Sunday, October 24, 2010

First, Let Me Apologize . . .

to Tom and Betty Miller. If an army of hungry Dannenbergs march on Ridgecrest (CA), we take responsibility.

Wait a minute. No we don’t. It’s their "fault" for being such great hosts.

We made the drive from Bakersfield to Ridgecrest on a bright Saturday morning, and part of our travels took us through Red Rock State Park along CA Route 14.

Thanks to Betty’s excellent directions, we made it to Casa Miller with only one minor misstep. Our GPS didn’t recognize their street but fortunately Betty had been outside doing some yard work and saw the Big White Truck going down the road right past their turn off. Figuring that the truck would be retracing its steps, she positioned herself along the road in plain sight.

We had arrived.

(Looking to the northeast, the faint outline of a third range features Telescope Peak [center of photo] the highest point of the Panamint Range within Death Valley National Park about 100 miles away.)

Immediately we were greeted by the true rulers of the home, Addie and Millie, their two Yellow Labrador Retrievers. Like most Labs, they are attention “sponges,” so much time was spent scratching heads.

After we had visited for a while, it was time for lunch. Unfortunately, the photographer was so busy eating that he neglected to get photos of this meal. (This situation was rectified for dinner.) In addition to a large tossed salad with bread, we shared a batch of Betty’s homemade clam chowder. How good was the chowder? So good that a batch (made following Betty’s recipe) is now sitting in my refrigerator “aging” for dinner tomorrow night. Along with a copious quantity of chopped clams, this hearty chowder contains potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, clam stock, and half and half.

Time for kick-off. The Iowa vs. Michigan football game was on and part of the afternoon was spent agonizing while Iowa almost frittered away a big lead in the fourth quarter. But we all took a time-out for a tour of the house (designed and constructed by Tom and Betty) and the grounds.

Dinner that evening was to be al fresco on their newly renovated patio that commands a view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Tom had earlier soaked wood chips in beer (The wood chips only needed a half a can. What happened to that other half can? I seem to remember Chuck drinking it.) and soon the wood chips were ready for the Beer Can Chicken to hit the grill. Time to open another beer.

For an appetizer, Betty put out a platter of toast rounds topped with her homemade bruschetta topping. The juicy tomatoes were tossed with fresh basil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar and then sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Since all four of us enjoy bruschetta, these didn’t last long.

It was time for Chef Tom to remove the chicken and

for Chef Betty to put a mélange of marinated fresh vegetables in the grill-top stir fry basket.

Now the aroma of grilling veggies was added to the aroma of grilled chicken. Hungry yet?

After enduring the torture of having to wait (Chef Betty used humor to help shorten the wait--. . . "and the wine's not bad either" reads the last line of the apron's message), it was finally time to eat.

Rounding out the menu were gratin potatoes (Betty’s creation) and

Caesar Salad (Tom’s creation).

What a meal. The Beer Can Chicken was super moist and juicy; the potatoes were rich and creamy; the veggies were still crisp; and the salad with Tom’s dressing was perfect. And with this we shared a bottle of excellent Chardonnay.

But we weren’t finished yet. As dusk settled, we sat back and enjoyed Betty’s chocolate mousse along with a glass of zesty Zinfandel. (By this time it was too dark for additional photos.)

Soon we had to leave for the drive back to Bakersfield. As the yawning navigator settled into the passenger seat, the driver said: “You have to keep talking so that I stay awake.”

So we spent the drive back reflecting on our 5.0 Addie day at the Miller’s.

No comments: