I love to cook and bake (news flash!), and I love to try new recipes. So when I got the opportunity to test recipes under development I jumped at the chance.
We subscribe to Cook's Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchens. Two fabulous resources of tested and analyzed recipes for everything from soup to cake. Hubby and I were discussing this very thing with Mum a few days ago and neither of us could recall a recipe from any of the America’s Test Kitchens magazines or cookbooks that didn’t work well and taste great. (They also test kitchen equipment, the results of which I rely on when I need to purchase a new vegetable peeler or food processor.)
They put out a call several months ago for recipe testers and I signed up. Since then I’ve received a couple recipes a month to test if I want. If it’s not something that appeals to me, like shrimp, then I don’t make it. But I get plenty of recipes that do appeal. And, man, are they good.
This past month I tested both an entrée and a dessert. Definitely going in my recipe box. But I can’t share. Keeping the recipes under wraps is my part of the deal. As soon as they’re published I’ll chime in with my five-star reviews.
Where do you look when you want to try a new recipe?
Yup, empty brain. And I didn’t do much of anything over the weekend.
Except write 8600 words!
The pressure is on, people, with the end of the month four days away. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) <link> in which one writes fifty-thousand words in November. That’s enough words to make a short novel if one ended there. But most people I know who do NaNo use it as a starting point, getting the first half or two-thirds of a story on the page. They’ll then finish the story on their own time.
Let me tell you, getting the beginning of the story sorted and on paper (or screen) and doing so quickly (only one month – most books take several months if not years), is huge. Even if one ends up chucking half the words, the basic story is written.
Some have complained about NaNo being held in November, alongside US Thanksgiving, Black Friday madness, and the start of holiday preparations. It certainly tests one's dedication to one's craft. If you do the math, 50,000 divided by 30 equals 1667 words per day. If I’m in the zone and know where I’m heading, I can whip that off in a couple hours. If one misses a day of writing, one's daily goal increases to make up for the shortfall. Miss a few days and, well, you get the idea.
I missed a few days last week when we were taking care of house stuff and other business. Hence the weekend of mad typing. I haven’t caught up but I’m close enough to make it, by midnight on the 30th. Eep, I’d better get to it.
Do you work well under pressure? Or does your task seem so daunting and impossible that you seek refuge in the land of Pinterest and YouTube?
Or what I call the day I don’t leave the house for love nor money.
During the 30+ years I lived in the States I managed to avoid the mass hysteria that is the start of the holiday shopping season. I knew people who partook, though. Lining up at the butt-crack of dawn, and earlier, to snag a deal. Just the thought of the crowds and the turmoil made me want to find the nearest cave.
In recent years, today has also become Buy Nothing Day. I’m glad I’m not alone in my retail avoidance. Heck, the average day is BND for me because I really, really, really, dislike shopping. Thank goodness for the Internet and online retailers!
Tomorrow is Shop Local Day, or Small Business Day, or something along those lines. That’s a day of gift shopping I fully support. But not at the crack of dawn.
Here’s a lovely photo of a lovely dawn spent in a lovely spot that is not the mall.
Do you enjoy the excitement of Black Friday? Dread it but do it anyway? Hide in your house with a good book?
Fruitcake, to be precise. Who likes it?
Well, I do. I love fruitcake and I’m not ashamed to admit it. The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a slice or two of the dark, moist, fragrant confection.
The best fruitcakes are baked early to allow flavours to develop and intensify. I start mine at least a month before Christmas.
Firstly, dried fruits are dumped in a bowl and doused with a glug or two of booze. Some use rum. Some use brandy. I use whisky. Canadian Club Rye Whisky to be precise.
Tasting of the fruit at this stage is mandatory. <grin>
After allowing the fruit to soak up the booze for at least twelve hours (I give it an entire day [more time to taste test the fruit]) it’s stirred into a batter rich with butter, eggs and sugar. Also those warm spices that scream holiday baking – nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice.
The batter is plunked in a lined baking pan and baked at a low temperature for hours. 285 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours to be precise. The house smells divine. It smells like the holidays of my childhood.
Then the cake needs to cool completely. Given its density, that takes a couple hours.
To help keep the cake moist, and to aid in its longevity, the cake is “fed” with additional booze, whisky in this case, at regular intervals. I feed mine weekly by sprinkling a few tablespoons of whisky over the top of the cake before tightly re-wrapping it in parchment paper and tin foil. Normally I’d store the cake in a large cake tin but IT’S STILL IN STORAGE!
Perhaps it’s time for another cake feeding. And I might just have a tipple, too.
Do you like fruitcake? Have you tried a homemade version that’s nicely steeped in spirits?
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow to all my American friends and relations!