Stuff & Nonsense

29 June 2014

Shirking, Guilt, & Not-Blogging

I've been away from here for a while and OH MY GODS THE GUILT I FEEL. Which is ridiculous, really, but there it is. I feel guilty when I neglect my hobbies and yet a hobby is supposed to be something I do in my leisure time for my own pleasure. If I have no leisure time or the leisure time I do have is taken up with other hobbies that should be fine. I should not find myself twitching when it's once again Tuesday and I haven't done a Top Ten post or it's Wednesday and I have no non-food pics to be Wordless with. And I certainly shouldn't be feeling depressed and guilty because it's been weeks since I posted about a book (or even read a book that wasn't work-related). But I do. Oh, THE FEELS.

It's not as if I don't have a perfectly adequate excuse. I've been super busy with work, darlings, with totally awesome projects like building a TARDIS-shaped Awesome Box, organizing a Whovian social, and doing tons of social media for my library system. Also, I had to lead the June book discussion and, you know, that is apparently the best way to get me to stop reading. Full stop. (Who thought it was a good idea for me to host a library book discussion? Do I look like someone capable of a leading fifteen elderly ladies in a measured and thoughtful discussion of literary work?)

Every time I picked up a novel that wasn't The Beekeeper's Apprentice, I felt both guilty and increasingly agitated -- as if I was back in high school, having spent the weekend shirking my chemistry assignment for an essay on The Scarlet Letter (totes 'd this novel) -- and had a great deal of trouble getting into (and staying) in the novel. Frequently, it seemed the harder I tried to focus on the novel, the more slippery my focus became. One afternoon, quite without knowing how it happened, I went from reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice, to putting holds on eight books about gardening for bees and other pollinators!

And now I have to get those read, too. And design and plant a garden. Because I have time for that. Surely.

Of course, every time I picked up The Beekeeper's Apprentice, I was extremely aware I was not reading it for my own pleasure but out of obligation. I would be expected to discuss the novel Rationally. Like an Educated Person. With an understanding of Plot and Theme and Metaphor and crapcrapcrap ... the pressure I put on myself. Pointlessly.

Book Discussion went fine. Sympathetic minds met in great harmony and accord. Excellent questions were raised. Well argued opinions given. And everyone agreed the resolution to the Miss Donleavy affair was pure bollocks. So, yay! A success!

And now I can go back to reading books for my own pleasure! Although, since everyone seemed to have such a good time, it's not unlikely I will be asked to lead another one in the fall. Pah. Months away. Plenty of time to read those twenty-three library books quick-stepping toward their due dates.

It's Tasty, But It's Not Ice Cream

A coworker shared the bones of this recipe with me a few weeks ago when we were discussing our deep and abiding love of ice cream. She told me she makes this recipe often as a healthy ice cream substitute and it sounded interesting, but (after the first attempt) I felt a need to embellish with vanilla and sugar as it was just a little too mouth-puckering without. A drizzle of honey or agave would work just as well, if that's your thing.

The Husband suggests this would also be better made with regular yoghurt as "the Greek yoghurt flavor just gets in my mouth and sucks the raspberry flavor right out."

I made this for two, hence the small amounts, but as long as you use a 1:1 ratio of berries and yoghurt you can probably make any quantity you desire.
Instant Frozen Yoghurt
Serves 2

6 oz frozen unsweetened raspberries
6 oz fat-free Greek yoghurt
½ Tbsp Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
2 tsp sugar (optional but highly recommended)
Fresh berries, if desired
Fresh mint, if desired

Pop you food processor bowl and blade into the freezer for 20 minutes so everything is cold.

Pulse the berries, yoghurt, sugar (if using), and vanilla around in your food processor until it develops a smooth frozen yoghurt-ish texture and the color is an even shade of raspberry red.

Scrape out into two small dessert bowls. Garnish with fresh berries and mint, if desired. Serve.
While I agree this frozen yogurt concoction is quite yummy and refreshing, it doesn't make me want ice cream any less! If anything, I find myself craving Ben & Jerry's Greek Frozen Yogurt Raspberry Fudge Chunk!

25 June 2014

Disappointing Drumsticks

It may shock and amaze you to know that not every dish to come out of my kitchen is a win. For example, I made some really disappointing oven-fried drumsticks the other day. They came out of the oven looking brown and crispy but, while their color was perfect, they were soggy drumsticks. Gluey drumsticks.

Behold, The Sad Drumsticks of Disappointment!

I'd made these by haphazardly combining recipes until I thought I had created something good. I started with Alton Brown's method for "Fried Chicken" -- soaked the chicken pieces in buttermilk, drained them in a colander, and then liberally seasoned the drumsticks with a blend of salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper before dredging them in cracker meal. Alton uses flour, but I thought cracker meal would yield a preferable texture.

It did not. Possibly because, while I drained the buttermilk-soaked drumsticks in a colander, they were still quite moist when I seasoned them. Perhaps I would have done better to pat them dry or spread them over a rack suspended across the sink to drip dry? And, maybe, use panko instead of cracker meal?

Also, I oven-fried the chicken at 350F° on a jelly roll pan in a combination of olive oil and butter for 50 minutes, flipping half way through. I think, perhaps, I should have oven-fried at a higher temperature? Or cranked the oven up to 425F° for the last 15 minutes?

So, next time:
  • Air dry
  • Panko
  • Finish in a very hot oven
Or maybe I should just stop being afraid of hot oil, buy a deep-fat fry thermometer, and learn to fry in my French oven!