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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stress relieving through better cooking

When you're stressed, what do you do? I eat and I cook. I love to cook. I'm sure you realize this. The last week has been supremely stressful. Not only is it the end of the year, but my good friend had to say goodbye to her sister last week after a brave battle with cancer. I've also had some personal/family stuff to deal with lately. So, I retreat to my kitchen to make delicious things.

The first of these delicious things is clotted cream. I volunteered to host my class at my house this upcoming Monday when we will be discussing publishing a paper. My professor is British. I suggested we have proper tea in my backyard. Not only that, but I enthusiastically said "I'll make clotted cream!" Now, I have never made clotted cream before, nor actually did I even know what clotted cream was, but I knew it was something to serve with fancy tea. I was also sure I could take a stab at making it, and if it failed, oh well, the Co-op or the cheese shop probably sells the stuff anyways.

Turns out making clotted cream is insanely easy. All you need is a pint of heavy whipping cream, a heavy bottomed pot with a lid, and an oven that can stay at 180* for a sustained amount of time (12-15) hours. All of these I had, so I gave it a go. At the end of the 15 hours I pulled the pot out and lo and behold, there was a thick, yellowish skin on the top of the cream. That, my dear readers, is the clotted cream (cue "ewwwww" from Becki).

So, I skimmed off the skin, put it in a
mason jar, and put it in the fridge. The stuff got rock hard, so I googled "how to serve clotted cream" and saw pictures of it in pretty shapes and learned that it's essentially butter, so it needs to be softened before serving.

Well, as a big dorky archaeologist it turns out that I own a few wooden butter molds of the Amish persuasion. So, I let the cream soften, soaked the wooden molds, and stuffed them with the creamy buttery goodness. Voila! You can see the results for yourselves. I did one little one for each of us, and then made the remaining cream into a giant square with a star in the middle. I dare say, they will be impressed.

Additionally I made grenadine. Look at the photos, doesn't it look delicious? All
you do is boil down 32 oz of pomegranate juice to half its volume, take it off the heat, add 2c sugar and then 1 oz vodka (optional; it's a curing agent though, so if you want the stuff to last this step is essential). I had some Dry sodas ( which are honestly the best things EVER, used a vanilla bean one, added an ounce of grenadine and it made the most AMAZING shirley temple ever. Seriously, do yourself a favor and make one now.

Well, a girl can't subsist on this stuff only, so I had to make dinner. Dinner tonight was simple: shrimp boil (water, crab boil seasoning, shrimp) but OH NO! I had no cocktail sauce! So I made some! (are we seeing a trend here?) Here's how:
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp horseradish
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
Mix and YUM! Tasted just like the Beaver Brand stuff, but without the preservatives.

This last recipe here is for Nikki. Please make this tomorrow and tell me how it is. I made roasted broccoli
with a vinaigrette and pinenuts. So easy, and yet so good. Did you know broccoli has a nutty flavor if roasted? Yeah, I didn't either. I always had mushy steamed broccoli before. Never again I tell you! So here's how you do it:

1 head broccoli
some salt
1 tbsp olive oil
So, chop the broc up into little bite sized bits. Then throw it in a bowl, and add the above ingredients. Toss around so it's well coated. Place in oven at 400* and bake for... 10 minutes? When the broccoli reaches 10 minutes throw in a handful of pinenuts so they get nice and toasted. Leave in another 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, mix together 2tbsp balsamic and 1 tbsp dijon mustard (I, of course, have some homemade stuff I like to use). When the broccoli crowns start getting a little browned pull 'em on out, throw back in the original bowl, pour the dressing over and toss. Voila, amazingness.
Oh, and finally, I alphebetized my spice drawers the other day, and then ordered more spices from Savory Spice Shop in CO and they arrived today. Cue gratuitous picture
of my spices.

The broccoli was so good I just went back for a second helping. :)

1 comment:

  1. I have posted this twice now because I keep seeing that in my excitement for getting a comment from a professional foodie, I keep writing type-o's. How embarrassing! I got an email from the folks at DRY soda about the above recipe in my blog. See below!

    Hi Stefani,

    Thanks for the blog posting! Hope all is going well out in Pullman – has spring arrived yet? We’re still under a cool cloud of Seattle grey these days.

    We love hearing about how our customers are mixing DRY or pairing it with food. Your Shirley Temple with Vanilla Bean DRY sounds awesome!

    If you come to Seattle, be sure to swing by our office and Tasting Room to say hello – we’re here on weekdays from 11 to 5PM.

    Have a great day!

    Kate Holmes Thompson
    DRY Soda Co. | Marketing Manager
    w: 206.652.2345 ext. 108