If you follow the Stanley Cup playoffs at all, then you know that my beloved Capitals recently played two games in New York, at Madison Square Garden. You also know that our jolly coach, Bruce Boudreau, dissed the venue in an offhand sort of way. He said it was kind of a dump (not a quote) and that it wasn't as loud as Verizon Center.
This made for some fun fan dynamics as the Rangers jumped out to a three-goal lead in Game 4 -- they began chanting "Can you hear us?"
Oh yes, we heard you. We heard you so well that we tied up the game in the third period and then won the game in double overtime.
At which point John Tortorella (who I think would look GREAT if he wore those white wax buck teeth all the time) said that we won "on a nothing play". Okay, Torts, a nothing play? Actually, we won because Jason Chimera was smart enough and quick enough to capitalize (like that? "Capitalize?" Give it a minute.) on a mistake that his highly paid supposed superstar made.
So, here we were, in Verizon Center, for Game 5 of the seven-game series -- a game the Caps must win to clinch the series early.
I have never -- NEVER -- been in an atmosphere like that, even for the past two seasons. It was exciting, electric, raucous, and so so so LOUD!
And after Mike Green scored the first goal of the game, the chanting started:
WE ARE LOUD-ER! WE ARE LOUD-ER!
And when the "Unleash the Fury" video played with five minutes to go in the game and the Caps leading 3-0, the place. Went. Nuts. And I happily, deliriously, joyfully joined in.
So the Rangers scored with 31 second left to play. BFD! There was no miracle comeback for them.
We wrapped it up. And we'll take it to Round 2.
Keep on playing, Boston, Philly, Buffalo, Montreal, Tampa, and Pitts. Have nice, long series and lots of overtimes. Meanwhile, my Caps? Rest up, boys. Get ready.
Four ingredients: brown sugar, cream, butter, pecans. How hard could it be?
Earlier this week, in a burst of culinary confidence, I made pralines. I used this recipe, because it seemed like I might actually be able to do it!
As I said: four ingredients!
What I don't have, however, is two baking sheets. My cooking equipment is -- how shall I put this -- haphazard. My baking sheet is kinda dented and the teflon coating is hit or miss. I do have a candy thermometer. And parchment paper. So -- I bought the ingredients and gave it a shot.
Based on the baking sheet situation, I made a strategic decision to only make half the recipe, which made things easier.
So. Mix cream and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan. (This is one of those instructions that I wish was more specific. How heavy is heavy? Is "heaviness" based on weight, thickness, material? Anyway, I have one largish saucepan, so that was that, regardless of heaviness. Besides, it's kinda heavy.)
I brought the mixture to a boil, then reduced the heat to medium-low, as instructed, and stuck the candy thermometer. Naturally, the clip that anchors the thermometer to the pan obscured the exact area of the temperature I was shooting for: 234 degrees, or "soft-ball" stage. Oh well.
The sweet mixture bubbled and bubbled and simmered and simmered, and I stirred and stirred and stirred and yet, the temperature did not budge beyond 200 degrees. So I upped the heat. Twice. And finally the temp hit somewhere around 234 degrees. I don't know, but I was sick of stirring by that point, so I called it a soft ball and took it off the heat and thunked in the butter.
So now you're supposed to just leave the stuff to cool off to 150 degrees without stirring or anything. So I did. (This is the easiest part, by the way.) Then I dumped in the pecans and beat the stuff silly. The recipe says to beat it until it starts to thicken but is still glossy, which is another subjective direction that I had a little trouble with. How glossy? How thick? So I beat it until my arm was tired. Then I dropped spoonfuls (spoonsful?) onto the baking sheet, which I had already lined with parchment paper. (I always feel very culinary when I line a baking sheet with parchment paper.)
Alas, they didn't really harden up all that well. Even after an hour, they were still pretty soft, so I shoved them in the fridge and that did the trick. I think I probably did not quite achieve the desired soft-ball state while I was cooking the delectable goo.
But I'll tell you what, even though I had to fridge-ify them, they are pretty damn delicious. I know why New Orleanians pronounce the word "Prahline" - because you eat 'em and say "Ahhhhhh, that's good!"
So today I bought a new candy thermometer, which has a specific mark for soft ball stage. (It also has marks for hard ball, soft crack, and hard crack, which are intriguing states of being, to say the least.)
They are too good not to try again, even with my haphazard cooking equipment.
I've been lazing about all day, so I think a meme is about right for this afternoon's post.
1. Do you listen to music at work, and if so, do you use a mp3 player, play it through your office computer, or do you listen to it collectively via a separate radio you keep nearby?
I generally don't listen to music at work, because then I wouldn't be able to eavesdrop on my neighbors in the cube farm. Kidding!
Although, sometimes it's impossible not to eavesdrop; for example, I've heard my neighbors argue with Verizon over a delinquent payment, arrange for a replacement shower door and complain when it was installed incorrectly, refinance a mortgage, and arrange dates through Match.com. Not that I'm a saint -- I'm sure my neighbors have heard me too. Such is the nature of life on the cube farm.
When I do listen to music, though, I listen to my iPod. It's bad form to play music out loud in the cube farm, after all!
2. Tell us something about people that you absolutely hate.
I have been wanting to do this for awhile now, and I was finally able to finally get the first picture in what will be a new occasional series here at Red Nose. I have had opportunities, but was never able to convert those opportunities into realities for one reason or another -- chief among those reasons the fear of being shot. This time, though, the offender was right in front of me on the elevator and I carped the diem.
I present Part 1 of Pull Up Your Goddamn Pants.
Location: Van Ness Metro Sag Factor: 7 (0 = good fit; 10 = practically falling off)