I should have known when I committed myself to blogging that actually finding the time to do it would prove difficult. It isn't that I'm not finding the time to cook, it's just that I can't manage to swing a photo shoot every time I find myself in the kitchen, and I'd persuaded myself that without gorgeous photos, there's no point in blogging. Well, phooey. I don't know who these people are that manage carefully composed and beautifully shot pictures at the same time they're scrambling at the stove...I'm certainly not one of them, but from here on out, I refuse to let a lack of food porn stop me from posting.
Because this is what it really looks like when I'm cooking:
I have ten people sitting down to dinner at my table tomorrow night, including the chef I was sous to and his new wife (the dinner is in their honor). The menu will feature onion tarte tatins to start, a braise of duck with green olives as the main course, a salad of red and green Boston lettuces with baby arugula lightly dressed with sherry vinegar and hazelnut oil (and may include toasted hazelnuts if I have the time), and chocolate pots de creme for dessert. I decided to do most of the cooking today – mostly so the braise can rest for a day, which it will surely benefit from – and because tomorrow I need to sit and compile my tax information for my accountant, update the training calendar for next trimester for work, get some of my seeds started for the garden, AND clean the house of all the pet hair from shedding animals and the dirty paw prints they've all tracked in from the mud pit that is our driveway at present.
After deconstructing three whole ducks for the braise, I was left with a pile of fat scraps and carcasses, so I did what any sane cook would do: rendered the fat and roasted the bones for stock. The photo above shows (on the counter) a glass jar filled with golden molten duck fat, the browned duck pieces, the bouquet garni and the prepped tomatoes and olives for the braise; on the stove, the pot on the left holds onions softening for the braise, and on the right is the working stock pot. I think I'll use the stock to make a wild mushroom risotto at some point.
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A week ago, I was disappointed that a predicted 15 – 30 inches of new snow from a late-season storm amounted to just over a foot. It was still cold enough that the snow was light and fluffy and perfect for skiing. What a difference a week makes. There's a storm coming through tonight that could dump 6 or 7 inches of heavy, wet slop over the deep mud that's taken over everywhere. I'm praying that it stays a little too warm and rains instead. It'll still be a mess, and the river will rise dangerously, but really...I've had enough. I love winter, I love snow, but I'm ready for spring. I've got a garden to plant, and I want to go ride my bike.
Tomorrow, I'll get the seed-starting underway. Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, onions...stuff like that needs about a 10-week jump on outdoor planting. If I have time, I'll take some pictures of the greenhouse set-up downstairs. It's pretty ingenious, if I say so myself.