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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You call it rabbit, I call it delicious...

No pictures today... where did I put that camera cable?

I am constantly bemused by the fact that the average American could go their whole lives with eating basically three terrestrial animals: chickens, pigs and cows. Throw in a once a year turkey to liven things up, and that's pretty much what you can buy in the supermarket. Of course I know there is lamb, but it's hard to find good lamb, and there are some others too...

I, for one, have become obsessed with eating "different" animals. I have no qualms with believing I am toward the top of the food chain, so I don't think I will ever be a very practical vegetarian. And, well, if I were in the forest in India and a tiger ate me, well, okay, I guess I had it coming.

I've eaten a lot of weird things that some of you would prefer I didn't mention. Dog. It's not bad, it's not good. It's just dog. The obligatory escargot (snails) from when I lived in Paris. Rancid yak butter tea from the Himalayas. All the unmentionables: tongue, brain, sweetbreads (a gland), Rocky Mountain oysters (if you have to ask, you don't want to know). Oh, and my personal favorite: it's not a food, it's a medicine, but it's bear bile. It is what it sounds like. They use it as an immune booster in Asia. It is illegal, but I was given some by a family in Vietnam. It's pretty disgusting, but it works.

So, I was at the Co-op in Moscow and came across a few delicious things: elk steaks, bison steaks, goat meat (halal!) and rabbit. Naturally, I bought all of these, and we have slowly but surely been eating them. This weekend we made rabbit. I had rabbit once before in Paris and it was amazing, so I decided to try my hand at it.

It was incredible! The texture of the animal is kind of different, for they have such powerful legs! But I really highly recommend it.

As dinner was cooking my mouth watered, and I decided to make chocolate soufflé as well. I have a no-nonsense easy recipe to follow. The biggest thing to know about soufflés are do NOT open the oven until that timer goes off! Soufflés are very shy and they will collapse if you open the door before they are ready to see the world!

School is going okay. My agent-based modeling class is great but difficult. K and I spent 2 hours trying to work through 3 mathematical modeling problems today. I have abstracts due for the Society for American Archaeology meetings, and just generally too much to do. To top it off I had some pretty intense nightmares last night, so I'm guessing I'm stressed. It's unfair: it's only the 2nd week of school!

In other news I really want a French country tablecloth for my round table upstairs. I can't believe they're $100! I wish I hadn't left mine in Paris 7 years ago....

Chocolate Soufflé

2tsp butter
1/2 c sugar in all
8 oz semi sweet chocolate
4 large egg whites
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup grand marnier
3/4 cup chocolate grand marnier sauce (to follow)

preheat oven to 400*
great ramekins with butter and sprinkle 1 tsp sugar throughout each to coat all sides

In a double boiler melt the chocolate.

Meanwhile, using electric mixer beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup of sugar until very stiff.

When chocolate is melted add egg yolks in 1 at a time. Add the grandmarnier and then whisk in 2 tbsp sugar. Fold in the egg whites and whisk till blended.

Pour chocolate in ramekins. Bake until puffy, 20-25 minutes.

This recipe will at least double in size, so make sure you don't fill those ramekins above halfway! Glass works best, though I have used muffin tins in a pinch, they just shouldn't cook for anywhere near as long. Turn the light on in the oven at the beginning so you can periodically check on your desserts as they are cooking. Once the middle of the soufflé is no longer bowed they're pretty much done.

Run a knife along the edge and flip the soufflé onto a plate upside down.

Okay, the sauce:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1.5 tsp grand marnier
3/4 tsp sugar
3/4 oz semi sweet chocolate (though this weekend I ran out of chocolate chips so I used hersheys syrup and it turned out okay)

Heat cream in small saucepan. Add grand marnier and sugar. Whisk in chocolate, bring to a boil. Whisk constantly. Remove from heat and drizzle over the soufflées.

Okay, someone else try this recipe and tell me how it works! :)

Without further ado, the rabbit!

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a 2 1/2- to 3-pound rabbit, thawed if frozen, cut into 7 or 8 serving pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • In a large bowl stir together flour and salt. Add rabbit and toss to coat. In a heavy kettle heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown rabbit in batches, transferring pieces to a bowl.

    Add onion and remaining tablespoon oil to kettle and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned. Stir in garlic and rosemary and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Add broth, wine, and rabbit with any juices accumulated in bowl and simmer, covered, 1 hour, or until rabbit is tender. Remove lid and simmer until sauce is thickened slightly. Stir in parsley.

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Roadkill, Cherry Tomatoes and approaching autumn

    Have you ever reached into the 'fridge, pulled out your little carton of cherry tomatoes and said "awwww! They got all wrinkly! Damn it!" Well, I learned my food preservation techniques from my parents. Eggs, in the fridge. Butter, in the fridge. Hot sauce, in the fridge. Honestly, everything goes in the fridge that isn't either chalk full of chemicals or hermetically sealed against the elements. Now I keep at least one stick of butter out every week so I have a good consistency for toast. My french friends tended to keep their eggs in the pantry, not the fridge. I alternate between putting hotsauce in the fridge or the pantry, based on which one is less full. I haven't died yet. Well, it turns out cherry tomatoes don't want to be refrigerated either! The carton I got had a cute little cartoon that said "I don't like being cold--keep me on the counter, not in the fridge!" Wow, thanks carton, I didn't know! So cherry tomatoes are like certain parts of the male anatomy: when put in the cold and damp they shrivel up and get small. I'll never put you in the fridge again, cherry toms (except, of course, when I forget!)

    So, the roadkill story: my man got a shotgun recently and hasn't gone hunting yet, but is planning on going bird hunting. I am excited. I love new meats and am happy with the prospect of hunting our own. However, last week my brother and I were driving to Moscow Mountain and a pheasant jumped out in front of the car. I have a rule: I do not slam on brakes or swerve for animals if it will endanger my own species. Humans first, animals later. Needless to say, I quite literally punted the pheasant off the passenger headlight. The thing went peeeewiiiiiiiiiiiiing, rocketing off the front, tumbling a bit, and landing in some thick vegetation. Well, bro and I decided to stop the car and look for the bird. There was a HUGE spray of feathers all over the road. We followed where we thought the bird landed, but couldn't find it in the brush! I was disappointed--I thought it would give me good practice plucking and gutting. There is no way that the bird could have survived, so my theory is it disintegrated.

    So, on that note, today was quite a culinary day! I had an AM meeting with a classmate of mine who is working on helping me understand the most mind-melting project. He is a godsend, so I try to bribe him with food whenever I can. P understands R and Matlab much better than me. If he were to quit the project I would be up shit creek. So, I made him scones. Oatmeal scones, and I couldn't find my regular oats (I just moved) so I used 2 packets of instant. I think it definitely changed the texture a bit (made it drier) but the overall result was pretty good. Recipe to follow at the end.

    At lunch my lab-mate K and I went to a French teahouse where we tried a white tea and an oolong, had a cheese tartlet with fresh organic greens, and lavender crème brulée for dessert. Delicious!

    Dinner was a portobello sandwich in balsamic reduction with roasted (end of) summer squash on the side. My man made this for me, and it was simple yet elegant.

    Speaking of end of summer, my god! Where did it go? I am ready to go pick apples and press cider, but I'm not sure I'm ready for the days to get shorter. Who am I kidding? I'm never ready for the days to get shorter! Here in Pullman the shortest day of the year means the sun sets at 3:30!!! Ouch! I know, for those of you who live in Alaska I am complaining about nothing, but 3:30 is just too damn early, if you ask me.

    In a bowl stir together 2 cups flour, 1 cup oats, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, 2 tsp baking soda, and salt to taste. Add in 6 tbsp room temp butter (I smoosh it together with my hands) until dough gets a crumbly texture. Meanwhile, in small bowl whisk together 3/4 cup buttermilk (I didn't have any, but I had some heavy whipping cream (!) so I used that!) and 1 egg. Add to flour mixture along with 1/2 cup fruit, 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup nuts. Mix thoroughly. Divide dough into 8 even balls. Smoosh balls onto a cookie sheet, place in preheated to 350* oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes. (photos are of pre-baked, and right before being shoved into my mouth)

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    I am a graduate student. Sometimes that feels like more than a full time job. And I'm sure some of you are wondering "does she even have time to make anything but frozen pizza?" While there are definitely nights where that digiorno gets popped in the oven, more often than not I will find ways into the kitchen.

    For example, last March WSU had the "Iron Coug Video Cooking Competition." It's a fairly dorky video, but I had just bought my new MacBook and was thrilled to try out the video editing software. What's more, I won! Hoorah!

    The video even features my music:

    Tonight it was breakfast for dinner! I had a hankering for poached eggs (I know, odd) so I went to the store and bought some new white wine vinegar and had a bouquet of flowers follow me home. I'm in a new house, a 1930's bungalow style, and I think fresh flowers will become a mainstay here.

    I whipped up a hollandaise with egg yolks, vinegar and butter and then added some tarragon and orange peel to spice it up. The seeded baguette I bought at the farmer's market served as the platform, upon which I piled prosciutto, tomato, fresh basil leaves and the poached egg. Topping it off with the hollandaise made this a delicious little eggs benedict!

    I remember how I used to buy eggs benedict at breakfast places and be amazed at it, thinking it was such a difficult dish. Really, it's not! I was surprised. Although the poached eggs can be a bit temperamental, the rest is quite easy if you're patient. Thankfully the meal didn't take long, as I still have quite a bit of reading to do for my class in the morning. Doesn't it look delicious? Kind of like an eggy ice cream scoop!

    This is my second year of graduate school, and it is going quite well. Last year I quite literally cried for the first few weeks fairly regularly. I had taken 5 years off between undergrad and graduate school, and my brain was just not used to reading all the material. This year, no tears yet. Although... some of these classes are very difficult.

    I study archaeology. Before you think "oh cool, dinosaurs!" that's paleontology. A common mistake, don't feel bad. Archaeology is the study of human cultures. I am working with Dr. Tim Kohler, certified genius, doing agent-based modeling of pre-hispanic people in the southwest. I specifically am interested in looking at how cooperation and conflict both affect a group's ability to survive in marginal climates. I get to work with some of the most amazing archaeology. Last week Tim took me to Bandelier National Monument, where I got to talk to our collaborators (also certified geniuses) and wander the forest with my advisor looking at archaeology. Amazing!

    Okay, well, enough for tonight. I have much to tell you about; I have made so much jam, and my man and I have brewed 7 batches of beer and two batches of mead! Details will soon follow; as well as posts about cooking with strange meat (octopi!) and trying to salvage a pheasant I hit with my car... what's wrong with road kill? I mean, really?

    Goodnight friends