Sunday, 12 December 2010

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

You know, I had this long, thought-out post all ready to be sent out today, but right now I just don't feel like doing that. Maybe I will post it one of these days, maybe not, but not today. At this moment I am again sitting next to my Daughter's bed, waiting for her to fall asleep. She said to me that she's ' contemplating things'. My three-year old 'contemplates' things before she falls asleep a lot. Some evenings, this declaration is followed by the strangest of questions or comments, some funny, some so serious that I have to reach out to hold her while I explain to her whatever it is that has puzzled her that particular day. Not too long ago, after this 'contemplation' she asked me almost in tears about how can a heart die and turn to stone. Well, knowing that this was the direct result of a children's movie she'd seen earlier in the day, it wasn't too hard to soothe her and pretty soon she was indeed dozing off. But this is a child whose questions generally can not be dodged with some inane 'made for kids' answers, and quite often it is her questions that make me stop and think about the 'made for adults' answers to her questions. What makes a heart die and turn to stone indeed?

I took that picture today of my kitchen window. It is filled with these little icy flowers, and I am supposed to be having something done about it to stop it from getting so. But I don't want to nor do I intend to. I think it's beautiful. Nature's own work of art. My neighbors worry that us 'girls' are freezing in here, but really, it's perfectly warm. I grew up in an oldish wooden house in which all the windows froze like this in the winter, and in which the outer hall was so cold during the winter months that it could double up as a freezer. And for a long, long time, we did not even have a shower room in the same building, but had to run to the sauna across our yard. Wonderful in the summer when you could just sit outside and cool down after  bathing. Not so wonderful in the winter when unless you wrapped up your head in towels the end of your hair would turn into little icicles. And your eyelashes did that anyway. 

Yep, happens in Alaska too...

But to this day, I hardly ever get cold, even at seriously freezing temperatures. Except, of course,  for my fingers and toes that suffer from Raynayd's and are usually very, very cold to touch, but then again, the saying does go...

My heart must be boiling then.

Today I had my family over for lunch. My other Sister is visiting from south and I just felt like this house needed some delicious cooking aromas, some chatter, laughter and the warmth of having it filled with people you love. So, perhaps to deal with the chill outside I decided to go for something decidedly more warm, Jambalaya, served with Corn Bread and a dessert of Mississippi Mud Pie. Or so was my intention. Well, the Jambalaya came out nicely and even my Father took seconds and thirds, and he is not known to be a friend of anything all that spicy. But the Corn Bread, well, it was not to be since I simply forgot to buy the corn. So in the end I made the Corn Bread sans the Corn, and just slapped some cheese on top. Interesting, my dears, interesting.... Usually I use this recipe because it has the actual sweetcorn in it instead of just the cornmeal, and Ido have to say that cornbread is one of my all time favorite breads. Highly recommended. 

And here's the Jambalaya...

... for which I diced 1 green bell pepper and 1 red bell pepper followed with 5 stalks of celery, 2 onions and 3 cloves of garlic. I then heated up around 60 grams of butter in a heavy bottomed pan, and added the vegetables stirring constantly to coat them in the butter. Next, I added some Cajun Spice Mixture for which I gave the recipe in an earlier post about crayfish, and followed this by adding 3 cups of uncooked long grain rice. Stir the rice, spices and vegetables well. Then I poured in about 500 ml of dry, white wine. You could obviously use stock, but having tried that I must say it really does not give the same kind of flavor the wine does. Again, stir well. Next, in goes a can of tomatoes, about 400 grams, chopped, and the cubed fish of which I used about half a kilo of. You can use any type of white fish, and seafood too, or just go with different sorts of meat. Now, leave to simmer until the rice is cooked, mixing every now and then with a wooden spoon. Enjoy.

For dessert, I was intending to make a Mississippi Mud Pie as per this recipe from my old and well dirtied up Cajun and Creole Cookbook...

... and my dears, that is the only picture you will ever see of that particular piece of cake. Sure, my cake did make it to the table, and sure, we did eat it and it certainly tasted delightful but frankly, it looked rather alarming, slightly extraterrestial one might say. Or just plain Out Of Space. But I do recommend it anyway, just take heed of my mistakes which are as follows...

For the bottom, instead of the one in my book, go with Martha and just replace some of the flour with dark cocoa powder. And by the way, one cup equals 2,5 desilitres.... Then, do NOT take the ice cream out to 'warm up 15 minutes before cooking time' or it will not be cold enough to handle the oven. Now, this was not the first time I have made merengue covered ice -cream in the oven and was frankly quite puzzled by this advise, which I should indeed just have promptly discarded. So, scoop the vanilla and chocolate (well, I used vanilla and strawberry...) ice-cream on top of the thoroughly cooled bottom. And BEFORE you do this, have the merengue ready. Sure, the merengue does not keep, but neither does the ice-cream. So, for the merengue, take 4 egg whites and around 3 cups of granulated sugar and whisk until STIFF. And I mean STIFF. You should be able to tip the bowl and not have the mixture immediately fall on the floor or it will indeed fall on the bottom of your oven. Next, scoop the merengue on top of the ice-cream and gently lift into the oven at 200C. Bake until the merengue is golden, 5 minutes max. Take out and serve immediately. This is one of those dishes that does not wait.  

NOTE! After having seriously wondered about this recipe myself, seeing as this was not the first time dealing with mudcakes for me, and after having some feedback from a friend who is somewhat familiar with them as well, I have come to a conclusion that there must be some sort of mistake in my cookbook here as this is much more like Baked Alaska than any kind of mudcake. 

So, the dessert was tasty but looked like some sort of nuclear fall-out mushroom. The Corn Bread was nice but it had no corn. Sometimes, I really do make rather epic mistakes in the kitchen and yeah, I improvise a lot but usually, it all works out in the end. Lovely lunch was had by all and regardless of some rather mad and messy moments in the kitchen it's been one of the most peaceful and happy days for me in a long, long time. 

And now it is time for me to wrap up this evening. A new week looms ahead. These past few weeks have been very tough, now it is literally and officially a whole new era in life for me. And you know what, I think I'm going to be just fine.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you can cook your way to a warm sunny clime. In this particular instance, it put you closer to sunny (but, earlier this week, not so warm) Florida, where I am.