Thursday, March 6, 2014

“What we've been up to” or “To what we've been up”

I never know how to write that grammatically. Obviously, the first attempt makes a lot more sense, but the second follows the rules of grammar.

Wait a minute! This blog is supposed to be about food, making it, consuming it, and talking about it. What’s with the English lesson, Blechta?

Sorry, I’ve spent the past week going over the edit to my novel, Roses for a Diva, that’s coming this November, so it’s excusable to be stressed out about grammar, syntax (as opposed to sin tax), punctuation and the like.

Vicki (& R2D2) fed up with winter!
It’s also the main reason I don’t have a post ready for today. I have a number of them sketched out, and my darling wife is busy in her studio right at this moment, working on a post about the minestrone recipe she’s been working on the past month. It’s been so cold and snowy here in Toronto, most days see us digging in on a bowl of homemade soup. I occasionally make soup, but it’s one of her kitchen specialties, so most of the broths and potages gracing our table have been her doing.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been idle. Right at this moment just outside our back door, there are two slabs of cured pork belly being cold smoked over applewood, midway into becoming six pounds of maple-cured, double-smoked bacon (mostly for my son Karel). I would have fired up the cold smoker (should one really say they’re firing up a cold smoker?) two days ago, but the temperature has been so low, the meat would have frozen while the smoke was doing its thing. Today, it’s just a tad below freezing (-4C°) so the bit of heat given off by our A-Maze-N pellet smoker seems to be keeping things fluid. If I’m feeling really industrious this evening, I’ll also do the hot smoke, again over applewood. If not, it will have to get done tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in the oven there are two duck legs being turned into confit. If I hadn’t got behind in other things, that would have been this week’s topic. Our recipe is a bit in flux since I’m trying to cut down the salt in our diet. The beauty of making confit (besides the eating of it) is the flexibility of what you can do with it. Like many charcuterie recipes, the herbs and spices you choose is wide open. In the past, we’ve stuck to flavors more on the herbal side, but this time I’m trying out a bit of spice. So out with the thyme and in with the cloves. Just a touch, mind you, but it already smells glorious – and that was before it went into the duck fat for its long, slow transformation in a 280F° oven. Its ultimate goal will be as the star of my yearly foray into cassoulet-making, something that will hopefully make its appearance on our table in very early April.

And then there’s tonight’s dinner: meat loaf with mushroom gravy. Our hot veg will be roasted root vegetables (carrots, onions and parsnips) since the oven will have to be on anyway. I’m on the fence about whether to bake potatoes or mash them.

So you see, we’ve been very busy in the kitchen – even if we haven’t been writing about it!

No comments: