The humans have been cooking again. Often, Sigyn and I like to help—or at least observe closely. Sigyn, because she is a fledgling foodie; me because cooking offers so many opportunities for mischief.
But from the looks of things, this is might be one recipe I’m glad I didn’t have a hand in.
You can bet I’m not helping with the cleanup. This kitchen is a disaster.
What IS this goop?? Whatever it was, it made enough that they could have fed Volstagg and still have had leftovers.
(sniff, sniff) My highly-sensitive nose detects leeks, garlic, butter, and a few leftover caramelized onions. That’s not too bad, I suppose. But what is all the non-leek green stuff?
Oh. It’s cabbage. There must be nearly a whole head of cabbage in here.
And what are the pasta-y bits?
Whole wheat spaghetti. At least it’s nutritious goop.
And we have the remains of a bag of shredded parmesan cheese, as well as some toasted almonds for the top.
Sigyn and I both adore toasted almonds. (munch, munch, munch)
Do you feel brave enough to taste the leftover whatever-it-is, my love? I think I want to see the recipe first.
Oh, so that’s what it was supposed to be. The New York Times strikes again! And that explains the almonds. The human female is allergic to walnuts.
(nibble, nibble) You know what? This isn’t half bad! The caramelized cabbage is a little nutty, and it plays well with the cheese and the leeks. And there is so much left over that we can have it for lunch tomorrow. I think we’ll call this one a success.
The humans have taken it into their heads to try their hands at baking bread again. And when I say, “taken it into their heads,” I mean, “I planted the subconscious suggestion while they were sleeping.” Their results have been. . .mixed, to say the least. There’s a good chance they’ll have another spectacular failure with which I can embarrass them for years to come.
The human female has seized upon a recipe for a “Harvest Loaf” pictured in a flour-manufacturer’s catalog.
What do you think, Sigyn? It looks like it might be edible, if it comes out right. Let’s take a closer look at the recipe.
The page is messy already! The recipe itself doesn’t look too hard. But look at that eight-hour rising time! This will require planning, which is not the female’s strong suit. This could be a glorious disaster!
Let us commence! Flour, first. Careful measuring is important. (I’ll add or subtract some later.)
There’s whole-wheat flour in this as well.
That practically guarantees it won’t rise like she wants it to!
Sigyn, if you are going to fall in, do it now before things get sticky.
Salt is important, too.
Keeps the yeast beasts in check. Or so I’ve heard. Next loaf I’ll magically remove it and we’ll see what happens.
And the yeast beasts themselves!
Rats! I could have sworn I super-aged it, but it’s still within it’s best-by date. I was hoping she’d have to run to the store mid-recipe.
Yes, Sigyn, the measuring cup does make you look funny.
Is it supposed to look like swamp gunk?
Or easy-set concrete. One or the other…
The dough is coming together.
Don’t stand there too long, my love. You’ll either get stuck in the concrete or smothered by rising dough…
Time to make big pieces of fruit into itty bitty pieces of fruit. Sigyn thinks snipping dried apricots with the scissors is fun.
Are you sure you don’t want me to do it with my dagger? Because you know how I love using my dagger.
That is a LOT of fruit and pecans!
If this doesn’t work, it’s going to be a sad waste of apricots, cranberries, and pecans.
Everything’s mixed in. Nothing to do now but let it rise.
The loaf bakes in a Dutch oven. I think this is a good idea.
Not because the enameled cast iron conducts and retains heat well, but because it is GREEN.
Don’t forget the pan of hot water for the bottom oven rack!
(much, much later)
Well, here it is. Such as it is.
Vindication! As I predicted, the rise leaves quite a bit to be desired. It’s not a loaf, it’s a rather large, starchy hockey puck.
But it smells good…
The human female has looked at the recipe’s feedback online. Apparently many others have had trouble getting this recipe to rise. See, mortal? You’re not the only one who sucks at bread! Just the worst one.
(poke, poke, poke)
Hmm. It didn’t rise much, but the texture is fairly open for a loaf with whole-wheat flour. It’s not as dense as I thought it’d be. Perhaps it will be edible after all. (If all else fails, we can pick out the fruit and nuts.)
(nibble, nibble…CHOMP!) Great Frigga’s Corset! It maylook like a paving stone, but this stuff makes toast fit for a god. But I can’t let the human female know that! Run along, human. Go look up other bread recipes online or take a nap or something. No, no! Don’t worry about cleaning up after your failure. I’ll take care of that.
(Like heck, I will.)
Sigyn and I are going to spend the afternoon with this bread, the toaster, and a crock of butter.
The rice dish had a lot of steps. With that taken care of, we can get started on the other recipes
The chicken dish actually had a sticky note on the page, put there by a previous library patron.
It looked so good, the humans didn’t bother to read many of the other entree recipes!
Looks simple enough.
It’s just chicken sauteed with turmeric, sumac and lime juice.The humans don’t actually have any sumac (unprepared, as per usual!), but they do have za’atar, which is a Turkish dish whose principal ingredient is sumac, so it’s a reasonable substitution.
Chicken thighs cooking. I’m glad the recipe doesn’t call for them to be cut up into bite-sized pieces because, frankly, boneless chicken thighs are a mess, a real labyrinth of different muscle groups and connectivey bits.
Time to make the salad! A specific amount of cucumber is called for. Is our one big cucumber equal to the three small ones the recipe stipulates?
It is! Now we peel and chop, then chop the tomatoes.
We’re omitting the raw onions (because –bleargh!), but we are including the lime juice and the minty mint from the side yard.
Mmmm. This is going to be good, trust me. Not at all like toothpaste!
We’ll let the salad ingredients get to know one another for a while,
While we reduce the cooking liquid from the chicken.
Everything is done!
Zero points for plating, but it all smells so good that I’m going to let presentation slide— just this once.
Pull out the fire extinguisher, locate the first aid kit, and put EMS on speed dial–the humans are cooking again!
Every now and then, the mortals get bored with the same old menus. Then they put their pointy little heads together and come up with something new to make. The male gathers recipes online like a magpie hoards shiny things, the female likes to change up old favorites or recreate things they’ve eaten in restaurants, and both of them have discovered the library’s cookbook section. Recently, the female was returning books to the library and spent exactly two minutes in the cookbook section before she grabbed the first thing that caught her eye. Tonight, we’re having Persian food! Sigyn wants to help, so you can be sure I’ll be around to make sure she comes to no harm.
They are making three things out of the book—a rice dish, a chicken dish, and a salad. The SweetRice with Carrots and Nuts (Shirin Polo) looks very complicated, so we are going to start that first. The rice cooker is going, and we have some butter melting in the big enameled iron pot.
Careful, my love! Not only would a hot buttered Sigyn not be a Good Thing, that handle is going to get more than a wee bit toasty in very short order.
Time to show an onion who’s boss!
Have dagger, will stab.
stabbity, stabbity, stabbity…
While those are sauteing, it’s time to locate all the spices.
Good thing we started early! We need cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, and saffron. I see Garam Masala, Rocky Mountain Seasoning, French thyme, lavender, peppermint extract, and purple sugar. This may take a while…
Oof! That was close! There’s a bag up in there with something yellow and powdery, and they almost grabbed it, thinking it was turmeric, but look at the faded label:
Masala curry. Absolutely guaranteed not to be a good substitute for what they want. Keep looking, you morons.
Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Don’t the humans ever label anything?
This also came out of the spice cupboard, but is is 100% NOT peanut butter. It is very, very golden and doesn’t smell like much, so I’m going to say this is the long-lost turmeric…
I think we have most of it now.
Ah, but do we have saffron?
We do! Saffron is more per ounce than gold, did you know that?
Norns Nighties, Sigyn! What are you doing in there? Whatever you do, don’t inhale. We can’t afford it.
We are grinding up the saffron and will soak it in some hot water to draw out all the yellow, musty goodness.
The carrots need to be shredded. Bring forth the Grater of Death!
I swear Sigyn is trying to give me a heart attack. Dearest, do be careful of those precious digits of yours.
Time for honey…
Someone has been reading too much Winnie the Pooh. At least this one is labeled. It’s all crystallized, so rather than pour, we can just scoop it out with a spoon.
Next, some orange zest.
There you go–one nekkid orange. The microplane is not as bloodthirsty as the Grater of Death, but it has been known to sample human flesh from time to time.
There are almonds and pistachios to chop.
I do love pistachios! One for the rice, one for me. One for the rice, one for me. One for the rice, two for me…
Now the cooked rice gets combined with the onions-spices-honey-nuts mixture. Mmmm. Smells delicious!
Wake up, Sigyn! It’s a very special day! Do you know what October 4 is? It’s Cinnamon Roll Day!That’s right! In some northern countries, they celebrate by eating cinnamon rolls today. That is my kind of holiday!
When the human male mentioned this last night, the human female immediately hatched a plan. Now, I know the human female knows how to make cinnamon rolls–I’ve seen her do it. But she’s lazy at heart, so she decided that walking to the market, buying some bake-your own rolls, and eating those would be good enough. And the exercise would negate the calories from snarfing the rolls, right?
So here we are, on a pleasant fall morning, about to embark upon a gastronomical celebration.
The early light is pretty, but it hasn’t reached the schoolhouse lilies yet.
We are now at the market. The bakery must not know what day it is, because there isn’t a huge display of warm, cinnamony goodness.
And it looks like there was a run on brioche…
We’re headed, therefore, to the refrigerated dough section. We’re nearly there, but a display of All Things Pumpkin Spice has caught our eyes.
Um, no. Let us keep looking.
All right. Here we are. Pizza dough, bread dough, crescent rolls… Well, these look interesting, and they do come in both red and green options…
But we are here specifically for cinnamon rolls, so we should keep looking.
Ah. Cinnamon rolls. By Volstagg’s Straining Waistcoat Buttons! We have a lot of options. Almost too many. I have never seen strawberry ones before.
Is that even legal? What else do they have? How about Extra Rich ButtercreamIcing?
I mean, there’s a 1-800 number for a cardiologist right here on the label, but they could be good. . .
Sigyn has countered with these.
Intriguing, but the human male is not one for Cream Cheese Icing.
The human female swears that the Orange ones are good.
But I think these would be most appropriate for the Rightful King of Asgard and Future Ruler of Midgard.
So what kind did we get? Who whined and wheedled until she got her way? Who do you think?
This is the human female trying to determine whether the round pan specified is going to hold all eight rolls.
It’ll be cozy, but it should work.
The time has come to open the roll of refrigerated dough. This is always the exciting bit. Sigyn, do you see where to start peeling away the paper wrapper?
Ehehehe! The human female has already greased the round pan, but look here!
She could be feasting gluttonously sooner if she’d paused long enough to read the Faster Bake Method instructions. She’s too lazy to wash the round pan and pull out a baking sheet, so she’ll just have to pace and salivate for the whole nineteen minutes.
Time to gently poke the sealing seam on the roll of dough…
Great Frigga’s Hairpins! The walk home from the store and the messing about with measuring pans took long enough the the eager little rolls just burst out of the can before I could even touch it!
We’re lucky it didn’t shoot the little can of icing across the room.
Oh, my. The rolls have also had enough time to fuse together into one big, solid log of dough.
Those perforations aren’t going to be any use at all. The human female is going to have to cut the rolls with a knife. Stand back, Sigyn! We don’t want you in the way of her rudimentary knife skills.
Here we are. All tucked in and cozy and ready for Mr. Oven.
(Twenty-three interminable minutes later…)
All done! They do smell wonderful, don’t they? I think I detect a hint of almond in the dough.
Best let the human female do the honors, dearest. Orange icing doesn’t come out of red velvet very well.
Looks like she hasn’t used all of the icing, and she’s left two unfrosted, since the human male likes sweets less than she does. That is fine with me–it just means you and I can eat the leftover frostingright out of the can.
Can you guess what is happening here today? Go on, guess!
If you guessed “More food!” you are correct!
The human female’s mother has agreed to teach me how to make her special Apple Roses. With a cast on, it’s going to be a mostly hands-off lesson for me, but I’m enthusiastic nonetheless. Loki says it all sounds “a bit too girly” and that he’ll sample the finished product. That’s all right. Pastry and cloaks don’t mix very well!
We are starting with a nice, crisp apple.
This one’s an envy. Isn’t the color gorgeous? You could even make some yellow apple roses–or a combination of red andyellow!
First, you want to wash and core your apple. But don’t peel it! You want that color!
Cut each half into thin slices–about 1/8″.
You might end up with some pieces toward the outside of each apple half that aren’t very big. You can either eat those (yum!) or save them for the middles of the roses. Drop the slices into a bowl of water with a splash of lemon juice as you cut them. That way they won’t brown.
Microwave the bowl of apples in water for three minutes on high to cook them a little. You want the slices to be flexible, but not mushy. Not that I have anything against mushy apples! Applesauce is nummy! It’s just not what we are aiming for today.
We are using frozen puff pastry. If you have the time and skill to make your own, you are my new hero. When my arm heals, I may try making some. But store-bought is perfectly okay!
Roll out the pastry to about 1/8″ thick.
We are making six roses from one apple and one half package of pastry, so we want to cut each of the marked-out pieces in half lengthwise.
To start making the roses, first spread one strip thinly with apricot jam. If your jam is too thick or too cold, you can warm it up a little.
Don’t use too much jam or your roses will be soggy. : ( You want just enough to be “glue”!
Next, place apple slices overlapping on the top half of the strip, fold the bottom of the pastry up over the bases of the slices, then roll the whole thing up.
Isn’t that pretty! Don’t worry if your first try is a little wonky–mine was! It will still be delicious.
We are going to cook these in a muffin tin. Put a rose in every other space so the rose petals have room to spread. We’re spraying the cups we’re using with non-stick spray and filling the unused cups with water so that things heat evenly.
At this point you can sprinkle the roses with a little sugar if you want them sweeter and sparkly. You could also use cinnamon!
Bake at 375F until the pastry is crisp and golden, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let them cool for a minute or two before taking them out of the cups–any longer than that and they will probably stick!
Squeee! These are almost too pretty to eat! You can serve these warm or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream or a dusting of powdered sugar. You could tuck a rose or mint leaf in between the pastry and the petals, too, if you want to be really fancy.
Somehow, though, I don’t think these are going to last long enough for any embellishments, not with the way Loki is eyeing them!
Oh, no! I just realized I didn’t get a photo of the rolling-up process! I am so sorry!!! There are some good photos here, though we weren’t working from that particular recipe.
These were really fun and easy and yummy! I hope you try some of your own!
It is still, sadly, too hot these days to want to cook. The humans have been investigating the fascinating world of cold soups. They’ve tried a Persian one that involves buttermilk, yogurt, cucumbers, dill, and pistachios. It was pretty good, though I’d like to point out that, with that much dairy involved, they are dangerously skirting “milkshake for dinner” territory.
Today the human female is trying a new recipe, about which there is no little excitement in this house. First, a little backstory. Some years ago, the humans often enjoyed a particular soup mix, a Cream of Snowpea flavor from that brand with the Viking ship on it. It made a very delicious chilled soup–perfect for those days with temperatures nudging triple digits. I couldn’t allow that to continue, of course, so I arranged for the soup to become unavailable. Not just no-longer-carried-by-the-store. No. It it’s in the you-liked-it-so-we-stopped-making-it category. (I just love doing that.)
Imagine her delight, then, when the human female found a Cream of Snow Pea soup recipe! Ingredients were purchased in short order, and we are ready to launch the attempt.
Why a hyena is interested in a vegetable-based dish I have no idea. I’ve given up trying to understand what goes on in that animal’s brain.
Check! Soooo many snowpeas! Now, I know that the recipe doesn’t stipulate one way or the other, but the humans are firm believers in stringing the snowpeas, so we’re going to do that. Otherwise, we’ll end up with long stringy bits in the soup.
I like ripping things up, so I’ve volunteered–and notice I have willing helpers! It’s not hard work, just a bit time-consuming. The strings just zip right off.
We’re batch-and-a-halfing the recipe, since one bag of snowpeas was too little and two is too many.
Sigyn says that if you hold them up to the light they’re like “little stained glass windows.”
I love that girl.
Six cups is a LOT of snowpeas! We need just a few more.
Fisi! Drop it! BAD hyena! Give that last one here, right now!
Sleipnir’s fetlocks! There are hyena teethmarks on it. No one wants to eat that! Fisi, you are banished to the compost bowl!
Buuuuut since the snowpeas are going to be cooked, I suppose we can get away with it. We just won’t tell anyone.
The snow peas get cooked in some water.
and a little bit of chicken broth.
It doesn’t look like much yet, but I have hopes.
Now we add some frozen peas.
Small, green, and icy. I can relate.
Here’s where the cream goes in.
Sigyn, are you hugging that carton? We only need three tablespoons. How about if we use what’s left to make some ice cream later? Will you let go now?
When the peas are done,
everything goes into the blender, a little at a time.
Dibs on pushing the buttons! I’m very good at destruction.
Great Frigga’s Hairpins! It’s going to be close! The volume of the blender carafe matches almost exactly the volume we’ve got of stuff that needs blending. Ehehehe! The human female is so stupid! She’s holding the top of the blender on with a towel, and there’s still soup dribbling out from under the lid. It never occurred to her to do this step in batches. I don’t know who’s going to clean this all up. I just know it won’t be ME.
The recipe says we’re supposed to put the resulting…slop is really the only word for it–through a fine sieve.
This step looks like it is going to take half an hour, at least, and leave a good quantity of pea pulp in the strainer Maybe we didn’t blend it enough? Despite my words of advice to the contrary, the human female has elected to skip this step. Now, the soup just has to chill until dinnertime.
(later) Behold, the finished collation!
We are going to enjoy it with some sesame seed bread from a bakery in the Big City to the South. It’s been in the freezer since forever, and the human female thinks it will be a good go-with.
Sip. Hmm. It certainly tastes of pea. Just plain old green pea, and not much else. The snowpeas are utterly lost, and so is the cream. We could have spared the expense of both. Bleargh! What’s this? Oh. A little stringy bit that didn’t get blended or sieved. Yuck! There’s another. See? That’s what you get for being lazy.
(A bit later) The addition of some salt and pepper and some bacon crumbles have improved this disappointing dish immensely. It’s cold, it’s green, it’s filling, and the bread is good.
I shall be surprised, however, if it graces the table again.
It’s still too hot to want to cook, but we have to eat something. I suppose we could all sit around under the AC and eat cold cereal every night, but we have not fallen that far. Yet.
The jury is still out about whether just caving and having strawberry ice cream for dinner is déclassé or counts as one serving of fruit and one of dairy.
Tonight, the humans have decided on something of a compromise. They are having a Dim Sum Night–but someone else has had the chore of making all the morsels. One trip to the Oriental Grocery plus a rummage through the freezer for things bought on previous trips should turn up a respectable assortment of things to choose from. Now we just need a pot of boiling water, a bamboo steamer, and a skillet, and the stage is set for a quick dinner without a lot of prep time. And no hot oven, which is a deal-breaker these days.
The steamer is very cleverly made. I like it.
Mostly because I know that *I* will not be the one cleaning it.
Sigyn, let’s see what the humans picked out.
Gyoza. Good choice. Not Chinese, but still delicious, and the human male can usually make these without burning them.
Now wait just a minute! Soup dumplingsare Chinese, but bulgogi? Definitely not. It is very pan-Asian in here tonight!
There are some other dumplings that will be boiled, as well as some broccoli with oyster sauce. I bet the broccoli was the human female’s idea, as a nod to “nutrition.”
Mmm! I think some things are ready! Rather than wait until everything is done, let’s sample them as they come.
The boiled dumplings look pale and sort of lonely on the plate, but they’re full of tasty meat and veggies, so I will happily put them out of their misery.
These want a spoon, because they really are full of filling and soup! I looked up how they make them, and it turns out that the soup goes in as a sort of jelly and only melts into soup as the dumplings are cooked. Don’t watch the human female eat hers, Sigyn. I saw it once. It’s not pretty.
Here come the gyoza!
Crispy on the bottom, tender on the top. You distract the human female and I’ll snag us one or two of hers as well as our own.
Sigyn gets excited about broccoli. So excited, in fact, that she forgot the oyster sauce. Maybe next time.
The human female says we have something special for desert tonight. I wonder what it is?
Owww! My ears! Great Frigga’s Corset, Sigyn, what is all the squealing for?
Hedge-hog shaped bao buns full of sweet red beany goo. I must admit, this is a thing of whose existence I had never once conceived.
More squealing! But not the happy kind. What now?
Custard-filled bunny buns! Sigyn doesn’t know which is worse, that we are going to eat little bunnies or the fact that they appear to have their eyes on their ears….
Fortunately, there are also apple-flavored mochi, another product I have never tried.
(poke, poke, poke) They certainly have that soft, small-mammally texture I associate with mochi. I wonder what they’re full of? Or maybe they’re solid all the way through?
Apple goo! And it’s delicious!
That is just the sort of meal I like–I didn’t have to make it, I’m not going to clean up after it, and there was as much dessert as anything else. Apart from the disturbing bunnies, I think it was a great success.
Best part? There is more of everything in the freezer so we can do this all again!
Home at last! After all the snooping around in the herbarium this week, the playing with wood samples, and the trying to fence stolen lab chemicals, I am a tired Loki and looking forward to a good dinner and a weekend!
Yum! It looks like the human female’s special slaw is on the menu tonight! I do like that stuff, and it has the happy property of being a raw dish, which means the human female can’t BURN it!
I will even help, since preparation involves knives. Time to stab some cabbage!
I forgot I cursed the cooling box. Yogurt and produce freezes, ice cubes and ice cream get a little soft, and vegetables develop mysterious maladies.
This head is riddled throughout with weird black spots, and it smells a little funny, too.
Fear not, Sigyn! There’s no way I’m going to let the human female feed this to you. If that’s fungus, no doubt its nasty little mycelia are interwoven throughout the entirety and picking out the bad bits is not really an option. The male is just going to have to go out in this heat and go buy another head of cabbage. We’ll still get our yummy slaw, and this way, we have time for a cool apéritif before dinner…
Some interminible period of scooping, leveling, pouring, mixing, and dithering later, the human female is reasonably sure she has put in eight cups of flour. The dough seems awfully soft and sticky, but it’s supposed to be that way at this point.
Sigyn, if you fall into that, I’m not sure if it will be easier to clean you off or let you be and summon a doppelganger.
Just kidding! You’re irreplaceable and I love you.
Now the dough gets to rest for three hours in the freezer or over night in the fridge. Since I want cookies TODAY, freezer it is.
Covered with plastic wrap, it can be walked on. (stompity, stompity, stomp.) Footprints are fun!
Because the human female is too bone idle to roll and cut cookies, she and Sigyn are making the dough into balls and rolling them in cinnamon sugar.
Be assured I’m doing my part, too.
About twenty cookies fit on one sheet.
They look like meatballs at this stage, don’t they?
Bake, bake, bake, bake, bake… Peer as much as you like, but be careful not to burn your nose, my love.
Pans and pans of cookies are coming out of the oven, one after the other.
They’re taking over the table, like a sweet little army of calorie bombs.
(thirteen or fourteen dozen later) The cookies are all made, so now there’s nothing left but the clean-up. Which I won’t do, of course, but I have nothing against supervising and making snide comments.
There is no centimeter of this kitchen which is un-gooped. Human female, sometimes I think a palsied gorilla wearing boxing gloves could do a neater job than you!