It’s buffet time!

So the other day, the squirrel came for a visit to the balcony. He had a drink out of the watering can and then went to each of the flower pots, stood up with his paws on the edge, and peered in to see if his smorgasbord was waiting for him yet.

I figured I had best oblige, so I’ve gotten some empty egg cartons and started some seeds for this spring:

I also have some herbs and flowers, too, but they don’t need to be planted until it’s warm enough for them to be outside. Let’s see how I do this year! ๐Ÿ™‚

Two things on a Sunday afternoon…

As I’m nearing the last slice of my white chocolate, Meyer lemon tart, I needed a dessert to take its place. So this morning, I turned to my new Martha Stewart cookie book for inspiration and decided to make the chocolate sandwich cookies. Though not a disaster (especially not the result), there were a couple of WTF moments, the first of which occurred after mixing together the dough.

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but that? Is not what cookie dough should look like. It was bizarrely crumbly and sandy, not at all scoopable as the instructions, and my past experience with cookie dough, implied it should be. I’m still not sure if I just mis-measured something or if this is another instance of my carob powder just deciding to do bizarre things in an attempt to undermine my baking confidence, but in an attempt to salvage it, I added a LOT of vanilla and then probably about a quarter cup of water. I had no idea if this would work, but I figured it really couldn’t get any worse.

As it turns out, I was right!

It worked just fine after that and I went on my merry way, making cookies for the next two hours since I could only fit six on a single cookie sheet. But in doing so, I managed to burn myself – which I never do! I banged my arm on the hot pan during a switchover, dropped the one I was putting into the oven, and proceeded to swear quite a bit. I feel it was justified.

Then all that was left to do was to mix up the vanilla filling and put them together. The recipe says to use a piping bag to fill the cookies, but the consistency of the filling is remarkably like that found in an Oreo (at least, it’s how I remember it being since I haven’t actually had an Oreo in…15 years, probably). Imagine using a pastry bag for that. Not going to work, right? Right. So I had to scoop it all out and just ended up using my fingers to make little balls of the filling to squish between the cookies. Much easier, I think. I probably could have been more generous with the filling, but I knew I had some monsters coming up at the end and didn’t want to run out (I had a hard time getting the cookies to the right size – I finally got it right after about three trays through, but the first few batches were fairly large).

Yum! (Actually, they’re so sweet, I can only eat one at a time and it has to be chased with a large glass of milk, but that would just look weird in the photo…)

p.s. – I resisted Vampire Weekend for the longest time, as they were supposedly the Next Big Thing, but I have recently fallen to their charms, and gleefully so. They’re playing at the Metro on Sunday and I was all excited until I realised the show didn’t start until 9:00. Come on, guys, some of your fans have to go to work the next day. Friday and Saturday shows start at 9:00, but surely Sunday shows should start at 7:00… Anyway, go forth and listen (if you haven’t already)!

M79 by Vampire Weekend

Music theory…

No, don’t run away! I promise this isn’t music theory. No. I have a music theory. Allow me to explain.

Following a Justin Timberlake trance that left me with that sort of queasy feeling you get after taking a nap in the sun, I decided to detox by listening to some proper music (i.e., Muse). After a week-long Muse stupor, I suddenly had a moment of revelation which led me to my music theory (I’m sure I’m not the first to point this out, but let me pretend for a moment). My theory is that Muse are not actually Muse but rather Philip Glass in a cunning disguise so that he can infiltrate popular music.

No, come back! I have examples! And, if all else fails, at least stay for the video of Muse at the end. I promise it’s worth it.

Example A: Rubric by Philip Glass

Okay, got that sound in your head? The first time I heard this next song, I immediately thought ‘Oh, I hadn’t realised Philip Glass was writing rock songs now.’

Example B: Take a Bow by Muse

See? The similarities are eerie, no? But wait, there’s more!

Example C: Floe by Philip Glass

Example D: Apocalypse Please by Muse (This one, you’ll have to wait until 1:47 to hear it, but it’s a good song in the meantime.)

I think both of those prove my point. Not that I’m complaining, by any means. If you’ll remember, I adore Philip Glass and since Muse are obviously Philip Glass in disguise, I also adore them. Plus Matt Bellamy is completely and utterly divine. Wee and banter-challenged, but still divine.

Example E: Butterflies and Hurricanes by Muse (Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here doing my best to keep from licking my computer screen when he goes to play the piano…. Enjoy!)

ETA: I totally have a music-crush on Next Door Neighbor. The insulation between our walls is pretty good, so I can only ever sort of hear it sometimes (unlike Stompy), but when he puts on something good, I often go press my ear to the wall and listen along for a minute or two. He likes to play Kid A which is my favorite Radiohead album, the other day he was playing Loveless by My Bloody Valentine (old-school awesome!), and he’s playing something right now that I don’t know what it is, but I really like it. The singer’s voice sounds familiar, but I can’t quite place it. I’m this close to going over and asking what it is, but I’d worry that he thought it was an extraordinarily passive-aggressive attempt to get him to turn it down.

ETA 5/10/09: D’Oh! These are all gone, too. I’m on it!

From hell’s kitchen…

Well, not much new from here, I’m afraid. I’ve spent the weekend at choir rehearsal/performance and watching QI on my computer.

But!

There were Meyer lemons aplenty at the market a while back, so I bought a bag of them. Now, I don’t know if it’s the brand of Meyer lemons we get here or these in particular or if it’s just Meyer lemons in general, but I absolutely cannot stand the way they smell! It’s horrible! Like lemons and chemicals, but gone horribly, horribly wrong. Horribly.

Fortunately, they taste much better. This time I made the white chocolate, Meyer lemon tart recipe that came printed on the label of the bag. It’s not bad, but still not an ideal way to present Meyer lemons, I feel. Going in, I did think it was a bit of an odd combination – and, having tasted it now, I stand by that concern. It’s sort of as if neither flavor is quite strong enough to dominate and let the other be ‘Oh, there’s just a hint of _____.’ Instead, they sort of cancel each other out and let the creamy texture do all the work.

And here’s the first one I took. I’d say Stephen Fry looks a bit dubious about the quality of this dessert…

I do sort of worry that the Meyer lemon (or, more specifically I suppose, the best way of preparing them) may very well become my Moby Dick. I will do my best to keep my ambition for the perfect Meyer lemon vehicle in check. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dinner at Chez Moi…

Wow, it’s been a long time since my last post, hasn’t it? I have no excuse other than there has been absolutely nothing to post about! Two unsatisfactory baking incidents (I ate them, but I didn’t show them to you) + no books read = no blog. Mostly I’ve been frantically watching Battlestar Galactica, racing to catch up on three seasons’ worth of episodes in time to watch the last season when it starts in April. (So good!)

But. Monday is my mom’s birthday, so I decided to make dinner for all of us last night. First up, Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges with guacamole:

They were lovely and spicy (as the name might indicate) with a very nice combination of coriander, fennel, hot red pepper flakes, and basil (because it turns out I didn’t have any oregano after all).

The main course was Pumpkin Ravioli. I’ll warn you – this looked horrible, but tasted yummy.

We ended up having to eat in courses because I still haven’t perfected the timing of getting everything done at the same time – although I feel that this is partially not my fault seeing as I am hindered by a very small kitchen and the smallest oven ever. The pumpkin ravioli was accompanied by Green Beans Provencale and rolls.

Most importantly, what was for dessert, right? A Pear and Almond Tart from the ever-yummy Smitten Kitchen. And this is also a good opportunity to introduce you to the newest member of my kitchen family:

I have a food processor! I love it. The only trouble is that its cord is very short and the only way I can use it is by putting it on the floor. But I still love it. It made the crust and the almond filling for the tart:

This was very, very good. Sweet but not too sweet and the crust is lovely, very much like shortbread (which I don’t normally like, but here it’s tempered by the moistness of the filling). And it’s pretty, too: