Texas Chicken Tickler

As I pull up to the mailbox I think, “The commute home wasn’t all that bad today.” It most usually is smooth sailing here in the Tri, regardless of what habitual complainers might say. Especially when I compare it to the times I’ve worked in Seattle or Spokane. Those commutes are brutal. Here in the Tri, there is one spot in my commute that is a daily adventure, the corner merge of Jadwin into George Washington Way, but today it was as if all the lights were in sequence – a beautifully steady green. The theme of the commute seemed to be ‘B, you get a pass today.”

Peering inside the mailbox revealed the mailperson had made their appointed rounds and stopped for us. “Well, let’s see who gets some of B&V’s money today.” I said to myself as I reached inside, just knowing there was a bill in there. Sorting through the various items before getting back into the car I see the latest edition of Sunset Magazine. “Well now; no bills, a couple of advertising mailers, and the August edition of Sunset. V is going to be happy she has a new magazine to read through and I am happy no funds are going out of our bank account. At least today anyways, I really am getting a pass. I should go buy a lottery ticket. On second thought, nope, I need to let the dog out.”

If everyone got treated the way that most dogs treat “their humans” and the way some dogs treat any human that pays attention to them for a moment, the world would be a far better place all around. Here I go again, another tangent. At that moment a Whitesnake song started playing in my head. “Boy! I really am scatterbrained this afternoon, all of a sudden. Or, maybe not so all of a sudden.” I say to myself as I close the mailbox door.

The dog is out of jail for the remainder of the day and doing what dogs do outside. I scan the cover of the magazine and my eyes pick out the mini headline, “5 Perfect Road Trips.” The inside cover reveals the article associated to the headline is located on page 48. Curiosity is getting the best of me now and I have to see what comprises Sunset’s idea of “Perfect.” V and I have been on some close to, if not actually, perfect road trips in our humble estimation anyways, and I just have to see how they measure up with that high bar.

I start thinking about our honeymoon drive around the state where we had to find a place to pull off the road and sleep in the car because the North Cascade Highway had slides and workers were diligently working to clear the roadway and it was too late to find a hotel, and then our alternate route was filled with wild fires by Leavenworth / Chelan; the flames were right up to the roadway. That thought then lead to our trip to the Oregon coast; watching V wake up to the sounds of seagulls and surf, experiencing our first Pinot Noirs in the McMinnville wine country, touring the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum where we saw the Spruce Goose and my favorite plane of all time, the GeeBee, eating stale Jiffy-Pop popcorn cooked over an open flame, and sleeping in a cousin’s front yard and waking up absolutely drenched with dew. That thought segued to our trip to the wedding of my sister and brother-in-law’s daughter at the Galatin Gateway Hotel in Montana then making the loop through Yellowstone sleeping under stars at 8,800 feet above sea level, riding up the gondola in Jackson Hole, eating “The Hemingway” in Sun Valley / Ketchum, experiencing Craters of The Moon, and seeing the submarine sail of the U.S.S. Hawkbill buried in dirt in Arco, Idaho. Then I thought about our recent trip to Napa Valley and our numerous wine tasting trips here at home; like our first trip to Walla Walla with M&J and the tasting at Leonetti, Pepperbridge, and Northstar; and feeling so overwhelmed because we didn’t know what we were doing and M&J trying gamely not have too much fun at our expense. I switched to thinking about trips to Seattle, like the one where we went to our first concert together to Chateau Ste. Michelle, fell in love with Sangiovese and Anita Baker, or experienced the depths of Seattle in the underground tour then the heights of Seattle in the Space Needle all in the same day. Then I remember our last trip on three of the 60 glorious sunshine days in Puget Sound; with the grandbabies and their parents visiting the LeMay Car Museum and the beach, the SubPop’s Silver Jubilee Festival with V’s son and daughter-in-law, and Mariner Baseball. The list seemed endless as I replayed them all in the theater of my memory. At that point the contemplation needed to stop and I’d better “get on with it” as my British friends say before V gets home and I experience articulus interuptus and thus not get to read the article for days.

A quick turn to page 48 divulges the trips:
Trip 1 – Dino Drive, Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. I thought that was Granger and I was just there last week with the intern…

Trip 2 – The Ale and Wine Trail, right here at home; Yakima, Moxee, Benton City, Walla Walla, and Milton-Freewater. OK, now we are talking. There might be something there that we haven’t experienced yet and needs to have further study.

Trip 3 – Western Safari. Well, we have been to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, but truth be told we felt a little like the Griswold family in National Lampoon’s Vacation and we have determined in our hearts to go back and be a bit more leisurely, this article just may serve as the impetus for that.

Trip 4 – Haute Route, New Mexico. No one has ever attributed the term haute with B or V. Not within earshot anyways, but we may need to explore New Mexico together. Perhaps during one of our “Spring Training Getaways with D&V,” after all SantaFe is only about 460 miles from Scottsdale

Trip 5 – Girls’ Getaway, Sonoma. Sounds like B is left out of that one, unless the girls go to Sonoma for whatever and the guys go to Inglenook in Napa, smoke cigars, and drink a little wine on the patio. Or the trip could be timed to coincide with NASCAR’s race held in Sonoma in June. That’s a Solomon-like option, from B’s perspective.

The dog is back at the door now and wants in. It is warm out there and he needs water to fill up the space that suddenly now is empty, it seems.

V walks in the other door and both of the dog’s humans are located in the same place at the same time, it is late afternoon, and he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is close to dinner time for him and us.

Right off I say, “You certainly are going to be happier now than you were when you pulled into the garage. The August Sunset is here and I am pulling dinner together while you scan your magazine. How about that?”

The reply, “I love you.” and that look from her is all that is necessary to tell me that I connected the dots to make her evening.

“Good enough then. By the way, do not, under any circumstances, turn directly to page 48.” We’ve been together long enough to have a code now and I just told her that she should probably look at that page first.

“Dinner will be skinless and boneless chicken breasts and fingerling potatoes grilled and coupled with green beans heated with a sprinkle of the crumbled bacon left over from the weekend, and little butter. This will pair well with one of the bottles of Fidelitas 2012 Semillon picked up last weekend. Is that a good plan?”

Her reply was, “As long as you splash some of the Semillon in a glass for me.”

“I’m one step a head of you there, Smoky.” As I hold out the glass to her. With “The Clink,” I think to myself, “You sir, have not only connected the dots, you have filled in the empty space like what is found in one of those paint-by-numbers pictures.” The customary swirl and deep inhale of the wine in the glass reveal fresh citrus and tropical notes, which will pair well with the spices for the chicken, I’m thinking. The wine has a nice round mouthfeel, not unlike the Optu and is very, very enjoyable. I look at V and say, “It would be a good idea to not drink the whole bottle right at this moment, even though it would be easy enough to do, right? The chicken is calling out for some and we need some to drink with dinner too, don’t you think?”

V nods her agreement as she now is paging through the newly arrived magazine.

The grill is on. I pour some of the wine on the chicken then liberally shake John Henry’s “Texas Chicken Tickler” and combine with just a light dusting of Chipotle powder. The protein is then left to contemplate Oneness with the Universe. The potatoes are coated with a little olive oil, alder smoked salt, and fresh ground pepper. After rubbing down the grates with a little oil, the chicken sizzles as it is placed on what would have been the skin side down on the hot grill. A few minutes, and a couple of sips of the Semillon for the chef, the chicken is turned a quarter turn and given another splash of the Semillon too, just to make sure it will be moist. A few minutes, and a couple more sips of the Semillon for the chef, the chicken breasts are turned over and the process is repeated. The multi-colored fingerling potatoes placed on the top rack are turned over as the side facing the grill is getting nice and crispy. The chicken has a caramelized exterior and great grill marks. In the fullness of time the other side of the potatoes and chicken match the first. Happy chicken, happy chef, happy wife, what a blessed life.

Happy Chicken

Happy Chicken

The chicken and potatoes are placed on a bed of rosemary sprigs fresh from the herb garden. The heat from the grilled ingredients char the rosemary and the scent adds a completely unanticipated and surprise element to the dish. No one is more stunned at that than the chef and he made a mental note for the future. The chicken is indeed moist and the spices and wine match up perfectly and even though there is roundness to the wine, the crisp clean finish set us up for the next bite. Not surprisingly, the wine even held it’s own against the Chipotle and smokiness of the grilling.

Throughout dinner we plan a road trip of our own. “B&V’s take on Sunset’s Dinosaurs, Ale, and Wine” and it looks like it is going to take a couple of days, and yet there is no need for hotel or bed and breakfast stays. One of the benefits for living in as V says, “The Best Place Ever.” It is our 9th wedding anniversary is next week and we’ve both taken that day off work as we have vacation time to burn for one leg of the trips. During my quick perusal of the article before V got home I saw Sunset left out the main ingredient which makes for road trip perfection. That ingredient would be having someone decide to share it, all of it, with you; regardless of the fact there maybe a couple of u-turns, missed turns, and left turns that should have been right turns.

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