I should be writing. Instead…comfort food.

chicken and dumplings
So, can you overcook dumplings? Not a question that’s ever entered my mind…until yesterday.

It’s been years since I’ve made chicken and dumplings, but I wanted something different from the rotisserie birdzilla I bought at Costco.

And that something was comfort.

The tablespoon of bacon grease that mysteriously found its way into the broth didn’t hurt.

Nor did the half-glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Prior to that…a little pepper, thyme, a good dose of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, and some dehydrated garlic joined the sauteeing onions, celery, carrots, and potatoes for a little blooming.

After that, I added the chicken cubes, gave it 20 minutes and completed final steps for the dumplings.

They needed seasoning, so out trotted L to the garden for some chives. She was, of course, escorted by the ever productive Buddy.black dog on his back on the lawnI slapped–okay, I was gentler than that–the dough on the broth/chicken/veggie concoction [let’s just call it ‘soup’]. This recipe called for just five minutes of cooking time. Hoping a longer dip in the soup would enhance the flavor, I gave them 20 minutes and they were just fine. We both enjoyed how those skimpy balls o’ dough puffed into substantial orbs of comfort.

Ruminations from the kitchen:

  • I marvel at how I repeatedly tempt the cruel nature of gravity by plopping food-filled bowls and plasticware just off the edge of the counter.
  • I still maintain that food tasted straight from the pan rates higher than eaten from a plate.
  • Want to make a racket in the kitchen? Just try being quiet. Seriously, every time I saunter out in the morning for a silent early exit, I inevitably bump one glass container in the fridge into another, ram my elbow into the coffee maker, and pull a glass from the drainer, setting off a chain reaction of tumbling mugs and dishes.

 

I should be writing. Instead…orange marmalade cake.

Orange marmalade cake
My wife added orange marmalade on top after the photo was taken.
Here also is one of the three bambinos.

Orange Marmalade Cake Recipe

On Super Bowl Sunday, as I watched, paused, watched, rewound, paused…well, you get the idea…the game, I took on this new recipe.

Thanks to Virginia for the inspiration to bake this O.M.C. She had blogged about this once-a-year cake a few years back.

It’s so big–needs five whole eggs and four egg yolks–that I have to abbreviate the name. [Shape Shifters Fitness Trainer–avert your eyes.]

A few broken rules:

  1. I would double the syrup and poke even more toothpick holes into the baked cake.
  2. I didn’t go three layers high. Reason? I didn’t have three round cake pans.
    Instead, I went with a two-layer rectangular cake with leftover batter for three mini-cakes. I actually preferred this approach so I could experiment with other accompaniments for the bambinos. [My favorite: key lime marmalade mixed with sour cream as a ‘dip’.]

Anyway, I enjoyed the result. [Thanks again, Virginia!] And so did my work colleagues the next day. [Plenty for them and for us at home.]

Drawback: I didn’t enjoy the way the first part of the recipe was written.

Excerpt: Cake: Sift flour, baking powder, & salt twice in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat butter on MEDIUM (~4 minutes). Add sugar steadily with mixer running; beat until light & fluffy. Add eggs & yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition; scrape down sides at least once. After eggs are added, continue to beat on MEDIUM for 2 minutes; add oil & beat for 1 minute on LOW. In a third bowl, combine orange zest, vanilla, & buttermilk. Using a rubber spatula, fold in half of dry ingredients. [This is where confusion set in. Based on these instructions, wouldn’t you fold half of the dry ingredients into the bowl of the zest, vanilla, and buttermilk?]

If I rewrote this, I would have gone with:

Set up three bowls for the varied ingredients.

  1. The largest bowl for the butter, sugar, eggs, and oil. You will be adding the rest of the ingredients here.
  2. A bowl large enough for 3+ cups of sifted dry ingredients.
  3. A bowl large enough for the orange zest, a cup of buttermilk, and the vanilla.

I valiantly rose above the confusing instructions because, well, we’re talkin’ dessert here.

Give it a try.

Gooooood stuff!

I should be writing. Instead…a quick bread.

IMG_2035

CHOCOLATE CHIP KABOCHA BREAD

http://dishingupthedirt.com/recipes/chocolate-chip-kabocha-bread-recipes/

The moist center is from the ‘swirl’ ingredients.

  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

But I skipped the chocolate chips in the swirl and added some molasses. [My wife is having the lawyer draw up the divorce papers as I write this.] I also added dried cranberries.

Notes:

  • The bread looks a little flat. Rationalization: I like ‘dense’. She suggested that I use more leavener. I actually [this time] followed the recipe and added the suggested amount of baking powder. I wonder if I added too much–Bridget Lancaster of American’s Test Kitchen once warned against overdoing it because the result might be a welcome rise…followed by an unwelcome slump. Shrug. Hand me another piece of the bread. The coffee’s ready.
  • Amazing how much post-baking cleanup can be accomplished when you set the timer for five minutes.
  • Siri loves a good countdown.

IMG_2030

 

I should be writing. Instead…

I’m cooking. Chile verde is on the menu. Didn’t have to be, but hey, we procrastinators have to/tend to follow the latest shiny object, which, in this case, was the stainless steel pot you see below.

A few realizations, however.

First-draft writing and cooking–

1. They often result in a mess, albeit unavoidable. [A minor victory: I left the dishes for later while I posted this.]

2. I often balk at taking that first taste. What if it’s hazmat material? And that look back at the first 500 words? I’d rather not see how awkward, nonsensical, and/or high-minded it is.

3. Giving the work time to develop–whether on the stovetop or in our mind–almost always improves the final product.

4. The experimentation doesn’t end once you turn on the heat. I’ll be dividing the sauce between a meat version and a vegetarian version. And my stories? New roadblocks and characters will inevitably show up.

chile verdeAnd in an ironic twist, by writing about another departure from my appointment at the keyboard, I’m actually following through on that same appointment. [Welcome to my world…]

Please refrain from comments reminding me about the dirty dishes. Let me bask for awhile. Thanks for reading.