Brain, meet Fingers. Fingers, meet Brain. I hope you two become best of friends. Pronto. Because if you don't start working together really soon, I will be forced to give up this blog and move to a remote region of the world where there is no Internet access and only tinned soup for supper.
What did I do this time? Despite finding the recipe in the index, reading the instructions and looking at the photo, my fingers typed "oven-roasted" tomatoes when Grow Great Grub clearly gives readers the low down on "oven-dried" tomatoes. I'm tempted to quietly correct this error and distract you with ice cream. But having asked you to vote and promising to post the results, I think you'd notice. Especially since the one recipe whose title I botched turned out to be the winner.
So, for those of you who were looking forward to oven-roasted tomatoes, here's a refresher on how to roast vegetables. For the tomato version, I'd add chopped fresh basil, some crushed garlic, a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. When done, top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
And for those who intuitively knew what I meant, here is the recipe for oven-dried tomatoes. They're different, but just as good. And last longer.
I have decided to strike the following phrase from my vocabulary: How hard can it be?
It gets me into trouble.
For example: Hey, honey, I need a new stove. Why don't we just knock down a wall and add an eat-in kitchen while we're at it....
Looks can be deceiving. Plain old vanilla ice cream?
No. Guess again.
It's actually lemon. With some orange thrown in.
I based this ice cream on my father's favourite lemon meringue pie recipe, which calls for condensed milk. With a bowl of oranges threatening to dissolve into a green powdery heap before my eyes, I salvaged the best looking one and added it to the mix. The results? An exceptionally creamy Philadelphia style ice cream with a light citrus flavour. No eggs. No firing up the stovetop. Just a few minutes with the microplane -- important factors in this relentless summer heat.
Sometimes simple is best. No gooey sauces. No sugary sprinkles. No toasted flakes of anything. Sometimes all you need is a tiny pinch of salt.
Last week, over Watermelon Agua Fresca, Andrew told me that as a child one of his favourite memories was eating big slices of watermelon sprinkled with salt. As a kid, we too slurped our way through the oppressive summer heat with watermelon. Only all we did was spit the seeds at each other and hope no adult noticed.
Within days of our conversation, I came across a recipe for watermelon sorbet that called for a dash of fleur de sel. Taking my cue from the agua fresca, I swapped lime for the original lemon juice and added a hint of vodka to keep the sorbet nice and smooth. But I kept the salt just as is.
The word "gifted" can get me all riled up. When used to mean "naturally talented" I have no qualms. In fact, I rather like it when applied as an adjective to child prodigies, musicians, artists, mathematicians, healers and even plumbers. And believe me, plumbing is a gift not bestowed up on me or any of my immediate family.
To me, "gifted" is a useful, generous and surprisingly handy adjective. But it's one rotten past tense verb.
My inner grammar teacher wants to rap knuckles and assign lines when someone says someone gifted them something when they mean they were given a gift. And being forced to write two someones and a something in the same sentence doesn't help the cause. And yes, it's ironic that acts of generosity can make me grouchy.
So, let me demonstrate the correct use of the word via food.
A while ago I solicited recipes for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. A lot of suggestions rolled in. Conflicting opinions on walnuts, oatmeal and chefs flew through cyberspace. Some people loved Alton Brown's recipe. Others called it "cakey" and touted the ever-popular David Lebovitz. Thomas Keller's name cropped up frequently, while a small but vocal group swore on their grandmother's baking pans that Cook's Illustrated's browned butter version was the best. Make that The Very Best. Ever.
So I did some research into the various options. Some recipes called for chopped chocolate. But with chips readily available that just seemed like extra work. Other recipes used bread flour, which I don't stock. So I nixed them. Many demanded an extra yolk. Needless to say, I was a little put off by this requirement since I hate wasting food and never know what to do with an extra white. Two or three? Make meringues. But one?
However, I adore browned butter and hunted down the Cook's Illustrated recipe. Even though it called for that pesky extra yolk, it used ordinary flour and included my beloved walnuts. So I was willing to sacrifice some albumin for the cause. Then I read the instructions.
Those who know me will be shocked to learn I have joined a gym. Yup. Me. In a gym. I have yet to receive confirmation, but somewhere out there a fat pink pig is soaring high above a frozen section of Hades and giggling.
Thanks to my older sister's encouragement, I now have a bright red gym bag, a stainless steel water bottle and some very unsettling knowledge about my body composition. No surprise on the weight and body fat percentages, but I was flabbergasted to learn my body doesn't have enough water. And drinking large quantities of H20 throughout the day is not something I do. Tried it. Failed. Many times over.
So, I figured there had to be a better way to hydrate, and it turns out watermelon just might be the answer.
I am quickly cementing my reputation as the neighbourhood nut. Yesterday I sat on the grass plucking dandelion heads and tossing them into a brown paper lawn bag before they could go to seed. Today? I was out there again, only this time nibbling on the leaves. Living on the windward side of a park in a no-spray municipality means we have a carpet of dandelions where our front yard used to be. When I complained about this on Facebook, in amongst all the weeding advice, my cousin Judith suggested I seek my revenge via a dandelion salad.
So today, I went out and sampled the lawn.
Here's what I learned.
So much for my vegetable-a-week promise. I look back at recent posts and see a carb-heavy, fat-laden series of desserts. Yes, I've been eating my greens, but not in a way that will make you beg for the recipe. I've been very plebeian about my vegetables, choosing instead to concentrate my creativity on cake.
So, it's steamed broccoli, boiled beans and plain old salad while my time in the kitchen is spent searching for the perfect orange cake for my sister's wedding -- light, airy, easy to stack and and with a bright orange flavour. I've created some really tasty desserts, but so far they only hint at orange. Despite adding generous portions of rind and opting for frozen concentrate instead of juice, the cakes end up tasting as if they merely chatted to a bowl of clementines on their way to the oven.
My father loves lemon meringue pie. Apparently, so does a certain little black cat who lives next door.
I slipped the birthday pie off my mom's counter and onto the back porch for a clandestine photo shoot before the celebratory dinner. And within seconds got busted by a five-pound trouble maker.
I managed to shoo the cat away before she did any damage, but I was aiming for something more like this: