Mar. 10th, 2017

kindkit: A blurred, ominious image of Hannibal Lecter under a tree. (Hannibal: Hannibal red)
I'm actually posting this on Friday for a change!

Something I've cooked recently: I finally got around to cooking the quails. It's just as well I didn't go to the expense and effort of the sweetbread stuffing, because after about four bites, my fun new issue with meat textures kicked in. So the quails ended up in the stock pot along with a few stray bones I had in the freezer--chicken, pork, rude person. I had intended to make an Italian soup with rice, peas, and chicken livers, but then chicken livers were not to be had, so I cooked some rice in the stock and finished it in an old-fashioned French way with cream and a beaten egg. It was nice enough, but the cream rather overpowered the flavor of the lovely stock.

I also made a vaguely salade ni├žoise type thing with romaine lettuce, tuna, cooked potatoes, cooked green beans, tomatoes, and cucumber with an anchovy vinaigrette. One especially nice thing about this is that it keeps, so I got two dinner portions and two sandwiches for work out of it (to make the sandwich, stuff as much salad as you can into a hollowed-out section of baguette and drizzle on a little extra vinaigrette).

And, continuing this unexpected French theme, I cooked a vaguely cassoulet type thing. I took about a pound and a half of dried white beans (soaked overnight) and put them in an earthenware baking dish along with two carrots, two ribs of celery, and one large onion all cut into big chunks, plus about eight peeled garlic cloves. To that I added about a pound and a half of country style pork ribs on the bone (large pieces of fat removed), a bay leaf, a little salt, about a tablespoon of duck fat drizzled over, and enough water to cover the beans and most of the meat. I cooked it, covered, in a very low oven (about 225 F or 107 C) for a couple of hours, then added two supposedly French-style garlic sausages, whole, and two cut-up smoked garlicky and peppery sausages and cooked it for another couple of hours, removing as many of the vegetables as I could fish out after about an hour. I'd intended to add some kale and beet greens at this point but there wasn't room. Anyway, it turned out very nice; the beans were beautifully tender and the cooking liquid had lots of flavor. The pork ribs also come out tender and falling off the bone, but still with good flavor in the meat, so people without my texture issues might want to pull the meat into pieces and return it to the dish.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: Today, I bake! Naturally, the consequence of my sugar-reduction decision (which is, I can have any sweet things I bake or cook myself, but no soda and, as much as I can manage, no storebought cakes, cookies, candy bars, etc.) is that I'm going to bake a lemon-glazed loaf cake with dried cranberries and cherries. Er, and some brownies. Not just any brownies, mind you, but Aztec Gold Brownies, which are the best brownies I've ever made or eaten and possibly the best brownies in the world. I mean, if I'm trying to eat less sugar, I'd better make sure it's quality sugar, right?


Something I'm vaguely thinking about cooking someday: Everything? So many recipes, so little time. It's been unseasonably warm here, which has got me craving spring and summer things instead of the hearty pies I'd been meaning to bake all winter. Hmm, maybe an asparagus tart?
kindkit: Rupert Giles drinking a mug of tea and reading (Buffy: Giles and tea)
1) The first episode of Buffy aired twenty years ago. Buffy was my first fandom, although I didn't start watching until the summer reruns before S7, and didn't connect to the actual fandom until the summer after that. In some ways it's still the greatest fandom experience I've ever had--such excitement and interest, so many smart people writing smart things--and in some ways it was the worst. But fandom changed my life, and I wouldn't have found it without Buffy. Also, the show was, despite some failings, wonderful, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

I feel like I should watch an episode, but I can't decide which one. I've been contemplating a re-watch, so I guess I could start at the beginning . . .


2) I finished the Aubrey/Maturin re-read some time ago, then I re-read most of Jane Austen, and now I've moved on to some new stuff. I can recommend Lyndsay Faye's The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, which is the best professional Holmes pastiche I know of. Faye stays essentially true to the canon, without any of the tedious innovations (Holmes in America! Holmes solve the Ripper murders! Holmes was Jack the Ripper!) that many other writers perpetrate.* The things she brings to the canon are good things, such as a subtle and never preachy concern for the rights of women and the poor and some reasonable attempts at resolving canonical contradictions. What she brings to pastiche is what's so often lacking: emotion. Holmes and Watson's affection for each other is central. My favorite stories are the ones set during and after the Great Hiatus, exploring Watson's grief and then, after Holmes's return, his anger and hurt. There's nothing explicitly queer here, but the stories from Holmes's POV make it abundantly clear, I think, that Holmes is in love with Watson in some fashion beyond friendship. Watson, alas, is shown as even straighter than canon makes him--he's constantly noticing women--but his love for Holmes is deep and enduring.

*She does put Watson in America in one story, set before Holmes and Watson meet. It makes nonsense of Watson's timeline and isn't a great story, but I forgive Faye because the other stories are so good.

Faye is also the author of the excellent Timothy Wilde series, set in New York in the 1840s when a professional police force was developing, and the country was moving inexorably towards civil war. The books are beautifully written in a distinct, fascinating, slangy voice, there's an amazing sense of place and history, and there are canonical queer characters in important roles.

3) Right now I'm reading the late Oliver Sacks's autobiography, On the Move, and enjoying it very much. Things I didn't know about Oliver Sacks: he was gay, he was into motorcycles and bodybuilding as a young man, and he found lasting romantic love for the first time at the age of 75. Cool stuff.


4) I've started doing Duolingo again, on my phone this time, learning German and brushing up my French. I'm trying to read some French every day, which I haven't done for years . . . also on my phone. I never thought I would be someone who would use their phone so much, but it seems I am. Some stuff is just easier that way; I don't know why. I'm staying much more aware of the news, too.

Lest you think it's all SRS BZNS, I admit to spending a lot of time playing Atomas. It's fun and complicated in just the right way for me, because the rules are simple but the nuances are endless. Plus it's completely nonverbal, and since I'm a highly word-focused person, that helps me relax, whereas Scrabble makes me tense.

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kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
kindkit

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