Worth waiting for

February 17, 2018

A right pretty loaf of bread, 24 hours later.

I’m going to call this one “forgotten bread.”

Because I forgot it. Twice.

Didn’t have any sandwich bread in the house. The loaf I did have was so stale I threw it out, and decided to make a new one. So yesterday morning, I mixed up a batch of dough and set it in the microwave to rise.

Where I forgot it. Until I was cooking an early dinner yesterday afternoon. It had risen nicely, to well more than the 1 1/2 times its size called for in the recipe. I punched it down, and stuck it back in the microwave (which doubles as a bread proofing box) for its second rise.

Where I forgot it again. Until this morning. I popped open the microwave and…there it was.

Damn. Well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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A change of breakfast pace.

You are tired, sick to death of cereal, sausage and biscuits, even your beloved yogurt and granola and fresh fruit. You don’t want to bake a dozen muffins, and all your muffin recipes are for a dozen (you really don’t want a half a dozen). You don’t want to go out to the local diner for breakfast, never mind they make a fine one, because you don’t want to have to get out of your PJs and brush your hair.

You want something different.

You want a Dutch baby.

It’s easy, even easier if you possess a blender and a countertop oven. It’s relatively quick; you’ve got breakfast in less than 30 minutes. It’s tasty. It can go sweet or savory, as you please. It’s different.

All the boxes appear to be checked.

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Ain’t this just ducky?

February 12, 2018

Ready to go swim in the sous vide, as they are doing now.

We have had adventures in duck-dom at Chez Brockwell over the weekend and extending into today.

I picked up a cooler of frozen ducks on Wednesday from a duck hunter friend I’d told I wanted some. He had them. I stopped and got them. There were two mallards, and five smaller ducks, probably either teal or wood ducks.

I left them in their cooler in the storage room to thaw, as I wasn’t going to fool with them until Friday or Saturday. As Friday was sloth day, and I fooled with nothing other than the computer and the TV remote and my Kindle and the fridge, it was by default Saturday.

Got the ducks out. Whole ducks, wings cut off, dressed, most of the feathers off. Lots of pin feathers. H’mm. Been a long time since I needed to part a duck from his pinfeathers. Off to the Interwebs.

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Like Mama used to make

February 10, 2018

Ready for the meringue topping. Skimpy custard and all.

At least as well as I can remember. Since Mama, God rest her soul, has been gone for almost 25 years, and I don’t remember when she first baked a banana pudding prior to that.

My mama could make a KILLER banana pudding. She’d make the boiled custard, layer the vanilla wafers, whack me with a wooden spoon when I’d snatch too many of them, slice up the bananas and layer those, and pour the custard over it all. Then she’d whip the egg whites with a little sugar, mound the meringue up in pretty little peaks on top of the pudding, and slide it in the oven for a few, just to brown it.

Simple — the essence of simplicity. So simple you forget about making it. Just really, really good, that comfort food, make-your-tummy-happy, cure-whatever-ails-you good. Will feed a crowd (this is a good pot-luck dessert).

A friend at church brought one to a pot luck a couple of years ago. I scarfed a dish of it. I hunted her down, gave her a big hug, and told her, “My Mama’s been gone more than 20 years, but this makes me feel like she’s still here.”

Not too long after that, I broke my leg. They announced it at church. She called me and said, “Can I do anything for you?” And I said, “Yes. You can make me a banana pudding.”

It helped. I swear it’s why my leg healed so fast.

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I’d’a baked a cake.

In point of fact, I baked two cakes, because it was too much batter for one.

I took pictures, too, but I can’t find ’em. So use your imagination.

Back before Christmas, I had planned to make a coconut cake for Christmas dinner, and have ambrosia fruit salad to go with it. I did not get the cake, which requires a three-day ripening, made.  This is not a coconut cake…but I have not been able to get the thought of that ambrosia out of my mind.

So I thought to myself, “Self? Don’t you reckon we could make a pound cake, and put pineapple and mandarin orange sections and maraschino cherries in it?” And Self said that she reckoned we could. And I thought a little while longer, and I said, “Self? How ’bout we put some coconut in there, too?” And Self said, “Nah, that’ll overdo things. Leave that for the coconut cake, and then you won’t have to remember to go buy any more.” Self is smart like that sometimes.

So I got busy and looked up the recipe for Seven-Up Pound Cake (recipe here), which has a bit of a fruity-citrusy whang to it that I thought would go well with pineapple and mandarin oranges. I made it up, and while the butter was softening, I cut up a half a pineapple and peeled and sectioned four mandarin oranges and threw that in a bowl. Then I drained a jar of maraschino cherries (how big a jar, you ask? Damifino. I already took it out to the recycling bin, and it’s too damn cold to go look. Looked like about a cup’s worth of cherries and juice) and cut those in half and threw them in. I folded all that into the cake batter, and commenced shoveling it into my brand new pretty fluted Bundt pan I got myself for Christmas.

And had a metric ass-load of batter left over, because, well, you know, the volume of the fruit increases the overall volume of the batter. I believe there is a law of physics that explains that phenomenon, but I disremember what it is. Physics was a WHILE back.

So I put it a loaf pan.

When they come out of the oven, I’m going to mix the cherry juice I saved with some confectioner’s sugar to make a good thick glaze, and I’m going to glaze them. I think they’ll be plumb excellent.

One word of warning: This is a pretty sweet cake recipe. If you prefer yours a little on the less-sweet side, you might want to cut back a half-cup to a full cup of the sugar.

It’s good, though. It’ll go right well with coffee in the morning. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em ought to stop by for a cup and a piece of cake. Too damn cold to do much of anything else.



February 9, 2018

In a testament to procrastination, here’s Christmas dinner.

Can I come back in? Are y’all still speaking to me?

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, for my protracted absence. I can plead illness and busy-as-hell since Christmas. After fighting the sinus infection from hell before the holiday, it crashed in on me with a vengeance after New Year’s, sending me to the doctor for a Z-pack, to the couch for a few days, and NOT to the kitchen much at all, as it had slaughtered my senses of taste and smell, and who cares about eating? I ate a lot of toast, and granola, and cheese and crackers.

And then it was catch-up time. Work catchup, that is. On the road a good bit, and chained to my desk a good bit more. I cooked, and there were a couple of exceptional things I’ll detail in coming days, but on the whole, nothing special.

So, anyway. That’s Christmas dinner, above. Pretty standard. Ham, roast beef, asparagus, brussels sprouts, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (carbs-r-us!) rolls, cranberry salad. The fam was satiated. The kids washed dishes. It was a good day.

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Christmas treating begins

December 17, 2017

If it’s Chex mix, it must be Christmas treat time.

I hadn’t REALLY planned to start making Christmas treats yesterday, but as I was attempting to get the kitchen out of the danger zone where the Health Department was likely to come in and condemn it (the struggle is REAL, y’all!) I figured it would be easier to make up some of that stuff than it would be to try to find a place to put it.

So. Chex Mix, candied mixed nuts, and Hot Damn Pickles.

The pickles really needed to be put in to marinate today anyway, to give them time to replace their brine and get nice and sweet-hot before I parcel them out and can them. They win, hands-down, as the simplest treat I make. You get a gallon jug of hamburger dill chips at Sam’s. You dump it into a colander and drain the pickles. Then you layer them back into the jar with the bigger part of a four-pound bag of sugar and an entire bottle of hot sauce (I use Louisiana; your mileage may vary). And you let it sit on the counter for four or five days, then parcel the pickles out into pint or half-pint jars and can them so they’ll be shelf-stable.

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