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Rain's been coming down since last night.  Wind's starting to pick up.  The forecast sounds fairly alarming, but we are on high ground and far from large bodies of water, so we have our fingers crossed.  We have lots of food, ice, and alternate sources of light.  There are brownies and blondies, and will be roast chestnuts if the power stays on much longer.  I've done what I can for work from here, so am now, guilt-free, sitting in the living room with warm wife, dog, and housemates.  We are reading each other weather reports and random funny things off the internet, and there may be role-playing by and by.

Everyone stay safe and dry!
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Posting for later reference

potatoes (obviously), diced bite-size and boiled 20 minutes
dressing: 1/2 mayo and 1/2 sour cream, in appropriate quantities to the potatoes
v. small sliced onion rings (from the stem part of a CSA onion, in this case--scallions, chives, or leeks would do just as well)
dried smoked garlic (from Chelsea Market Baskets in New York)
smoked salt
zest and most of the juice from 2 small lemons

To do today: reconstruct the squash ceviche recipe from Mitsitam--not provided in their cookbook, unfortunately.
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So this was not the most Hallmark of Passovers--fortunately, Hallmark has yet to fully co-opt Passover.  Bobby spent a good part of the seder with gastrointestinal troubles, which made for a lot of interruptions and parents getting up and down with him.  He spent the rest of the seder alternating between misbehavior (trying to blow out the candles) and cuteness (insisting on answering rather than asking the four questions).  But it's meant to be a family ritual, and we had family and friends happy to help out and participate, lots of good food, good discussion, and good questions.  In some sense the seder spread out through the whole day--S and I talked about how "freedom" is used in modern political discourse, and A and I got into a debate over whether Jews are permitted to question G-d's morals, all well before we sat down at the table.

And speaking of ritual prep, S did something wonderful.  For the past few years, she's insisted on getting the fancy round matzah for the seder itself, even though we use the ordinary square box matzah for the rest of the week.  The round matzah make perfect sense to me intellectually: they are hand made, and look like they were baked in a hurry on a hot rock.  But they've never quite had the same emotional resonance as the square crackers I grew up with.  This year, though, we discovered that there's a lot more demand for fancy round matzah in DC, and if you don't buy them a couple of weeks in advance, you don't get them at all.  So S, in cooperation with [ profile] page_of_swords, did something she's been talking about for years--they actually made matzah, right in our kitchen. 

The rabbinic rule for matzah is that you can have no more than 18 minutes between water touching flour and putting the bread in the oven.  Ostensibly this is too fast for free-floating yeast to start the rising process; it's also numerologically significant in some fashion.  In fact, it turns out to be just the right length of time to be doable, but still feel genuinely rushed.  This is the bread of haste.  It's the simplest, most primordial flatbread that you can make in a modern kitchen--flour and water dough, thrown onto a baking sheet, cooked briefly in the oven and brushed with olive oil and salt for flavor.  It's perfect.  It's nothing like what I grew up with, but it tastes right anyway--all the ritual's emotions invoked by one of the most basic foods of civilization.

For the record, we used our bread of haste at the table, but we did not use it for the hidden afikomen.  Hiding a prototypical-but-oily pita-chapati-tortilla in your child's bedroom is not effective ritual.
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Very successful, and unfortunately I didn't keep careful track of ratios:

1/2 C peanut oil
1/2 C lime juice
1/4 C fish sauce
about 1 t sesame oil
pinch of ground dried chili pepper
2 pinches dried lemongrass
pinch brown sugar
large pinch dried cilantro
large pinch dried mint
2 cloves crushed garlic
about 1 t preserved minced ginger
tiny sprinkle sea salt

Which together made about 4 times as much as we needed to feed 3 people.  The salad was mesclun greens, thinly sliced sweet peppers, thinly sliced onion, and beef sauteed in peanut oil and a splash of the dressing.


Nov. 15th, 2011 09:32 pm
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My wife got me a 4 pound duck at Eastern Market, because she knows me and loves me.

Day 1: Roast duck with five-spice powder. Stock from the carcass.
Day 2: Yorkshire pudding baked in duck fat. Salad with duck cracklings.
Day 3: Fingerling potatoes roasted in duck fat.
Day 4: Duck liver mousse (padded with chicken liver). Deviled heart and kidney, plus one liver piece I accidentally left out of the mousse.

Still to come: risotto with duck stock and the remaining cracklings.

I'm not sure why I can't get a week's worth of meals out of a 4 pound chicken, which has twice as much meat on it.  Possibly just not as inspiring.
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Bobby is recovering from a stomach bug, and his appetite is recovering somewhat slowly.  This means that it took 3 parents to feed him chicken soup tonight--me to hold him so that he wouldn't need separate reassuring hugs between each bite, S to sing Kipling songs--why that helps, I'm not sure, but it does--and his Daddy to actually put soup in his mouth.  Pursuant to this, we also taught him to critique Kipling:

Me: "The chorus of 'Mandalay' is very nice, but the verses are a classic example of orientalism."
Bobby: "A classic example of nanamamanentalism!"

We never did get him to pronounce it right, but it's a start. 

The chicken soup was helpful, and he proceeded to eat salad on his own.  He then asked to smell everything on the spice rack--we would tell him what it was, he would sniff, and in almost all cases would ask to lick a little off his hand.  Coriander.  Curry.  Zatar.  Lemon pepper.  Northwoods mix.  Fenugreek.  I had a lick of fenugreek myself, and discovered that I am not a highly spice-tolerant 2-year-old, and vastly prefer my spices diluted by actual food.
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This turned out really well.

Slice parsnips thinly and throw into a small roasting pan (I used 6 for 4 people; it should have been more).  Cut white part of leeks into chunks and toss on top (I used two--should be more if increasing the number of parsnips).  Pour in a lot of olive oil.  Add in less than a tablespoon of schmaltz/chicken drippings, and a couple splashes of sherry.  Grate a little parmesan over the top, and sprinkle with Penzey's pasta sprinkle.

Oh, man.  The only problem was that the house smelled like roasted parsnips for hours, and there were no leftovers.
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Words: 1310
Total words: 5460
Scene finished?  Yes, and only one more to go.
Mean things: Mostly the same as before, plus breeder/non-breeder angst.

Clearly the next scene was not short, and this will not come in under 5000 words, and I cannot predict when my characters will go all maudlin on me.

Also, we have been virtupus today.  We finished the shopping and did the laundry and changed all the dead lightbulbs in awkward and rarely used corners of the house and replaced the ugly broken under-cabinet lights with good new lights from Home Despot and started our Thanksgiving cleaning.  And S made spicy chocolate-dipped apple chips, which are yummy and taste like Autumn.
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I have been staring at this article I'm trying to write all afternoon with no success.  I'm still trying to work out the next action sequence in Land Beyond the Border in the back of my head.  And I don't want to do the dishes.  So you get a meme instead.  This one appealed to me because I have a reputation as both A) a picky eater, and B) an adventurous eater.

Meme is as follows (ETA: some changes made based on S's better memory):

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:


So, 30 31 that I've tried.  14 that I can't eat unless I stop keeping kosher.  9 because I'm a teetotaller.  4 because of excess levels of capsacin.  11 because of genuine pickiness.  That leaves 32 31 still to try.  I'd better get to work on that.


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