Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow and Cooking

Well, the amazing snow this year has formally introduced Chris and I to the idea that ice dams are nasty, and a well-insulated attic has more uses than just saving on money and fossil fuels. Like everyone else in New England, we put in a few dozen phone calls to ice dam removal services when water came dribbling in two of our windows. Thankfully, the only company available wanted to charge us an introductory price of $1800, so we reassessed the situation and found it to be Not All That Bad.

And lo, when rain came, and a night and day of snow-melting warmth, the water defied my expectations by ceasing its infiltration into the house.

I now look back at the heart-wrenching decision to remove the dangerous old oak tree and breathe a sigh of relief, because we could have easily been dealing with that through our roof. A little cosmetic water damage above the kitchen window? I can live with that.

Work on the cookbook has slowed a little because I have largely run out of recipes that I can recite from memory. Now I'm into new territory, cooking old dishes for the first time with a measuring cup, and trying entirely new things. This evening I cooked rice on the stove top for the first time in almost a decade, and I cooked cabbage, plain and simple, for perhaps only the second time in my life.

Some memorable out-takes: I tried a recipe for parsnip-peanut-butter French fries that was a total flop; somewhere in that combination is a tasty dish, but my version turned out so very unlike the promised results that I won't be tinkering with it. But the bonus is that I know now that parsnips are delicious. Forget the cooking, I'll take 'em raw.

And not for the cookbook but for me: I made pot stickers from scratch. The filling was tofu, minced cabbage, and some Chinese sauce from a jar. The wrappers came in a package; I filled 'em, closed 'em, and cooked 'em. I absolutely nailed the fry/steam technique that a Chinese friend told me about a few years back, causing none of the pot stickers to stick to the pan, and they were beyond delicious. And, of course, the picky toddler rejected them. I think the purple filling was just too scary. I'll have to try again with a meat filling, or something else less colorful.

For the time being, I am giving up on photographing the cookbook foods. I just have too much else to do if I want to complete this project.

Speaking of which, I need to go write down what I learned this evening. . .

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