October 12th, 2019

October Contemplation

I had my last two Evita shows, and they were fun.

Although there was some awkwardness with the contracting for this show, I'm very glad I ended up doing it because I got to meet some really great human beings. Josh, who had to step up to the plate at the last minute to music direct AND play keys, was amazing all around. Sam was, well, a trumpet player, so that says everything doesn't it? ;P Ciara is the goofy friend I didn't know I needed. And the rest of you...well what can I say. Y'all crazy. And I love it :)

So that was that, and Clayton (the actual trombonist for this show) paid me my bread, and all was well with the world.
Who knows when I'll get to perform again. Christmas? 2020? We'll see.

Jameson is working hard. He doesn't have a single night off this week. He does get to sleep in, but his evenings are not his own.
Lately he's been thinking over a lot of things, which I think everyone has to do at some point, but I can't help but worry that he's OK.
Everyone's battles are their own and I don't want to get pushy or interfere, so I'm just trying to be here for whatever life brings him and whatever decisions he makes. Lord knows he's already done this for me over the past two years.

Anyway, the weather this week was surprisingly fall-like. It was rainy and a little windy, and while it was still over 80 degrees it was at least cooler than it's been all summer. Wednesday was the 18-year anniversary of my mom's death, so I found the weather comforting and appropriate. Sometimes her anniversary passes and I feel the same as I always do. Other times I really "feel it". I don't get to choose when I feel sad or not, it just happens. This time I felt it...but it's good to have those feelings, and it's good to remember.

To help mitigate those feelings, I took a trip to an asian grocery and bought some ingredients to make simmered kabocha.
I had been worried about being able to find a kabocha pumpkin, but they were immediately apparent in the produce aisle, a big mound of them stacked next to the turnips and sweet potatoes and such. Screaming "pick me, pick me!"

My asian cooking experience is essentially stir fry, and as someone with actual asian blood I'm starting to think that's kinda pitiful.
Thinking about my mom this week, I wanted to try making a traditional Japanese dish in a traditional Japanese way.
Even if it's just a side dish. Even if it's just basically boiling a pumpkin.

And even though my Obaa-chan despised pumpkins. I can hear her soul rising up to tisk and curse and be horrified :P

I found this site that's entirely traditional Japanese cooking for beginners, called Just One Cookbook, and used their recipe for simmered kabocha.

Following the recipe, I used bonito flakes to make a broth and then chopped the kabocha and lined the bottom of a pot with the pieces. I mixed sake, sugar, salt, and soy sauce together and it all went in the pot with the pumpkin. I then made a sort of DIY "drop lid" since I hadn't been able to find one at the asian grocery. Drop lids are supposed to help temperature distribute evenly and reduce large bubbles from boiling.

As you can see, the pumpkin looked pretty lovely when it was finished. Unfortunately I do think I overcooked it, because the texture was somewhat crumbly. Still, the flavor is interesting and I won't throw it out. Pumpkin is pretty good for you! And it was fun cooking something in the nimono style. I learned something new :)

If you clicked on the nimono recipe link above, you might have noticed that it only calls for half a kabocha pumpkin. What to do with the other half?

While working for Princess Cruises at the beginning of the year, there was one night in the crew mess where roasted pumpkin was served. It was so delicious, I immediately noted it down as something to try making at home! And lo and behold, when I look back on that pumpkin's appearance, I realize that it was definitely a roasted kabocha!

So I took the other half of the kabocha, this time slicing it thin and laying it out on a sheet pan.

Having never done this before, I wasn't sure of the seasoning so did one quarter pumpkin sweet with cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar, and the other savory with salt and pepper. They went in the oven just like you'd roast vegetables or french fries or whatever. Now these, I liked! Jameson enjoyed them as well. he preferred the sweet seasoning, I liked the savory. They had a texture more like sweet potato fries.

This was a fun little experiment and didn't take a lot of time or effort on my part. The pumpkin was only a dollar, and I had almost all of the seasonings and equipment at home. The only thing I needed to buy extra was the sake (and I ain't complaining!)
Sidenote: The plate that I put the pumpkin on belonged to my Obaachan. Love you Grandma :)

In addition to the pumpkin adventure, I made two pretty simple meals this week.
The first was salmon with a teriyaki glaze. I let it marinate in the glaze and cooked it in the sous vide for about 30 minutes. The rice was precooked, the salad took two seconds to throw together. Easy peasy.

The second was a Harvest Chicken Skillet recipe from Well Plated. This one was prep-heavy, but after everything was chopped you pretty much just threw it in the skillet and waited. I chose this recipe because it had a lot of interesting ingredients--chicken, bacon, brussels sprouts, sweet potato, and Granny Smith apples--and each serving is under 500 calories!

Plus, let's be real. I'm jonesing for fall real bad. Maybe if I do enough fall junk it'll BE fall. Yeah?


Anyway. Harvest chicken skillet. You chop all the ingredients. You cook the chicken with salt and pepper. You render some bacon fat and use that to cook the veggies. Add the apples and spices last, then throw the meat back in to integrate. Jameson described it as a "Thanksgiving skillet" and I think he's not wrong.

After dinner Jameson had to get to his gig. Busy man. I feel bad that I'm not working just as much. But that's why we're a team. I do other things that he doesn't have time for. And eventually, I'll be working more too. Guaranteed!!

Tomorrow is Saturday. I've got work, and Jameson will have another gig at night. After work I get to grab dinner with a circus friend...and at a place where another circus friend works as a chef!! Pretty excited about that!