Tag Archives: food

Saturday evening at home

Saturday evening at home. Snow is falling outdoors, and the roads are rough. I’m staying in, which is what I had intended to do anyhow.

The MainStage programming is all complete, the pieces are written, and tomorrow I meet the band and rehearse for the first (and only) time. This time next week, two Circus Harmony Fluente shows will be down, with four to go.

I’m spending the evening indoors, working on the NASM self-study that must be in the post on Wednesday. This project is giving me that feeling I have when I’m on my last day abroad — I want to enjoy one more day, but I can feel the call of home, and my mind is already there. My mind is already on other things, especially since school begins Monday.

And tomorrow is a circus day.

Realizing this morning what the weather would be today, I decided to make some shepherd’s pie. I had one brick of frozen ground lamb left in the freezer, so I thawed it today. Minced lamb with carrots and thyme and gravy was the base; mashed Yukon Gold potatoes with butter and Parmesan the top layer. Cheddar cheese finished it off.

Snickerdoodles

Vegetable shortening has no place in my house, since I don’t use it enough for it to keep without going rancid.

Snickerdoodle recipes almost invariably call for part butter, part shortening, so I’ve been on a search for an all-butter recipe that I actually like.

Thank you, Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, 10th edition  (© 1989) for this perfect recipe!

I spoke too soon in prepping this blog entry.

The cookies turned out like unleavened gooey butter cake.

A total disaster, except that that crumbs tasted like baked butter. Which I happen to think is a great flavor.

Tamale day

I finally put to use the recipes and skills learned in the tamale cooking class at Kitchen Conservatory some months ago.

On Monday I drove the 20 minutes west to Grace Jones’ home, where from scratch we cooked up pork tamales, a spicy tomatillo salsa, and a corn relish dip that actually worked beautifully as a side dish.

Along the way: a cup of lard, four different kinds of peppers of varying spiciness, eight ears of corn, an onion, a dozen limes, and much more.

Grace made a tres leches cake for dessert.  And a good time was had by all!

The masa is starting to come together. That’s just lard and cornmeal and salt.
And done!
Obligatory kitchen selfie.
Roasting corn and peppers for the corn dish.

That’s two dozen tamales in there….
The tomatillo salsa.
YUM!
All in all, a worthwhile effort.

NASM 2019

I am in Chicago as Webster University’s voting representative to the annual meeting of National Association of Schools of Music.

The meeting is always the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, and we are often in warmer climates, but Chicago is the place this year.  I arrived early to take in some of my favorite places at the Art Institute of Chicago, and to catch a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert.

Around the conference sessions, I’ve also had hotel-room time to finish some projects and write plenty of emails.  I’m feeling a bit more caught-up at the office.

One of the joys of these conferences is seeing friends and colleagues from around the nation.  Hallway conversations turn into meals or drinks.  Quick hugs turn into lingering conversations.  And all is right with the world.

Another joy?  Food!

I dined on Chicago-style pizza, AKA ‘heart attack in a deep dish,’ on Sunday evening, at Lou Malnati’s around the corner on State Street. The buttery crust was heaven.

Afterward, walking back to the hotel, I was asked by four nice men hanging around street corner “Are you stuffed, ’cause I’m really hungry”.  I gladly handed over my box with the last two chunks of pizza, and in fact had left the pizza joint with that box, hoping to run into someone who looked like a meal would be a nice thing.  I demurred, though, at buying the same man a 40-oz. beer in the corner 7-11.


The Hilton Chicago has a huge gingerbread display in the elevator lobby on the main floor:


The conference’s plenary sessions always feel a bit like an old Soviet five-year meeting, with dutiful approvals of pre-ordained decisions.

But there’s some fun too, like asking the question “Which of these photos best represents music theory meetings at a conference like this?”.

This was a rolling photo display on a meeting room call board . . . .


Finally, an obligatory selfie from Sunday morning:

I think I had on the only pink shirt in a room of 800 people.

Great flour explosion of 2019

Ordering online from Costco the other day (online meaning ordering for delivery the next day!), I decided for the 25-pound bag of all-purpose flour.

“I’ll save quite a bit of money,” I thought.

And so arrives the 25-pound bag. And it’s big.

“I’ll do a lot of baking,” I thought.

And so arrives Saturday week later. I’m in the kitchen after sundown, a cup of Earl Grey on the table, and making decisions about what to bake this weekend.

Bread, of course. Specifically peasant bread, my usual early-Sunday-before-church activity. Simple. Relatively fast. Foolproof. And done before I’m out the door to sing God’s praises.

Sunday evening, most likely sourdough, to be baked on Monday or Tuesday morning.

And Saturday evening? Cardamom buns, inspired by Henry on the Great British Baking Show.

All is well. Mise en place is set. And that 25-pound bag of flour is sitting on a bar-height kitchen stool.

I’m mixing away when I hear the bag start to slip. Before I could drop the ingredients in my hands, the bag is on the floor. As is at least two pounds of all-purpose flour.

I couldn’t bear to take a photo; the housekeeper was just here three days ago.

But it looked something like this:

As I write, the dough is on the first proof, and the kitchen is now clean again. Wall to wall. With broom and vacuum and towels and glass cleaner. I could lick this floor and it would be cleaner than my stovetop.

Let’s hope the cardamom buns turn out well.

Here ends the tale of the Great Flour Explosion of 2019.