Everything I Cooked

SR 500 East

I just finished my cocoa. I haven’t been in the mood for cocoa in weeks and this morning I saw the gray fog out the window and my feet were ice cubes and it felt like the perfect moment.

I have been so busy the past couple of days, that “I’m working as fast as I can yet seem to be running in place” feeling.

On Friday I did my Trader Joe’s run and finally managed to get to Target which was a completely unsatisfying experience. Every year some developer comes along and razes a farmhouse and paves over acres of open space and builds a new complex with a Target, Grocery Store, Office Supply Store, Electronics Store, Linens Store, Dollar Store and a Subway. I can walk out my front door and throw a rock in any direction and hit one of these complexes.

And whatever complex was built last year is then abandoned. Right now, the Target by the park and ride is the favored child and where I would normally go except I just didn’t have a chance last week. So instead I went to the Target that’s on the way home from Trader Joe’s and this is now the derelict Target where merchandise goes to die. I was in the Valentine stuff and it looked like they were putting it away. I had to stand for a second and count on my fingers until I was sure we hadn’t had Valentine’s Day yet.

I couldn’t find half the stuff I wanted and that made me too mad to wander around with my cart dazzled by all the pretty things and buy the stuff I didn’t need.

When I got home, tree pruner guy was over. Our orchard is one apple tree and when we first moved here we knew these people who had tons of fruit trees and they talked us into working with their pruner and now all these years later, we still have our apple tree pruned every year. The other people have long moved and to make it worth his while to drive down here, he also prunes the tree out front which is a weeping cherry (possibly made-up name) and it looks a million times prettier since he’s been pruning it.

While pruner guy was working I started my baking projects. I haven’t had a chance to restock my cookies since before the holidays and I like to bring homemade chocolate chip cookies to work with me. I started on that and mixed together the dough for my no knead bread. I make this almost every weekend. Don’t be impressed. It’s insanely easy. I recommend substituting a half cup of whole wheat bread flour.

Meanwhile, the writers group met yesterday and I had been intending to make Keetha’s Sweet Potato Cake. The recipe is on my fridge so I would remember that I need to buy the rum. But since I was already making the cookies, I thought I’d share cookies with the writers and try making these White Bark Balls instead and save the cake recipe for next time.

I originally save the Bark Ball recipe because it said peanut butter and chocolate and those are among Bob’s favorite flavors of all time. I started pulling together this recipe as well.

Also, it was getting near dinner time. I had grabbed some potatoes and leeks at the store thinking I’d make some potato and leek soup since we haven’t had that in ages. But I had already cut out a recipe for Quick Clam Chowder because it had the word “quick” in it and Bob loves clam chowder. That recipe didn’t call for leeks but it called for a bunch of green onions so this wasn’t a huge leap of creativity.

So now I have these various bowls and piles of ingredients gathering in different corners. For some reason, starting everything at once (yes, I have a lot of counterspace in my kitchen) seemed like a good idea. Then tree pruner guy came in and commented on the hedge between our house and house next door. The hedge has been completely neglected for years (well, we’ve made a few stabs at hacking it back but it makes your arms really tired and I’m afraid my husband will clip off a limb if he does it by himself) and he thought this might be something we should give some attention to. “Can you recommend someone?” I asked. I was thinking they’d need to bring in a team with chainsaws and a big truck and rakes.

“I can do it,” he said. And he started right then.

When I got back to my cookies I couldn’t remember whether I needed baking soda, salt or both. I was pretty sure I had added one but wasn’t sure which so I added the soda and not the salt and ended up with salt-free cookies. They’re edible but not magically delicious. They’ll keep me at the office until I get around to making some more but I was burnt that I made a mistake.

The Bark Balls was an aggravating recipe because the first step is to take crispy rice cereal, peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar and mix together and press into balls. Visualize those ingredients. It didn’t mix together at all. I had big blobs of butter that I tried to break up with my fingers and only the cereal that got stuck into the peanut butter would make a ball and wouldn’t pick up more cereal. I kept adding peanut butter to the dry stuff in the bowl and melted some butter and added that, too until I’d managed some crumbling balls. The next step is to refrigerate but who has room in the fridge for that? I covered them and set them out in the shop.

The chowder came out splendid. The bread was only dough and we had no bread product so I whipped up some biscuits which ended up like everything I bake, ugly but tasting good. But by the time we’d eaten and I had all my messes cleaned up and dishes put away, it was bedtime.

Yesterday was time for step 2 of my Bark Balls. I melted some chocolate and rolled my peanut balls in it and this was the highlight of my day. I was glad Bob wasn’t around because he wouldn’t have been able to keep his hands out of it. I was melted chocolate up to my wrists and I would have bathed in it if I had the chance. I set the chocolate covered balls back out in the shop to chill and a couple hours later brought them out for the writers and our eyes rolled back in our heads. Really fabulous and worth all the trouble. I will make them again. There’s got to be a peanut butter FAQ somewhere that will help me master this thing.

After the writers left I did a few chores and baked the bread from Friday. Then I started dinner which was this Red Lentil Soup with Lemon recipe. I still had bacon left from the chowder recipe so I decided that would add a nice flavor and cooked the onions with it. I don’t like tomato paste so I threw in a can of fire roasted tomatoes and I added a turnip with the carrot because I had one that had lost its crispness. I didn’t add the water and was too lazy to puree anything and I totally forgot the lemon which is sad since that’s in the title of the recipe. Even Bob liked it and he’s not a lentil fan.

Today I don’t have to be anywhere or do anything so I’m writing an epic blogpost which if you are still here, thanks for reading. Now I’m going to bathe and then goof off some more.

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