Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Cookie exchange 

Here's what I make every year for the holidays:

Cornflake Wreaths
Peanut-butter Blossoms
Ginger Snaps

What do you make? Is baking part of your tradition?

If you want my recipe for any of the above, email me at frogblogger at gmail dot com and I'll send it out. Note that I'll be offline until 1/3/05.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Fatty fatty goodness. 

A salami sandwich, made with herb-encrusted salami on a buttered baguette.

That faint wheezing sound is my left ventricle, making its pro forma protest after yesterday's lunch.

Anyway: guilty pleasures, non-sweets division. What's yours?

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Devil You Say! 

Yesterday I turned 47, but I'm still pretty much a novice cook. Oh, I can follow recipes okay, but I don't have the intuition or smarts or whatever that accompanies years of trial-and-error. My first husband used to be a short-order cook so he had all the basics down, and he got the basics-cookbook in the divorce. So I'm a bit slow on the uptake. For instance, just last week I finally hard-boiled eggs correctly for the first time ever. I'm serious; I didn't actually know that you had to put them in the pot and cover them with cold water and then boil for 5 minutes before removing from the flame and letting them cool until I heard Emeril mention it as a by-the-way on one of his shows. (And no, even if I'd thought of it I couldn't have looked up "hard-boiled eggs" on the Food Network; click the link from this page to find out why.)

So fine, I hard-boiled the eggs, and learned my first lesson in basics in awhile (the lesson prior, from sometime last month, was that if you microwave potatoes for about 7 minutes they're set as the base for hash-browns, and you give 'em 10 minutes for being fully baked and/or ready to mash), and was able to repeat the process this week. As Robin is in the middle of dental work and we've been stocking up on softer foods, I picked up a couple avocados earlier in the week (I'm on vacation most of this week and actually have the time and inclination to cook), but when I bought them I didn't realize I was supposed to buy less-than-dark ones 'cause the dark ones you need to use pretty quickly. Lesson #2. (See what I mean about not even knowing the basics?) So anyway, I wondered if I could do something with both the eggs and avocados. And AllRecipes had an interesting recipe for guacamole deviled eggs that I thought would do nicely. But first I had to buy cilantro.

Fortunately, the veggie place a short drive away labels its herbs, so it was that I found out "oh, cilantro is the thing I always taste in Thai food that I could never identify!" Lesson #3! Oh, it's easy enough to say "know thy herbs" and present pictures and have them labelled, but it doesn't really mean anything until I put that together with what they taste like and what I've had them in and then something clicks and I have an "aha!" moment. So, cilantro. Which smells great on your fingers after you've cut it, by the way.

Okay, so I start making the recipe, the ingredients for which are basically:
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 avocados, smushed
  • 1 tablespoon each of chopped cilantro and minced scallion
  • Juice of one lime (the recipe says 1 teaspoon but whatever)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon each of Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard
  • Paprika for the final touch
    (It also calls for 2 tablespoons of jalapeno, but, you know, no thanks...)

  • And I know how to do the avocado thing (slicing, removing pit, spooning out), that's pretty easy. But Robin comes into the kitchen just as I'm slicing the eggs in half to remove the yolks and mix them in with the smushed avocados, and he goes "No, you don't cut them across, you cut them lengthwise just like with the avocados!" Duh! Lesson #4, learned a little too late. Next time I'll know how to cut hard-boiled eggs. I bet it'll be easier to remove the yolks too!

    Anyway, so the next thing is to cut up the cilantro and scallions and dump the minced stuff in with the avocados and yolks, and I learned Lesson #5 then. I finally bought a chef's knife a couple months ago, and because it's larger than the veggie knives I've used for most of my cooking life I've had to adjust to it, like working on larger cutting boards, not chopping off bits of finger, etc. And today I learned that if I move the stuff I'm chopping to the middle of the board from the sides instead of from the top and bottom, it minces better 'cause it piles up better making it easier for the knife to get it all into tinier pieces.

    Nothing learned via the rest of the recipe (which is just stirring in the lime juice then the other ingredients, and sprinkling on the paprika right before gobbling it down), except that it tasted fantastic and my egg-cutting mistake was mostly just a cosmetic one. But, you know, sometimes I wish I just knew all this stuff from instinct. Wish me luck on our belated Thanksgiving feast, on which I'm about to start in a couple of hours...

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