en la edad del miedo le ofrezco los cacahuetes

Before I regale you with tales of my enormously delicious paella meal, I will tell you 2 things from this weekend that are totally retarded. It’s important that you don’t get the idea that I am some sort of super hero with only magic and smooth writing pens. I am just a regular person with a regular life. I want to guarantee balance. If there is no balance, there is no truth…
1) We decided to do our grocery shopping for easter dinner on saturday night at 10pm. This could end here as it is pretty retarded, but it was cool, we got our stuff and got home. I walked in the door with approximately 8000* bags of groceries on my arms. If you know anything about my dogs you will know that they are an excitable and yet entirely retarded pack of beasts with no concept of “other” or “cause and effect”. As I tried to get in the door quickly Maddie was trying to tell me important news like “My name is Maddie” and “OH MY GOD!!! You are now inside the house” or my personal favorite “when you were not in the house I farted and it kind of smelled like dog food and it was really weird so I barked a little.” My dogs never say things like “wow, that’s a lot of stuff, can I help you carry anything?” no, they can’t conceive of any notion other than, “TOUCH ME TOUCH ME ACKNOWLEDGE ME VALIDATE ME!”. In Maddie’s frenzy she managed to knock into my legs and send my flying onto my face.
Sprawled out in the living room, groceries everywhere, do you think Maddie would feel remorse? No, mostly she just saw it as an opportunity to say, “my nose is very wet and I want to leave nose wetness on your face as a gift.”
2) Sunday, after eating a delightful brunch at my dad’s house (ham….the king of the pink meats) I had to swing by my house and hurriedly gather up the food and equipment to make the amazing paella dinner at Owen’s place. With Anna’s help I hauled the bags and pans and whatnot out to the car. I dropped Anna off at home and popped over to Owen’s place. It was a beautifully sunny afternoon, the skies were so clear blue and I was belting out “The Decemberists” at the top of my lungs. When I got to Owen’s and started to unload the car, all my joy dissolved…
In the process of loading up the car I had put my lovely 12 in Calphalon paella pan on the trunk of the car. You know where this is going. No pan in my car, certainly no pan just sitting on the trunk of my car. I lost my pan. I drove home hoping it had fallen off my car as I was pulling out of my driveway and nobody noticed it. Sigh. It either shattered into 1 billion anodized pieces or someone not so unlike myself came upon it and said “a practically new calphalon pan with cover that retails for $168** just lying in the street? Happy easter to ME!”. My pan is gone. I would be sad or angry but really it was my own fault and all I can do is laugh at my own stupidity.
Okay, that was my “retard” portion of the weekend, now on to the food.
Owen is amazing to cook with. Anything I use gets snatched up and cleaned immediately, he takes orders well and makes me buttered english muffins when my energy gets low.
The first crostini we made was went from the planned “Mirableu blue cheese, roasted apricots and spiced pecans” to a combination of Point Reyes blue, roasted plums and spiced pecans due to the vagaries of the imported cheese and stone fruit situation in minnesota. This ended up being a balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy all at once.
The next crostini was Brillat-Savarin brie, pears poached in ginger syrup and roasted curried yam slices. Same result, sweet, spicy and salty, but no sour. I loved it. The pears were amazingly spicy and sweet. The leftover ginger syrup went into martinis later in the evening.
A salad of mixed greens, flowers, herbs and mint and an orange mustard vinaigrette. The vinaigrette in its initial incarnation of orange juice, oil, homemade mustard and shallots was weak and without the proverbial balls I was looking for. I added about a teaspoon of mustard powder and threw it in the fridge for further flavor blossoming. The mustard powder did the trick, sweet and tangy and definitely not bland.
This is the paella recipe that I used as sort of a base. A jumping off point, so to speak. We got rid of the chorizo to satisfy the sensibilities of the fish but not meat eaters and replaced it with squid, halibut and bay scallops (along with the shrimp, mussels and clams). I wanted the flavor to be more “Spring” than “Summer” so I cut back on the tomatoes a bit and added a metric buttload of orange juice reduction and orange zest. I also used peppadews instead of piquillos.
Also, it took way way way longer for the rice to cook than I anticipated, so the fish got a bit overcooked, but no one minded.
Dessert was an orange cream tart with strawberries, mango and blueberries on the top, glazed with lemon ginger marmalade. I accidentally added too much sugar to the mascarpone cheese and it ended up being way way sweet. sigh. better luck next time I guess. Owen arranged the fruit on the tart as he has way more visual creativity than I do.
We ate, drank, gossiped and had a great time. David and I drove seperately and he won major points for finding and bringing the cocktail napkins that I forgot! I didn’t even have to ask him. He’s like magic.
I hope it was a happy Easter for you all! Oh! April, sorry babe, there were no leftovers. We were big big pigs.
* When you own two dogs it is important to always have a steady supply of plastic bags in the house. This means that when you bag your groceries you use plastic and you place 1 or 2 items only in each bag. a 2 bag shopping trip can easily yield 8-10 bags if you bag things up properly.
** I did not pay $168 for this pan. I got it on sale. I am not THAT retarded.

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