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Dear friends and family,
When you come to visit and you think that I cook a lot while you are here, please realize that it is not really that unusual. I cook a lot more often than not. My boys routinely invite their friends over and that usually involves cooking…especially around their birthdays. I believe that for TJ’s and Tyler’s birthdays I made platters of sushi and boneless buffalo wings. There have been 12 layer birthday cakes and 12 pounds of ravioli which enabled me to use the bowl specifically reserved for our friend Lou’s cooking when he visits.
Tonight, we hosted the physics class for baked ziti, meatballs, homemade bread and chocolate croissants. Before you get too excited and have some type of breakdown (as I did when I was first asked to host the entire physics class for a pre-exam study session), the class is small, only about 8 kids, so it is by far not as monumental as it sounds.
Easily when my oldest invites “some” friends over, it could be at least twice that many. I love to cook and I love to see people enjoy the food, so it’s all good…..and it’s great to have all their friends come and visit.
There are still a plethora of tomatoes in the garden. I have roasted a lot of them. Now I am making crushed tomatoes with them that I am freezing to use later in tomato sauce, stews, soups and the like.
It’s a fairly simple process (which would be a lot simpler if I didn’t have to peel the tomatoes first)
1. Cut an x shaped slit into the bottom of each tomato with a sharp knife.
2. Drop the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
3. Remove from water and the skins should peel off with little effort.
You now have a naked tomato.
4. Then quarter the skinned tomatoes and place into food processor.
5. Blend to desired consistency. At this point you can place it in a pot to make sauce as you would with canned crushed tomatoes
Or put in a container to freeze.
Probably my biggest challenge this week will be to make the type of birthday cake that my oldest requested for his birthday. It’s something that I have not made previously. It’s really not so much the difficulty but rather with the method of execution. He wants molten chocolate or lava cake for his birthday. This requires not one big cake, but rather, individual cakes. Again, not the end of the world except that we will have a company, an extra five people, maybe six, which means that I have to make 10 cakes. Now, you see my challenge. For anyone that is not familiar, lava or molten chocolate cake is a chocolate cake with a creamy or melted center. Not something that you can really make earlier in the day and serve later. It requires a from-the-oven service, not easy to accomplish times 10.
Several of the recipes that I have found (which are all pretty much the same ingredients) indicate that the cakes can be made ahead of time and simply cooked at the time that you are ready to eat. Sounds easy, right? Well, not for me. Make ahead and then cook or partially prepare and cook later is the kiss of death. The bagels I made the first time promised a do-ahead recipe, which turned into the ugliest looking flat bagels that anyone has ever witnessed. Another time, I tried to pre-make something it was also a disaster. Not something that I want to experience with a houseful of hungry kids dying for cake and certainly not something that I want to blow for one of my boys’ birthdays – after all they only come once a year.
for the other shoe to drop. Sunday night and yesterday, oldest son was sick with a fever and horrific cough. He is better today – no fever – so he will be off to school. We never have just one of us get sick (I guess that is the beauty of family – we share in the misery equally) so it’s just a matter of time waiting to see who is next. I am willing to bet money that I get it just in time for the back to back dinners we have this weekend. For Friday’s Pasta Dinner I have to make two trays of ziti and a tray of meatballs as well as a dessert. For Saturday’s dinner, there’s dessert again.
There’s only a handful of us cooking for the fundraising dinner on Friday, so no opportunities to back out. I have to guard against getting this for Friday. Look for me, I’ll be packing the Lysol in a double holster.
Watch out Uncle Billy and Uncle Lou – there’a new kid on the block. This morning, out of nowhere, our oldest TJ announced his desire to make crepes. You see, my not-so-little-anymore son who is taking a course on cooking and taking French has found there is this wonderful room in our house from which all sorts of good things can come – the kitchen. Last week, he baked 100% from scratch, an angel food cake glazed in chocolate for one of his friends who was having a birthday (when I say from scratch, I mean he had to wrestle the eggs from the chickens at 8 o’clock at night since he was short a couple). This morning, he stated that he had to cook something French for French class and since he loves crepes, that was his pick. He tried to lure me into this but I steadfastly repeated that it seems to only be the men in our life that have a way with crepes and, having tried my hand at it before, had no desire to even be the lovely assistant on this one. With admonishments to make sure that the kitchen didn’t look like a bomb went off in it when he was done, he set off.
He pulled up the computer and a recipe from it and set out. While I do admit that our dog was sitting with bated breath on every flip, the kid didn’t do a bad job. His brother and his friend gobbled them up. I ventured back into the kitchen armed with a camera to record the event for posterity.
Tonight’s dessert was made by Tim. This is a recipe that he learned at summer camp while he was assisting in a cooking class. These are Mexican fritters and quite tasty.
Ingredients – Bunuelos
- 2 c. flour
- 1 T. sugar
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 1 t. salt
- 1 egg
- 1/4 and 1/8 c. milk (3 oz)
- 1/8 c. melted butter
Ingredients – Topping
- 2/3 c. sugar
- 1 T plus 1 t. cinnamon
Whisk together first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Beat together egg and milk in small bowl, stir into flour mixture, add butter and mix well.
Knead on floured surface until smooth. Divide into 9-12 pieces, shape into balls and cover with cloth. Let rest 20 minutes then roll into 4 inch rounds.
Heat 2 inches of oil in deep skillet over medium high heat. Fry until puffed and golden.
Drain on paper towel. Roll in cinnamon sugar.
18 pints and 12 half-pint jars or 4 gallons. That’s how much honey we processed and we were hardly neat with it, being our first foray into honey processing. We harvested the hive Saturday since the new bees were arriving. Saturday Tom spent the afternoon spinning and then Sunday we were sieving and filtering and yesterday, we jarred. Amazing how few people use honey, we tried giving a jar here and there to some friends and neighbors and a lot of people said “no thanks, we don’t use honey”. The bees will be devastated. More for us, I guess. I am psyched that I found a “Cooking with Honey” cookbook in the bookcase which “came with the house” and I might be able to put it to good use with all this honey.
We have the beeswax out by the hive getting cleaned by the bees so that I can use it to try my hand at beeswax candles. I feel so “Little House on the Prairie” but this is really cool!