Monday Morning

14 Jan

yarn basketSo much excitement, and so much to do!

It was a very full weekend around these parts, starting with vending at Amelia’s Marketplace Yanping on Saturday, and finishing Sunday night with a round of infusions to make bitters. All of it was rich and full and great.. but I want to do is knit!

I want a quiet corner and winter sunlight and my new blue and white mitten project for company. More on that very, very soon, I hope…

Wishing you a peaceful and productive Monday!

On Failure

7 Jan

cookie dough failIn the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking a lot about failure. Much of what I post here are projects that went well, or at least well enough to share. Today, some musings on the parts that go really poorly.

So, failure… Please consider Exhibit A, shown above, the cream wafers. Cream wafers are a Christmas recipe my mom used to make. I loved them when I was little – I loved them like I loved ponies and mermaids and stickers and things that were pink and purple. I was determined to make these cookies for the holidays, and I failed.

I made the cookie dough, popped in into the frige to chill like the recipe said, and then realized I didn’t have a rolling pin. Then some time went by, and it was still in the fridge. There it sat, a sad, incomplete, doughy reminder of great plans unrealized.

Then, dear reader, I accepted my failure and threw it away.

My failure was complete, I no longer felt bad about it, and there was the epiphany – completed failure means 1. acceptance and 2. purging the evidence.

Being surrounded by daily reminders of failure is awful. Completing the failure, purging, and moving on feels awesome. Here’s to failing, better.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

Finnish coffee bread brining kimchi

Redeeming Fruitcake

26 Dec

FruitcakeFruitcake is my favorite Christmas food.. Maligned, slandered, synonymous with a punch line – yep, that fruitcake.

When it’s done right, fruitcake is amazing. By done right, I mean adhering to the following fruitcake rules:

1. None of that weird preserved green stuff. The mysterious green stuff is supposed to resemble candied angelica root, a common fruitcake ingredient of yesteryear.

2. Fruitcake should contain real fruit. I use figs, prunes, dates, dried apricots, dried cranberries, and dried cherries if I can find them

3.Fruitcake should be boozy. I soak my dried fruit in brandy or bourbon for 24 – 26 hours. It adds flavor, richness, and moisture.

citronsThis year, I wanted to get all authentic. Ye old family fruitcake recipe (i.e. my mom’s) calls for 4 oz candied orange peel, 4 oz candied lemon peel, and 4 oz of preserved citron.

I make candied orange peel a couple of times each year, but never tried to make candied citron.

I’ve been lucky enough to see lots of citron in Asia, but almost never in Shanghai. I asked around at several fruit places, but nobody stocked it – it seems to be more of a Southern thing.

Conveniently enough, the plant market had several smallish ornamental trees with three or four citrons on each. I bought one and got it home to discover the citrons didn’t actually grow on the tree – they had been cut off another (probably much larger) tree, and grafted on to keep them fresh and make a pretty display. So weird.

I scrubbed them with fruit wash, and followed the same recipe I use to make candied orange peel. They have a candied citronslight bitterness and more of a green flavor than the orange peel, and were really fun to work with.

fruits and peelsThe final pile of brandy-soaked fruit, blanched almonds, and the various peels smelled amazing, and I just love how the fruitcake itself turned out.

It’s gotten me thinking about what other recipes need a bit of love to bring them back to their former glory.

Tuna casserole is next on my list.