Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Winter's Meal

Winter has completely settled into Desertville. We've been mostly snowed in for a few days now. It is strange to see the desert plants under blankets of snow, but very beautiful.

Husband and I are somewhat addicted to Top Chef and watched it this week despite having to go out to scrape snow and ice off the satellite dish a few times when the picture started to degrade. I like cauliflower, so Ariane's winning cauliflower puree intrigued me. She seemed so proud that it didn't have any butter when guest judge Martha Stewart commented that it was swimming with butter. I was curious.

It turns out that she cooked the cauliflower and potato for the puree IN HEAVY CREAM. Yes, as in boiled the veggies in the cream. I can think of almost nothing that wouldn't taste good cooked in heavy cream. I, however, had neither the cream supply nor the inclination to cook the veggies in cream. I compromised and cooked them in a combination of milk and water. I used a half cup of heated heavy cream to puree it and added a small knob of butter for good measure. I was only missing the fresh thyme, and that would have been lovely.

We all liked the puree, and I'll make it again. It is a nice accompaniment to a strong-flavored dish. Tonight, I made pan fried tofu with a lemon-caper sauce. Little Girl adores capers. She loves tofu. She was lukewarm on the puree, but ate some of that along with some leftover peas and mushrooms.

Although I did get a nice brown on the tofu, this was still a pretty bland-looking meal, so no photos tonight. But I hope to gain points for following and linking to an actual recipe.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Orange Salad

The economy being what it is, I figured some rice and beans type meals are in order this winter. Doesn't hurt that I like them anyway. One of my favorites is black beans (cooked with garlic and a halved orange in the cooking water) and rice with a hot salsa and a cool orange and cilantro salad. The oranges are dressed just with olive oil mixed with salt and pepper and make a really nice contrast to the rice and beans.

In other cooking, it is the season of recipes, as it is the season of baking. I haven't done too much yet because we got snowed out of Husband's office party before I'd gone too far with the cookie platter. Of course, I had already made the flourless chocolate cake we were giving away in the gift exchange. Snow prevented a shopping trip for the gift exchange and since everyone in his office knows the cake, I figured it would go over well. So now I'm low on butter, having used a pound in the cake. I need to make at least two kinds of cookies, though, so I have enough goodies to make up tins for Husband to take to work and for our postal workers.

I may be making bread, too, if we can't get to a store tomorrow, which is possible. I don't mind -- it makes the house smell SO good.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On The Joys Of Natural Pectin

Husband had to work on Thanksgiving Day and Little Girl and I picked him up from work and instantly started the 3.5 hour trek to his parents' place for the rest of the weekend. Their feast was long over (and the leftovers weren't veggie-friendly), so no Thanksgiving meal that day.

On Saturday, we had a late celebration with Husband's father at my B-I-L's apartment. B-I-L had, of course, already had Thanksgiving meals with his family, his wife's family, AND with their step-siblings. Three meals, two days. Whew! Needless to say, they were not excited by the idea of cooking yet another turkey-and-trimmings feast on Saturday and my F-I-L wasn't interested either, having had a traditional Thanksgiving meal at his work. So B-I-L made meatloaf and some sides, and I made roasted potatoes, roasted veggies, and some baked salmon.

This has left Husband and I without a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Obviously, we don't eat the turkey part, but I am extraordinarily fond of bread-and-sage stuffing and Husband is equally fond of what he calls "leftover sandwiches". Therefore, yesterday, I made the trek into town to buy two Quorn roasts (not being fond of Tofurkeys at all). Today is all about the cooking, which brings me to the title of this post.

First thing I made was the cranberry sauce. I like to keep it simple, so it was a bag of cranberries (sniff! not enough of my hand-picked wild ones left for this!), half a cup of apple juice, half a cup of water, a cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and a teeny dash each of cinnamon and cloves. I let it cool a little in the pan, then transferred it into a tupperware to cool completely before putting it in the fridge.

Even without refrigeration, it is now a solid block of whole-berry jelly. I could slice it and it would stay in formation! I am always amazed at the jelling power of high-pectin fruits. Life would hold so much less joy and mystery without them.