Sunday, September 27, 2009

Eggs and other Adventures.

We have less than 2 weeks to go until the wedding, but instead of freaking out or feeling exhausted, I am suddenly in the mood to try lots of new recipes. Maybe it's the fact that fall is coming, maybe it's that Nico is treating his sleep apnea and his happier, more-awake attitude is catching. Maybe it's the zoloft, or the fact that I read Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential recently and it's inspired me. Maybe it's that now I'm reading Amster-Burton's Hungry Monkey, or maybe it's just an avoidance tactic for dealing with the real stress of the wedding. I'm not sure. Whatever it is, it sure tastes good.

This morning I sous vide'd a couple eggs for breakfast. Basically it's poached eggs, but instead of dropping the egg directly into the water you make a little package of it inside some buttered and seasoned plastic wrap. It works! The poached egg comes out perfectly. There's a great tutorial on . But be sure you're using the microwave-safe plastic wrap. Don't ask me how I know.

And it turns out I love poached eggs. I've never had them before. I've never had any eggs where the yolk isn't thoroughly cooked. Uncooked yolk has always seemed kind of queasy to me; I even order my omelets well-done. So I'm very surprised that the runny yolk in a poached egg is, in fact, not bad. It's even, dare I say, good - mopped up with some buttered toast. Next stop: eggs over-easy.

On Friday I made boeuf bourguignon. Boeuf bourguignon! But I didn't make Julia Child's version, which is for the advanced class. Instead I made the easier, simpler but still Frenchy-French version that the NY Times covered here. I see that now the actual recipe calls for you to log in/register with the NY Times. If you want me to email you the recipe, I could do that. It's a good recipe. It takes a long time but it isn't overly fussy. When it calls for the stew to simmer for a couple of hours I transferred it into the crockpot, which was preheated on high. It simmered nicely and I was able to leave it alone and go do other things without worrying. And the stew itself was amazing. I've never had boeuf bourguignon before but with the first bite I immediately recognized it as the beef stew that I've been trying to make for years without ever quite succeeding. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I mentioned that I've been reading Amster-Burton's book Hungry Monkey. It's a sort of food memoir (with some recipes) about a man trying to feed his little daughter things that he and his wife might actually enjoy. I checked it out from the library based on the NY Times book review, and because I thought it might give me some ideas for things that aren't too hard to make and that Nico and I could both agree on. Nico's tastes are certainly more sophisticated than those of a toddler, but when it comes to spicy foods and vegetables he is definitely the picky one in the relationship. The book is a nice light read and the two recipes I've tried so far have been utterly successful. The Thai Shrimp Curry (p. 228) is infinitely repeatable and works even better with some chopped potatoes or squash and some frozen broccoli and cauliflower thrown in. I can tell it's going to become one of our winter-time staples. The Stacked Green Enchiladas (p. 55) were a novelty what with the stacking and broiling, and the tomatillo sauce was surprisingly excellent. In fact it makes me want to try growing tomatillos next year, since the quality available at the local supermarket leaves something to be desired. I'm also looking forward to trying out the recipes for pad thai sauce, duck ragu, larb gai, roasted parsnips, broiled teriyaki mackerel, thai salad dressing, Cornish pasties and potstickers. Whew!

Even Nico's been stretching his cooking muscles by making Irish sausage rolls with a mushroom sauce. This was also his first exposure to working with puff pastry dough and store-bought bread crumbs. It turned out pretty good, and he's going to do a repeat of it tomorrow. No complaints here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ready, Steady, Go

What a summer it's been. There is now less than a month until Nico and I get married, and I've spent a lot of this summer getting ready. We're pretty close to being done, it's mostly the small things and the things that have to wait until the last minute that we have still to do. Though make no mistake, those last-minute things are a big deal. Things like making all the cupcakes and making corsages and bouts. But we'll have family and friends here to help then, and I know we can get it all done.

We got our engagement pics back from the photographer this weekend. We had them taken two or three weeks ago at the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library. A librarian getting her engagement photos done at the library, don't you love it? Yeah, well, this particular library has some great architecture and it's hard to turn down an excuse to go to Seattle. Here are some of my favorites:

Whew. I can't choose just one. Does that mean I'm vain?

But it hasn't been all wedding, all the time. I've been able to get some useful things done. My garden, for instance. It's done OK, not fantastic, but alright. I've gotten enough roma tomatoes to make a smallish batch of marinara, augmented with some basil I grew from seed. I'm going to freeze the marinara and save it for a pick-me-up on a bad day. I've also put some of my tomatoes and Anaheim chiles into a batch of my roasted salsa roja, which I canned in little half-pint jars. And I made three different batches of jam with berries from Spooner Farm stands. Also canned those. I like canning. In small batches, anyway. People say that if you've got your own preserves it's like having money in the bank. I disagree. I think it's like having sunshine in the bank. That along with the marinara sauce and a couple bags of chopped up rhubarb from a coworker's garden in the freezer and I feel almost ready for winter.

Which is good, because winter is coming. Oh yes. I like to say that in this part of the country fall starts on Sept. 1st. And it does. Sept. 1st this year saw us with rain and gray skies after a long stretch of sun. Now the trees are just starting to turn color. There are a couple of early maples here and there that are already almost completely yellow, but the others aren't too far behind. The first seasonal squash is also beginning to show up at the grocery.

And finally, Nico and I had a chance to get outside and play a little when Olympia had its first-ever Zombie Walk. We talked about using this as our engagement photo, but decided against it in the end.