Friday, December 04, 2009


These soft pretzels only took about 20 minutes to put together.

What I've made for dinners and treats and breakfasts lately has been, uniformly, just okay. That's it. It's really been one of those months. I didn't make a shopping list, even, which is a rare misstep for someone as plan-happy as I am. Even Thanksgiving was a last-minute endeavor, and I ran to the store at 8:50 pm Wednesday to grab stuffing.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup from Terry Walters' Clean Food was so terrible, I even tossed the leftovers! I'm pretty sure that's how it was supposed to taste.

Soft Pretzels from The Amish Cook's Baking Book weren't very soft. I mean, compared to the hard ones they were, but. . . I am going to tweak this recipe and remake. I'm in the mood for soft pretzels, dammit.

Look how orange my pumpkin cheesecake is. Beautiful.

Pumpkin Cheesecake, my own recipe. This actually turned out fine the day after, when it sat overnight in the fridge and the cheese stood up and developed more flavor. I wanted it to have much more pumpkin than all the recipes I could find, so I added the big can. Turns out I should have made it two days in advance, because it kept getting better and better as it sat.

At least the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Pudding Pie tasted okay. I used devil's food pudding flavor and added more items to it: cream cheese, cocoa powder, espresso granules, more. I'd never seen devil's food pudding before, but it has a reddish tint that doesn't go away. In fact, when exposed to air, the pudding turns a regular brown, so the top is deceiving, then you cut in and it's reddish in a blood-tinged way that made me uncomfortable.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with quick alfredo sauce turned out completely gloppy. Cooked from the freezer, the gnocchi tend to be slightly more dense, but I was too lazy to make a better sauce and this is what I get. Eh.

Looks good, just overpoweringly ginger-y.

Ginger-pear butter was decent for a first attempt, I'll generously say. Too much ginger for me. I could barely taste the pear and cinnamon.

Salmon chowder. George really liked it, but I'll never make it again. (Yes, yes, I know, it's not even veg.) Something about the smell of poaching the salmon in the soup grossed me out. The garlic crostini were good, though.

Sourdough bread baked into dense, terrible rocks. George eats this. I think because he's forgotten how it's supposed to taste. My sourdough has never once turned out since I moved to Kansas. I'm furious about it.

Leftover Broccoli Soup seems like but is not a good idea and also smells like leftover broccoli start to finish, unless you, like me, can't actually finish it.

(In case you're worried by now that George died of starvation during this week of mishaps, fear not. On Friday I talked him through a large pot of beef chili, mostly so I wouldn't have to make it myself. He ate that whenever circumstances looked grim. When it was gone, he wondered aloud to me when he might be able to make some more. Sigh.)

And then, starting on Wednesday, things began to look up. For instance, I made the Best Sugar Cookies recipe from The Amish Cook's Baking Book (mustering my reserves of hope) and they turned out delicious, crisp and fine-textured, really perfect. Then, startled and encouraged by my success, I moved on to experiment with my usual oatmeal-molasses bread recipe, adding more oats, stone-ground whole wheat flour and honey. It worked beautifully, nicely crumbed and hearty with a soft center. I made half of Gourmet's reprinted recipe for Smoky Chipotle Grits and ate far more than is healthy or appropriate, just for the sheer deliciousness of them in my mouth. Can't even remember what else I served them with. Last night, I scooped baked giant white beans with onion, tomato, chipotle and garlic that had simmered all day in their broth into a baking dish and crumbled feta and butter-cut bread crumbs over the top. They baked into a delectable, meaty mix of full-flavored beans and crunchy topping. Hungry from the previous night, I again ate far too many.

So now I'm hoping, in almost a painful way, that this week might prove more edible. I've even got a shopping list at the ready.

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