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Triumph of the Mundane

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Lentil It Be

lentils

Lentils and greens, two more New Year’s foods. This choice was as much to return to better eating as for any illusion of influencing the cosmos in my favor. With typical American gusto, I’ve noshed my way through the holidays. Enjoyable, but time to return to reality.

Lentils with pasta, canned tomatoes, and arugula was a long-time lunch favorite. The arugula held its rewarding crunch for several days. Amazing. But for reasons unknown, this dish fell off the radar. Perhaps I simply ate it one too many times, dispelling the charm. So I reworked the recipe for the new year.

Two shallots cooked with the lentils. Added kale both cooked and fresh; ditto the tomato. Pasta seemed superfluous. Lunch perfection. Having forgotten the expansion factor of soaking lentils, I’ll be enjoying this for several days.

Almost good enough to forget Saturday’s fail: I attempted to make kransekake on December 31. Is that the last fail of last year or the first fail of the new year? The recipe in the fairly recently produced seminal work on Nordic cooking looked amazingly simple and straightforward. A little egg white, some sugar — grating the marzipan appeared to be the hardest part. Ha! Looking back, it’s almost as though the author included the recipe with an air of dismissive disdain, an embarrassing must.

When the goal is a fairly dry dough, add wet to dry ingredients until the desired consistency is achieved. Again, something I realized in retrospect after following the lauded author’s recipe. Recipes later culled from the interwebs indicated either heat or cold to get the right consistency. (The recipe on Nordic Food & Living seems worth a go.) And clearly a boatload of elbow grease is needed to get the marzipan thoroughly incorporated. Previously, the closest I’ve come to marzipan is the character on Homestar Runner.

Since there was no way to firm up the soggy dough, I decided to bake some cookie-ish rounds in hopes of salvaging the experiment and getting something I could taste for reference. Watching the rounds expand, I upped the oven temp for a quicker set — which did nothing for the set and gave the round blobs a Florida-grade tan. I can only bear to share a tiny pic of the result.

sugar-fail

The taste is quite nice — kind of an almond-flavored toasted marshmallow. And I was smart enough to make only a small batch on a silicon mat, reducing waste and clean up.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll watch a few episodes of the Great British Baking Show while eating a bowl of lentils and kale to ready myself for the next challenge.

 

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Food Pass-Fail, The Hubs Edition

Is there an expiration date on this? she said accusingly. Couldn’t find one on this package of spring roll wrappers. These have been in the fridge for literally, actually, factually for more than a year.

Eliminating food waste is a big thing here; the conversation occasionally gets harsh.

An interwebs search revealed no expiration date on this foodstuff. Well, does it qualify as a foodstuff or just an edible mix of ingredients? That’s a slightly disconcerting if accurate thought.

More interwebs searching brought him to Martha and a doable recipe. Chinese cabbage, rice noodles, and onions. Not really a meal, but accomplishes the desired effect of using up the ancient spring roll wrappers.

Wrapping, it appears, is a little trickier than he anticipated.

spring roll fail

Don’t skip the egg wash to seal. This one just fell apart in the pan. Fail!

Spring roll pass

When the wrapper held, he achieved a nice crispy, crunchy wrapper. Pass!

No, we not buying another package of spring roll wrappers so he can practice.

Kludge Fail

cushion 1

The zipper on one of the sofa cushion’s slipcovers finally, really gave out this time. After each of the last few washings the zipper has failed but reversibly so. To eek out one last use, I decided to stitch the cover closed. Inelegant but effective.

A miserable task at best, it was made worse by the shrunken slipcover. Trying to hold it closed and stitch was almost impossible.

cushion 2

The fabric is a thick, tightly woven twill, so pushing the needle through was an effort for every stitch. Unsurprisingly, this drew blood. The two splotches in the center of this image are from the third bloodletting.

Then, when I walked away for a moment, one of the cats chewed through the dangling thread.

I bow to the will of the universe.

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