Yet another Fabulous DiVQ Photodocumentary Adventure Production,
Brought To You In Excruciating Detail:

the return of
Dashboard Dining!

I know I said it was all over -- that Dashboard Dining would be no more.  But I still haven't gotten around to selling the Fine Piece of German Engineering (hereinafter referred to lovingly as the "FPOGE"), and as the summer of '08 wears on (...and on, and FREAKING ONNNNN) I feel as if I really should be getting more, considering the price of diesel fuel these days.  Hey, a girl can change her mind -- and we could completely explore the bad-sequel genre.  Zombie Dashboard Dining!  Son of Dashboard Dining!!  Dashboard Dining from Beyond the Grave!!!

Um, well.  So yesterday we were at 114, despite a projected high of 109.  Our "Excessive Heat Warning" is still in effect today, wherein Big Brother goes out on a limb and advises citizens who wish to remain alive to stay inside, in the air conditioning.  Wow, that's a reach.  Anarchist that I am, I'm going to run out to curbside on a regular basis.  Here's the FPOGE out front preheating:

What to cook this time around?  We've done chicken, we've done fatty beef, so it looks as if our next adventure might be pork.  Since the interior of the FPOGE well exceeds the 165 degrees recommended for thoroughly-cooked pork, we might as well.  (No, I never cook pork that hard unless I'm trying to replicate leather, but that's another argument for a different day.)

I've really, really been wanting to cook pork Marbella again, but not many people are as intrigued by the amazing balance of savory/sweet/salty given by the mingling of green olives ad prunes as I am.  It sounds horrid, but it's really, really good -- it'd be uphill trying to convince most of you, so let's just move on.  Another favorite sweet/sour/savory dish involves apricots, brown sugar, vinegar, basil and garlic.

The pork gets the living hell scissored out of it, because I purely despise floppy bits, at least on pork.  The apricots and garlic get chipped up, and into the measuring cup go 1/4 C apricot nectar, 2 Tb brown sugar, 1 Tb + 1 tsp vinegar, enough dried basil to well cover the surface, and a bit of salt and pepper.

Since we're working with an acid here, plus a decent amount of liquid, a foil packet isn't advisable.  Instead, the pork gets wedged into a pyrex dish, the apricots and garlic artfully sprinkled atop, and the liquids stirred and poured over.

Next, we move on to the wonderful world of starch.  There is just nothing better than garlicky sticky rice.  And it's the easiest thing ever -- just be sure to get medium-grain rice, or the texture won't be the same.  All I did was dump 1/4 cup rice into a zipbag, add a shake of garlic for flavor and a couple of dashes of turmeric for color, add in 2/3 C of chicken broth, burp the air out of the bag and it's ready to roll.

There has to be a Designated Green Thing, and back in the primitive days when I started Dashboard Dining there weren't all those adorable tiny packages that you could just fling into the microwave.  I am always ready to embrace any innovation that panders to my natural laziness, however, so snowpeas it is -- anything that can ride in the bionic oven will probably enjoy a trip on the dashboard even more.

Out we go to the FPOGE, tray in hand.  I'm not even going to bother with the Polder thermometer, we all know it gets plenty hot here.  Besides, VQ has its probe out in the garage with a bunch of BBQ equipment, and I'm not going to dig it out.  I would be remiss, though, if I didn't point out that anyone who does not reside on the surface of the sun should make sure that your car's interior reaches temperatures that fall within the USDA's guidelines for safe food prep.

After a certain interval, I once again disregard the stern warning of Big Brother and trot outside.  Oh, lookie!  The rice is plumping up, and the pork is steaming away!

The wait, as always, is the hardest part.  I'm watching the clock, I'm watching the thermometer.  I'm bored, I'm impatient, I'm running out of reruns of "Ninja Warrior".

The temp held steady for a good long time as the sun lowered itself toward the horizon, but at 6:00 it's dinnertime so the tray, potholders, car keys and I went to the curb.  That car smelled FINE, but I should have used a potholder on the door handle too.  *owie*

And there it is!  It totally cracked me up that as I looked through the viewfinder, one perfect ray shot across the dining room and highlighted the plate -- I half expected angels to sing!

The pork was well and truly cooked -- a little too much so.  Since it was in liquid it had dried itself out a bit, and the texture was not optimal.  It even browned some along the edges -- I should have given in and run out there a bit sooner.  The rice had molded into one solid flat wad -- but hey, don't the directions always say "fluff with fork before serving"?  Flavors were well blended, though, and neither I nor the dog found much fault.

Now that I've been sucked back in, if the season offers us another toasty day I might return to vehicular cuisine yet again... who knows, the idea of a whole steamed trout might yet find its expression here on the streets of the Ninth Ring of Hell.

So, what could Diva possibly do after Dashboard Dining?
Visit to find out!