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?