So here’s the not-work Friday Five (Wednesday wobbles?)
Dance: We’re about to move to our summer venue in Sunnyvale for 2nd and 4th Wednesdays. Let me know if you need directions. The 1st, 3rd and 5th Wednesdays are in Menlo Park.
Art: I’ve been a total slacker about the trencher project; partly because work’s been so crazy when I get home in the evening I can’t bear to spend any more time staring at a computer screen. I’ve been testing wafer recipes, and most of them were popular at the cook’s playdate last weekend. I’m going to try some of the waffle recipes. I made some marzipan waffles based on a late 16th century German cookbook and they were really good.
Garden: I’ve got the tomatoes in, and hope to plan some more basil this weekend. The violets have gone crazy, growing in every spot that has dirt. They’ve even taken over the cracks in the patio. The irises did not have a very impressive year. I need to figure out how to feed them. The plum tree looks like it will have a good year. It’s covered in fetal plums already.
Diet: I’m still down 50 pounds from my start weight. I’m hoping to do one last round of the crazystupiddiet this summer (after we get home from vacation in the land of poutine) and lose another15 pounds to get down to my long-term goal weight. It’s been 2 years, 6 months, 13 days since I started on this path. It’s been interesting. I made low-carb pizzas by putting toppings on portabella mushrooms last night. I really liked it, so I’ll try to add that to the repertoire of maintenance foods. Many thanks to learnteach, gormflaith and lifeofglamour who have inspired me to stay on the path.
Happy: I’ve seen three swallowtail butterflies already this summer. There’s a tiny red hummingbird living in the trees between me and lady next door. The hawk that lives on the airbase near work was picking up twigs a few weeks ago, and the other day I saw her flying with a companion. My parents have sold their house and are moving to Iowa (this is mixed-happy, I think it will be good for them, but I’m worried about them moving got the land of snow). After having grown up in an era when sun-bathing was just something teen girls did, I’m happy to say the dermatologist said I’m perfect. I think I’m finally getting to the place where I actually like going to the gym. And of course, I have the best husband in the universe, which makes everything better.
I was standing in the coffee room at work, waiting for my asparagus to finish nuking, and wishing for a ham and cheese sandwich. I was really trying to convince myself that I was being good by eating my veggies and I didn’t need to walk down to the cafeteria and spend money on a grilled ham and cheese sandwich when the cafeteria food nearly always leaves my with a faintly upset tummy anyway. Then, a pretty woman in a brown dress brought in a box of leftovers from somebody’s meeting. Ham! Yay!
I’m faintly tempted to walk around my floor and see who my new fairy godmother is, but I fear it might make me look like a weirdo.
Troy Library saved by outrage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
A link to Jon Stewart ranting about the Monsanto Protection Act: http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2013/
What does 2000 Calories look like? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
One of the things I’d like to do at West Collegium 2013* is “Lunch with Cardinal d’Este’s Retainers”. In her book, The Cardinal’s Hat, Mary Hollingworth uses the records of Ippolito d’Este to reconstruct what his life was like. She also goes into some details on the pay and food of his retainers. Form this, and with the help of the Italian courtesy books, I’d like to create a lunch where the students (in groups of four) would get the same lunch d’Este’s retainers would have gotten, and would then have to share it out amongst themselves with the help of a hand-out/guide and probably some advice from roving instructors.
We’ll need to create a menu, probably make beer and bread, figure out trenchers/pitchers/spoons and more details I’m probably not remembering right now.
So, would you take this class?
Would you like to help create it?
* (November 9th, website has no details yet, http://www.westkingdom.org/as48/nov/
I'm really sorry. If you've kept it under constant refrigeration, it might be safe to open, but I'd rather you just trashed it. The full sugar ones are ok.
Christmas was nice. GM and I went to visit my parents in SoCal, so on Christmas day we went to the San Diego wildlife park to say hello to the rhinos and condors. On boxing day, we went to see the Adams Family Musical. Like most musicals it was charming, if a little thin on plot Then we came back home and lay around the house in utter sloth for a few days before New Year’s. I made a black eyed pea salad for New Year’s, and used the remaining peas to bulk out some red beans and rice. I’d never cooked with black eyed peas before, although I was vaguely aware that it’s a traditional new year’s dish in many parts of the US. I have a suspicion that it is one of those traditions that is making merit of necessity.
Diet: I’m either up 8.3 or down 40 pounds depending on which end you start from. GM and I are thinking about doing the 5/2 diet together over lent, and then I’ll (as necessary) do the final round of the crazystupiddiet in April or August.
Art: I spent most of 12th night in the arts display room, where GM and I had a display on tableware. We had some interesting talks with people about making vs. buying stuff, and about how we had come to the conclusions we had about the sizing of plates. I didn’t do any of the bread carving demos I was prepared for, but that’s ok. I had some every interesting talks about the fruit trencher project, and I really need to get my abstract written. Perhaps this weekend. The Duchess’s Ball at 12th night was fun. There was a lot of people I hadn’t seen before, which always makes the dance ball more of an adventure. Having Brocc be MC was wonderful.
Dance: The Crosston dance ball is scheduled for 9Feb2013, and I would strongly recommend coming and taking the day-time classes for anyone who is planning on attending the Perfectly Period Feast III in March. (Tickets for PPF III can be purchased here) he Crosston Dance Ball will give you a head start on dances that would be cool to know for the PPF after-dinner party. Wednesday Dance Practice will be focused on 16th century dances for the next few weeks, please write for times/directions.
gormflaith s home and resting comfortably after her (expected) surgery. I talked to her a little yesterday when she was still a big groggy on pain meds. I'll call again later today.
I've figured out my class for the Culinary symposium.
Give us this day our daily bread: Bread and Trenchers on the medieval table.
This class will cover the use of bread on the 15th and 16th century dining table, including hands-on carving of eating bread and bread trenchers. There will be a PowerPoint presentation of historical trenchers and bread knives. If time, there will be a discussion of wafers and Elizabethan dessert trenchers. Most information presented will be drawn from English sources.
This class will not be about the history of bread, commercial uses or manufacture of bread, nor about the religious role of bread in medieval society.
At the Mountain View farmer's market on Sunday, my favorite steak vendor had a box of emu eggs. With a little encouragement from my practically perfect apprentice, I bought one. The shells are very pretty.
Tonight, practically perfect apprentice drilled holes both ends and blew it out. Our egg had 21 ounces (2.5 cups) of meat in it. Too much for my souffle pan, so we made an enormous quiche for dinner. It was good, but not noticeably different from chicken eggs. I'm hoping someone will want the shell for an art project, it would make a really cool salt cellar.
I got to get out to the garden today. It’s gone feral. Even my faithful little lamb’s ears have jumped their border. I pulled out two dead tomato plants and a lot of weeds, but you can hardly tell. It’s going to be a long slog this winter to get it back into shape after an entire summer of neglect.
My foot’s better. The broken bone is all healed, so now I’m doing exercises trying to get the ankle back into shape.
I haven’t made a lasagne since I broke my foot in June. I had hoped to make one today, but it was my turn to take snacks for church so I made 54 cupcakes instead. It was the right number. Many went right away and then demand trickled off, and the last lonely cupcake sat for several minutes before someone nabbed it. I used the Texas sheet cake recipe (reduce baking time to 12 minutes) for the cupcakes and frosting. I wish I knew where that recipe came from, I’ve had it since I was a kid.
I think it’s going to be a one-pie Thanksgiving next week. I may put ( fighter-chick’s cherry pie )into a sweet crust and spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves again like I did last thanksgiving.
I went to a dinner party athyster1a's and ate eggs poached in tomato sauce. It sounds weird, but it was really good. Here's a spicy version, and a plain one.
GM and I went to a cute little French restaurant in Mountain View last night, it was good. We got the 1/2 duck in citrus sauce and the herb-crusted lamb rack. The best of the side dishes was the thin-cut potatoes baked with cheese and béchamel, and the delicately sweetened beets. The beets reminded me of really good baked yams. Anyway, on the dessert menu was a raspberry tiramisu which sounded very good, so I asked the girl if it was espresso flavored like an Italian tiramisu. Sadly she said yes, it was, so we got some really good chocolate mousse instead.
But now I'm playing with the idea of making a non-espresso tiramisu (which will really be some sort of trifle, I think). Have you made a tiramisu or eaten enough of them to tell me what are the really important parts? I think I'd like to soak (or just dip) the ladyfingers in Bonny Doon Framboise and layering them with a dark chocolate custard. When I've made trifle before I've used cake, rather than ladyfingers, so any advice on making/soaking ladyfingers would be helpful too.
kiria_dk was recently telling me about her Brownies of Win, I promptly and pompously told her that anything made with raisins just had to be better with dried cherries. I finally had an excuse to try her recipe last night and OMG they were good.
Fudge Cherry Brownies, based on recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home (p. 317).
1/2 cup (one stick) salted butter, extra butter for pan
3 oz unsweetened chocolate (I used Ghirardelli's 60%)
1 cup (7.5 oz) lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs (I used the last two duck eggs from Rosie and Jed)
1/2 cup King Arthur's unbleached white flour
1/2 cup Dried Pitted Tart Montmorency Cherries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
Butter an 8x8 square baking pan
In a microwaveable bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring occasionally. When the butter and chocolate have melted, add all remaining ingredients (except cherries) and beat with an electric mixer until the batter is thoroughly blended and smooth. Add cherries and stir briefly.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until the brownies are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan and are fudgy in the center. For more cakelike brownies, bake an additional 5 minutes.
GM thought the brownies didn't look done at 20 mins, so we went for the extra five.
I love cake...and pie...and cookies. I'd eat dessert first and for every meal if I could. I've got a chocolate cake to take to dance practice tonight sitting on my desk, calling to me. I must resist.
Cake is much better than kidneys. I made the two Kidneys from Mr Pig into Deviled Kidneys with Mushrooms and bacon.
The sauce was good, the mushrooms were lovely but the kidneys...not so much. GM ate them, and said he might even eat the leftovers. This is the second time I've tried kidneys and I think I just don't like them. Kidneys are also very hard to clean. It got easier once I decided I didn't mind wasting some of the meat.
Garden: GM and I skipped Beltane for no particular reason other than we were tired and needed a weekend off. I'm a little sorry we missed it, but on the upside I planted all the basil A'isha gave me. I dug a lot of weeds out of the herb garden and some out of the flower bed. I planted some peas, but I need to put some strings out for them to climb on. Perhaps I'll get to that tonight.
Pig: Last week I finally got possession of the pig I'd put a down payment on last January. He (she? who knows?) was 175 pounds of cleaned weight. I met with co-conspirator vittoriosa for a How to Cut Up a Pig Class. Loren, The Rib King and Professor of Mad Knife Skillz, does not have power tools so I discovered an unexpected benefit of home ownership: I can saw things up. Sawing through bone is easier than I thought it would be. While I'm pretty sure The Rib King alone would have taken my pig part in two hours, it took vittoriosa and I four hours to get Mr Pig in pieces, and get those pieces bagged and tagged. We put some effort into saving every piece* and having eaten the risotto madbaker made from the broth of roasted piggy bones, I think it was worth it. I'm not sure I'll want to cut the pig apart myself next year, it was a considerable effort, and kinda freaky. GM and I had pork chops for dinner on Friday, pork shank with sauerkraut for lunch on Saturday, and we're going to have tongue in Madeira sauce for an appetizer tonight. Tuesday dinner is going to be kidneys (or possibly Chinese take-out, we'll see). My parents are coming up in the next week or two for a visit, perhaps we'll have one of the pork roasts then.
Cool Link: David Wong's How 'The Karate Kid' Ruined The Modern World
Self-Congratulations: I'm patting myself on the back for remembering to send my grandmother a box of chocolates before mother's day, but I still need to figure out what to get my mom. Perhaps I'll just send her home with a lasagna after her visit. I also need to get various things into the mail. Maybe tomorrow.
Art: GM and I will be teaching "Table Manners and Table Service in Early Modern England" at A&S (June 11-13th at Ed Levin Park in San Jose, CA).
* It just occurred to me: there was no penis, so maybe we had a girl-pig.
Anthony Bourdain's version of a bacon explosion is more of a bacon implosion. Last weekend, I made the Mignons de porc a l'ail from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, or at least I would have if I hadn't managed to mess it up on almost every step. Fortunately there's only so wrong you can go with porkloin, bacon, and garlic confit, so GM and I ate it all anyway.
1 small bottle of Christopher Ranch peeled garlic
lots of leftover bacon fat from the back of the fridge
In a small pan, warm the bacon grease until melted. While it's melting, check over the garlic cloves, removing any questionable bits and the woody brown tops. When the bacon fat is warm carefully dump the cloves in. The fat should cover the cloves by a little bit. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, until the cloves are very soft, about 20 minutes. When soft, remove the cloves from fat and place in two bowls. Save half the cloves whole for the sauce. Mash the other half of the cloves with fork into a paste. Pour the leftover garlic scented bacon fat into a jar, label and place in fridge for some future project. It's worth keeping, trust me.
1 little (about a pound?) pork loin from Trader Joe's.
8-10 slices of Dittmer's bacon
Slice the pork loin long ways, then slice each half in half, also long ways. You now have four long skinny slabs of pork loin. If you really like salt, or made your garlic confit with olive oil, salt the pork loin gently. using clean fingers or the tool of your choice, slather the pieces of pork loin with the garlic paste. Lay out the four pieces of pork loin on a large piece of saran-wrap, flipping the pieces around until it's as even a thickness as you can get. Place one piece of bacon in between each piece of pork loin. Put the remaining slices of bacon longways around the outside of the porkroll. Roll the pork loin up into a tube shape, using the saran-wrap to get it as tight was possible. Place in fridge for as long as you can. (Mr. Bourdain said overnight, but I was on a deadline and got in an hour or two, I think.)
Remove the FrankenPork from the fridge, and unwrap on a cutting board. Find your kitchen twine. Cut off a piece long enough to tie (like a bracelet) around the FrankenPork. Tie off about 1.5 inches of FrankenPork and slice to separate. Repeat until you run out of FrankenPork. You now have 4-8 little circles of FrankenPork lying like unpressed flowers on your cutting board. They sort of look like celtic crosses.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Get out a sheet pan fitted with a rack, like you were going to bake bacon with Alton Brown.
1 tablespoon/14 ml olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup/56 ml white wine, and then another 1/4 cup/56 ml white wine
1/2 cup Swanson's chicken broth with some demi glacee
1 sprig of flat parsley, finely chopped
Put a skillet on the stove and melt some butter and olive oil in it. When the butter stops foaming, add the little pork bundles to the pan, working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Cook the pork over high heat for about 6-8 minutes per side, after which the meat should be nicely browned. Place the meat in the roasting pan and finish cooking in the oven for about 20 minutes. When cooked through, but still moist in the center, remove from the oven and allow to rest on a plate.
In that pan of bacon grease and garlicy bits, add the wine, and cook down to almost nothing, after you realized you were supposed to put teh shallots in first. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, or until the shallots are soft. Stir in the wine, scraping the bottom to dislodge the fond. Cook over high heat until the wine is reduced to a glaze consistency, then stir in the stock. Cook over high heat until it's reduced by half. Add any drippings from the plate that's holding your cooked pork, as well as whatever's in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add remaining cloves of garlic confit (I mashed it all together to make it more sauce-like) and the parsley.
With kitchen scissors, snips the twine holding the pork flowers together. Serve. Cover with sauce and eat.
GM thinks we should tie the FrankenPork off with strips of prosciutto next time, instead of using string. Maybe.