This holiday season, I’ve been all about the cooking and baking. I don’t know what’s gotten into me! In my family, we have three days of Christmas, and for each day, I made a point of making something new and yummy to eat.
On the 23rd of December, I made homemade (and full-fat) chicken alfredo, with from-scratch noodles. Both were winners, although rolling out the noodles by hand convinced me I do want that pasta machine I’ve been eyeing at the kitchen store. In the evening, I made apple pie cinnamon rolls, and they were delicious! I’ll be making these again for sure – especially since they freeze like a dream!
We opened some of our presents on the 23rd too, and my favorite two items were this pig pitcher:
And this clever bookmark. It’s a plastic stem and leaf; you put it in a book like this, and whenever you open the book again, it springs right to the page it’s “planted” in.
On the 24th, I made homemade pizza, using the fabulous thin crust recipe from Bread Illustrated, by the American’s Test Kitchen folks. The whole book is magic, and this pizza recipe is no exception. It was tasty!
For dessert, I made a vanilla souffle, using the perfect souffle recipe.
On the 25th, Mom made a fantastic ham dinner, and I was responsible only for the dessert. I made a triple berry pie, and went the extra mile in decorating the crust.
For New Year’s, I’ve been baking too. I made donuts – also from the Bread Illustrated cookbook. I won’t make these again, even though they were super easy, because I’m a Krispy Kreme girl, and these were just too heavy for me. Next time I make donuts, I’ll try one of the KK knock-off recipes. It sucks to be me, because our KK went out of business, so the only time I get them is when I travel. I was DELIGHTED to find them at the Victoria Station, in London!
I’ve also been cheesemaking once more, and I FINALLY cracked that elusive mozzarella! One of the best books I’ve ever purchased is The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, by David Asher. Finally, a book on cheesemaking that doesn’t require purchased starters, chemicals, fussy temperatures, or sterilization! It’s a book on cheese, the way it used to be made for thousands of years, before we all became afraid of our food. Brilliantly, it uses kefir as the starter, and it works perfectly. I made a simple rennet cheese, put half of the curds in cheese forms to age (still haven’t got to taste those yet) and turned the rest into mozzarella. Really good. Really, really good – and since I used raw milk, I got TONS more curd than I’m used to getting, with pasteurized and homoganized milk. And I’ll have whey left over to make ricotta, tonight!
And it’s not just cheese. Asher also talks about kefir in general; how to use it to make creme fraiche (I’m trying that tonight) and also naturally carbinated fruit drinks using kefir grains. I already started that, and as of this morning, it was already getting nice and fizzy. It’s great having so many uses for kefir, since it’s one thing I always have on hand.
In other news, I’ve been working hard on my next novels, and almost have books 1, 2, and 3 finished of the new steampunk series. I could have 1 and 2 published already, but as I’m also photographing and creating the covers myself, that’s taking longer than the actual writing. I make it a goal to write at least 500 words every day, and I keep a running log of how much I write, and what the total number of words to date is. Having a record really keeps me accountable, and makes me realize how “waiting for inspiration” is the absolute worst thing you can do. If you sit down and write, inspiration will almost always come…and even on the rare days when it doesn’t, or something crazy happens in my life to keep me from writing, I still manage something. And very frequently, I get over a thousand words a day – so frequently, I’m thinking of making the new daily goal. At the rate I’m going, book 3 will be done around the second week of January, and then I’ll immediately go into book 4.
And lastly…anyone want a rooster or two? The white frizzle cochin fluffy butts that I wrote about last time are, indeed, boys. They either need to find homes asap, or I’ll have two new chicken dinners in the freezer. I hate to butcher them, though, both because they aren’t up to size yet, and because they are so pretty and would make awesome roosters for someone who wants to bring the frizzle genes into their flock. I’m in Skagit County, in WA state. Hit me up, if you want a roo!
I’d want to try out something like that, too, I mean to cook and bake something different and delicious for next Christmas. We always have the same traditional dish, which I’ve never actually even cared much about, and lots of them, so we have to keep eating those for over a week! Sounds horrible, and after two days it really is!
My mother-in-law also makes cheese very often, without any difficult starters, chemicals etc. We have a dairy farm and plenty of raw milk to cook with. Homemade cheese is really yummy!
It was really fun trying all the new things…I think it might be a new tradition for us. I’m so envious of your dairy cows; it’s one of my dreams to have my own fresh milk. Sadly, I can’t figure out how to sneak one into my city lot!