Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend musings

Life has been very busy lately. Work in particular has been intense to the point of being exhausting. We went live with a product involving TV on the Xbox late last year and some things didn't go as expected. Given the importance of this product and the amount of executive attention it has been getting, things have been a bit crazy. As senior tech guy, I get sucked into these things with high expectations of things being magically fixed abound. Since this technology is quite far outside my usual expertise, my brain has been excercised more than it has for a long time. This is a good thing mind you, it is very tiring however! Friday evening I was so tired I could barely talk straight and the little wine I had did my head in thoroughly and I slept for 10 hours straight. I am off to Redmond tomorrow to consult with experts there which will also be a bit of a mind-bender I am sure so I decided to take it extremely easy this weekend.

Taking it easy usually involves cooking, my therapeutic activity. On wet winter days I go for comfort food, the kind that warms you with deep flavor and aromas. Braising is one of my favorite cooking methods and there is nothing better than putting a big pot full of goodness in the oven for a 5-hour braise, to be served that evening with a good glass of wine. Today I went for a chili, big chunks of beef chuck are braised in a dark beef stock enriched with chili powders and vegetables. It is a two-stage process, first I brown the beef, cook some onions and carrots, add the spices and stock before putting it all in the oven for a long braise. At the end I add poblano peppers, chunks of carrot and black beans, simmer it for another half hour or so, resulting in a deep, rich chili full of crunchy vegetables. This is pretty much the ultimate winter comfort food if you ask me.

I will also spend some time playing video games, I think I need a break from Skyrim, I have been playing Might and Magic Heroes VI, a fairly obscure turn-based strategy game that is great to run while other things are going on because it is turn based. It is definitely a bit hard-core and you have to be a fan of the genre but I certainly enjoy it. I usually also have an Xbox game on the go, I played the brilliant Batman Arkham City over the holidays and am wondering what will be next. There are plenty of games to choose from, I still want to at least finish the main quest in Skyrim though before moving on.

Connie and Kai were supposed to go up Grouse for Kai's snowboarding lessons but they were canceled at the 11th hour (I literally had to run downstairs and stop the car after getting a phone call) so my original plan of watching Hobo with a Shotgun has been scuppered. This is the kind of movie I can only watch when I am by myself since it is rather outrageous. So I'll postpone that and see what we'll do for the day. I definitely want to go and grab some coffee soon, maybe a visit to 49th parallel is in order.

Right then, time to go take it easy some of the cooking below, courtesy of Connie who after her recent photography class has much stronger opinions of how to take pictures. She was completely right though so I will let her do the picture taking if she is around.

onion: the usual flavor base

chunks of beef chuck

browning the meat = flavor!

a blend of New Mexico and Ancho chili powders

secret ingredient: deglaze with a splash of brandy

stage one complete, about to go in the oven!

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