Fun things, Feb 9: cooked a whopping great dinner and invited Tea over to share it. We had pot roast for the omnis and pan-fried chicken thighs for the pollotarian, plus mashed potatoes and maple thyme carrots. Dessert was a splendid vegan GF apple crumble with various ice creams.( Pot roast )
Pan-fried chicken thighs: salt and pepper skinless boneless thigh filets, heat oil in pan, fry chicken a few minutes on each side until cooked through.
Mashed potatoes: cook potatoes, mash with lots of Earth Balance and unsweetened almond milk.
Maple thyme carrot recipe here
.( Apple crumble )
- thinking about:
experiences.2014, experiences.2014.fun, food, food.baking, food.baking.apples, food.cooking, food.cooking.beef, food.cooking.beef.pot roast, food.cooking.carrots, food.cooking.chicken, food.cooking.potatoes, food.recipes
A freelance check came in, so I bought men's pants! Men's Wearhouse was having a two-for-one sale and the 31–30 slim fit 100% cotton slacks fit me perfectly. Another gap in my wardrobe has been filled.
Tonight J and I made lentil soup and then I made mint chocolate chip ice. Both came out reasonably well but could have been better. ( Recipes behind the cut. )
Ever wonder whether something is really as awful as you remember? X and I watched Blues Brothers 2000
tonight. It is actually more
awful than we remember. Considerably more. That said, we're now very inspired to hunt down some good live music when we're in New Orleans for World Horror/Stokers Weekend next month. (Will you be there?) And it turned out she hadn't seen the video for "Q.U.E.E.N." so we rectified that as soon as the movie was done, and that made the world considerably better.
Last weekend I got both my inboxes down to zero, and I've kept them there all week. I have also been way WAY more productive at work and more relaxed at home. (I read a book--no, two books! I watched two episodes of DS9
!) I don't think this is coincidence. I really had no idea how much stress I felt looking at unanswered things in my inbox until they weren't there anymore. Now I tab to my inbox, smile, and feel like I really get to choose what I do next--no pressure, no stress. I recommend this highly. (I explain my process in the comments on the DW version of this entry
After consulting with my therp, I'm tentatively planning to go off the Zoloft once Readercon is done. (The timing is not coincidence.) I'll wait a month to make sure I'm doing okay without it, and then try very carefully drinking some flavored tea and see what happens.
Readercon stuff is not actually that stressful right now, because we're in the part I love best: collecting data and building the program. I'm also organizing a really exciting thing for Saturday night that I hope will be stupendously awesome. Yay for friends who know what they're doing and can reassure me that my plans are feasible and unlikely to become "a clusterwhentwopeopleloveeachotherverymuc
h". Yay for feeling much better about trying this new-to-me thing now that I've actually got the ball rolling.
I wonder what I will do with all my free time and energy once Readercon is done. I'll still be on the concom and progcom and safecom, but I'm stepping down as program chair, and that's a huge weight off my shoulders. I don't go dancing anymore, and even if I took it up again, I wouldn't volunteer to nearly the extent that I used to (if at all). I don't cook for Arisia anymore. I have Long Hidden
to co-edit, but that's a freelance project and I'll do it in freelance time. For the first time in a long long while, I will have no unpaid volunteer gigs to occupy me.
Maybe domesticity will be my next thing. It's what I most love doing right now: bustling around the house, talking with X and J about household projects, cooking, building and buying things, having people over, family time. More of that would be really nice.
Maybe I'll knit more, read more, do a better job of keeping up with the rewatch.
Or maybe I'll just improvise, be spontaneous, do whatever I feel like doing. I'm not very good at spontaneity, but the only way to get better at it is to make space for it.
Augh, is it really getting light out? I am not doing very well with sticking to anything resembling my sleep schedule. Having a week off from work isn't going to help with this. Oh well.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.organization, behavior.planning, behavior.volunteering, body.body clock, events.cons, events.cons.readercon, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.zoloft, experiences.movies, experiences.music, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.ice cream, food.cooking.soup, food.cooking.soup.lentil, food.recipes, stuff.clothes, stuff.tech
I spent a fair amount of yesterday looking up various soup recipes. They led me to conclude that you can make vegetable soup pretty much any way you want. So I improvised with what we had on hand, and I encourage you to likewise adjust this recipe to your own tastes and supplies. It's very flexible because you don't have to worry about different cooking times for different ingredients: it's all cooked into mush and then pureed.
You'll need a big pot for this. Our medium pot (5 quarts, I think?) barely handled it. Makes about nine 2-cup servings depending on how you adjust the quantities given.
The following are the ingredients I used, with suggestions for alternatives in parentheses.
1 onion, chopped
(could be two, plus a crushed clove of garlic or two; or add miso to taste at the "season to taste" step)
a few shakes/grinds each of ground cumin, powdered ginger, and black pepper
(you could also try curry powder, turmeric, mustard powder, ras al hanout, whole mustard or cumin seeds, paprika, cayenne, etc.)
1 enormous turnip, peeled and chopped--seriously, it was bigger than the onion!
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
.5 cup tomato puree
(could also include other root vegetables, zucchini, squash, peppers; for the tomato puree, you can substitute canned diced tomatoes or peeled and de-seeded fresh tomatoes if you have good ones on hand)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked through (or beans, chickpeas, or raw nuts)
2 cups cooked white rice (or .5 cup uncooked rice and 1 additional cup water)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
(and/or any other fresh or dried herbs you like; parsley or cilantro would be particularly good, or dried bay leaves, or you could be adventurous and try marjoram or sage)
4 cups (one 32-oz. box) vegetable broth
3 to 4 cups water
In your big pot, heat oil and a few drops of water over medium heat until the water sizzles. Add a dash of salt. Sauté aromatics 10 minutes until softened. Add and sauté spices 1 minute or until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to keep things from sticking to the bottom. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed so the liquid just covers the solids.
Adjust seasonings to taste (I usually add a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, miso paste for extra umami, and/or salt and pepper) and simmer 15 more minutes or until all the solids are soft and mushy. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. Remove thyme stems; if the leaves haven't already fallen off them, strip the leaves off and stir them into the soup, discarding the stems. (If using bay leaves, take those out too.) Puree the soup with a stick blender or in batches in a regular blender. At this point, if you're not eating it right away, you can distribute the soup into containers, let it cool to room temp, and store in fridge or freezer.
Before serving, return to pot and heat; add a splash of red wine vinegar or a squeeze of lemon or lime if you like; serve garnished with fresh thyme or parsley.
Lentils + rice = complete protein, hooray! There's probably a ton of fiber in there too. This is definitely Good For You as well as being tasty. And it's easy.
Most of the flavor in the soup comes from the broth and the spices and herbs; don't expect the vegetables to flavor it much unless you want to go to the trouble of roasting them beforehand. If your soup isn't very flavorful, add some vegetable boullion, or increase the spices at the 30-minute flavor-adjusting mark. The vinegar or citrus juice will punch it up too. Enjoy!
We're upstate for Thanksgiving, which is splendid. I got a whim to bake a vanilla chocolate chip cake tonight, but I didn't want to fuss with the hand mixer. As usual, I rambled about this to Twitter, and muppetk
said, "What about a mug cake?"
And I exclaimed "GENIUS!" because the upstate house has a working microwave! (And soon, very soon, our apartment will too... in theory... only
ten months after we moved in...) So off I went a-Googling and found this recipe
, which I herewith present modified to my tastes.
4 Tbsp flour
5 tsp sugar
.5 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt (or omit entirely)
4 Tbsp unsweetened non-dairy milk (or use vanilla-flavored for LOTS of vanillaness)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix dry ingredients in your microwave-safe mug with a fork, add wet ingredients, mix well until smooth (making sure to get in all the flour around the bottom edge), add add-ins. I dropped 2 tsp of really good raspberry jam into the middle and semi-sweet chocolate chips around the edge
(about twice as many chips as shown in that photo because I wanted to be thorough), just covering them all with batter before I stuck it in the microwave for 60 seconds at level 9. It probably could have used another 10 seconds but I was impatient.
I used the original amount of sugar, which of course made it too sweet. I should know by now not to trust most people's cake recipes regarding sweetness levels. The raspberry jam and chocolate chips were perfect. I might start prepping dry ingredients for this as well as my chocolate mug cake to make at work.
(crossposted to omnomnom
Recipes, as promised!( Vegan gruyère )( Vegan béchamel sauce )( Greek meatballs in olive tomato sauce )( Chocolate mug cake )
Tonight I started a batch of fresh mozzarella and a half-batch of sharp cheddar. (Note to self: half-batches do not have enough mass for the blender to work.) Wednesday my lovely nearby natural grocery will get in unsweetened unflavored soy yogurt and then I can make meltable mozzarella! I was never this excited about cheese back when I could have dairy, but right now it seems like the most exciting thing in the world. That croque monsieur made my week.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, food, food.baking, food.baking.cake, food.baking.cake.chocolate, food.baking.cake.mug cake, food.cooking, food.cooking.cheese, food.cooking.meatballs, food.cooking.sandwiches, food.cooking.sauce, food.cooking.sauce.bechamel, food.cuisine.vegan, food.nutrition.dairy, food.recipes, stuff.books
We're on day 4 of working from home, which makes me all fidgety. Today that meant baking a cake, based on this vegan gluten-free Earl Grey tea cake
recipe. I don't have Earl Grey, but I do have lapsang souchong, and I think smoky + maple is one of the more awesome flavor combinations in the world (I sweeten lapsang tea with maple syrup), so I gave it a shot. My version produced what my mother would call a "noble failure", but I think it can still be modified to make a great cake.
Here's what I did (which was not entirely successful, so see below for future adjustments):
3.25 C all-purpose flour (for GF flour types and quantities, see original recipe)
1.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp sea salt
.67 C canola oil
1.5 C lapsang souchong (boil 1.5 C water, let sit 3 minutes, steep with 1 level tsp loose tea leaves for 5 minutes--brewed to drinking strength, in other words)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 C maple syrup
Mix dry, mix wet, add wet to dry, mix until just combined. Bake in parchment-lined loaf pan at 375F to internal temp of 212F.
Results and modifications:
* The original recipe calls for an 8.5" loaf pan. I filled mine and it looked ready to overflow, so I transferred the batter into my 9.25" pan to be on the safe side.
* It needed to bake for 1.5 hours, way longer than I was expecting--especially given that I used a larger pan than the one called for--and the top and bottom scorched a bit. I blame the guesswork of converting between wheat and GF flours. The batter also seemed quite wet to me. Possible ways to try to get around this:
-- use only one cup of tea (brewed with the same amount of tea leaves)
-- bake it at 350F
for 2 hours or until thermometer says it's done
-- divide the batter between two smaller loaf pans
-- use a square or round cake pan
For the next iteration I'll probably break out my lovely 9" round springform pan. The batter could even be divided into two square or round pans, baked, and then layered with an appropriate filling; I'd suggest orange marmalade for the original Earl Grey recipe, or if you want to be really daring, a sea salt and black pepper vegan buttercream for the lapsang souchong version. (Has anyone tried the buttercream recipes in Quick and Easy Vegan Bake Sale
? I'm skeptical of anything that calls for shortening but would love to find one that really works, especially since I cannot find salt-free vegan butter anywhere.)
* Regardless of modifications, USE THE THERMOMETER. Going by my nose, I would have taken the cake out of the oven nearly half an hour before it was actually baked through. Going by the thermometer, the outside is slightly scorched (bah), but the middle is perfect.
* The cake is quite dense, almost heavy. I suspect the lapsang isn't as acidic as the Earl Grey, so I might change to 1 tsp baking powder and .5 tsp baking soda, and/or add a splash of cider vinegar.
* Once I get the burnt crust out of the way and dig into the middle of the cake, I can really taste both the maple and the lapsang! Delicious. I don't think it needs to be smokier, but you could go up to 1.5 tsp tea leaves (or one heaping teaspoon) if you want more intense flavor. It is quite sweet, but not cloying.
Time to buy more maple syrup and see if I can make a version that works!
Today was a fucking epic rockstar day.
1) I slept. Not a ton, but it was good sleep and I got up feeling well-rested.
2) I did every single thing on my to-do list plus two things I had forgotten to list, and every part of the day that was about timing went like clockwork.
3) I bought plane tickets for the London trip!
4) I went to lunch with zia_narratora
, and ate spicy curry, and my ear unblocked! And the curry was yummy and the conversation was too. Tea is such a lovely person.
5) I had exactly enough time for a haircut between lunch and workout, and Yelp led me to a great barbershop. My head is finally fuzzy again! Five weeks between haircuts is really way too long.
6) At my workout I did PUSH-UPS. And TRICEPS DIPS. And they felt so good that I did them again. And I still had enough arm afterwards to high-five Chelsea, the awesome trainer I've been working with. (I also had a less fun moment when I was doing a lot of core work, which means tensing my abs--those very same abs that I have carefully taught myself to deliberately relax as an antidote to panic attacks--while leaning against a balance ball. Being literally wobbly amplified the emotional wobbly and I had to take a breather. Chelsea was lovely and brought me water and then stepped out of the room so I could center myself. I sat there and thought, Well, I have paid $85 to have this studio for an hour, and if I want to spend 20 minutes of that hour crying I can do that. But I don't think that's how I want or need to spend that money and time, so let's keep going.
We did and it was just fine. So I call that a net win.) Chelsea even gave me homework, so I can keep working out my arms in between sessions. I cannot even explain how exciting this all is. I never thought I would do another push-up, ever. Today I did thirty of them! From the waist, not full-plank, but still. Tremendous.
7) I edited 4000 words of the book I'm working on.
8) "At some point I must try Julia Child's chicken waterzooi," I said
, and tonight I did, since J and X and I were dining with friends who weren't interested in fish. The creaminess of it reminded me of many years ago when Mi Cucina on Hudson & Jane was a good restaurant and served utterly sublime pollo y rajas con crema with wonderful crispy cubes of potato (if there's a name for those in Spanish, I don't know it), so crispy potatoes became our side dish. We drank Thomas Henry chardonnay
, with which I promptly fell in love--glorious notes of caramel!--and sopped our bowls with French bread and it was very, very good.( Crispy potatoes )( Chicken waterzooi )
Both recipes supposedly serve four, so we doubled them. They just barely served six. Fortunately the waterzooi is intensely rich and we had bread as well as potatoes, so no one went hungry.
(recipes crossposted to omnomnom
Afterwards we went out for gelato. I am so full, my goodness.
Many thanks to our hosts d_aulnoy
(who shopped) and schrodingersgnu
(who helped with cooking) and our dining companion vschanoes
(who cleaned), all of whom made delightful conversation as we stuffed ourselves. What a marvelous evening.
9) I briefly entertained the Gnubaby and felt only somewhat awkward and at a loss. This is an improvement over my usual interactions with babies. I am not a native speaker of baby, but X is planning to have one in a couple of years, so I'm taking every opportunity to learn. (This is an extra reason why I'm really looking forward to hanging out with my friends in London who are parents, and especially the poly parents.) The Gnubaby was getting a bit tired-cranky, but I distracted him by tapping his shoulders in waltz time, which worked very well. d_aulnoy
says we can come over and practice baby anytime we like, and I think we may take her up on it once X is out of crunch mode at work and J and I are done traveling.
10) On the way home, J and X helped me sort out some of my feelings about charging for advice. More on that in another post.
11) I brushed the cats and now they are all sleek and soft. Well, Sam was already soft, but now she's softer. Java's getting lazy and arthritic in his old age and he doesn't always crane his neck all the way around to lick his back, so he gets mats there sometimes, and I like to brush them out. He tolerates it. Sam doesn't need the brushing, but she loves it and boofs the brush and purrs like a Harley and is all cuddly after. They are such good kitties.
And now I have stayed up far too late reading the archives of "Scandinavia and the World" because I sent the link to schrodingersgnu
, so I will feed the kitties and pass the out.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.planning, body.arms, body.ears, body.exercise, body.hair, experiences.joy, experiences.socializing, experiences.travel, experiences.work.freelance, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.potatoes, food.cooking.stew, food.cooking.stew.waterzooi, food.drinks, food.drinks.wine, food.recipes, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.cats, people.children
Maybe ten years ago, maybe more, I had a bowl of waterzooi at Markt, a Belgian restaurant that at the time was in the Meatpacking District. (It's moved up to Chelsea and they don't have waterzooi on the menu anymore.) It was one of those life-changing culinary experiences. I eat seafood very rarely; I'd never encountered fish cooked with milk before. The broth was silky, the fish delicate and flaky, the strands of julienned vegetables eminently slurpable. Since then I've had many a creamy chowder, but none came close to the sublime richness of waterzooi, which incorporates both egg yolks and heavy cream (and, in Markt's version, lobster--definitely not traditional, but so delicious!).
On Tuesday we inaugurated our fabulous new blender by making cashew cream (pour boiling water over cashews, soak for one hour, drain, blend with cold water to desired consistency; we blended in a sauteed diced shallot for extra flavor). We made it quite thick and had a lot left over after making a really excellent pasta alfredo, so I'd been thinking about how to use it. Today I mixed some with water, leftover mashed potatoes, nutmeg, and thyme for the best creamy potato soup I've ever had. That made me think of chowder, which made me think of waterzooi. I hunted up a recipe
that called for fish (though at some point I must try Julia Child's chicken waterzooi
) and we set about adapting it for my dairy-free, low-salt diet.( Ingredients and recipe )
This recipe has a great cooking rhythm. There's just the right amount of time for cubing the fish and chopping the parsley as the vegetables cook, and for loading the dishwasher and separating the eggs as the fish simmers. It smells fantastic while it cooks, and one bowlful is a perfect meal. Even though we used low-sodium broth, it needed just the barest touch of salt to make the flavors pop. The two of us had a serving each, and the third serving is sitting in the fridge, where I suspect the flavors will marry gloriously.
It would be very easy to veganize: no egg yolks, more cashew cream to compensate, veg broth instead of chicken broth, tofu and/or mushrooms instead of fish. Maybe some day I'll try that. The vegetables could also be varied from the classic mirepoix; as I recall, the dish at Markt had long strands of zucchini and red bell pepper. Lemongrass, ginger, and a dash of hot sauce would give it a lovely Thai flavor, perfect served over rice instead of bread. It's a superbly adaptable recipe. I look forward to playing around with it.
(crossposted to omnomnom
Tonight's dinner recipe:
1) Plan to make broiled chicken thighs, mashed potatoes, and spinach. Go shopping just before store closes. Get home. Realize you have bought chicken wings instead of thighs. Panic.
2) Look up a "Japanese" chicken wings recipe
online. Think this looks pretty easy. Drink grappa. Slowly stop panicking.
3) Mix up a very basic sauce: 3 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp water, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup vinegar. Discover that the bowl you used was too small. Pour the sauce into a bigger bowl. Discover that most of the sugar remained in the smaller bowl. Scrape it out a lot.
4) Dredge chicken wings in egg and then in flour. Lay them out on a foil-covered baking sheet. Stick them under the under-oven broiler.
5) Realize you forgot something and immediately pull the sheet out from under the broiler. Spray the wings with cooking oil. Put them back under the broiler.
6) After broiling 3 minutes, discover that the sheet is wider than the heat source. Swap the center and edge wings and broil another 2 minutes. Flip wings over. Put them back under the broiler.
7) After broiling 3 minutes, attempt to pull sheet out from under broiler. Discover that the pointy bits of the wings have gotten stuck in the broiler. Laugh hysterically because it's that or panic again. Use a wooden spoon to extricate the wings. Count them to make sure you got them all because the last thing you want is to find one of them under the stove two weeks from now.
8) Put the wings in the oven at 350F. Baste with sauce. Set timer for 30 minutes. Whenever you smell the sauce turning into carbon, baste the wings again. Meanwhile, make mashed potatoes and sauté spinach.
9) Timer goes off just as your partner decides she wants to get beer. Turn the oven off and let the wings sit in there to stay hot while she goes out to the store. Spoon the carbonized sauce over the wings so they look like you actually managed to brown them. Attempt to find a place on a chicken wing to stick a thermometer to see whether they're done; give up and assume they'll be fine.
10) Partner comes back and reports that the supermarket is closed because it's after 10 p.m. Realize you knew that. Realize it's a bit late to be having dinner. Decide not to care.
11) Have delicious chicken wings, mashed potatoes, and spinach for dinner.
Tonight we made chicken stew for dinner. When Josh suggested it, I wasn't terribly enthused, because I think of chicken as bland-ish and stew as bland-ish and had no sense-memory of flavors attached to the concept of "chicken stew". But now I do! It tasted like chicken pot pie without the pie, and it was delicious
The recipe is straight from Cook's Illustrated
as usual. We didn't cut up the chicken thighs before stewing them; why bother? Once the stew was done, Josh encouraged them to finish falling apart into shreds. Neither of our local grocery stores had celery root, so we substituted turnip. The thighs came in packages of eight, so that's what we put in, and it did not feel insufficiently chickeny even though the recipe recommends using twelve. We cooked it on the stove for longer than suggested, as a loaf of bread was occupying the oven. (Homemade bread is an excellent accompaniment to this stew, incidentally.) The recipe as given below has half as much garlic (for my sake) and onion (for Xtina's) as the original recipe; adjust as you see fit.( Chicken stew with winter vegetables )
Their estimate is that this recipe makes six to eight servings; we added just a bit of rice to stretch it to eight. It is very, very filling even in small quantities. We will definitely be making it again.
Horchata v0.6b: near-complete success!
1) Make cinnamon infusion. Bring 4c water to a boil in a small pot or pan with a tight-fitting lid. Place 2 heaping teaspoons of ground cinnamon in a disposable paper tea bag and put it in the water, holding it in place with the lid. Boil ten minutes. Discard the tea bag. (DO NOT squeeze it to try to get the last of the liquid out. You'll end up with shreds of wet paper and cinnamon all over the place.) Take the infusion off the heat, let it cool, and store it in the fridge in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
2) Make 1:1 sugar syrup. Put equal parts sugar and water in a pan, bring it to a boil, and whisk until the sugar completely dissolves. Immediately take it off the heat, let it cool, and store it in the fridge in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
3) Make the horchata base. In a blender, coarsely grind 1.5c white rice and then .75c slivered blanched almonds. You want to release the rice starch and almond oils, but you don't want to turn them all the way into powder. Place the ground rice and almonds in a two-quart glass jar. Pour in 4c boiling water and .75tsp vanilla extract. Stir with a long wooden or plastic spoon (carefully--the jar is full of boiling water!) and store in the fridge. Check it twice a day; if the liquid layer on top is still mostly clear, give the jar a good shake and put it back in the fridge. When the liquid layer has turned cloudy white (which will take a few days), it's ready. The longer you leave it, the thicker it will be, so patience is definitely rewarded here. When you can't bear to wait any longer, strain the liquid into a bowl through a regular strainer. Rinse out the jar and strain the liquid back into the jar through a fine strainer. You should end up with about 3c of horchata base.
4) Make horchata! To the base, add .75c cinnamon infusion, .25c sugar syrup, and 2c cold water. If you want it more cinnamony or more sweet, adjust the proportions. To avoid over-diluting, a good rule of thumb is that the total volume of infusion, sugar syrup, and water should be about equal to the total volume of horchata base. Remember that horchata should have a milky texture, and err on the side of less dilution as it's served over ice and the melting ice cubes will dilute it further. Store it in the fridge.
I say "near-complete success" because a) I used 4.5c of boiling water, which I think is too much; b) I strained it after two days and the liquid wasn't quite thick enough yet; and c) I over-diluted it while trying to figure out the cinnamon infusion proportions. But I think the recipe as given above should work basically perfectly.
came by to inaugurate our Thursday dinners, with much success. We made turkey chili, based off of ( this recipe from Cook's Illustrated. )
Half a cup of chili powder! Crazy! But it worked. We stuffed ourselves quite happily.
For dessert I melted some chocolate chips in a makeshift double boiler, drizzled the chocolate over pieces of banana, and sprinkled unflavored pop rocks on top. (Thanks for dropping them off at my office, novalis
!) They were, as expected, banana-y and chocolaty and fizzy. I have two banana pieces in the fridge right now--one with a single layer of chocolate and pop rocks, the other with a second layer of chocolate that will in theory protect the pop rocks from condensation--as well as a chocolate/pop rocks mixture that I simply spread out on a sheet of parchment paper to turn into chocolate breakup. If they do well refrigerated overnight, I'll make another batch tomorrow night to bring to the ball on Saturday. If not, I'll figure out something else.
Tonight's dinner: pork stewed in beer.( Recipe from The Nero Wolfe Cookbook )
We fried up the trimmed-off bits of pork and a few scraps of onion in the leftover butter. They were amazing
and tided us over until 10 p.m. when dinner was finally ready. Now I remember why we used to shop in advance rather than attempting to shop and
cook after work.
The pork was tender and succulent; the sauce was thick and rich and perfect for sopping up with chunks of bread. (I do think it could have used a bit more depth of flavor and perhaps a little sweetness; I blame that partly on using a fairly nondescript ale and partly on our geriatric bay leaves, which really need to be replaced. Next time, might add a little sweetish white wine, or maybe some white balsamic vinegar.) We have four small or two large servings of leftovers, and I think they will make excellent lunches.
Incidentally, the meat at Whole Foods is vastly superior to that at Fairway. I still love Fairway for everything else, but for charcuterie Whole Foods definitely wins.
We also bought veggies--Brussels sprouts, carrots, red bell peppers, green beans, another Vidalia--and chicken* and coconut milk. A few of the carrots were sacrificed tonight for maple ginger thyme carrots
, since I didn't get to make them the other night. We'll turn the rest into curry on Thursday. Mmm, curry.* Specifically, chicken thigh.
(Spent on groceries today: $58. Total since 8/7/08: $150. That's about the weekly budget I was hoping for, which is excellent. Now to curtail day-to-day spending on other things. Fortunately, with plenty of leftovers for lunch and doing freelance work at the library rather than at cafes, I don't have much that I want to spend money on.)
Since the carrot recipe has since vanished, here it is:
GLAZED CARROTS WITH MAPLE SYRUP
contributed by Shady Maple Farm
1 lb carrots, cleaned and sliced thickly on diagonal
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
Cook the carrots in salted boiling water for 5–8 minutes, until tender-crisp. Drain thoroughly. Add the butter, maple syrup, ginger, and thyme to the carrots. Cook, uncovered, on medium heat until the syrup boils. Continue cooking uncovered until the syrup is reduced and thickened and the carrots are glazed, approximately five minutes.
*Ginger adds heat to this simple dish, while thyme adds flavor and visual appeal.
Stealthy Pepper Cookies
(adapted from this sugar cookie recipe
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons white pepper
Cracked black peppercorns
Cream butter and sugar; add eggs, milk, vanilla. Sift or whisk together dry ingredients except for peppercorns. (Be prepared for sneezing when you mix in the pepper.) Add dry to wet, mix until dough forms. If dough is very soft, add up to 1/4 cup additional flour. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a log of about 2" diameter. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour and preferably overnight. The dough is fairly soft, so after it has firmed up somewhat you may want to roll it around a little to keep it from getting flat on the bottom. Another option is to flatten four sides and make square cookies. For cookies that won't spread, freeze the dough for half an hour just before baking.
Heat oven to 400F. If dough has been frozen, let logs sit at room temperature for five minutes. Spread peppercorns over a flat surface and roll the logs in them to lightly coat. You may have to press down fairly hard to get the peppercorns to stick to the dough. Slice into 1/4"-thick rounds (or squares or whatever) and arrange on baking sheet, allowing an inch of spreading space. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden around the edges and on top. Transfer to cooling rack; enjoy while warm and soft or after cooling and crisping.
These are stealthy for two reasons:
1) The white pepper is completely invisible. Without the peppercorns, these would look like perfectly ordinary sugar cookies.
2) They taste like perfectly ordinary sugar cookies too, at first. Give it a moment... aha, there's the heat! Yum.
If you like them less spicy, reduce the white pepper, but don't leave off the peppercorns altogether; they add a lovely flavor as well as additional heat. You can always put in a teaspoon or two of white pepper, mix and taste the dough, and add more if you feel it's needed. I imagine green or pink peppercorns could be used instead of black, as long as they were crushed in some fashion first.
For those of you who said "rabbit rabbit"
when you woke up today, here are some carrots to feed that rabbit.( Carrot-ginger soup )
This soup is, for me, the perfect fall/winter food. The flavors are very rich, but only the ginger really jumps out at you. I deliberately restrained myself with the nutmeg, so it's subtle as nutmeg only rarely manages to be; the tarragon clearly adds something, but you don't find yourself thinking "oh, wow, tarragon". It's hard to tell where the spiciness of ginger ends and the chili powder begins. The soup was very flat when I first tasted it, and then I added the salt and bang! it popped up into three dimensions. The salt particularly brings out the smooth mellow notes of the cream and the sweetness of the carrots and tarragon. It's creamy enough that Java tried to lick the bowl (the ginger gave him a bit of a nasty shock), but not too rich, especially if your stock is well-skimmed.
If you use vegetable broth, it's vegetarian; the only non-vegan item is the cream, and that can probably be substituted for in some fashion. I used Imagine's "No-Chicken" stock because I like it, but I'm not a vegetarian or vegan, so I can't really comment on appropriate substitutions. Experiment! That's what a kitchen is for.