Lucky numbers

31 01 2011

See, in this year’s Super Bowl the Green Bay Packers are trying to win their 13th NFL championship, while the Pittsburgh Steelers are trying to win their 7th.  Get it?  Lucky Numbers?  Oh, never mind.

For reference, My previous Super Bowl picking posts (all correct) can be found by clicking here and here and here.  I will say thank you to my one fan, Jes, who asked me a couple weeks ago when I was going to be writing this post.

For three years I’ve correctly picked the winner of the Super Bowl merely by cooking a dish from that city.  Manhattan clam chowder predicted the Giants to beat the Patriots, Jambalaya produced a win for New Orleans last year, and in Super Bowl XLIII Tandoori chicken was the difference with my Pittsburgh Steelers.  Only that’s not really Pittsburgh food, is it?  Sadly, no (although it would be nice).  Thankfully the Black and Gold have seen fit to offer me a second chance, and I shall take up the mantle with pride.

The rules for these posts are simple.  I pick a dish I’ve never made before based solely on what I feel like cooking.  I assume the role of my chosen city’s star player, and as it goes for my dish it goes for their team.  And when all else fails I never pick against the Steelers.  Honestly I could have made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for this post and said “Wow!  That was great!  Steelers win.”  But that’s not as much fun.  Instead, I shall be making pierogies.

In bold letters you will find the progress of the game based upon the progress of the meal.  Following this is the explanation of my cooking, step by step.  And lots of pictures.  This year I will be taking the role of coach Mike Tomlin, since he is by far my favorite person on the Rooney’s payroll.  Besides, we’re the same age and, yes, I wish I was him sometimes.

WEEK OFF: The coaches do their research, studying their opponent looking for a weakness.
I searched extensively for a recipe (I googled it), and I found a food blogger from Pittsburgh (Hooray!) who had a recipe and great photos of its results.  Go visit the Brown Eyed Baker and tell Michelle I said hello.  Here’s a link to the recipe:

Homemade Pierogi from the Brown Eyed Baker

SUPER BOWL WEEK: The Steelers arrive in Dallas and get worked over by the press.  They hold together, but it’s ugly.
It’s my blog, I pick the metaphors, got it?  Anyway, step one was to mix the dough.  It was a multi-step process but the longest part (and the hardest to know if I was doing it right) was “working the dough until it loses most of it stickiness.”  I have no idea what that means, but here it is:

Karen asked me “Is it supposed to be that dry?”  How should I know?  I’ve never made a dough remotely like this before.  I put it in the fridge and let it sit overnight.

GAME TIME!  The Steelers win the coin toss and kick off.  They feature a strong running game on offense.
See, I was going to cook this meal on Sunday like I normally do, but Karen was already making something.  I decide Monday is best.  Besides, Karen wanted me to make some chicken-corn soup on Monday anyway and I thought it would go great with my pierogies.  I am also very good at making soup.

FIRST QUARTER: The Defense shows up big.  The whole team rallies.  Tomlin tweaks the game plan.
This was too easy.  The bacon is Casey Hampton.  It was actually between him and Flozell Adams.  From everything I’ve read you can put as many embellishments as you want in the filling, so although it wasn’t in the recipe I know very well that bacon makes everything better.

And if Casey Hampton is the Bacon then James Harrison is the onions.  This was my first deviation from the recipe.  It calls to saute the onions in butter, but all that wonderful bacon grease was already in the pan, so I used that instead.  I’m a genius.

FIRST QUARTER: The offense moves the ball at will against the Packers’ defense, but it’s still not pretty.
Shredding the cheese.  This I couldn’t pass up.  And yes, it’s a terrible metaphor but I don’t care.  When I was at the store I saw this beautiful Wisconsin Colby-Jack and exclaimed “MWUAHAHAHAHA!”  But as it turns out, this step isn’t really negotiable anyway.  You do want delicious pierogies, right?

After shredding the cheese and boiling the potatoes I mash everything together.  Also, I forgot to mention that I chopped up some chives for the filling as well.  Karen didn’t think I should post a picture of the filling at this stage because it didn’t look very appetizing in this state.  Whatever.

SECOND QUARTER: A substitute makes a huge difference in the game, but the Packers’ defense holds.
I took the dough out of the fridge, rolled it out, and cut out the rounds.  At this point Jonathan came in the kitchen and asked to help.  So I put the filling on each round and showed him how to moisten the edges and fold them in half.  It actually makes the work go faster so I was happy.  Jonathan will therefore play the part of Doug Legursky, playing center for the Steelers due to the injury to the usual starter, Maurkice Pouncey.

At this point I started worrying about my metaphors.  The filling was smelling very good, and I knew it was because of the cheese.  If the cheese was the best part of the pierogies, and they were a success, does that mean that the Packers actually win the game?

THIRD QUARTER: The Steelers finally start looking good, but then lose their lustre quickly.
After the pierogies were formed they looked pretty good.  I was starting to get excited.

Then I boiled them.  It’s funny.  The recipe said that they float to the top when they’re done.  It also said it would take 8-10 minutes.  Mine took no more than five.  But after they were done boiling they looked odd.  I rinsed them off just like it told me to, but there was still a pretty thick layer of starch on the outside.  I was hoping for a big finish in the skillet.

FOURTH QUARTER: Troy Polumalu  scores a defensive touchdown.
All this time I was also making the chicken-corn soup, and at this point Karen came home from work and finished it off.  I was very grateful.  Yes, Karen is now playing the part of Troy.  She is the superstar in our kitchen.  Plus, she’s got beautiful hair.

FINAL TWO MINUTES:  The Steelers’ defense puts the game away, led by James Harrison.
Well, he was the onions, was he not?  The final step in the process is to saute some sliced onions in butter, and when they were soft add the pierogies and pan fry until crisp.  At this point even Karen was looking optimistic.

GAME OVER!  The Steelers win.  James Harrison is named MVP.
Even Karen said they were great.  The best part was the crispy outside, and guess what else?  The soup was GOLD!  How cool is that?  Thanks to some saffron, which was actually in the recipe.  I wish I’d had some black beans to serve on the side.  But no matter, this dinner was awesome.

MY PICK: Steelers 24, Packers 20.

Advertisements




Sandlot Hero

5 04 2009

Opening day for Major League Baseball is this weekend.  This post is not about that.  It’s about sandlot baseball, whose opening day isn’t until the last day of school.

A few years ago ESPN counted down the top 25 sports commercials of all time, and I’ll never understand how this one wasn’t even on the list:

An egregious oversight.  I identify a lot with that kid.  I loved playing baseball with the neighborhood kids, even though I was terrible at it.  When you’re the youngest they send you to deep right field like this:  “Keep going… keep going…. farther…” and after you cross the street they’ll say “Perfect!  Stay right there and don’t let anything past you!”   

Only four months left until the Little League World Series.





For my sister, whom I may have offended

17 02 2009

While I moved away from western PA after college, my sister moved BACK to western PA.  This has proven over the years to be beneficial for many reasons.  One of these is that occasionally she sends us items that are of a Black and Gold nature.  A delivery of that sort arrived less than a week after the Super Bowl.  T-shirts for everyone in the family (provided that I’m the same size as my 8-year-old) and that was way cool.  She asked me on the phone if they were going to feature in one of my now-famous Tuesday Twosday posts, and my reaction was something like “Oh, not this week.  It will be at least next week, if at all.”

Hmmm.  That may have been a little rude.  In my defense, two of my children and one of my wives were sick that weekend so I was a little preoccupied while on the phone.  

So this past weekend I decked out the little ones in their new shirts and Isaac helped me with the photo shoot.  It was fun, even if nobody smiled.

Look!  Daddy's doing something silly behind the camera!

Later I gave them a toy to fight over.  

back off buddy, don't make me use this

Taking these pictures is going to be very fun for a few months.





I’m Now Accepting Bids

2 02 2009

It wasn’t the refs, it wasn’t the crowd, it wasn’t the weather.  The difference in the game was my cooking and you know it.  Two years in a row now I’ve picked the Super Bowl winner correctly based solely on my cooking.  If any team would like my services I would be happy to start the bidding at two tickets to the game.

Ben was riveted by the game the whole time, honest.

And one other thing.  I can officially say that the most effective Super Bowl ad was the one for the Hyundai Genesis.  With all those people yelling “Hyundai!!!” a two-year-old in the room started yelling it too.





Wookiee Cookies

24 01 2009

For his birthday last year Isaac received Wookiee Cookies: The Star Wars Cookbook.  It was apparently written by someone who, like me, is both a foodie and a Star Wars geek.  It’s complete with pictures of Star Wars action figures posing with each dish.  I thought this was an awesome birthday present.  Oh wait, it was for Isaac, wasn’t it?

They're called that because they're chewy.

I decided to make the title recipe from the cookbook and Jonathan wanted to help.  The Wookiee Cookies are basically chocolate chip cookies with cinnamon added.  Perhaps Wookiees like cinnamon, I don’t know.  I never could understand Chewbacca.  But the cookies turned out well and they were enjoyed by all.  In fact, they were made so late in the evening that I thought they’d go well with a relaxing cup of decaf.  

I cleaned the table just for this picture

They did.  But, like most things, I got impatient toward the end and the cookies got bigger and got squished together in the oven.

maybe I should just eat these now

Oh well.  I took a page from the cookbook and got out our LEGO Star Wars dudes for a quick photo shoot.

Han shot first you know

your cookies are weak old man

The cookies make for very realistic looking terrain, don’t you think?





How do I cook a cardinal?

19 01 2009

Last year I used my cooking to predict the winner of the Super Bowl.  (Click here for the link)  It worked with amazing accuracy, but I had no idea just how much affect my cooking has on the outcome of football games.  Let me explain.

We had a friend over to watch the games this weekend and so we decided to cook as if there was a party.  I made a bunch of food that was heavy on the prep work and light on cooking effort, so we could watch the game relatively undisturbed.  Then the Eagles started to play badly and Arizona took a big lead early in the game.  It was then that I realized something.  Our menu consisted of chili, cornbread, and chips and salsa.  Southwest food!  

super chili

Then I realized something else.  Even though Ben was dutifully wearing a Steelers jersey, Karen had dressed Nate in red.

getting him Troy jersey tomorrow

See? Even Nate was shocked that the Cardinals won.  These two minor infractions cost Philadelphia the game, I’m sure of it.  So now I understand that my cooking has some mystical powers to it, giving me the power to change the fates of NFL teams.  I apologize to the city of Philadelphia, but I didn’t discover this power until after halftime.  Perhaps it was the wings I made a little  later that sealed the win for the Steelers, I don’t know.  I took Bobby Flay’s dry jerk rub recipe and made some jerk wings, and these were some birds that really bit you back (just like the Ravens) when you bit into them.

Have no fear, Steelers nation, I won’t be cooking again until I find a recipe for Primanti sandwiches.  And also, does anyone know, are cardinals game birds or something?  Maybe  close to pigeon, I could cook a squab.  

I’m even afraid to heat up the leftovers.





The Cockroach Lives

4 12 2008

Back in ’01 I inherited a six-year-old car with 20,000 miles on it.  It still had the new car smell.  So Karen drove it to work – about a half mile away – for three years.  Then we moved to our current location, where Karen’s job is a bit farther away.  So now we have a thirteen (soon to be fourteen) year old car with not quite 90,000 miles.  Works for me.

Last year it needed over $700 in repairs.  It needed four new tires – oh yeah.  These were apparently the original tires to the car.  “These tires haven’t been manufactured since ’98” they told me.  I also needed to replace the exhaust system.  The muffler had rusted out and was dragging on the ground.  I hated spending all this money on a car that was ready to die anyway.  In frustration I told Karen “When this car fails inspection next year I’m getting rid of it!”  To be honest I was a little excited to replace the old girl.  I started looking at Jettas.

This year came and the car passed inspection.  No repairs needed.  Crestfallen, I collected my perfectly working Grandma car from the mechanic.  We’ll be driving her another year it seems.  I started calling this car “The Cockroach” because it refuses to die.

But then our OTHER car started giving us problems.  Our family car, you know, the minivan?  One headache after the other, and now that we have four little boys it is a very big deal when the van is in the shop.  So now we’re thinking that we might replace it before getting rid of the cockroach.  Then comes Thanksgiving weekend 2008 and she won’t start.

No!!  Take the van instead!!

But no worries, we had it towed to the mechanic and $200 later she’s back on her feet, er, wheels.  He told me “It looked like this car had never had a tune up – ever.”  He’s right.  But now that she’s entering her twilight years I think we’ll put a little more effort into preventative maintenance.