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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

List in Progress

It's been a hell of a year so far, but I'm still here, still thinking crazy thoughts about food.

I'm not one for lists—or, rather, for following lists; I love making them!—but here are a few things I'd like to learn how to do well this year (or whenever):
  1. Sourdough bread. I've ordered The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which should arrive next week. But I was too excited, and went ahead and began a starter this morning, following the BBA page I could read in Google Books. Apparently, though, I've reached my "viewing limit," which means I only know what to do through day three. Can anybody tell me what is on pages 230ff?
  2. Kung pao chicken like they have at West Side Cottage II, which was our local delivery/takeout Chinese in New York. All the elements are perfectly cooked, and the sauce is dark and spicy. Have I mentioned here that in Gainesville, Florida, where we lived for a year between New York and Georgia, the kung pao chicken had zucchini in it? I've still never forgiven Gainesville for that.
  3. Summer sausage. I love even mediocre summer sausage, and I think it'd be fun to make my own.
  4. Bagels, and again I mean New York bagels, good ones, the kind you just cannot get anywhere near Athens. I have a good start: my first attempt, a couple weeks ago, worked really well. I added vital wheat gluten to high-gluten flour, and used barley malt syrup in the (very stiff) dough and the poaching water. Next time there will be pictures, because next time they'll look more like bagels and less like softballs.
  5. Lox. Which means building that smokehouse, and also: learning how to cut a straight line with my Skilsaw. Can one make cream cheese at home?
  6. Kouign amann. I can't pronounce it and I've never eaten it, but it sure sounds like something I'd like. My mom's made it a few times and has given me some tips to augment this recipe.
  7. Gnocchi, light and fluffy, now that I have a potato ricer.
  8. Iranian cheese, the stuff that's like Bulgarian feta, which I haven't come across outside New York. It has the consistency and saltiness of feta, but is very, very sour—not to everyone's taste, but I think it's wonderful. The bug was found yesterday sitting in a corner of the kitchen, on top of a heating register, with a fistful of Bulgarian feta we'd brought back from the city. She likes it too.
  9. Beef with long hot peppers. This will be easy. I've given up on my pork with sour long beans dish from Grand Sichuan International: the Ninth Avenue restaurant is no longer extant, I learned, which I think is a sign that I should just let it go.
  10. Lovage. This year I will try harder to grow it, and if the seeds don't sprout, as happened last year, I'll look harder for potted lovage. My mom planted some for me in my yard this fall, but the drought might have killed it off.
Also, I want to try to use more unfamiliar ingredients—unfamiliar to me, anyway—in everyday cooking. Once recently I bought a turnip, and I don't think I'd ever eaten one before, but it was a revelation. I love turnips! (I sautéed thin slices in duck fat. I love duck fat!) I'm looking for more of that this year.

And now for some random pictures that might represent how the holidays went for the Chalmerses.

There was a cookie-baking day with Athens friends.

There was a long drive to New York, and reading to Cooper.

There was a trip to drizzly Mount Vernon, New York, for pizza at Johnny's (30 W. Lincoln Ave., near Gramatan Ave.)—mentioned on Jeff Varasano's pizza page.

It was probably the bug's best restaurant outing ever. She was fascinated, as were we, by the place and the people there (all of them men: she probably appreciated the low, deep hum of the conversations?), and she seemed to like the pizza, too. It was very good: thin, charred, bubbly, flavorful crust, simple sauce, not too much cheese, that's it.

There was the bug's first time on a beach, near Rye Playland: subfreezing temperatures and below-zero windchill.

There were two nights in Atlantic City, oddly.

There was coming home and cozying up in the big chair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi - I also am looking for ways to utilize jagerwurst and oyur soup sounds like a good one (also helps utilize some other stuff from our csa...) great idea and thanks!!

You can make cream cheese at home - check out fiasco farm and look under dairy or new england cheesemaking supply has cultures that will get you going - best of luck