Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Doing Without

Today marks the start of Lent. Lent is the forty day period preceding Easter where you prepare yourself for the whole Jesus-rising-from-the-dead miracle thing. Generally this is done by giving something up. This year, rather involuntarily, I am giving up the use of my right foot. You see, back in December, right before Christmas, I was taking Dexter out (at 4:30 am no less) for a morning walk. He may look sweet and peaceful here, but when he wants to go out, he is a noisy little snot.
Anyway, when I stepped off the last stair, it was bad. Very, very bad. I "sprained" it and I spent all kinds of time on crutches and in an air cast. But two days ago? I learned the truth. My ligament is torn and surgery may be the only option. Until surgery, I am supposed to wear the air cast. I have a surgical consult on March 10th, so maybe I'll have better news then, but for now, it looks as though for at least the next 40 days my right ankle will be pretty darn useless to me.

And because I'm such a glutton for punishment (or perhaps because it's impossible for two lapsed Catholics to raise a non-Catholic without imparting some shreds of guilt, martyrdom and self-sacrifice - no matter how hard they might try not to), I'm also giving up desserts.

But last night was Mardi Gras, so I walked on my poor injured ankle wearing pretty shoes, and I ate a nice gluttonous pancake dinner and I bought myself a delicious square of gingerbread from my favorite corner bakery.

The gingerbread and the pretty shoes are definitely out until at least Easter, but the pancakes, they just might carry me through.

taken rather shamelessly from SmittenKitchen. Incidently, I hope the recipe works, because I reduced mine slightly to take into account how much ricotta I had left (so not 1 1/3 C) and my mental math was positively embarrassing. Who knows how much I added of what, but they turned out delicious.

4 large eggs separated
1 1/3 C ricotta
1 1/2 T sugar
1 1/2 T lemon zest
1/2 C flour
melted butter for brushing the skillet.

Separate the eggs. For those of you who are novices at egg separation, I you can buy a ridiculous, space eating contraption to help you. Or you can gently crack the egg on the side of a bowl. Discard half of the egg shell and pour the egg from the other half of the shell into your hand. Very carefully pass the egg back and forth between your hands, allowing the white to slip through your fingers and the yolk to stay in your hand. Then deposit the yolk in a different bowl than the one you let the white slip into. You may sometimes see people passing the egg back and forth between the egg shells to do this. I don't really like to do it that way for two reasons. First, if you're not a world class egg cracker, you may have tiny bits of shell that will come loose and drop into your bowl as you pass it back and forth. Second of all, you can puncture the yolk on a sharp edge of shell therefore completely negating any hard work you've done.

Now that the eggs are separated. Mix the ricotta, flour, sugar and lemon peel in with the yolks. Whip the whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. You can do this with a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Pour a quarter of the whites in with the ricotta mixture and mix it in. Fold in the rest of the egg whites in stages. If you don't know how to fold in egg whites, check out this video. In the very beginning he shows how to separate eggs, and around 1:15 he gets to egg white folding in. Very helpful if you're not used to doing it.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium and paint with the melted butter. The pan is warm enough when a drop of water splashed in sort of dances around. Pour in the batter (I made mine smaller for easier flipping) about a 1/4 C at a time and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. You can keep them warm in the oven when you're done. Yum.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Simple Pleasures

A fried egg sandwich on wheat toast. Even if you truly believe you can't cook, you can make a fried egg sandwich. It's one of the first things I learned to make all on my own and in college I ate them late night, for breakfast and many times in between. Here I've written out the recipe to be as basic as possible, so that even those who are afraid to cook will feel like it's possible.


a toaster or toaster oven
any size non-stick pan and a lid you could put over it (they do not need to match)
a spatula

2 eggs
2 slice wheat toast
1 T butter
cheese (any kind really, but I like cheddar or American)
salt and pepper

1. Get a your non-stick pan and put it on the stove. Add 1 tablespoon of water - if you don't have measuring spoons, use the one of the big spoons that comes with your forks, knives and spoons. If you only have little spoons, put 3 little spoonfuls in. Add 1 tablespoon of butter - your butter wrapper has lines for this, so look at the wrapper and slice accordingly. Turn the heat on under your pan. Make it pretty high, but not at the highest setting.
2. Pop your toasts in your toaster oven or toaster. My toasts take 4 minutes to cook, if yours are much faster, you can do this later, but it should be okay to start them now.
3. Check your pan. When the water boils (starts bubbling and bouncing around, instead of just sitting there) add the two eggs. If you're good at cracking eggs, you can crack them right in the pan. If you're no good at cracking eggs, break them in a bowl first, fish out any stray eggshells and then add to the pan. Picking eggshells out of a hot pan is no fun. If your pan was hot enough, the whites of the egg should turn white almost immediately after the eggs are added to the pan. If they didn't, no worries, but remember for next time. Add your salt and pepper.
4. Lower the heat so it's not on the lowest setting, but maybe second lowest. Cover the eggs. Cook for about 2 and a half minutes and then check the eggs. I don't like runny eggs, so rather than keep my fried eggs as pure sunny side up eggs, I do them over "medium" which just means, that I very gently flip them in the pan and cook for long enough that the eggs yolks aren't completely liquid. If you don't want to flip yours you should probably cook them another minute right side up. If you want those yolks less liquid, flip the eggs and then add the cheese. Cover again and cook another thirty seconds to a minute.
5. When the cheese is melted and the eggs are cooked enough for you, use the spatula to slide the eggs onto the toast.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


It's been a long time. I am sorry about that. It's been very cold here, and very gray. We did have some lovely snow last week which now has receded to a disgusting slushy sludge. Today we had a slight reprieve and warmer temperatures which gave me just enough strength to pull it together and update this blog. And I should let you know that I have not made it through this cold snap by indulging in wintery treats like hot cocoa or rich stews. No, I have been making it through with my own little stash of sunshine. Real Florida oranges.

When I was a little girl, my Auntie Lee and my Uncle Ole lived in Florida. As anyone with relatives in Florida can attest, this can come with some serious perks: easy access to Disney World, swimming pools, and special packages of citrus fruit delivered right in time to rescue us from the winter doldrums. I can't even tell you how much better these are than regular store bought oranges. They are sweet and delicious and each bite is a nice summery break from the reality that February has only just begun.


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