March 05, 2009 by
I thought I had finally demonstrated my cooking nuttiness this week when I looked down in the sink one evening and saw every one of my 8 (8!) wooden spoons there. There was the one from starting the sponge for sourdough bread, the one for the cake, the one for its icing, the oatmeal, the custard for the cohousing dinner, plus whatever else I’ve already forgotten.
But I realized that I didn’t feel nutty. I was tired, but I felt kind of great. And it made me realize that there’s something I haven’t yet said here:
I cook for the joy of it. For the satisfaction and simplicity of feeding those I love. For the pleasure of necessary thriftiness. Because it’s art and craft and creation and primal and needed.
For me, cooking all the time – the daily grind of it, and the fanciest flights – is life. To do it with a glad heart is to try to keep my own best self close. That I can make people happy and engage in the organic magic of bread-making and fill the house with the smell of chocolate or melting butter and evoke memories and even save money is a pure and needed joy.
So every day, here we are, slogging along through money worries and perpetual lateness and ADHD and cabin fever and the rest of it. But every day we can come back to this quiet, necessary, open-hearted act of creation and sharing. And if that doesn’t make it all somehow worth it, I don’t know what could.
And in that spirit, I’m sharing some recent, unblogged creations:
December 15, 2008 by
New posts on my Blog! http://crankycakes.com
December 15, 2008 by
My favorite secret ingredients:
- Umeboshi vinegar. (Made from salted, pickled plums. Very popular with macrobiotic cooking – intensely sour, intensely salty. Use a little for vinagrettes, rice, all sorts of things.).
- Canned pumpkin. (I use in all sorts of pancakes, waffles, baked goods. It adds a ton of nutrition and great color and usually gets by the minicritics as long as I don’t overdo.)
- Ground flaxseed. (Ups the nutritional value of whatever I’m cooking, and has a kind of nice nutty flavor.)
- Ground green chile powder. (But I got mine on a visit to New Mexico at a farmers’ market, and dangit I’m almost out.)
- Ground ginger. (Nearly always substitute for cinnamon if appropriate.)
- Dried orange or lemon peel. (Many things benefit from this!)
- Dark chocolate everything: cocoa powder, chips, chopped, whatever. (Milk chocolate wastes my time, flavorwise.)
- Olive oil. (I use it for just about everything that calls for a liquid fat, except high-heat sautees and the like, which do better with grapeseed oil.)
December 14, 2008 by
As we were driving home from crazyboy fun day at the Y and Shelburne Farms, I was thinking about how I hadn’t yet put any actual cupcakes on here. And when my little guys asked if we could make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies when we got home, I said, “Sure. But how about Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cupcakes?”
(And here followed an interlude of negotiation that involved threats of “Mommy! I’m going to hang a No Cupcakes sign in the kitchen AND on the door!”)
But because the small people are easily distracted by videos and the frozen mud outside, I was able to head into the kitchen when we got home.
So here they are under construction, and I’ll tell all about them and post the “after” pics after I get this frosting to set.
December 13, 2008 by
Ignoring the naughty black forest cookies beckoning from the kitchen. Late! Bad yelling cookies!
December 13, 2008 by
After having been shut out of buying Maple Walnut Pie for THREE years at the Craftsbury Antiques & Uniques Festival, at last I decided to make my own to bring to the Thanksgiving potluck.
I made Cream Cheese Pie Crust (mine was from the 1997 Joy of Cooking), which I’ll immodestly admit was the best crust I’ve made ever. It turns out that following recipes can actually pay off. So much for my usual ADHD approach to baking.
It’s hard to say just why Maple Walnut Pie is so much more delicious than my old favorite pecan pie, but it just is. Of course they’re very similar, but the smoky maple taste and the slightly tannic, bitter walnuts of this one create a sort of accessible complexity that is just terrific. (The mini one in the picture, by the way, is one made with pumpkin seeds for my friend who’s allergic to nuts. I would have pan-toasted the seeds first except it was Thanksgiving morning and there was zero chance of this level of attention to detail by then.)
It seemed the right thing to choose Yankee Magazine’s recipe for such a Vermont-y seeming dessert, and I think I’ll be making this often.