So I guess I forgot to mention that I’m in Paris, which means this blog is on temporary hiatus. To hold you over until I get back:
Sorry it’s been a while. I promise I’ve been cooking… I made some pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and olives, and it was good but all the pictures turned out crappy. And I made cornbread, black-eyed peas and kale for dinner last week but forgot to take any pictures at all. So what to post? Fortunately I have on my computer a picture of something I did not cook at all.
What is that, you may ask. Good question! It’s Use Up All Those Flex Dollars Before Graduation Stew, a gourmet dish of spinach fettucini, canned Delhi Saag, mozzarella, mushrooms, cayenne pepper, paprika and parmesan cheese. Brought to you courtesy of the strange things available at the Oberlin College student store. The chef claims it’s good… having never tried it, I will reserve judgment.
I got very excited when I found a recipe for “lime cooler” cookies on Tuesday on some Tastespotting knock-off site. They looked delicious, they seemed extraordinarily easy to make, and I remembered seeing half a lemon in the fridge, which I figured would be nearly as good as a lime. I decided it was as good a time as any for my first baking project of the summer. On the other hand, it was my first free evening in over a week, and I’d been thinking about how much I wanted to read or watch The Simpsons with my housemates or write in my journal. But… cookies.
As it turned out, there was half an orange, not half a lemon, in the fridge. But housemates Marina and Michele reassured me that the orange would probably be fine instead. Figuring I didn’t have much chance of finding an easier recipe, I decided to take their word for it.
I started by taking the orange half to the grater. It was a bad call: the grater, my hands and the counter got covered in juice.
I put the orange aside to eat later and replaced it with a whole orange, which worked much better.
The rest of the recipe was, as I may have mentioned, ridiculously easy. The only problem was that it didn’t mention anything about a yield. As I beat the butter and vanilla into the dry ingredients, I noticed that what I’d ended up with was a ball of batter about the size of both my fists.
I opened the oven fifteen minutes later to ten lumpy orange-ish cookies, which was definitely not what I’d expected when I started this whole thing.
But dammit, they smelled good and I wanted to eat them. So, proceeding with the final step, I picked up the still-warm “coolers” and deposited them into a Ziploc baggie of confectioners’ sugar. The recipe had warned that doing this before the cookies were cool would make the sugar form “slag,” a substance whose horrors I can hardly dare to imagine.
But in fact the sugar turned out fine.
People seemed to like the cookies, though they sure did taste like the 1/10 stick of butter they each contained. They were also better the next day when they were cooler and harder, with a sort of firm, shortbread-like texture. And the orange flavor worked, but they definitely would have been better with the bite of lemon or lime.
from Cookie Baker Lynn
1 cup bleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
1 tsp finely grated lime (lemon, orange) zest
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Line two cookie sheets with either parchment paper or Silpat.
2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and lime zest. Add the butter and vanilla; beat, either with a mixer or a wooden spoon, until a dough forms.
3. Drop dough by generous teaspoons onto the cookie sheet, spacing evenly. Bake one sheet at a time for about 15 minutes, until cookie bottoms are golden brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
4. Place the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a quart or gallon-sized zip-loc bag. Working with a dozen [yes, I don’t understand either] at a time, drop cookies into the sugar and shake to coat. The cookies must be completely cooled, or the powdered sugar will form slag. The lime cookies can be stored in an airtight tin for up to 1 week, but most likely they’ll be eaten much sooner than that.
I dunno, people keep calling it that. It’s a joke, you see, because Long Island is actually pretty lame. But it is not a bad place to spend a few days in June.
This past weekend I stayed with my friend Yan’s grandparents not far from Port Jefferson. They live right on the Sound, so we got to go out on their dock and watch birds and get bit by mosquitos. We also went fishing in the evenings, fruitlessly on Friday night and awesomely on Saturday night because there was thunder and lightning and I caught my first ever fish. It was a small striped bass, of which there is no picture because we threw it back. I don’t understand how that is an acceptable practice. Are fish typically able to recover from being stabbed in the cheek with a sharp hook and suffocated for a few minutes?
But the big rite of passage for me this weekend was actually dinner on Saturday at PJ’s Fish House. For reasons of habit rather than religion, I kept more or less kosher up until last summer, when I realized (in Israel, land of the secular Jew) that I was being silly. So on Saturday I had my first real seafood dinner—clam chowder, steamers, mussels and an entire lobster, all fresh from the Sound.
My verdict: The clam chowder was very good but too rich for me. The clams were unbelievably great, and the mussels were fine. I think I enjoyed the lobster—it was certainly a lot of fun to eat—but by the end I felt sort of sick. I mean, that is a shit ton of seafood. Plus we were dipping it in butter. I’d probably do it again, though maybe not all at once. In any case, I still prefer normal fish. I don’t remember ever getting sick of fish—especially not sushi, which I can eat almost endlessly—whereas seafood starts to overwhelm me pretty quickly.
At least I have a good excuse for breaking the covenant of my people or whatever. As Yan’s grandfather, the son of a rabbi and a former biology professor, said, “As a botanist, I feel it is my duty to eat as many species as possible.” I think the same logic could just as easily apply to foodies, don’t you?
Somehow my summer subletters—all friends from marching band—came into possession of a tiny grill last week. No one is quite sure where it came from. It might belong to a former renter, or one of my housemates who is elsewhere for the summer. But in an uncharacteristic fit of socialist idealism, we decided that silly matters like ownership were less important than serving the communal good—which in this instance meant having a cookout and inviting the whole band.
It wasn’t too much effort on our part. There were apparently hamburgers and hot dogs that had been sitting around the Band Room refrigerator and were up for grabs, and we already had squash and zucchini; we just had to buy buns, condiments, and some red peppers and we were all set
About half an hour before the guests were set to arrive, summer housemate Julia and I started preparing the veggies. We cut them up and tossed them with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and some Italian spice mixture. In retrospect we probably should have done that a few hours earlier so they could have marinated for a while, but I guess we spontaneous college students can’t plan that far ahead.
We went outside and waited for people to start showing up. Julia held the bowl of veggies and pondered. Meanwhile, summer housemate Marina fired up the grill.
The vegetables were basically a success. I suspect they might have been better if they’d cooked longer at a lower heat, but I really know nothing about grilling. It is not a thing my parents ever did at home. Anyway I ate a lot of vegetables so they must have been at least moderately tasty.
We drew a pretty good crowd for a crappy little backyard, but fortunately we had plenty of food for everyone. We even had veggie burgers for our lovely vegetarians, and recent graduate Jessica brought beer (locally brewed IPA in a can – pretty cool).
I can’t speak for the hamburgers or hot dogs because I too had a veggie burger, but I guess people liked them.
Dan, though he may look too cool for our burgers, even ate three.
Ah, how far I’ve come since my first Xanga! This vastly less embarrassing blog will chronicle my experiences as a college student making her first forays into the food world. I’ll post about adventures in my new kitchen, share the details of my supermarket forays, and maybe review some restaurants in the New York and New Haven areas. (See, I go to Yale, so the title is a joke. Get it? Get it?)
Please leave me comments and let me know what you’d like to see – recipes? Funny anecdotes? Sexxy food pr0n?
Or just say hi. That’s cool too.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the amazing blog I’m interning for this summer, seriouseats.com.