Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pie in the Sky July.

So it's July. What a strange year this has been in the Midwest. It seems everything is taking it's time to ramp up into full fledged Summer, and a turn of the calender recently only first brought some seriously hot weather. I know I'm a bit young for a midlife crisis, but I find myself in a crisis of sorts: why didn't my re-seeded radishes sprout? Why does the day seem to evaporate in 20 minutes? Why am I procrastinating a ton of kitchen projects? Why can't I find any tart cherries anywhere without driving half a day away? If you are wondering where I've been, it's probably because I'm too busy knitting myself a shawl for my complete transformation into "older adulthood". Granted it's a crazy color Noro shawl, but still...

The start of July also brings birthdays for both of my boys, my Husband on the 1st, and my soon-to-be 5 year old on the 9th. Both are good excuses to make cake, and this year I tried a recipe from The Art and Soul of Baking. The book is a Sur la Table book, and since the first Sur la Table opened recently in Wisconsin and I saw this book at the library, I figured I'd make a masterpiece and then have something fitting to gush over. Things never happen the way you figure however, and though the cakes tasted great, they totally lacked in the visual department.

This is partially because I used chocolate chips to make the ganache and they contain a stabilizer to prevent total melting, but it's also in part because cake knows that when I want it to rise extra high it needs to rise not quite so high. I cut out the centers of the cake to fill with whipping cream, and you can see the disks of replaced cake underneath the lumpy ganache glaze. The good news is that when refrigerated, they turned into a dense, heavy-handed chocolate punch in the face, so I was happy. And, happy that I also made full 5 egg yolk vanilla ice cream to go alongside.

I glazed them over a pan, and collected all the run-over ganache into a bowl and ran it through a strainer, something I should have done to begin with. A little jar of perfectly silky ganache is my reward, though I've been doing little but eating it by the spoonful...

I've enjoyed a string of unusual lunches recently. My Husband has been working later in the evenings lately, which cause me to feel even more like a diner's short-order cook. I hardly mind that, but instead mind that when we don't eat together my picky Kiddo (I think at 5 years old he's graduated to an older moniker) gets off easier in the trying something new department. I do usually get a bite or two of something new in him without too much fuss, but I tell you I am perplexed with his eating habits. For a kid who from birth was introduced to everything under the sun, I have no idea where it comes from. When I made the blackberry jam and insisted that he try a spoonful, he screamed and ran to his room. Jam! I have serious troubles.

While at dinner I am more demanding that we eat the same thing, lunches are a different story and we eat "leftovers" - whatever is already made or can be made from stuff already made. Here are a few of my favorites. They were also posted on my facebook page, if some of you think they sound familiar.

Eugenia Bone's recommend of omelet topped with pickled radishes. The pickled radishes are some of my favorite things in a long time, and I feel like this year I have given them my personal press that I did the candied jalapenos in the past. Amazingly, they are good on almost everything, and the leftover vinegar in the jar is great on salad. I use Bragg's cider vinegar, and hope sincerely that this Fall I can start my own cider vinegar. I think I'll have an apple press to get me on my way if I'm lucky.

Burnt-bottom pizza crust topped with hummus, bolted cilantro and well-fermented cortido. When I grilled pizza and the Kiddo didn't immediately devour his dough I knew something was amiss - it was that the bottom of his small dough was black. Not black in spots, but completely black. I actually stood with the half of leftover black-bottom crust (his idea of pizza is dough and sauce only, nothing else) in my hand over the garbage for a full minute before deciding to save it, and I was so glad I did. The black burnt bottom was surprisingly tasty when combined with cortido, and as I bonus, I remembered that I should eat the cortido that I lacto-fermented last August.

This one was actually supper, since it was an evening without all of us. I fried 3 pieces of bacon, "bacon ham" being one of the meats that my Kiddo happily eats, and used most of the fat to cook some red onion and a bunch of rainbow chard that I had got at the farmer's market last Saturday and then piled it on top of some scrambled eggs. I forget how much I love chard, and forget why I don't make it more often, since greens of any kind are something my Husband loves. When I ate it, I actually topped it with the other half of the sourdough English muffin - still one of my favorite things. English muffins are my Summer Bread Saviors since I always have them in the freezer, a good thing when I don't feel like heating up the kitchen.

It's not like I'm not cooking or eating or enjoying both cooking and eating lately, but it seems like I've not a lot to report. We're spending a whole lot of time outside and eating and cooking comes usually without too much planning. I spend more and more time away from the computer, am dreadfully behind at keeping up with my Internet friends. Part of this Summer weighs heavy on me since my boy is growing right before my eyes. I find myself just staring at him, wondering how he grew so fast, and in an instant I feel older. He will go to school this Fall all day. All Day! When he first nestled into my arms at 20 inches long, I never could have imagined that a big part of my day wouldn't contain him at some point, yet that is the barrel I'm staring down. I'm not that glowing new mother with a beautiful baby anymore. I'm the one that looks a little frazzled from repeatedly asking her wild kid to behave in public.

What time I feel I don't have to freely explore the worlds of cheese (and vinegar - I just had to dump my developing once-gorgeous wine version when I discovered black mold across the mat), I know I'll have in spades when I'm drinking my morning coffee in silence in a couple of months. Meanwhile, I fight back against this new feeling of "oldness", that my naturally night-owled self is transformed to an early to bed, early to rise self due to a Kiddo that can't wait to play himself into an early supper, bath, reading, and sleep regimen. If I seem a bit sparse this Summer, you may now know the reason why.

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