Apr 082013
 

2013-04-08 18.00.37

6:35 pm

Sometimes I feel determined to prove that my place in the world is “manic hipster dream girl” and at times like that I ask chaos to bring home goat milk so I can make ice cream.

This is one of those times.

Ice cream is too fiddly for me to talk about process. I use internet recipes and a lot of hope. This one has an egg custard base and I had to skip the blender directions. My blender doesn’t go “slow” because it is a motherfucking ninjashark. If you want to temper the old-fashioned way, watch this video. I liked her. She was clear and helpful, and has a necklace just like one of my very favorite necklaces (which has no bearing on her ability to make ice cream, obvs, but does make me instinctively trust her).

The best part of watching that video is that when the goat milk and honey mixture started to boil over, I didn’t panic (as much). I blew on it to break the skin, just like the video taught me. I still lost many of the precious real vanilla bean specks, lost forever on the stovetop.

Now it is chilling (not like a villain because only fools drop the g just for a cheap dated rhyme) and later tonight I’ll run it through the ice cream maker, report back, and finish this post.

8:56 pm

I made meatballs and marinara sauce for dinner and watched a bit of Northanger Abbey.* As time flows only forwards and I become older, not younger, I decided against allowing the flavors to meld overnight. I poured the proto ice cream into the machine and let it churn for about 20 minutes. Now it lurks in the freezer, hardening, but before I put it there I filched a spoonful; the taste is complex and barely sweet, like thistles and mushrooms and nectar.

10:23 pm

We are eating bowls of what chaos calls “the most complex ice cream that’s ever existed” with chocolate syrup. So. Good. NOM.

 

* The species enslaved by humanity for me to enjoy my evening include cows, sheep, goats, durum wheat, ITV costume designers, and bees.

Mar 012013
 

Right, when I posted some facts about secretly-terrible vegetables, I promised that next time we’d talk about awesome vegetables. That’s still on the slate. Before I get to that I feel honor-bound to discuss a few things commonly — but erroneously — considered vegetables.

Badgers – Not everything that is delightful when lightly sauteed is a vegetable. Inside their hairy peel, badgers are actually a source of meat!

Fiddleheads – This is a trick, because even though fiddleheads are ferns, they’re also vegetables. They can kill you with microbes that cause string concerts to well up from the depths of your being and spill out of your throat. Until you die.

[enter a squirrel]

Acorns – Nope, under their little berets, these foodstuffs are actually a nut and if you eat them an oak tree will grow in your stomach. If you have nimble abs you might be able to create a bonsai masterpiece.

[exit a slightly sadder squirrel]

Astronaut Ice Cream – This a dessert treat with all the fun and delightful texture of eating a vegetable. None of the flavor, food value, or nutrition, though.

Mushrooms – Most mushrooms are actually fungi but some of them will give you extra lives, like the ST:tNG episode The Inner Light.

 I hope you’ve enjoyed this continuing blog series on vegetables. Next time I’ll totally talk about awesome vegetables, I promise.

Mar 012013
 

I know that anything deemed a vegetable is supposedly good for you. I’d like to share a few little known vegetable facts, though. I thought these were common knowledge, but I guess the vegetable lobby is stronger than I thought.

Carrots – They’re good for your eyes! Oh, yay! So good that your eyes will start to grow larger and larger. Do you want your eyes to grow too big for the sockets and pop out and then you have to replace them with carved radish eyes? Then stop eating carrots.

Red Cabbage – This isn’t even supposed to be food, you know. It’s one of those decorative border plants. Also it contains a rare crystallized form of beta carotene which goes right to your spleen and refracts light improperly. Eventually your spleen starts to glow.

Capers – These aren’t even vegetables; they’re edible flowers just like broccoli. Anyway, if you eat enough of them your face will stay like that forever and you’ll turn to a life of crime.

Okra – Actually, I was prepared speak out against okra, but then I remembered how much I enjoyed okra curry that we ordered from the internet one time. Carry on, okra, you’re delicious.

Next time, we’ll talk about awesome vegetables, like leeks (the perfect vegetable because they’re technically in the bacon food group).

Feb 102013
 

Sadly necessary self-admonishment: Don’t forget to start the rice!2013-02-06 19.13.06

3 chicken breasts
1 onion, sliced
[1 c. of some other vegetable]
cooking oil
toasted sesame oil
1 tsp chili garlic paste
black pepper

Sauce:
juice of one lemon
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp corn starch

In a skillet or wok at medium-high heat, cook the chicken breasts until they’re just barely done through, remove from pan. Add onions, sesame oil, and chili paste to pan. Stir, fry. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste (or actually, nearly twice as much as you’d normally be comfortable with). Cut chicken into bite-size pieces and whisk together sauce ingredients in a small bowl while onions are cooking. Add the additional vegetables to pan when necessary to cook them until tender. Return chicken to pan and stir into the vegetable mixture.

When all the components have been introduced to each other, push them to the sides of the pan so you can pour the sauce unhindered in the middle. Resist the temptation to touch the sauce until it gets dark and bubbly, then stir until everything is coated. Serve over rice.

Jan 262013
 
Potatoes simmering in the back, onions doing their thing in the front (I added liquid to them just before taking this).

Potatoes simmering in the back, onions doing their thing in the front (I added liquid to them just before taking this).

1/2 pound bacon (cut to bits)
3-5 potatoes*
vegetable boullion cube
2-4 yellow onions
black pepper, rosemary, paprika**
~ 1/2 to 1 c. heavy cream (or evaporated milk)
shreddy smoked/sharp cheese OR cheeze-its

[I added that shiny picture on 2/13.]

Fry the bacon in a heavy, straight-sided pan. While it cooks, peel and quarter the potatoes and coarsely dice the onions. Start boiling enough water to cover the potatoes, plus 2″, and add the boullion cube. When the cube dissolves, add the potatoes. Let the potatoes simmer, they don’t need a high heat.

When the bacon is done frying, remove it from the pan and drain on paper towels. Leaving the fat in the pan, add the onions. Deglaze with a splash of white wine (or whatever) and add seasonings. Cook the onions over low-medium heat, adding spoonfuls of the simmering vegetable broth from the pot of potatoes so the onions are always wet but not floating.*** Do this for 15-20 minutes until they are translucent and soft.

The point is not to be eating bits of onion but to have the onion melt into the rich flavorful body to the soup, so if in doubt, cook them a little longer!

When the onions are squishy enough, prepare to add the potatoes by mashing them right in the pan of water. Either use a potato masher or squish them against the side of the pan with a big spoon. I like to leave enough potato bits to have something to chew in the soup, but mashing them like this gets lots of the starch into the liquid, which helps thicken it. Pour the whole thing into the onion pan and stir.

At this point, you can add the bacon bits back in if you want soup-integrated bacon, or reserve them to sprinkle on top of the soup if you prefer crispy bacon bits.

Add the cream and bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with either a smoky shredded cheese and bacon bits or cheeze-its.

 

Some notes on variations:

Pouring the potatoes into the onions is the point where you can start doing whatever the bleeding hell you want to this soup without fucking it up. Any time it is too thin? Cook it down. Too thick? Add some water. Here are some variations:

  • You don’t need the cream. It will still be delicious soup.
  • You don’t need the bacon. You can start the onions in butter, duck fat, or olive oil instead.
  • Other vegetables I have added with success: peas, peapods, parsnips, bok choy. Bell peppers didn’t work for me.
  • Top with fresh beansprouts and parmesan.
  • Leftover meat goes great in this, so pick over a roast chicken or dice some beef or pork. Or all three.
  • I made potato soup with lobster broth once and it was great, so do that if you like lobster, but then maybe swap the rosemary for sage and bay leaf.

Finally, that potato + onion point is also the point where you can hold this soup pretty much indefinitely, which makes it great for when you’re cooking large meals, or if you don’t know quite when you want to serve dinner. If you add the cream before holding, I find that it forms a skin, which is not a disaster because it stirs right back in.

 

* This footnote is a speculative potato-free alternative for bilgerat:

Instead of potatoes, take a small head of cauliflower. Cut it down, including the stems. Simmer it in the vegetable broth, but instead of mashing, you will probably need to blend the fuck out of it to get a good soup consistency. I have a terrifying blender that would do the job admirably. Consider reserving at least a cup of bite-size florets to add whole to your soup.

I also wonder if it would be better to reduce the amount of vegetable broth and increase the heavy cream so that it thickens better.

** Not too much hot paprika, as it overwhelms the other flavors in the soup.

*** Is there a technical term? This is one of those food things where I judge visually what seems right, like knowing a sentence is wrong without understanding the grammar.