Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Birthday time... almost

Once we recovered from Christmas, I started planning the Birthday Dinner for this year.  I normally start glancing through the cookbook this early, but never actually finalize a menu this early.  However, this year I was a little nervous because we are going to Florida the week before.  I generally have things together by this point, but the though of coming home and then immediately diving into cooking was a little nerve wracking, because it normally takes me a couple of days to recover from a trip.  Anyway, there are a bunch of courses, and I'm very excited because I haven't ever made any of them.  I realized when planning the menu this year that there are 150 recipes in this book and I've made 30 of them.  And I've already been told that if I make sweatbreads or stuffed pigs head my sweet husband won't eat it.  So I'll just have to make those one day for a very good friend.  This will be the first year that I don't do seafood as the main course, which is a little exciting because even though I make different courses every year, they are pretty much all lobster just cooked different ways, and so this is very different.

So, not only did I finalize the menu in January, I already started cooking.  Can you believe that?  That is almost as crazy as growing my eyebrows out, which I was requested to do as one of "our" family goals for 2013.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about that request, but none-the-less, I am doing it, and I'm almost through the really awkward part, where I felt like I was drawing my eyebrows on like my grandmother used to do. At any rate, back to food: There are two things that I intend to make before we go on our trip.  One of this dishes is a sweet potato - bacon - butter filled pasta that will be served with a sage - cream - prosciutto sauce.  I actually can't wait to eat it.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  The reason I can make this so early is that the pasta part is freezable, for weeks, and I intend to do just that to make my life easier.  The only thing is, there are just a few things in my life that I have said I will never do.  Most of them involved child rearing, and I said them before I ever had kids.  So I don't count those.  But one of them, I have actually said I will never do again, and I've said it twice, which means that evidently I shouldn't count any time I say I will never do anything.  This thing, is making home made pasta.  It is laborious to say the least.  But I do especially laborious things for the Birthday Dinner, so why not?  If I had all the right tools, then it probably wouldn't be quite as bad.  But since I don't, I usually improvise.

The filling was easy enough, roast some sweet potatoes, fry up some bacon, mix it together with some spices, put in a pasty bag, to pipe it into pasta.  Well, technically, I was supposed to put the potatoes through a ricer, which I don't have.  So I used the following:

I just mushed it through with another spoon.  It probably wasn't a necessary step, I'm sure it had to do with texture.  You couldn't even tell once I stirred in the bacon and spices and butter.  Here it is in the pastry bag, waiting to be piped into "agnolotti" whatever those are.

 Ok, so then comes the part that I hate about making pasta.  It's the actual pasta.   If I had an extruder, or pasta roller, or any such pasta appliance, it probably wouldn't be terrible. Even if I had such appliance,  I'm sure I'd still only do it for special occasions.  But this is what I use for my pasta roller:

The thing is, I was supposed to get 48 "agnolotti" out of my half recipe of pasta dough, which is all that I had enough eggs to make anyway.  This would give each of us approximately 8 pieces of filled pasta each.  My pasta roller is defective, and so I only got it thin enough for us to each have 5 pieces of pasta.  Also, I should note, that I get an 'F' on filling agnolotti.  Here it is before I sealed it:

And then after I sealed it, the filling came squishing out.  I might take a picture of that at a later date.  I was too frustrated at that point to photograph anything, and my arms were about to fall off anyway from rolling out the pasta.  SO, we're getting ravioli instead.  And I'm making more pasta dough, a whole recipe this time, to use up the rest of the fantastic filling which I tasted.  That way we can each have 15 pieces of pasta.  And I won't have to feel guilty about not doing any push-ups the week we're out of town, because I have never, ever, in my life been so sore in my pectorals as I am after rolling out all this pasta, except for maybe the last time I made pasta, which is probably why I swore I would never do it again.  I think that was 5 years ago.  And the first time I made it was right after we got married, so almost 10 years ago.  So sometime between now and the year 2018 I need to invest in a real pasta roller.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Something New for Breakfast

Every now and again, A.

will ask me for "something new for breakfast."  She is a breakfast kind of girl.  Actually, all my kids eat breakfast.  It's the only meal they eat reliably, so unless we're going somewhere I try to make it good.  In my normal rotation is:  french toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon and toast, cinnamon rolls, smoothies (usually with toast or cereal on a day we're going somewhere), and oatmeal on Sundays.  Evidently, this got old.  So back in November, she asked.  So one day I made an apple dutch baby, followed the next day by these breakfast pizzas (which I actually enjoyed considerably, and they used up my cardboard gluten free english muffins), then scotch eggs a couple days later.  After the scotch eggs, and her not actually liking any of the new things, she said "you don't have to make anything new for a while." Thanks, sis.   But then again, last week, during our bedtime routine when they place their breakfast order for the next morning, she asked again.  So THIS time, I pulled out the pioneer woman.  It's not gourmet by any means, but kids like it. So I made marmalade muffins, not bad, everyone liked them, except I think I used more sugar (even though it was the real kind of sugar) than I think I used in the entire months of November and December combined.  So I won't be making that again anytime soon.  Next up was the Egg-in-a-hole.  Why have I waited so long to make this?  It was perhaps the all time easiest breakfast I've ever made in my entire life, and everyone loved it.  It's totally going to be added into the rotation.  I used cookie cutters for my "hole" because believe it or not, I don't own a biscuit cutter.  I think that may have served me well and made it an even bigger hit, we had a bear, cow, pig, and star for our "holes."

It was almost a failure when the yellow started running out of the eggs, because we like our eggs well done in this family, but when I told them it was a delicious sauce in the egg that they could dip their bread in, everyone brightened and perspectives changed.

Anyway, I have thought several times over this last week, how similar she is to me.  How many times do I look around my perfectly full life, blessed life, and say to God, "give me something new"?  I have been reflecting on the different ways this could be taken.

I guess there are several ways I could have taken it, like "mom, I love your cooking so much that I'm ready for whatever new thing you have in store for me."  I have, on occasion, thought that, in relation to the Lord's blessings; however I'm not sure I always really mean it, or at least I know I am a little afraid of what He could actually come up with, because one of the times I thought that, I had twins, and that whole pregnancy/bedrest/first year with twins thing wasn't exactly comfortable.  Not that I'm complaining, I am actually, in retrospect, grateful for the trial because on the other side of it now I can see how even that blessed me.

If I'm honest, I think that the first thing that came to mind was, the way I took my daughter's request, "what you are giving me isn't good enough."  Wow.  Am I that ungrateful?  Sometimes, yes.  And then He decides to show me how I'm acting, by holding up a little mirror in the form of my daughter. Sometimes that's what it takes for it to sink in.