Sometimes, the hypocrisy of my laziness astounds me.
I’ve been craving homemade marshmallows. Marshmallows are something I’ve been wanting to make ever since I knew you could. I first tasted a homemade marshmallow without realizing what it was. An aunt who always leaned toward the gourmet brought them to a Christmas party with a mini chocolate fountain back when chocolate fountains were all the rage. They were oddly shaped (square! not squatty ovals!) and they were light and fluffy. Years later, when I saw a recipe in David Lebovitz’s A Perfect Scoop, I realized what I had partaken of, and determined that one day, I, too, would be able to make marshmallows.
Fast forward several years…
My first two attempts at marshmallows did not pan out. Neither were David Lebovitz’s recipe, so maybe that’s where I went wrong. The first relied on the cold water test for candy, which I thought was a safer bet since I cook at a high altitude and was worried about converting the temperature. They were a bit rubbery, but tasted good. The next was a Dorie Greenspan recipe, and they were better, but still a bit tougher than I expected. I wondered if I would ever succeed at making marshmallows. And after two semi-failed attempts, one would think I would throw in the towel. Continue reading
Last year, Engineer and I decided we were ready to embrace CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture, in which you purchase a “share” and receive a weekly basket or box of produce for a set number of weeks) in an effort to eat more seasonally and locally. In our zeal, we ended up purchasing a share from two different CSAs (which is a long story). Our two CSAs only overlapped by about a month, and it actually worked out nicely. It was nice to have them at the same time to compare and see the differences between the two.
I have to admit, that first year of CSAs was an adventure. It was an adjustment to plan our meals around the produce we received in the boxes, but it was nice to have such fresh produce. It all tasted better than it does from the store, and I loved it. We have signed up for both again this year, and are already getting our lettuce-filled bags from La Nay Ferme. But. I’ve learned a lot about CSAs from my experiences last summer. CSAs are not for everyone, and there are a few things I don’t love about them. Continue reading
I collect cookbooks.
It’s one of my weaknesses, and the only thing that makes me feel even remotely better about my habit is that I know there are people out there with even larger collections than my own. For instance, I know for a fact that I don’t have 101 cookbooks. Though, truthfully, I’d bet right now I have over 50. And, like any true cookbook collector, I have acquired more and discarded none. I’m becoming more discerning in which books I purchase; I have enough cookbooks that I don’t use and that have poor recipes in them that I’ve learned my lesson. I also avoid cookbooks that rely heavily on convenience foods. If a cookbook contains any recipes that use cake mix or cream of crap soup as an ingredient, I put it back immediately. A cookbook really has to stand out, and I have to accept the authority of the writer as a good cook before I’ll buy one. And yet, my collection still grows. At least the growing has slowed.
Most of what I purchase now is from America’s Test Kitchen and its various iterations. I buy the special publications they sell at Sam’s Club or Costco, and I also recently purchased their DIY cookbook. But the recent purchase I’m most excited about is a book by Ellie Krieger, called So Easy.
I have been reading Plate to Pixel, and have really enjoyed it. I delayed buying it for so long, thinking “I know the basics already. I know what an f-stop is, I know about the rule of thirds, I know natural light is best. How good could it possibly be?”
Well, really good. Helene Dujardin has put together just an awesome book. (Yes, I know I’m late to the game in saying that…I’m probably the last food blogger to read it) True, I wish some of her photos showed the setup involved and included more details on how she got the shot, but it is extremely helpful on a technical level and downright inspiring to a budding writer. You see, she relates most techniques back to what is, to her, the most important aspect of photography: the story. Her constant reminders to consider the various artistic choices you can make with a photo in terms of how it can help convey the story you are wanting to tell were so compelling because that is exactly what interests me about food. (well, besides the fact that it generally tastes good, too…) Having written my thesis on cookbooks as autobiography, I find the story that food conveys intriguing. Food speaks. Photos can (obviously) speak too, and when you put food and photography (plus the written word in the case of a blog or cookbook) together, you have a very dynamic story that can speak to your audience on different levels. Continue reading
Today was a nightmare.
A kitchen nightmare.
This has only happened once or twice in my entire life. And I’m just a little bit mad it happened on a day like today, on a day when there are no leftovers in the refrigerator. Lucky for me, Engineer came home from work early today. See, he had to go in this morning at 5:30. Which meant that by the time 4:30 rolled around, he had put in a good 11 hours already. That’s plenty for anyone, I should think. He was cleaning up after Babycakes’ diaper blow out (yeah, this afternoon just kept getting better and better!), and I walked into the bathroom and said,
“Dinner is inedible. Think about what you’d like to do.”
Has that ever happened to you?
You pick a recipe that sounds easy enough (Tuscan White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup from Skinny Taste, in my case), you make one minor tweak that shouldn’t affect the recipe at all (I chose to do it on the stove top with the quick soak method instead of in the crock pot; seeing as how I prepare beans like this quite regularly, I saw no harm), and it comes out completely inedible and doesn’t resemble the picture in the least.
I’m sure that never happens to you. Continue reading