blender. This time ,however, it was cool enough not to explode all over my kitchen, so at least Monday nights fiasco resulted in me becoming a little smarter. After the last blitz in the blender I strained out all the solids from the pepper and garlic skins from the sauce using my medium fine chinois.
I had some thin cut pork tenderloin in the fridge, so I used some sauce as a marinade and then cooked it stove top and served it over white rice. It gave the meat a nice blackberry-winey flavor. And thickened up nicely over the heat.
I’m mostly happy with how it turned out, but I know what I want to change for the next batch. Flavor wise, this one ended up being a bit more mellow than I was hoping for. Next time I want a little more sweetness and a lot more heat. So although I was originally calling it a BBQ sauce, it really turned out as more of a condiment to meat. I’m definitely going to pick up some salmon to try it with.
My back yard garden hasn’t produced quite like I was hoping it would this year. However, the blackberry bushes between my house and the parking lot behind my house is proving to be abundantly productive.
I’ve gotten a little bored with pies and smoothies and have been looking for some new creative ways to use up the bounty. Then it came to me, Barbecue Sauce! After consulting several recipes in books, blogs, and of course my Pinterest “Yum” board, I came up with something of my own to bring the right combo of tangy, sweet & spicy to the table.
Ingredient List so far:
4-5 cups blackberries
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 cup bourbon
2 dried guajillo chilies
2 small piloncillos
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp smoked sea salt
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp anise seed powder
2 bay leaves
Simmer blackberries, chicken stock & bourbon together till berries break down. Purée berries & juicy goodness and then strain out the seeds.
Btw, it’s important to let the berry mixture cool down before puréeing so YOUR blender doesn’t belch purple hot goo all over like mine did (see below for an exact illustration of what I’m talking about).
Slice up the onion & sauté on medium heat in a large sauce pan with a tablespoon of olive oil till they are translucent. Toss in the guajillo peppers and add the blackberry purée.
Let sauce simmer on medium heat and reduce by a third.
Add in the remainder of the ingredients and let the sauce continue simmering on medium low till thickened. I let it simmer and reduce by another third which on medium low took another two hours.
Tomorrow I’m going to pick up some meat and see how this stuff goes over on various proteins. At the moment I’m thinking Salmon. Tune in for BBQ sauce part two!
My cab driver was a French Texan who wanted to talk family, food & travel. In the 45 minutes it took to go from my hotel into Houston I got to learn about his immigration to Texas, his wife, his family, his kids, their education, jobs, and all about how he felt about Houston, Texas, and America in general. Let me tell you, it was equally enlightening and hysterical.
My destination in Houston was Bayou Bend, a historic house, museum & garden featuring the private collection of the Hogg family. My driver dropped me off at the main gate of the museum and left me with his business card for if/when I decided I wanted to get home by cab. The visitors center was a very modern building with a lot of information about the history of the Hogg family and details of their philanthropic activities. I would have spent more time at the center but the nice lady who worked there pointed out we were nearing the last call for admissions into the house and my time would be better spent there.
Traveling alone does give you opportunities to strike up conversations with some interesting people. While at the house I ended up being accompanied by one of the volunteer guards who knew a lot of extra information about the house, family, work done at the house, and pieces of art in the house itself. He was a really great source of information and added personality to the place. I’m glad I got a chance to meet him, but I am sorry I didn’t think to go back & ask to take his picture.
Photography is not allowed in the main house, however the grounds were open to photographers. I spent a few hours wandering around the gardens and just generally enjoying the beautiful setting and various vantage points of the house itself.
I finally decided to head out of the gardens towards what I hoped was downtown Houston, but wasn’t. Instead I went east on Memorial Drive and ended up in the middle of Memorial Park.
So back in November I went on a really cool trip to Mexico.
Since then I’ve been a little busy.
Which means that until last Thursday I had not even touched any of the pictures I took. So here are a few of my favorites so far.
PS. I fully intend to organize things into a more coherent post. Maybe by day, maybe by place, maybe by recipe… hard to say.
A couple days ago I caught the tail end of a Ted Talk NPR program discussing Beauty. What beauty is, if it can be quantified, and if it fulfills a fundamental role in our life or if its simply a surface “perk” of being alive. I had to laugh at a few parts of it. Some of the questions surrounding the topic felt so very much like the “what is IS” sort of questioning. Take the seemingly simple question “What is Beauty?” We are all familiar with the adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think that applies to this question. Beauty is individually perceived and because of that is remains a deeply personal sense. To me the blue of my post-it notes is pretty & attractive, that’s why I bought them. I think the sun reflecting off my purple glass tea mug is beautiful. I think Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been able to visit. I know of a couple scenic spots along the Oregon Coastline that are so beautiful they take my breath away EVERY TIME I visit. And in a more personal vein, are the people who I know and love and are Beautiful to me. So can Beauty be quantified? defined? measured? compared?
It seems to be a part of human nature to try to define and measure things. We have so many options available to us anymore that occasionally we become choosy about Beauty. For example, you can go to a jewelery shop and see HUNDREDS of gems. There’s a scale for gemstones, cut, clarity, etc… But does the comparison shopping take away the individual beauty of each gemstone? I may see a perfect diamond which may meet all the standards of a perfect gemstone… but I may still find a piece of sapphire more beautiful. I am reacting to it individually despite the fact that, from an analytical standpoint, it is a lower quality stone. And although I may desire the sapphire more so than the diamond, it does not diminish the beauty of the diamond. Side note, this example me in the jewelery store has much more money than the actual me… who does not generally go gem shopping as a hobby.
Weirdly enough there is something similar for human faces and form. A face that displays certain qualities, angles, and symmetry is commercially considered to be more beautiful than another. And yet despite the fact that your Mother/Sister/Grandmother/Wife/Girlfriend will probably never end up on the cover of People magazine as the year’s Queen of Beauty isn’t hers the face the you would prefer to look at? Another participant in the show ended the radio segment with the questions: is Beauty trying to tell us something? Is it fulfilling a fundamental part of human nature? I say yes, it absolutely tells us something fundamental about our existence.
We have the ability to see, appreciate, and create beauty all around us. That is a precious gift we need to be thankful of every day.
And at this very moment, after reading more about the kind of person Chris was… I think he would be mortified that his story bears the “Now a Major Motion Picture” stamp across its cover. It feels like a betrayal. I honestly can’t picture him penning, let alone publishing, his memoirs if he had made it out alive. And yet I am thankful for the book that shares his story.
I think it is that conflict that we can relate to. Life is complicated and messy. It takes time to realize what relationships influences us, why, and to what degree they should both positively and negatively.