17
Feb
2013

Yesterday, in between soccer games, we popped in at the Whistle Stop Sweet Shop downtown to sample a bit of fudge. This cute little shop opened up a couple of months ago, and I’ve been meaning to get by. It’s a small shop, and rather than overwhelm you with too many selections, they had on hand just about a dozen tempting flavors of fudge and a good selection of other bon-bons and confections, both chocolaty and not.

I decided to try the Crimson Velvet fudge, a red-velvet concoction that is creamy and satisfying. We purchased a square about the size of a pre-cut, brownie, and I have more than 75% of the thing still remaining in the kitchen. It’s so rich, a little goes far enough.

I was quite pleased with the prices, as well. More often than not, specialty candy stores charge ridiculous markups for the quality. This candy was handmade, delicious, at a reasonable cost, and served up by a very warm and friendly merchant. Go visit; go soon!

velvet_fudge1

3
Jan
2013

The children go back to school today. As of yesterday, I’m back at work after an extended break.

I found the latter portion of 2012 to be quite a bit overwhelming. Number one child’s college search, and all the pressures that go along with that, has just begun. I gradually took on a higher workload until I reached full-time. That was somewhat difficult to adjust to after all these years of the flexibility of teaching, and I’ve never been the most organized sock in the drawer. I’ve never been particularly useful at meal planning, but it was easy to wing it back when I could pop into the grocery anytime I needed to; no longer, preparedness will not be at all optional if we want to eat more than two different dishes a week.

I did not spend enough time with friends. I need to start attending photography group again. Or, maybe I need to teach you all to knit (and/or crochet), and we should have a knit night out in addition to book club.

NO! I’ve got it. Let’s form a MARTINI club. Weekly. Wednesday nights at I LOVE SUSHI, or Brix, or other wine bars. What do you think? I think it’s genius. I want to taste ALL the martinis. You never know what you could accomplish unless you try.

Aim High (homework 2)

29
Oct
2011

A couple of months ago, my daughter and I were enjoying an episode of some Italian-based food show wherein the host created a dessert called Lemon Tiramisu. My daughter turned to me wide-eyed and asked, “Can we make that? It looks really good.”

“Yes, it does,” I agreed and began writing down the ingredients, one of which was Limoncello.

A little later that same day, my favorite cooking show, Extra Virgin, was featuring a recipe for Limoncello! I turned to my daughter and said, “Look! We need that for the tiramisu recipe. I will make some.”

She didn’t realize the process takes about 6 weeks, and she always looks a little dejected when she asks, “When are we making the Lemon Tiramisu, Mom?” and then I reply with something like, “in 3 more weeks, dear, when the Limoncello is ready,” and she rolls her eyes or shrugs her shoulders and wanders off, convinced she’s never going to taste it.

The first step required lemons, specifically, the rinds of 15 lemons. I made a special trip to the organic store so as not to poison my friends with pesticide-laden liqueur.

Next, one has to shave the zest off of these 15 lemons. It must be done in such a way as to not allow any of the white pith to enter the batch. I’ve heard it will ruin the entire thing. I retrieved my trusty potato peeler, and I carefully zested all 15 lemons. (Later, I squeezed them and made a pitcher of lemonade, but that’s neither here nor there.)

I zested these babies so well, that even after the peeling, the lemons are still yellow. I should be a surgeon, really.

Next, I traipsed all around town searching for 151 proof grain alcohol for the recipe, but apparently, the great state of Alabama doesn’t mess around with that lightweight stuff, so all I could find was the 190 proof, and I had to try to adjust the recipe accordingly.  Heh.

Steep the zest in grain alcohol, away from light for two weeks.

The drawback with this part of the process, is that the bottle lives in the bottom of the deep, dark pantry, and, therefore, it is easy to forget what’s down there.  Don’t forget. I don’t know what this would look like after three or four years.  After two weeks, it looks pretty much the same as when you started.

Next, you cook up some sugar and water syrup.  Strain the liquid to remove all evidence of the delightfully zest-free peelings, then add in the sugar concoction.   Let live in the bottom of your pantry for another four weeks, give or take a few days, because you forgot it was in there again.

Almost done!  Now, we get to go to Pier One for bottles.   While there, examine every pretty dish, decide you want all of them, but regain your focus.  Go find bottles.  Don’t buy yellow ones, because that would be cliche.  Buy blue and red ones.  Fill them up.  Put them in the freezer.

I ended up with 3 bottles full (about a quart to a liter each, along with 4 or 5 small bottles around a half cup to a cup each).

Bring last bit left in jar to friends to taste at book club.  They think it is too strong and sweet.  I think it’s just right, maybe needing a splash of club soda.

Now, I all I need are some ladyfingers so I can start on that tiramisu recipe.

25
Aug
2011

So. Occasionally, I love to have a small, grilled steak for dinner. My preferred steak sauce is A-1 (actually, it’s the only steak sauce I will use); unfortunately, tonight we were all out, because I have repeatedly forgotten to buy any at the store.

I decided to try to find a recipe and make my own.

Because, a naked steak is a sad, pitiful steak.

Here is the recipe I followed, starting with the requisite list of ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup <- I will change this
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar <- I will reduce this
  • 1.5 tablespoons chili powder <- I used ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

(Yes, I find it funny that I had all those ingredients in my pantry, but not steak sauce.)

First, you throw it all in a saucepan, and let it simmer for 25 minutes.  Beware the cider vinegar vapors! I got my face too close and it almost knocked me out.

image

Next, after you let it cool for a bit, throw it all into a blender to puree the mix:

image

Serve with naked steaks.

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Keep the rest for the next time.

image

I thought the recipe was extremely tasty, although a bit too far to the tangy side. I don’t like tangy steak sauce.   I believe the modifications will come in this form:

  • Reduce the vinegar by half
  • Instead of using ketchup or catsup or whatever the hell you call it, I think I am going to blend a little tomato paste with bourbon and brown sugar.  Shut up. You know that sounds right.