Yes, there was Easter lunch.

It has just NOT been a writing week. After the hustle and bustle of an Easter Sunday that began at 3 a.m., thanks to the AGC waking me up by kicking the wall between our bedrooms, up through sunrise service, breakfast at church, egg hunt, Sunday school, and service, and then Easter dinner, it about zapped me for the entire first half of the week.

And I did not cook. Much. I made myself some potato salad, and an asparagus and sugar snap pea slaw, one day. That was really about it.

Easter dinner was predictably good. I made use of a trick I learned on the food forum regarding deviling eggs. Cook, peel and halve your eggs; make up your filling. Put your empty whites in one zip-lock bag, and your mixed-up yolks in another. Stick both in the fridge, up to a full day before serving.

When you’re just about ready to serve, pull both bags out, arrange your whites, let your filling warm up a little (just roll the bag between your hands) and snip a corner off the bag. Then pipe into the whites. Garnish as you wish, and set them out.

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Ecumenical Easter treats

March 31, 2018

Get your ecumenical Easter treats, right here!

I have wanted for years to fold some traditional Passover dishes into our Easter dinner. This year, I’ve made a start at it.

The above plate of cute things are coconut macaroon bird nests with eggs, and haroseth truffles. Easter-y, Passover-ish, and cute, all up in here on one plate.

The coconut macaroons are, well, coconut macaroons. They needed an additional egg and some more almond flour to make them hold together better as nests; a couple of them had a side blow out. Didn’t hurt the taste, though. The eggs are a combo of Whoppers baby robin eggs, the candy-coated malted milk ones, and Starburst jellybeans, all incited by a stop I made by Walgreens and the fact it was last gasp for Easter candy.

The haroseth is another critter altogether. Haroseth is a very traditional fruit mixture served at Passover; it symbolizes the mortar with which the Israeli slaves worked to build the pyramids in Egypt before their liberation. The most traditional version uses apples, nuts and dates, and a sweet red wine. This, whose recipe is courtesy the NYTimes “Cooking” section, purports to be a Sephardic Jewish version, made from dried fruits common to the Middle East. Although, the bag of apricots I KNOW I had seems to have taken feet and walked away, so I used plums instead. I also subbed walnuts for the pistachios I didn’t have.

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Authentic? Who knows. But decent curry.

Yes, it’s one of those disparate posts. Deal with it.

The above may well not be, as the recipe contends it is, “Authentic” Thai Massaman curry, but it was good. And it’s entirely doable in the Instant Pot, which is always a recommendation.

The recipe is here. How it was, was, like this. I had some beef “fajita strips” in the freezer, and I was looking for a recipe that would accommodate ’em. Indian’s out. I didn’t want anything European, read conventional, nor did I want, well, fajitas. Thai leapt to the forefront. So I Googled “Thai beef.”

And came up with a plentitude of recipes, including this one, which drew my eye, first because it was Instant Pot-able, and second because the fajita strips, which had been in my way every time I’d looked for something in the freezer in the last two weeks, had suddenly become impossible to find.

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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.

 

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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Not making these, but I thought the pic was cute.

It’s that time. It’s time to contemplate Christmas treatmaking. More to the point, it’s time to go shopping for the goodies with which to make the Christmas treats. And then package them up, arrange them in nice little boxes or baskets, and get them ready to give out in the next 10 days.

Gulp. Ten days. That’s…not long. Thank God I’ve got most of my other shopping done.

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I will admit it. I’m a deadline-driven individual. If you want me to do something, give me a date certain by which it needs to be done. Do NOT, ever, tell me, “oh, whenever you get around to it,” because? It is highly likely to be long enough you have forgotten you asked me.

It matters not if this is work or otherwise. I am at present looking at two projects that deadline this month, one of which involves me getting my piece done before the other individual involved can get hers done, the other of which is, well, sizeable. Ideally, I should be through with each of them by the end of next week.

So what did I do today, you ask?

I made spiced pecans.

Now, in all fairness, the pecans didn’t take long, and I’ve been working on both projects, off and on, all day, and I’ll put in a few more hours on them tomorrow, but I still have miles to go before I sleep, as it were.

And the pecans were HERE. And they were PRETTY. And I’ve been thinking for DAYS about holiday treats.

How it is, is, like this. For, I guess, well more than 10 years, I’ve had a friend who gifts me every year a two-pound box of pecan halves from the South Georgia Pecan Co.  Now, these are purely gorgeous pecans. They’re big — an inch and a half long, 3/4 of an inch wide. They’re tasty. Very few of them come broken into smaller pieces. And like clockwork, sometime in early December, in time for all my holiday baking and candy-ing, here they come in the mail.

They came today.

Now, it so happens that I have residing in my freezer some six or seven pounds of pecans I’d bought from an individual here locally, that I’ve been using in my baking and such. And that’ll be nearly-about enough pecans to do me through Christmas and well into next year (I use them in granola, too). And see above comment on how attractive these pecans are.

So I spiced ’em.  Half of them are savory, half of them are sweet. Likely, all of them will be eaten before they ever make it into a treat bag for Christmas baskets, but hey, I guess that’s OK. ‘Tis the season, and all that.

For the savory ones, I used the sauce I always use when I make my Chex mix (which I’d forgotten to put on the holiday make-in list, so I added it). For a pound of pecan halves, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cloves confited garlic, with its oil
  • 8-10 drops of hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Melt the butter. Use your immersion blender to whiz the garlic with the butter, and add the hot sauce, seasoned salt and onion powder; whiz it again. Pour over the pecans, and stir well to make sure they’re all coated. Pour them over into a parchment paper-lined pan.

In this case, I set them aside until I got the other batch ready. That involved:

  • Separating an egg, and beating the white with a couple of tablespoons of water until it was foamy (not stiff, just uniformly foamy)
  • Adding 1/3 cup brown sugar and 2/3 cup white sugar, as well as 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 to 1 tsp hot smoked paprika or hot pepper of your choice

Stir that all up, and add a little water if it doesn’t seem thin enough to easily coat the pecans. Add the pecans and stir until they’re well coated. Again, dump out into a parchment-paper lined pan.

Put the pans in a 300-degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes (be sure you use separate spatulas, and keep up with which one’s which). At the end of the 30 minutes, pour the nuts out onto waxed paper in a single layer, if they’re in a thicker layer than that in the pan, and let them cool completely. Package in something airtight and hide them.

Because if you don’t, you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em will get into them well before Christmas, and likely before dinner.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.