Sunday, January 30, 2011

The new year

Now that January is almost over, I guess I'll take the time to post about my new year's eve. It's kind of a now or never kind of thing. If I don't post this before the end of January then it will seem a little silly (never mind the fact that it's already a teensy bit late already).

This year, we made tamales; this was my very first time to help make tamales and I really enjoyed the process. Despite the fact that I constantly stomp around declaring that I hate fussy cooking projects and only like to make easy dishes that don't require complex measuring and such (my baking often doesn't turn out very well due to lazy measuring), the truth is, I adore such things, when I have the time, inclination and participation of various favorite persons.

So, here are some photos of the process; I can promise you that these show just a sampling of the many steps required for this project:

I started cooking the chicken at 9:00 am after waking up to a list of instructions and a packet of semi frozen chicken that my mother left on the counter for me, while she went off gallivanting around the countryside.

We cut the chiles, zucchini and potatoes into strips, crumbled the queso, mixed the masa by hand and soaked the husks.

Assembling the tamales was very tedious. I actually adore tedious tasks. Filing, gluing small things together, coloring in the lines, all the things I secretly love to do but can't admit to loving because it isn't normal.

The tamales looked quite lovely with all the goodies assembled. The olive and raisins really made these taste exceptional.

We finally had the tamales steamed and ready to eat by 7pm. They were truly amazing and worth the extra effort.

Thank you, Elizabeth for giving me the opportunity to help you make tamales. It was great fun! =)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

new things! granola and a camera

I knew it was very, very bad when I signed onto my little blog behind-the-scenes and said "that was my last post? wow, I thought I'd put up at least one post since then." Oh well, I'm finally posting, small and silly though this post will be.

For Christmas, my dear, sweet mother gave me a five minutes a day bread baking book. I know lots of people who love this book and I was delighted to finally have my own copy from which to bake delicious bread, which will, in turn, make me a rather plump little blogger. But, other than making me trade in my size smalls for mediums, this book finally, after years of reading other people's happy success stories, forced me to make my own granola. This is something my mother has always done, from the time I was little but I've always thought it seemed a fairly fussy process for granola that rarely tastes better than what can be purchased out of the bulk bins at the natural foods store.

While skimming the recipes in this book, I came across the recipe that my mother and my brother's girlfriend, Elizabeth, have been raving about for the past year. They love this granola and make and eat it all the time to the point that Elizabeth gave lovely little tins of it to people for Christmas. Luckily for Matthew and I, we were included in the granola crowd and received our very own tin, full to the brim with the luscious stuff. It is really, truly the best granola I've eaten and the only way to have any is to make it. For once, I can't buy a better granola in the store. (And, honestly, I know I'm years behind on "discovering" this book and all of it's much beloved recipes. That's what happens when one lives in a dark, dank little bat cave such as Matthew and I do.)

I will say this for my first batch, I may have over cooked it. In fact, I'm sure I over cooked it; the truth is, I'm forever over cooking things because I often forget that many things are in fact better when slightly undercooked than when over cooked. In addition to over cooking the granola, I, in my usual fashion, forgot what I'd read (I did read the recipe through. twice!), and added the dried fruit at the beginning before cooking everything when in fact I was supposed to add them to the already cooked and cooled granola. The fruit is still edible, but I will say that this was a slight tragedy because some of the fruit I used were incredibly scrumptious, little, tart, dried cherries that my crazy(in the very best of ways), but kind neighbor foisted upon me. It didn't take much cajoling to get me to take as many of the little treasures as he was willing to give me. Fortunately for me, I still have lots of dried cherries left and will make a much better batch of granola in the near future.

By the way, you may notice that the photos of the granola are of a slightly higher quality than I usually post on my blog, or you may not. I, in fact, have a terrible eye for such things and can't tell at all that they are better. But be that as it may, we still purchased a new, fancy-dan camera that takes, supposedly, incredibly better photos for only many hundreds of dollars more than the one I usually use. My main complaint about the new camera(which I secretly love and adore) is that it isn't pink! so sad! pink should be a standard color for all cameras. But this last paragraph just shows what a little philistine I really am.

The front and back. It's rather small for a dslr.