So you’re going shopping because you’re concerned that you may be forcibly cloistered or you may self-cloister for two weeks. Continue reading
This morning, around 6 a.m., I woke up to a silent house, a blank display on my alarm clock, and a cold nose.
Last night, while we were making dinner, I got the robo-call telling me that my university job (which “never closes” and has closed twice in the two winters I’ve worked there) was closed today.
I got out of bed, encouraged the fire, grabbed my phone, made sure it was on airplane (we don’t get cell service here in the boonies and it just kills the batteries), and went back to bed.
It’s noon now, and the power is still out. So’s the landline, so I can’t – without walking out into the middle of the street and praying – call NYSEG to find out how long they assume the power will be out.
I made House Thorne oatmeal on the wood stove, and T. made drip?? coffee with a filter stand. We had toast – I finished a loaf of bread last night – at noon, and we’ve got water for tea heating up on the stove. It’s 74F in the living room, 69F in the next room over, and probably 65,64F in the kitchen (we don’t have a thermometer in there). So we’re in pretty good shape.
Of course, we’re in The Rather Rural, so we don’t have running water, which is a bit of a pain. I “took a bath” by heating water (on the wood stove again) and sitting in front of the stove to shave and such things. It helped, but it’s no proper shower. And we might be out of gallons of water sitting around by the time the power comes back on – but that’s what they’re for, so hey.
It’s kind of nice, in a “I miss my internet people and I can’t play with my dragons and what happens when my laptop loses power” sort of way. It’s quiet – “too quiet” – since there’s no fans, no furnace, no traffic, nothing but the wind and the water heating on the stove, T. talking to himself and reading the book out loud on occasion.
It’s the weird feeling, of “we’ve got this” combined with “but…” Mostly “but” being that “I miss my people and I really want a shower” sort of way.
Also, I’m not 100% sure what we’ll have for dinner, but I have a feeling it will involve rice, be cooked on the wood stove, and hopefully not involve opening the fridge or freezer.
Well, at least work is closed and I don’t have to worry about calling in. 😊
I love baking in Winter!
I like baking in summer, too, and it helps that the way our house is laid out, you can run the oven in the kitchen without really heating up the living room or our offices too much, so I can bake bread and cakes all year round if I want to.
Mostly, though, in the summer I bake cookies.
I have been making bread every Sunday for a few weeks now, and I find I like it. Start the bread with a sponge the night before or early Sunday morning, and then by 2 or 3 in the afternoon everything’s ready to go, and we have fresh homemade bread for the week (anything left over and gone stale, or the bread experiments that didn’t quite work, get dried in the oven and frozen for stuffing or bread pudding).
But I like baking cakes, too, pies, crisps, biscuits, cookies… Small Batch Baking, although it has its flaws as a recipe book, was a really good start for me. If I make a cake, a lot of the time it’s somewhere between a mug cake and a small batch recipe in one of my tiny pans or ramekins (I have a tiny bundt pan. It is the world’s most adorable bundt pan). That way, we have cake for a day, just enough frosting, and then it’s gone, poof.
Last night, I made a Small Batch Banana—
Pecan bread pudding (forgot the pecans), with, as above, the ends from a few weeks of homemade bread (Since homemade bread stales a lot faster than store-bought). If you’re going to make banana anything, my suggestion is: wait ‘til the bananas are black or nearly black, and then halve the sugar the recipe calls for. You get full banana taste that way! (Also, much easier to mush up).
Honestly, I could talk all day about baking. My husband does the cooking… but I do (almost) all the baking in the house, and I love it.
And it makes the house smell so nice.
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I just snaked a kitchen drain, outside, in the snow, after opening a manhole cover. While baking bread. Where's my merit badge?
— Lyn Thorne-Alder (@lynthornealder) December 11, 2016
That was Sunday.
Our kitchen sink leads out – via at least 2, maybe 3 right turns – to a dry well (covered by, I shit you not, a Bell Telephone manhole cover (rather like this)), which means that when it clogs (which it does, on average, about once/year), it’s easiest to snake it from the outside (less turns).
So there I was. In the snow. Snaking a drain.
There really ought to be merit badges for things like that.
“While baking bread” is a little disingenuous; the bread was rising at the time. My first time without a recipe, and I think the only real fail was that the molasses I used to sweeten it overwhelmed the amaranth I added in as a test flavor. It’s a hearty, half-wheat-flour loaf with little amaranth crunchies, quite nice.
This was one of those weekends: haul firewood, wash dishes, snake the sink, bake some bread. T made a pressure-cooker (InstantPot) ham-hock soup with yellow lentils and black/white Urad Dal, which was super tasty with the bread. The house smelled of bread and soup all day Sunday, which is just about the most awesome way for the house to smell.
It’s nice, sometimes, just hunkering down and staying inside – or, at least, at home. You come in, you stand in front of the fire for ten minutes, and you’re all warm again.
And Merit – our feral cat, or at least the one who started that way – clearly agrees. Sometimes in the winter, you can see her look outside and remember what the outside was like when it snowed or rained. Then she curls up by the fire, too, everything in her body language saying It’s good to be inside.
It’s good to be inside. With the bread baking and the sink draining properly. It’s that sort of winter.
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Guys, I made German Potato Salad this weekend!
This is a ~thing~ for me, because GPS (always “GPS”) is one of the major staples of family picnics in my natal family. My grandma made it, my mom makes it… I’ve never made it.
I made it with purple potatoes and jowl bacon, which did a bit to get my brain out of the “will this taste like home?” place, and I think it turned out pretty delicious. Not just like grandma’s or Mom’s… but still delicious.
I was a slacker and forgot to call Mom for the receipt – thus part of the problem with getting it to taste right – so I used this recipe http://www.foodiecrush.com/german-potato-salad/ – and added chives, because this time of year we have loads and loads of chives and not much else.
It didn’t taste quite like home, but it tasted reminiscent of home, which, I think, is pretty darn good for a first try.
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Today, so far, I/we (T & I) have:
* Pulled the chest freezer out from the garage, thawed it, and cleaned up the exploded apple goo from the bottom (Cider jugs have a variable amount of headspace. Sometimes it’s not enough.)
* Run a batch of tiny apples from the Spare Trees through the squeezo set up on the mixer (T. chopped ’em and put ’em to boil a couple days ago)
* Boiled down the last of the pico de gallo from the company picnic into a passable tomato sauce & froze that
* Picked more tiny apples
(* took a nap)
(* Had a very tasty fried egg & jowl bacon w/ pico de gallo & chives for breakfast and very nice not-at-all-traditional latkes w/ more chives and sour cream for lunch)
* cut new supports for the mailbox front out of plastic wood
* Made a sour cream apple coffee cake (it’s currently in the oven) (this recipe) with sour cream from the company picnic
(The company picnic was catered by Moe’s. Next up are fried cinnamon-and-sugar tortilla chips…)
* Pick more apples, take a walk, write the last kitty Patreon piece for the month, do some Day Job, maybe do some Edally & This Other Project Thing writing. Have dinner, hang out with husband, pet cats.
* Clean up the kitchen, put the freezer back in the barn
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Yesterday, we had Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Crispy Baked Tofu with Honey-Sesame Glaze for dinner – because we had tofu that needed eating and brussels sprouts in the fridge, so I googled “Tofu & brussels sprouts.” There’s a surprising number of options!
It was tasty! We cut the soy sauce by half, but that was about the only change we made. Filling, too – a good balance of protein, fat, and vegetation. And the sauce wasn’t as sweet as you might think. If we do it again, we may cut the soy sauce down more & use molasses instead of honey.
On St. Pat’s day, for dessert, spousal unit said “potato cookies.”
Okay. We can do potato cookies. I’ve been wanting to experiment with potato flour/potato starch more anyway, because it’s Reiassan’s primary starch.
After some googling, we made Uppåkra, which aren’t at ALL Irish, but we did dye them green. Tasty recipe – I 1/4’d it, and it made 6 cookies. I added 1/4 tsp salt, because we never have salted butter in the house, and rather than rolling them, scooped-and-flattened. They taste a bit like shortbread cookies and a bit like sugar cookies. But I think they need more flavoring.
All in all, a good experimental week.
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…is Cook’s Country Anadama bread, a molasses-and-cornmeal yeasted wheat flour bread. It’ll also be next week’s bread, because someone forgot to half the recipe before she got started <.<
I like Anadama bread not just because I looooove molasses, but the story is fun, too:
An apocryphal story told about the origin of the bread goes like this: Every day a local worker would find cornmeal mush in his tin lunch pail, despite asking his wife for an occasional piece of bread. One day, because of weather or other circumstances, he came home just prior to lunch time. His wife, Anna, was out. He sat down and opened his lunch box to find the usual cornmeal mush. He sighed and said, “Anna, damn her,” as he resolutely reached for the flour, molasses and yeast which he added to the cornmeal mush. His resulting bread became a local favorite.
Well. I do find making bread to be calming, a good place for thoughts, and enriching, as well as tasty.
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Today’s prompt is from lilfluff: Comfort foods
Mmm Comfort food.
I’m one of those people that has to not work to eat all their feelings… and I also tend to want to feed everyone else. “You’re sad? Here, have food. Angry? Food. Happy? Celebratory food!”
But when I really need comforting… when I’m sick, it’s broff (broth) if I’m really sick, or chicken soup if I’m just a bit sick.
I like this risotto that T. cooks, too – it’s got just a bit too much cheese in it, and sweet onions, and it’s creamy and starchy. If I’m feeling ambitious, it’s mac n’ cheese, although cauliflower and cheese works okay with the thick cheese sauce we use.
I mean… really, anything familiar is going to be good. Sometimes the comfort food I want is enchiladas Thorne, made with rice & lentils and taco sauce. Sometimes it’s pizza, bought from the take-out place down the street. And sometimes it’s chocolate chip cookies, with the recipe I’ve got memorized. It’s mostly starches, really. I like starches when I want comfort food. <.< Starches and fat.
And then there was that once, when I was feeling lousy, when I found the recipe my mom used when I was sick – vanilla custard – and made it myself. ‘Cause as much as I like being taken care of, I’m a grown-up now, and sometimes you just gotta make your own comfort.
What about you? What’s your favorite comfort food?
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We’ve been watching Alton Brown on TV for years. We watched Good Eats nigh-on religiously, watched Next Iron Chef when there was nothing else Alton-y to watch, and watch and love Cutthroat kitchen.
We’re the sort of people that brine our turkey every year; I make biscuits by Alton’s recipe for our soup and we do own two of Alton’s cookbooks. I think it’s fair to say we’re fans.
So when the live show was coming to Hershey, PA, well… that’s only four hours away. We’ve driven three and a half hours to Albany three times between September and October (there was a wedding); we can drive to Hershey.
T and I don’t take many vacations. We used to do conventions with the Camarilla™, back when we belonged to said world-wide live-action Roleplaying game, and we did Dragon*Con once – in neither case did we pick the hotel. We’ve turned weddings into vacations for ourselves – again, we didn’t pick the hotel. I think this may be the first time we’ve chosen the hotel… ever.
Ahem. Alton Brown.
The show was awesome. I hadn’t done a lot of research about it, so I didn’t go in expecting anything in particular – but it was everything I could have wanted. He ranted about food, he did wild food tricks, he sang. It was two hours of pure Alton.
My only sad point? He took audience questions via twitter w/ selfie. Awesome… except for the 1% of us (me) that came sans smart phone.
But all in all – awesome show. I don’t think we learned anything about cooking, but we had a lot of fun. (Also, in his song about EZ Bake ovens, I got to examine how lucky we are to live in a sub-sub-culture where the fact that my husband does 9/10 of the cooking is entirely acceptable.)
Back to the hotel. So, I was a little hesitant about staying in a Howard Johnson (hotel snob), but it was the only one on the main drag that was a) well-reviewed and b) had a king-sized bed. So.
Turns out, it has a phenomenal restaurant underneath, and an absolutely tasty brunch place right next door. So not only did we get to listen to our favorite TV-food-personality, we got to eat delicious food, too!
All in all, a very good vacation, & back home in time to feed the kitties.
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