Pondering Pondicherry and Potential Dating Disasters

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When all else fails, there are always Vadouvan Chicken Tenders.

After smacking the right side of my head into my walrus coat rack while bringing in groceries (yeah, don’t ask), I determined that ice to the head, a Sunday daydrink, and some procrastination would be in order.  No worries. I don’t appear to be in imminent danger at the present moment.  In fact, I still managed to make the tasty dinner I had planned in between the on-and-off icing of my right temple.  Last year, while on a spice shopping extravaganza at my beloved Williams-Sonoma, I picked up a French curry called Vadouvan.  Until now, I really had no use for it.  I think I slapped it on a strip steak once as a dry rub, but decided I liked the Ras el Hanout better on steak (we’ll save that spice for another time) and that Vadouvan would be better on chicken.  Then I promptly forgot about that notion.  For those of you wondering what Vadouvan is, it’s a type of masala that is heavy on garlic and shallots, and appears to have originated in the French colony (Pondicherry) of India.  It is supposed to be more mild and delicate, and this blend actually has curry leaves in it.

First, let’s back up to Saturday afternoon, shall we?   A friend and I decided to meet for a fundraiser at a local establishment where we enjoyed some beverages and raffles for a good cause.  She relayed how she was having recent success with a Match.com suitor and that they would be cooking up chicken kabobs and rice later that evening.  She lamented over the fact that she bought a boxed rice pilaf and I told her there would be nothing to worry about, but that I would look into some homemade versions (I do have a good one that is pretty fancy that I will post at a later date).  In turn, I described how I successfully averted a potential dating disaster over the past week.  Those who know me well would say that I’m very straightforward and clear about what I want and don’t want in a potential mate.  So imagine my surprise when I received an email about a week or so ago from another friend that went something like this:

“Would you be interested in meeting Mr. So-and-so? He’s 35, not married, and originally from Fill-in-the-blank.”

I proceeded to reach out to the K9 Network: a crack team of selected BFFs that can do some supplemental internet and old-school Nancy Drew-style sleuthing.  Since one of the K9s is originally from Fill-in-the-blank, I discovered that Mr. So-and-so was married, or at least had been during the time of this K9’s pregnancy and her kid is only about 8 months old.  I responded to the email in return with my tidbit and was told, “Oh, you’re good. Divorce is recently finalized. He’s interested (among other comments). Do you want to meet him?”

Frick-yeah, I’m good. “I need to know the back story and if there is any spawn from the previous,” I replied. I received no response to my query for several days.

Finally, I received the detailed drama via email which included a five-year-old and twice-monthly weekend visits in a nearby city where the ex-wife and kid reside.

My very eloquent response to that message was, “Those are some pretty big bombshells you got there.”

A couple of comments came from other friends about at least meeting for coffee or drinks because, “Hey, you just never know.”  I responded to those with, “Hey, what I know for sure is: that’s a Wednesday night I’ll just never get back.”  My Saturday afternoon companion’s response was, “Oh sure, he’d be great guy… providing you want to get knocked-up and have a five-year-old accessory on the side.”  The email chain was discussed over Hendrick’s cucumber martinis at the aforementioned fundraiser, complete with a high-five.  This is why we get along so well.

So today I walked into Wegmans to shop for the chicken recipe below and somewhere between citrus and apples, I heard loud and clear, “Hi Lady Sensory!”  I turned around to greet the person to whom I’ll refer as Patti Stanger.  “Oh my god!  Are you gonna go out with him?  You gotta go out with him.”

I replied, “Ahhhh.  Uhhhh.  No.”

“Why? Is it because of the kid?”  This was accompanied by a sad-clown face with mimed tears for comedic relief.

“Well, um, yes. The kid, plus the caboodle of drama that accompanies it,” and with that, I was off like a prom dress.

People mean well.  They really do.  And so it goes…and so it goes….

Lady Sensory’s Single, But Not Desperate, Vadouvan Chicken Tenders:

(adapted from Chef Michael Voltaggio’s chicken wing recipe for Williams-Sonoma, found here)

2/3 cup honey

3.5 tbsp grated fresh ginger

2 tbsp grated lime zest (from about 5-6 limes)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1.5 lbs chicken tenderloins (tenders)

1.5 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp kosher salt

3 tbsp Vadouvan curry powder (I got mine at Williams-Sonoma)

Ground black pepper (just a few cranks)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat honey in a small saucepan on the stove under low heat until warm.  Turn off heat and stir in ginger and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Add the lime zest & juice and let stand for about 5 more minutes.  Pour mixture through a strainer into a separate bowl, squeezing out any remaining moisture from the ginger and lime bits.  This makes approximately 1 cup of glaze when done.  You will not need all of it, and when you get a taste of it you will want to use it for something else!  I’m presently dreaming up a tasty salad dressing.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Trim any weird bits (there’s always a tiny bit of chewy white stuff on tenders that I try to take off).  Place in a bowl and drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil (reserve remaining half to grease your cookie sheet) and toss.  Combine Vadouvan, salt and a few cranks of ground black pepper and sprinkle over the chicken tenders.  Toss and rub into the surface a little, then plastic wrap the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.   Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Take a cookie sheet and line with aluminum foil (easier clean-up).  Use the remaining half-tablespoon of oil and grease the foil-covered sheet to reduce sticking.  When the chicken has marinated for at least 2 hours, remove from the fridge and place on the sheet.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once after about 15 minutes.  Tenders will be lightly browned and fragrant.  Remove from oven and place into a bowl and drizzle with glaze, a little at a time, and toss to distribute.  Garnish with fresh cilantro.  I served this with a brown basmati/wild rice mix and steamed broccoli.  This could serve two, but if you’re single and not desperate, mix the remaining chicken with a little glaze, a dash of Dijon mustard, cilantro, and mayonnaise for a tasty lunchtime chicken salad.  I can’t decide if it’s as tasty as this chicken salad, but it will certainly keep you from being bored while you contemplate the design of your very own Old Maid playing cards.

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