Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Perfect Vegetable, Indeed

I'm a sucker for the concept of stuffed peppers. I mean, you end up eating an entire pepper! That's a pretty big score in the land of vegetable intake. In reality, though, the fillings are often unimpressive and bland. Perfect Vegetables offers three recipes for stuffed peppers. I made the one which I thought had the most potential to knock my socks off: Stuffed Bell Peppers with Spiced Lamb, Currants, and Feta Cheese (pg 195). Yes, please!

This dish was absolutely perfect, as written. I cut the recipe in half, to only stuff two peppers instead of four, but otherwise, I didn't mess with the measurements. The combo of cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, garlic, fresh ginger, cilantro, and red pepper flakes was just right.

The authors provided several suggestions for how to keep your peppers upright. They were so simple that I felt foolish for not coming up with them on my own. Their ideas included putting the peppers in cupcake tins, individual custard cups, or in a bundt pan. Durrr! How have I spent all this time balancing them in Pyrex dishes? Never again! The custard cups were exactly the right size, and worked--here's that word again--perfectly. 

Matt said that the only problem was that I didn't make any extra, and asked why I wanted him to starve. One of these days, I'll teach him what a serving is supposed to look like.

Conclusion: True love. I'm happy I froze half of the ground lamb, because now I can make this again with little hassle. Plus, it's sort of Charlie-approved. He ate several bites of lamb. He never eats meat. I was shocked. Then he got a big chunk of feta, and it turned him off from eating altogether. Still, I call it a success.

On a side note, Matt said that he's fine with me buying cookbooks as long as I use them. He's going hunting this weekend (when in Texas, do as the Texans do...), so we were joking that if he, by chance, happens to shoot a deer or a boar, we'll need to find a book to tell us how to cook it, because I've never in my life dealt with venison. He said that Dorie should write a book on cooking wild game, and that's when he announced that he's fine with me buying cookbooks if I use them. Use them? All I do is use them! I assure you, that has NEVER been his opinion before, and he knew it as soon as the words were out of his mouth, because he started laughing. Regardless, I'm pretty sure he just gave me the thumbs up to go hog-wild, right? MWA HA HAAA!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Are You a Tender Green, or an Assertive Green?

I bought a lovely bunch of kale at the farmer's market on Saturday. Honestly, I'm not a huge kale fan, but the leaves looked so pretty, I couldn't resist. I seem to have a problem with compulsive purchasing at the farmer's market. Could be worse. I could be buying shoes. Or (ahem) cookbooks.

I had no plan for the kale, but figured Perfect Vegetables had to have a kale section. Turns out it has a "Greens" section, which it divides into "Tender Greens" and "Assertive Greens." Those distinctions made me laugh. All of a sudden, my kale had character.

I've always had the problem of too-tough kale. I'd come to the conclusion that it was supposed to be like that. The Master Recipe for Blanched Assertive Greens (pg 141) solves that problem by boiling the kale in a specific amount of water for a precise amount of time to tenderize it and remove any bitterness, before adding it to a larger recipe. They have several options, but I cooked Assertive Greens with Bacon and Onion (pg 142).

I've had the bacon/onion/kale flavor combo before, but this was far and away the best version I've ever had. The things that set it apart for me were the soft, spinach-like texture of the kale, and the splash of apple cider vinegar that gets thrown in at the end. Sometimes I feel guilty adding bacon to my vegetables (that goes for cream, too), but here, I only used one slice to crumble between the two servings, so I had no misgivings about it.

I could have eaten a much bigger portion of this. Unfortunately, the kale cooked down to what looked like a piddling amount when divided on two plates. I'll have to load up on my greens at next weekend's market.

Conclusion: Loved it. This wasn't just "good, for kale," which was the best I'd been hoping for. It was delicious, and is one of my new favorites. It's a little more work than I'm used to with kale, but well worth it. Without tasting it, Charlie pinched his little portion between two fingers and deposited it on the floor, his lips pulled back in disgust. Don't waste the good stuff, boy!
Will anyone mind if I lick Charlie's kale off the floor?
Because I had the ingredients for it, and because I hoped Charlie would eat it (wishful thinking), I also made the Master Recipe for Glazed Carrots (pg 61). I admit that I mis-read the instructions, and added the full amount of sugar in with the broth the carrots boiled in. I should have only put a third of the sugar in at that time, and added the rest after the liquid had nearly boiled away. I don't know if that accounts for how cloyingly sweet the carrots were, or if they would have been anyway. I suspect that I could cut the amount of sugar used here in half and be much happier with the result.

You know something is too sweet when an almost-two-year-old shudders after tasting it. For what it's worth, Charlie did nibble at one little carrot slice a few times, which is more carrot than I've ever gotten him to eat before, but each time, his face twisted as if he was sucking on a lemon. Actually, he loves lemons, because he's a little weirdo, so that doesn't hold up. You get the picture, though.

Conclusion: Just okay, but with the potential to move up in my ranking. I need to tinker with the sweetness.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sweets, Mostly

My stick-to-the-vegetable-book plan didn't work out all that well over the past week. My in-laws were in town for Thanksgiving, and Matt wound up cooking most days. I intended to make Perfect Vegetables' recipe for candied sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, but as I was about to get started, I read the instructions closer and realized that they wanted me to stir it every five minutes for 50 minutes. Opening the oven door every five minutes seemed like it would be very bad for my turkey, so I switched gears and just mashed the sweet potatoes instead. So much for my plans.

My French Fridays with Dorie efforts were a flop this week, too. This was a free choice week, so I planned to cook the duck breast recipe from a few weeks ago, since supposedly my supermarket would now have them. I'd like to note that only one other person in the FFwD universe had a problem getting duck breasts. What the frig? They're only seasonal in Texas? ANYway, I was told that they'd definitely be at the store by this past Monday. I went this morning, and they once again had no idea what I was asking for.
Me: I was told you'd have them as of Monday.
Lady butcher: Then they must have just had them for thanksgiving.
Me: So you sold duck breast for a total of four days?
Lady butcher: Yes.
Me: Really?
LB: I don't know.

She then called a dude over.

LB: She wants duck breast.
Man Butcher: Turkey breast?
LB: Duck breast.
Man Butcher: Turkey breast?
Me: DUUUUCK BREAST. You were supposed to get it in on Monday.
MB: We have frozen ones.
Me: I know. I don't want a whole bird.
MB: You need a whole bird. Their breasts are only this big. (Holds hands into a small circle.)
Me: Duck breasts are bigger than chicken breasts. OH FORGET IT.

I give up. Someday, if I run across duck, I'll try this recipe.

Moving on...

The one thing I did make from Perfect Vegetables this week was Roasted Parsnips with Warm Spices (pg 178). The parsnips are mixed up with melted butter, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and honey, and roasted. They were good, but I expected them to be a little sweeter and stickier. I guess the honey altered my expectation for how it would turn out. They were pretty dry, and burned more than I would like on the bottom. The instructions say to shake the pan halfway through. I stirred everything up instead, but they still burned.
Conclusion: I liked them, I'll just have to monitor them more closely and play around with the seasoning a bit more next time.

My mother-in-law loves biscotti, so I baked up David Lebovitz's Almond and Chocolate Chunk Biscotti (pg. 216 of Ready for Dessert). Slicing them after partially baking them was difficult, because there is so much chocolate included that it got melty and pieces crumbled off. Turned out perfectly in the end, though. They're great dunked in coffee. On their own, not so great.
Conclusion: Loved them.

Because two pies didn't seem like enough for Thanksgiving, I also made Lebovitz's Maple-Walnut Pear Cake (pg 35). Cinnamon upside-down cake with maple syrup, pears, and walnut baked into the top. YUM.
Conclusion: Liked it.

Lastly, and most tragically, I baked Dorie's Caramel Pumpkin Pie (pg 322 of Baking) instead of my normal pumpkin pie. Sounds good, right? It was awful. She says to make a very dark caramel, and warns that you'll think you've gone too far, but you haven't. I believe I made the caramel just as I was meant to, but between it and two tablespoons of rum, the mere one cup of pumpkin imparted no flavor. This tasted like a bitter rum pie. Now I need to bake a normal pumpkin pie to make up for it.
That's not burned. It was that dark even before I cooked it.
Conclusion: Disliked. All my guests said it was okay, but no one ate more than a sliver.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

FFwD: Braised Cardamom-Curry Lamb

Today, a wondrous thing happened. For French Fridays with Dorie, we cooked Braised Cardamom-Curry Lamb (pg 283). Stew, in general, is one of my least favorite foods. When I was younger, nothing was worse than coming home from school and walking into the smell of stew simmering away on the stove.

I think my main problem is that I don't like the cheap cut that is stew meat. I don't care how long it cooks and how "tender" the meat gets, it always tastes dry and stringy and metallic to me. For me, stew night = potato night.

Well, this stew is as unlike my mother's stew as could be. Lots of curry, cardamom, mint, garlic, and lamb, glorious lamb! The sweet elements--apples, honey, dried figs, and raisins--were balanced. I was afraid it would be too gooey sweet, but it wasn't.
I was very happy to find a little one-pound package of chopped lamb in the supermarket. One pound of lamb in November is much more affordable than a three pound lamb shoulder in November. I didn't reduce the rest of the recipe, because I wasn't sure how reducing the liquids would change the way it cooked. It didn't feel skimpy.

I didn't consciously realize until I served it, that, by following all of Dorie's serving suggestions, I'd loaded us up with potatoes, rice, and bread. Oops. The bread was unnecessary.

Conclusion: Liked it. Best stew I've ever had. Wish it was cold outside. This stew needs cold weather.

Their Problem is Hyperbolic Labeling

I think part of what bugs me with the ATK/CI crew is their over-inflated sense of self. They don't just publish a book of International Recipes. It has to be "Best International Recipes." They don't just publish a book of vegetables. It has to be "Perfect Vegetables." I judge them more harshly because of this than I would if the book were simply called "Vegetables," or even "Great Vegetables." If you promise me perfection, you better produce perfection. Anyway.

This'll be quick as I can make it, though I do have a number of things to catch up on. Things have slowed down on the nanowrimo front, about which I'm not happy, but it felt like things were running away from me over here, so I just want to catch up real quick, while Charlie is babbling in his crib instead of napping.

The Master Recipe for Oven Fries (pg 229) produced dried out, thin-cut fries. It was a promising concept. Their technique is to steam, then oil, then bake. I like my fries crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside. A baked potato has more moisture in it than these bad boys. Bad.

Conclusion: As far as fries go, hated them. I mean, I still ate them, but this is a terrible oven fry recipe.
Those fries look better than they were.
However, with it, I served Sauteed Shredded Zucchini with Sweet Corn and Chives (pg 315). Sweet, a little buttery, with a nice, mild oniony flavor from the chives and shallot. Yum. Seems like a good way to get zucchini into a kid, because it's sort of just in the background to the corn. Assuming your kid will eat corn, that is, which mine will not. I'll keep trying this one on Charlie. Someday, he's bound to taste it.

Conclusion: Liked it.

However you imagine Orecchiette (Penne, for me) with Broccoli, Sausage, and Roasted Peppers (pg 44) to taste is, I'm sure, accurate. I made this because it was easy. It was fine, but nothing that I'd ever crave.
I was starving. No time for a glamor shot.
Conclusion: Just okay.

Last night, I made Roasted Winter Squash with Soy and Maple (pg 309). Personally, I loved this. In the last five minutes of roasting, the cut side of the squash is smeared with a combo of soy sauce, maple syrup, and grated ginger. The result seems to amplify the butternut squash's natural flavor and sweetness, without actually tasting like soy or maple or ginger. However, Charlie spit it out and Matt hated it (hehe, that one's for you, Stacy.) From the odd motion Matt was making with his mouth, I think his problem was one of texture, not taste. He can neither confirm nor deny if he's ever had butternut squash in anything but soup form. I doubt he'd like any roasted version.

Conclusion: I loved it, and that's what counts. This can be my Matt's-out-of-town vegetable.

Lastly, when I saw all the bundt cakes that bloggers baked for Mary the Food Librarian's National Bundt Day, I wanted to play too. It was after the fact, but I baked Polenta Cake with Olive Oil and Rosemary (pg 58) from David Lebovitz's Ready For Dessert. The recipe calls for six teaspoons of minced rosemary. I used a substantial amount less, because my poor, pathetic little plant just didn't have that much to offer. The rosemary flavor in mine was there, and you'd be able to identify it, but it was nice and subtle. I may have found the flavor overwhelming if I'd used the required amount. I very much enjoyed the match-up of almond extract with rosemary. I never would have thought to put those two flavors together, but it worked nicely.
Matt insists on calling it corn bread. I think the almond throws it, so you wouldn't want to eat it with a bowl of chili, but otherwise, yeah. It's a nicer-crumbed corn bread. Like Lebovitz's Pistachio Cardamom Cake, this seems like more of a breakfast or tea sweet to me. It's not the type of thing that I want when I'm craving dessert. Still tastes good, though.

Conclusion: Liked it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wrapping Up, and Up Next

I feel like I shorted The Family Meal a tad in this past week, with Charlie being sick and us going up to San Antonio for the long weekend, but I'm not too heartbroken about it, because most of the remaining recipes that really catch my eye all include cuts of meat, types of fish, and quality of cured meat and sausage that I don't have ready access to. In the intro to the book, Adria says that he made sure that all of the ingredients were available to a home cook in the US, but I'm guessing he didn't send anyone to scout out the offerings here in Corpus Christi. And, after a month, it still makes me laugh that he thinks a home cook has a foamer.

This is the only book I've cooked from so far that didn't score anything lower than a "Just okay," so I think that's pretty remarkable. Most of the dishes were easy to prepare, and all the ones that I was able to make used just a few ingredients, to maximum effect.

Stand-outs, and those I'll make time and again, are the Roasted Chicken, Cauliflower with Bechamel, Pasta Bolognese (I'm drooling just thinking about it), and the Mexican Chicken.

If you have access to a phenomenal butcher who carries less-popular cuts of meat and an international market that sells spices I've never heard of, this book is a must-have. There are lots of yet-unmade dishes that I would run out and make tomorrow if I could. Unfortunately, I feel like most of the recipes I was able to make weren't particularly unique. Baked apples are good, roast chicken is one of my favorite meals in the world, but if you already have solid recipes for those types of things, you won't miss this book.

For me, this book is a keeper, but it's not one that I would push people to run out and buy before giving it a solid look. Not being able to get my hands on ingredients makes me sad.  Maybe I'll have better luck when I move to Italy next year. God, I love saying that. HA!

There are a few more recipes that I planned on, which got derailed by Charlie being sick all last week, so here's my plan.

I'm going to start on my next book: Perfect Vegetables, once again from the Cook's Illustrated folks. I know I haven't had amazing luck with their recipes so far, but I have high hopes for this one. I say that every time, don't I? But still, I'm not very creative when it comes to veg. If it's not part of a complete meal, I tend to fall back on grilled asparagus or broccoli or spinach with oil and garlic. Charlie will nibble some broccoli, but other than that, I can't get him to eat any of the normal vegetables that kids will accept--carrots, sweet potatoes, any version of white potato (except for french fries, of course.) Long story short, this book will be good for all of us. My diet could use more vegetables. Plus, this one should be easy to keep up with through the holidays.

Since these are mostly side dishes, it gives me the opportunity to cook a few more from The Family Meal and to catch up on some Dorie recipes while I'm at it. Win-win!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Family Meal: Tagliatelle Carbonara, and a Sweet Potato

Bonzo is sick again--this time with a stomach virus--which is throwing a major kink in my nanowrimo plan. Grrr.

Regardless, I've cooked two quickies from The Family Meal.

For lunch yesterday, I made Sweet Potato with Honey and Cream (pg 304). This is billed as a dessert in the book. This would never satisfy a dessert craving. I thought putting honey and a dab of whipped cream on a sweet potato sounded like a tasty idea, but in the end, it's still just a sweet potato. Nothing special here. My expensive, flavor-packed local honey disappeared into the potato, and the whipped cream melted quickly and didn't contribute much flavor.
Conclusion: Just okay.

If I had payed closer attention to what was actually going on in Tagliatelle Carbonara (pg 290), I may have chickened out. I don't even want to know the calorie count in this thing. Four ounces is a lot of bacon. Brown that, and without draining it, add a whole cup of heavy cream, and simmer for 20 minutes. Mix it with pasta, and at the last second before serving, toss in some egg yolks that have been whisked with a splash of more heavy cream. Top with parmesan. Oh nelly. I added spinach to the pasta, because that makes it healthy. HA!
Don't look so sweet and innocent. I know what you're really made of.
That said, this pasta was fricken delicious. Heavy, but delicious.

Matt, after finishing his own bowl: (Moan). So...full.
Me, still eating: I don't think I'm gonna make it.
Matt: You can't finish it?
Me: (Groan.)
Matt: Don't worry. I'll give it a good home.
Me: You just said you were full.
Matt: So?
Me: You don't have to eat it.
Matt: Having to and wanting to are two different things.

In the end, he decided against finishing mine, but not for any reason relating to his comfort. He's running the San Antonio Marathon this weekend (boggles my mind), and is terrified of catching Charlie's stomach virus. I feel fine, but he figured he wouldn't take any chances, just in case the little bugger's germs are lurking in me, waiting to strike.

Conclusion: Loved it, but I doubt I'll ever make it again. It's a heart attack in a bowl.

Wish me luck that Charlie feels better soon and I can get back on track with my writing. It's hard to do when you're brain dead.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Few from The Family Meal

I've made a few dishes from The Family Meal over the past few days. I wish I'd made more, but grouper and swiss chard from the farmers market looked too good to pass up over the weekend. They derailed the things I'd planned to cook from this book. Tell me, is there a more beautiful vegetable than swiss chard? I can't resist their rainbow stems. I don't even care what it tastes like. I must buy them. The farmer said that the stems can be sliced up and used like celery. Anybody ever try that? I've always ripped the leaves off and thrown the pretty stems away, because I didn't know how to use them. I digress...

First up: Roasted Chicken (pg 282). Technically, this was supposed to be "Roasted Chicken with Potato Straws," which sounded mighty impressive, until I read through the recipe and saw that it calls for a bag of store-bought, chip-aisle potato straws to be dumped alongside the chicken. Puh-lease. Potato straws: omitted.
Despite that irritation, this was a wonderful roast chicken recipe. The skin is rubbed with salt, oil, lemon zest, and a powder you're supposed to process of rosemary, bay, thyme, and peppercorns. It wasn't a big enough amount for my food processor to do the job, so I just chopped up those herbs and rubbed them on. For additional flavor (or maybe just for the aroma. I'm not sure. Either way, it's good), shove sliced lemon and whole cloves of garlic into the bird's cavity. One thing that made this recipe different than how I normally roast a chicken was that you roast it face down for 25 minutes, then flip it and finish it off breast-up. The meat was tender and moist, and I thank the flip for that. The pan sauce turned out a lot greasier than I think it was meant to, but it tasted good. I need one of those gravy separator gizmos.

Conclusion: Loved it. Nothing better than a good roast chicken. 

Instead of the lame potato sticks, I made Cauliflower with Bechamel (pg 260). I burned my roux on the first try, but it was easy enough to start over. I may have overcooked my sauce. It was thick, like a paste. In the book's picture, it pours. This didn't pour. Tasted good, though. I dolloped it onto the cauliflower, sprinkled it with parmesan, and broiled it until the top browned a bit. The hint of nutmeg in the sauce was nice with the salty parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. I was sure Charlie would like this, but he refused to try it. Maybe next time.
Conclusion: Liked it. I never make cauliflower, because it doesn't taste like anything (and anyone who says it's a good replacement for mashed potatoes is delusional). With this sauce, it's earned a spot in my regimen.

Lastly, I made Baked Apples (pg 106) one night, for an easy, hands-off dessert. Butter, sherry, honey, and cinnamon go into/on the cored apple, then it bakes for an hour.
 Dessert doesn't get much easier than that. With a barely-sweet whipped cream, drizzled with the pan juices, this was a perfect dessert. It was like insta-pie, in which you never miss the crust. This is one apple I could eat every day, and if I did, I wouldn't feel too terrible about it. Omit the cream, and I wouldn't feel bad about it at all. Why would you do that, though?
Conclusion: Loved it.

FFwD: Paris Mushroom Soup

I'm flying loose with the schedule this month. Hope nobody minds too terribly. The scheduled meal from Around My French Table is Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup. I made and wrote about this soup last spring. Originally, I was a bit disappointed with the flavor, but mostly liked it. As time passed, and I ate bowl after endless bowl of frozen leftovers, the orange and ginger flavors intensified until they were overbearing. This recipe made a whole lot of soup, and those last few bowls were pretty unpleasant. The thought of making it again churned my stomach.

Instead, I decided to catch up on one of the recipes I missed. In keeping with the soup theme, I made Paris Mushroom Soup (pg 72). This is one of those recipes that I would skip right over if not for French Fridays with Dorie. When I was younger, I hated mushrooms. I no longer hate them, but I don't go out of my way to eat them, either. Matt despises them, so I'm never tempted to cook anything that features them too predominantly.
What a fool I am. This is one delicious soup. It helps that it's pureed. I like vegetable soups so much better when they're smooth. The flavors meld better that way, I think. Mushroom is definitely the star flavor, but it's so nicely balanced by rosemary, garlic, wine, onions, and a bit of thyme (I didn't have parsley, so I subbed in thyme), that I loved it. It reminded me of Thanksgiving stuffing, but I'm not sure why. I used to yell at my mom whenever she attempted to add mushrooms to our stuffing (aren't I a gem?), so half the time she made two separate batches, one with, one without. I never ate the batch with the mushrooms, so I don't know why I connect the flavor of this soup so strongly to her stuffing. Unless she's been tricking me and adding teeny diced mushrooms all these years, just to mess with me. Not cool, Mom. Not cool.

I couldn't be happier with this soup. I love tasty surprises. Now, as long as my frozen servings don't intensify until the thought of eating one more bowl makes my stomach lurch, I'll happily make this recipe over and over again.

Conclusion: Love it. Hooray! Just one more example of how preconceived notions can be so very, very wrong.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Family Meal: Clams with Paprika

I've met my writing goals for the past two days (go me!), so I felt free to write a quick post. Lunch today was Clams with Paprika (pg 330 of The Family Meal). Technically, this is a recipe for mussels, but I bought clams for dinner last night, not realizing that one of the component sauces of the dish would take over an hour to make. By the time I noticed that glitch, it was way too late to start cooking, so we ate leftover quiche. We have dinner plans tonight, so I threw this quick dish together for lunch.

This was super easy. Cook garlic in oil, add paprika, flour, water, and parsley, then throw the clams in for a few minutes, until they open. Unfortunately, I browned my garlic, which made the broth bitter. Even though I could taste the mistake, I still liked it, and could tell how good it would be if I hadn't messed it up.
I like pretty food.
Conclusion: Liked it.

Speaking of messes, I also baked a breakfast cake from Baking this morning, because Charlie is getting pretty sick of scrambled eggs, waffles, and french toast. Apple Nut Muffin Cake (pg 37) came together easily. It's a standard case of mixing dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, then mixing them together. There's lots of good stuff in this cake--an apple, raisins, oats, apple juice, milk, and normally, nuts. I omitted them, because hard things distract Charlie from eating. He spends too much time picking them out and studying them.

I need to rename this blog "Distracted in the Kitchen," or something, because I've been causing problem after problem these days. This time, I buttered my pan, but did not flour it, so the entire bottom of my cake ripped off. Oh well, still good.
Nurts. Maybe if I flip it over...
The clincher for me that sets this cake apart from other apple muffins I've tried, is that almond extract is used in addition to vanilla extract and cinnamon. I seem to like anything almond-flavored. It works really well with the earthy, oaty, apple flavors here. I've sliced the cake into individual servings and frozen them, to deprive my greedy mouth.
A-ha! No one will ever know!
Conclusion: Loved it. This a moist cake with a crunchy crust. I've never had such a crunchy crust on a breakfast cake before. Charlie-Approved.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

FFwD, sort of. Quiche Maraichere.

This week, for French Fridays with Dorie, we're scheduled to make lovely-sounding honey-glazed duck breasts. After harassing three different meat-department employees as to where I might find the duck breasts, I was informed that they're seasonal, and the store won't have any until the week before Thanksgiving. Bummer. The man then showed me frozen whole ducks that were set up next to the turkeys, and said I could get one of those and just cut the breasts off.  I don't thinks so, buddy.

How can duck breasts be seasonal, but whole ducks are not? I'm confused. Maybe the whole ones are still frozen from last year. Ew.

Needless to say, that threw a great big wrench in tonight's dinner plan. As far as keeping up with the group goes, I'm moving things around so that I'll mostly be on schedule. Since Thanksgiving week was set to be a free choice, I'll use my freebie this week, and make the duck during Thanksgiving week. Boom. Problem solved. Even better, I inadvertently already cooked a different dish from AMFT this week.

A friend came by for lunch yesterday. I've made Quiche Maraichere (pg 158 of Around My French Table) before, and I made it again, because it's delicious. I must have made this for myself pre-blog, though, because I don't see a post about it. That worked out nicely.
I like this quiche because it's light and non-greasy. The vegetable (diced carrots, red pepper, leeks, and celery) to custard ratio weighs heavily on the vegetable side. With a light coating of melty gruyere on top, this quiche tastes like a treat, but really isn't so bad for you, as far as foods that involve a tart crust, heavy cream, cheese, and eggs go. Hmm...I wonder if I can eat all my vegetables this way?

Conclusion: Love it. It's a great dish to prepare ahead of time and serve to company.

On a side note, I'll be posting less often this month. When I think of what I want to be doing with my life, writing novels has always been part of the picture. I earned my masters in fiction writing, published one story, wrote an AWFUL first draft of a novel, had a baby, and got totally sidetracked by life. For two years, I've barely written any fiction. To kick myself in the ass, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is some psychotic enterprise that people set out on to write 50,000 words (a 175 pg novel) during November. The focus is more on quantity than quality, but I'm a big slowpoke of a writer, so pushing myself to just forge ahead and stop staring off into space will be good for me. I'll consider it a huge success if I even make it halfway to goal, since I'm starting from zero, and my time belongs to Charlie.

Point is, one obvious place to find time is right here. I'll still be cooking through my book, and will post about the recipes, but I'll probably do shorter posts, less often. Wish me luck! I did pretty well today.