And I Can Cook, Too

Sunday, October 29, 2006

June 12, 2006

The Midwest is a Good Place to be From

Having grown up in Ohio, I’ve had more than my fair share of “cream of” soup inspired casserole dishes. Having spent the rest of my life elsewhere, I’ve managed to forget why I don’t do that anymore.

My husband and I arrived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to visit family and friends whom we hadn’t seen in years. We had accepted a dinner invitation and were soon staring at what suspiciously resemble fried onions from a can. As we ate and caught up with old friends, I also took a little trip down culinary memory lane.

Helping with the dinner dishes I couldn’t help but notice a recipe card sitting on the counter.

Chicken-Spaghetti Casserole

1 cup cooked, diced, chicken breast
1 cup cooked, chopped spaghetti
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced celery
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup fried onions from a can
2 tbsp butter, divided

Place 1 tbsp of butter into a sauté pan and place it over medium heat. Add the onions of celery, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. In a bowl, combine the chicken, spaghetti, mayonnaise, cooked onion and celery, and the soup. Stir to blend. Using the 2nd tbsp of butter, generously butter the inside of a baking dish. Add the chicken mixture and evenly distribute. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese and top with the fried onions from a can. Place in a 350-degree oven and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Serve.

Our friends and family in Oshkosh think I eat like a bird.

Friday, October 27, 2006

June 10-11, 2006

Big Bang Theory

Suffering from culture shock after a day spent in the wild, my husband and I decided that our only hope of recovery would be found at the Ho Chunk Casino. After promising that we’d only be gone for an hour or so, every member of the family not responsible for a young child decided to join us. Oddly, that was all the men.

Wilderness offered free casino shuttle service, so we marched down to the pick up point and were off. Noting that the day spent in the great outdoors had left me slightly parched, I made for the nearest cocktail lounge. Not unsurprisingly, the boys followed. Cocktails securely in hand, we split off to seek out our favorite games. Walter and Kevin made for the nearest blackjack table, Scott and George found some fun slot machines, and I began my desperate search for a video poker machine that was ready to give it up. Several hours, cocktails, and $60 later, the boys and I regrouped. We had all lost too much, drank too much, and with the exception of my husband were most likely in trouble with our wives. We boarded the shuttle for Wilderness and a good nights sleep. Before Wilderness, however, the shuttle stopped at yet another fabulous water park resort. As the guest stepped off the bus the door of the shuttle promptly exploded. This caused major concern among the other passengers and the bus driver, who claimed that he could not continue to drive a bus that had exploding parts. After consulting with the concierge of the hotel, the driver determined that it would be an hour before the next bus came along. We reasoned that the exploding door was a sign from God to have another cocktail and made for the nearest lounge. An hour later we approached the concierge to discover that we’d missed the last bus of the evening. As far as we could determine, another cocktail could solve that little problem and back to the lounge we went. Just as our drinks were delivered, the concierge raced into the bar to tell us that there was, in fact, another bus ready and waiting to take us back to our hotel. Torn with the dilemma of either really missing the last bus of the evening or abandoning our drinks, we determined that the driver wouldn’t notice five drunks with cocktails hidden under their shirts. He didn’t, and moments later we were back in the wild. It was two a.m. Boy were our wives mad.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

June 10, 2006

Take A Walk on the Wild Side

My husband and I arrived at the first destination of our family vacation: the Wisconsin Dells, “The Waterpark Capitol of the World” ™. We met my husbands family at our hotel and I was immediately struck by the fashionable décor. The hotel featured a log cabin motif, complete with ceramic bear cubs climbing plastic trees, furniture covered with duck patterned fabric, and fake stuffed moose heads on the walls. The resorts main attraction is the 250,00 square foot water park, every square inch of which is indoors. After check in, we climbed the “pine log” steps to our room, donned our swimsuits and plastic admission wristbands, and set out to get wet. A barge ferried us across a man made lake to the waiting shuttle bus that delivered us to Klondike Kavern. There we spent the day shooting each other with water guns shaped like cute little bunnies on big-coiled springs, climbing the “rock” steps to the Plexiglas water slide, and floating in inner tubes down the Bonanza River. After our day in the “sun”, we shuttled and barged back to our room. The discussion about dinner ended when we noticed the pizza delivery coupon left on the counter for our convenience. We hit the switch for the gas fireplace, sat down on our duck covered couch, gazed out at the man made lake, and waited for dinner.

The name of the hotel? Why, “Wilderness”, of course.

Monday, October 16, 2006

June 8, 2006

Reefer Madness

The last thing my husband and I did before leaving the island for most of the summer was have dinner with two people we were going to see while we were gone. Pete is a member of the elusive “east coast office” of my husbands company, and when on the same coast they like to get together to talk business. We met Pete and his wife Shawna at a restaurant at the newly renovated Turtle Bay Hilton Hotel. After unanimously agreeing that the Double Bone-In Pork Chop with the Bing Cherry Reduction was the best item on the menu, we sipped our cocktails and listened as Shawna told us of her trips to Holland. Shawna loves Amsterdam. Turns out, Shawna loves Amsterdam so much that she travels there five or six times a year. It’s the only place in the world where she can truly relax. As she talked on about the virtues of not only the city but of the Best Western where she stays when she is there, I began to wonder just how relaxed she was at the moment. My question was answered when, after dinner, they invited us to join them for a nightcap in their room. After pouring drinks, Shawna left the room for a moment and came back with a gigantic bong. “Um” she said, packing pot in the bowl, “would anyone like to, you know, smoke a bowl?” We politely declined, but encouraged Shawna not to let that stop her. She didn’t.

I feel compelled to point out that Shawna and Pete had arrived on Oahu at 7am that morning and that Shawna had never been here before. Which means that in fewer than twelve hours Shawna had gone to a completely strange place and figured out how to score. I also, perhaps somewhat redundantly, feel obliged to highlight that this was a business meeting.

I am so naïve.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Sing For Your Supper

We were returning from the North Shore when we passed the lone biker bar on the 30-mile stretch of Kamehameha Highway that stands between the polo club and home. Noting that the smuggled gin and tonics consumed during the polo game had done little or nothing to impair my husbands driving ability (he claims to not have had any but I know Kim and I didn’t drink all those G&T’s by our little ol’ selves), we decided to stop at the bar for one more for the road. As we bellied up to the bar, we noticed the karaoke machine that the bartender was setting up. “Do you have a song book?” I enquired, feeling saucy and ready to rock my own world. Just then, a man sat down at the other end of the bar and also asked for a book. Within moments, the war of karaoke had begun. We matched each other song for song and I was about to call a truce when my rendition of Annie Lennox’s “Why” left the crowd demanding that I sing one more, less depressing song. After my rousing version of the Dixie Chicks “Some Days You Gotta Dance” the crowd leapt to their feet, the free drinks flowed, and I was declared the winner!

That’s how it happened. I swear.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

June 4, 2006

It was the opening day of Polo season and Kim, Walter, and I knew that the best game would be at the Haleiwa Polo Club. Knowing that we would be barred entry from the “official club” (a tent with some folding chairs and tables with a guy selling hot dogs and beer); we decided to throw together a little hamper. Always eager to find ways of sneaking alcohol into otherwise perfectly healthy food, our menu began with Bloody Mary Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes. (If you’re ever simply dying to confuse a pharmacist but don’t know how, ask them if you can buy a single syringe strong enough to shoot vodka into a tomato – it gets ‘em every time). We followed the tomatoes with Smoked Tuna Salad Stuffed Hothouse Cucumber Cups, and of course, the Black Dates of Mordor. We packed the hamper, grabbed the sunscreen, and we were off to the North Shore. We found a shady spot facing the center of the field, and watched the pretty ponies run back and forth. It was a perfectly civilized way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Bloody Mary Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Your Favorite Bloody Mary Mix
Cherry Tomatoes
1 Syringe “a little bigger than the size diabetics use for insulin."

Blend the Bloody Mary mix and vodka to your preferred strength. Allow the mixture to sit overnight. Strain the mixture through a sieve to remove horseradish, black pepper, etc. If solid bits remain, strain again, but line the sieve with a piece of rinsed cheesecloth. Fill the syringe with the vodka. Insert the needle into the “belly button” of the tomato (otherwise the tomato cracks open). Inject vodka until it is shooting out of the tomato back at your face. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes until to run out of either tomatoes or vodka. Shame on you for not buying enough vodka!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

June 1, 2006

Rotary Dial

Our friend Liz invited my husband and I to join her at the Waikiki Yacht Club for dinner. Always eager to compare other yacht club menus with my own offerings at the Kaneohe Yacht Club two years prior, we accepted. We arrived at the club and rather than Liz were greeted by Liz’s boyfriend. As he offered a round of cocktails he informed us that Liz would be joining us after “the meeting”. He then further confused matters by ushering us to a check-in table where we received name tags, that, rather than titled “Waikiki Yacht Club”, were headed “Waikiki Rotary Club”. We accepted our tags, sipped our cocktails, and chatted idly until someone suddenly started ringing a bell and announcing the start of the meeting. We were seated at our assigned table, and over far-too-salty, flour-thickened clam chowder listened to President Liz announce the clubs achievements over the past year. Over an iceberg lettuce salad with thick Ranch dressing we were asked to stand up and introduce ourselves, state our professions, and explain why we were interested in joining the Rotary. During dried chicken breast over yellow rice and limp green beans we watched as club members passed a hat, and won the right to say something nice about someone else in the club by putting money in it. We skipped the chocolate cake as the meeting was adjourned and were immediately swarmed by eager Rotarians coming in for the kill. At long last we spoke to Liz. “Well,” she said, “are you at all interested in joining the Rotary?” We muttered an excuse about being off island all summer, thanked her for the opportunity, and fled.

1) We like our friend Liz. You should not, however, trick people into attending club meetings of any kind.
2) My husband and I do good deeds. We also donate good funds. What we don’t do is talk about it. We specifically don’t join clubs to talk about it.
3) Our friend Lora is very active in a different Rotary Club. If we were going to join a Rotary (which we’re not), years of friendship would obligate us to join hers.
4) If we were going to join a club (which we’re not) whose meetings were held during mealtime, we would join a club that met where the meals are good.
5) I was the best damn chef of any yacht club on this island.
I'm sorry it's been so long since I blogged. I've been living under a rock. I'm back now.