01 January 2014

Food Lab: Update

Happy New Year, Foodies!

Checking in on your valiant Food Labbers, although we haven't done a formal lab since September, we have all been busy with food and non-food activities.

As usual, of course, it gets tougher to schedule Labs in the fall due to one of my other leisure activities, and things were further complicated this fall by Labbers traveling domestically and internationally and changing jobs and looking for jobs and several house renovation projects and ANOTHER one of my leisure activities, among other things.

Chef Spouse and I did join Mad Kitchen Scientist, The Executive Committee, and some of their friends at the family homestead in Catawba, OH Thanksgiving week. We did a LOT of cooking, and sort of half of a lab looking at making aspics, but Chef Spouse and I had to leave before that finished up, and we mostly forgot to take any pictures, which makes things a little tough to write about.

What I learned:
  • REALLY good meat is REALLY cheap in Ohio. We got a huge, beautiful beef tenderloin (yes, the WHOLE tenderloin) for $30. Not joking.
  • Pressure cookers are awesome for making stock - they speed up the process and extract a LOT more gelatinous goodness.
  • If you feed and use your sourdough starter to bake bread daily, you stop needing any sort of recipe pretty much immediately. Now I just make bread.
  • Those old-fashioned pizzelle irons that require you to cook the pizzelles over a gas burner are a BITCH to use, but remind everyone how delicious homemade pizzelles. Fortunately, Santa was reminded, too, and brought me one of these.
  • Chef Spouse is the cocktail MASTER (I already knew that, but he worked his magic for us nightly to good effect, including using hibiscus blossoms we found at the local market).
  • Aperol is YUMMY.
  • Brining a turkey is not that hard as long as you have a spare cooler you can use.
  • 8 people need at least 10 pies (we did have two each of pumpkin and pecan).
  • DO NOT attempt to chop the leeks before you've had your coffee. You may lose a bit of the end of your thumb. Which hurts like HELL but does get you out of helping with the cleanup.
  • A snug house, two happy dogs, hot buttered rum, and conversation with good friends around the fire is an EXCELLENT way to spend an evening.
We've had some great foodie moments since then, too, including the annual Old Ebbitt Grill oyster riot, an afternoon teaching a group of friends that will be traveling to Jamaica with us in the spring how to make pasta from scratch, meals at some great new restaurants in the DMV, attending the annual Feast of the Seven Fishes Italian (of course) friends of ours put together, and our traditional New Year's Eve helping Mad Kitchen Scientist and The Executive Committee prep and then joining a bunch of their other friends for their fantastic house party featuring our delicious food and Mad Kitchen Scientist's top-quality homebrews.

Food Lab will return soon now that the 2013 NFL season is winding down. In the meantime, happy New Year to you and all your loved ones. I wish you a 2014 full of amazing food, fun, laughter, love, learning, and good friends - in other words, that you'll have a Food Lab kind of year!

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