Much reading is taking place as the winds whip the dull, dim days. The weather about which we usually whine has crouched down over our little valley to stay for some time – the long term forecast for this month calls for rain at least two days a week until April, which is good news for the many pre-gardening chores which remain undone. But, for now, we’re courting laziness and enjoying our books…well, mostly…
T. remarked to D. that she has read two books – by different authors – this weekend alone which contained descriptions of “the type of town where a person could go next door to borrow a cup of sugar.” She would like to, at this time, challenge the assumption that this sugar-borrowing town nonsense is a good thing. To wit, WHO DOES THAT? A scoop of coffee/beans, okay – sometimes you run out without realizing it, and if you’re an addict — you’re an addict, and a morning DP won’t do. (Looking at you, Jules.) A cup of cream – okay, you might need some milk from next door to put in that last cup of coffee (good luck, they’re vegan and a little concerned for your dairy consumption. They have a website to show you… [Okay, sorry.]). But …a cup of sugar? Really? A whole CUP? What, you’re making cookies, but not only failed to read the recipe before you started breaking eggs, but failed to have sugar in the house? Maybe instead of walking next door, you might take your imprudent and foresight-lacking self to the grocery store, and leave your neighbors alone???
(We note that T. probably is not a resident of that “type of town.” She would probably also like those gol-darned kids to get off her lawn…)
In all seriousness, how funny that the weather has increased the number of conversations had with random strangers about it. “Goodness this wind!” is a common one, and “Boy, we really needed the rain, eh?” is the next. Maybe bonding over banal conversation has taken the place of borrowing sugar for the tea these days?
How has this winter – mild, not-obviously wintry/endless icebound horror – affected your baking? Do you suppose those on the West Coast will all end up longing for toast this Spring, instead of greens and fruit, as we usually do? Or, those in the Polar Vortex regions will end up like bears come spring, shaking off a long winter’s hibernation fueled by baked mac-and-cheese and lots of crusty bread? Man, the things we do to stay warm. Better baking than burning endless candles, like we did in our very first apartment( We’re pretty sure the walls were a shade darker when we left). At least baking can be shared.
Well… it could be. But, it hasn’t been. We’re still in the testing stages *cough* so we have an excuse. Of sorts. We’re also sad to report a lack of photographic evidence of our continuing pastry trials, as the one with the double-bergamont tea pastry and marmalade filling was, regrettably, consumed. (To clarify: we don’t regret the consumption – just the lack of photography. Eh, the pastry twist/braid went weird anyway, never mind. You’re not missing much not seeing it. *cough*)
The Foodie Experiment has covered two areas lately, one, TVP Oatmeal, the other Chia. Both of these experiments have, so far, been dreadful. When you’re told to cut your carb intake, one of the hardest things for people to lose is stuff like breakfast cereal, toasts, oatmeal — well, those are all good things in moderation, but T. read somewhere (dicey) about how people have been enjoying unflavored TVP – textured vegetable protein, a soy flour byproduct usually used commercially to stretch meats and chilli – seasoned with cream and cinnamon and slow-cooked. Dubious, T&D purchased a small amount and — NO. Just, no. EVER. It was disgusting, and T. couldn’t even finish it. (D., who tends to be more pragmatic, finished his bowl, and then threw out the rest of the pot.)
As for the chia pudding, our friend Pille tried it out first. She said it looked like frogspawn – and it does – but she’s a brave woman. T’s plan was to grind it up to avoid the frogspawn effect, but did a bit more reading. While the seeds are indeed high in omega 3′s and fabulous for so much, there’s a bit of a drawback. It’s in the fine print that most people don’t read, and that few aficionados are eager to say, chia has a certain laxative effect, not to put too fine a point on it. We’ve decided to table our experiment just now, and go on with tea…
In attempting to turn T’s tea obsession into more than poaching pears in Earl Grey and trying to make Green Tea everything as some people seem to do, we have taken *the basic pastry recipe and added to it the zest of one lemon, and a packet of lemongrass tea. This makes a wonderfully fragrant and amazing crust for a blueberry pie – and we swear we’ll share photographic evidence with you before it’s gone. PROMISE.
Our frittata had a faux bacon bowl effect in the cast iron skillet.
Next time we’ll use a crust, but this was fun.
*And, in case you’ve forgotten the basic baking recipe:
2 C. blanched almond flour.
1 C vital wheat gluten
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. creamed cheese or 4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp. oil
OR, for a thinner, crisper, vegan crust, perfect for a veggie quiche:
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup olive oil
Part of our experimenting has been with blind-baking an almond meal crust. Now, technically, blind baking is supposed to prevent your crust from getting gummy by giving it a little defensive layer, but T. thought blind-baking was unnecessary, and sogginess wouldn’t happen with almond meal. Au contraire! Tender and lovely as it is, the almond meal pastry crust does indeed become a little gooey after long exposure to fruit and vegetable juices. Additionally, because the flour is already somewhat lightly tan, it’s easy – too easy – to find it burnt-ish looking. Now, in the Skyway Test Kitchen, we hardly care about those sorts of things, as we’ve been known to eat pastry first thing in the morning with eyes barely open – and croon to ourselves, spewing crumbs. Too dark of edges? Who cares? We’re not even awake. But, for those classier, more discerning home chefs, prior to your fifteen minute blind bake at 350°F/175°C, tent your fluted edges with foil. You’ll be glad you did.
Tune in later for T. to dig out and dust off her shortbread pan… the lemon tree is loaded right now, and lemon bars with a gorgeous shortbread crust sound just the thing…