December 24, 2009

Woah! I've not been doing much lately!

I haven't really been making much in the way of food that's very exciting. Mostly, I've been working and making much of the same old, same old. I kind of wish I'd thought to pay attention to tonight's meal, but I'll do my best to at least give a recipe:

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Creamy Pasta
1 chicken breast
1/2 sweet onion (I went with Mayan as usual!)
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 pound thin spaghetti
1 large lemon
2 cups peas
1 package Neufchatel cheese (any farmer's cheese or cream cheese will work)
3 T of pesto
a small handful of mixed Italian cheese
olive oil
butter (totally optional)
bit of stock
liberal amounts of pepper

First, thinly slice half an onion. Get those slices as thin as possible! Then, mince your garlic.
Get some oil in a pan on medium heat. When the oil's hot, add the onion and garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir it around so that the onions and garlic get all caramelized and delicious, but not actually burned in any way. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the optional butter or just let it kind of hang out as is, your choice.
Salt and pepper the chicken breast and when the onions/garlic are cooked and golden soft and delicious, take them out of the pan.
Add another shot of oil and get the chicken going. While the chicken is browning, zest and juice one large lemon. When the chicken is well browned on both sides, add about 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock and 1/2 of the zest, along with a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice. Let this go at medium heat until the chicken is totally cooked through, moist, and perfect.
Set the chicken aside when it's done, add more stock to the pan for any additional deglazing and set this liquid aside as well.
Sprinkle a bit of lemon zest onto each side of the chicken and spoon some lemon juice on top. Add a final shot of pepper and let it hang out.

Meanwhile, get a bowl out, and into it add your pesto, Neufchatel, onions, garlic, and Italian cheese. Just go hog wild into that thing. Add some salt and pepper while you're at it. Excess is NEVER too much! Mix it all together and thin it out with the stock and deliciousness mixture from the chicken pan. You won't need more than a couple of tablespoons at the most of the cooking liquid. Add the rest of the lemon zest and maybe a couple of spoonfuls of lemon juice--just taste it as you go and decide what it needs. Make sure you have a little bit of lemon juice at the end, since you might want to add a little bit at the end.

Break the spaghetti strands into thirds, cook them as usual, and add the peas at the end to cook briefly. Drain the peas and pasta and add the cheese sauce. Get it really well stirred and taste to see what you have to add. At this point in the game, I needed a little more lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Your mileage may vary.

Get some peas/pasta into a bowl, add a chicken breast to the top of it, and spoon a little bit of the chicken cooking liquid into the chicken once it's served. Your tastebuds will love you. This is a pretty darn delicious dish!

But mostly, I've been working and coming home and cooking boring food, as I mentioned up above. I'm working at a visiting, temporary museum exhibition which involves seeing a lot of people looking at other people, except those other people are dead and have no skin. Frequently, they also have various fewer internal organs than your average alive person. We've had some fainters, at least one girl who left in tears, and a number of people who, overwhelmed, had to step out for some fresh air before tackling the finish. I think it's kind of funny, really. I mean, they're dead. It's not like they're going to complain at you or something. At this job, I spend an awful lot of time telling people where the bathrooms are (LEARN TO READ SIGNS, PEOPLE, OH MY GOD) and how to use audio guides.

The audio guides, in case you haven't been to any museum anywhere at all in the entire world in the last twenty years or so, generally look like this:

This is, of course, a crude MSPaint representation of an audio guide that I drew in about three minutes, but it includes all the major details: The speaker, the buttons, the cord. You know. The stuff. So, the way you use a modern audio guide, is you look at various exhibits in a museum. Some of these exhibits will have numbers next to them--usually in bright bold colors and large friendly font. When you want to learn more about these exhibits, you type those large friendly numbers next to the exhibit into the audio guide and press that green "play" button. Put that speaker part up top next to your ear like a phone and enjoy! If the volume is too low for you, press "9." If the volume is too high for you, press "7." It's not very complicated. At most, it's four buttons at any given location and three of those buttons are numbers 0-9.

Why is it, then, that so many people have this totally glazed expression when you tell them this?

Also, I have been to many a museum. Justin has been to even more, and on multiple continents. Never have I or Justin been to a museum that allows any kind of eating or drinking inside the exhibits. If you have never been to a museum before, let me give you a helpful tip. You can't eat or drink ANYTHING while you're in the galleries. You also cannot touch anything. If the exhibit is NOT permanent, photography will absolutely NOT be allowed. EVER. EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER. So when museum personnel tell you kindly for the ten thousandth time that no, we do not have a cafe in the museum for your convenience, nor can you have a snack because, god forbid, you haven't eaten within the last half hour, don't be so totally butthurt. If you're going to the museum eat and drink ahead of time. Also, no, you can't touch ANYTHING. It's an exhibit. The things inside the exhibit are almost certain to be delicate and/or expensive and the difficulty at repairing those items will range from "hard" to "snowball's chance in hell." So hands off. 

Now, when you go to a standard, permanent, art museum, say, the Seattle Art Museum for example, there will usually be two parts: The permanent exhibit and the visiting exhibit. The visiting exhibit is what you see giant posters and banners for outside the art museum. At virtually all museums, you can take pictures of the permanent exhibit--the stuff that's there all the time. You can almost NEVER take pictures of the visiting exhibits. This is because the museum does not own the visiting exhibits, and so does not have the rights to the images contained within those exhibits and therefore cannot extend any rights to those images to you, the visitor. If a touring exhibit is coming through town and will only be there a short time, just assume that the exhibit is permanently in visiting exhibit status and therefore photography will, by default, not be allowed under any circumstances. It is a very rare touring exhibit that allows photography. So please don't act all butthurt about that, either. It's pretty common policy and if the world weren't so sue happy and if people weren't so careless and stupid, you probably would be able to take pictures. But the world isn't and people aren't, so you can't.

AND TURN YOUR PHONE OFF, DAMMIT. First of all, it's incredibly rude and intrusive to have a ringing phone/phone conversation in a museum. Secondly, if the exhibit you're viewing prohibits photography, the employees in that exhibit are going to be paranoid as all hell that every single person in the world is taking photos. Since everyone and their mom has a camera phone, leave the phone off, put away, and ignored for the ENTIRE duration of your stay. I don't care if you're texting. I don't care if your grandmother is in the hospital. I don't care if you're the goddamn Batman and your cell is the only way the mayor can get in touch with you during the daytime, KEEP YOUR PHONE PUT AWAY. We WILL search your pictures and will ride your ass the entire rest of the time you're in the exhibit to keep you off of your phone. It sucks for us, it sucks for you, just don't do it.

So that's what I do, really. I police the masses and educate on the finer points of museum-visiting etiquette. And then I come home and complain about my poor sore feet, cook dinner, and, after spending way too long on Facebook games, go to bed.

It's what I do all day. Sigh.

But tomorrow is Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day and then Boxing Day, which is when I can box up all the feast leftovers for the servants! Hurray! They'll be so glad!

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