KFC delivers when I do not.

I meant to tell you about dinner tonight.

I thought I would get creative with the crap that I needed to use up before it died in the fridge. I had big ideas. High hopes, even. I spent all day thinking of succulent meatballs, rich tomato sauce fragrant with basil and black pepper, and pasta baked with a bubbly layer of cheese.

But the meatballs dehydrated, the sauce was runny and flat-tasting , and the basil took on a twinge that was vaguely reminiscent of poison. I burned the cheese.

So we ordered chicken. The wine was good.

Bulgogi update still to come. For now, I am sedated with trans fats and cheap sauvignon blanc.

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Last night …

Steve and Sooin are two awesome kids who come over sometimes to play boardgames and eat food and drink too much wine. Last night, we went to Nick’s sister’s house for the same sort of thing, except that Sooin cooked, and it was AWESOME. Perhaps if I had known Sooin before Nick, I would have married her. And I would weigh 800 pounds and eat Korean BBQ EVERY DAY. Come to think of it, I sort of think Nick came between us. Steve too. Why is “Unbreak my Heart” suddenly playing in the background of my thoughts?

The meat was the reason I will never be a vegetarian, and itself was a perfect synthesis of flavour. The gomae was revelatory. And I have spent today marinating chicken wings with a concoction I hope comes close to what Sooin used to marinade yesterday’s beef short ribs. Updates to come.

Mulled wine for Michael

Dear Michael:

I have heard that you want to soothe yourself into a stupor. You’re sick? This probably won’t cure it. But you’ll feel lovely, and you’ll probably sink into a warm, womb-like sleep. Well, womb-like if your mom was a drunk. So, probably better than the average womb experience. Ew. Now I’m picturing giant vats of womb wine. Screw you, Michael.

Ahem. Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of white wine. You can go cheap. I like a good bottle of $10 German Riesling.
  • 1 mickey of brandy
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 1 pear, quartered
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 slices of ginger (slice them across the root, to the thickness of quarters. The word of the day: QUARTERS.)
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of water

Put everything but the brandy in a pot over medium heat. Heat slowly, and allow to simmer. Add the brandy, and continue to simmer, 5 to 7 minutes.

You may want to add water or sugar to dull or counteract the acidity, if your wine isn’t terribly sweet. Fidget with it until it’s as sweet as you like. Don’t allow it to boil – alcohol is manna. Don’t waste it.

Strain the liquid into a pitcher or bowl – you don’t want the fruits and stuff floating around in there. Drink. It makes a lot, so if it’s a work night, don’t drink it all by yourself.

Love,
Emily

Carrot cake! Blood oranges! Ginger!

So, I wanted carrot cake. Every time I get carrot cake, it’s loaded with raisins, and I can’t enjoy it because I have to eat strategically and pick as I go. Pain. In. The. Ass. And I didn’t want a lot of carrot cake. I have a dish that’s about 8×10, which would leave me with enough cake for about six people. So I decided, “I’ll make a small amount of carrot cake.” So I made the moistest, awesomest carrot cake ever.

Emily’s Apartment-size Carrot Cake with Gobby Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • t/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated ginger root
  • 1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup blood orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrot
  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and orange zest in a bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, apple sauce, and blood orange juice. Pour into the dry ingredients, add the carrot, and whisk it all together. Add your nuts. This is where I dipped my finger into the batter, and was all “OHMYGOD. I am an effing genius.”

Bake in a pan, like mine (8×10), lined with greased parchment, for 40-50 minutes. I got ‘er done in 45.

Let cool on a wire rack. You’ll want to frost this with cream cheese icing. No, you’ll REALLY want to.

For the icing:

This recipe will make more than you need for the cake, but save the rest – you’ll like it on warm cinnamon buns.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat well, until perfectly smooth and spreadable. Put on cake.

White bread with sweet potato

One of my favourite things to do is to make bread. I live in something like 600 square feet, and to fill that small space with the smell of baking is very comforting – it’s like I live in a baked fog. It smells like a hug. And the kneading! Nothing beats kneading. I own a Kitchen Aid mixer and its bread hook attachment, but I can’t be bothered. Not for loaves. For anything else, but not bread – I live for the feeling of dough writhing in my hands.

Because I bake bread at home for the week and don’t own the kind of commercial preservatives that would keep my loaves sufficiently soft and supple, I cheat. I add vegetables, which serve a dual purpose – soft, fluffy loaves of bread for as long as the loaf will last, and fibre, which is presumably absent from the soft white flour I use so much of. But I’ve never felt all that guilty about eating refined carbohydrates. If obesity is what ultimately gets me, it will have beat out a lot of other, more uncomfortable things.

In any event, here’s the recipe for the bread I love toasting the most:

White Bread for Cheaters

(1 loaf)

  • 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium-sized)
  • 1 1/2 cups water from boiled sweet potato, cooled to lukewarm (or the temperature you’d heat a baby’s bottle to)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. soft butter (or olive oil, depending on your mood)
  • 4 cups unbleached white flour, plus 1/4 cup for kneading
  • 2 tsp. sea salt (all salts are not created equally, but whatever you have on hand will do)

Combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit until foamy, 5-10 minutes.

Combine salt, flour, and mashed sweet potato. When the yeasty liquid has foamed up, mix it all together. Inhale deeply. It smells lovely.

Once you’ve got your ingredients together and a ball of dough has formed, dump the lot onto a floured surface. Knead the thing for 8-10 minutes. It seems like a long time, but it’s not – two songs, or two portions of a half-hour show, plus one commercial break. Don’t think about the time, just do it. If you’re pissed off, be rough. All the better.

When the dough is soft and elastic, form it back into a nice smooth ball, and drop it into a greased bowl or pot. I like to slather my pasta pot in butter and use that – it’s the right size, and it has a lid – I hate greasing plastic wrap. Cover the bowl or pot, using either greased plastic wrap, a damp towel, or an oiled pasta-pot lid. The wamer the room, the better. I live in a building filled with old people who prefer a tropical temperature, so I always have good bread-rising conditions. I also almost never wear pants.

Let rise in a warm room for 1 1/2 to three hours. Let the thing double in size. Then, smack it down, transfer to a greased baking pan, loaf or whatever you prefer, and let rise again, 1 1/2-two hours. An hour or so before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (I’m Canadian, and yet do not know how to measure things in metric. Also, I cannot tell time on an analog clock. School district #36 failed me.)

When the dough has risen above the pan, slide the whole thing in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.