Still Life, With Cats

This content shows Simple View

Life

Comfortable

Last night we looked in the fridge and pondered what remained of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Mostly, with the exception of one lone turkey leg, it was veggies – garlic thyme sweet potatoes, garlic butter green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, and a little stuffing.

I’d already turned a bunch of the mashed potatoes and stuffing into a batch of Black Friday Bread which, by the way, is excellent for making grilled cheese. Another bunch of potatoes and stuffing were turned into potato pancakes, which we’ve been eating for breakfast, along side scrambled eggs and the cheese of the day. But there was still quite a bit left, and I was determined to use up every bit of the leftovers, one way or the other.

So this evening we made shepherds pie. I diced up an onion and tossed that in a deep skillet along with some mushrooms and leftover celery from the fridge. Then when those were just soft, I tossed in the remaining sweet potatoes and green beans. Normally I’d add some garlic and thyme to the mix, but there was plenty in the leftovers so I figured I didn’t need it.

I stirred in a little flour, and then some chicken stock, and poured in the leftover gravy. Once that was bubbling on the stove, I stirred the remaining potatoes and stuffing with a handful of Parmesan and cheddar, then spread that on top of the whole thing. The skillet went into the oven to bake, just long enough for the top to warm up and brown, and then it was done.

Verdict – delicious, and there was just enough potatoes and stuffing left to whip up another batch of the bread. Granted, I did find a little container of cranberry sauce left in the fridge when stashing the remains of the shepherd’s pie, but I’m pretty pleased that we managed to use up nearly every single bit of Thanksgiving, without having to just eat it straight from the containers for days on end. Yay!

*****

Today’s cheese is a Jarlsburg, which is some kind of swiss.

I am not a fan of swiss, unless it’s buried inside of something else and had other cheeses to mask it, so Richard got this one entirely to himself.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.



But wait, there’s more!

So how’s that Cheese Advent calendar going? Why, thank you for asking! It’s great so far!

Yesterday’s cheese was a lovely Applewood with a smokey undertone.

and today’s is a Red Leicester, with a nice sharp flavor.

I know there’s some kind of swiss coming, which I’m not looking forward to, but the first three have been quite tasty.

But wait, you say. The title suggests something else!

Why yes! Yes it does! I didn’t notice when opening the first two doors, but I finally caught sight of it opening today’s. Each little compartment comes not only with a tasty little round of cheese, but printed on the back of the little door is a joke about cheese.

Yes, folks, that’s right. It’s cheese, with a side of cheese!

Here’s the first three days, just so you can share in the joy. Put your best guess for the punchlines in the comments.

Day 1: What cheese would you use to coax a bear from the woods?
Day 2: What do you call cheese that doesn’t belong to you?
Day 3: Where can you buy second-hand cheese?

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.



This is why I need coffee

2 AM
Cat: Hey. I want under the covers.

Me: Tries to ignore cat, knowing full well that this never works, but holding out hope anyway.

Cat: Hey. Hey! Covers! Lift the covers!

Me: You manage to get under the covers just fine without any help during the day. Go ahead.

Cat: Covers. Now. I can do this all night, human.

Me: Gives up, lifts covers.

Cat: But do I really *want* under the covers?

Me: Yes you do. Now go to sleep.

2-2:06 AM: Cat settles herself.

2:12 AM
Second Cat: Hey! How come she gets to be under the covers?

Me: Tries to ignore cat, hoping he will think I’m sleeping and go away.

Second Cat: Paws at my face, claws barely out, just to make his point. I said lift the covers, human!

Me: Fine. Here. Get under the goddamn covers.

Second Cat: But do I want under *those* covers, or do I want to just sit here?

Me: Why are cats?

2:12-2:18 AM: Second cat accepts head scritches and eventually settles under the covers.

2:22-2:31 AM
Brain: Hey, while you’re awake, remember when you did that really stupid thing ten years ago? Let’s revisit that in excruciating detail, over and over.

3:45 AM
Second Cat: Hey! Hey! I need back under the covers.

Third Cat: Horks wetly, somewhere nearby, thus setting up the daily minefield for bare feet.

Second Cat: Deliberately steps on the First Cat-shaped lump under the covers.

First Cat: OMG, someone stepped on me! Grr! Hiss! Whine!

Brain: Hey, while we’re awake, let’s plan out a schedule for the day.

4:08 AM
Fourth Cat: Remembers how much she loves the track toy that is in the room directly overhead, and begins to play with great and loud enthusiasm.

4:15-4:25 AM
Brain: Hey, have you ever thought about what would happen if –

Me: OMG, seriously? Gets up, goes upstairs.

Fifth and sixth cats: Yay! You’re awake! Pet us! Play with us! Hey! Hey! Hey!

Foster kittens: We hear you out there! We are starving! We are lonely! We have not been fed in twenty seven years and no one has ever given us any snuggles EVER in all our tiny little lives! Hey! Hey! HEY!

Me: Sigh.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.



Daily cheese

Yesterday morning my friend texted. Could she swing by on the way home? She had something that needed to be stashed in my fridge.

Sure, I replied, a little confused. It wasn’t until an hour or so later that it finally dawned on me what her cryptic words meant. She had found the Cheese Advent Calendar!

We heard about this magical thing a few years ago, but it was only available in the UK. It did eventually make its way over to the US last year, but only in a very few locations, none of which were anywhere near us. This year it was going to be sold at Super Targets in the US, which was a problem because there’s no Super Target anywhere around…except that then she remembered there’s one in the town where some of her extended family lives, and she was going to be seeing them for Thanksgiving.

There were only 3 left on the shelves when they checked. We got two of them.

So this morning I ceremoniously opened the first little flap and pulled out the first cheese of the season.

It was a lot more neatly packaged but I forgot to take the picture before I opened it.

Verdict – not bad for a tiny little wheel of cheese. Richard and I split it and had it with potato pancakes (made from Thanksgiving leftovers) for breakfast. Yum!

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.



Flair

Tonight, for my very last lemon-thing-a-day, I made a lemon upside down cake. I had bookmarked several cake possibilities (which I will definitely have to try at some point in the future), but this one won out primarily due to the fact that I had the right number of eggs.

It is very much the classic upside down cake, except with a few twists. You start with a brown sugar caramel, which you pour into the pan. Then you layer thin slices of lemon in a pretty pattern, and top that with the cake batter. This particular recipe includes lemon zest and cornmeal in the mixture.

That gets baked for nearly an hour, and then you are supposed to let it cool at room temperature for two more hours, except it was getting really late. So I stuck it in the freezer to speed things up a bit.

Finally, you invert it on to a plate, and if all went well, your pretty pattern of fruit will come out with the cake and not be stuck to the bottom.

Ta da!

This is a lovely, delicate cake. The cake itself is sweet, but you need that to counteract the bitterness of the lemon rind. Nice to end the month with a delicious success.

Lemons used: 4
Total lemons this month: 55

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.



Chilled

Last night I made ice cream. Or rather, I *tried* to make ice cream. The ice cream maker base was thoroughly frozen, and all my ingredients (cream, milk, sugar, juice of six lemons) were thoroughly chilled, but it just churned and churned and never changed. So I poured it into a container and put that in the freezer and hoped for the best.

Today I made lemon pizelles. Or rather, I *tried* to make lemon pizelles. The cookies themselves turned out just fine, it’s just that there is no lemon flavor at all. They don’t even smell like lemon.

Luckily, the ice cream firmed up in the freezer, into something incredibly rich and delicious, and plain vanilla pizelles were the perfect accompaniment.

Lemons used: 6
Total lemons this month: 51

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.



A Year of Cheese – the pizza edition

Last month, for our monthly #BakingSisters video hangout, my sister and I made Smearcase, which is this sort of weird hybrid between a Danish and a cheesecake and something else, and as we were chatting, she suggested that we do a Year of Cheese. Naturally I agreed, because cheese, so this year, every month we will do some sort of cheese-related baking. And this month’s theme was pizza.

Naturally, both of us has made pizza a bazillion times before, so the challenge here was to find things we hadn’t tried. My sister decided to do, among other things, a sweet apple pizza with a cheddar crust, pizza rolls, and a Chicago style pizza. I, meanwhile, decided to also make the pizza buns, but along with those, I also made bacon, egg, and hash brown pizza, sausage, apple, and thyme breakfast pizza, and, because it’s lemon month, a roasted broccoli and Meyer lemon pizza.

To prepare for this, I made a double batch of my regular pizza dough, which then goes into the fridge for a slow rise. Thankfully, the dough was finished mixing before this happened.

Yes, that is my dough hook, snapped in half. Luckily we live in a time when replacements can be ordered via phone, so a new one is winging its way to me, and the longest part of the process was trying to figure out where the heck they put the model number on my mixer. Phew.

Anyway, onward to the food! First up was the hash brown, bacon, egg thing. I cooked up some bacon, then mixed hash browns with an egg and formed it into a rough circle. That went into the oven to bake, and when that was done, I sprinkled it with crumbled bacon, and carefully cracked three eggs on top. The whole mess was topped with cheese, and back into the oven it went.

Verdict: it tastes fine, but it’s an awful lot of fuss for just some eggs and hash browns. Save yourself the bother (and all the extra dishes to wash) and pass on this one.

While this was baking, I got started on the apple, sausage, thyme pizza. For that, you cook thinly sliced apple and onion, and scramble some eggs. These get piled onto a pre-baked crust which has been brushed with a mix of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Top that with crumbled sausage, and a mix of mozzarella and smoked Gouda, then pop it back into the oven until the cheese gets all melty.

You will note how I forgot to mention the thyme? Yeah, guess what I forgot to add to the eggs when scrambling them. But it turned out delicious anyway.

I thought I took a picture of the whole pizza but apparently I didn’t, so here’s a slice. This is going to be breakfast for the next couple days. Yum!

On to the pizza buns. The concept is simple. You pretend you are making cinnamon rolls, except using pizza dough and sauce and toppings instead of sweet dough and butter and cinnamon.

If I ever make these again, I will probably bake them in a pan where they will be holding each other up, because these clearly didn’t hold their shape.

As for the taste, well, it’s pizza. In a roll. I’m not sure what else there is to say.

As for the last pizza, I admit I was just as skeptical as you probably are. Broccoli and lemon on a pizza? But trust me, it really works. You brush the crust with a mixture of minced garlic and oil, then top it with thinly sliced onions, tiny broccoli florets tossed in the remaining oil, thinly sliced pieces of whole (yes really) lemon, and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese, then bake until the crust is done and the broccoli is just starting to get some color.

Isn’t that pretty?

Verdict: this was surprisingly tasty. In fact, I actually have to admit it was my favorite of all the pizzas I made, and I liked that apple sausage one a lot. I would happily make this one again.

Lemons used: 1
Total lemons this month: 42

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.



A bowl of comfort

I had my decorating class this morning (we are playing with gumpaste, and it’s a lot of fun), and I performed in a concert this evening, so I knew today’s lemon thing would have to be quick.

So what better thing to make on a cold, damp, winter day than soup?

This soup has exactly 4 ingredients: chicken broth (you could easily substitute vegetable broth to make it vegetarian), orzo, lemon juice, and eggs. The eggs are separated, and the whites whipped separately, before folding the yolks and lemon juice back in. You then slowly incorporate boiling broth (in which you’ve cooked your orzo) to bring the egg mixture up to temperature, then blend the whole mess together, being careful to stir constantly, so as to avoid random bits of cooked egg.

It is an odd looking soup, but it is incredibly delicious, for something so simple. This is one I will happily make again.

Lemons used: 1

Total lemons used: 41

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.



A little flame

A couple recipes over the past week have involved egg yolks but not egg whites. I suppose I could have done something with meringue again, but been there, done that this month. So instead, today I took a couple of those leftover whites and turned them into marshmallows.

Making marshmallows is actually very similar to making meringues, in that you start with a boiling sugar syrup, which is poured slowly into well-beaten egg whites, then whisked until smooth and fluffy. But where things differ is that marshmallows also require gelatin, in order to hold their shape. So instead of juggling two separate things (egg whites in mixer; syrup on stove), you are juggling three (egg whites in mixer, syrup on stove, gelatin soaking in tiny pan). All three eventually come together, and then you pour the whole mess into a foil-lined pan which has been well-sprinkled with powdered sugar and cornstarch. Those sit out to dry overnight (or in my case, all day, since I made them this morning), and then you turn the block out onto a well-sugared board and cut them into pieces.

But what, you might ask, does one then *do* with a pile of lemon marshmallows? Well, how about lemon marshmallow s’mores?

We tried a couple variations, all in the name of science. We used saltines instead of graham crackers, because I figured they would need the little kick of salt. And instead of dark chocolate, we tried two different things: white chocolate, and lemon curd.

The combination of marshmallow, saltines, and lemon curd was a definite hit – as long as we didn’t go overboard with the curd. But the white chocolate just didn’t do it for us. Maybe if the chocolate had melted a little, it might have been better, but… eh, someone else can give that a try.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, homemade marshmallows do not toast up like store bought. They have more of a tendency to just melt, without getting that lovely outer shell that a regular toasted marshmallow achieves when you introduce it to flame, and they do that at much lower levels of heat (which is probably one reason why the white chocolate didn’t melt).

Lemons used: 2
Total lemons this month: 40

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.



All things good

After last night’s double fail with both cake and fondue, tonight was a welcome relief. Because tonight, I made risotto, and it was soooo good.

I am not sure if I have actually made risotto before, as usually the only rice we have in the house is the brown variety, but I have seen it made oodles of times on various cooking competition shows. It is not a quick meal, since you are basically cooking the rice very slowly in a skillet, but it’s worth it.

This particular recipe starts with a finely chopped onion, includes lots of lemon juice, and ends with butter and parmesan cheese, and a dash of cream, and honestly, there is just no way this could have gone wrong.

The recipe for the risotto claims it makes only two servings, but they must be feeding giants, because this could easily feed two to three times that many people.

In deference to health, we had it with a side of broccoli, steamed and then tossed in a lemon, garlic, onion, butter sauce. The sauce recipe came from a collection of vintage recipes which also includes this particular gem.

Someday I may have to make this, just for the amusement factor, because how could I *not*?

Lemons used: 2
Total lemons this month: 38

Making a lemon thing a day for Thingadailies.




top