Tuesday, August 15, 2006

15 Years Of Cheap Furniture Building, A Rough Time At The Movies, And Weird Pizza!

Because I’d gotten so much sleep on Saturday night and Sunday morning, I knew that I’d pretty much never get to sleep Sunday night without some help, so I popped some of my Tylenol PMs (which I usually reserve for work nights), which meant that I slept a bit more than my standard 6 hours, though I was still up before 10.
I did less than my usual amount of dawdling (I still had no Internet access, after all), and was soon dressed and on my way out into the world.
I hit the Safeway in Ashburn to get gas, then went on to the Wal-Mart in Sterling. I was just going to pick up a few toiletries, but then I spotted some bookshelves that were on sale for about $22, which was excellent timing, as I was just thinking the other day that I should buy some matching bookshelves to replace the one I had, since I needed more than one, but couldn’t find one that matched the one I had.
After that I went to McDonald’s for breakfast/lunch, then stopped at Shoppers on my way home to pick up some groceries.
Shortly after I got home (around 11:30), Brian beeped me on my Nextel to ask if I wanted to see World Trade Center. I didn’t have any particular desire to see the movie, but I had no particular desire to not see it either, so I said sure.
(More on the movie later)
The movie didn’t start until 2, so I had time to assemble the bookshelves before Brian came to pick me up.
As I was putting the shelves together, it occurred to me that I’ve been assembling cheap, mass-manufactured furniture like this on a semi-regular basis for about 15 years now.
My “career” as a semi-regular assembler of cheap particle board furniture started with an entertainment center or a microwave cart, or something along those lines, that Lorie and I bought in the early days of our marriage back in 91 and continues to this day.
In those 15 years, I realized, I haven’t learned even one damn thing about how to avoid the inevitable dinging, and the chipping, and the over-tightening of screws that leads to the veneer bulging that accompany my attempts at cheap-ass carpentry.
I further realized that most of my problems in that regard stem from thinking something along the lines of, “It’ll stay put for just a second while I let go of it and reach for – “
Still, in the end the bookshelves came out relatively unscathed, though they did make me realize that I probably should get a new TV stand, and that the odd angles of my condo make my eventual plan (which would take too long to explain, and which hinge on me eventually biting the bullet and buying a flat panel HDTV) for the layout of my living room, if not unworkable, at least somewhat difficult to manage.
With that accomplished it was time for Brian to pick me up, and, after picking up a friend of his from the fire department, we were off to the movies.
There’s really not a lot I can say about the movie other than that it was rough.
I’m not talking about the quality of the editing or the filmmaking; I mean to say that it was rough on me, and, based on the frequent sound of sniffling in the theater, it was rough on everybody else, too.
My life was not directly impacted by the events of 9/11. I was on the other side of the country when it happened, and I didn’t lose any family or friends in the attacks or in the aftermath.
But as an American, as a human being, my life was profoundly impacted by that day, and to see even a fleeting glimpse and to understand even the smallest portion of what the people whose lives were directly impacted by it, to get to know them, even a little, and to have some hint of what it was like…
Like I said, the movie was rough.
There’s really not much more I can say about it.
After the movie I got home to discover that my Internet access was working (though I had to power cycle my router to get it to realize that), and so my life returned to what passes for normal.
And that pretty much brings us up to date.
Once I’d finally arrived in the UP, we all (me, my mom and dad, and my sister and her family) went out eat at a place called The Ambassador.
It’s probably been at least 7 years since I last ate there, but they make a kind of pizza that I’ve never seen anywhere else, and so I opted to have it while I was there.
I’m usually not a fan of putting vegetables of any kind on a pizza; I tend to stick with pepperoni or pepperoni and some other kind of meat.
Not that I have anything against vegetables, I just don’t think they belong on pizza, and as much as I love broccoli, I couldn’t imagine putting it on a pizza.
And yet…
The pizza in question has a garlic butter sauce and is topped with cheese, chicken, and broccoli, and it’s absolutely delicious, and I was very glad to have the opportunity to have it again while I was home.
Realizing that it would be relatively easy to duplicate, I opted to try making it myself tonight.
From a flavor perspective, the attempt was a success. From a presentation perspective, not so much.
Like my inability to learn when it comes to assembling cheap furniture, I seem to be incapable of remember just how much I hate having to mess with dough, or if I do remember, I think, “Maybe this time it will be different.”But it’s never different.
I. Hate. Dough.
Why do I hate dough? Because it’s a pain in the ass and will stick to things you don’t want it to stick to no matter how much you coat those things with materials to make them non-stick.
So yeah, my pizza wasn’t pretty.
It was damned tasty, though.
By the way, when I say I’ve never been able to find the pizza anywhere other than at The Ambassador, what I mean to say is that I’ve never looked.
It’s just one of those contextual things. I never really think about the pizza until I’m at The Ambassador and I think, “Hey, they make that pizza I like.”
Of course I thought of it today, but that’s only because I thought about making it myself when I had it last month.
Anyway, if you want to try to make it yourself, it’s pretty easy (assuming that no one else has the kind of trouble with dough that I do, which is probably a safe assumption).
Here’s what I used:

A Chef Boyardee pizza kit (I bought the family size, but only used one of the dough mix packages. I also didn’t use the sauce, but probably will some other day. You might just want to make your own crust.)
Mozzarella cheese (I used about two cups; you can use as much or as little as you like)
One large boneless, skinless chicken breast
One tablespoon of olive oil
About a cup of broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
Half a stick of butter (I can already feel my arteries clogging)
Three cloves of garlic, finely chopped

I made the dough following the Chef Boyardee instructions, cut the chicken into small pieces, and cut up the broccoli.
I heated the olive oil over medium in a skillet, added one clove of the chopped garlic and the chicken pieces, browned the chicken, drained it, and set it aside.
I (eventually) spread the dough in a cookie sheet and added the butter and remaining garlic to the skillet and melted the butter over medium heat.
I poured most of the butter over the dough, then added the cheese, chicken, and broccoli, pouring the remaining butter over the top of it.
It took about 15 minutes at 425 for the cheese to melt, the crust to turn a golden brown, and the broccoli to become tender.

And there you have it. I highly recommend trying it if you like garlic, chicken, broccoli, and pizza.
So yeah, that was my day: bookshelves, WTC, and weird but tasty pizza.

While tasty, my ugly duckling of a pizza was nowhere near as pretty...

...as the omelet I made for breakfast on Sunday morning. Sadly, despite its beauty the omelet was nowhere near as tasty as the pizza, though it was still pretty good.

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