Friday, January 30, 2009

Dinner for a Super Hero

I am married to a Super Hero. I had no idea. I knew that he works hard to provide for us. I knew that he tries hard to make me happy and not disappoint me, but I had no idea that he possessed super human powers. It took an everyday matter that was scored with bad luck in only the way that my appliance purchases can be (which reminds me that someday I need to share the dramatic story of the purchase of my new range) for me to recognize the extent of my hubby's talents and devotion.

Our 20 year old washer died the other day. There was a small debate about purchasing locally or making a trip to the big city. It was pretty easily decided that having the local service available would be beneficial, and after a couple of phone calls and a little online research, I made a quick trip to an area business. The front window of the store was quite alluring with a beautiful red washer and dryer. I was incredibly tempted. I have written before about my infatuation with RED and my collection of red dishes, Kitchenaid, LeCrueset, shoes, scarves, iPod, (former) phone, and just about anything else in a crimson shade.

Red is a brilliant color, but considering that we only purchase new appliances every 20 years or so, was it right for my laundry room? Would I love it today, but a few years from now walk down the basement stairs and cringe as I would if I saw an avocado refrigerator of the 1970s? I still have some 80s hunter green in my upstairs bathroom, but that can be repainted when I have the time and energy. A red washer and dryer would be for keeps, for eternity, or so it would seem when I got tired of them.

So it was decided that I would order the dull, boring white version of the beautiful red washer and dryer. It would take almost a week for them to arrive, and a mountain of laundry would accumulate in that time, but that is just the way things go out here on the prairie. Purchases are seldom instantaneous.

The day of the appliances' arrival came. I called the store to confirm and was surprised to be told that they didn't know if the washer and dryer were there, or not. Huh? How do you not know if 2 big boxes are there? This should have been my first clue of how things were going. I should have known that my track record for appliance purchases was not improving. I should have just went back to bed and waited for the storm to pass. However, I didn't. I foolishly forged ahead with multiple phone calls until it was confirmed that the appliances were in the store, but could not be delivered that day. Ugh.

Hubby decided to step in and save the day by picking up and installing the washer and dryer himself. Great news, right? A seasoned DIYer, he had easily moved and installed our last set when we moved into this house. No problem, right? Hindsight tells us now that all future appliance purchases will include delivery, even if it means waiting until pigs fly. In my mind, flying pigs are infinitely better than what happened next.

There were high wind warnings that day, and my email inbox was full of weather alerts. The trees were whipping back and forth with the 50 mph gusts. But, living on the prairies of SD, wind is an every day occurrence. Unfazed, Hubby set out to the store, and the appliances were loaded into the box of his pickup. He has a toolbox that sits directly behind the cab, but there was still room to first load the dryer and strap it in, then the washer was securely tied into place. He set off down the road to return home, but travelled at a snails' pace as the winds hit the tall boxes in the back of his truck.

He had no clue that my bad appliance luck was going to slap him in the face. He was shocked and heartsick as a semi passed him on this windy day and SUCKED THE DRYER RIGHT OUT OF THE BACK OF HIS PICKUP. It did somersaults on the highway before coming to rest in the lane of traffic. Pigs didn't fly. My dryer did.

I was doing some last minute laundry room cleaning in order to be prepared for the arrival of my brand spanking new appliances when the phone rang. Hubby was quiet. He told me that he had some bad news. Given that he is a known prankster, I didn't panic at this moment, but did hold my breath as he revealed that the dryer had bounced on the highway. I couldn't help it. I sobbed.

When he arrived home, we were silent, and I fought back tears as we assessed the damage. The frame was obviously twisted, the side panels were dented, and the plastic front was cracked and broken. The glass door was miraculously still intact, though. Hubby insisted that I call the store and inquire about a new dryer. I hesitated about making a second thousand dollar purchase, but placed the call and learned that the closest dryer of the same make, model, and color was in Mankato and would take over another week to arrive. I put that thought on hold and went back outside to the mangled mess in the driveway.

At this point, Hubby had seen all he could stand of the dryer. He was pulling the cardboard packing from the washer and asked me to help him maneuver it into the house. Holy buckets of washer parts! I could shove my old washer around the basement all on my own. This new front load machine is heeeaavy, something-is-going-to-burst-in-a-place-that-I-never-knew-I-had heavy . We shoved, and pushed, and even with the handcart, could barely shift the thing into the basement entry of the house. My husband may be big and burly, but I am a wimp. I couldn't offer enough assistance to get the machine down our steep, old house basement stairs. We were forced to move it back into the driveway to sit forlornly in the snow.

Feeling very discouraged, our focus moved back to the dryer. Some discussion determined that it would be worth a try to move it into the house and see if it worked. What would we be out? Any glimmer of hope was better than the total loss we seemed to be looking at. The earlier flying act had proven that the dryer was obviously much, much lighter, and a few minutes and grunts later, we had it sitting in the middle of my now empty laundry room. Packing material fully removed, and electrical cord installed, we plugged it in, and held our breath as I pressed the power button. The drum turned. Heat vented out the back. It seemed to work, except for a bang, bang, bang as the rotating drum rubbed against the bent side panel. The electronics that allowed the dryer to function had not been damaged.

This is when Hubby's super powers started to come alive. He began to take apart the dryer, screw by screw, panel by panel, piece by broken, bent, twisted, and seemingly destroyed piece. Soon the dryer was in piles on the floor of the laundry room floor. I covered my ears as Hubby used a rubber mallet to pound the distorted pieces of metal back into shape. I stayed out of his way as he delicately used a heat gun and epoxy to mold the plastic front and glue it back into one piece. Several hours later, I celebrated when he stepped aside to reveal a dryer that looked nothing like the piece of junk that had been unloaded in my driveway. It wasn't exactly good as new, but to me, it appeared perfect. Yes, you can see a few dimples where the mallet was a little rambunctious, and there is no way to hide the cracks in the face around the controls, but it doesn't look bad, and most importantly, it works. My husband, the Super Hero, saved the day. Again, I cried.

Our tears were mostly dried by the time friends stopped by later that evening to help move the washer into place. Their muscles maneuvered it easily, and the empty test load was already running when they bid us a good night. Hubby was emotionally and physically exhausted (yes, that happens with super heroes, too), but I was still full of nervous energy and cleaned, rearranged, and reorganized the laundry room and did 4 loads of laundry before turning in for the night. When Hubby awoke the next morning, I could joyfully report that both appliances worked superbly.

Of course, if you know me, you know that I tend to show my appreciation with food. So...what does one feed a Super Hero? Whatever he requests, of course. My Super Hero has a thing for Asian food and particularly loves my homemade egg rolls. It is a recipe created by a friend and tweaked to suit things I have on hand and our tastes. They are not difficult, but for some reason, I just don't make the effort that often. The next evening, I brushed off the recipe and made the night of my Super Hero. Paired with Egg Drop Soup, it was heaven on the plate for him. In fact, of the dozen egg rolls that I created, Hubby ate 7 at that dinner and also devoured 3 servings of the soup. Yes, my Super Hero is also a bit of a pig, but he is mine, and you have no idea how much I appreciate all that he does for me.


My Take On Riff's Egg Rolls

1 lb ground pork (I use Jimmy Dean Sausage)
1 large onion, chopped
6 tablespoons garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoon fresh ginger
2-3 tablespoons Spicy Sweet Thai Chile Sauce
2 packages of coleslaw salad mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
salt and pepper
25 egg roll wraps

Brown the meat in a large pan, breaking into small crumbles.
Add onion, garlic, ginger, and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the chile sauce and coat all ingredients well.
Remove from heat and stir in coleslaw mix.
Drain this mixture VERY WELL. As Riff says, "moisture is you enemy in this recipe."
Place in a colander with a plate on top and a weight to press out the liquid.
Stir occasionally in the colander to release additional moisture and allow to cool completely.
To wrap the egg rolls, lay the wrapper so that one point is towards you.
Put about about 3 tablespoons of mixture across the wrapper.
At this point, you may want to add a bit of cilantro, green onion, chopped hot pepper, if desired...make it your own.
Fold the point that is pointing at you up over the mixture.
Now fold the corner on the right over that, now the point on the left and begin to roll till you get to the end.
Moisten the last point and finish the roll.
(At this point, you may freeze individually on a cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap, then place in freezer bags.)
To cook immediately, place in hot fryer (350 degrees) and cook until golden.
You may have to rotate the egg rolls to brown all sides in the fryer.
Enjoy with Sweet and Sour Sauce and/or Soy Sauce. (Makes 24-25 egg rolls

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