Wednesday, February 5, 2014

puttery kitcheny day

It's a good day for tea.
And puttering in the kitchen.

When it was still quite dark this morning, I saw a little shadow swooping up to the birdfeeder. Then another. Two juncos were breakfasting unusually early. Then I noticed the fine, dense precipitation. It was falling straight down but it was too dark to tell if it was rain or the kind of teeny-tiny snowflakes that couldn't possibly add up to anything but generally do.

I checked the weather report: 1-3 inches accumulation predicted by the end of the day. Hmmm. Pretty sure there was already 3 inches atop the bird feeder, and the sun wasn't up yet.

Sure enough, by the time we went out to feed a couple of hours later, Piper and I stepped out the door into 8 inches of fresh snow. The air was pleasantly warm though: 24F, which feels very warm indeed these days as long as the wind isn't blowing.

At 10 AM, the snow was still falling. The weather report now predicted 3-5 inches total by the end of the day. Step it up, weatherfolk. The sky is way ahead of you.
While Piper lounged and thawed her iceball leggings by the heater, I baked another fruit-topped teacake.
This one with dates.

I like to think every experiment in the kitchen is an opportunity to learn something. Here's what I learned this morning:
don't bake this particular cake with dates.

Each of those harmless-looking nuggets had the consistency of a very chewy pebble. They reminded me of something, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Pretty sure it wasn't something we think of as edible, though.

In another kitchen adventure, I tried to "zest" Meyer lemons.
I've never "zested" anything before, and to be honest, I'm not sure I've "zested" anything now. Does anyone know if I took too much of the rind along with the peel? I tried not to, but I just don't know. Please advise!

I also juiced the lemons with my Grammy's old glass juicer, thus justifying the allocation of cupboard space to this tool for another year. Maybe ten.

Some of the juice went straight into a peanut-ginger marinade for the tofu which is in the fridge at this moment, becoming wonderful. (Fingers crossed. This was definitely an experiment, and it is on tonight's menu.)

Oh, here's an actual Helpful Kitchen Tip!
Two, even. 
Gosh, maybe three!

First: I heard that a good way to cook a tougher piece of beef, is to put it in a pan with a can of peeled tomatoes, cover the pan, and bake (roast? poach?) it in the oven for two or three hours at 325F. Last week, I had a small slab of top round and I had a big can of Pomodoro tomatoes, so...I tried it. And I must say, after 2 hours, that chunk of meat fell apart before I could put a knife to it!

Second: as they worked to tenderize the beef, the tomatoes were reduced to nearly a paste, which soon became the base for a bonus pasta sauce. Very tasty! I've had "meat sauces" that tasted less rich and meaty than those tomatoes.

Third: when I decided to add some of the leftover cooked beef to a lentil stew, I wanted to chopped the pieces "across the grain" so there would be no long, stringy pieces dangling from a soup spoon. And as I was pondering the least-tedious way to orient all those small pieces of meat in order to chop them properly, I had a thought:

My super-deluxe kitchen shears! 

By which I mean, the pair of ordinary scissors I keep in the kitchen. One of my most useful kitchen tools, but this is the first time they were put to work smallifying chunks of cooked beef. Worked beautifully, and took next to no time. Snippety snip snip!
It's late afternoon, and still snowing. I just checked the weather report again, and can tell you with certainty that we are experiencing a 50% chance of light snow.

I hope you are enjoying the weather of your choice, wherever you are! And readers who are craving a good snowfall are very welcome to come on by!
I can offer a nice cup of tea, but - just between us? - 
you'd be wise to pass on the cake.