kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

8 Apr

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

We just had an alarm system installed out here in the woods, in the compound that I work at. It’s not what you may think. It’s not to deter burglars, although as it turns out it deters everyone, so, burglars included. The alarm system is set up to detect fires, high levels of hydrogen, low temperatures, and power outages.

This is all part of an elaborate scheme to bring solar power into the woods. It’s a delicate mix of inverters running off the batteries that are fueled by the solar cells, along with two different generators that serve our energy needs during daily peaks and energy-demanding activities such as welding.

Anyway, the system is now sort of functional, and it’s shaping up to be an awesome step forwards for this community in the middle of nowhere. But the most recent item of business, adding in an alarm system as a safeguard, has put everyone on edge since it went live last week. On one peaceful sunny evening last week, I was enjoying the nice weather when suddenly a cop car siren went off at a volume so loud that I jumped a good 2.5 inches out of my shoes. It would be prudent to note here that our compound is located hours away from any paved roads, and no cop cars would ever dream of venturing this far into the woods. To top it off, the noise sounded like it was coming from the lake.

Turns out it was the alarm system siren (pronounced sy-reen all distinguished-like by the electricians). They were choosing a ringtone.

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

Since then, things have escalated. Another point of interest to note is that whenever we switch over to the generator, there is a 1-minute delay when we have no power. This happens several times a day, but is nothing out of the ordinary for us. However, the alarm system has been programmed, as I mentioned, to detect power outages. So now every time that we switch to the generators, the sy-reen goes off. I think that the system has developed some sort of evil brain, because weird things have been happening with the generators since the electricians’ visit last week. The power went out at least eight times yesterday. That means the loud-ass sy-reen went off at least eight times yesterday. The sy-reen has also been sounding during the middle of the night. In a measure of good faith, the electricians have limited the sy-reen‘s duration to a few minutes, down from the recommended 15 MINUTES. Thanks guys.

We have some electronic keypads that tell us what sort of alarm is sounding. Like last week, an alarm went off because there was low temperature in a small shed that has no water or power and is uninhabited. Good to know.

And this morning, I’m being told by the keypad that we are currently suffering from…. a fire.

kumquat marmalade

A couple weeks ago, I made this fire-colored kumquat marmalade. Someone sound the sy-reen please.

Did you ever eat those SOUR SOUR SOUR SUPERSOUR sweeeeet Warheads candies? Kumquats are like nature’s equivalent to Warheads, a definite mouth party. How I have never before eaten kumquats is beyond me. Now I’m popping them like a bad addiction, and I’m slipping a few to my loggers – “oh hey, you like citrus? here, try this!” I offer, before quickly taking a few steps back just in case.

The next logical step, aside from slathering my marmalade over every glutenous surface known to man, was to pair it with my perennial favorite nut, pistachios, combining the two into a delightful variation on a linzertorte.

kumquat marmalade + pistachio linzertorte

Kumquat Marmalade + Pistachio Linzertorte

Recipe adapted from Maida Heatter and Smitten Kitchen

Yield: One 9-inch round or 8-inch square torte, sooo…. 8 wedges or 16 bars.

For the Kumquat Marmalade:

I used David Lebovitz’s recipe for Kumquat Marmalade, and the only change I made was to use three Meyer lemons in place of the recommended 2 lemons. I couldn’t write the instructions any better than he did, so follow his. Make sure you start a day ahead of time, since the citrus needs to soak overnight.

For the Linzertorte:

Base and Lattice
2 1/2 c. pistachios
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
10 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
Heaping 3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (I used a Meyer)

Make base: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch round layer cake pan or 8-inch square pan. Line the bottom of each with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit, then butter then paper.

In a food processor, process pistachios and 1/4 c. of flour (reserve remaining flour) until the nuts are finely ground but not pasty.

Place remaining 1 1/4 c. flour, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. With a pastry blender, add the butter into the flour mixture until it forms crumbs. Mix in the sugar. In a small bowl, beat the egg and lemon zest until combined, then stir into flour mixture until well-mixed. Work the dough inside the bowl until a cohesive ball forms.

Divide dough into halves.

Place half the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, and press evenly and firmly over the bottoms, flouring fingers if necessary. Press dough up the sides of the pan 1 1/2″.

Bake shell for 10-15 minutes, until it barely begins to color at the edges. Remove shell from oven and let cool slightly. Reduce oven to 325F.

While the shell bakes, roll remaining piece of dough between two pieces of waxed paper or parchment paper, until 1/4″- to 3/8″ in thickness or just a bit larger than the size of the pan. Transfer to freezer on a baking sheet until the dough is well-chilled, about 20 minutes.

Filling
3 tbsp panko or fine, dry breadcrumbs
1 heeeeaping c. kumquat marmalade

Make filling: Remove chilled dough from freezer.

Pulse panko or coarse dry breadcrumb in a food processor until a fine powder. Sprinkle panko or breadcrumbs over par-baked shell. If jam is not soft, stir it until it is, then spread over breadcrumbs.

Cut dough into 1/2″- 3/4″ strips, cutting through the bottom of the waxed paper at the same time if you want to make dough transfer simple (I didn’t do this). Lift each strip over the jam and reverse it onto the jam before peeling off the waxed paper. Arrange strips 1/2″ to 3/4″ apart, crisscrossing them (if desired, I didn’t do this either) on an angle to make a lattice top with diamond-shaped openings. Use leftover pieces to fill in any gaps between lattice-strips and tall sides of shells. Excess lengths can be added to the tall sides and gently pressed into place.

Topping
1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
Powdered sugar, for serving

Mix egg yolks and water. Brush it all over lattice top and border. Bake torte for 45 to 60 minutes, until crust is well-browned.

Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Cool for ten to fifteen minutes in the pan, before loosening and removing. Allow to fully cool on a cooling rack. When cool, serve immediately, or let the linzertorte stand overnight (covered in foil) before serving for full flavor development. Decorate with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

beata

We caught Beata snoozing at a perfect 90 degree angle. Such a little right triangle. Be still my beating heart oh gosh.

She knows not the joys of marmalade and linzertorte, but she doesn’t need to, because she has fur and whiskers and ears and those darling legs.

vitamin A jello salad

2 Apr

vitamin A jello salad
Molly McIntire was always my least favorite American Girl. I found her escapades trite, her personality off-putting, and her glasses absolutely disgusting. This was probably because at the time – the early 90s – large bug-eyed glasses were in style and man were they ever ugly [and now they're trendy again... good thing none of my loggers have the fashion sense of hip city-dwellers, or else I might have to punch their lenses in].

I much preferred Felicity, because she had gorgeous red hair and liked horses, or Samantha, because she had that one bitchin’ sailor outfit. Like the unfortunate Kirsten doll maligned by ugly grayish hair, the Molly doll was consumed by her dumb face-hogging glasses.

I clearly never looked too hard into the Molly situation, because after spending a recent weekend afternoon staring dreamily at her illustrated face, I have to admit that I was quite wrong. She’s pretty darn cute, and those glasses are adorable. Plus, she grew up in the ’40s.

Daydreaming what life would be like could I travel in time takes up roughly 20% of my brain’s creative space. Last Saturday, for instance, those dreams took me back to the mid-1800s, to life on the Oregon Trail. If only I could see the plains as they were and the first nation tribes before they were boxed off into reservations, could experience a truly difficult life, could caulk the wagon and float. As enticing as death by cholera sounds, however, my illness-prone self would do better in a more modern era with miracle drugs as an option. And the 1940s is the decade that I would most like to visit.

Attractive fitted dresses. Men with pleated pants and hats intended for use outside of baseball games. Cocktail hour featuring cocktails, rather than Bud Light. Quality kitchenware made anywhere but China. Floral wallpaper and checkerboard floor tiles. Food rationing leading to inventive cakes made with mayonnaise. Spam. Unmatched patriotism and community spirit.

molly's cookbook vitamin A jello salad
I found this jello salad  – which looks like an over-sized hamburger, don’t you think? – in my copy of Molly’s Cook Book, part of the American Girls Pastimes series, released in 1994. The recipe repulsed me, as I’m sure it does you, but it was ridiculous enough that I thought it would make a lovely splash here on the internet. Plus, it taught me that cottage cheese isn’t actually half bad. Which was a surprise.

Vitamin A Jello Salad {recipe from Molly’s Cook Book}

++Ingredients:++

3-oz package of lemon gelatin
1 c. boiling hot water
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon or 1/2 a lemon
1 c. “apricot nectar” (I used Ceres apricot juice)
1 c. cottage cheese
1 large carrot
15-oz can of apricots
Lettuce leaves, for decoration

++Directions:++

In a medium mixing bowl, combine gelatin and hot water, and stir until dissolved. Add lemon juice and apricot juice and mix well.

Rinse a gelatin mold or aluminum bowl in cold water. Pour 1 cup of the gelatin mixture into the mold. Either let set 20-30 minutes in the fridge first, or spoon cottage cheese in directly. Pour another 1/2 c. of the gelatin into the mold. Place in the fridge to set while preparing the rest of the salad.

Grate the carrot – it should measure ~ 1 cup. Drain the can of apricots, the cut apricots into small cubes. Add carrots and apricots to remaining gelatin, and stir well. Let the gelatin mold cooling in the fridge continue to set until it is stiff enough to withstand the weight of the remaining ingredients. When ready, spoon the carrot-apricot-gelatin mixture on top. Cover the mold with plastic wrap and let set at least four hours or overnight.

Cover the serving platter with decorative lettuce leaves (I used lettuce and cabbage). Take the gelatin mold out of the fridge, and let sink in warm water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. When it appears to have loosened up, turn it over onto the serving plate to unmold it.

vitamin A jello salad

In other news, my boyfriend shared this article with me last night. And the photo below is the most perfect man / cat combination that I’ve ever seen. So beautiful. I adore the Amazon description for Alexandra Crockett’s book, which goes a little something like “Metal isn’t all dark and disturbing, violent and misanthropic. Metal Cats is proof that while the music may be brutal, the people in the scene are softies for their pets just like you and me.”

Stuff like this is definitely enough to make me glad that I live when I do. You wouldn’t be seeing any of these Metal Cats on the shelves in 1940s-era war-torn households.

metal cats

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

28 Mar

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

The word bacon used to strike fear into my heart. Not positive terror like the words pork chop, nor definite disinterest like hot dog, nor middling boredom like potato chips. Just good old fashioned fear. The announcement that BLTs were for dinner made me feel nauseous. Forget about a delicious fatty weekend breakfast – or breakfeast, more like it. My mum tried to trick me into thinking turkey bacon was the more awesome counterpart to the bacon I found gross and unpalatable (because less sodium and fewer calories equals better taste…?), forgetting that Thanksgiving turkey was #1 on my Foods Most Unwanted list.

Life as a picky eater has been a long and difficult road. While my journey isn’t quite over, my 20s has been all about coming to terms with the endless list of foods that I heretofore wrote off without a second thought. Chicken. Cookies. Cake. Butter on pancakes. Butter on toast. Hamburgers. Steak. Wild rice. Potatoes. Milk. Several kinds of cheese. Broccoli and cauliflower. And of course, the aforementioned bacon.

The day that I fell in love with bacon was the best day in the world.

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

It was Spring Semester 2008, my Junior year in college. Near the end of every scholastic year, the club that I was most involved with on campus held a blowout all-day celebration, beginning with a pancake breakfast, continuing on with timbersports (read: wannabe lumberjacks throwing axes, pushing about logs, spitting tobacco), and ending with a formal banquet. The pancake breakfast has long been cooked and served by the department faculty, in a delightful twist of duty. Backtracking to 2008, I had just taken over as Forestry Club president, having been elected upon an Obama spin-off campaign slogan of “Yes Tree Can!” My comparatively-painless presidential duties included overseeing the pancake breakfast. However, I had a Remote Sensing lecture that overlapped with a good portion of the breakfast.

And here is where I tell you that up until that day, I had never cut class. Not once. Sure, I had been absent for each and every class since the dawn of time for a variety of reasons, but each and every one was premeditated, and often based on some sort of illness. It had never even occurred to me to skip class. The closest I got was skipping a pep rally in high school (before my school outlawed pep rallies), and even then, I felt my blood pressure increase alarmingly and damn, but I felt guilty.

So here I am, 2008, crossing the threshold into my lecture, resigned that I will miss out on my first elected duty, when some mental switch flips. My eyebrows raise in alarm as my feet halt, then backtrack, and finally turn around and exit the classroom. I make my way to the pancake breakfast, feeling ridiculously giddy and also a mite peckish. The world suddenly seems more colorful, more alive. My senses are heightened, and all of a sudden, I smell something. Something savory, and fatty, and unmistakably caloric. I smell bacon. I come face to face with it. It sits there, sparkling with grease. I sidle up next to it, and take one piece. I nibble it. I grab a second piece, and chomp it down. I take a third, and a fourth, and devour them.

I must have eaten 20 pieces of bacon that morning. They tasted like freedom.

_____________

BaconBadge14-v2

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Enter Bacon Week 2014. My pal Mary has been doing this Clogged Artery Week for a few years now, and I’ve enjoyed playing along, given that I came to my senses in 2008 and realized what’s up. In case you missed my lengthy preamble, it’s bacon, you guys. In 2012, I contributed Potato Bacon Breakfast Churros served in the world’s cutest bowl made of bacon. And last year, sticking with a theme of cuteness+calory overload, it was Deep Fried Waffles with Maple Bacon Buttercream served in ‘bacon muffinettes.’

This year I went with something a little easier to throw together, though equal in tastiness. A few weeks back I had sketched out several dessert ideas that seemed ingenious to my simple mind. One was for these bacon cinnamon roll cookies. About ten minutes after that life-altering moment, literally, I was cruising the internet and saw like nine different recipes for cinnamon roll cookies just like these. So while I may not be unique or on top of trends, at least I have bacon.

Bacon Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Will yield 24-28 cookies

++Ingredients:++

For the dough:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 tbsp bacon fat
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour

For the filling:
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 strips candied bacon (Yummy Supper’s recipe will yield 8 strips, a perfect baking use: mouth use ratio)
1/2 tsp water

++Directions:++

In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, bacon fat, salt and vanilla until light and fluffy, 2-4 minutes. Add in the flour and mix until the dough comes together. On a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, flatten dough. Cover with a second large sheet of parchment or plastic wrap, and roll out into a 9 x 14″ rectangle. Freeze on a baking sheet until well chilled, 20 minutes.

In a food processor, grind the sugar and cinnamon together. Add in candied bacon, and pulse until combined and fine. Add 1/2 tsp water if mixture is too dry.

Remove dough from freezer and allow to warm up for 2-5 minutes. Slather dough with bacon mixture, evenly coating the dough’s surface. Starting with a long edge roll the dough carefully into a log, using the bottom piece of plastic wrap to encourage the log to roll. Smooth out any cracks that develop in the dough as you roll. Once in a log, roll back and forth over the seam several times to seal it. Re-wrap in plastic wrap or parchment and freeze until firm, 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cookies sheets with parchment paper. Use a trustworthy knife to cut the log into just-under-1/2-inch slices. Transfer cookies to baking sheets and bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown on the undersides and edges. Remove from oven, and cool on wire racks.

bacon cinnamon roll cookies

It’s been an exciting few weeks! I got the chance to interact with a veneer (log) buyer, who taught me quite a bit about log valuation and what I can look for to maximize my wood utilization and timber values.

After a year of silence, we got a new record player up and running, for a total cost of 0 dollars. Now I can listen to Steely Dan and Morris Day each and every day, and my days are bright and sunny (though my vocabulary has seemingly suffered).

And it truly is sunny here from time to time, though we continue to be pummeled by snow. We managed to escape down to New Hampshire for a work conference this week, where we spent a few nights IN A CASTLE.

castle winter veneer

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