repositorian: (crepe myrtle)
So when I feel bad, I cook, or try to; lately I've been wanting to try more international stuff, so that's been on my mind. So the last couple of days have been busy and adventurous!

I finally made this Mongolian sweet-cured beef I found a recipe for online; it's very sugar-heavy and I intended to fix it as actual *cured* beef, but after both parents gave me a look of you want me to eat what I kind of had to change that up and make it a marinade so I could cook the beef. I actually do want my mom to eat it. So I tried documenting the process of making the marinade mixture, which...kind of worked. It looks a bit like road tar, but my kitchen smelled like a spice market making it; it's got demerara sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Indian brown mustard, cinnamon, coriander, tabasco sauce and onion powder. I would have used chopped onions, but I wanted to thicken the sauce so it wouldn't be so very liquid and might stick better to the meat. I'm hopeful of it working out, but also kind of apprehensive.

So with it my plan is to make a cracked wheat salad with roasted veggies, though it's been a while since I've made anything with cracked wheat and my family sometimes can be capricious about liking that.
repositorian: (Default)
So the 'rents and I went out to Mossy Creek Barnyard Festival this past weekend, and that was actually kind of fun. We went Sunday afternoon, because Sunday dinner--for those of you not keeping track of the minutiae in my family, my maternal grandmother used to always handle Sunday dinner for us, and now it's my mom's job as only girl of four, now three with my oldest uncle deceased--was in the slow cooker, and the weather was gorgeous. Didn't buy much, but I bought some wooden spoons (and oddly enough none of the three is actually a spoon) from one of the guys that frequents the festival.

Which is good, because they're all hardwoods and made from recent deadfalls in his/our area and are well-made and hand-turned and all that stuff. I got one really long-handled spatula made of oak, and an avocado spoon made out of what I think is light cherry, but it doesn't have the wood type burned into the handle like his stuff usually does. The other thing is mostly for my mom, and it's called a roux spoon, though it's not technically a spoon nor do we make a lot of stuff that calls for roux. It's really a spatula with a very sharply cut angle on the flat end, good for scraping the fond off the bottoms of pans--something which is deliciously conducive to all the flavors in pan sauces and gravy and stuff, as well as actually getting the pan cleaned up before washing it. That one is a very pretty cherrywood and the best thing about all of them is that they only need to be cleaned with soap and hot water and very lightly oiled once or twice a year. Among the other things I saw at the festival were a wonderful local soap company that does light scents which do wash off in the shower, which is a delightful thing since I like smelling pretty but also don't want to upset all the allergies of the household; they had a muscadine-scented soap which I almost bought but didn't. There was a lady who did handmade lace-weight yarn and had her own custom-made spinning wheel there, and it looked so cool that I had to stop and talk about it, and take a picture. I take a lot of cell phone pictures, and at fairs and festivals and conventions and things I try to ask first, but still a lot of people say it's A-okay. The rest were a whole lot of business cards and a guy knapping flint who let me take a picture of a pretty red knife. (It's a bad angle, but the blade was about half again as long as my middle finger, so...five inches maybe?)

I've been making dinner for the past couple nights, and will be making for the next couple more; Sunday night was slow-cooker pork ragout, which was amazing, and last night was mini cheeseburger pies that you make in a muffin pan, both served with green salad. Tonight I'm getting adventurous and doing chicken Florentine in a way that doesn't really have a recipe. I'm hopeful for how it turns out since the idea seems easy enough, but we all know how things that start like that go. My basic idea is to lightly panko-coat chicken breast strips, and bake them until crispy, then top with spinach and artichoke dip and cheese and broil them to make it hot and bubbly, and serve with roasted tomatoes and orzo with some light kind of oil/vinegar dressing, or maybe a very light red sauce. I dunno yet. That with a green salad seems like a pretty excellent dinner on a Tuesday to me, and it should be pretty easy since I have all day to do the pre-assembly and cleaning of the kitchen. Since I cook I usually don't handle cleanup but the parents neglected it last night and I hate walking through there with stuff all over hell and creation.

I'm also taking a bit of a break from the candymaking since it kind of wore me out and there's only so much sweet stuff I can subject my family to in good conscience. I've tried giving stuff to my neighbors before, but I thought in light of it almost being Halloween I'd wait until like...November or December when it's more traditionally acceptable to just leave stuff on someone else's doorstep; and it's also more feasible temperature-wise here in Georgia.

The outfit on Sunday did work pretty well; I looked really cute, according to the guy who sits behind me in the choir loft and sings bass and might play stuff with me when or if I get to do instrumentals. Ryan is kind of a doll and I adore him and his sense of humor, so it was great validation to hear him say I looked really pretty. I'm still missing a particular friend of mine who's still at boot camp and will be for the next eight weeks; he's going to have a spectacular christmas party when he comes home, but I'm kind of worried that he won't be the same guy, because boot camp changes you in ways nobody expects. But that's a worry for another day, I suppose.
repositorian: (nightcrawler)
Oh My God, I have such a back-ache and headache and everything-ache today. I'm hoping this is not the start of shark week, because that'd suck.

But on the upside, I've made another batch of divinity since the parents wanted some--the other batch was for my uncle--and am looking at the recipe for candied nuts which I love, but don't like having to cook for so long. The recipe says it's for pine nuts, but I have sunflower kernels since they're crispy and not just soft.

And I painted my nails a pretty glittery grey from OPI's James Bond line, called On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Looking at it is sort of making me feel better.
repositorian: (Default)
Today I made divinity candy with pecans, and I'm also making shortbread because it gives me a good chance to use all the cute mini cookie cutters I have, and some of them are halloween-slash-fall themed, and I love them. The little black cat ones are cute especially, and they make me remember my cat, Baxter. He was our oldest and all black and he kind of hated Halloween because there were ALL THESE PEOPLE COMING TO HIS HOUSE WHAT.

But then we started keeping him inside because one year some bunch of assholes broke into the animal shelter and killed all the black cats, and we didn't want him hurt. (Personally I find it hysterical and just that when the group of offenders was found a bystander clocked one of them across the face with a baseball bat, but that's just a bonus.) But I digress.

Anyway, the divinity I count as a real accomplishment since it's the first time I've made it in a long while, and it's notoriously hard to get it to come together right. Essentially the candy is egg whites beaten into stiff peaks mixed with sugar, corn syrup, and water that's come to the hard ball stage (somewhere about 250-260 degrees Farenheit) and vanilla, beaten until it holds its shape, and dropped onto wax paper. I stir in pecans most of the time, but because I forgot to on this batch they just have one pecan half pressed into the top. It works. The trick is getting the egg whites to stiff peaks, because it's a fairly fine line between stiff and broken. I normally use like, a pinch of cream of tartar to act as insurance; it won't keep you from overbeating, but it helps.

Then you stream in the molten sugar--being very careful, because it is rocket-hot and is for all intents and purposes culinary napalm--slowly while you've got the mixer running on high. Run it for about five minutes after you get the sugar mix and vanilla in, and it should look something like marshmallow fluff; white, glossy, fluffy and sticky like flypaper. I use two spoons sprayed with nonstick spray to get it onto the wax paper; you push it off one spoon with the other, and sort of twirl the spoon so that, ideally, it looks smooth and like the top of a dairy queen ice cream.

Mine never look like that. They always turn out a bit more like this instead--and you can tell the ones on the left were slightly hotter when dropped on the sheet, because they're smoother--which is fine by me because I'm not a pastry chef nor do I really worry about impressing people with how my candy looks. It's all about the taste for me.

But even more than that baking makes me feel calmer, and makes me feel like the people--women especially, though the men too--in my family before me would be proud. These aren't necessarily family recipes, but they take work and the results make people smile, and that's really what I'm going for. I don't know if I love it enough to make it my career, because I don't want to be bullied into making it professionally every single time, and if I don't absolutely love it then that could turn me off it forever. And I'm already mostly done with a history degree. I like it better as a career anyway.

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Alice Bluebonnet Seeks Johnnie Fedora

June 2015

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