Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Let me tell you a tale of stupidity, hubris, exhaustion, redemption and success. Let me tell you about my clementines in syrup.
It all began with a plan. Not a good plan, but a plan nonetheless.
I had a good deed to repay. My friend mentioned something about cutting down on baked goods. I wasn’t thwarted. I am much more than a creamed sugar and fancy meringues. What that was remained to be seen.
My most brilliant ideas seem to form in locations where I can’t readily write anything down—when driving the car, in the shower, and on the cusp of sleep. This experience has made me rethink the brilliance of these fleeting ideas.
So back to that unfortunate plan. I had a bag of clementines and a slow cooker. And, my late-night brain was convinced that two were destined for a naughty meet up. Homey in a hip homemaker rather than hodge podge lodge, clementines in syrup were clearly perfection.
A quick search found a recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. The woman was on Martha, so no problem there. I am going to plead exhaustion. After all I haven’t had a full night’s since the Bush Administration. I decided not to read the Vegan Yum Yum recipe. Apparently Martha’s staffers might have seen brilliance there but I was too proud to read the recipe.
Instead, I did my own thing. Yes, I did get “doesn’t follow direction well” on my report cards every marking period. I got out the trusty slow cooker. Put in 3 cups hot water, 3 cups white sugar, ¾ cup brown sugar, 12 pink peppercorns, 6 Sichuan peppercorns, 4 cardamom pods, 4 stars of anise, 4 cloves, a cinnamon stick and my faith; turned the puppy on; and walked away.
It was then that I sat down to read the recipe. Backwards am I. Clearly. There is when I saw my mistake. I went back to the cooker to see the clementines. They bobbed happily in the spicy dark liquid to taunt me. Obviously, the slowcooker would never get hot enough to create a syrup from the sugar and water.
At this point, there were two hungry kids, a senile dog, and a husband under foot grabbing at things. So, with the full force of my frustration, I repeated stabbed the little buggers (the citrus fruit, I mean) with a skewer, as Vegan Yum Yum instructed. And, I left the concoction in the slowcooker.
Finally, as the calm of naptime fell upon the house, I went back to see what had become of my ill-fated fruit. The once jaunty fruit seemed soggy, deflated, even defeated. I poured the oranges and the liquid into a pot only to find all of the sugar congealed into one solid mass. I should have save the sugar. But after chiseling and coaxing that cake out of my slowcooker, I felt wronged by the sweetener and there was nothing it was going to do to win me back. It promptly went into the trash.
At which point, rather than partake in the restorative nap that my children were enjoying, I began the project again. Those oranges went into the freezer (and might become gelato.) New oranges were punctured and set aside. To the original liquid, new sugar was added, and then the mixture was heated on a stovetop and once gloriously redolent and viscous the syrup was placed back into the slowcooker. The next morning, choirs sang (itsy bitsy spider, mind you) and clementines in syrup were had.
Spiced Clementines in Sugar Syrup
Based though not as closely as I should have on Vegan Yum Yum
Heat until the sugar dissolves (do not boil)
3 cups hot water,
3 cups white sugar,
¾ cup brown sugar,
6 Sichuan peppers,
4 cardamom pods,
4 stars of anise,
a cinnamon stick
Carefully, put the liquid into a slowcooker, add 10 clementines that have been punctured with a skewer. Weigh down with a plate (the edges of the plate should not touch the edge of the slowcooker.)
Cook on low for 8 hrs.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
And, along with that, if your a food blog reader, you could visit:
Zen Can Cook
Laura’s Best Recipes
Online Pastry Chef
They are all donating this month's revenues to Haitain food relief. I will be as well; though as my readership is not on the order of those big guys, my husband and I will be tripling it.
And, as I know I have been a little blog lax, I will post very regularly through the end of the month. Come back often, click a lot, as ad revenue is based on clicks.
And onto the post:
I am a trickster, a kitchen charlatan. But I am no fool.
The boredom of churning out meals night after has started to get to me. The carefree, easy-going joie de vivre of never making the same thing twice has come to a close. Children like routine, I am told. The unexpected at dinner can set off fantastic and epic tantrums; of this I can attest.
Now, instead I make the same thing often. Thankfully the puck in me revels in small changes. ittle oregano, a pinch of paprika, a pop of green peas…
A little boredom once got me to sneak in a bit, really just a smidge, wait what is a bit less than a smidge, well, whatever that is, sooo little lets say, beet into the dumplings in our regular chickpea and dumplings stew. The result was at first whining, then a strange calm, then sitting on the hands, then running around the table and then finally pleading for a liquid dinner (milk). But, then, after a display that seemed to offer insight into the Belle of a decade hence, a bite of beet dumpling made it through the gal’s lips. As is so often in life, this was not an unmitigated success, but one nonetheless.
Then there was once the case of the veggie letters. Savory pies are a big favorite at our house. Encase anything is pastry, and it becomes a hit. Recently, when Belle was at nursery school, I sat down to whittle my vegetable bin into letters (well, I used fondant cutters.) In my mind, I pictured mounds of carrot orange m’s, pearlescent turnip t’s, verdant n’s. In the end, I got through the alphabet 1.5 times (and began to thank my lucky stars I was not cutting out the Tamil alphabet.) But, the glee that formed when an m appeared out of one’s dinner pie was well worth the labor.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Belle: Mommy, I don’t like ovals. I won’t eat ovals.
Me: Honey, I wouldn’t say that I generally put geometric forms on the menu.
Belle: Mommy, those ovals. I won’t eat ovals. (pointing to the pizza.)
Me: Oh, olives. Okay pick them off. Though, really, olives are not oval. I think they are more like circles.
Husband (who had been eating pizza and ignoring the situation): They are very oval. And not very good.
Me: Alright, alright, no one eats ovals around here. Fine.
(And yes, I do actually talk like a school marm with my young ones; I think it is funny. )
Monday, January 11, 2010
So here it is. I had none of the necessary ingredients, a cranky baby, no car. But, I also had a craving and an unsettled mind. And use real butter's post got me thinking. Trimming the ends could be a mind clearing moment. So, I went to it. I took a bag of mung beans and sat trimming the ends. Active meditation and spicy pick me up all rolled up into one dish. (Thanks Jen/ use real butter for the inspiration.)
Mung Bean Sprout Chaat
2 cloves of garlic slivered finely
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
2 T sliced shallot
3-4 handfuls bean sprouts
2 t soy sauce
In a bowl, combine sautéed sprouts, 2-3 T fresh cilantro leaves, 1 T diced shallot, ½ t amchur, mirchi powder to taste, pinch of kolangi, and sliced green chili to taste, sugar and kelp to taste
As a child, your parents seem to be a generalized middle aged and grandparents a basic sort of old. Time is not something to be saved. Existence and life spread out forever in front of you.
And, then one day, all of a sudden, you look into your parents’ faces and something has changed. Somehow for years, decades maybe, you didn’t notice time had been etching upon their visages; and with those changes they are moving further towards leaving you. All of sudden you want to gulp them in, you want to understand them, know who they might have been before you. You want to yell sorry for the old faults, for the slammed doors, for the grimaces, for the tears. You want to go back to that moment when time didn’t matter; when you sat on their laps; when they were the most beautiful, most intelligent, the most. You want something back that you didn’t value enough at the time and something you can’t get back when it’s gone.