my $85 pie

May. 9th, 2011 06:36 pm
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
Saturday night was the annual fundraising dinner for the La Plata Dems - we have a fancy catered dinner, a relatively famous guest speaker (this year it was our State House Minority Leader), and a silent auction - and Britt and I always help put it together and, of course, attend. Laura, the woman running it asked me if I'd bake a pie for auction, and I assumed she meant for the silent auction...but no, instead it (and a few other items) were auctioned off in a live auction, the purpose of which seemed to be for the big-pockets donors to show off by donating in public and getting something nominal in return. (It was pretty hilarious, actually. Laura gestured to me and my crutches and said it was clearly an amazing pie since I'd baked the it on only one leg!)

My pie went for $85! My slack-jawed amazement lasted only until the NEXT pie was auctioned off for something like $125, at which I decided I had been slighted by being told my cooking was worth only about 2/3 of what the other baker could fetch. But I felt a little better when I got email from the woman who bought it (the wife of our former state senator) asking for the recipe. I figured if I had to type it in, I might as well give it to you all, too. And I'm not charging you anything.

$85 Cranberry Apple Nut Tarte )

I bid on a couple of things in the silent auction, btw, and everyone was quite amused that the woman on the crutches won a private ski lesson. NO I DIDN'T HAVE A SKI WRECK YES IT WILL BE BETTER BY NEXT WINTER.
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
I made Kahlua ice cream the other day (a suitably vague point of time which encompasses both mixing up the batter on Wednesday afternoon, and ice-creamifying it yesterday) and it is yummy! If this were a real cooking blog I'd have lots of delectable photos to make your mouth water, but I couldn't find the camera, and anyway, you all know what ice cream and its ingredients look like. But the recipe and some meandering comments are under the cut. )
ilanarama: Mountain can has santa hat! (mountain santa)
I keep meaning to make food posts here; I have a few saved up in my mind that I still haven't written out. But last night and this morning I made maple ice cream with candied walnuts and that reminded me that I wanted to say something about ice cream.

First of all, ice cream isn't just for summer. Out here in the west it is - my favorite scoop shop in town closes down after the summer tourist season is over - but I grew up in the east, and went to grad school in the Boston area, which has (I read somewhere, and I can't find the statistic again, but this article pretty much describes it) the highest per-capita winter consumption of ice cream in the US.

This summer I bought an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, and I have made a lot of ice cream since then. I started out by trolling the web for recipes, and that's still pretty much how I make new flavors, but with one exception; I pretty much always make the basic ice-cream part of it using Ben and Jerry's Sweet Cream Base, sometimes modified to account for other ingredients. (For example, for the maple ice cream I used this recipe as a starting point, so instead of the 3/4 cup sugar I used the reduced cup of maple syrup.) It doesn't really matter if the sweetener is mixed first with the eggs or the milk/cream, so I do what works with the recipe and ingredients. I also use 1.5 cups each of milk and cream, rather than 1:2.

There are two things I really like about this base recipe. First, it uses whole eggs, so I no longer have to come up with creative ways to use up the whites. (I mean, I love coconut macaroons, but I was getting tired of them...) Second, the texture has so far (we're talking 6 or 7 batches) been perfect. The ice cream I made with lots of yolks always seemed to be too hard when removed from the freezer, and I had to chip small hunks off rather than scooping up big spoonfuls. The salted caramel ice cream from Cooking Light (that should have been a clue right there) was unpleasantly grainy. (But it tasted awesome, and I have since made it again with the sweet cream base, and oh, YUM.) The peach ice cream that I made with whipped egg whites (don't ask) was HORRIBLE. But all of the ice creams I have made using variations of the sweet cream base have been tasty, creamy, and when I pull the container from the refrigerator, the exact consistency to scoop out easily.

Mmm, ice cream.
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
On Sunday, Britt and I climbed 12,504' Grayrock Peak:

Grayrock ridge

Huh, I wonder why it's called that? :-) It's actually a semi-detached point at the southeast end of a long, flat lump of rock called Graysill Mountain, connected by a skinny ridge. (In this photo, I'm standing at the end of Graysill looking at the ridge and the Grayrock summit.) We had actually tried to climb it from the east last year; we'd gotten lost and ended up wandering around a cliffy steep face that was no fun at all before picking our way down again. This time we drove around to the southwest and hiked up an old, closed logging road that eventually petered out into a trail, which eventually disappeared entirely, but by that time we were above treeline and just aimed for the high point.

More pictures )

The slopes of Graysill from where we parked around 10,200 to a bit above treeline were thick with mushrooms. This has been a banner year in Colorado for wild mushrooms. Last Sunday we went on a dayhike specifically to look for and collect them, and we came back with something more than 20 pounds of mostly Hawk's Wings and King Boletes (as well as a few random samples of other things to try or investigate); on our way down from the peak, we collected Saffron Milkcaps (Lactarius deliciosus) and King Boletes (Boletus edulis). Our dehydrator has been running nonstop, and we've been eating mushrooms with nearly every meal, yum!

Mushroom pictures )

The weather was pretty marginal all day, but it didn't start actually raining until we got back to the vehicle. (And then it hailed!)
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
For [personal profile] whatistigerbalm, who wanted to know about bread pudding, and anyone else who is into the OM NOM NOM NOM.

Yesterday I made chai ice cream according to this recipe, which is basically this recipe from SimplyRecipes with less sugar (which seemed just right to me). I used a combination of Republic of Tea's Irish Breakfast and plain old Lipton's decaf for the tea. Pretty tasty, although the spices were too subtle for my taste. Next time I make it... )

I was going to just have the ice cream for dessert last night, but I was craving something more carbo-y, so I decided to make bread pudding, too, and have it a la mode. We have an awesome local artisan bakery and I buy their bread unsliced; whenever I get to the weird ends of the loaves I stick them in the freezer for bread pudding. Which I love. (In fact the only thing I didn't like about Connie Willis's Bellwether, which I recently read and loved immensely, was that the heroine didn't like bread pudding! Hmmpht.)

Bread pudding is like French toast (which I also love), only desserty instead of breakfasty. (Although, um, I had some leftover bread pudding for breakfast, with a dollop of yogurt and maple syrup, which considering that I go for the full-fat Greek honey yogurt, probably not all that different, nutritionally, from my dessert portion with ice cream.) The recipe I use is based on this bread pudding recipe from SimplyRecipes (which has a photo that makes me drool) which I modified to make 2 large servings (or if you're going to put ice cream on it, 3 small ones; or you can be a BIG PIG and eat it all yourself, not that I have done that...more than once or twice) as follows: )

I swear I don't just eat desserts. Today was a chilly, rainy morning, so I made kitchen-sink soup for lunch, this version consisting of onion, garlic, potatoes, lentils, the last of the scaly urchin mushrooms we collected on Saturday, and various spices: cumin, sage, thyme, and a whole lot of black pepper. I blenderized about a quarter of it and mixed it all up and had it for lunch along with a small glass of port, because there is something about lentil soup and port, and besides, I needed it for medicinal purposes (aka That Time of Month). Seriously awesome.

Hey, guess what? It's almost time for dinner!
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
I am trying to get out of the habit of only posting when I have something major to post about. Not that I plan to tell you daily what is in my fridge. (That's for Twitter. And no, I am not on Twitter - well, I have a couple of accounts, but I use neither.)

- On Saturday we did a guided edible and medicinal plant hike, which was pretty nifty. The most useful things I learned were that the berries of this plant (Twisted-stalk) are edible and taste like cucumber, and that harebell flowers and sweet cicely are yummy in a salad. I can also identify arnica and valerian and know to bind open wounds with the mossy stuff that drapes from the trees, and can poison you with Death Camas if need be, la la la. The volunteer instructor didn't know mushrooms, though, so we gleefully pointed out (and picked) the boletus edulus and scaly urchins we saw. Still on the early side for mushrooms here, but it was nice to come home with a pound of scaly urchin (hawks' wing).

- On Monday Britt left for a week of backpacking with some guys. He's sort of the guide. I would be annoyed at not being invited on the trip, but it's been raining a lot and expected to continue raining. So la la la, have fun, I am hanging out at home with the kitty, drinking wine and eating wild mushrooms.

- I am running! Still feel a little twingy in my peroneal tendon, but it doesn't actually hurt, and I got in a beautiful 15-miler on Sunday morning up Junction Creek and the Colorado Trail. Junction Creek was flooding the color of tomato soup as I ran along it, quite dramatic. I didn't get a super-early start but was still ahead of all the mountain bikers so only saw them while I was heading back down. 37 miles for the week, finally up in respectable territory again, although I would really like to get back to the 50-65 mile range and 6 days per week. Probably not until late fall, though.

- Speaking of running (I know, I speak of running a lot!) I ran a tempo run today which leaves me cautiously optimistic about my fitness. I was worried that I had lost a lot over the summer of injury recovery, but I was able to run 3 miles at an average 7:35 pace, which is about what I was running my (longer, though) tempos at in the winter. I have signed up for a 5K on Friday night and although I know I am not in PR shape, am hoping for at least better than the 23:58 I ran last year on the same course. In fact if I can hold 7:35 I will run 23:30, so that is my goal. The race course is hillier than my morning's run, but on the other hand, races are always faster for me. So we'll see.

- I made lemon squares with this recipe (that I had printed out from rec.food.cooking at least 15 years ago) and somehow the lemon topping slipped around the edge and under the crust (guess my oven isn't exactly level) and made half the pan turn into lemon upside-down bars instead. Not that they are bad, mind you; just that it was unexpected. Also, as some of you know I recently got an ice-cream maker, and I have all the ingredients for chai ice cream. Britt thinks I am going a little overboard with the weird ice cream flavors and so I was going to make it this week, while he is gone, but somehow the idea of ice cream is less attractive when it's cold and rainy. Also when I am still 5 pounds up from my March weight, despite my increased running and mountain biking. Phooey.

- I got two phone calls from political campaigns or organizations today. Yesterday I got one political call and a call from a polling organization. I think we answer on average one poll per week; I know it's random, but I think they are trying to sample all Colorado counties, and there just aren't that many people out here in the SW corner of the state. I am really looking forward to this election season being over just so the damn phone will stop ringing.

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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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