Friday, September 05, 2008

Season's Bounty or...

...How I Fritter Away All My TIme.

For those of you who actually really know me in the flesh, I love to cook. I love to plan, love to shop, love to set the table, love to multitask in the kitchen, but frankly hate to have people over. My best job would probably be as a sous chef at a catering company, behind the scenes on short deadline and never having to face the public! I am uncomfortable even with great friends over, but not that I will serve something icky, I am scared they will LIKE it and I am not too good at accepting complements. SO, as a result I really enjoy cooking for the two of us where an appreciative grunt is all I need to start thinking of the next meal.

Last week I bought a duck, a whole one, with nothing in mind on what to actually do with it, so as he sat in the refrigerator waiting, I did some research. Took hours, but all of a sudden I remembered the new Gourmet issue that somehow is forwarded back from Florida (must have been a USPS mistake because they normally lose all my mail in transit). There on page 128 was 'Canette en Deux Cuissons' or Braised Duck Leg and Sauteed Duck Breast. Perfect, because it used the whole bird. What I didn't realize was that it would pretty much keep me busy for hours. First I segmented the normal bird pieces and got the carcass into the stock pot immediately. I also quickly cooked off the giblets for a snack while I was working and put all the fat on to render. After the stock was done I browned the legs and wings in a big skillet in a bit of the fat, added the vegetables and stock, and covered the pan for the oven. An hour later they emerged perfectly braised and they were set to rest while I sauteed the duck breast to a perfect degree of doneness, thanks to the timing suggestions in the recipe. Perfect- did I say that enough times? I found that TY cried uncle and we still had a big breast left that I saved for another night's pasta sauce (duck fat, braised leftover parsnips and onions, a handfull of fresh herbs and scraps of duck meat over fettucini. I sliced the remaining breast and put it in for just a minute to heat at the end- to die for!) So, on Amazon today I saw this: Big Fat Duck Book, not due out till fall but a big discount now. Hefty price, I would hope they include a few ducks with it!

TY's yoga teacher gave him a bag of tomatos she had grown but like so many of these gifts, they were ready to eat the day before we got them! But in the NYTs magazine that I hadn't yet tossed, they had a 1948 recipe for Tomato Preserves. I changed it around a bit and blended it with a recipe for tomato chutney and got a lovely sauce, not more than a cup total, that I am putting on everything this week! Next time I will add some sun dried tomato to up the flavor a bit, and maybe a bit less dried red pepper. i love it this way but would hesitate to serve it without a fire extinguisher nearby. Here is the tomato chutney, but the picture makes it a distressing pale color when in actuality it is appetizingly red.

Yesterday we went shopping at a local green grocer and TY snagged a 5# bag of nectarines- he has no concept of fruit going bad in a matter of days but wouldn't settle for a few less since the price for the bag was a bout the same as the price for 3 or 4 of them. So today I have a cauldron of nectarine chutney simmering. I was listening to my 'Splendid Table' podcast at 3 AM and she was talking about stone fruits and how much she likes a little Aleppo pepper on them SOoooo I have loaded up this chutney with Aleppo pepper. It looks like after it's cooked that I will have about a quart of the stuff. But I think I will use it like the NYTs used their tomato perserves- as a flavoring for ice cream. That will be this afternoon's experiment.

My current project in the studio is weeding out all the stuff I no longer want or can use. I have spent days up on the ladder tossing stuff to the floor, more days scooting around on my knees deciding to keep the stuff I was throwing away, then sorting it into piles of things someone else can use, things to ditch. I have bags of fabric everywhere now and my filing system is so convoluted I can't remember what I was doing. SO- out it goes. I've completed maybe half the fabric on the shelves now. I am pulling out little hidden gems that I forgot I had and am changing my system to keep like types together rather than just by color. So I have a system within a system with a few additional systems in play! Here are some 'Before' shots:
                                                                         What a mess. 
An organizaional nightmare.
Clutter clutter and more clutter,  aaarugh.

This has also been Old Friends Week for me. An old college friend who shares my birthday week popped up so we went to a long lunch and got caught up. And got cheesecake too. Great to see her, and I so regret losing touch with all those past good friends. When whammo, out of the blue an old high school friend contacted me that she was on a knitting cruise that docked in Boston this week. So off I went to meet her and annoy the restaurant staff as we sat there way too long laughing and commiserating and giving advice and taking advice! She was one of my best friends back in high school, I was in her wedding in yet another yellow bridesmaid dress with daisies on it, something I probably will never forgive, unril I *forget* anyway! God, we were so cute back then, sigh. I have the picture to prove it.

Today's plan is to get to Home Depot to buy a few supplies for the Mickey Lawler class I am taking on Sunday to get my juices flowing again. I have no need for painted fabric whatsoever, but the very fact that I am forced to do something will be good for the soul. And I talked Sylvia into going too.

Lest you think I have abandoned the sock I showed you a long while back, I ripped it out and the third attempt worked much better, The only troyble is that I can't really call them socks- they are more like slippers because they are floppy and big. I will probably fall and break a hip sliding around in them but somebody has to wear them, right?
I don't think I will ever make two matching socks again. For this I used a pattern where you make two closed cylinders, then cut out a line of stitches and pick up around the hole to make the ankle part. The two ends of the cylinder form the toe and the heel, easy peasy. This will be my sock of choice, my go-to sock, my signature sock from now on.  

Alrighty, the nectarine chutney is cooling, and I have stuff to get at-  sorry I have been so long between posts.  Let's see what I can cook tomorrow.   

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