Monday, October 27, 2008

Too Busy to Blog

I have been too damn busy to blog. I am also too busy to cook, but I have been doing it anyway. I made Thanktober dinner last Saturday for my family since neither my son or daughter will be home for Thanksgiving. It was pretty good, not my best effort. I couldn't get any chestnuts for the stuffing, it was too early. And I overcooked the pumpkin pie for reasons too complicated to explain.

I will leave you with a cool recipe though. This is from my dear, dear friend Diane in California. It is deceptively simple. It is sooooo good. She made it for me once while she and her husband were visiting. We cooked while drinking copious amounts of champagne, my VERY MOST FAVORITIST DRINK IN THE WHOLE WORLD. Course, I drink copious amounts of champagne ever weekend, but Diane is the only one who likes it as much as I do.

Balsamic Glazed Scallops

16 Sea Scallops
seasalt, white ground pepper
1/2 c Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp very shap dijon mustard
1/2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
dash cayenne
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs chopped chervil

Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper In small bow, whisk vinegar, mustard, tamari and cayenne Heat butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Lay scallops in sizzling butter and cook until crusty brown on first side (about 1 to 2 minutes) Turn each scallop over Immediatly pour vinegar mixture over scallops.
Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until just cooked through spoon remaining glaze around scallops and sprinkle with chevril Serve immediatlely.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A blogger's dilemma

Writing this blog has been more fun than I could have imagined, so far at least. I really need to thank Laura for getting me started on it, as well as for being a good sport about me making fun of her cooking.

(Oh, BTW, guess what I caught her doing NOW? Using lemon juice from a bottle. You know, the concentrated, stale, shelf-stable stuff that never goes bad? Can you guess what I think about that? I would never deny myself the pleasure of reaming a lemon up the behind and smelling its fresh scent as I pour it into or onto whatever it is I am cooking. I LOVE lemons. Remember what Martha Stewart said she missed while in prison? Lemons. Not her family. Lemons. Five days a month, I'm sure I would give the same answer, unless I wasn't properly medicated with large amounts of wine and chocolate.)

All that aside, here is my dilemma: my friends are becoming afraid of me. Prissie and Laura are the only ones about whom I can write with impunity. Within the last two weeks, I ran into the same friend three times at the grocery store. I know this friend doesn't like to cook; she has a great career, and she doesn't have time. I don't care if she doesn't cook, I love her. I love having friends that worship my kitchen abilities. It gives me a way to feel slightly superior. (kidding) So I do my best not to look in her cart. But, inevitably, I can't help but seeing what is in her cart. And I don't say ANYTHING. Nothing. No comment. But she goes pale, and says, "My husband really likes this. You can't use his real name." As if I would skewer him for LIKING some disgusting, pre-packaged dinner. Not so. There is no accounting for taste. Okay, I might skewer someone for liking that stuff, but only if I knew them intimately and knew they could take my (sometimes) good-natured ribbing.

And then there is another good friend. I have been friends with her for years. She is a decent cook. She makes some really good things. I have eaten them. She even invented a meal herself that her husband absolutely loves. He asks for it regularly. And the only reason I would make fun of it is because she calls it "fajitas" although it bears no resemblance to fajitas. Whatsoever. But hey, her family likes it, so what the heck? Anyway, I asked her if I could write a description of it and she said, "No!" Next time, I won't ask first.

You guys gotta loosen up. It is all in good fun. At least until you start making fun of my cooking. But then, there's nothing really to make fun of, is there?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pie Crust

Beautiful fall weather returns and our thoughts turn to pie. Nothing says "get out your woolies, winter is on its way" quite as much as hot pie. Okay, that was way too sappy for me, but you get my drift.

So, I tried to drag the kids out to the apple orchard last Sunday, but no luck. Seems my two youngest have even now outgrown the simple pleasure of plucking apples direct from the tree, biting into its juicy crispness, and eating it right there in the orchard, thus stealing it from the farmer. I guess I'll have to wait for grandchildren to have the fun of seeing the little kids get excited by a wagon ride again. Time to get crackin', Meagan. Oh wait. You're not married yet. Well, the wedding's next summer, so I'm sure it won't be long after that. No pressure though, honey. Anyway, since I couldn't persuade any kids to go with me, Laura went. It wasn't quite the same, since she didn't want to take the wagon ride and we had to HIKE up the hill to the orchard. I hate hiking. But, I showed her, I complained the whole time, so she'll never ask me to go hiking with her again!

Having lugged home twenty pounds of apples, I had no choice but to make pie.I read a recipe for Ginger Apple Pie and was a little intrigued. But of course I didn't follow the recipe. Instead, I made my Super Simple Pie Crust and threw a filling together. For the filling, I peeled and sliced five apples and then tossed them with 1/2 c brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 3 T cornstarch (I was out of tapioca starch) 1 T lemon juice, 2 T apple cider and two heaping spoonfuls of ginger preserves. Next time I am going to try crystallized ginger instead of ginger preserves.

I actually made two pies and took one of them to a meeting I had to go to. One of the people there was very impressed that I had made my own pie crust. Now ordinarily, I would sneer and say, "Well, of course I made it, what kind of person do you think I am?" but my journey to homemade pie crust has not been easy. I tried and failed many times to make good crust, and once when I used pre-made crusts in desperation, my huisband couldn't tell the difference. So I didn't make pie crust for fifteen years. And then I got sick of paying too much for packaged, and having to go to the store to buy them. I sent my friend this pie crust recipe later that night:

Here is super simple pie crust. I used to use packaged ones, but I read and read many pie crust recipes until I understood what actually needed to happen to have great pie crust. Now, I cannot make a beautiful pie crust to save my soul, one summer I even decided to make a pie every day until I had mastered rolling out crust. Alas, I couldn’t keep up with a pie a day, (putting aside completely my families’ collective waistline) but I did make some progress. Tonight’s crust was not one of my better, and I don’t think I really like the ginger preserves in the pie, but as I said, it was an experiment.

Super Simple pie crust:

2 Cups cold flour (I use pastry flour when I can get it. I store the bag in the freezer so it is ready to go when I am)

1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces

1 tsp vinegar

2-3 T ice water

Put the flour into your food processor, add the butter and process with on/off turns until butter is thoroughly cut in. With processor running, add vinegar and just enough water so that pastry clumps into a ball. You can wrap in plastic and keep for a day or two, or roll out immediately. I use this crust for everything. Most crusts have 2-3 T of sugar added, but I find it unnecessary. I always brush the crust with cream and dust with sanding sugar, which I think adds crispness. My other tip is to use powdered tapioca instead of cornstarch in your filling. It thickens a little better. I hate runny pie!