Monday, February 15, 2010

You can't expect to wield supreme power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you

Once again, it's bullet point time here in Pantsville. It's because so many things I think or do just don't seem blogworthy enough for their own posts. I don't know why I think this way because, hell, its my damn blog and if I want to string together a few non sequiturs and call it a post I can, right? But I think maybe that's what Facebook is for. And now Google Buzz, which is Facebook with an edit button and without so many people.
  • Oh damn, my first bullet point was going to be about Google Buzz, but then I kinda just said what I was going to say about it.

  • We made another recipe. See, Wednesday night is sort of "Cooking With The Swell Fellow Night" because it's a night I don't have doggie classes and he doesn't have table tennis. Yes, he plays competitive table tennis. Anyway, on Wednesday we made salmon with spinach sauce (I'd link to the recipe but I think it came out of a cookbook. Like an actual paper one.) and steamed vegetables (you don't need a recipe to make steamed vegetables). Actually, he made the salmon and the sauce, with minor help from me, and I made the steamed veggies. We didn't really pay attention to the presentation, so the photo isn't fabulous, but here it is:

    salmon with spinach sauce

  • I made the sourdough bread. I didn't think I needed the vital wheat gluten Crystal had recommended (even though I had bought it ... see below) because I was using white flour. But the loaves still didn't rise well, growing out more than up. But it tasted great. I didn't take a photo of it. I'll wait for a loaf that doesn't look weird.

  • Valentine's day! Best one in ages! I got flowers, made cookies and we even made a vaguely heart-shaped pizza:

    red red red plate o' hearts vaguely heart-shaped ...

    The cookies were just your average shortbread cookies, and I had meant for the royal icing to be smooth and more red. But I didn't have enough red food coloring and I didn't make the icing runny enough to pipe on properly (the recipe said "not too runny," but I think whoever had written it was thinking it would be used for flowers and shapes. So tip: for cookies you want the icing runnier.) After I wrestled with the decorators bag (I think the hardest bit was getting the icing IN the bag! Is there a trick? Mine got soooo messy ...) I decided that rather than getting the icing out of the bag, making it runnier and 'then putting it back in, I'd just spread the icing with a damn knife.

  • I made a cake yesterday, but not just any cake: it was an extremely ambitious cake. I used this recipe. It would have been far easier and less time-consuming to have tried a recipe that used lemon extract, but no, I had to aim high. I think I may have zested a lemon before, but I had never pithed one. By the fourth one I had gotten the hang of it and stopped cursing so much. Anyway, I think the cake was fabulous. It looked OK, too:

    lemon pound cake

    I realized only after I baked the cake that I don't own a cake plate, or even a regular plate large enough for a cake. I also realized after I wanted to transport the cake that I own nothing suitable for that purpose. I had only just purchased the bundt pan at a thrift store ($1.99 at Cause For Paws) last week when I decided I would try to make the cake.

  • So last week I bought the vital wheat gluten, something that's not cheap ($5.99 at Kroger) and for which I had no coupon. I also had to buy cake flour ($2.99), which was another non-coupon item. I was dreading the relatively expensive grocery trip, but then I got my quarterly Kroger coupons in the mail. Every quarter Kroger sends out coupons along with a dividend voucher based on how many "points" you earn through purchases. My dividend was $9, plus there was a coupon for $1 off my next order. I used those plus a few other coupon/sale deals to make a batch of groceries that rang up at $28-something (from memory here--I've misplaced the receipt) cost $13-something. Here's the haul:



    The Oreos were free--I had gotten a coupon for becoming their fan on Facebook--and the Whoppers were on Manager's Special for $1 (I have a recipe I was thinking of trying that calls for malted milk balls). The Kroger mailing contained a $1 off $4-or-more fruit coupon, so that covered the apples and lemons, and a $1 off $4-or-more veggie coupon for the broccoli, asparagus and carrots. The chicken broth was on Manager's Special, and the Purex was a sale+coupon deal that made it something like $1.50. I didn't have a coupon for trash bags so I bought the smallest el-cheapo one, but that was a mistake because they really suck.

So, Wednesday night will be another cooking adventure, and it's my turn to pick the recipe. I have no idea what to pick. I'm open to suggestions. I was thinking maybe toad-in-the-hole, but that seems so unhealthy after this weekend's pizza, cake and cookies. I think something light may be in order. Any ideas?

13 comments:

crystal said...

If it makes you feel any better that vital wheat gluten will last you forever. Be sure to poke it in the fridge and seal it well after you open it. Have fun!

Crystal

Lisa B. said...

Good to know. Thanks!

Marsosudiro said...

Congrats on the shopping! That Swans Down looks so very retro. Like something that my grandmother would have used in the 50s, had she been in this country at the time.

Your shopping excursions make me think of that woman who ate on a dollar a day for a month.

BTW: I've just received an old Ateco 701 cake decorating set (minus a couple of heads) as part of a friend's cleanout. You want it?

Congrats on the ongoing fun with a competitive table tennis dude. That's awesome.

Lisa B. said...

Wow, yes, I'd love the cake deco set! It will also be a good excuse for us to grab a coffee or something ... I'll email ya!

And I love the Swan's Down packaging, too ... and the very name of the product.

Sarah said...

I like to make a lighter version of shepherd's pie with mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. I don't know if you'd consider that light or not. To me "light"="not starchy".

Lisa B. said...

Yes, less starchy means light to me as well! I saw a version with mashed rutabagas that I was thinking of trying (I'm not a huge cauliflower fan). Maybe turnips would be good, too ...

georg said...

The sourdough bread not rising probably doesn't have as much to do with the flour and gluten content. Regular bread flour should work fine for that. Even standard AP flour (which has less gluten) should be okay, altho cake flour doesn't make good bread usually. Natural leavenings like sourdough just take a lot longer to rise than commercial yeast. If a loaf of white sandwich bread rises in an hour, a loaf of sourdough might take 4 hours. Of course, there's a lot of other things that could be going on. But this comment is already approaching novella length...

Lisa B. said...

Thanks georg--all good stuff to know (so feel free to write a book about baking in my comments). Years ago I used to make bread a lot and I had learned a few tricks, but I seem to have forgotten most of them. I will definitely do more research and experimentation, because even bread "mistakes" usually taste pretty good!

I was using AP flour, and I think I'll pick up some bread flour (I'm amassing quite a collection of specialty flours!) I'll try a longer rising time, regardless. I was just going by the Betty Crocker cookbook instructions, and Betty may not specialize in bread ...

girlnblack77 said...

Don't know about you, but I think this is perfect soup & sandwich weather.
We've been making pantry recipes this week in anticipation of HT super doubles. An apple, 1/3 c. raisins, 1/3 c. pecans or walnuts, and a smidge of mayo makes a close approximation of a Waldorf salad.

I need more info on this Cause for Paws; is it local, or online? How come I'm just now hearing about it?

Lisa B. said...

Cause for Paws is in Raleigh. They have two stores there (and apparently one in Zebulon): http://cfpaws.com/

They often have good stuff, but sometimes their prices are a little crazy.

girlnblack77 said...

Thanks!

santos. said...

place icing bag (w/tip) into a relatively tall glass, roll or fold the top of the bag over the edge of the glass. if the bag is big enough it should be secure, if not you can just place a rubber band over the roll/fold. fill the bag part in glass with a spatula or pour it in.

i also save all my plastic squeezy bottles (esp the ones with the cut off tips like honey or agave bottles) which make good icing vehicles, especially for outlining or fat lettering.

Lisa B. said...

Ahh, thanks! I can now use my pastry bag again ;-) And I was wondering if squeezy bottles would work. I'll start saving them.