Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Paella and Doctor Nod

We've had such a good run I guess it was inevitable that we would cook something that was just terrible. I love Spanish flavors and I own a paella could we make the world's most flavorless paella? And we have SO MUCH OF IT. Usually I'm excited about leftovers (them carnitas served me well for many days) but heaps and heaps of bland rice doesn't really beg to be re-heated and re-eaten repeatedly. I did use a dumbed down recipe but increased the seasoning, added saffron, added red bell peppers, even added some Clamato and still a total flavor dud. I looked at some other recipes (more "authentic" ones) didn't seem all that different so I'm still a little baffled.

But it looks beautiful, doesn't it? But there is darkness lurking down below. Apparently, there is a learning curve on using a paella pan on a stove burner. Did you know that the middle will just get hot as fuck and burn the fuck up? I added the shrimp at the end of cooking and realized that I needed to move the pan around the burner to get all the shrimp cooked which is what I should have been doing all along. I smelled burning but erroneously took this to be the smell of the storied crunchy socarrat forming on the underside of the rice. But alas, that was just regular ol' burning flavorless rice smell.

We still had frozen shrimp leftover from the shrimp cocktail we made a few weeks ago so at least that was convenient but I do think that the paella somehow leached out all the usual flavor you would find in shrimp. Same with the usually-perfectly-fine-tasting Trader Joe's sausage we used. You might ask "Why does such an epic paella ruiner even own a paella pan?" Well, 4ish years ago when we got married, I got carried away registering for all manner of things we didn't actually need (including this puppy; it barks when the hot dogs are done!) or know how to use (I had to watch multiple how-to videos to use this can opener, Matt still can't use it!) A paella pan sounded like a perfectly reasonable thing to register for and it only took us 4 years to use it. My Great Aunt Pat bought it for us which is notable because she passed away not too long after we got married and our wedding was the last time she was is good health and having a good time. So it's bittersweet- I'm glad we finally used it because it reminds me of her but also sad that I used it so ineffectively!

We luckily had much better luck on the music choice. It is also the return of Cassettes and Recipes because this is actually a tape - Top Tips by Doctor Nod out of Fayetteville, Arkansas. And this is not just any tape; it is the first release on Matt's brand new cassette label Clean Nice Quiet! I could be biased because we have a box of tapes to move but actually, it's really fucking good. Not usually my kind of music; not because I dislike psych-y garagey-y stuff like this but because so much of it is either derivative to the point of being pointless or just dull/repetitive/noodle-y. I'm impatient, as I've expressed before, and believe most songs are 30 seconds too long.  But this album does not suffer from any of those pitfalls. It sounds legit groovy but has enough melody and variety that it still sounds modern. What if the recipe AND the music had been bad? I think we'd just have to call the thing off. But luckily, the day was saved by Doctor Nod! While we were listening to it I kept having to ask Matt "is this still that tape?" because I was fully convinced he switched it over to some band that is already well-known and beloved. So listen to it! And if you're really feeling the fantasy, you can buy the tape April 1st!

I mentioned previously that until Matt bought a cassette adapter thing that our only tape listening aparatus was my old Cricket doll. Here's a video of her playing my old Dolly Parton "Straight Talk" soundtrack tape. Yeah, those are her eyes creepily going back and forth. And no, those are not the standard issue Cricket duds. My grandmother made her a dress which is really nice but it also kind of makes the doll look like a child bride. Enjoy!

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