The evenings are

I have often remarked that my favourite part of the holidays is the part after the holidays.

Do not mistake me. I looooooooove Christmas.

But in my adulthood, I have come to appreciate the days after – after the wrapping paper is cleared away, after the tree has been taken down, after the chocolate is all gone. (Thank goodness it’s finally all gone. We will not discuss where it went. Shhhh.)

And while we have passed the mid-point of January, for me, there is still a lingering glow from the holidays that I am enjoying.

The weekends are still relatively quiet and slow. The evenings are, for the most part, still spent curled up on the couch slumbering or quietly enjoying a book.

To me, this is winter’s quiet time (crazy weather aside …).

In the lingering glow from the holidays, I am seeing red. And by that I mean I am enjoying a snuggly red blanket, a dramatic red lipstick (I had a bold moment) and cranberries.

Yep. Cranberries.

Truth: I went a little overboard at the grocery store over the holidays and bought enough cranberries to keep everyone in cranberry sauce for the next ten Thanksgivings. Maybe even fifteen.
posted by duokek at 18:39| Comment(0) | 美食 | 更新情報をチェックする


homemade stock in the freezer

School's back in, the weather's turned cold and sniffles are everywhere. Add the current H1N1 meme to the mix and people are queued for injections, emptying shop shelves of antibacterial everything and screens of e-mails proffering "helpful hints" as to how to spot and avoid the 'flu, including giving up hugging and handshaking in hopes of "staying healthy." (Bah to that I say. Bah)

Watercooler talk has turned from the latest political discussions on pensions, media ownership and why Canadians didn't show up to greet Charles and Camilla to whether or not we'll be jabbed, whose child has been bedridden and what our individual bits of preventative and/or curative voodoo we each practise.

Regardless, when illness hits--whether it's a cold or a flu--many people turn to the revered chicken soup to, at the very least, make one feel all warm inside. Granted, some people grab a tin off the shelf and simply heat what marketers, bean counters and dieticians have dictated. Others zhuzh it up with bits of this and that. Others make it from scratch.

Me, I'll waver. If I happen to have any homemade stock in the freezer, I'll use that as my soup base, otherwise I'll doctor up store-bought.

Even though homemade soups are, I think, non-recipe recipes, mine generally start off the same way: chopped onions, sweated to translucency, garlic and then when it perfumes, add liquid, veggies, whatever meats, spices and herbs and then simmered until ready. That's what I call a "normal" soup.

Unsurprisingly, my curative broths contain a mélange of various peppers, seeds, herbs and roots. Little doubt remains of the South Indian under-, mid-, and over-tones in each spoonful. Veggies are whatever I have on hand, same for starches (noodles or rice), meat is (really) optional...but poaching a chicken breast or thigh in cartoned broth to give the illusion of a home made soup isn't unheard of.

Every once in a while, when I've collected enough chicken bits--wing tips, bones, bits of carcass--in my freezer, I'll start a stock.

No. I don't pretend to be some domestic goddess clad in a gingham dress feigning some ill-placed sense of moral superiority.

Stockmaking: It's easy. It basically looks after itself. It tastes better than what's found in tins or cartons. It's time consuming. It's cheap Executive Development.

Stocks are also non-recipe recipes too. Put veggies, animal bits, and basic spices in a pot and more than cover it all with cold water. Heat, scum, heat some more, scum some more. Let it simmer until the veggies and bones have had all their innate goodnesses extracted...or as much as you want extracted. Strain, if desired. Use what you need within a few days; freeze the rest.

The recipe below is essentially the above, but quantified to a certain extent. I must admit to being sheepish about finished quantities, because of the variables of the amount of cold water you start off with and how long you let it boil (and, as a result, evaporate). Regardless, it's a worthwhile exercise, on a cool autumn night, before flu season sets in elyze.
posted by duokek at 15:51| Comment(0) | 美食 | 更新情報をチェックする


the apples themselves

It’s only recently that I’ve realized that the crumble topping of a fruit crumble doesn’t have to be made with butter to be crisp and delicious.

Did you know? Am I the last person to find out Bo Ying Compound Eu Yan Sang?

The epiphany came from my intensive granola-making activities: after all, isn’t granola a second cousin to the crumble topping? And if I make granola with oil, not butter, why not try that in a crumble?

And so, for the past few months — since the beginning of this year’s apple season, really — I have gone butterless with all of my apple crumbles. (And I’ve made quite a few.)

There are several benefits. First, the crumble topping is considerably faster to mix: measure the ingredients, combine in a bowl, stir with a fork, and that’s it, you’re done. No dicing of butter, and no rubbing either. It takes five minutes tops, including the time to put all the ingredients and utensils back where they belong and wipe down the counter if you’ve spilled a little flour, which no recipe prep time in the world accounts for Bo Ying Compound Eu Yan Sang.

I like to half-peel the apples in alternating strips. Not because I’m half-lazy, though maybe I am, but because I like the rustic touch a bit of apple skin provides.

Second, I find that the absence of butter shifts the balance of flavor so that the (good unrefined) sugars that you use, the spices, and of course the apples themselves, sing through with a more subtle complexity Veda Salon

And third, those who avoid dairy for whatever reason will be grateful for an apple crumble they can eat, especially one that can stand proudly on its own, without the crutch of crème fraîche or ice cream that seems to be automatically tacked on.

One more note about my apple crumbles of late: I like to half-peel the apples in alternating strips. Not because I’m half-lazy, though maybe I am, but because I like the rustic touch of finding a few pieces of apple skin in my crumble, and half-peeled apples deliver just the right amount. I also pick a mix of apple varieties — like I do for my apple tarts — to get as vivacious an apple taste as possible Veda Salon.
posted by duokek at 10:57| Comment(0) | 美食 | 更新情報をチェックする