Saturday, January 24, 2009

A mussels emergency

Yesterday, oddly enough in the middle of a conversation about overeating, RantWoman got a call about a culinary emergency. Excellent buddies and dining companions The Weed Whacking Wenches had too many mussels and needed help for dinner.

This is definitely not the sort of emergency calls RantWoman is used to getting. One of RantWoman's Make your own job gigs involves setting up disaster preparedness workshops, talking to people about earthquakes, pushing fire safety, exhorting people to have food and water for 3-7 days, telling people to make a communications plan for reconnecting with household and other loved ones. The work has its rewards but well, an oversupply of seafood that won't keep for three days is just a different category of problem.

The story is, the Wenches' beloved market was having problems with its seafood cooler. So when WingNut went to get their regular Friday night mussels, considering the problems keeping mussels at the store, a good handful more of mussels went into the bag for a regular customer than ... (Don't want to spoil the secret of how it happened.) Now the Wenches were the ones with the problems keeping mussels. Luckily they are resourceful and a surfeit of seafood is just the sort of problem RantWoman is delighted to tuck into. Not to mention that dining with the Wenches is always a delightful medley of flavors and stories, of colors and vitamins, of kitties and laughs. We all like to cook and are prone to improvisation.

For instance, one time we were eating supper while talking about breakfast. Turns out, we all like a good balance of protein, fiber, vitamins. RantWoman mentioned being indifferent to pie crust but really liking a favorite pumpkin pie recipe baked just as a custard with slightly reduced sweetening. The next time RantWoman dined with the Wenches, they said well the custard was a great idea, but they liked it a little better with oat bran and wheat germ mixed in. RantWoman went home and tried it and had to agree.

Another time, the Wenches were baking lasagna ahead for the week while serving something else. They diverged from the recipe a little about something on the bottom and wound up having to add an improvisation to make things come out right on top. Well the noodles all got covered though the result wound up being soupier than optimal, fabulously tasty but soupy.

So then RantWoman confessed to a mishap making gringa ponche over the holidays. Toward the end of the Snowpocalypse, all of RantWoman's local family finally got around to a holiday festivity. RantWoman had a hankering for something hot, spicy / fruity and read a bunch of recipes on the internet for Mexican ponche. Then she threw a bunch of ingredients in a pot, like a hefty mulled cider or a Russian compote, or fusion ponche. Then RantWoman screwed up and threw in way nmore than enough whole cloves to push the brew past pleasantly pungent and well into the fierce zone. RantWoman's family did not disown her, but she laughed sheepishly with the Wenches about it and Curmudgeon also admitted a cloves mishap or two.

We all got to talking about improvising because the mussles were impeccable this time, steamed perfectly in white wine with fresh herbs. Curmudgeon mentioned having overdone the white wine sometime previously and off we went on our improvisational tales.

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