Monday, June 25, 2012

Last Weekend Curry Chicken

This past weekend was my last full weekend off for the rest of forever. Starting this week I go to 6 days a week, probably until January. I tried to make the best of it, and had a pretty good time. Saturday night, I had some awesome Chinese, a Blizzard at DQ, and went to the movies to see Brave. Excellent movie, by the way. I highly recommend that you go see it!

Yesterday, I went to the outlets to look for some work boots and a rain coat. I found a great rain coat at the Columbia store. I might have found some boots if all the store clerks hadn't been annoyingly incompetent. There were only two stores that even had work boots, the Hush Puppies/Merrell outlet and the Sketchers store. The former had about 6 employees that were all over me as soon as I walked in the door. I appreciate clerks being readily available and offering to help, but they literally swarmed around me and nagged me about what I wanted, what size I needed, what I needed boots for, if I wanted steel toe, if I wanted hi-top or regular.... I said several times that I was just looking, but they just hovered there staring at me and asking what they could get me. Luckily, my mom called just before I started killing people, and I ran out of the store, never to return.

The Sketchers store was the complete opposite. I walked in and some very apathetic tween muttered in my direction that everything was buy one, get one half off, and then wandered away. There were only two people working and both looked like they were about 15 years old. I actually found a pair of boots that I was interested in, but they didn't have my size out, so I stood there for about 10 minutes trying to get one of them to come over, and I swear when I waved the shoe that I wanted at the apathetic tween who greeted me, he turned and walked away to the other corner of the store.

Soooo, long story not-so-short, I did not get boots at the outlets and everyone who irritated me should be fired... and set on fire. After the outlets, I stopped at the Yankee Candle store just because I like it in there and it smells good.... I then got some groceries and came home to make Curry Chicken stir-fry. It was pretty excellent, so I thought I'd share the recipe. It's a slight variation on a Taste of Home recipe. 

Curry Chicken Stir-Fry
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. chili powder
1 C. reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. lite soy sauce
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast - cut into cubes
2 tsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 C. sliced carrots
2 garlic cloves - minced
3 C. fresh broccoli florets
4 green onions - thinly sliced

- In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, curry powder, red pepper flakes, and chili powder. Stir in the broth and soy sauce until smooth, and set aside.

- In a large nonstick skillet, stir-fry the chicken in 1 tsp. oil for about 6 minutes, or until it's no longer pink. Remove and set aside.

- In the same pan, add remaining tsp. of oil and stir-fry the carrots and minced garlic for about a minute. Add the broccoli and green onion, and fry for about 4 minutes more. 

- Stir the broth mixture, then add it to the pan with the vegetables. Cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan and heat through. 

I made some brown rice to go with it. It's just the right amount of spicy, it's super simple, and nice and quick. It made two meals for me, so I'll have the leftovers for supper tonight!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Gains and Losses

I know. It's been almost a month since I've posted. A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I moved to Virginia. I started an awesome job at Busch Gardens. I got all set up in my new apartment. And I lost my dad.

Four months ago, Dad had his esophagectomy and we were told that he was cancer-free. Then, a couple of months ago, dad started having pain in his hip and we found out it was bone cancer. They said that he might have a year left. Then it was six months. Then three. Then weeks. Then days. His oncologist had never seen anything like it, it spread so quickly and aggressively. He wasn't in much pain at the end, though, and I got home to see him last weekend. He died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday morning.

So I just thought that I would share some pictures of my dad and end with a story of something amazing that happened tonight. 

Dad as a toddler. Probably around 1950. ^

Dad's senior portrait. Class of '67.  ^

Dad, my tricycle, and me. Maybe 1990ish? ^

 Dad and me by Seneca Lake in New York, last summer. ^

Now for my story.... Dad had built a grape arbor up on the hill last year and planted some grapes. Well, this year he didn't really get around to tending to it before he got sick again, and some big storm had knocked it around, and it finally fell completely over a few weeks ago. Today, I went up and re-built it, made it a little sturdier, and got rid of all the weeds that were trying to strangle out the grape vines.

After I got it finished, I took a load of tools back down to the garage and went inside for a minute. When I came back out, I started to walk up the hill and saw something brown moving off to the side. I look over, and there's a deer in the trees. 

I walked over and stood there and talked to her for a couple of minutes, and snapped some pictures. Then I backed off and just waited for a second and she walked out in the open and just stood there looking at me. I talked to her, took a bunch of pictures, and we stood and looked at each other. After a few minutes, she just turned and walked away.

I firmly believe that it was Dad telling me that I did a good job on his arbor. If you knew my dad and how much he loved deer, and if you had seen how calm and fearless she was, you would have to agree.

So... sorry I've been absent from the blogging world lately. As soon as everything has calmed down in my life, I'll try to be more regular again.

Rest in peace, Dad. I love you.

Gary L. Drum 1948-2012