Monday, November 15, 2010

Losing my mojo

I haven't really lost my mojo, but I have struggled with cooking in recent months. For a while, I blamed this on the stove at the house we bought in late May. It was newer, better, and more powerful than anything I'd used before. Easy blame, right? Same with the grill. The chimney brought my cherished hardwood charcoal to a hotter fire sooner. But the truth is I'm just off my game.

When I pay attention as I did this evening, things come out brilliantly. A little late perhaps, but still good. Tonight's menu was simply chicken thighs and legs pan roasted with rice and steamed veggies. Seasoning on the chicken was simple — coarse-ground salt and pepper, parsley, and a touch of spanish paprika, squeeze of lemon. I used the cast-iron skillet and put a little butter in until it browned, added the chicken and sauteed until there was a nice brown crust on the skin. I turned it over and cooked the underside for a few minutes before transferring the skillet to a 375F oven.

Thirty minutes (and a Troeg's Scratch #34 Saison de Meuze) later, I had rice and steamed veggies ready to go, and the chicken had cooked to a beautiful, perfect, brown crackling skin. It was perfect, until the kid got halfway through and said she didn't really like the chicken very much. I was ready to start my rant of "you used to like this more than anything else" until I glanced over and realized the circles had crept in under her eyes.

In my effort to get my cooking mojo back (a success), I failed in my effort to feed the kid before tired set in. The thing is the creeping exhaustion is hard to predict. Some nights she can hold out until 8:30. Not last night.

I've spent a lot of time lately trying to find balance between everything I'm trying to do and being a dad and a partner to my fiancée. It's not always the easiest balance to achieve, and it takes a lot of mojo. Apparently, I need to work a little harder at it still.


The beer geek in me, however, wants to report that a Lake Placid UBU Ale matched nicely against the chicken, with its touch of smoke and lemon. It wasn't quite as successful a pairing as the L'Olmaia unfiltered wheat beer I tried several weeks ago, but a credible pairing nonetheless.