Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Pumpkin Pie Challenge

Ah, Thanksgiving. I don't cook for Thanksgiving anymore. I just don't want to. The crowds at the market starting a week before, the hoards of teenagers on break from school running amok, the television bombarded with Thanksgiving foods and customs. It just makes me annoyed at everything. 

Last year, Katie bragged about her pumpkin pie. Everybody supposedly loved it, so she made 2 for a dinner party. Neither was fully cooked, despite being in the oven for over an hour and a half. 

What happened?! She swore it was an anomaly. This never happened before! Her mother's crust recipe, the filling recipe from the back of the Libby's can of pumpkin puree...there was no going wrong here! This was the chip she carried for the last 12 months. This year, she tried again. We attended a potluck and pumpkin pie was her charge. It was to be Katie's comeback pie...The Pumpkin Pie of Redemption.

Fail. It just didn't cook right. Crust was tasty once you got past the pumpkin slime. We just didn't understand. A week later, Redemption Pie Take 2. Fail. Again. Was it the oven? Was it the tin? 

Katie's now convinced I don't believe she can make a good pumpkin pie. And she's right. She knows I didn't sabotage her (as if I'd do such a thing!) because I was not present at the last attempt. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I saw a pumpkin pie challenge!! I said I'd make the next pie. With the same ingredients, same tin, same oven. 

I used a simple 3-2-1 pie dough recipe ratio with the fat comprised of equal parts butter and shortening.
6 oz flour. 2 oz butter, 2 oz shortening, 2 oz ice water, half a teaspoon salt

Pumpkin pie filling mixed per Libby's Classic Pumpkin Pie recipe plus a dash of nutmeg, poured right up to the edge.

It baked for 15 minutes at 425 F, then turned it down to 350 F and let it cook for another 45 minutes.

It's done! It's gorgeous!

Served a la all pies should be. So it came out well. But, what about Katie's pies? Same ingredients, same tin, same oven. What is happening to her pies?? We may never know. Until then, there's my pie. ADVENTURE!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tiff 1, Pig 0

So delicious, I had to share...home-made (not my home, but nevertheless) smoked & braised trotters. My parents have these friends...who do a lot of random things. 

For instance, they found a goat, who got knocked up by another goat, then had a baby goat. Six inbred goats later, neighbors called the county, who gave them one-month to be "goat free" - there were a few roast goat dinner parties in the following weeks. They're those people.

Last week, they brought a bag with 2 whole pig's feet. I'd say from about hoof to shin, and said they figured out a different "red cooked" (basically an amazingly aromatic braise) recipe for pig's feet. They smoked the whole trotters, which from their description came from several pigs...then braised them.

I wasn't sure what to think when my mom presented the whole foot on a plate to me, so I did what I do when I'm just not sure what to do: I ate it. ADVENTURE!

a challenge? I ACCEPT!

the aftermath

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pastry Sunday

Ever since Baking 1 of the enormous waste of money I call my culinary education, every 2 months or so, danishes are requested. More like demanded. I think of it as part of the rent I don't pay, so I happily spend one morning and one afternoon (yes, these are a two-day operation), making the house smell of butter and love. 

Each batch I make yields around 20 individual pastries, not including the "uglies" made from edge-scraps. As they've been shared and fought over, the Official Pastry Recipient List (OPRL) has grown. Depending on my direct relationship to potential recipients and their geographical proximity to my home, some people have claimed the OPRL is harder to get a place on than some organ transplant lists. 

All by way of saying, if you never get one, don't take it personally. So, until you get one in your grubby little paws, I've documented the process...ADVENTURE!

the dough...after kneading.

after proofing in the fridge

that would be the 1+ pounds of butter about to join the party

all the envelope folds later, here's the guy ready to go...back to the fridge!

ingredients for bear claw filling
bear claw filling, READY!

    ingredients for cream cheese filling
i've often thought of baking this cream cheese mixture in a tart shell...
perhaps another adventure?

this is what my dough looks like a day later...over-proofed, just the way i like it =)

cream cheese & cherries

a naked window
cream cheese & almond windows

bear claw...bears have 5 toes, right?

so close...but no cigar. poor mr big.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

For the Love of Mancala

 Dixie cups & raisins? No, Jason, fat kids eat the playing pieces if they're raisins. Even the ones who don't like raisins. It's mancala. You move pebbles into little cups to try and collect the most pebbles.

Anyone who has spent any time with me knows I'm competitive. And obsessive. Thanks to my favorite happy boys, Justin and Jason, I am now obsessed with this game.

Problem is, it's a 2-player game. 

A home-made velcro latch!

 Short a player?? That won't stop this kid's adventure!! 

I have, to my knowledge, invented Mancala Solitaire. I play hard. I play smart. Then I spin the board around. 

The trick to not setting yourself up for traps is to play hard and play smart EVERY turn. Most games are pretty close. Then I realize I'm just one step away from becoming the hermitted asian girl with the marble game.

So, I play with Bella. ADVENTURE!!

"What's my next move...?"

"Your turn mom."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hello Again!!

I had a blog...and that host closed. SOOO...welcome to my NEW blog!

Sometimes I think I have a blog just cuz everybody has a blog, but what better way to share my adventures with the world! Join me on my adventures, and tell your friends, too! Since I just got my hands on a tasty, tasty camera (if cameras could be eaten, this would be like a juicy herb crusted lamb chop), I'm sure there will be plenty of fun stuff here! See you soon...ADVENTTTUUUURRREEEE!!!

"Stick-it-to-the-Man" Dinner

So this week we've all been working very hard to meet a client's recipe testing deadlines.
We worked so hard that karma smiled on us and left us with a few extra ingredients that my mom turned into a fabulous dinner! It doesn't always happen, but when it does, I'll take it!

We stick it to the man, cuz the man sticks it to us everyday. 
Take that as you wish to. 
a light coating of seasoned flour

awaiting their fate...

in the pool!


golden fried and delicious

a touch overcooked, about medium. but juicy as all hell!