Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Country Living

One of the things we were told before moving to the Pioneer Valley ("the country") is that we would definitely start brewing our own beer.  I'm not much of a beer drinker (even less so since leaving Wisconsin), so I think I found my substitute.

I made cheese.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Andy's been telling me for months, maybe even years now that I should start a food blog.  I've resisted the idea because it seems like white noise.  Besides, I don't come up with recipes like some of the greats out there (I'm looking at you, Deb), I just make their stuff.

But what's wrong with that?  Often it's delicious.  And pictures of food?  Sounds all right to me.

Andy and I took an Indian cooking class the other week, and it was inspiring.  The food wasn't very hard to make, so although this Saag Paneer that I made wasn't on that day's menu, it built off of the class.

I used this recipe, because it was the first one that came up on Google.  A woman at the cooking class told me how she makes her own paneer, and this recipe suggested it as well, so it was on.

One of the things that our class teacher showed us was to make good use of your food processor.  We've got a mini-prep, which it turns out is perfect for onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeños.

This is supposed to be a spinach dish, but we had kale, too (as we often do), so I chopped those up together, then ran them through the food processor as well.

One note I will give you: if you use the mini-prep for the jalapeño, STAND BACK when you take the lid off.  Trust me.  Open it pointing away from your face.  Your lungs will thank me.

"How do I make paneer?" you ask.  SUPER easy.  You need milk (whole, or 1/2 and 50%, if you desire) and lemon juice.  And cheesecloth.  There have been many times when I've wanted a cheesecloth, like the day I strained ghee through a dinner napkin, but now we finally have one.

I'm proud of my CHEES CLOTH

Start your milk a-boiling.  Start some rice.  Add garam masala (which you can also make at home!  Who knew?) and cumin, if you like.  If you have space on your stove, you can also start your onion/garlic/pepper/ginger mix with some oil.

In my excitement about making the paneer, I neglected to photograph the exciting milk-into-cheese moments.  I apologize.  Here's what went down: the milk boiled, I added a quarter cup of lemon juice (bottled, not fresh-squeezed like was called for, but I don't think it suffered), and the milk started to curdle up.  I stirred it a bit, pushing it together-ish, then poured it into my cheesecloth-lined colander in my sink.

Then it looked like this!
 Then this...
 Then, this.
I used two jalapeños and this was far too much for me.  I took out some, but not all of the seeds, and I think that's where I went wrong.  I was wearing my orange K College sweatshirt, and Andy said my face turned the same color.  But it was very tasty, and enjoyable as my first foray into Indian cooking on my own.
And here's Brisco, looking amazing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's Business Time

OK, that might be a misleading title. If that made you think of anything in particular, put that aside. Certainly don't think about business socks.
But you know what's cool? My husband is starting a business. I don't know what I can or should say here on the wide-open internet, so I'll just say it's micropaleontology-related, and that should be sufficiently confusing or  boring enough for most people to just nod and go "Oh, good for him," and change the subject.  Ever since he and his labmates decided to make this tool, it's been gathering speed and making progress. They've hired an employee and are going to Texas this summer to pitch their idea to oil companies. (That's where the money is in micropaleontology.)
So, that's what is happening for him. As for me, my nannying job is coming to an end at the end of the month, as we all knew it would. Since February, I'd been sending out my resume and applying for jobs, with varying degrees of self-confidence. The job world at large is terrible at responding to applicants, so nearly everything I sent out was put on a mental shelf where I could neither completely assume I hadn't gotten it, but as time passed, it looked less likely. (Maybe I should make that a note for Andy, once his company is huge and awesome, he should still make it a point to respond to applications saying no thanks.)
Anyway, I saw a posting for an administrative assistant at an engineering firm. I don't know anything about engineering. I dated an engineer once. That's about it. But the job description sounded typical for an office, so I applied. I also threw in a story from my college physics class:
I had been called on to walk the class through how I had solved a problem, so I began describing what I had done. In one step, I mistakenly used a conversion saying that 1 meter = 3 feet. My professor corrected me (only after finishing the whole problem) and said that my fast-and-loose conversion gave him hope for me as an engineer.
So, basically, in my cover letter, I put in a story about how engineers aren't very good at what they do. Or at best, aren't very precise. And guess what?

I got the job.

I start in mid-July, but I'll be taking the first two weeks of July to go back to Ann Arbor to go through some old stuff of mine. And hopefully not bring too much of it back. We've got limited space here as it is.

Andy said we would go out for ice cream tonight. And then he changed his mind. Isn't life rough?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's Spring!

Happy Spring, Reader! We had a beautiful week in Western Mass with 80-degree days, but now it seems to be back to winter-weather. It snowed on me and Brisco on our walk this morning, but no matter. My thoughtful (and currently out-of-the-country) husband sent me these beautiful flowers that help to keep spring in mind. That, and our upcoming vacation in the Caribbean.

Have you seen my new apron? Of course not. I haven't updated in like a year. My friend Sarah has a store on the thirty-one, and I wanted to help support her, so I ordered this apron. It has the Spanish word for 'hungover' on it, chuchaqui, mostly because I think it's a funny word. That particular morning I made biscuits and was in my PJs.
So, I mentioned that Andy is out of town, with a few weeks behind us and a few more to go. I've been making a conscious effort to make sure I keep cooking and eating good food and not just having cereal three meals a day. I made some oatmeal cookies a few weeks ago and it dawned on me that I was going to have to eat them all. I was glad when an opportunity came to drop some off at Andy's lab.

Yesterday, though, I couldn't fight the urge to make a chocolate cake. Even with the knowledge that I, poor me, would quite possibly have to eat it all.

Another thing I've been doing since Andy's been gone is sorting through our stuff and making Goodwill donation runs. This time it was our movie collection that I attacked. I decided that I didn't need to own Chocolat anymore, but hey, I could watch it one last time with a piece of cake. With a dusting of fleur de sel on the icing.
I've got most of a cake left. I resisted the temptation to have it for breakfast this morning. I may not be so strong now that lunchtime is here. :-D