Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Reruns

Back in the dark ages when I was young, summertime did not make for particularly great television watching.

There would be wonderful old movies on past a certain hour, but most of the prime time viewing fare featured reruns. Long before TIVO or DVR features allowed us to devise our own viewing schedules, it was not altogether unpleasant although totally mandatory somehow to sit together and watch our favorite episodes rebroadcast. Whatever choices we had made to watch a particular show during the regular season, it seemed unthinkable to watch anything else once the reruns began.

Seeing certain shows again could be a bit more of a relaxed experience however, especially while I was still young and naive enough not to have figured out that the stars of these shows, the people we tuned in to see, while they might be placed in predictable enough jeopardy, would not ever be killed off in a weekly episode.

Yes, for an otherwise bright little girl, I admit, it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the main characters in a series would never actually die on the show. For whatever reason my family mostly only watched TV together, we never really talked about what we were watching. So there I would be, sitting casually to belie the fact I was tensely holding my breath, pretending I did not care in the least if my favorite character might have been captured or worse, fatally wounded, in the mayhem that drove any particular week's story line.

Looking back, I suppose it could be considered to my credit that I'd bought in so thoroughly to that contract between viewer and show premise requiring the suspension of disbelief. It exerted such a strong unspoken hold upon me that I never really allowed myself to consider what would happen to story arc of the show if, for example, they did indeed let The Fugitive catch that one-armed man.While I am on the subject allow me to indulge my inner Old Biddy just for a moment. To all of you so swooney over Clooney and his endearing squinting up at you gaze first used to wide effect as Dr. Doug Ross on ER?

I will call your Clooney and raise you my childhood doctor-crush, the beleaguered Dr. Richard Kimble, played by ruggedly handsome David Janssen. That's right, I'm talking about The Fugitive, falsely accused murderer battling week to week to clear his reputation and bring justice to the one-armed man who had brutally killed his love and ruined his happy life.*Sigh*

What do girl crushes on serial television actors have to do with anything?

Bear with me. As I thought about what we would have for dinner tomorrow night, I realized it was time to attempt my own rerun, a do-over of my previously way-too-garlicky, too chunkily cucumbered, Tzatziki Sauce.

Oh all right...groan if you will...it IS a stretch. Go ahead. I'll wait. [.................] All finished? Feel better now? Great. Let's talk Tzatziki.

While super doses of Allium Sativum might seem just what the doctor ordered for a feeling of extra security while watching any of the vampire dominant shows available this summer, garlic can be quite the palate pummeler, rendering you incapable of tasting anything but. I wanted to try tzatziki again, this time without so much garlic to spoil the fun.My previous attempt had also been gently criticized for being too chunky. My definition of "finely chop" when it came to the cucumber, and what was the commonly held expectation of predominantly creamy smoothness in a Tzatziki sauce were at odds. I was determined to right those wrongs and bring the one-armed man to justice at las.... wait, no, where was I?

Ah yes. I wanted to try the delightfully seasoned lamb patties from the Butcher's case at Wheatsville again, this time with a more authentic Tzatziki sauce to serve alongside. A Tzatziki not plagued by garlic overload or too large bits of cuke. Off to the interweb I rode, to find another recipe to try.

And therein lies the rub, if not the sauce. There are as many versions of a Tzatziki sauce as there are television stars inspiring little girl crushes. [Results 1 - 10 of about 158,000 for tzatziki recipe] Some form of a creamy cucumber garlic yogurt sauce is served in so many different regional cuisines, you could go crazy trying to determine what would constitute an "authentic" version.

Unlike the locked down old school version of a summer rerun schedule, I had choices, way too many choices, about which direction to take the seasoning of the sauce.Mint? Which kind of mint? Oregano? Dill? Aaaargh!

What type of green bits did I want to add to elevate this concoction from garlic yogurt to that something more that is Tzatziki?

With so many different sets of directions to follow, there were way too many maps offered to choose much less chart a true course. After a bit of hand wringing over not finding that definitive recipe, I decided to abandon any quest for authenticity.

Tzatziki is a sauce that reflects the time and place and tastes of its maker. I felt liberated to prepare a sauce "to taste" and rightfully declare it my Tzatziki sauce.

I shortcut a day in the prep by using already drained and thickened Greek Yogurt as a base. I seeded and grated the cucumber this go-round. No more "not fine enough" chopping for me! I made a paste of part of one garlic clove, some oregano from the garden, and red wine vinegar with equal amounts of olive oil.

This last bit was inspired by a recipe coming from a young Greek woman who stated this was how her grandmother (and namesake) taught her to make Tzatziki. I had no-fat yogurt so figured the olive oil couldn't hurt. Many recipes call for the addition of lemon juice (except for those that don't!) so the acidity from the vinegar would not be so far fetched.

I may not know Tzatziki from tsathoggua, but I do know better than to mess with Greek grannies (knocks wood and throws salt preemptively over shoulder).

I ended up with a container that holds what looks like a perfectly respectable homage to Tzatziki. The elements in the sauce will spend the day and night together in the refrigerator, getting acquainted, so they can properly introduce each other tomorrow when they reappear beside the lamb patties. Whether or not the greatly reduced amount of garlic will stand in line politely with the rest of the flavors remains to be seen.It looks like Tzatziki sauce but how will it taste? Will the garlic insist on running the show? Will the cucumber bits be fine enough to please a studio audience? Tune in for the next episode of Austin Agrodolce when all will be revealed.

1 comment:

Mayberry Magpie said...

I'm going to admit that I'm old enough to have had a MAD crush on Dr. Steven Kiley (James Brolin) on Marcus Welby MD. I was about 5, but I knew hunkiness when I saw it. Plus, we lived in Santa Monica at the time, and the opening sequence of the show featured the Santa Monica pier and made me feel special because I lived right down the street from a place on TV.