Friday, January 17, 2014

My Idea of Multitasking

More snow removal today. The weather channel predicted no significant accumulation, so naturally; we got four inches of the stuff. We’ve reached, what I call Deep Winter that time between the Mid-January and Mid-February when the days seem perpetually over cast, and the temperatures barely fluctuate ten degrees between cold and friggin' cold.   

I actually do like winter and I even like shoveling snow. It is one of those meditative activities that requires just enough of your attention to get you out of your head. But, it being Friday, I was happy to sneak in a nap this afternoon while dinner blipped away in the oven.  Braising and napping at the same time is my perfect idea of multitasking.

Dinner was Chicken Cacciatore with Rice. We devoured the chicken, and the leftover sauce, packed with tomatoes and roasted red peppers, will make for an easy eye rolling snack or lunch late in the weekend. I’ll be making a late night snack of hamburgers with a side of leftover Lentil Pilaf. Breakfast, was the last of the soda bread, toasted with Marmalade, and somewhere mid-afternoon I may or may not have devoured a huge slice of fruitcake with a even larger mug of tea.  

I’ve got a very busy day planned for tomorrow: I’ll be transforming our kitchen into a bit of a soup factory. I’m planning to make and freeze a giant batch of Cream of Broccoli Soup, Chestnut Soup and for dinner, French Onion Soup. The broccoli soup will be more “puree of broccoli soup” a lighter and just plain tastier version of the classic. The Chestnut Soup is an experiment based on a soup I had while in Chicago some years back. It’s a creamy soup based on bacon fat, so in the words of Ina Garten, “how bad can that be?” Finally the French Onion Soup is a true Gratinee Lyonnais, in which I’ll be cooking down a few pounds of onions until the caramelize, and then adding multiple rounds of water and stock, reducing each addition to next to nothing before adding more water or stock.  It’s kind of a dangerous dance, in which you bring the whole thing to the brink of ruin, and then pull it back with more liquid. The result is an intensely flavored onion soup with just a hint of beef stock for body and that, but secret flavor agent is a charred onion. This is definitely NOT the American version in which a few ribbons of onion float in clarified beef stock. I will be using Emmentaler where Gruyère is traditional; it was just out of reach of me tiny budget this month.  

Since the stove top will be busy, and I’ll be mostly standing around occasionally stirring a pot or two, I’m also planning to bake off some Icebox Butter Cookies and maybe a couple of loaves of bread. For anyone who’s made it, bread is all about working for a small but intense period, and then waiting around for a long time and doing nothing.  Once you’re proficient, it’s an excellent thing to fit in amongst other somewhat flexible projects.  

The butter cookies are a slice and bake variety; I made and froze the dough early last month. They are an excellent way to have fresh baked cookies anytime you need them. 

Let’s be honest, when don’t you need them?

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