Friday, July 29, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - citrus-berry terrine

When we went to France last summer, one of the things that I wanted to take back to the states with me was giving up multi-tasking. While in France, I worked hard (so sad) to focus on one thing at a time. Enjoy the moment and completely focus on the thing at hand. There have actually been studies that show that multi-taskers don't do things as well as someone who does a focused task. We multi-taskers might get a lot done, but something suffers. I would posit that happiness suffers. We are so focused on getting the tasks done, that we don't take time for the pleasure of what we're doing to invade our soul.

While in France, my soul was invaded repeatedly by pleasure and I certainly enjoyed it! Back in the states...I continued to work hard to stay singularly focused. A very tall order and I am not always successful. For work things, I just have to multi-task...I can't seem to overcome the years of self-training to juggle 10 things at once. Oh well...guess I'll never be completely happy at work.

However, in more personal things...I have gotten much better at single-tasking. That's right...doing one thing at a time and enjoying it. Especially with cooking. But, it still takes actual effort. If I don't focus on focusing...I am soon doing several things at once and not enjoying any of them.

This is a very long-winded introduction to this week's recipe for French Fridays with Dorie.  You may know where I'm headed on this one.  While working on this very simple recipe (basically, create jello with orange juice, sugar and gelatin and then add fruit after the jello has set a bit), I was distracted with a few other things (like going shopping in the middle of making the jello).  Dorie's recipe said to make the jello and then refrigerate it for two hours (stirring a few times) until it was the consistency of egg whites.  I made the mix, popped it in the fridge and ran out for a quick shopping trip.  About 90 minutes later, I texted St. James and asked him to stir the orange stuff in the fridge.  He texted back and said it was set like jello and he couldn't really stir it.  Oops!

The next morning, I started it again (luckily I had four packs of gelatin, as the recipe needed two).  I reminded myself to stay focused.  I thought I was focused, but got distracted for a little bit (I think I was cleaning the house, as we had company coming) the time I went to stir the gelatin, it was very set (not quite completely, but pretty darn close).  At this point, I had no more gelatin (and was losing patience), so I added a little hot water to break it up a bit, stirred in the fruit and dumped it into a baking pan.  When making this, I wasn't completely unpacked yet and couldn't find my loaf I used a square.  When I unmolded, I used the first try as a base layer and then unmolded the second try on top of that.  I should have put a layer of whipped cream or marscapone cheese in between the layers.  That would have made the two layers hold together and give it a bit more of a visual interest.  Along with the loaf pan, my camera was still packed also, so my one photo is from my iphone again.  I now know that there are some cool apps for the iphone for photos (just downloaded hipstamatic), but you have to take the photo with the can't fix the photo afterwards.

My result was not pretty, but it was quite tasty and everyone loved it.  Only I knew that it should have looked oh so more elegant.  I promise next week to have some nice photos...and maybe to stay focused and make the recipe properly. all my fellow Doristas...I have been catching up on your won't let me sign in for some damn reason and I can't leave any comments.  I'll be working on that this week too!

Friday, July 22, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - coconut-lemongrass braised pork

It's been so long since I've cooked just for the joy of long since I've snapped a photo of something I've made...and so long since I've shared on my blog.  Well, it's only been about two months...but it seems like forever.  When we decided to move (right around Mother's Day) and to make it all happen by July 1st...I knew there would be no time for anything else.  No time for anything but getting the house ready to sell (meaning fixing everything that has bugged us for the last umpteen years, but to which we hadn't gotten around to fixing) and packing (meaning going through every single thing that we have accumulated over the last 23 years of marriage and deciding should it stay or should it go).

We were moving from a relatively large house (3600+ sq ft, 18,000 sq ft lot) to a relatively small house(2000+sq ft, maybe 6000 sq ft lot (maybe...if you include the view)).  In order to be on the must give up we are giving up quite a bit of space...and achieve the dream of living on the water in one of arguably the most beautiful places in the country ( the world!)

So, with about only 6 weeks to make this all happen...everything else had to be put aside.  I couldn't even read other's blogs...knowing that I would get side-tracked and want to cook, as well as not having the time to give to what can be a complete time suck in your life.  I've missed out on the last two months of my on-line friends' lives...and that's a real bummer.  But, in the end, it was worth the sacrifice.  After three weeks (today) in the new home, we are pretty settled.  Many, many boxes are unpacked and the garage is really the last eyesore at this point.  I owe the state of unpack to my two fabulous sisters (and their kids)...who all pitched in at various times to get one more box unpacked.  (They know how much the sight of the boxes was causing me great distress each day!)

On Wednesday, we had some friends visit from LA (we have many friends scheduled to visit...after all, who doesn't want a weekend in Coronado) and I decided it was the perfect time to get back into the Dorie swing of things.  And, what a great recipe to start back with...coconut-lemongrass braised pork...YUM!

I had most of the ingredients on hand, except the pork & lemon grass (and I was all out of tumeric), so off to the store I went.  Getting use to a new grocery store...always fun!  I have been having a lot of fun going to all the farmers' markets and I joined a CSA (whose farm is about 8 miles from my house).  When I purchased the pork butt, I asked the butcher to cube it for me (I know, so lazy...but such a nice luxury and it made making the dish very quick and easy).  I knew I was going to have trouble finding fresh lemongrass at my local Vons...and I haven't found the specialty ethnic markets yet.  Lucky for me, Vons had fresh lemongrass in a tube (sounds gross...but it worked).

The one bad thing about the new house is the electric cooktop.  Real cooks know that electric is bad....evil...down right horrible to cook on!  Gas is so much more controllable and forgiving.  But, I'm learning.  I have burned a few things and I have to remember not to turn my back on that damn stove.  The first home improvement I'm going to make is install a gas stovetop...but it will probably be a couple of months before that I'm sure there will be more than a few tales of woe cooking on electric.

Anyway, luckily for our guests...I had no trouble with the stove for this dish.  I browned the pork nicely in small batches...added all the spices and coconut milk and into the oven it went for a quick braise.  Since I put it on early in the day...I only cooked it for 20 minutes and then put it in the fridge.  I finished it on the stovetop right before serving and added the recommended potatoes, carrots and onions (but no celery root because I couldn't find the celery root).

In my opinion, this was a darn good dish.  The pork was incredible...tender, flavorful bite-sized morsels that made you want more and more.  The sauce was good, probably would add a little heat next time.  I served it over rice instead of noodles and I think it was a good call.  My guests enjoyed it, Ethan liked it, but alas St. James turned up his nose...he doesn't like curry...oh well...too bad for him!  (So sad that we had been at my sister's for dinner the night before and she served an actual curry...which he turned his nose up at two nights in a row with no dinner for St. James...he's wasteing away, I tell you!)

I only have a few shots of the dish...taken with my iphone...because the camera was just pulled out of the last box unpacked, but not in time to take the necessary photos.  Hopefully, in two weeks I'll have nice photos again (I made next week's dish on Wed too and it only got iphone photos too!)

Well hell...I pushed a wrong button and this published without the photos, so now I'm adding the photos.  Sorry about that!!

Hope all my fellow Doristas enjoyed this dish.  Check out their posts at French Fridays with Dorie.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Just about time to get started blogging again!

I can't believe all that has happened since my last blog post on May 31st.  It's only been 43 days...but it actually seems like a least!  I've got a strong hankering to blog again and should be ready to by next week.  We moved on July first and Friday will mark two weeks in the new digs.  The upstairs is completely unpacked (Ethan's room and our room and bathrooms).  Downstairs, a completely different story (which I will save for another day).  I'm looking forward to jumping back on the French Fridays band wagon and hope to make the coconut-lemongrass braised pork next week.  (We'll see how that goes...most of my kitchen is still in boxes, but one of the first things unpacked (hence, last packed) was my beloved copy of French Fridays with's sitting on my counter in it's special place...calling to me..."cook from me...cook from me."
So, hopefully next week that will happen and I"ll post and I'll read others' blogs too.  Not only have I taken a hiatus from posting, I have not read a single blog for the last 43 days.  Scandalous...I am so looking forward to catching up on all my friends' adventures!

See you next week!