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when [ profile] weetziefae came to visit me last summer, she made me some breaded tofu and i thought two things:

1. vegetarianism: yum! (this was during my transition to veg)
2. why didn't i think of this before? so simple!

and yet, not as simple as one might think. we didn't quite get the breading right. it's been bugging me ever since, wanting to try it again and get it right.

well last night i perfected my version, and i want to write it down because if it is anything like the perfected soft-boiled eggs from last week, it will seem UTTERLY LOGICAL one week and then COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN* the next week, which will make me sad.

+ sandwich a whole block of firm tofu between 2 plates and place a full teakettle on top to squish the water out. while it's squishing, prepare the breading:

+ mix together around a quarter cup each of flour and corn meal (any size). add a generous pinch of herbes de provence or other mixed herbs that you like. grind in a generous bit of fresh pepper. add two healthy pinches of salt. mix it all together in a pie plate and then taste it: if you can't taste the salt, keep adding more until it tastes good to you. this part is important!

+ cut the tofu block into half-inch slices, vertically. dip slices into beaten egg (or milk/soy) and then into the breading, covering all sides generously and shaking off the excess.

+ heat about a quarter inch of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet at medium-high heat. it's ready when a pinch of breading thrown in hisses and sizzles. fry the cutlets (no crowding; 2 per batch in a small skillet) about 90 seconds on each side, or until they look deliciously golden brown. drain on paper towels.

protein to devour! my belly was very happy last night, and happy with the leftovers for lunch today.

* Important to note here that recipes were no help for soft boiled eggs for me, because our stove runs ridiculously hot and every technique I've tried in the past has failed miserably. In case you're curious, the eventual secret was: cover from cold until boiling on the medium burner, simmer 3.5 minutes, cool in a bowl of cold water. The timing is key because I am obsessed with a good yolk and anything less than perfection is disgusting (too soft) or a waste of time (hard). Plenty of recipes say "3-5 minutes" and I had no idea what time would work with our hot stove.
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i feel spacey today. gray skies, ginger peach tea. on my morning walk i passed a full school bus, saw three different girls writing on the windows in their own fogged breath.

stayed up a little late last night baking the layers for a neapolitan cake that is for a combined birthday on sunday, for kirk (33 on the 21st) and my dad (56 on the 28th).

the scent of the dough was amazing -- it has a whole cup of pulverized almonds in it, plus a little almond extract, and the zests of an orange and a lemon. heavenly!

the cake layers are really giant cookies. they are triple-wrapped in plastic in the freezer until i assemble the cake on friday -- it will rest in the fridge all weekend until the party so that the currant jam caramel filling will absorb into the cookies and make them soft. yum. are you hungry yet?
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making a bastard cassoulet today:

huge basket of grapes harvested on friday, as i was hacking back the grape vines where they staged a coup on the lawn this summer. this represents maybe half of what i could have picked.

here is a box of green tomatoes i'm putting in a cold room so that they will slowly ripen up. the visible tomatoes are on top of a whole other more densely-packed layer. if they don't ripen i'm planning to make a green tomato + apple mincemeat.
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this weekend was:
  • wall-e on friday ♥
  • new king size bed
  • bought a wii! (thank you [ profile] pravda for mentioning the shortage was over!)
  • indian food, hiding from the 100° heat
  • canning strawberry jam on sunday
  • hotdogs with mom and dad
  • watching my nephew flirt with another 15-month old baby
  • reading under the ceiling fan while thunder rolls overhead

there was no bike ride, no weeding the garden, and no attending our friend's new puppy shower, because of the heat. but that ended up being okay, really.
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i made quiche for the first time tonight, in a new tart pan (with removable bottom!) that i bought especially for this. (okay, maybe also for other nefarious dessert purposes.) it was so simple, could easily be made in a regular pie crust if you add a few extra eggs. click click click for the full recipe at flickr.
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i might be taking a class this spring to become a certified family food educator!

i would learn all about canning and preserving fruits and veggies, safety and storage information. i think i also have to create a big poster board thing with information on it, and at the end i would volunteer 30 hours of service at farmers markets, sitting next to my poster and giving info to people who are interested in canning.

it might not happen unless they can find enough people to attend, but it's still exciting. i can read from books but it's not as good as learning all the techniques in a class, and working with foods i wouldn't normally think to use. and it will fit nicely with my vegetable garden plans.

there are snowdrops all over the lawns here and an unbearable current of springiness just under the surface. oh little spring plans. sprout, sprout up please.


tomorrow night kirk and i are going to see a programme of french ballet pieces, including ravel's bolero, at the oregon ballet theatre. kirk got us free center orchestra seats at work, because he is a rockstar like that.

tomorrow i want to buy some tiny binoculars to take with us, maybe cheap toy ones, or maybe i'll look in a few antique stores for collapsible opera glasses. i'm excited!
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i made cheddar cheese today!

here i am stirring the curd and adding the salt. more pictures on flickr if you click the photo.

it is being pressed overnight under 20lbs of pressure, and tomorrow morning we flip it and press on the other side for another twelve hours. and then it cures for at least a month. it will take a loooong time, but when it's done we are going to have a belated housewarming party, with grilled cheese sandwiches on homemade bread, and apples to apples (another christmas present). yay!
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we hit the first snag in the new house on saturday night. we moved everything we owned into the new house, borrowed or bought enough kitchen supplies to tide us over until our belongings are delivered, and tried to use the vintage sensi-temp stove to cook a simple, one-pot meal.

Stovetop cooking, vintage style
[more house pics here]

this sensi-temp is a lot more confusing than i thought. i think the idea is that it senses when you put the pot down -- there is a weight-sensitive button in the center of the burner. then you push a button indicating the size of your pan, and THEN you turn the fancy knob to indicate what temperature to heat the coil to.

all this wouldn't really be a problem if it actually worked. which it doesn't.

we eventually moved the pot to a back burner (not controlled by the fancy sensi-temp) and cooked our meal just fine, even if it was a little hard to control the heat. the range of temperatures on the three non-sensitemp burners are HI - 2 - 3 - LO - WARM. The fact that 2 indicates a higher temperature than 3 makes my head hurt.

i went googling sensi-temp stoves and couldn't find any manuals, or even much reference to it other than that it was considered a nightmare of an invention, when it worked, and then it shorted out on most stoves and was discontinued shortly thereafter.

i really can't stomach a non-working stove. i would be hideously sad to lose our adorable vintage stove in favor of a boring modern one, but seriously. i cook a lot! this will not do.
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two dishes i made and posted on flickr:

butternut squash soup with toasted pine nuts
Butternut Squash Soup

tiramisu sette stelle i made this afternoon
Tiramisu Sette Stelle

follow the photo links to see the recipes!
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put up today:

12 quart jars
4 pint jars
4 quart freezer containers

that's 4.5 gallons of preserved tomato sauce.

the tomato invasion is almost finished. the stove has been running nearly continuously all day long, and thankfully it is a nice crisp autumn day. my parents are even putting cold frames on the garden because there are a lot of unripe tomatoes still on the vines, but tonight it will get down to the 30s for the first time, so they need a little help. they are raised beds, so now they look like little greenhouses made from scrap windows -- all salvaged from the old cabin that was torn down on the property.

i am dreaming of making cheese for my next kitchen project.

i realize i mainly want to live in an old farmhouse because it would have a nice cold cellar to keep things in. like vegetables, homebrew beer, wine, and preserved things. it is hard to follow heritage foodways when you don't have a proper cold cellar.
aslant: (Default)
today i canned a huge batch of tomato sauce. it was a lot of work and a lot of fun, and i documented it along the way. you can go see and read more about it on flickr.

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this morning i filed my taxes online. and kirk's. am i a dork to be excited that we will file jointly next year? as keeper of the finances, i don't care if it is dorky. i'm still excited.


1. write reaction paper for economics
2. research honorary degree policies for policy memo
3. design poster to present my history paper tomorrow
4. cook chicken tetrazzini

i like to have days that are creative and engaging, instead of just reading reams and reams of articles until i go cross-eyed.

i got a haircut this weekend. i feel so much better.

here is my poster. i did all the lettering by hand. all the images are from
the schlesinger archives and the 1969 harvard-radcliffe yearbook.
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last weekend i finally bought phaidon's new cookbook the silver spoon. it is a translation of il cucchiaio d'argento, allegedly the most famous cookbook in italy, though i can't say i ever once saw a kitchen with a cookbook in it while i was there. even so, it is a remarkable book:

last night we made a simple fettuccine alla vodka which was delicious, a rich and complex flavor, and even better than previous homemade versions i have had of vodka sauce (and now i do not think we will ever buy it in a jar again). for lunch yesterday, we made very decadent mozzarella in carozza sandwiches, thick slices of mozzarella on crustless bread, dipped in egg and fried in a bit of butter until golden brown. simply amazing. on the menu for the coming week: meatballs, chicken and pancetta roulades, broccoletti.

it is also a heavy, gorgeous beastie of a book, hardcover and 1,200+ pages, many photos included. recipes and indices are in both english and italian, and helpful comparisons of italian vs american butcher diagrams are included, as are descriptions of obscure vegetables and their (occasional) domestic equivalents. it is grouped by sections corresponding to traditional course order -- soups and pastas, meats and egg dishes, cheeses and dolci, etc.; each section also has basic information, such as techniques for shirring or coddling or soft-boiling in the egg section, and general time-per-pound guidelines for meats. it is a weighty captain's atlas to the classic italian cooking's weekend travelogue (bought several weeks ago), if you will.

i am very excited to have it in my kitchen. i don't know of any tv italian chefs hawking trustworthy books, and many general italian cookbooks i've seen have been heavily weighted to a particular region, or are either overly fussy or overly americanized. so now, i can stop looking, because i think i've found the perfect italian cookbook.
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things i want to remember about today: the way the golden mid-afternoon winter light looked in east boston, riding out on the blue line to wonderland. the way the triple-decker houses scanning by in a row looked so familiar and gentle. and later how all the blue scrambled clouds were flocking over 1A while i drove along and a xavier rudd song played on the radio that made me think of paul simon.


at black ink today i bought classic italian cooking: recipes for mastering the italian kitchen, which is a small, perfectly utilitarian hardback book with green edges and two bookmark ribbons, and the whole thing came pleasingly wrapped in crinkly cellophane. there is an identical edition on french cooking, in tiffany blue. so pretty, though i refuse to buy pretty cookbooks if i won't use them.

for dinner tonight: savory and sweet pocket pies. yum.
aslant: (Default)
no-knead bread (my simplification of the ny times version)
ingredients: 3 cups flour, .25 tsp instant yeast, 1.25 tsp salt.

combine ingredients in a large bowl, and add 1 5/8 cups of water. stir until mixed. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest for 12-20 hours at warm room temperature.

turn out onto a floured surface, sprinkle the top with more flour, and fold it over itself once or twice. cover with plastic wrap again and rest 15 mins. then flour hands, shape it into a ball, and place it on a floured cotton towel. sprinkle top with flour, cover with another towel, and let rise for 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

thirty minutes before the dough is done, preheat the oven to 450° and place the dutch/french oven in to heat up. when the dough is ready, pour it into the pan (no greasing needed). cover and bake 30 mins, remove lid and bake 15-30 mins more. cool and serve.

here is the dough mixture after rising for almost 20 hours. the top is very bubbly, and the dough seems rather wet.

the dough turned out on the floured cutting board--it is surprisingly springy. it has been folded over on itself twice in preparation for another two hours' rising.

after two hours of rising...i probably could have let it go a little longer, but we were eager to get it in the oven.

the completed loaf! 30 mins in a covered dutch /french oven at 450, then another 20 mins with the lid off. it has a beautiful crispy crust.

it turned out to be a large, shallow loaf, because the dutch oven was so large. it would have been much taller in a smaller pot.

perfect slices, beautiful spongy texture, and very, very tasty.

aslant: (Default)
some firsts today:

+ extended walking around the house, doing chores sans cane.
+ first time i have made breakfast for k & i since the accident (something i would normally do twice each weekend).
+ first time i have gone grocery shopping (with cane).


+ making no-knead bread (see article here). i just mixed and covered it, and won't touch it again until late tomorrow morning. pictures to come!
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two things:

1. kirk bought a timer that will allow us to plug in the crockpot in the morning and have it start up hours later. this is exciting, as currently we are out of the house for 12+ hours each day. even on "low" that's quite the overdone pot roast.

2. battlestar galactica is the best show on television right now. also currently watching: lost, vanished, the nine. it's not even about regular tv versus sci fi -- i really think it's the best acting, best writing, best plot (bonus: best social commentary). it beats the pants off of everything else i've seen so far this season.
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i just finished reading the omnivore's dilemma (which is so, so good) and it changed my thinking on a few things, mainly how i want to spend my grocery money, and why and where. this summer i want to take a road trip to visit some local farms (well, most will be 2 hours away) and buy some grass-raised meat and eggs and dairy and see what all the fuss is about.

but there's something else i want to try sooner, and that is to make some bread using wild yeast as a starter. wild yeast! collected directly from the air! so neat. so i am going to try to start a bowl of it tonight and maybe by next week sometime i will have something alive and bake-able. and yummy.

(not that i think industrial yeast is bad, and i even have a packet in the cupboard right now that i could use, but the idea of getting something for nothing is very seductive.)
aslant: (elle s'amuse)
this weekend was lovely. did i mention that i cracked open an egg with a double yolk on saturday? i felt very lucky.

sunday we sat down to our fabulous easter(ish) feast. until the last moment we thought [ profile] aboutlooking might be joining us, but it didn't work out. sometime soon, though! whenever we next go to western massachusetts, hopefully :)

the maple pecan muffins were very tasty, but for some reason i am bad at making fluffy muffins. why is that? they never really puff up above the muffin cup like they do in the pictures.

also, because for some reason it's only sold in big quart containers, we now have a ton of buttermilk leftover. i remember [ profile] nevers was in the same spot a while back -- now we have to search out recipes involving buttermilk! so i guess we'll be making biscuits sometime later this week.

lots of marathoners on the T this morning, all with their numbered, race-issued red addidas bags, looking overly healthy and scrawny and excited. (also looking rather white.) i guess much of boston has the day off, but not harvard. walking to my building i pass the cambridge common and it is full of blooming trees and (finally!) visible leaves. a beautiful morning.


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July 2013

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