Sunday, December 4, 2011

A month later...

And things are going right along. I'd like to say that I have been busy and I guess I have, but busy doing what? Life sometimes just gets in the way of things, too much time spent on worrying about what to do and in the end not doing anything. I need a hobby- any suggestions? My current hobby is sitting on the computer and doing nothing, it's incredible to me how long I can spend doing absolutely nothing online. Stupid online is driving me crazy! On the eve of graduating from college I am faced with the big looming question- what to do now?

Currently, I am doing a bit of experimental cooking and preparing for my trip up north for the holidays. I got a few super awesome new cookbooks from the library, one of them is called Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume- a lovely middle eastern cookbook, made dinner the other night following an ancient Demascusean recipe. I followed it exactly, something I don't usually do/ am almost not capable of doing. Turned out pretty well, but I can see a million places where I would have changed it to suit my tastes and cooking style. All the same,

Peeling squash by headlamp

It was a lamb and squash yogurt stew served with rice, paired with an arugula and roasted grape ( such a Ben thing to do!) salad. There was definitely a bit of spoiledness that came out of me while making this dish- it seemed so fussy, cooking and transferring and cooking something else with the liquid and recombining, I can see how if you had one burner and one pot of water, this would be your cooking method. I could have made this so much more simply using several pans at the same time- and each food would have been able to be cooked in it's favorite method, but that's the spoildness coming out. Another thing that got me- the rice was cooked using the liquid that the lamb was cooked in, which made for fantasticly rich, tasty rice, but, paired with an incredibly rich stew, a plain white rice, I feel, would have made the whole thing a bit more balanced. Also, as you can tell from the picture, there is a serious lack of green, and also of any fresh aspect, such as chopped herbs or spinach. Look forward to my own version at a later date.

Oh and there was Thanksgiving in there, too. Almost forgot! I made a pie from the book I used this summer, Tarts with Tops on, Apple, Quince, Almond and Prune Pie with Orange and Polenta. I used the name Quince Almond pie with Polenta Crust when telling people what it was- for timesaving sake. It was expensive and incredibly time consuming, and the crust was so strange and hard to work with that I was sure it was not going to come out. It did, however, and was lovely. I presented it with love and took the compliments as they poured it but, honestly, I didn't really like the pie very much at all. And not even because of the prunes! ( They have a horribly poor connotation about them but in all honesty they are just dried plums and when reconstituted properly, are really quite good) The pie was dry and the orange was overwhelming. I turned the quince cooking liquid into a sauce by reducing it and mixing it with creme fraiche, something that was not called for, and the pie would have been lost without it. I should have made ten times as much as I did. All that being said, we went to a Thanksgiving that had about 15 pies, almost all of which were pumpkin. I stand behind my decision not to make a boring old traditional pie. I just maybe picked the wrong one. There is a certain terror involved with pie making, especially when it is being taken somewhere, that has to do with ratios of liquid. I am very hesitant to alter or adjust unfamiliar pie recipes for fear that I will unbalance them and it will turn out like soup. I have no way of knowing whether this particular polenta style crust would not have held up under a more liquidy filling,  possibly that's why the pie was how it was. It's also possible that the author is just a fan of dry pie. Unfortunately, I will just have to live with never knowing the answer, as, due to the strange and expensive ingredients, this is not a pie I will be attempting again. Kudos here to Ben for peeling the quince for me, hands down my least favorite kitchen activity.
He also hand peeled almonds for me!

Look at those ugly little monsters! Lovely apples, though

Cooked quince, way tastier than raw, but still not really worth the effort.

This pie was made in a tart pan with removable bottom- another aspect I was hesitant about. This means that it is meant to be removed completely from the pan before serving! Speaking of terror- this is the ultimate.

In slightly more recent news, I had a canning adventure with my friend Alisha ( sorry about the spelling) yesterday, got everything from my freezer canned! Yay!

Lewis, the bunny

It's a lot more applesauce than it looks like!

All my jars!

It was a much needed girl night, complete with salad rolls and some great conversation. And that concludes the pictures I have taken in the last month. Boring, huh?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jam tart day

That's today! Today is jam tart day. Or, more specifically, jam tart for dinner day. This started with an early morning text session with shannon- or was that during my afternoon nap?- about her failed pie crust. The night before, I had told her that making pie dough the day before would not be a problem. It's never been a problem for me, or really anyone else in the history of the planet. Apparently none of those people had ever made pie dough with straight whole wheat pastry flour. Which, we now know, does not work. Don't do it. But the whole thing got me thinking about flour. I am not a huge fan/user of whole wheat flour, for the same reason that I put salt and butter in everything- I like food to taste good. It then occurred to me that perhaps i could make something tasty and whole wheaty. So I did. It started off with salt and butter, so I knew I was on the right track....

This is the top half, with a hole cut in it

And then the jam goes on the bottom, gets topped with the ring
Thumb print cookies with the left over dough

This recipe is from 101cookbooks, one of my favorite blogs. I chose marion berry jam at the insistence of my mother, with whom I was talking on the phone to while grocery shopping.

Jam Tarts

1 c finely ground cornmeal
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 c flour
1.5 t salt
2 t baking powder
3 T sugar
1 cup butter, very cold, cubed
1.5 c milk
1 egg, white only
1/3 c jam, or so

Start with the dry ingredients in a big bowl, cornmeal and all. If you have a food processor, you're stoked- I did not, as usual I was cutting in butter with my hands. Once the butter is nicely distributed, add in the milk, about half at a time, and work the dough into a ball. I had to turn it out onto the counter to accomplish this. Roll it out with what ever you got- a fancy rolling pin if you're some people, a reusable coffee cup if you're me. About a 1/3 inch thick. You need 2 slightly different sized round things now ( if you can't manage different sizes, the same size would totally be fine) to cut out the circles. Half slightly larger for the bottom, half slightly smaller for the top. Cut a small round out of the tops. Lay out the bottoms on a baking sheet- I didn't grease mine because the spray was empty but knock yourself out- and put a plop of jam in the middle. Get your egg white in a bowl and whip a bit with a fork, then put a bit around the edge of the bottom ring with your finger ( or a fancy pastry brush, if you're so inclined) then put the doughnut lid on. More egg on top of that, then in the oven. 400 degrees, time totally dependent on how big you made them. The jam should be bubbly, they should not jiggle if you poke them in the side, and you should be able to life them up and see the nice, brown bottom. Cool on a wire rack. ( or an inverted broccoli steamer, your choice).

In other news, I stayed up waaay too late last night, retouching pictures. I was pleased to be able to save these two, taken in such low light that I thought they were goners. 

Oh, Lily with her diaper off! It just doesn't get any better than that!

And halloween happened at some point in there, too. I didn't do much, just hit the space room with whit and alisha, as well as nick from savoy and, as it turned out, peter's new roommate, whose name I just can't remember (and by remember I mean look up on facebook, of course.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


So, this was supposed to be at the end.... but for the ****** i can't seem to get them down there, so here is the end first. A few shots Shannon took before they tore Lily from my arms and packed her off down the highway. 

Speaking of awesome outfilts! (we will later on....)

Gosh, has it really been 2 weeks!!?? Guess so. Time flies! Lots been going on here, had Shan, Lily, and Dad down for a visit last week, great time. We went downtown to powells, ate lots of great food, and, most importantly, had plenty of baby time. It was fun to have the two babies together ( the one living in my house and Lily) they actually looked at each other! Pretty cute. I did get to learn that Sophia does cry a lot more than Lily, although she is 9 days younger, soo, maybe that's why? Babies are all different. We took some  awesome pics, most importantly the tutu pics, I will include the whole set here. Sure got my brain churning.....

Camera Switch

And there were more. Oh, this is just the beginning.

Possibly my favorite Lily pic yet- she's gonna get it! Get it Lily!

Ya, ya, the outfit is wild, but I have to honest, it's growing on me. Ps, i will be changing the name of the blog from red truck tales to lily. Seems appropriate.

See there! I took a picture of someone other than Lily! My dad, harvesting chestnuts. Oh, ya, the chestnut harvest! Jeez, baby brain!
So, we showed up at the farm friday morning, geared up and ready to go. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this, we were prepared for anything. Whitney and Alisha ( I'm sorry, dear, i will never spell your name right) were not there yet so we did an orchard walk, and didn't see the nuts. Or the husks, rather. Once we made it back close to the gate, we both squatted down and all of a sudden, there were nuts! They were everywhere, all over the ground. After our eyes ( this is ben and i, i forgot to mention) adjusted to chestnut vision, we were picking them up by the handful. Some of the trees had branches so low that you could stand and take the nuts out of the husks still on the trees. There were about 4 trees in particular that were rockstars, the rest you had to be choosy with. In normal years, i guess all the husks fall and you break them open, this year, i think husk breaking made up about 50% of the harvest- even when you got one, you opened it up and it had one lovely nut, 2 or 3 little ones. Still worth it. But the jackpot was on the ground. They were just everywhere. I'm sure this harvest was dinky compared to a regular one but we sure got all we could handle. I am estimating 20 lbs for mine, another 20 for ben's. Whit and Alisha were still there when we called it a day and took the baby home, their goal was to fill their 5 gallon bucket with nuts- and they did it! They also took home an experimental bucket- one filled with green husks in which the nuts hadn't ripened yet, to see if they will ripen if left. Waiting on the results from that...

My loot! 

So beautiful!