Friday, December 14, 2018

flaugnarde

ok, so backup, backup, backup.

i had some good apples and cider leftover from thanksgiving and i wanted to cook a little something with them and i was thinking something in a pan from the family of slumps and cobblers, but i didn't want a crumb topping and i didn't want it to be to hard (read: i am lazy) and my friend rapunsell suggested i bake a clafoutis.

so i cooked down the cut up apples a little and went from there.

and then it was so delicious plus i still had apples and cider so i made another. and then i was thinking i could make a savory one and THEN i was doing research on that and learned that properly a clafoutis is only made with black cherries, and that if you put any other fruit in it, it is properly called a flaugnarde.

so before i go off telling you how to bake these two bad boys, imma tell you the basic recipe i was working from and give you an ingredient list.

basic batter:

3 eggs
about a cup of milk (i am told alternate milks work just fine)
about a half cup flour (i am told alternate flours work fine too)
about a half cup of sugar (brown or white- whatever, and less or none for a savory batter)
2 tbps melted butter (or less. i one recipe i used none. it was just fine)
a pinch of salt. (two pinches for a savory batter)
optional vanilla, almond extract, spices, whatever you like.

basic procedure: for already soft fruits, take enough to mostly cover the bottom of your greased pan. pour the batter over the fruit and bake at 325 for about forty minutes. serve immediately (puffy) or later (dense and compact). if you undercook this slightly, you get a nice custardy center. overcook it slightly, and you get something more spongy and firm. it is really not a critical value.

there are so few critical values that i am not particularly specifying amounts of things, but i am tossing in some ballpark figures of what i used.

APPLE FLAUNGARDE

while you're cutting up your apples, begin to reduce cider in a pan (two cups?). this will take a while, but it does require supervision so it doesn't burn when it gets to the end. essentially you're boiling off the water and at the end you'll stir pretty constantly until you have a just barely thickening apple caramel. for right now, though, you have a pan of boiling cider.

turn your attention now to peeling your apples (for me, four medium sized apples). that done, take a couple tablespoons of butter and brown it in your pan (i'm using a dutch oven here) toss in yer apples and cook them down a little until they're a little browned and only a little softened. i like mine on the soft side, but some people prefer them crunchy. you do you.

mix up your batter so it's free of lumps. i used vanilla and almond extract in mine.

by now your cider caramel will be almost done. when the water is boiled of and the syrup starts to thicken, scrape it in to your pan with the browned-butter half cooked apples. pour the batter over it and pop it in the oven. about forty minutes later it should be golden and puffy and perfect.

DRIED TOMATO AND GOAT CHEESE FLAUGNARDE

start by soaking your dried tomatoes (about 1.5 ounces dried). i used homemade vegetable stock (a cup and a half) and a sprig of rosemary, but you can use water. you can cut the tomatoes before soaking with scissors if you like, or after with a knife. a little salt in the soaking solution will help them absorb better.

if you soaked these ahead of time and you want a flavorful glaze on the bottom (fancy!), you can just start here with taking the soaking liquid and tossing it in a pan with some balsamic vinegar (enough that the whole thing looks black?) and begin to reduce it until it just starts to thicken.

now's a good time to make your batter. i seasoned mine with a little black pepper and just a little ground sage.

turning your attention to the tomatoes, brown a tablespoon or two of butter in your pan (again, i'm using a dutch oven). the browned butter adds a nutty sweet flavor that i like. here i tossed that sprig of rosemary in to squeeze out a little more rosemary flavor before i fished the sprig out and threw it away.

your balsamic reduction is probably finishing up right about now. set it aside for a few moments.

toss yer tomatoes in the pan and let them just toast up a little until they darken. this deepens the flavor of them and brings out some caramelized sugars. spread them out in the bottom of the pan, and then scrape the balsamic tomato reduction into the bottom of the pan. scatter the crumbled goat cheese (about 2 ounces) around among the tomatoes, pour the batter in, and pop the whole thing in the oven for about forty minutes or until it's nicely golden on the top.

the balsamic reduction will look like you burned the dish, but it makes oh so lovely a sauce on the bottom.




Thursday, December 13, 2018

river of light

i keep meaning to write to you when things are still news, but let's face it; neither of you lives near here so i guess it's all news.

a couple of weeks ago barb called me up to ask if i wanted to go to the waterbury river of light.

of course i did.

it's kind of an amazing community festival. it is beautiful, brief, and has no ideological underpinnings besides "yay, waterbury!" and "the winter is too damn dark".

they always pick a general theme for the lanterns, but anybody who has a lanterns or some lights can just step into the parade and be a part of it. as the parade passes where you are, you usually step off the curb and process down the street to the rec field where there are bonfires and fire twirlers.

this year the general theme was farm to table, and because i was on the street above the klezmer band (which only marched half the parade and picked up the procession at the corner of main and stowe streets) everyone who joined the procession before that corner got swept up INSIDE the parade instead of after it, which was cool.






Monday, December 03, 2018

goal!

unless you just walked in ten minutes ago, you know that i like challenges.

some of the challenges i do are set for me, like the venture vermont challenge.

others are things i challenge myself to do.

this year i decided that i would like to camp in every month of the year. i guess it was because i was talking to someone about cold weather camping and i realized i hadn't actually camped in every month of a year, or something like that. i don't recall fully. it was last january when i decided to do it.

i figured the hard part would be getting january, february and march, since the other months seem to take care of themselves, but the ultra cold extra snowy thanksgiving followed by the gigantic snow dump that left my power out for the better part of three days cut short my november/ deember outing, meaning that to complete the challenge i had to make a special trip in december.

complicating the planning is that the easiest place to camp, little river state park, is really only super easy to camp in until december ninth, when they close the gate at the conclusion of muzzleloader season and you have to hike in just like anywhere else.

so i looked at my calendar and the forecast and my package tracking.

that's right. package tracking. because i order myself some spiffy new down camping quilts and i wanted to go with those, yah-boo.

anyway, they arrived saturday.

satuday was nice and warm, but then... rain. but there was a break in the rain for about an hour so i went out there. this morning i woke up out there in rain, but no biggie. i had my toasty quilts and a good book and even a thermos of hot tea, so at around ten o'clock this morning when there was a break in the rain for about an hour, i struck camp and made a run for it.

challenge complete.

here is the view from my bed:


and here is the view of my campsite:





Wednesday, November 28, 2018

things you won't often hear me say

so yesterday i was going to write you but then i noticed that my blog was still on its summer colors and i changed that over to the winter colors because somewhere along the way autumn seems to have disappeared completely and i was JUST about to begin writing something about thanksgiving camp or something...

...when the power went out.

and then it came back in the afternoon...

and then out again this morning.

because it's been pretty much snowing nonstop for some days and really HARD this last two days and you know i am not likely to say this but at this point even *i* would enjoy a break in the snow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

too cold

traditionally i go camping for thanksgiving.

and this year i had planned to go today with a friend and then have another friend join us thursday night and another on friday so PARTY but the weather forecast for tonight has the temperatures dropping into the LOW single digits with steady winds of fifteen miles an hour. the temperatures are not expected to rise above twelve degrees and the wind isn't supposed to be less than 13 mph until midmorning friday and i hope i do not need to tell you that this represents a dangerous situation, beyond what you ought to do on purpose.

so i'm going to sit on my ass for an extra two days and we'll go camping, all of us, on friday.

i've been driving in and out of the park every couple of days to pack down the snow and keep it accessible (important because the one friend has a broken foot and just had a plate and pins installed and while i'm happy to sled my gear in, it's really important to be able to drive right to camp this time), and while i'm there i drop off firewood at our site.

and for the record because i know peg will ask, yes, being in the woods is lovely and relaxing if you are comfortable. especially in winter when it is deserted.

you just wear proper gear, and if it's cold at night you have proper insulation.

i have proper clothing and a crapton of gear (i partially outfit my friends as well) and there's something very satisfying about being outside at 20 degrees and being toasty warm. you just build a hot fire and keep drinking hot beverages and when it's bedtime you burrow in.

without any particular modifications my regular setup is good down to 15 degrees. with modifications it will be good down to five. after friday morning temps will not be below ten again for a week or so, and that should get me to the end of my trip.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

absolute zero

i can't seem to get it together for blogging, so i'm going to tell you a story from a really long time ago.

like my junior year of high school. the two biggest fuckups in my chemistry class, dave and i were dumped together as lab partners because nobody else wanted us. if you had a chemistry lab, we could get it significantly wrong.

so there was this experiment to extrapolate the value of absolute zero because it's a thing you do in high school chem.

dave and i set to work cautiously but steadily, as if we tried hard and never got anything right.

and at the end of the lab we're drawing our line graph and ours looks NOTHING LIKE anybody else's, but we had a pretty straight line that came out at -274 celsius and we shrugged our shoulders and decided to turn it in anyway, because what the hell, we had tried out best and if our results were terribly wrong and different than everyone else's, it wouldn't be the first time it had happened. we were immune to the disapproving eyerolls of debbie and dickie and peggy and the other kids who didn't fail every chem lab. we looked at each other and said "well, if your'e going to fail, fail big."

so the chemistry teacher looks at our paper and calls us up to talk to him. and he's getting all ready to drop cheating on us and we were all like "if we were going to cheat, why would we have picked a result SO TERRIBLY WRONG?"

it turns out that dave and i have no actual clue what the value of absolute zero is in celsius. we have in our minds some OTHER number that to this day i don't know what it was, but it was not anywhere near -273.15

i'm not sure what else that teacher did that day when he was out of class, but i'm pretty sure laughing was a part of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

bad, bad blogger

i have been a very bad blogger.

because to be a good blogger you need to be writing things.

i've been camping, and doing girl scout things, and learnings. OH SO MANY LEARNINGS.

also playing ingress a little crazily and also reading books.

oh. and since the day before halloween i've been playing the google doodle game.

https://www.google.com/doodles/halloween-2018

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