Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stuffed Chicken: An Odyssey

In terms of getting a handle on setting expectations that are artificially inflated, I think I've struck on another.

The Kiev is a lie.

I have something deeply embarrasing to admit. I've never actually made a stuffed chicken breast. From scratch, that is. I've heated these frozen things up which are fine, but I always suspect that when I buy something frozen, it's completely artificial. Like there's a machine somewhere that just churns these things out wholly formed, because otherwise I can't really conceive of how you make a little football of chicken and ham and fun. I have had non-frozen stuffed chicken, obviously, but I think usually those have been professionally prepared at weddings and graduation parties and places that are likely to have a lot of Sterno on hand. And, of course, I assume that culinary schools are basically Hogwarts, and that the rules don't apply. Of course those guys can make delicious little packets of chicken. They're magic.

Then, I came across this. Which seems easy enough, and I thought I'd try out given that I had chicken, bread crumbs and little cans of green chiles. Which is fun, until I got to the part where I had to suture the chicken together with toothpicks. I think the first problem is that I overestimated how elastic a hammered-out half chicken breast is. I did not overestimate the possibilities for "Hammered-Out Chicken Breast" as the name for a trip-hop band, because those are endless. But I'm pretty sure I tried to fit too much inside the little chicken roll-up. Something went wrong, because it looks like a horrorshow. Even moreso when it was time to cover it in egg and breading.

Twenty minutes later, it still looks nowhere near professional, but the seam has sort of been sealed by the cheese, which is how I think seams should work in general. Very slightly overcooked (which I'm fine with, given that I'm still desperately clinging to the "just figuring out how to cook without poisoning everyone" label). I overbreaded it a bit and evidently forgot how many toothpicks I'd used to stitch the damned thing together, but "slightly more bready chicken" seems worth "demystifying chicken envelopes".

"Demystifying Chicken Envelopes" being a ridiculous jam band that no one would voluntarily listen to.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Honestly, I'm not even sure what I want from this anymore. I started this (after several failed attempts) because I was bored at work in undergrad, and only really stuck with it because I was working the overnight shift at a McDonald's and needed something to keep me from snapping.

I'm not sure that last part has changed significantly. I work eight hours, have some sort of terrible meal roughly in the middle of it, then spend an hour getting angry at traffic. I still have long stretches where I'm not actually doing anything, but I'm not writing because I don't want to be confrontational or because I've set this huge road block for myself where I've got to come up with something brilliant because I haven't written since last year.

That's ridiculous. There are somewhere around five blogs for every person on the planet, and no one's reading this. So to hell with it. This "only writing for March Madness" thing isn't cutting it anymore. The confrontation thing doesn't make sense either, except that I'm hypersensitive to it. When we moved in to this apartment, we nailed something to the wall at 10pm, and our downstairs neighbor came up and asked us to knock it off. Totally reasonable request. Since then, I've been terrified of making noise and have been sneaking around this place like an overweight, lumbering, ineffective ninja.

It's ludicrous.

That's not to say I haven't been trying to get myself to get back to this. I'll record half-assed attempts at notes on my lunch break at work and buying these tiny little notebooks that are annoying as shit to write in because I've convinced myself that if I carry paper and a pencil around I'll become creative and turn this nonsense into something read and fawned over by millions.

The only time I update reliably is when I set some sort of schedule, like I'm forced to with March Madness. Which is great, and I can get myself worked up over a theme, but then as soon as I'm done, it flames out and I'm left with nothing again. I'm not even sure why I'm so reluctant just to relegate Murphspot to the pile of half-journals I've had over the years that go nowhere. It's probably some nonsense about a crippling fear that I've become unremarkable, which I have. And that's fine.

That happens to almost everyone.

Jesus, Peter Francis Gerasi. Could your commercials be any louder?

I thought about doing some sort of list of resolutions challenge to myself. Given
that I never posted it and it's nearly February, that's failed. It was too concrete and too ambitious and changing everything because it's mid-winter and we're out of holidays is completely arbitrary. The upside of that, I guess, is that there's nothing particularly wrong with claiming a resolution and starting it whenever you want.

So then. Let's start now? I guess? The original idea was to use this as a sort of checkpoint, so that I'd give myself goals and then could write about the progress. I'm not sure that's a terrible place to start, but at the risk of jeopardizing the chance that I'll get anything done, I think I'd like it to be less restrictive than I'd thought at first. I'll still post bits of progress on various goals I've got for myself that I'd like to make progress on before next year, but I'm going to not try to set something up that I'll fail at, which'll just lead to me stopping all posting because hey, I've already fallen behind.

At the moment, I'll just resolve to stop insisting that I have fully formed and brilliant posts as a prerequisite for writing, and I'll try to stop holding myself to some kind of unattainable standard. When I posted most often on this, it was primarily because I was getting off of work at 7am and no one was awake, but I don't see why I can't get back to the sort of mindset I was in when that was happening. The first post after a long break is always the most difficult, and maybe I'm still being too ambitious with this, but to hell with it.