I spent the day playing bocce ball with Acey, a new friend here in Sacramento, and it was a blast. The Sutter's Landing Park, located at 20 28th Street, has three delightful bocce ball courts. My apartment complex has a couple as well, in our community garden area, but the code to get into the garden is a jealously guarded secret that my renters could not pass on to me... for some reason.
Anyway, the park was fun, and the day was pleasantly windy and even a little overcast. With clouds and everything. Later it rained for MINUTES on end!
Bocce ball, for the uninitiated, is, as they say, "the sport of kings." One player flings a target ball, called a jack or a pallino or boccino, and then that player flings a heavier ball, called a ball, or something, and tries to get it as close to the pallino as possible, thusly:
Bocce ball: minutes to learn, a few more minutes to master.
Also, however, note that the most distant ball in the picture is ALSO red... My mastery knows definite bounds, it seems.
There was another group of people playing right next to us, and they were something between punks and hipsters, but they were INCREDIBLY nice and helpful and positive, and gave us lots of pointers and really were just great all around. I utterly failed to get any of their names, but if they're reading this, thank you for your kindness, sirs and madames!! :)
After this, Acey headed off to do schoolwork, and I headed home to work on a delicious dinner, and it was delicious indeed!
Citrus-Brined Chicken Thighs:
1 lemon, rind and juice
1 lime, rind and juice
1/4 cup salt
a few good grinds of pepper
6 chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless, as I couldn't find boneless, skin-on, but I'll try harder next time!)
Water to cover
You should always brine poultry, and so few do. It takes a good half hour of brining to really set the flavors, but it's worth it.
After a half hour, I rinsed the thighs and set them outside up (... this does actually make sense: the inside of the boneless thigh is carved away from the bone, but the outside is still one smooth muscle, so I set them up that way. "outside up") on a baking sheet, and slid them into a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, I boiled some small red potatoes for twenty minutes in heavily salted water, then drained and rinsed them, and mixed them with my homemade ranch dressing and a few crisps of bacon to make a delicious potato salad.
I've mentioned this before on facebook, but homemade ranch is easy and awesome, so here it is again:
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste (I use the back of a fork, and it works a treat)
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried chives
You can also add things like buttermilk (to make it more pourable and creamy; leaving the buttermilk out leaves it more like a dip), garlic powder, pepper, bacon grease...
Mixing that with the boiled potatoes made a wonderful salad, and I can't wait to try the leftovers that are even now setting up in the fridge!
Our journey through the universe is tragically short, and every day is a gift.
I chose to use today to do wonderful things, and I cannot find it in me to be sorry about that!
PS: I'm finding it hard to find green peanuts in California, so if you know of a good distributor in the Sac area please let me know. "Green" peanuts are those recently harvested, and it appears they only grow on the eastern seaboard, predominantly in the Southeastern United States. Nevertheless, I'm currently simmering a pot of unsalted roasted peanuts, trying to see if I can get even a bit of that magic deliciousness... If it works, I'll post a recipe soon. Cheers!