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November 22, 1998
a year ago

Chicken Dinner

I didn't wake up until noon. Grateful for the sleep I could get, it was nice to just lie in and go back to sleep each time I woke up. Vivid dreams, but no inclination to get up and write them down, so they're mostly gone. Not as vivid or memorable as sleeping at Kathy's had been, but good enough for fun dreaming.

Breathing was getting harder. Realized, eventually, that it wasn't a cold. It was the smog. There were Santa Ana's blowing the air inland, trapping it in the area and keeping the air dense and brown, and that was what we had been deep in the day before in L.A.. So my lungs were struggling to cope again after years away. It was pretty nasty.

I heard other people up when I woke up, but I decided I needed a shower, so took one, long and hot and happy. By the time I got out, Mom, Dad and John had already eaten. Leftover Da Bing with a few dishes and pickles were a really yummy lunch with a simple wintermelon soup with chicken broth base. I enjoyed that a lot.

After lunch both Mom and Dad decided to take a nap, so John and I made up a list of things we had to get for dinner that night, and went out shopping. Turned out nearly everything could be got at the old Boni's which is now a Henry's right out on Garnet in Pacific Beach. They had the free range roaster, which was a full 7 pound giant of a chicken, the wild rice (sadly, no red rice), the dried chanterelle mushrooms, a pumpkin pie, two varieties of yams, Golden Yukon potatos, and some excellent, fresh spinach.

The three things I couldn't find were amusing. They were frozen French cut string beans, cream of mushroom soup and the canned, French's French fried onion rings. They could only be found at a normal grocery store, which, luckily, was by a Starbuck's and a Jamba Juice place. John went for a mocha while I sprinted for a Tropical Juice smoothie. My throat was sore from the dryness and the smog and I felt, pretty constantly, like I needed something to drink.

The first thing I had to make when I got back home was the rice. Wild rice with the chanterelles, chicken broth and, hopefully, some brown rice, but we couldn't find it anywhere, so finally settled on white rice to mix with the wild rice. It went into the rice cooker and that's when Dad woke up to at least show me how to put water in the outer ring of the older rice cooker, which I'd forgotten. Our newer pot doesn't need the outside water. But a bit too late with the brown rice, which was in the freezer, it turned out, they eat it so slowly that it has to go in the freezer.

While the rice cooked, I cut up leeks, onions and added what herbs and spices they had that looked appropriate. Also added a good amount of garlic. Sauteed that all up to wait on the rice. Then started to debone the chicken, which was great fun, when I finally got it going. The shoulder joints are sometimes a bit hard to get going, but once they go, the whole body comes off quite nicely from the ribs and internal bones. Mom woke up about then, and started the chicken soup from the bones and the packet of internal organs. The leg and wing bones took a while longer to take off, as usual, by then Kathy had mixed the rice with the leek mixture and I could stuff the boneless bird.

The Family thought it was as weird as I did, but as neat, too.

Once the bird was in the oven, I sliced potato, Mom washed the spinach for me, and we nuked it with a bit of garlic. The potato slices went into the oven on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and cooked while I mixed up French cut green beans with mushroom soup and some of the canned onion rings. The whole thing went into the oven, then.

The yams got cut up and boiled, timed for the second basting of the chicken. The third basting put more onion rings on the green beans, and the potatoes came out to the layered with the spinach, and the whole thing was put back into the oven to fill the air with the scent of garlic spinach. Brown sugar glaze boiled for a bit and then the cooked yams were added to that while the chicken came out for it's last basting, and the green beans' onion rings were brown and crisp, so that came out of the oven to set up for serving.

Soon Mom and Dad were home from an errand, and dinner was ready for the table, just a bit earlier than I'd thought, i.e. around 5:30 rather than six, but the chicken had cooked, boneless, a bit faster than I'd thought it would. Then everyone laughed as I sliced the bird like a loaf. It looked entirely non-obvious and utterly unintuitive that one could slice a bird-looking object like a bread loaf. But the stuffing went nicely with each slice and the whole worked out very well. They all actually liked the dinner I made, which was very gratifying.

I have to admit that I was a little worried about that. Kinda incoherently tried to say that before going shopping and John translated for me, but they said it'd be okay, and I was simply glad that it really had turned out okay. They all really liked the meal and the dessert and that was cool.

While I was cooking, John was playing with his birthday present, Bandicoot III, while Dad and Kathy watched and cheered and laughed at the dozens of way the Bandicoot could die. John had a good time playing and entertaining everyone, I think, and had a good time with it. He got through three of the five levels, so really did well.

After dinner and dessert, Kathy and John and I decided that we'd go and see the Rugrats movie, which was only on fairly late. So we played with the game until it was time to go. Mom was going to have to get up in the morning to do painting class, for the first time in a while, as she's been recovering from her cold, so John and I said good-bye then as it wasn't too likely that we'd get up early enough in the morning to do breakfast with her.

The three of us went out into the San Diego fog to get to the movie. It was kinda interesting seeing the clouds lowering down to about five feet off the ground. The parking lot was actually pretty full, still, but there were only two other people in the theater with us for a 9:30 p.m. showing. It was a really good movie, a good extension of the old Rugrats format, with the amusing mixups of language, the characterizations that were very familiar from the show, and the lovely improbable but mildly possible escapades of the Rugrats themselves as well as the well-thought out interactions of all the parents.

It was fun and funny. Stay through the credits if you watch it, not as imperative as staying through the credits of A Bug's Life, but there's a fun surprise.

By the time we got out the parking lot was filled with white fog; and we said good-bye to Kathy there. Thanked her a lot for the movies and the fun and putting up with us for a night, for the presents and the thought she'd put into everything in our visit. That was cool. We really did have a lot of fun, all told.

Once we were back at my parents' house, I checked the sourdough again and it was starting to bubble a bit. I put the electric oven on for a bit and put it back in and turned the oven off. A little warmth to help it grow.

We then turned in, still before midnight.

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