Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Learning from mistakes

In celebration of Oestara, or the spring equinox, I made a recipe I thought I'd tried before: balsamic roasted chicken with peppers. (Since it's not pepper season, I just went with some onions.) Except that it turned out all wrong.

Following the instructions, I sauteed half a sliced onion until golden, then put that over a chicken leg with a drizzle or two of olive oil and balsamic. I put it in the 400°F oven for — wait, only 20 minutes? For chicken? Using two other cookbooks as reference, just to be sure, I reaffirmed my chicken-roasting knowledge: that the leg was going to take about 40 minutes to cook. Good thing I forgot to toss the minced garlic in there, since it would've burned. I decided to sprinkle the garlic on after the initial 20 minutes was up.

But when I took it out to baste, the vinegar had nearly cooked down into a crust on the pan and the onions were starting to look charred. No matter, I thought, and poured a little more vinegar over the chicken along with the garlic. Unfortunately, all the hoping in the world wasn't going to stop things from burning. Ten minutes later, the onions were black and stuck to the bottom of the pan and the garlic had an acrid smell that told me it was done for.

The chicken tasted great — once I'd pushed away all the burnt veggies and thrown them in the trash. I swear this worked out well the last time I made it. What I should have done, and what I think I'll do next time, is do the onions and balsamic strictly on the stovetop and put that over the (plain) roasted chicken parts.

In the meantime, there's a baking dish in my sink with a black mess caked to the bottom, soaking in hot water and baking soda.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Kitty loves ice cream... and pie!

I don't know how he knows. If it's a slice of pizza or a sandwich, he doesn't bat an eye. But if I've got a bowl of ice cream or, as of today, a slice of grasshopper pie, Sabriel comes running. I'll hear the metal tag on his collar jangle oh-so slightly as he runs down the hall. If I'm sitting on the couch, he'll jump onto the back and investigate by leaning down over my shoulder to sniff what goodie I'm procuring. If I'm sitting at the computer, he'll hop into my lap and situate himself between me and the dish, his nose busily trying to figure out what I've brought him. Either way, he'll be purring loudly even before he reaches me.

What it is about these sweet treats that gets his motor running? He's a rather finicky cat. Apart from dry food and the occasional treat, the one food he'll bother eating is canned tuna. These days, he comes running when he hears a can being opened, reminding me of Hobbes in Calvin and Hobbes, and always manages to get completely underfoot. (Too bad when it's just garbanzo beans!) He generally only really likes green tea ice cream and chocolate anything: ice cream, pudding, cookies. He won't actually eat the pudding or the cookies, but he still comes to check it out. When it's ice cream, he'll lick a little bit of the melted remnants off a spoon before feeling satified and disappearing.

And now with this pie! (Which, by the way, has improved even more after sitting in the fridge for a couple days.) Maybe it was the chocolate crust, but he did get a tiny taste of green grasshoppery goodness off my fork. I guess that's cats for you, though: you never can quite figure them out.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pi(e) Day

Despite being in the midst of writing the fourth chapter of a five-chapter thesis (the first draft of which I'm submitting on Saturday!), I took the time to honor Pi Day today. (For those of you not quite so geeky, or who don't have friends who are: Pi = 3.1416. Today's date = 3/14. Get it? Good.)

I'd already made fruit pies and savory pies, so it was time to try something new. I chose the delicious-sounding grasshopper pie, which I'd never had before — though I do love me a grasshopper drink, which is comprised of creme de menthe, creme de cacao, and cream. The pie is basically the same thing, with the addition of a crust made from pulverized mint Oreos. It's definitely not a pie for the kids, since the alcohol doesn't get cooked off, and, in fact, you can still taste it faintly behind the strong chocolate-peppermint flavors. Oh, and there's also gelatin in there, so it's not so good for strict vegetarians, but it made the texture very interesting: creamy, smooth, with a slight bounce reminiscent of Jello.

Recipe to come shortly, as well as the previously promised complete pie post, once I get this paper written.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Am I allowed to say "ew"?

I'm all for adventure when it comes to eating. As a kid, I ate tripe, fish eyes, squid tentacles, marrow, and head cheese, without giving it much thought. I was one of few people I knew when I first started college, before it became trendy, who had eaten raw fish and actually enjoyed it. I've had frogs' legs, sea urchin, eel (what is it about creatures from the ocean that make most people squrim?), haggis, black pudding (not to be confused with the sort found in D&D), and dinuguan, which is pork stewed in its own blood. More recently, I tried sea cucumber for the first time.

But when I read this post, I wondered: How far is too far? Is there such a thing as being "too adventurous" — and by that I mean, when does it become less about eating and more about being able to say you've eaten something out of the ordinary? And then the real question: Would I eat it if someone placed a bowl of risotto topped with cockscomb and duck tongue? Maybe, just to say I had. But there are certain foods that I do truly find disgusting, like poultry heads and feet, so that dish, in particular, pretty much grosses me out.

What about you? Are there any foods you just won't eat? (Which is different from foods you can't, like ones which you are allergic to or don't eat as a matter of principle — yeah, I'm talking to you, vegetarians.)