Thursday, October 7, 2010

Measurement-free Baking

I decided I was too busy and lazy to fuss with the metric baking experiment and, moreover, that I have no business eating a whole Dutch apple pie by myself over the weekend.  In fact, while I was at the store, I decided I wasn't going to do any baking at all--that I was going to be good and dutiful and spend that time reading or writing, and that I'd just eat the lovely local apples as-is.  That would have been a good choice too, but I got a hankering for hot apple goodness, and thought to replicate some of the apple crumbles I made the summer I spent in Donegal, where fresh food was limited and the house I was staying in didn't have any officially-marked measuring utensils. 

So, without further ado, here's the apple/blueberry crisp I just made:
The stove light doesn't show it off to best advantage (nor does the iPhone camera), but it sure does taste good!  The blueberries are some I'd frozen this summer when the fresh local ones were in, and as I said, the apples are also local--I can't remember which variety, but it's the one that tastes like lemon when they're first picked.  Excellent eating apples, and not shabby at all in a cooked dish, either.

Now, let's see--what did I do?  I tossed 3 thinly sliced apples and maybe 1.5 cups of blueberries with about a tablespoon of brown sugar.  I made the crumble out of maybe 1/3 cup flour and the same amount of rolled oats, with maybe 3 tablespoons of brown sugar (which was a bit much, but oh, well), and about 2 inches of a stick of butter (standard American stick of butter), and fecked in maybe half a teaspoon of cinnamon.  I'd have put in a bit more, except that I'm running out of cinnamon.  Baked it at 375F for about 35-40 minutes (who's counting?), and it's lovely.  I'm going to have a plate of it with some cream if the cream hasn't gone off.

(If you want to make this and feel better measuring, it's in Bittman's How to Cook Everything.  I looked because I was curious about how close my own sense of things was to his, and it's fairly close, though he had his baking at 400, which seems a bit excessive to me.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Coming Soon....

I think I'm going to attempt my first exercise in baking in metric soon, perhaps even tomorrow.  Working from the "first in-first out" paradigm (see, I was awake at least one day of Intro to Computer Science in 1993 or whatever it was!), I am going to make Sophie's Dutch apple pie.

Right now, I have chicken (marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a bit of mustard--my go-to salad dressing, repurposed) and acorn squash in the oven, and cabbage on the stove.  Nice seasonal meal.

So, stay tuned for ADVENTURES IN METRIC BAKING, coming to a theatre near you soon.

P.S.  I really miss Veselka.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Drinking My Tea in Style

...with my new Foucault mug from Philosophy is Dangerous. Nobody has positively ID-ed the man himself yet, but I'm just waiting for the comments around the office to begin....

It was a tough decision--I could happily have bought the Swift mug ("I like babies"), or the Arendt ("Perfection is Not"), or even the Cixous ("Got Milk?"), even though she drives me batty.

And yes, delighted as I am by my new mug, this post is also a shameless plug for my friend Alexis's attempt to fund her graduate school applications by selling philosopher goodies.  So in the immortal words of Mrs. Doyle, g'wan, g'wan, g'wan, g'wan, G'WAN!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Night Flotsam

...or jetsam?

Monday I made a lovely stew I shall know henceforth as Okra Thing, even though it bears little relation to Beet Thing (see a previous post from, hmmm, August or September 2008). Okra Thing was simple, homespun--garlic, an onion, a small can of tomatoes, and about a cup and a half of okra. I did with it just as you'd expect: sauteed the garlic and onion, and then fecked the rest in and let it go until I thought it looked done enough. Delicious. Last night, I cut up some chicken, sauteed it, and put the leftover OT in the pan at the end. It reminded me of something I'm sometimes served on the Delta flight between JFK and Shannon, except much, much better, and with okra instead of random vegetables. Delta, take note.

(And for those of you who hate the sliminess of okra, trust me and my Aunt Mary Margaret on this one: tomato takes care of the slime.)

What else have I made this week?

1. Sentences, paragraphs, and a research proposal.
2. A trip to the Whole Foods in Hadley.
3. A hole in my silly dog pajamas.
4. Sore muscles from my first ever aerobics classes.
5. Some new friends? Too early to tell.
6. 2 trips to Woodstar for their divine Nantucket sandwich.
7. Many, many cups of tea.

And so, to bed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Morning

...with coffee, but without oranges or the cockatoo, and considerably more companionable and less angst-ridden than Wallace Stevens would have it.

And--complete with Anna's brilliant "Dutch pancake":

Now, let's see if I remember the recipe at all. I think it's resplendent with threes, which its cook, with her demurely comprehensive knowledge of the Bible, surely appreciates--

3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk

--whisked together, poured into a cake pan (or, in this case, a large souffle dish) and baked at--hmm, did I see 450 on the oven display? And how long did it cook? Maybe 15 minutes? 20? Anna didn't have enough milk, so rounded out the ration with heavy cream and a bit of water. And there were three of us to share it. I et mine with a dusting of powdered sugar and a squeeze of lime, which gave a very different flavor than the usual lemon, but was still very nice.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Measure Deliciousness in Metric

Tonight I do, anyway.

For the last few days, I've been thinking about soup. It's starting to get chilly here at night, and not all that warm (by my Virginia standards) during the day, and that means soup. But I got burned out on all my standby soups--carrot coriander, vegetable, potato leek--and besides, it's best to keep those in reserve for wintertime comfort food. Of course, this soup will be brilliant later in the season, as well.

This recipe comes from Sophie, and her version was even better--I believe she made it with both monkfish and salmon from the fish shop in the market in Ennis. I had frozen cod on hand, so used that--but it was by far outdone by the sheer wondrousness of the soup itself.

So, without further ado, "Sweet Potato Soup with Fish." This is verbatim from what Sophie wrote down for me a couple of years ago:

1 medium-sized onion
250 g sweet potato
200 g carrots
1 liter of fish stock (vegetable stock can be substituted)
freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons of curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 deciliter coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
fresh coriander
salmon and/or cod and/or monkfish, etc.
(and just for info: prawns)

* Peel the onion and chop it. Peel and chop the carrots and sweet potatoes. Put into soup pan and pour fish stock onto them. Add salt, pepper, curry powder, and cinnamon.

* Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes till vegetables are cooked.

* Blitz with whooshie. Add coconut milk and lime juice.

* Add fish and cook for about 7 minutes (if using prawns they only take 1 minute)

* Garnish with fresh coriander

...I did a few things differently, as per usual. I sauteed the onion and then added the spices at the end of the sauteeing. I used vegetable stock, and since it was plenty salty, didn't add any extra salt. And rather than measuring grams, I just fecked in 2 sweet potatoes and about a cup of carrots--it was soup, after all, not baking. I used a little more than a deciliter of coconut milk, since it comes in 150ml cans, and what, I ask you, am I going to do with 50ml of coconut milk? And I only used half a lime, because it was a juicy one, and I thought it tasted divine with just half. No prawns, since anaphylactic shock was not part of my plan for the evening.

Aside from some tough bits on the cod, it was gorgeous!

The Book I'm Not Reading: however shall I choose? The book I'd most like to be reading but don't have time for at the moment is Sara Ahmed's new one, The Promise of Happiness. Trust me, if you don't already know Ahmed's work, it's not what it sounds like.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Once again to the lake--or, in this case, the stove.

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been more than a year since my last post. But I'm back, in an attempt to simultaneously regain some cooking mojo and use my Internet addiction to better ends than frequent Facebook status updates and checking the weather far too often. Now that I have no television channels and a nicely renovated kitchen, it seems like a good time to bring back the blog. Needless to say, I still have an overwhelming workload, but we won't talk about that here. After all, the blog is called "The Book I'm Not Reading" for a very good reason--although at this point, I suppose I could change its title to "The Book I'm Not Writing"....

Anyway, lengthy preamble aside, here's what I made myself for lunch:

It tasted better than it looks, you'll be happy to hear. The kale was not black (as the photo suggests), and indeed, could have used a few more minutes on the stove. But I was hungry and impatient, and do have several tasks to complete before I head to the session tonight.

What it is: Bittman's kale and garlic recipe from How to Cook Everything--the caper option. I changed the quantities a bit because I didn't want to generate leftovers, and used rice wine vinegar instead of red or white wine vinegar, since I am only slowly setting myself up with household staples, and this was not a planned dish. Eggs on top are for protein, of course, but they were a nice addition, and the flavors of the capers and hint of vinegar elevated them to a much nicer creature than your typical boring boiled egg.