Tag Archives: Dallas

FOR WANT OF A NAIL – THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

On the last leg of our marathon child-tending expedition in California, we headed back to the Bay Area.  This was also sort of holiday, so we drove up Highway 1 through Big Sur, one of our favorite places to visit.

For the first few days we were in Silicon Valley while our daughter-in-law was in Prague at a meeting. (Someone has to do it, right?) She sent us back images of goulash, beer, and sausage. Otherwise, there were no food adventures. We ordered a lot of takeout. I made macaroni and cheese and opened a jar of spaghetti sauce with NO additional seasoning. Both of the girls have very specific and definite food biases, One night at the dinner table the 9-year-old was asked if we could get her anything. Her reply was, “A good cook.” You get the idea.

Then we went back to San Francisco with the two toddlers while their parents went out of town to judge a cooking contest. That is the source of my tale and the title of this little essay. You recall the old proverb … “For want of a nail, a shoe was lost; for want of a shoe, a horse was lost; for want of a horse, a knight was lost; for want of a knight, a battle was lost; for want of a battle, a kingdom was lost.” Also, there is the butterfly effect in chaos theory which stems from the suggestion that the fluttering of a butterfly can influence a subsequent hurricane.

Sarah and Evan left for Shreveport early in the morning. They talked about getting an Uber car to the airport, and then decided to drive. In retrospect, a big mistake. Then the little one awoke unexpectedly as they were heading out the door. First delay. Interstates 280 and 380 were both busier than expected even though it was early during the morning rush hour. Next delay. Then the airport parking lot was full, so they had to go to the off-site lot. Next delay. The man in front of them couldn’t get the gate to the lot opened so they had to wait for him to solve his problem. The shuttle to the terminal was delayed. But they still had time. Then they faced a long line for baggage and check-in, but they got their bags checked.

Of course, security was impossible, but they finally made it through, only to discover the gate had closed. Unfortunately, their bags had made it on the plane to go through Dallas to Shreveport, so they couldn’t change airlines, and the next available flight was eight hours later. (The lesson from this: don’t check bags if you are running late.) They were told that there were no late flights to Shreveport so that they would have to spend the night in Dallas. Meanwhile their luggage made it to Shreveport.

It is only a 3 hour drive on interstate between DFW and Shreveport, so they decided to rent a car at DFW. By now it was after midnight, and the car rental had a hard time finding a car. Finally, that was solved, and they were in fairly good spirits. UNTIL – about 2 AM, with Sarah asleep as they made it through the East Texas Piney Woods, Evan said, “Oh, my God,” waking Sarah just in time for a loud crash and a huge rush of steam onto the windshield. The steam blocked their view of the road. When they were able to pull over, Sarah got out of the car (Evan was afraid of getting hit by traffic) to find a deer impaled on the radiator. A highway patrolman did come and pulled the deer out of the car, but the car was not driveable.  So the next task was to find a tow truck – a challenge at 3 AM. They were finally towed into the Shreveport airport so that the ruined car could be deposited and the hapless couple could retrieve their luggage. There was no replacement car available, but with some effort one was found at a competing rental agency in exchange for more money.

By this time, it was 6 AM. When they arrived at their hotel, Sarah and Evan were told that their room had been given away, and that the hotel was booked up. Sarah burst into tears; a room was found; and the two were able to catch a couple of hours of sleep before the event.

Everything then went well, and Sarah and Evan had a good time serving as judges for a sort of “Chopped” event featuring some local cooks. They even won a few dollars at the sponsoring casino.

The story ended happily when they came back to their smiling boys. Besides, they will now have a great tale to tell their grandchildren many years from now.

Just remember, your fate may hang on the wings of the butterfly you see in your garden.

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COOKING FOR THREE-YEAR-OLDS: GNOCCHI, CHICKEN, MUSHROOMS, PEPPERS, BEURRE NOISETTE

Susan and I just returned from another trip to San Francisco. We babysat our 10 months-  and 3 years-old grandsons while Sarah and Evan travelled to Dallas. They were invited to cook with the staff at a hot, new Dallas restaurant, FT33. Sarah and Evan and the local chef alternated dishes for an 8-course tasting menu with wine pairings. The place was sold out, and Sarah got to see Corey and Megan, school friends of our other daughter, along with a fellow member of her crew team at the University of Texas.

My cooking task was more challenging: I was charged with feeding the two little ones. Actually, the 10-month-old was not difficult. He is still drinking a lot of liquids, and he will eat anything else you put in front of him.

The three-year-old was another story. The first morning, he wouldn’t eat his cheerios until I added some milk, so the next morning I anticipated him and poured in the milk. That morning he decided he didn’t want milk, so I had to scrap the first bowl. The next morning I made French toast with maple syrup. He didn’t like it, but the 10-month-old polished it off.

My greatest failure turned out to be lunch. I put together some things for his lunch box for nursery school. My first thought was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. What child doesn’t like PB&J? Besides, PB&J is not forbidden at his nursery school as it is in many places. As I was planning my menu, Sarah sent a text message that the toddler doesn’t like peanut butter. I made a quick change of plans and substituted some chèvre that I found in the fridge. Then, I reached for a jar of fig jam when he announced that he didn’t like jelly. For that, I substituted some hummus. I thought a goat cheese and hummus sandwich on whole wheat bread looked pretty tasty, so I packed it with freeze-dried strawberry slices, crispy apple chips, and a stick of string cheese. Imagine my disappointment when the lunch box came home at the end of the day with only the string cheese gone.

We took advantage of the kids being at nursery school by taking a little trip to the Embarcadero and enjoying a good lunch at the well-known Fog City Diner.

I was more successful with dinner one night. I found some packaged gnocchi and a cooked chicken breast in the refrigerator along with some mushrooms and colorful “snacking peppers”. I put it all together with some brown butter sauce, and it turned out to be a huge favorite with both kids.

RECIPE

Gnocchi, Chicken, Mushrooms, Peppers, and Beurre Noisette

Three-Year-Olds-1

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • juice of  ½ lime
  • ½ cooked chicken breast
  • 6 white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 each, red, orange, and yellow snacking peppers, sliced crosswise
  • 1 package prepared gnocchi
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a small saucepan over low het, melt the butter. Heat gently until the milk solids float to the top and begin to brown. Skim off the solids with a tablespoon. Pour the melted butter into a small bowl, leaving any remaining solids on the bottom of the saucepan behind. Wipe the pan clean, return the clarified butter, and continue to heat over a low flame until it turns a nut-brown color. (hazelnut to be specific) Stir in the lime juice and set aside.
  2. Shred the cooked chicken with two table forks. Set aside.
  3. Sauté the sliced mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of the butter sauce over medium heat. Add the remaining butter sauce. Stir in the shredded chicken and pepper slices until heated through.
  4. In the meantime, boil the gnocchi in a pot of boiling salted water according to package instructions. Drain. Return to the pot, and stir in the butter sauce, mushrooms, chicken, peppers, and grated cheeses. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve.

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