Upon Reflection

by Stacey Jaros

One of the first things I did in 2016 was write "2017" on a check. A work check. And I mailed it to the client. It's like my subconscious was saying, "you're gonna wanna skip this one." Yes this year was emotionally difficult. Sometimes it felt impossible to catch my breath before the next wave hit. Upon reflection I enjoyed many gifts this year.

My little home and family had a pretty good year. I was hardly ever unwell (really rare for me). We had a fun long weekend with friends and family at the occasion on my high school 30 year reunion. I attended lots of comedy shows and some cool concerts (including U2, and 2 Prince shows). I "discovered" Hamilton. My husband and some friends of ours created an episodic "do-it-yourself" show. Have a look at one of my favorite episodes if you'd like.

I'm not sorry to see 2016 behind me, and I believe 2017 will be challenging, but I'm ready for what's next.

Get Your Own Tots

by Stacey Jaros

Several weeks ago on some weekend day we had the TV on while doing chores. An episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives rolled around. One of the places profiled was Sakaya Kitchen in Miami, FL. Since I'm a fan of Asian fusion (duck tacos, yum! RIP Kung Fu Tacos.) I paid real close attention while I folded laundry.

One of the dishes they highlighted was "Chunk'd Tots." Like many things on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives I was a little afraid of just what over-the-top thing "chund'd" might mean. The chef started with a marinade, which seemed innocent enough. The meat was grilled and then set aside. Then he made a sauce which happened really quickly in TV time. I didn't even catch the details of the ingredients but the next element was deep-fried tater tots. Who doesn't love tots?

Then the tots were tossed in the sauce, topped with the meat, and served hot. Before the host took the bite of approval I shouted, "I'm making that."

Thanks to Google I found an actual recipe. The ingredients looked workable, and really delicious. I knew I could substitute bulgogi pre-marinated boneless beef ribs. I figured it wouldn't be that awful to bake the tots like I usually do at home, rather than deep-frying them.

I set about gathering ingredients. I headed to Trader Joe's for the Bool Kogi
After googling "white melting cheese" I chose some asiago and fontina while I was there. I also searched for some gochujang at Trader Joe's but they didn't seem to have any. I moved on to our local, family-owned, supermarket for tots and scallions. While there I looked for gochujang but again was denied. Since making the dish wasn't going to happen for a few days I took my shopping home. The next day I swung by our local Safeway and I was yet again denied gochujang. I was really surprised I was unable to find the condiment. I figured I'd have to order it from Amazon.

At that point the soonest I was going to make the dish was today, Sunday. Since I was headed into San Francisco yesterday I thought I'd swing by a store or two on the way home. Success! The Safeway in my old neighborhood had two varieties of gochujang to choose from.

This morning I set about preparing the cheese sauce. It came together pretty easily. I only wish I'd made a little more, I didn't measure the ingredients carefully. I also measured a little shy on the gochujang because there is some HEAT in it.

Jeff grilled up the Bool Kogi while I baked the tots in the oven. Once cooked I tossed the tots in the sauce. Even though I was being very gentle while tossing the tots a couple fell apart. I think if they'd been fried they may have held together a little better. I found using the most delicate touch  I was able to coat the remainder of the tots without breaking any more.

After dishing up the sauce covered tots, I sprinkled a handful of the cooked beef, then a few scallion slices.

This. Did. Not. Disappoint.

I will definitely make this again, and I'm wondering what else I can put this sauce on.

I've definitely made quick plans to visit a place I discovered on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (Tee Off in San Francisco) but this is the first time I've sought out a recipe this impulsively.

Even with the trouble obtaining all the ingredients I would definitely do this again. You probably should too.

I made myself take a break mid-bowl to take a picture. It wasn't easy. I didn't even bother to make sure it was in focus. I'm not sorry.

I made myself take a break mid-bowl to take a picture. It wasn't easy. I didn't even bother to make sure it was in focus. I'm not sorry.