Spa, Chicken, Chops, and Blessings

AAAHH. I had a Jes-Spa tonight. Something I don’t do often enough. We stopped at Lush in the mall in Dallas on Friday evening (before the headache), and I picked up a couple of Bath Bombs. Threw a half one in the tub tonight and just soaked. MAN I need to do this more often. Now I’m clean and smellie-goodie (as the kids would say), toenails painted, face moisturized, and feeling super relaxed.

Ok, for the record, I do have pictures of a cat and a tomato, and I will post them. But they’re on my memory card, and I am transferred to the laptop, writing from bed. Not that I mind writing on the laptop from bed, of course. Just too relaxed to get up and get the card. Sorry. I can hear Jared playing Warcraft arenas in the office, and (this will surprise you) he gets WAY into the game. Stress and shouting rolling off him in waves sometimes as he gives commands and talks to his arena partner (that’s right, we are both headset mic wearers ;). I even tease him about it:

BURN BURN BURN BURN!

NICE!

I’m in trouble. I’M IN TROUBLE!

NICE!

HE’S ALMOST DOWN! BURN HIM!

NICE!

They’re doing well tonight, as you can see from the quotes above. Heh.

So, we decided a few days ago that we would like to learn how to grill. It’s fast, it’s healthy, and it beats the PANTS off of stirring a random thing on a hot stove. So, like good geeks, we did some Google searches, and bought a couple of books.

We got this one:

And this one:

 

They’re both really good, so far, and actually a good complement to each other.

We tried grilled chicken last night, after the kids went to bed, and it was AMAZING. The secret to good grill, according to our books, is layering flavors. So we created a vinegar-based “mop” to baste the chicken with while cooking, and rubbed it with a spice rub before putting it down. Then spread the mop on every couple minutes while the chicken cooks. Nothing sugary, or it’ll burn. Finish off in the last 2 mins of cooking with a barbeque sauce. I think I cried a little bit when I tasted it. And it was SO MUCH FUN to just cook with Jared.

Then tonight. Pork Chops.

Oh, p.s. Jared just came in all excited and told me how AWESOME they did tonight. So the quotes were pretty accurate. :)

Okay, I’m a BIG fan of pork chops. I get them at restaurants pretty much every chance, and love the flavor. Especially chops from a steak house. Oh baby. Trouble is, no matter what I have tried, I have never been happy with my own home-cooked chops, wherein I manage to make only tough grey coasters.

So according to BOTH of the books above, the secret to great pork chops - even the leanest ones - is brining. Basically soak them for a few hours in a salty concoction. So I made the brine with brown sugar, salt, a little oil, and a little vinegar, and added sliced onion, bay leaf, clove, allspice, and peppercorns (basically following the recipe). Soaked them for about 3 hours.

Jared grilled them up - he is a stickler for those crosshatch grill marks, and also (ahem) kind of a micromanager, so I let him do most of the actual meat-to-grill work. We also sliced up some apples and threw them on the grill as well, and I did some corn with herbed butter (rosemary and mint).

Then came time for the tasting. I cut into that chop, and I DID cry a little bit. It was the most delicious pork chop that has ever been made at my house by far, and easily one of the best I’ve EVER had. We just sat there mmmmm-ing at each other, congratulating ourselves on a terrific job, and we can’t wait to have them again. Tender, flavorful, juicy. Seriously. And you haven’t suddenly transferred to someone else’s blog - it’s still mine. Yeah, WE did this! :D

So, in just two days, our two new books have proven themselves absolutely WORTH IT. Oh yes. And they both offer more advanced recipes when we’ve mastered these basics, which we’re looking forward to.

And this was a post almost all about food. But see, really GOOD food doesn’t get created at my house very often. I think Jared and I might have found something in which we can make a perfect balance, though. I can slice and stir and brine and chop and accessorize, and he can make beautiful grill marks on a perfectly done pork chop. Sounds like a relationship to last a lifetime, right there. :)

Maybe it’s the hot bath and the slather of lavender vanilla lotion, but I feel so peaceful tonight. A kind of floaty bliss that just makes me smile a little bit. I am so incredibly, amazingly blessed, so lucky, so undeservedly fortunate that I’m humbled to just think of all the little beautiful things in my life. There are the Big things - home, family, health, safety, a job to do, a husband who loves me. But I picked my first tomato off of my OWN tomato plant this afternoon. And I had hot water for a long luxurious soak. And it’s 11 p.m. and I’m getting ready to snuggle down in this comfy bed, tired with the tired of having worked hard today. I hope you’re feeling blessed tonight, too.