20090130

Getting ready for Imbolc...

Work for the week is over, and now the real work begins...

We're hosting our (mostly) annual Imbolc party tomorrow night, and i've got to get cooking!

First on the agenda:


Coconut Snow Oranges



(1/2 batch)
6pktsunflavoured gelatin3
1 1/2
cupscold water3/4
216oz. canscoconum cream (not coconut milk!)1
411oz. cansmandarin oranges, drained (reserve syrup)2
7cupssugar3 1/2
2pintsheavy whipping cream1
1/2tspvanilla1/4


Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water. Set aside.

Drain two cans of mandarin oranges and reserve the syrup. Add water to the reserved syrup to make 6 cups. Combine the syrup with 6 cups of the sugar in a medium-large saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for five minutes. Add syrup and coconut cream to the gelatin and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Let cool to lukewarm (105ºF is about right).

If you have a KitchenAid, this next part will be a snap. Otherwise, just go out and buy whipped cream from the store. Take your metal KitchenAid bowl and put it outside (or in the freezer) until it is very cold. This is why we do these things for Imbolc in Minnesota! Depending on the size of your KitchenAid bowl, you may want to do this in two batches. Add the heavy cream to the bowl. Using the whisk beater, beat the cream on speed 4 while gradually adding the remaining sugar and the vanilla. Increase the speed gradually to 8, stopping every few seconds to check to see if peaks are forming properly. Once a stiff peak forms, you have whipped cream. Do not overwhip the cream! (It will become butter.)

If you are just making a couple pans of this stuff (9" x 14" cake pans will do fine), fold the whipped cream into the lukewarm gelatin. Press mandarin orange slices into the dish - they will sink through the whipped cream and rest on the jello, and sort of glow. Chill for 4 hours and serve.

If you want to be really facy about this, though (and i recommend it!), fold half the whipped cream into the gelatin and mix thoroughly. Then spoon the rest of the whipped cream into individual ramikins and pour the gelatin over it, then garnish each with 4 - 5 orange slices. Chill for 3 - 4 hours before serving.

This should make about 24 servings.

Peat will also be making his famous Ginger Carrots, the recipe for which is in the name... Ginger, and carrots. Add lots of butter and brown sugar, and you're done. It's trickier than that, of course, but i can't give away secrets that aren't mine.

Other things in the back of my mind are:
  • Mandarin Martinis
  • Screwdrivers
  • Sweet Potato French Fries
  • Masoor Daal
  • Apricot Jello Shots
  • something with peppers?
  • any other random red, orange, or yellow things i happen to run across while grocery shopping tomorrow morning.

20090112

1,000 Uses for Organic Heavy Cream...

A large part of this past weekend has been spent coming up with new uses for cream. A bizarre set of circumstances on Friday left us with approximately nine gallons of organic heavy cream. Rocky and Colin took three to make butter and ice cream, and Peat and i have been trying to work through the rest.

I turned first to my specialty: nine quarts of sour cream right off the bat. Then butter. So much butter. We figured at least that can be frozen, and was probably our best shot at putting all of this by. We did that for five hours or so until my little food processor seized up and started to smell like burning. (Yes, we used a food processor. As much as we'd like you to think this is Little House on the Prairie, there are limits. Have you ever gotten a churning blister? Me either. I want to keep it that way!)

After the butter, we still had two gallons left. I took some sour cream over to Maryn and Lauren, and nearly a gallon of buttermilk and some of the cream to Phil and Karen, then discovered a recipe for "Swiss Cream Cheese," which seems to be the same as "French Cream Cheese," only made at a temperature about 10 degrees cooler. I opted for this because it's so bloody cold in here.

Can I digress to say what a freakishly cold winter this has been? I don't think it's been over 20ºF yet this year, and for a couple of weeks before that! It's barely been in the double-digits! It's currently 9º, and that's practically tepid! Last month's heat bill alone was $200, and it's not like it's warm in here - that's $7 a day to keep it at 65º.

So anyway, the Swiss cream cheese is a two or three day process, so it's still culturing - I'll let you know what it eventually turns into. One gallon of cream left, and one more day to use it before it expires!

Oh, and on the plus side of the temperature, our pantry is currently a balmy 47º, so at least we don't have to make room for all that cream in the fridge.

Rude Subconscious!

So my subconscious came up with a brand new fake-out for me this morning, and i think it was rather rude. This morning i actually dreamt that i got up, turned off my alarm, made coffee, got dressed, and was on my way to work, walking along through the crunching snow. I went through the back parking lot, waved to Barry walking his dogs, and got snow in my shoes while trying to cut through the park. The only part of it that was true, however, was that i turned off the alarm.

Not a total disaster, however: Another little piece of my subconscious was looking out for me, and in my dream i fell in the snow, but for some reason i was in the middle of a stream in the woods, thinking, "aw, crap, now i'm gonna be all wet and cold on the bus," but for some reason i was neither, and i realized that the warm wool cape i was wearing was water resistant. Cape? Stream? Woods? That was enough of an inconsistency for me to go, "Hey, wait a minute... dammit!"

I'm still going to be late for work, but not terribly so.