Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Type + Writer 2, Day Seven

What if???
What if Stacey Lewis is my means to becoming a rich and famous photographer to the stars? What if Sally’s Shih Tzu leads me to hand out my card to the head of the American Kennel Club? What if she wants me to photograph all 500 dogs being shown in Atlanta? What if I can support myself without having to teach? What if I went back to school to learn design? What if my family lived closer? What if we take that cruise at Christmas for two weeks and just put off visiting his dad? What if we decide to embark on redoing the kitchen and then hate it? What if I don’t finish my free calendar from Memory Maker by the due date? What if all of my students got the flu and were out for a week straight? What if these FreeMason conspiracy theorists are WHACK? What if Katie married Puck from Glee? What if Liv asks me to fly to the Phillipines to help teach a class? What if Jessica gets back to me about my ideas? What if I become a tshirt designer by accident? What if I am no longer afraid of success? What if I could lose weight without having to exercise? What if we could sell our house for a huge profit and move back to California? What if I finally write that children’s book? What if I scrapped more pages? What if I don’t finish my Christmas album? What if my family didn’t send me any Christmas presents? What if I get invited to be on Hell’s Kitchen? What if someone starts reading my blog? What if I finish with Julia Childs’s first book? What if I actually try an aspic recipe? What if I like aspic? What if Mia Michael’s regrets her new hairdo? What if my brother and sister can’t make it to Halloween Night at Universal? What if Robert Pattinson realizes that KStew is not for him? What if my parents LOVE my portraits of their child and ask me to do family shoots? What if Courtney hates me for stealing her customers? What if someone asks me to photograph a wedding? What if I take terrible pictures? What if Kit is a hardass about the shoot this weekend? What if I take too many pictures of BJ instead? What if it rains this weekend? What if it is so windy that my orange balloons never behave? What if I can’t find some gerber daisies that aren’t yellow? What if Gordon doesn’t want to come to the Dog Show with me this weekend? What if Sally accidently trips me and breaks my camera? What if the lighting is so horrible in the show that I can’t get a good shot? What if the dog doesn’t cooperate? What if this itchy spot on my face is skin cancer? What if I completely lose my hearing? What if this high pitched annoyance on the tv is put through on So You Think You Can Dance? What if she talks in this voice for the entire season? What if parents scream at me about grades?

October 21, Recipe #38

Puree Pommes de terre a l'ail

Wanna take a stab at what this one translates into? I'll give you the potato part. Go...
Okay, it's garlic mashed potato. Can't fault Julia for her comfort food. I got to push roasted garlic through a sieve and take out my secret weapon again. My loverly potato ricer. Add butter and cream and whip. I used it as a bed for my blue cheese meat loaf. I'm liking this thing called food.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20th, Recipe #37

Coq au Vin, Oignons Glaces a Brun, Champignons Sautes au Beurre

I LIT STUFF ON FIRE!Okay, it was cognac and only lasted five seconds. But MAN! I have always wanted to light my food on fire. Julia's recipe for the French classic seems a bit easy. It only took about an hour or so to finish. I was under the impression that this one was right up there with all day in the kitchen. My butcher massacred the chicken into ten weird pieces. I really had to watch the bones on this one. The onions and mushrooms were a nice base for the purple chicken.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Type + Writer, Day 4

Remember Me When
How funny is it that I was just thinking about my teenage self yesterday. I needed some photos to use on my JS template layout about traveling. I found some old shots of the trip I took to Canada with my French class. Out of TEN total pictures that I have. I can’t even begin to imagine how many pictures I would have taken if I went today. I wasn’t so involved in recording my life when I was 17. I was more consumed with living it. There’s a huge difference right there. I want to remember the little details and highlight them. Before it was all about getting out there and being in the moment, no thought to how this moment would shape my life. Let’s move on to another difference. As a teenager I was still wearing my kiddie pajamas. The green ones that were way too short on me. I used to pull up my athletic socks to hide the gap between them and the bottom of my pant legs. There’s a picture of me just like this scrunched up on the couch with a book planted in front of my nose. That’s what I remember most about myself then. I was always reading something or other. I still am. My tastes range from one extreme to the other. Take the last two books I have read: My Life in France by Julia Childs and Gil’s All Fright Diner by someone or other. One’s a biography of a great American chef, the other? A story about a werewolf and a vampire that travel the backroads of America ridding the world of zombies one head at a time. I was always so unattached back then. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I got to be an adult. I just took random suggestions from other people as to what I should do. Nowadays, I wish I could go back in time and smack the ever lovin’ heck out of myself. Why do they expect teenagers to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives? I certainly had no idea that educating wee minds would not thrill me to my fingertips and make my heart thump like the Energizer Bunny. I didn’t find my passion in life until I was 35 years old!! Such a travesty, I tell ya. Also, I took the easy way out of things when I was a teenager. That kind of mindset has gotten in my way too many times to count these days. I want to be successful, but when things get hard or weird I find ways to drop out and ease back. I think it’s a learned trait. One that I am working through. Another similarity? I still love horror movies. The creepier the better. I used to be okay with gore, but can’t seem to stomach the needless blood spatters going on in film today. I have so many of the movies I used to watch back then and drag them out every now and then to relive those moments when things were still dark and unknown.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Type + Writer 2: Free Write Day Two

First Trip
When I first saw this assignment to write about a trip to exotic lands, of course I immediately thought of Italy. The trip we took last June. It will probably be the highlight of my life for a long time to come. But as I thought more and more, I wanted to write about something else. The first trip that came to mind from my ‘gangly teenage’ years was the one my French class took to Quebec, Canada. It was the first real big trip I took away from my family. The first I completely paid for on my own. A bus packed full of my friends that travelled all the way to another country in eight hours was wonderful for me. I couldn’t afford the full trip all the way to France, but this would suffice. At that time I never thought I would travel anywhere further than a country attached to the one I currently lived in. I was happy to be traveling anywhere, though. If I remember correctly there were a lot of people I actually liked on that trip. People who hadn’t made my tween years hell in middle school. There was Les and Brenda, the fledgling couple. Irene, kinda odd girl from ROTC. Pete Laskaris who didn’t spend much time with us. Christa and Kerri. Boy, those two fought over who got to spend more time with me like a pack of hyenas working over a wildebeest. Snapping and yelling at each other. It was funny on some level, but then again watching your friends fight isn’t something you relish. I think we had more fun hanging out in the hotel then any of the locales we actually toured. Even the waterfall which was pretty awesome. Good thing I wasn’t into photography then, I would have totally missed out on the amazing sensation of standing underneath a torrent of water and feeling all of nature’s power. We were soaked for the rest of the day. It’s Canada, people! It was fah-reezing! Anyway, back at the hotel we were all teenagers alone in a hotel with no supervision. You can imagine some of the things we could have gotten into. Thankfully, we were all too innocent and pure to go there. However, Les and Brenda did spend an inordinate amount of time underneath those covers. Kerri and I turned up the faucets in the bathroom to scalding hot and closed the door. The ensuing steam made the others think we were up to no good. I can fully attest on the stand that NOTHING happened. I do remember wandering the city and coming upon the Hotel Frontenac situated on the hill up above Saint Lawrence River (at least I think it was that, Hudson maybe?). It was the first time I felt a vibration in my soul. The one that Nettie talks about in the Color Purple as she first views the shores of Africa. I had caught it, the traveling bug.

October 18th - Cassoulet du Porc et de Mouton

After reading the recipe I realized how incredibly time consuming it would be. So I've been holding off on this particular recipe. I woke up at 7:34 A.M. to feed the whiney dogs. I usually just go back to bed for a few more hours after the feeding when it's Sunday. Since I knew that dinner was going to be taking me a while today. I got started on it. Little did I know that NINE hours later I would still be in the kitchen layering and simmering the casserole from Hades. I shouldn't be so harsh on it. From the little tastings I've done along the way, I can already tell this is going to be an amazing dinner. Now I just have to wait for a crust to form so I can break it into the white beans with the back of a spoon and then ladle the yummy basting liquid over the top of the whole thing. Sounds delicious, right? I will have to let you know, in another 40 minutes.

Type+Writer 2: Free Write

Today I am going to tackle my first assignment for Liv Esteban's amazing Type+Writer course. Of course I am starting on the LAST day of class on my first assignment. Who knew my life would be this busy? Who had any idea that DSE would kick off a bevy of ideas and inspirations and thoughts and ideas and projects and stuff? I didn't realize how much I miss designing until I saw some of the amazing things going on in Provo that week. Maybe I just needed a jumpstart for my creative juices. However, getting a free class out of the deal didn't figure into my list of Things to Do. Oh, I was happy and excited to be getting free things. As usual. But I didn't have the time to focus and give this class my all. It only took two weeks to put a few eggs in my basket and get some balls rolling. I did research and looked up ideas. I emailed Jessica my few thoughts. Now I find myself sitting back and waiting for the fruits of my labors to fully flourish. I am not one to sit still though. So as soon as I found a few moments of peace, what did I do? Go running back to Liv's class, that's what! Before that, however, I had to volunteer to run a Bi-monthly challenge at my favorite website in the world:! It's going to be a Photography Challenge. I like being able to give back to the community that has always supported and encouraged me, no matter what crazy ideas I come up with. Just as an aside, my challenge is something near and dear to my heart - Horror Movies!! Uh, huh. I'm weird like that. I can be reading a sequel to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, whip up a mean cassoulet that takes 10 hours to complete and crave an all day Fright Fest at the same time. That's just me. So many things go into creating the package that is ScrappyGuy. People can say many things about me, but never call me BORING. Bit of a stumble here, so I am going to go into my next topic. This meal I am almost finished with. It's Cassoulet du Porc et de Mouton. After reading the recipe I realized how incredibly time consuming it would be. However, Gordon keeps asking for it. He doesn't ask for much, so I like to give in every now and then. It's only fittin'. I woke up at 7:34 A.M. to feed the whiney dogs. He also got up. This isn't our normal routine. I usually just go back to bed for a few more hours after the feeding when it's Sunday. He wanted to whip up a batch of Cranberry Orange Nut muffins. Since I knew that dinner was going to be taking me a while today. I got started on it. Little did I know that NINE hours later I would still be in the kitchen layering and simmering the casserole from Hades. I shouldn't be so harsh on it. From the little tastings I've done along the way, I can already tell this is going to be an amazing dinner. Now I just have to wait for a crust to form so I can break it into the white beans with the back of a spoon and then ladle the yummy basting liquid over the top of the whole thing. Sounds delicious, right? I will have to let you know, in another 40 minutes. Hmm, this 15 minute writing time set is awfully long. At least I have episode 8, Season One of Ugly Betty to keep me company. One request from the producers? Show more Henry. MUCH more. How could Betty have ever chosen Walter over Henry at the beginning is such a shame. Tick, Tick, Tick. Where is that timer bell? Did I tell you that I am going to Universal Studios in less than two weeks? Yep, another way to feed my Chiller side. Lisa, my sister, and Darrin, my baby brother are meeting down in Orlando for a full 8 hours of Halloween Horror ripped from the Screen. Oh, it promises to be a night of screams and thrills. I just have to decide if I want to drop $100 on a Nikon Coolpix because I am NOT bringing my SLR into a darkened den of iniquity. The Coolpix is supposed to work pretty well at ISO 2000. I bought Darrin one for Christmas a while back, but I don't think I can give up the creative controls of the camera to someone else for the entire evening. Especially when there's tons of gory goodness to be had. Okay, it has to be 15 minutes by now, right?? Right?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gary / Julia Project

October 17th

Lobster Murder

I did, I am guilty. I will sign my name to that confession!I murdered a live creature. Well, sort of alive. After I stuffed it in a closed plastic bag in the fridge for two hours, it wasn't exactly 'lively'.I had a completely different reaction to this process of slicing a lobster in half then Julie Powell did. It came very easy to me. The only surprise was how much liquid came squirting out of the poor creature!Threw the meat along with some shrimps into a chowder for dinner. Call the police, I thought it was delicious!

October 12th

Roti De Porc Poele

This one was EASY!! Just brown the pork shoulder, dump some veggies in there and let it sit in the over for two hours. Perfecto!The meat was so delicious, falling apart even. The veggies were mooshed into the sauce and then ladled over the top of the meat. FAN-tastic!

October 11th

Poulet Roti and Gratin Pommes de Terre et Saucissons

I be brave. I try Roast Chicken again. This time I discovered a nice and long sewing needle to use to truss the chicken. Amazing how easy it was today. The needle still needs to be a little longer to go through the breast section as I push the wings 'akimbo'. Can you believe she used that word? The illustration was a bit difficult to decipher, but I made it work. I am going to put a vote in now. Find an easier method of basting a chicken, please. Every ten minutes for two hours is a bit much. I do like the benefits of basting, though. Don't get me wrong. That chicken was so tender and juicy. The gratin was something to try because it involved potatoes, which I had. I think I should have gone with the bechamel instead of the egg and whipped cream route. It came out almost like a breakfast casserole. Especially since I put sausage and mushrooms in there as well.

October 9th
Filets de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons

I have said this before, simple and easy are NOT the same thing. Poaching some fish in white wine and clam juice sounds easy, doesn't it? But then you add the chopping and layering of veggies. After simmering the sauce, you pour it out and beat it with some pasty flour and butter. Very soon you have an amazing yummy sauce!

October 6th

First Dinner party (Krisy, Christina, Katie)Poulet Grilles a la Diable, Haricot Verts a la Creme

I finally had to break down and invite real people to come and enjoy the fruits of my labor. People were beginning to doubt that I was actually doing this. Gordon can't be the only one to benefit, right? That would almost be selfish. I am SO SO SO SO happy that I got half of the food completed yesterday. The kitchen was such a whirlwind as I made the rest of it. I know there's no way I could have completed this entire meal in one night. Oh, my gosh. That chicken came out so beautiful and terribly delicious. You should have seen us gnawing on the carcasses. Such fun!Green beans in a creamy bechemel was such a big hit. Everyone had seconds. Mainly because they didnt' taste like green beans. You should have seen my first pathetic attempt at making a crepe. The pn definitely wasn't hot enough because it came out as a goopy mess. But the other ones after that were fine. Shave some chocolate over those bad boys and your friends will love you for life. Trust me, I know.

October 5th

Ratatouille, Crepes Sucres Finees, Frangipane

I am getting ready for having pepole over tomorrow night. Had some time so I thought I'd getter started. It's a good thing too. Ratatouille took me like two and a half hours to complete. So much slicing and dicing and sauteeing and turning and basting and layering and basting some more. OY! I took Mary's advice and salted the eggplant to let it 'sweat' out some of its juces. Amazing what ended up in the bottom to drain away!Next came the crepe base and the almond cream filling for dessert tomorrow. Loved pulverizing the macaroons. Eating the leftovers is so yummy! The custard was a bit weird and thick. Maybe it'll be better tomorrow.

October 4
Boeuf Bourguingnon

Finally got around to doing Julie's inspiration. Her original recipe that made her think she could do it all. The one she cooked for her fateful visit from Jennifer Jones, who never showed up. Man, did she miss something.This was indded a labor of love. It took an hour alone to brown the meat. Two hour timeline to get it into the oven. And a five hour grand total. Yes! It took me FIVE hours to make this. In the end, it was all about the sauce. Absolute amazingly complex and delicious piece of work. Very proud of meself.

October 1
Campignons farcis, tomates farcies duxelles

Basically, these are stuffed tomatoes using the filling for stuffed mushroom caps. They were okay. I did use some yummy heirloom tomatoes and it was a nice combination against the rough savory filling.
September 28thPate Brisee (cooked), Gratin Aux Fruits de MerI know, I know. I've made the Gratin before. But this time I used scallops and shrimps instead. That cooked pastry crust was most amazing. All of that butter, mmm. I even had some leftover dough. So I rolled it out and baked it as well. It was like a delicious cookie, only better. The center was slightly dense and gooey. So good.I did make a mistake with rolling out the gratin crust though. I didn't want to roll it out too much, afraid that it would tear or what not. It cooked up and was really thick. Mistake noted.

September 21st
Pate Brisee, Pate a Choux and Gnocchi de Pommes de Terre

Today was a "Rain Day" of all things. It's been raining for a week straight and rivers are starting to flood now. Busses couldn't get through so they cancelled school. Of course, most of the teachers were already there. C'est la vie.
Needless to say I had some time on my hand. Which meant that I could attempt that elusive french pastry dough. Loved the frisage motion! I had to work fast and use the heel of my hand. Apparently the palm is too warm for all the TONS of butter up inside here. It's now a lovely big ball in the freezer to be used for some day I need it. Then for dinner I decided to try hand rolling my own gnocchi. Since Gordon loves them so much. Julia says that these things are simple to make. HA! If you call juggling four different pots at once simple, then go for it.I got to use my newest kitchen gadget, a potato ricer. This is the coolest thing EVER!She says to roll them out to 2 1/2 inches by 1 inch. These are much larger than what I am used to. simmer them in a saute pan for 20 minutes and you have some huge honking goodness. Oh yeah!
September 20th
L'Omelette Piperade
Complete and utter mess. I definitely don't have the finesse of Julia. My pan flipping skills are immature at best. However, if you throw some chorizo, queso fresco, sauteed tomatoes, onions and mushrooms at it. It tastes amazing!

September 17th
Carrotes a la Concierge
An hour (an HOUR) to make carrots? I am so glad I did. They were incredible. Simmered down, then fold in some stock and cream. Hit it with a little nutmeg and seasonings. Lastly swirl in some egg yolk and more cream. Taste of Heaven!
I served it with some juicy steaks and sliced tomatoes covered with kosher salt and purple basil from the garden.
September 16th
Gratin Aux Fruits de Mer

There was definitely not enough time left today to do what I wanted. Try reading the recipe for a french pastry crust at 5:30 P.M. when dinner is usually at 6:30. Yeah, you see my conundrum.So tonight I took some liberty with Madame Julia. I made a most delicious salmon bake with a nice bechamel sauce. To imitate the crust I heated up some potato rolls. I served this all with some wild rice and a mixed salad.
September 15thGratin DauphinoiseJust some regular ole scalloped potatoes. Just dotted heavily with butter and shredded smoked gouda cheese. Think MMMM!

September 14th
Timbales de foies de Volaille, Supremes de Volaille Archiduc, tomates a la Provencal

What do you do with leftover chicken livers? Why, make unmolded chicken liver mousse. That's what! I made my first bechamel sauce and mixed it in with pureed livers - not sure I will ever use my blender again btw. Then placed it all in ramekins to bake in a pan of boiling water for half an hour. Very savory. It was supposed to come with a bearnaise sauce, but I thought this creamy topping didn't go with the rest of the plate. And I was right!Stuffed tomatoes are a revelation. The homemade stuffing is so goopy and yummy. Add that to the softened tomatoes and you have a wonderful bite. The chicken was made with a smoked paprika sauce and it all blended so terrific together.
More chocolate cake for dessert. Whee!
September 13th

Poulet Roti a la Normande, champignons sautes au beurre, pommes de terre, Reine de Saba, glacage au chocolat

I have never trussed a chicken. Never. First of all stuffing a heart, liver and gizzard back UP the animal it came from doesn't seem very nice. Then I have to sew it shut. Umm, yeah. I would never have made a good surgeon. One ragged, sticky, barely closed hole later I attempt to wrap the entire carcass up in twine. The poor thing looked like the victim of a bad bondage bout by the end. Next I get to smear the entire thing with softened butter. Very sexy. After all that I get to spend the next two hours in the most tortorous manner imaginable. Turning and Basting and Turning and Basting and Basting and Basting. Gah! I never realized it took so much work to create a roasted chicken. I am very eager to find out how this thing is going to taste. Very eager and very hungry.
Through all this I create a Queen of Sheba chocolate cake that is supposed to have a gooey molten center. I think this is the cake that Eric smeared on his face in the movie. I can only hope it is that good!

September 12th

Potage Parmentier, Bifteck saute au beurre, artichauts au naturale, sauce mayonnaise

This was the first recipe that Julie Powell ever attempted for her Julie/Julia project. So it had to come out amazing, right? I even went out and purchased a food mill. It was actually more like mashed potato soup. The food mill helped it be a lot more thick. But it still needs more seasonings. I bought two t-bone steaks to saute in butter and pour a red wine reduction shining with melted butter over the top. This was a huge piece of meat by the way. It was easy to make, but maybe a smaller cut next time?Boiling artichokes in salted water isn't my normal routine. I usually steam them to death. They turned out okay once you got past the tougher leaves on the outside. Now I was ambitious and thought I could also handle making my own mayonnaise for dipping the leaves in. Everything was going along swimmingly as I poured the oil in slowly. Then I took the top off the processor and tasted a swipe. GROSS! It tasted something like feet that have been kept in the attic for the last six years. I added more lemon juice and salt and pepper. Tried again and it was STILL nasty. 2 cups of good olive oil and three eggs wasted.

September 6th

Hollandaise and Eggs Benedict

I woke up feeling like a challenge. After last night, I felt invincable. So I decided to tackle the dreaded hollandaise sauce. I've never actually had it before so this was going to be an adventure. I followed Julia through the steps and was amazed when the final product was great. It was a little lemony, but still good. Also, in this feat I managed to attempt poached eggs. I don't know what went wrong with that. I boiled the eggs in the water for ten seconds like she said to do it. I added the vinegar so that the yolks would sit up. But as soon as I slid them into the poaching liquid they sank to the bottom. Hmm. Anyway, I did get a nice poached egg at the end. Thought it was strange to place them on a clean towel right out of the water. But it helped make them smooth. For those of you who know me, you realize that eating runny yolks is NOT my thing. I was willing to try them for Julia though. The experience wasn't completely horrible. Eggs Benedict are interesting things just perfect for a sunday afternoon.

September 5th
Escalopes de veau a la creme, risotto, and petits pois frais a l'Anglaise
My first attempt of an actual recipe from Julia Child's MtaoFC had me making three recipes at once. Quite the task, let me tell ya. I like to cook and think I am pretty intermediate in my culinary skills. But these recipes kicked my ASS! I was rushing around the kitchen frantically trying to get pans to deglaze, peas to boil and rice to saute without browning. Yikes!But in the end, it turned out to be an incredible meal. The mushroom sauce for the veal scallops was fantastic. The fresh peas had a terrific texture and the rice was amazing.