It appears that dinner will be Asian salads tonight. I like salad–lots of ingredients means plenty of opportunities for mischief. For instance, I saw to it that the Asian market was out of the little rice crackers the humans like to use as croutons.
Lettuce is a given. And there is part of a bag of baby spinach as well.
Now, where did the pinch clip that was holding the bag shut go??
Cucumber, carrots, water chestnuts, mandarin oranges, a few cranberries, marinated roast pork—we are all ready for the dressing and the wonton strips and the crunchy noodles.
Great Frigga’s Hairpins! The human female’s salad is rattling! It sounds as if there is a plastic lid or something hiding under all the foliage. Every time she moves the bowl, it makes that noise! What is in there?! She can’t find any foreign objects. What a puzzlement.
Did you notice, when we were making that ersatz-scampi earlier this week, that there was something… funny about the butter. Allow me to elaborate.
The wrapper is printed such that one can cut through it in measured tablespoons, acquiring preciesely what a recipe calls for. But I have seen to it that these sticks are wrapped incorrectly! That first tablespoon is going to be more than a tablespoon, and that last one is going to be short. Baking is an exact science, so this has the potential to cause real problems. Eheheheh!
And it’s not just these two. Nope! It’s all of them. See? Just peer round the corner, here.
Behold! Wrap-around cutting guidelines!
I just love the way the human female’s eye twitches…
Sigyn, come quickly! I hear there’s another mystery package!
Uh, oh. When things arrive in “body bags” it is never a good sign. What has Usually Smashes Parcels Significantly done this time?!
The gray plastic-bagged parcel inside hasn’t fared any better.
It looks as if it was torn open and taped back together. I have no idea what’s inside, and the human female doesn’t know of anything on order, either. It rattles a bit, but not in the exciting way that tiny vials and tubes of beads do…
Odin’s eyepatch, that’s not good!
It seems that the human male ordered the female a new pet as a surprise, and the seller put it in a small, flexible box, inside a plastic bag, and the postal machinery was just too rough for the poor little fellow.
What were they thinking?! I know crabs can regrow lost appendages, and this shelly decapod seems spunky and defiant, but it seems a pretty large ask to expect the unfortunate creature to recover from the loss of four of its appendages. If nothing else, it is doomed to crawl in circles until those walking legs grow back.
Still, it’s a dull man who can’t find the good in a situation. While Sigyn heads off to see about arranging accommodation for our new housemate, I will examine some other options.
The humans–especially the male–still seem to be possessed by the notion of creating the perfect bread. You will recall, perhaps with the same schadenfreude and nostalgic chuckle that I do, their attempts to make homemade pizza crust. It did not, by any stretch of the imagination, go well.
Today they are trying a simple recipe for Amish bread, a white sandwich-style loaf that is made from an enriched dough. Sigyn, shall we help them out–or at least bear witness to the carnage?
Prep time 30 minutes? With these two, I’m betting it’ll be closer to an hour. You’d think two cooks would be twice as fast, but that assumes no one’s getting in anyone else’s way.
And that I’m not involved.
I knew it! The humans are physically incapable of following a recipe precisely.
They’ve already deviated from the stated ingredients in two ways. The human female has reduced the amount of sugar and is planning to substitute some whole wheat flour for one of the cups of white flour. (Woman, it’s bread. If it turns out, you’re going to eat a ton of it, which is not healthy, wholegrain flour notwithstanding.
First, we need to prepare Sigyn’s favorite part.
My love, we’ve had the discussion about leaning out too far over measuring cups.
And be careful around the stove!
The human female told me why we need to scald the milk. She said, “Blah blah, denaturation of enzymes, blah, blah.” I propose a new rule: No science in the kitchen.
Once the milk has cooled, we need a cup of water…
And some sugar–but not as much as in the original recipe–
Yes, my sweet, you can draw a smiley face in the sugar with your finger if you want.
The milk, the water, the yeast, and the sugar all go in one big bowl.
While our “little fungal friends” are doing their thing, we can assemble the other ingredients and tools.
Sigyn likes the look of the foamy, recipe-ready yeast.
I think it looks disgusting, but then, the larval stage of anything is usually unattractive, and I suppose there’s no reason bread should be any different.
Time for the first cup of flour.
Then more flour, oil, and salt.
The first few cups of flour go in easily. After that, the dough gets rather stiff and it takes some real muscle to do the stirring. And then there is ten minutes of kneading!
Come on, humans! Get through this and you can skip arm day at the gym. (I’ve heard mortals say that. I have no idea what it means.)
Stirring and kneading complete! We now have what the human female calls a “dough baby.”
Soft, round, squishy, and makes a mess everywhere. Yep. Baby.
Time for baby to take a little nap in a warm place.
It’s barely warm in here, and the felines can’t play with it. Now, while we wait for it to rise, I suppose we could clean up the mess we’ve made. But gods don’t do dishes, so I’ll leave all the bowls and cups and pans and measuring spoons for the humans to deal with.
Our dough baby has grown up. Now comes my favorite part of the process–smacking down the risen dough to watch it deflate!
Do I spy a human female handprint? I believe I do!
Morekneadingmorekneadingmorekneadingmorekneadingmorekneadingmorekneading… Ready to shape into loaves.
(later) The loaves have risen and are ready for the oven. Welcome to the human female’s kitchen–the pans don’t match…
…and the loaves don’t either. The female did this one. Look at that unfilled corner!
Sloppy, mortal, sloppy. But into the oven they go!
Now all we can do is wait.
And wait. It is starting to smell good in here! It could still go badly wrong, though. The human female could pull the loaves out too early. Or too late. What will it be–soggy bottom or meteorite?
Well, for good or ill, the loaves are out and are cool enough to turn out of the pans.
What do you think, Sigyn? They look all right. But the proof is in the eating. And the verdict is….
Yummy!!! Circle the date on the calendar, the bread is not only edible, it’s actually good.
The human female roasted two chickens for Thank-the-Turkey Day because, “A whole turkey is too much.” Of course, the two chickens together weighed what a medium-sized turkey would have, so she defeated her own purpose.
No one ever said she was logical.
I tried my best to derail the process, making sure that the birds were done nearly an hour before the scheduled time. (It is sooo easy to hack a “How long do I roast a chicken” page on a cooking site!) She caught them in time, though, and they actually turned out pretty well.
Being the thrifty scion of thrifty New England heritage, she is making stock with the carcasses. She started out with both of them in one pot, then decided that was too crowded. She carefully transferred one and now she has two pots going.
The kitchen is redolent with the smell of simmering poultry, carrot, celery, and herbs.
Time to adjust things!
Uh, oh. That’s not good! I loosened the silicone grippy bits on the tongs just to be annoying. Having one come completely off was not part of the plan, but I’m here for it!
Now, where can it have gone to? It’s not on the counter… Didn’t fall in the sink… You don’t suppose…?
We have had a very nice cold front come through. It was one of those afternoons when the temperature drops twenty degrees in a matter of just a few hours. It was delightfully windy, with leaves being blown swirlingly hither and aloft, and then it was sideways-rainy which is always a little exciting. The human female was on her way to the herbarium at the time, so she was driving right into all of it. Rain splatting against the windscreen at 70 miles per hour is terrifically noisy, but alas! I have stickified the exterior of the car sufficiently that even this moving carwash wasn’t enough to clean off all the goop.
I’m not sure why it is, but cooler weather always makes the human female want to cook. My working theory is that she possesses some atavistic drive to pack on the blubber so as to make it through the dark, cold days of winter. If that’s the case, it is working.
On the menu for today is something she abbreviates “CRC“. Sigyn, do you have any idea what that is? Let’s see if the cookbook makes it any clearer.
“Schmecks”? Surely that can’t be a real word.
Still searching for enlightenment. Ah. Here’s the recipe.
The obscure becomes clear. The humans like cabbage rolls stuffed with meat, rice, onion, and tomato, but she is too LAZY to actually make the rolls, so she’s just going to chuck it all together and hope for the best. She’s going to use the pressure cooker today, which is extra, extra lazy.
Time to brown some meat.
Sigyn is always a little queasified by raw meat. Dear heart, this is the good, grass-fed beef, so really, it’s just highly-processed grass. It’s practically a vegetable!
Speaking of vegetables, we next need to dice up an onion.
I just happen to have a dagger right here, and I like stabbing things, so I volunteer for this task.
Not, perhaps, terribly uniform, but very satisfying to do!
We have some left over from making a batch of slaw. More knife work! (I like this recipe!)
The recipe says that now we’re supposed to dump the beef, the onion, the cabbage, and rice into a greased casserole. Sigyn, do you have the rice measured?
That’s my girl! The recipe calls for half a cup of uncooked rice. We’re using a whole cup of basmati since a) it’s the best type of white rice* and b) the humans think a half cup doesn’t make enough to balance out the other ingredients.
We are ready to make sure this dish doesn’t suffer from overwhelming blandness. We must marshall the seasonings!
Oregano, parsley, and bay leaf. The human female is always very careful to count the bay leaves, to make sure they all come out before serving. This is why *I* am always careful to add another leaf when she is not looking. That way, someone ends up with a leathery, bitter mouthful, which is vastly amusing.
And, finally, something to hold all of this together. Rubber cement would work. Pourable two-part resin would also work. However, the human female says that tomato paste does a pretty good job and is preferable with regard to flavor and nutrition. I find that, for once, I’m willing to take her word on something.
Into the Instant Pot it all goes, along with a TLAR (that looks about right) amount of water. Dinner should be ready in under an hour.
Sigyn! Be careful! This is not something you want to have to be fished out of!**
*I will entertain no arguments on this point
**Unless, of course, you want to smell like onion, oregano, and tomato for seventy-two hours or so.
So, Sigyn wouldn’t let me cut apricots with the sewing shears and she wouldn’t let me put any wasabi in the Baa-Squeal, but how many of you spotted the mischief I was able to introduce to the preparation of yesterday’s feast?
Occasionally my mischief backfires. For example, I cursed the Instant Pot again, and tonight’s batch of posole (pork stew with corn and chilies) was, shall we say, something less than a success. I’ve had boots more tender than that pork was! Eheheheheh! The human female is mortified.
And that mangos the human female picked out days and days ago? Still not quite fully ripe. She has paired them up with some strawberries that were a bit…past. I suppose in her pea brain it somehow all evens out, and I suppose it isall edible, but it is still a very still uninspiring repast.
(later) No surprise. I am hungry again. Definitely feeling snackish. Hmm. What sounds good? I’m not really in the mood for anything sweet… Something salty? Crunchy? Mmm. Yesss…
I know! Nachos! Nachos are a wonderful Midgardian invention that allows one to ingest carbohydrates, fat, and salt all at once, in a delicious, crunchy manner that requires no utensils to eat!
Layer one: Thechips. It is important to use nice, fresh chips, and to realize that they differ hugely from brand to brand. The human female has been chomping her way through the local market’s store brand like there is no tomorrow. She says they’re best when they’re fresh, and we happen to have a new bag because the human male is an enabler and keeps bringing them home.
Layer two: The cheese. Now, here’s where humans begin to disagree. Some like a pourable, creamy sort of cheese sauce. The humans are usually too lazy to make cheese sauce, opting instead to just melt grated cheese over the chips and call it done. They don’t even grate the cheese; they just buy it pre-grated. The human male usually puts a third layer of some ground dried chili peppers on his–or occasionally even bacon (!), but the female can only count to two, so she sticks with chips and cheese. Haute cuisine, this is not.
Let’s see what my cheese options are. Do we have any “shreddy Mexican cheese”?
We do not! I have it on good authority that this stuff is interesting when deployed over pasta, but it is not suitable for this application.
Nothing hiding underneath… We are completely out of Mexican shreddy cheese! How can this have happened?!
I am beyond outraged.
I am also not in the mood to wait for a bemasked human to journey all the way to the store, buy the cheese, and return. I want something faster.
Luckly for me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with my summoning spell. I will just reach out to the market and…
Ha! Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle… Into the microwave and nuuuuuuke… Beep!
Sniff, sniff… What’s this? I smell something a-baking in the kitchen! I could do with a bit of breakfast!
Volstagg’s straining waistcoat! The human male is attempting to make waffles. And on a weekday, too! After the last two disastrous attempts, you’d have think the mortals would have given up. But hope springs eternal, and all that. Human beings are just so…so…dogged.
Uh, oh. Looks like he did not get a very good fill on the first batch.
And they do not appear to be very crisp. I’m no expert, but I’m fairly certain…
…waffles should not be able to fold like that.
The next batch is taking f o r e v e r to finish cooking. The male has handed off waffle-watching duty to the female while he goes and dresses for work.
What is the hold-up, mortal?
Shouldn’t there be a little red light, right about…oh, right where I’m standing?
I think it’s time you took a peek to see how they’re progressing.
Nowhere close to browning. And they’ve been in for how long?
The light dawns:
When you can put your hand on it like that and hold it there, I think it’s safe to say that you will be having cold cereal this morning— and heaving something rectangular and heavy in the trash can.