Sunday, November 05, 2006

Snuggling Season

When it gets cold, Mirando and Geronimo take more naps snuggled up together, which we think is just adorable. Here, Mirando uses Geronimo's tummy as a pillow:

Well, I broke my November blogging streak, and so early! But I had a lot to do yesterday, between going to the last outdoor farmer's market of the year for fingerling potatoes and beets and trying to be a good member of the democracy by figuring out what's on the ballot Tuesday so I don't just vote for people based on how much I like their names (I find political ads really irritating, so I've spent most of the month ignoring them, only to regret it at the last minute when I have to look up who's running). I also did a fair amount of cooking.

Blogger did something weird (I know, big surprise), and I got two comments in my e-mail that it won't let me approve, and they don't show up in my comments to moderate list. Here they are:

Stefaneener: Oooh, just sub whole wheat pastry flour for white, works a charm.

Erm, Allison, sorry, back to your post. I think you made the right call on that dress. Definitely a better use of your time.

The boys look lovely. Gah, I miss having a cat.

Tim: *ahem* (reader)

Sure, Tim, like you could get out of being a reader :)

Knitting: Further on the Picot Dress. I'm finished with the skirt decreases, so I don't think it'll be all that long now.

Reading: Still on Jane and the Unpleasantness... I really like Barron's writing a lot. She manages to make it plausible that it's really Austen writing, which I think is darn impressive.

Writing: I'm working more on Chapter 7 today.

Cooking: Well, I made chocolate chip cookies with String Bean's recipe. Yum. I switched to Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips years ago (they used to be called Double Chocolate Chips) and I just can't go back to semisweet chips, which taste insanely sweet in cookies to me. I made toffee from this recipe and it turned out very well. If you've never made toffee before, this recipe is nearly foolproof I think, as long as you remember to grease the pan and you have a candy thermometer (check its accuracy in a pot of boiling water). The flavor and crunch of the toffee are fantastic. The recipe has you pour chocolate chips and nuts in the bottom of a 9x13 pan, then pour the toffee over. The chocolate chips do melt from the heat of the toffee, but they keep their shape, so for aesthetics, I think I'll drizzle melted chocolate over instead next time. I also like a lot of nuts in my toffee, so I might either up the amount and stir it into the toffee, or use ground nuts sprinkled on top of the chocolate. I'll also use a jelly roll pan, since the 9x13 makes really thick toffee slabs. Then yesterday I made Pomegranate Pound Cake and Warm Roasted Apples With Pomegranate Caramel, both from Cooking Light. The pound cake, which uses seeds from a pomegranate, is one of our standard recipes this time of year, and the apples were a new recipe. The apples were fantastic, and the pomegranate caramel was very nice, but didn't really thicken properly. I think I'll cook it for longer next time. But the apples did something really weird to my pan. The recipe had me line a jelly roll pan with foil, then spray the foil with cooking spray. And now the foil is GLUED to my pan. I think the apple juice and sugar ran under the foil and caramelized into a cement-like substance. I'm going to try some extensive soaking to see if I can salvage the pan. Ugh.

Knitpastis, I second Stefaneener's suggestion for whole wheat pastry flour, and add another plug for my new favorite product, King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, which can sub for all purpose in all but the lightest recipes (like angel food cake). Cooking Light is one of my favorite sources for healthier desserts, and if you subscribe, you get access to all their past recipes on their website, which is nice. They do a lot of fruit desserts and souffle-type things, and reduced-fat cakes and pies. I find you can usually adapt unhealthy dessert recipes to be better for you with wheat flour, reducing the amount of butter and replacing with yogurt, fruit puree, or buttermilk, depending on the flavors in the recipe, using egg substitute instead of whole eggs, and if you're an artificial sweetener person, replacing part (but not all) of the sugar with Splenda. I find the sweetener adds a chemical taste, but a lot of people I know swear by it. I usually just go the sugar route and remember that it's dessert, not health food. The trick to adapting recipes is not to remove all the fat, which not only gives flavor, but improves the texture and structure. Leave some butter in (or go with canola oil) and people usually can't tell it's lower-fat. I also like fruit sauces or compotes over low-fat ice cream (homemade is much better than light ice creams from the store) made in my little ice cream maker with 2% milk.


Stefaneener said...

I often get tired just reading your posts! I don't know how you knit, cook all that yummy stuff, read and write. You must just collapse at the end of the day.

Please tell me you do, just to make me feel better.

Marie said...

Squee! The kitty are so adorable (as always). They look so fluffy and cuddly in that picture. :)
I'm glad you like the Jane mystery. I think the second one even better. :)

Rain said...

I'm with Stefaneener - you're exhausting (in a good way), do you ever stop?

It sounds like the dress is coming along really well.

The boys look so sweet all snuggled up together.

KnitPastis said...

Your kitties are so well behaved. You know, we just got back from B & N and I was looking at the mag Cooking light trying to find something simple using whole wheat flour. Didn't come across the simple part:)I heard of that flour! It all sounds so good what you cooked. I love that you talk about what you cook. It's inspiring. I baked scones for the first time. Found out I don't care for them all that much. Very plain & dry tasting..even if it's orange almond scones.