Thursday, March 31, 2011

You Say Lemon, I Say Limoncello

Once upon a time my friend Veebs went to faraway land known as Italy, and came back bearing the gift of gold:  Limoncello.

I very much valued this gift of Limoncello, so much so that I refused to part ways with it (for over a year, now) unless it was for a worthwhile and ridiculously delicious cause.  I finally found this cause in the form of Limoncello Mint Sorbet, and my friends, I could not have chosen better.

I found this recipe via The Craving Chronicles, and on pondering the loveliness of a lemonish sorbet, I decided to halve the amount of sugar from the original.  Lemon sorbet, (and Limoncello Mint Sorbet) is slightly sweet, mostly tart, and should leave your mouth pleasantly surprised albeit a bit puckered.

Don't be deceived by the sorbet's seemingly humble appearance. 

This sorbet, actually, is Italian Summer all wrapped up in frozen freshness thanks in part to the reminder of mint, and easy enough to make so you feel fancy in the kitchen without doing much more than boiling some water and squeezing a lemon.  Pucker up, friends!  Things are getting good.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Forty Days

So for Lent this year I took it one step further and parted ways with meat (fishies are still allowed), but before I did that I had quite the encounter with a pork shoulder.
You see, it was high time I learned how to make a shredded pork dish.  One that’s from those far-off Mexican lands in the Yucatan I read so much about in my anthro class, and I also felt it was high time to make some homemade corn tortillas (Roni, meanwhile made a pimp mango slaw and asian guacamole).

Asian guac is so good
It was time for a lot of things, it seems.

All the citrus I juiced for the Cochinita. 
We had a few friends over for dinner and made a lot of food.  Too much food, it seemed, until it was clean up time and we realized there were almost no leftovers. How this is humanly possible I cannot tell you.  What I can tell you is that the food was fresh, colorful, and well-seasoned, and, coincidentally, was definitely the largest amount of meat ever cooked in our apartment ( and will be the last for the next forty days-ish).  But still, I am dreaming of it:  Cochinita Pibil. 

I went to my local Latino grocery (Best Way) and found a pork shoulder that I wrassled with a bit to trim and skim of fats and such.  Not my fave part, I can tell you, but I did emerge triumphant AND confident and that is a great mixture of things to feel in the kitchen.

I also dodged multiple dirty looks from Roni every time I tried to open the oven to take a peek while all the juices simmered and braised away.  And by juices I mean an Achiote paste mix with a great blend of grapefruit, orange, lime and lemon.  Our apartment was the epitome of heavenly smells, I promise you.  Hey-o! 
We whipped up some corn tortillas right quick (another tortilla that I've been condemned from ever buying in the store again.  Homemade only, from here on out, folks)  And, thanks to my handy dandy tortilla press (thanks Aunt Deb!) corn tortillas are ridiculously easy to make.  In fact, I made them on three separate occasions in the space of six days.  Yeah.  I'm like a tortilla factory up in here.

The night ended with an epic game of Up and Down The River, Taboo, and us shouting out random food facts from my sweet Foodie Fight game.  Our combined pride at having made an authentically awesome (Mexi-Asian? Aisiexican?) dinner party from scratch was a pretty sweet touch too, and made the segway into Lent a smooth one, paved with shredded pork and corn tortillas.  Cochinita:  I'm lookin' at you come May.    

Friday, March 18, 2011

Eastward Turning Thoughts

So news of Japan, it seems, continues to roll in and get worse by the day.  Honestly, I just haven't had it in me to write about food when there are much bigger issues at hand and suffering beyond my comprehension. 

Disaster Relief Fund

But I love finding words that bring some form of hope, some signal of things turning right, eventually. 

Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
and sings the tune
without the words,
and never stops at all.

-Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday Musings, and Bread

No matter where I call home anymore, feel like a boat under the trees. Living is strange. -C.D. Wright, from the poem "Living"

It is almost Thursday, and rather than studying feverishly for my test and paper tomorrow , trying to write my name in ancient Mayan, or preparing for my Final which is Friday which sounds somewhat cruel (FINALFRIDAY), I am instead thinking of poetry and lovely writings and how, sometimes, I just need to write a bit more creatively and not necessarily about food.

Does that ever happen to you? To strive to be a bit more than you currently just are, at least for a few minutes?

I also feel nostalgic for something I can't quite put my finger on, but I'm pretty sure it's somehow related to warmth and sunlight (got a lovely but brief glimpse today). Which brings me to contemplating the aromatic niceties of a loaf of bread and suddenly I am back to writing what I know and it seems like the poetry will have to wait for when I'm snuggled in my bed at night with my notebook.

At least I can linger over the words of a poet, spend the evening with them, mull them over between definitions on ancient civilizations of the Americas, and come to the final conclusion of "Well said, Miss Wright. Sometimes I do feel like a boat under the trees. Sometimes home is here or there, and yes. Living is strange," and that'll be that.

It doesn't hurt to have an extra encouraging thought comfort you along the way to finishing your first class in almost seven years (prehistoric ancient civilizations no less!), finishing this winter, and being proud of it all, in the end. A nice thought like baking Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread works well, and having the yeast beasties be pretty awesome at the start is always a good sign.

Seriously, this yeast was crazy and almost spilled over in about 5 minutes.

It's also rather lovely to have a ball of dough to knead your thoughts in and through and out of.

Then finally ending up this winter with a delicious bread that reminds me of my favorite maple bread, but instead this one is a bit like a toasty biscuit along the crust because of the buttermilk and honey nestled in the crumb, along with the heartiness of oatmeal. It is an ideal sandwich bread, an all-round good bread, and I'd like to share a nice and dense slice with you.

Please don't laugh too hard at the shape of my bread...I lost my bread pan and used a soup pot instead. 

To March being here, finally, and to your own almost-spring Wednesday night musings.  And of course, to Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread.