Monday, August 23, 2004

Life in Hell

So I'm back from the deepest, darkest depths of Frontenac County. I suppose I had a reasonably good time, except for all the spiders, and the curious allergic reaction to something, either dust or pollen, that plagued me the entire time. More interestingly, I can't believe how clueless some of my friends are with simple tasks such as cooking. The original plan for food was chicken breasts with barbecue sauce, and mashed potatoes. I was shuddering at that. I tried to sell the others on the idea of hamburgers; what with the current halt in exporting beef cattle to the US, there's a glut of medium-grade ground beef on the market. It's a fantastic price, and making patties would have only required some onion, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and some kind of extender. However, the majority were apparently set on chicken. First of all, slathering a boneless chicken breast with bottled barbecue sauce is a terrible thing to do to innocent meat, especially for the price; bulk packages of breasts to serve nine would have come to $33 or so. I at least managed to redirect the host's attention on the trip to the grocery store towards bone-in thighs, which added up to only $16 in all. I also managed to whip up two nice marinades for them, in addition to a dab of store-bought sauce. Second, boiling and mashing flawless Yukon Gold potatoes is similarly a waste of good raw ingredients. I did them up in nice hearty chunks with onions in a soy sauce-olive oil-garlic marinade to roast in a grill basket. Both the potatoes and chicken came out fairly well, after schooling several of the helpful grill-watchers in how to use the damn thing - i.e. that a high temperature is far more likely to burn chicken before it cooks all the way through, pink vs. clear juices, the dangers of salmonella cross-contamination, and so on. It also made me realize that I'd never cooked for any large group of people more or less on my own - and that I'm really rather good at it. And that was pretty much the high point of the weekend for me. I went out canoeing a couple times, something I haven't done for years (and hope to avoid again in the future), roasted a few marshmallows, and endured the godawful dance-pop-electronica excreta of "Freezepop" (again and again and again). I now yearn for the days before their song "Plastic Stars" was forcibly drilled into my head. Ignorance of some things really is bliss. I appreciate having been invited; I really do. But between the bugs, the outside, my allergies, the cramped sleeping quarters, single bathroom, and abhorrent music, repeat attempts at cottaging with friends would certainly seem to be the fastest way to induce a nervous breakdown on my part.

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