Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Help: How Do You Organize Your Recipes?

Nearly every day I read a recipe I want to try (at a minimum -- often, I drool over multiple recipes) on the Internet. I know you do too! I know it! What I don't know, however, is what you do with those recipes. Personally, I think "Oh yum! I should make that for (dinner, x's birthday, breakfast with y)! It's perfect!" And then I move along, and before the day's out, I've probably forgotten it. Sorry about that, x and y, I'm sure it would've been delicious.

So what do you do with the recipes you find online and love? I'd rather have a system that doesn't involve printing them out, as I try to do that only for the most elaborate recipes, or ones I'm not cooking at home. I'm sure there's got to be some fantastic app or aggregator that everyone but me knows about, so please share. At this point I've got some halfhearted bookmarks, half of which are on my work computer where they're pretty useless, and an exploding recipe box jammed with printouts. There's got to be a better way.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pie Masters!

Complete exaggeration, of course, but we did it! Saturday night we made Smitten Kitchen's Tomato & Corn Pie! I've been dreaming of it for ages, been gently prodded by a reader who assured me it was simple, in spite of being pastry-based, and even blogged about it for work.*

Saturday, incidentally, pretty much ruled from top to bottom. Cam and I hit a new farmers' market that looked dismal upon first glance, but actually had a really great variety of produce. So singular was my mission, however, that I just grabbed tomatoes, chives and corn, and completely ignored everything else. Now our crisper and counter top are woefully bare... Way to go. Anyway, later that day I saw The September Issue, which wasn't the best doc I've ever seen, but it was interesting on a number of points -- the fashion and publishing industries in particular, and as a somewhat unsurprising profile of Anna Wintour and her foil, Grace Coddington. Plus, pretty clothes!

My beloved Bulldogs had the late game on Saturday, so around 6 Cam and I went to a new wine bar near our neighborhood. We had the best of intentions -- a glass each, maybe some cheese -- and did reasonably well. I had a Shiraz and a Granache, he had a Malbec and a Cab (we like our big reds!), and we had a runny turning goat cheese, a sheep I don't much remember, and some speck. I'd never had speck before**, but it was delicious, like a more mellow prosciutto.

At any rate, when we got home after that fun, we got into some pie. I made the pastry, and Saint Tigerlily was right - it's "un-mess-up-able." Cam blanched the tomatoes and peeled them (a task he's undertaken before, but without Smitten Kitchen's helpful "cut a cross in the bottom of the skins before blanching" tip, which made peeling much simpler, he reports), and cut the corn from the cobs, while I pastried and grated cheese snipped herbs and mixed mayonnaise with fresh lemon juice. We layered everything into the shell***, covered it, and slathered the top with melted butter. Once cooking, it made the house smell so good we could barely keep our faces out of the oven, and when it'd cooled just enough to eat, we, too, devoured half in one unseemly seating.

I beseech you, as I have been beseeched (?), take advantage of the late tomatoes and corn, and make this. You won't be sorry!

*I don't talk about work here, but if you know me, you know blogging's part of my job. I have a ton of freedom with what I blog about, so I blogged about summer ending, but needing just one more weekend so I could make this pie.
**The waitress totally busted me checking out the Wikipedia entry for speck. She was interested in their definition, and generally supported it. It made me wonder, though -- is the proliferation of smart phones making servers feel less useful/fulfilled?
***How in the world did SK get such perfect layers?! She's a genius, plain and simple.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Embarassing Revelation #2

Ok. This one's a little more serious than #1.

I'm scared of babies. I'm getting better about it -- my bff, the girl, now woman, with whom I literally had the necklace, just had her second baby, and she's helped me a lot with my comfort level around the little ones. She's such a natural mom, and so unconcerned that I'll drop her little bundles of joy and ruin their lives. With her adorable first, I wouldn't hold him that first day in the hospital unless I was sitting down, and I was terrified to hand him off lest I drop him in the exchange.

With #2, a beautiful little girl, I did a little better. As has become our tradition, her first morning in the hospital with her infant I went over at the beginning of visiting hours, laden with bagels and good coffee (decaf for her). This time, she handed me her daughter and I walked all over the room with her, talking to her and watching her respond to the light playing across her face. I bounced her and made the sitting-to-standing and back again transition a number of times and didn't stress out. It was a big step for me, and I left the hospital completely infatuated with the little girl.

I think the reason I'm so scared of babies is because I really did drop one once. I was young, maybe 10 years old, and sitting at the dinner table in a room full of adults. Someone handed me a baby -- I don't even remember whose baby it was, it was a gathering of adults I didn't really know -- and before I knew what happened, the baby had slid off my lap and onto the floor. It wasn't far to fall, and was actually, to my memory, reasonably gentle -- many people didn't even notice, and the baby wasn't upset -- but it scarred me. I wasn't ready to be responsible for a baby, and the baby fell.

I'm still a bit wary of them, obviously, but being around my bff's children and my other friends' babies is helping. I know it's not entirely rational, but I can't be the only one -- anyone else a little more scared than you should be of dropping babies?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Making Beauty

OK, I fear I may be entering into stalker territory here, what with my Orangette obsession, but bear with me. I'm reading Molly Wizenberg's entire, sizeable archives right now, and it's a treat I look forward to like settling in with a juicy novel. It's tougher to cuddle with my laptop, but the feeling that washes over me when I read her blog is almost as good as curling up with a book. Her writing is precise and contained, so perfect it's almost precious, but that's probably just a green streak of jealousy. She's really, really good. So forgive my repeated references, and be forewarned: There may be more of this yet to come.

So the thing she wrote that got me thinking this evening is this:

"Cooking is a way to make sense of my days, and to make something beautiful of them. We all find ways to do this, I think, whether we are conscious of it or not."

That's good. I know just what she means, and I think you probably do too. I think running -- rather, exercise in general -- is the most regular way I make my day beautiful. Gross though I look (and smell) during and after, workouts cap my days, however trying, with something worthwhile. I sweated 18 buckets. I ran 3 miles. I tested my heart for 45 minutes. It's inelegant, and certainly less romantic than cooking, but it's mine.

Secondmost is probably cooking, or baking. The satisfaction of producing something more than edible sets me right. I remember coming home after an especially difficult day at work, a day where my post-work treadmill session failed to get the stink off me. I walked into the kitchen and set to work, and whereas Cam and I usually soux chef for one another, he just let me go. And when I produced a sustaining, even tasty meal, I felt better. Finally. Something beautiful.

Beyond that, I dream of other ways. Regular blogging. Better photography. Actually listening to my massive record collection. So how do you make something beautiful of your day?

Monday, September 14, 2009

An Orangette Afternoon

Today, I took the day off of work, just for me. We've been on the road more than we've been home since late May, it seems. Certainly, we've had more weekends away than in the city.

Remember these two?

Winston and Sweeney spent the duration of our recent trip to the Salt Lake City area in the incredibly caring hands of my boss and her husband, the Watsons. When we got home after 5 days gone, these two felines, who usually act like we've been gone for months (the typical I'm-ignoring-you-oh-you-were-gone? made famous by cats only lasts a second around here), instead greeted us calmly, like at the end of a regular ol' workday. I tell you, the Watsons are the BEST at cat sitting. How to thank them?

Orangette's granola, modified slightly. I couldn't find rice syrup at the one store I tried, so I subbed in maple. As I'm sure you can guess, it worked just fine. I omitted the sesame seeds, and used half almonds/half pecans. It's my first attempt at granola, and it won't be long till I bake round two. The scent alone -- swoon! The house was still heady with cinnamon and ginger hours later, though it's currently being overtaken by lemongrass and ginger (not that I'm complaining! Cam's winging Thai for dinner.). Anyway, it's crunchy and sweet and nutty and delicious, and will disappear quickly heaped over yogurt, sprinkled on ice cream, and gobbled by the handful straight out of the fridge. Next time I'll be a bit more liberal with the salt, and cranberries, added after the baking, will fit right in.

Before I made the granola, I pulled together a batch of these Chewy Cocoa Cookies with Chocolate Chips, also courtesy of Molly Wizenberg. More accurately, I pushed and smooshed together a batch -- the dough is quite dense. The cookies, too, are dense, and so thoroughly chocolatey. There's none of that dissatisfaction I usually have with chocolate cookies. Chips I have no dissatisfaction with -- it's the stuff holding them together, when ostensibly chocolate, I generally find to be bland, even flavorless. But that's not an issue here.

So the house smells delicious and it's reasonably clean, and I have all manner of homemade goodies to share and to horde. To me, that's a solid day off. I'm so thrilled to have a relatively blank calendar for the next three weeks, to have time for farmers' marketing, for homecooked meals, and for the chance to make plans -- like the date I have with Tomato and Corn Pie. I promised myself to her, in writing, on this lovely blog, and I intend to call on that pie on Sunday. I can't wait.