Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge September 2009

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

I've been stalking the Daring Bakers for over a year now, and finally got the courage to join. Every month includes a challenge with specific restrictions. The terms of the challenge this month were to create the cup-shaped Vols-au-Vent pastries, but I had full reign over how to fill them.

I chose two different types of fillings: sweet and savory.

My sweet filling consists of a hardened layer of dark chocolate with a central dolop of vanilla mousse. I was inspired by a pastry I enjoyed while living in Spain.

This is my savory pastry - the cup is filled with a layer of thin small potatoes topped with a layer of thinly sliced Spanish Sweet onions and drizzled with a balsamic syrup. I was inspired by the bag of humongous onions I have in my pantry that came straight from my Dad's shed. Thanks Dad!

I knew they were a success when Leonard asked, "Do they have a challenge every week?" I've never made puff pastry before and the whole experience was a lot of fun. The pastry is very versatile and I look forward to being more creative with it in the future.

For more info on Daring Bakers, go here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wigging Out

Today my patient told me my hair looks like a wig.

I took note of her bright pink scrunchie and breakfast-encrusted collar and thanked her for the compliment.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Labor Day 2009

This Labor Day Weekend I:

Sutured a scalp laceration

(sorry, picture not available)

Made a birthday cake:

Hung out with family and friends visiting from out of town:


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I Can.

I've decided that canning is going to be a part of my life. I courted it last year with grape juice, applesauce, and apple pie filling. The year apart was tough, and when we finally met up again this summer I realized that I'm not whole without it.

Last week Leonard and I canned peaches. We began at the orchards where we bought 40 lbs of thin-skinned blemish-free peaches from a surprisingly spry old farmer. We chatted as we blanched, peeled, stoned, and heated the fruit. We scrambled while packing the hot fruit into the hot jars. We furrowed our brows and consulted one another as we examined each bottle for air bubbles. Our eyes met with proud smiles when the lids would
plink indicating a seal. Once our 20 quarts were processed they stayed on our table for two days, just so I could look at them.

I think one thing I like about canning is that the attention to every step in the process contributes to the overall quality of the product. I also love the thought of preserving delicious summer and fall flavors for later in the year. I'm definitely a beginner, and I've got a lot to learn.
These are the tomatoes we recently canned. We bought them from our 87 year old neighbor. Behind his house is a huge plot with hundreds of squash and tomato plants. He cares for his wife with Alzheimer's and grows delicious tomatoes he sells for 30 cents/lb. His wife can no longer can, so he does it all himself. Two teaspoons of sugar and one teaspoon of salt for every quart is his preferred recipe. He told us he only buys one tomato per year, when he has a BLT craving in the middle of the winter.
Canning takes effort and patience. I talked to my sisters on the phone while peeling these tomatoes. I also listened to music and spent some time thinking about important things. Like how tomato red would make a great accent color in my kitchen.

I've never really thought of how I would be described when I pass from this world, but I'd like "avid canner" to be in there somewhere.