I don't have the car today, so I spend the time usually alloted for marketing on making bread and trying my hand at refrigerator pickles.
The bread is the Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. I mix up the ingredients and put the dough aside to raise in a bowl, then turn my attention to the pickles.
One of my commenters suggested pickling all those extra carrots, and that's a very good idea. Pickling, like cheesemaking and canning and drying and fermenting is just a way of turning an over-abundance of fresh food into something that will last. In this case, I won't be processing the jars, so we'll have to keep them refrigerated—but it sounds like fun, and I'm willing to give it a try.
I spend a few minutes searching the Web to see what I can find. Most of the recipes are for sweet bread-and-butter carrot pickles, but I have one of those already. I'm having an idea about a dilled carrot pickle—I don't know if such a thing exists. After some poking around, I come up with a promising list. I print out two reciepes and proceed to start scrubbing and slicing carrots.
Both call for matchstick slices. I decide to do the dilled version in a matchstick slice, but I cut the Thai-style pickles on the diagonal. The first recipe doesn't specify an amount for the dill, so I use a teaspoon. Since it's dill weed and not dill seed, I don't know if that will be enough. I'll find out in a week.
The Thai-style pickles call for tossing the sliced carrots in salt and letting them sit for an hour, then draining. I do this, and carefully rinse the carrots. I taste one. SALT! I rinse them again. Still salty. The carrots seem to have absorbed the flavor. Can that be right? Furthermore, after rummaging through the cupboard, I discover that I don't have any Rice Wine Vinegar. I substitute the lightest vinegar I have, distilled white vinegar, but let's face it—these pickles are just not going to be right.
I make Deborah Madison's Split Pea Soup with my usual list of modifications. Tonight, I omit the bay leaf (I don't have one) and most of the parsley, since the plant on the back porch is too small to harvest 1/4 cup from.
I guess the main attribute of my cooking style is a complete disregard for the recipe. I always use one, but I don't hesitate to change it according to what I have or don't have on hand. Or, what I think will taste better. Sometimes recipes just don't work the way they say they will, in which case you have to make intelligent alterations. I think you have to have a certain amount of cooking experience to feel comfortable doing this—and a certain fearlessness of palate, since sometimes the decisions you make will be wrong.
But I never feel bad about altering a recipe. That's how recipes get written in the first place.
The bread raises very well in the pan. So well, in fact, that I slash the top of the loaf before I put it in the oven so that it can raise to its full extent. This is a mistake. In the oven, the top deflates to create a loaf with a slightly concave top. At first I think the oven might not have been preheated properly (and that's probably true). Then I think it might be because I reduced the sugar by 2/3. Then I look at the loaf more carefully and realize that the deflation seems to be centered very specifically around the slash marks. Ah, the fruits of being cocky.
Jesse requests a small portion of everything, but the bread is just out of the oven and, like me, he can't resist a second slice. The slices look a little funny, to be sure. But it sure does taste good.
Update: I have an emergency question for any experienced picklers out there: the cloves of garlic in my dilled carrot pickles are all turning a strange greenish-blue color! Is that, um, acceptable? It's really much blue-er than the picture shows.
Friday total: $7.54. Remaining weekly allowance (estimated): $23.86.
« Read the previous entry [ 05.19.07 ] Read the next entry »