Nine years ago my husband (then boyfriend) and I moved to Denver from San Francisco to help look after my dad who had been on a roller coaster of crazy medical predicaments for quite a while. My two sisters had been sharing duties of balancing doctor appointments, hospital runs, conflicting medical advice, piles of pills, some odd roommates he’d acquired, his dog and dental disasters among other things.
I had been taking a trip about every month to visit him during the summer of ’02 when he’d been in and out of the hospital, a nursing home, and bouncing back to his standard, unflappable Blair-ness. Ryan and I decided to take two weeks driving and camping our way from SF to Denver, up to his family in Illinois and Minnesota, then back. While we were in Denver a day after a big bbq at my sister’s house, we had dined on leftover rib quesadillas, then went to the (hot) park to play frisbee with my nephew Nick….kind of randomly.
I was not feeling so super awesome having rib quesadillas in my belly, it being hot, and me, possibly, being a tad hungover. We tossed the frisbee in our triangle several times and then one came at me, flapping on the top like crazy. I caught it, thank goodness, because when I inspected the flapping it turned out to be a note. Inside, secured with several pieces of that packing tape with the string in it was a sparkly diamond ring. And the note said, “Hey Bazoo, I was wondering… if you’d spend the rest of your life with me.” I looked up and Ryan and Nick were both grinning ear to ear. I’m pretty sure I said something totally romantic like, “Who’s kidding me?” or “what?!” and I’m sure Ryan was hoping for some squeals or hot and heavy making out. Truth is, though, it is kind of numbingly shocking to be surprised by something like that. Especially with rib quesadillas in your belly. Long story short, I said yes! and we went to Mizuna that night at 9:30pm for a tasting menu with wine pairings and it was great and we stumbled our full, drunk, happy butts home.
Meanwhile, my dad was still in the hospital, but getting released shortly after we were to leave. We couldn’t tell if this was good or bad. But we left it to my sisters and camped our way home talking, of course, about wedding menus the majority of the time home. And once we got back to SF, something had stuck with us. One day shortly after Ryan called me at work and said he thought maybe we should move to Denver and look after my dad. The idea was kind of exciting and kind of crazy. SF is a super amazing city and we had lots of friends and routines and an awesome apartment (which our roommate Bubba STILL lives in for probably next to nothing!). But it was an intriguing idea. Ryan said “you’ll never regret spending that extra time with your dad.” And he was right.
We moved shortly after and set up camp in the apartment in the basement of my dad’s house. I couldn’t possibly waste all my fabulous blog material by getting into all the meal details here, but suffice it to say that many to most meals were spent with my dad and usually by our hand. But occasionally (and often regrettably) my dad surprised us by cooking. Now he was a good cook back in the day. But over time, things got fattier and saltier. He was on dialysis so it’s a mystery to me how he tortured himself with thirst-enducing meals, but he couldn’t help himself. And one day he came home shouting, “Hey Maru! I picked up dinner!”
“What?!” I shouted from upstairs.
“And what else?!”
I had spent a lot of time and effort trying to sneak vegetables into his diet, but on this night I was over it. And he fried the wings in fat and tossed them in salty glop and they became the quotable meal example for that phase of our family dining, “fat fried in fat.” And so imagine the teasing Ryan dishes out yesterday when I tell him I had to get a pile of chicken wings for the football game. I’d say he’s lucky I didn’t pull out the stops with a package of braunschweiger, ritz crackers, queso fundido and poppers. Not having had any form of television for many months did that to me. The idea of sitting in front of tv watching football and eating wings was the best thing I could imagine. I eat what I want….so….I bought 5 pounds of chicken wings and went to it.
I cut off the wing tips and froze them for stock and cut the wings in half, throwing each in a separate bowl. I rubbed one batch with garlic, oil, salt, pepper, cumin and chile powder. The other got garlic, oil, ginger, a splash of sherry and soy. I tossed them and let them sit for about an hour then grilled them until the were nicely rendered and browned.
This was a handy exercise for me as I was made aware that the entire center of our stove’s grill SUCKS BUTT. But I moved things around and enough and got ‘er done. I tossed the chili powder wings in a mixture of butter, sriracha, vinegar and salt and the rest in soy, honey, hoisin, ginger and sesame oil. We packed it up and went to my mom’s house to watch the game and baked them in the oven. Fortunately she had some leftovers and sent me a final picture so you can be cleansed of the raw chicken image.
Ryan really prefers the buffalo style which is why I made both since I’m a sucker (like father like daughter?) for the sweet, salty meat. I tried to get it right, but as he chewed he said “needs Franks” and for the briefest moment I felt like someone all alone in a empty stretch of desert. She who does not know this Franks. I assumed it was an important Midwest thing that I must familiarize with before the next wing adventure next year. I have still not researched it. If you know the Franks, please enlighten me.
And that was my crazy, long-winded story about last night’s chicken wing dinner. Oh- and we did also have carrot sticks AND a salad. So there, Blair.