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Have you ever had a maraschino cherry?

I mean, a REAL one?

A sour marasca cherry preserved in syrup?

It's amazing.

The "maraschino cherries" that we get, well, in all honesty, you can taste a little bit of similarity in them. You can actually taste that, if you took a "maraschino cherry" and somehow made it into something GOOD, this is what it would be.

How do I put this? A maraschino cherry is a cherry almost, but not entirely, unlike a maraschino cherry.
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Have I ever mentioned my favorite food label? It's on the store brand evaporated milk of the local supermarket chain, Stop&Shop.

On the side of the can is written:

Add one part
of water to one part
of the milk in this can
to result in a milk product
which is not below
the legal standard
for whole milk

I LOVE that. I'm trying to imagine the person who wrote that. And I think that I would really get along with that person.
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I hand't posted about this earlier, because I was kind of hoping that we'd solve the -1. . .

So, the Friday before Christmas, that is, the 21st, was Lis's work's Festivus party. (See, they decided that "holiday party" was a lame term, because you need to be celebrating A holiday, not just the CONCEPT of "holiday", but they didn't want to do a Christmas party, because of all the non-Christians, and a "Christmas/Hannukah/Yule/Kwanza/Saturnalia/Whatever Party" is just too confusing. So they did a Festivus party instead. I don't think they did the Feats of Strength or the Airing of Grievances, but they DID set up mini-golf throughout the entire office, and have a Yankee Swap. They also had a potluck.

As you may expect, it is usually my job to prepare things for Lis to bring to work potlucks. Oh, if I don't want to do it, she is perfectly capable of making very yummy things on her own (she makes a mean Kahlua fudge, and she's been known to make baklava), but it's normally my job. Naturally, I want to make sure that Lis looks good when I make potluck treats for her. If I'm short on time, I can make my Chocolate Dream Pie, which is really good, and very easy, but if I've got the time, I'd much rather make a cheesecake. Because I make an AMAZING cheesecake.

A couple years back, Lis bought me a truly top-of-the-line springform pan for cheesecake-baking. It has a glass base with a metal rim which is carefully machined to fit exactly into the springform sides, which are made of some sort of high-tech material, and coated with Teflon. It's a really good springform pan -- doesn't leak at all, releases easily, and easy to wash.

I sent Lis off to work with the cheesecake, on the base of the springform pan, since that's the point of springform pan bases -- you serve the item on them.

The cheesecake was a huge hit. None of it was left.

Neither was the base of the pan. Someone must have thrown it out. How someone throws out a heavy tempered glass disk, I don't know. I mean, it doesn't LOOK like trash. But it's gone.

So I'm going to have to replace my best springform pan.

The thing is -- as annoyed as I am about the loss of the pan, that's overshadowed by my happiness that Lis's co-workers loved the cheesecake so much.
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I have created. . . .

Light and fluffy latkes.

I swear it was an accident.

They're really good,
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I am thankful that, for all the weirdnesses and problems North America has had over its history, we still managed to develop a holiday dedicated to eating a meal with family (chosen and/or biological) and reflecting on reasons to feel gratitude.
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So, the pie I eventually made was the buttermilk pie [livejournal.com profile] zarhooie suggested, recipe here. Although I took [livejournal.com profile] zarhooie's suggestion of upping the heat a little and baking it until it was totally set rather than just barely set.

It was very, very good, and I fed it to my parents. (I went over to their house and brought quiche and buttermilk pie so that Mom and Dad wouldn't have to cook for the meal or two after Dad came back from the ER with his broken sternum.)

However, although it was very good, it was almost too sweet, and too plain. It tasted really good, but also like it really wanted to be a base for something else.

Lis said that what it really needed was a contrasting flavor -- something tart. Something like cranberries.

So I made another one, replacing some of the sugar with brown sugar, and filling the pie crust only halfway. And then I made a cranberry sauce, and, after the buttermilk pie cooled, I spread the cranberry sauce over the top of the pie in a second layer, and chilled it.

I rate the result a "B". And the only reason it's that low is because I chickened out. I added a bunch of apples into the cranberry sauce, as well (well, we HAD a bunch of apples that I had to use up), adding a fair bit of sweetness to the cranberry sauce. The final sauce didn't have the bite that Lis was hoping for, and it would have been better that way. It's still a tart cranberry sauce, but it should be tarter than it is. It doesn't have the really crisp contrast between the smoothness buttermilk custard and the bite of the cranberries.

But it's still damn good. (I made two pies, one to eat ahead of time to test it out, and one to bring on Thursday.)

I also made my chocolate pie, and the sweet potato crunch that I'm always required to make for Thanksgiving.
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So, Lis wants me to make something sweet to eat. I have one pie crust (for a single-pie crust) left over from the double-pie crust recipe I made a couple days ago.

So, I've got a pie crust.

I've got basic baking staples in the house, but I'm going to have to go down to the supermarket before I cook, anyway, just the one down the corner (Lis has the car today).

What kind of pie should I make?

In other news, my father was in a car accident last night and broke his collarbone. He's okay, except for the broken collarbone, but still, just in case you're going to shul tomorrow, his name is דוד בצאליל בן שרה (David Betzaleil ben Sarah).
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So, in the last couple months, my Depression has been close enough to under control that I think that the main things holding me back now are the habits of depression. Even though I'm not being squished under the emotional ten-ton rocks, I've been squished by them so long that I have to re-learn -- or, let's face it, learn for the FIRST time, since I've NEVER been not-depressed -- how to stand up, move around, and do things.

And I'm making progress. For the last two weeks, I've been doing chores around the house every day, and have started to make parts of the house look habitable. That's never happened before.

And I've started being able to do things like cook for Lis.

So, yesterday, I made quiche. With a homemade pie crust, from the new Cook's Illustrated (mainly, I wanted to try their pie crust recipe -- it works well -- so I made quiche for it). And I saved the water in which I cooked the veggies that I put in the quiche, and, today, I used that water as part of a stock to make a soup.

So we've had homemade, fresh meals, two nights in a row -- quiche, and soup. And both were good.

So I'm now craving pizza. Bad pizza. Like Domino's or something. The kind of pizza I don't actually LIKE. Because I've been making good food.

THAT'S what's annoying.
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We went to Topsfield fair -- I got a list of the cooking contest categories. One category is cheesecake, and Lis says I have to enter next year.

For everyone else on my friends list: Topsfield fair also has competitions for over twenty categories of beer, a dozen categories of wine, a half-dozen categories of cider, four or five categories of mead. C'mon, folks -- I've HAD some of the stuff you brew -- I KNOW that some of you can pick up a couple blue ribbons at the state fair. You have GOT to do this -- I want to see at LEAST a dozen blue ribbons and maybe another dozen red ribbons on my friends list next year.

Besides, don't you want to tell people that your mead won a blue ribbon at the state fair? (And some of the subcategories got almost no entries -- I don't think there was even one entry for French-style perry, for instance. I don't think there were THAT many melomels, either -- and I KNOW some of you do kickass melomel.)

Also, Fantasy Wargaming finally showed up. It sucks much less than I remember -- it's actually very good. I'm kind of disappointed . . .
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So, I'm making up an additional pot of chicken soup. I boiled the chicken longer than I usually do, and left the bones in longer.

I refrigerated it overnight in order to skim off the fat (once the fat is refrigerated, it comes off VERY easily).

And the bones appear to have formed gelatin. It's dissolving well into the re-heated soup, and is just adding body. It's actually really good. This may be the best chicken soup I've ever made.

Montreal

Sep. 7th, 2007 10:41 pm
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Lis and I are in Montreal, to help [livejournal.com profile] papersky celebrate her book.

Montreal is a great city. Montreal is a city which believes that french fries need gravy and cheese on them. In this, as among other things, Montreal is right.
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I want a BLT. It just sounds really good right now.
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Thesis
In the British Isles, "breakfast" is eggs, sausages, bacon, toast, coffee, juice . . .

Antithesis
In Continental Europe, "breakfast" is a croissant or other roll, and coffee.

Synthesis
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We came home from the farm, and had a couple of hours until our dinner reservations at a relatively-nearby restaurant (at which Fabio's son-in-law worked). Some of us took a dip in the pool, or a quick nap, or chatted, or whatever, and then, eventually, we all changed for dinner and came down.

Nobody particularly came UP with the idea of changing for dinner -- it's just that ONE person started putting together an outfit, and then someone else thought that changing was a good idea, and we all dressed up just a little -- not much, but enough that Nonnie noticed, and said, "You all look nice," and looked pleased that we all had demonstrated that we thought that spending a night out with our family was important enough that we'd do a little something to mark it.

In any case, it was the last night that Meghan and her if-he's-not-scared-off-by-this-he's-gotta-be-a-fiancee Patrick were going to be around, as they were going home the morning of the 23rd, so that was another reason to just, y'know, look a LITTLE nicer than usual.

It was a traditional Italian meal, and we ordered it as such -- antipasti, primi piatti, secondi piatti. The place was known also for its pizzas, which, I guess, you could get served either as primi or secondi.

Nonnie was convinced that we'd ordered FAR too much food when she realized that the antipasti plates that were being brought out were brought one per PERSON, rather than one per every three or four people.

And yet. . . we pretty much cleaned every one of those plates.Read more... )
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I've been several days behind in blogging, which I am sorry for. Not just because you don't get to read what I'm doing, but because writing it down helps me remember and enjoy.

June 21 was several things. First, it was the longest day of the year, being the solstice. Second, it was Lis's birthday. And, third, we realized that it was exactly my one-third-century mark.

It was also the first day we went into Florence.

Bucine, where we're staying, is like an hour outside Florence, so it's easy to hop on the train, spend the day, and come back. Which is one of the things we've been doing. On the 21st, we did said hopping with my sister, mother, and father. We couldn't figure out how the heck the ticket machine worked, so we ended up riding without the ticket, which is a gamble . . . if you get caught, it's a five euro fine. As it happened, we got caught, and our tickets cost 10 euros apiece, rather than 5 euros. Oh, well.

My sister was hungry enough to be grumpy on the way in, so we stopped at a cafe when we got into Florence, and had pastries and fruit and coffee and juice and stuff. After doing so, we all felt in much better moods, not only Leila. Healthy blood sugar levels are a good thing.

Then we began wandering about the city together. We headed toward the Duomo, and just walked around that area, admiring the gorgeous cathedral, and eventually (after looking at the outdoor spot with dozens of famous statues, including the reproduction of Michalangelo's David (the original is in the Acadame museum, but the reproduction is in the original space where it was put) headed off to the Uffizi Gallery, where we had timed tickets for 12:45.
Read more... )
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We picked up a replacement lapel pin for me from WSET, as I lost mine at work. We then went to the Tower, which was pretty awesome. Ravens are cool.

There are a few things I'm not crazy about in London -- the pretty-much universal closed-circuit camera monitoring, for instance, creeps me out. But, in general, everything's pretty cool.

However, I'm now at the I WANNA GO HOME stage. I've now been away from Boston for about as long as I can really stand, and I WANNA GO HOME. And we've still got weeks in Italy ahead of us. I'm hoping this is just something I'm going to be able to get over, and work through.

After the Tower, we went to Westminster, and saw the Horse Guards in review, and saw Westminster Abbey. We got there a bit before 5, and we COULD have gone in for Evensong, which, I have heard, is the most beautiful Anglican service, but I just couldn't feel comfortable going into a Christian service. We tried to listen in from outside, but not much sound gets out. Still, it was pretty cool to see the choir line up ahead of time for the service, and the older choir members whack a couple of the younger ones on the head to stop them poking each other, and one choir member come tearing around the corner at a dead run because he was late.

We went around that neighborhood for a while, and eventually went more Piccadilly-ward and Leiscter-Square-ward (which is more or less where we are now), and we saw "Windmill Street" and decided to see if that was where the famous "Windmill Theater" (as in "Mrs Henderson Presents"), and there WAS a strip club there called "Windmill International", so there WAS a place with naked women, but the bouncer didn't know if it was the same as the original Windmill.

So we neither went into the Windmill to see naked women, nor Westminster Abbey to hear Evensong. I'm not actually sure about which of those I regret more.

Oh, yeah, and there was a really good upscale Scottish restaurant, so I had haggis and whiskey for dinner. Which was awesome.

My brain has pretty much melted and I want to go home and everything nifty here and I'm still WEEKS away from home but my body is holding up better than one would expect since I'm not randomly bleeding yet which normally happens after about three days but it still could yet happen.
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So, we left Boston at about 7 pm on Thursday night, arriving in London at about 7 am Friday morning. On about a six-and-a-half hour flight. The numbers do not add up due to rounding. And me forgetting exactly when the plane took off and landed.

I probably got about an hour of sleep on the plane, but we knew that we weren't going to sleep until bedtime London time. As annoying as it is, Lis assured me that the best way to beat jetlag is to just deal with it as an all-but-allnighter the day before, and try to keep to your intended schedule as best you can.

I hate travel, as I've mentioned before, and my skin was crawling by the morning. It took us about an hour to clear customs. And then Lis found a luxury spa thingy in the airport, and we paid £12 (see? British keyboards have a £ key. And a $ key. Hunh. What symbol is missing? @ is somewhere I didn't expect. . . oh, I see. There's an extra key over here by the left shift, which has \ and |) for a shower, which may seem like a lot, but was worth every penny. After I took a long, hot shower, brushed my teeth, and changed my clothes, I felt human, and ready to deal with London. We went to the Tube with our luggage (we travelled all carry-on, largely so that we could get around the city easily before we dropped off our luggage), and got into London about ten or so.

The weather was BEAUTIFUL. I mean, GORGEOUS. About 20, 21 degrees centigrade, 68 or 70 farenheit, blue skies, gentle wind -- I mean, you cannot design weather that I would like better.
Read more... )
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Lis has a work party/pot luck tomorrow. I cooked for it. I made fudge.

I wanted to make Kahlua fudge, but the Kahlua cookbook I found in our kitchen didn't have the fudge recipe, and I couldn't find the one that did. So I looked at the back of the tub of marshmallow fluff, which has its recipe for "Never-Fail Fudge." Their recipe calls for a cup and a half of evaporated milk, and we didn't have any. But we did have Kahlua.

So I substituted a cup and a half of Kahlua for a cup and a half of evaporated milk.

Looking at other recipes, I find that this is about three times the amount of Kahlua as is average for these recipes.

Seems to have turned out pretty well. Seems to have turned out about three times better than those versions, actually.
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+ I made sufganyot today. I've never had them before, so I don't know what they're supposed to be like, but the things I made were pretty good. See, Internet + Cooking + Me is kind of bad -- I look up a recipe, find six or twelve, look at them, notice the commonalities, and then make up my own version. I know that you're supposed to follow a recipe the first time you make something, especially if you've never even seen the item you're making, but I had descriptions of them, and they sounded good, and the things I made kind of fit the description, and were good.

- I failed to make some sort of baked good or something for Lis's work potluck tomorrow. Because I was making sufganyot instead.

+ The oil lamp we made works. And it's stable enough that Lis said I could leave it unattended for fifteen minutes at a time. And it was fine.

+ I relatively competently dealt with a financial issue (paperwork stuff, phoning someone, getting copies of forms kind of thing)

- I forgot to make an appointment to get the car's oil changed.

+ I bought some of the stuff that Lis needed at the store.

- I forgot some of the stuff that Lis wanted at the store.

{} Anna's funeral is tomorrow.

Sufganyot are a jelly-filled fried thingy. They're a traditional Hannukah dish, where "traditional" is defined as "made up and popularized within the last century or so by people who wanted to make a statement that they were TOTALLY DIFFERENT from their parents and grandparents."

And they're yummy. See, "things fried in oil" are a traditional thing to eat on Hannukah, because a) miracle of the oil thingy b) baby, it's cold outside, and so we should eat lots of calories c) our arteries are failing to clog fast enough. And the main "thing fried in oil" tradition of the Ashkenazic Jews was, and is, latkes. And so, when the Zionists were settling Israel, one of the messages they wanted to send is that "we're totally different from the kinds of Jews from whom we're descended, so we won't speak Yiddish, we'll pronounce Hebrew differently, and we'll have different holiday traditions." But you can't dump latkes without replacing them with something else, and preferably something better.

I'm not going to say that sufganyot are better than latkes, but they're certainly good. Or at least, the things I made that are sufganyot-like are good.
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"When did H. P. Lovecraft start writing our latkes?"

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