Friday, August 30, 2013

Sixty days to Halloween

One day soon Owen is going to stop making things out of every box that comes in the door and I will be sad.
Everyone in the the household under the age of 17 is back in school as of yesterday. I let so much material pile up without posting that I must now resort to a list just to clear the decks.

-This Food52 ceviche is lovely. Halibut is expensive and the piece I bought came attached to skin which made it hard to cut the meat into neat cubes unless you’re really adept at skinning fish. I’m not. In future, I’d buy something skinless and less costly. I initially wrote “skinless and cheaper” but the word “cheap” is a turnoff when discussing fish, as is the word “grey.” In the Time/Life Cooking of Latin America the ceviche recipe calls for “grey sole” and I frowned and turned the page. Irrational. The really beautiful part of this particular ceviche is the watermelon. You think you're just eating a melange of fish and soft red tomato and then you get a bite of crisp, intensely sweet red watermelon. That’s as exciting as eating salad ever gets. Inspired by the excellent ceviche, I tried making this tomato and watermelon salad last night and it just didn’t work for me. Soggy. Since we now had watermelon around and I’m apparently on a Food52 kick, I also whipped up a batch of their boozy watermelon rosemary lemonade in the Vitamix and it was refreshing and not especially intoxicating, which I appreciated.

-Yes. I bought a Vitamix. That's the box in the picture above. My sister picked it up at Costco and it was a pretty good deal, though I'm not sure any Vitamix is precisely a "good deal" unless you inherit it. We’ve used the Vitamix to make milkshakes, creamy alfredo sauce, frozen margaritas, and the aforementioned boozy watermelon lemonade and while I’ve not yet made a kale smoothie, it's true that the minute you buy a Vitamix you start thinking about kale smoothies. I was going to wait to buy the Vitamix until the end of the year and see if the desire passed, but it was preoccupying me to the point of obsession. As Oscar Wilde said, “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it," and while that didn’t work out so well for Oscar, I think it’s sound advice, certainly when what you're talking about is the purchase of a blender. There’s no point in obsessing about a blender for months if you can just go buy the blender and free your mind up to obsess about other things. Like date ice cream. I've always wanted to make date ice cream and I think with a Vitamix this will at last be possible. 

-I was reluctant to end my allegiance of 20 years to Katharine Hepburn's brownies, but this brownie recipe from The Essential New York Times Cookbook is a knockout. I should be glad that I can now bake even tastier brownies, but discovering this recipe was wrenching and unsettling and I feel disloyal to the Katharine Hepburn brownies.

I'll get over it.

28 comments:

  1. I knew it - one can't talk about thinking about buying a Vitamix. It is a done deal.

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  2. Again, I just love your writing- this blog. Recently I bought few appalainces. I have been doing most evrything the old fashioned way. I live in a small apartment with a very small kitchen. 36 sq feet. I have a half refrigerator for instance so that I can have counterspace. I bought a Breville blender $200. But I am worth it and wonderful things come out of my 36 square foot kitchen. But now all of you are peeking my curiosity! Do I NEED a Vitamix?? What a predicament to be in.

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    Replies
    1. Can't. Resist. Vitamix. Tractor beam.

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    2. I made powdered sugar last night in the Vitamix. That was really cool because it meant I didn't have to go to the supermarket, but then I started wondering if I could have powdered sugar in the Cuisinart or old Waring blender. I need to live with the Vitamix a little longer before I know if it's going to become an essential tool for me. So far I like it a lot.

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  3. I'm so glad you gave in and got a Vitamix. I think that you deserve good tools in your kitchen. You save a ton of money cooking all those meals! I hope you enjoy using yours as much as I enjoy using mine. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities. What do you think about the noise level? I think it works so quickly that the noise level doesn't matter.

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    Replies
    1. Noise is ok. It's definitely loud, but not unacceptably and as you say, so quick it hardly matters.

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  4. I was the same way about buying my Vitamix. I meant to be prudent and wait and check for sales, but instead I went out on a whim with a 20% off coupon to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought one. I justified it at the time because green smoothies were a good way to get veggies in my toddler that otherwise would go uneaten. I use it to make my nut butters when I'm not too lazy, and I bought one of the bags to make almond milk but still haven't done it. Strangely enough, I've never made a boozy drink in it, either. I will have to rectify that once the pregnancy is over.

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    Replies
    1. When you're ready to rectify, try making a pisco sour in the Vitamix.

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  5. Your title is "Sixty days to Halloween" .. Costco is selling Christmas ornaments, etc. already!!

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    Replies
    1. There's something sad about the idea of buying Christmas ornaments at Costco. . .

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  6. I am not a fan of dates. I sort of intellectually appreciate their appeal, but don't love them. I do, however, love prunes. Especially when you macerate them in brandy and vanilla for a week (or a year.) Then I make Almond-Prune-Brandy ice cream. The brandy-infused prunes refuse to freeze solid (kind of like the raisins in rum raisin ice cream, but infinitely more complex and pruney), so they stay chewy and delicious in the frozen ice cream, and the custard base has been steeped with toasted almonds and vanilla and is toasty and almondy and rich. And because almonds and prunes are in the same family, it just seems like the right thing to make.

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    Replies
    1. Oh. My.

      That sounds so amazing. Forget the Vitamix, I'm getting an ice cream machine.

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    2. I love dates, but am also intrigued by brandy prune ice cream.
      Toasty and almondy and rich. . . it sure sounds like the right thing to make.

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    3. It's one of those recipes that make you feel right with recipes. If you're feeling especially ambitious (and aren't we all?), caramelize a little sugar and stir in a handful of the toasted almonds to make praline (pour onto a greased sheet of foil/sheet of parchment/silpat and let harden for a few minutes, then chop.) Stir in the chopped praline at the end of the freezing cycle along with the prunes and it will be beyond delicious. Ooh, do try it. I can send you the recipe if you like. It isn't complicated or distressing.

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    4. Is it on your recipe site? Please send it.

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    5. Actually, it is on that recipe collection blog, but it was restaurant proportions, so I modified it (look below the first version of the recipe and you'll see a smaller version.)

      http://nougatt.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/prune-armagnac-ice-cream/

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  7. What is the brownie fixation in late August? I just learned about the existence of "man catcher brownies" and the title is not my favorite but the recipe looks awesome. I might need to have a brownie-off.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe because we've all been eating high-acid summer fruit for months and now it's time for something rich and dark? I'm fixated on brownies right now too and I don't even love chocolate.

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  8. The brownie recipe is almost what I use - except I don't use such fancy chocolate and I use 3/4 c flour (I think). I will have to check - that said there are two recipes I have in my head: choc chip cookies and brownies...IF I have the flour correct...?

    I will have to check my (antique) NYT cookbook. I bet it doesn't say a specific chocolate to use.....

    i think the secret to brownies is mostly in the cooking: not too much, not too little, "Just right" says Goldilocks.

    Vitamix sounds great!

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  9. I'm a big fan of Katherine Hepburn's brownies, although there are others I like as well. Don't you find that the new one is too sweet? It's the same amount of sugar as the Hepburn recipe, but uses semi-sweet instead of unsweetened chocolate, so I'd think it would be a lot sweeter. But if it's your favorite now, I guess it's the perfect sweetness level for you. :)

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  10. that NYT brownie recipe is THE standard recipe that shows up over and over and over...Joy of cooking etc.

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