Monday, January 4, 2016

The making of things

I am used to doing a fair bit of cooking around the holidays between parties, company, and day-to-day obligations. I like creating things be it meals, music, or stories. It is life affirming to share the product of your heart and hands. There is a particular sense of achievement when you can say “I made that myself.” That being said, this year was out of control.

When the brunette went back to work, we took the opportunity to stock the kitchen with all-the-gadgets. I got a full set of stoneware and stainless cookware courtesy of pampered chef. We acquired a full sized microwave oven, vitamix blender, dehydrator, vacuum sealer, and kitchen aid stand mixer. The deal was that if she agreed to outfit the kitchen I had to use it all. So I took that as a challenge.

A brief list of 2015 cooking projects:

• Learned how to make my own crumb pie crusts.

• Learned how to make fruit crumble.

• Learned how to make coconut cream pie with the vitamix.

• Learned how to make trifle—Pumpkin gingerbread, banana cream, and lemon cream.

• Learned how to make my own jerky—resulting in over 50 pounds of dried meat.

• Learned how to make my own fruit bark

• Learned how to dehydrate and preserve herbs and vegetables.

• Learned how to make rice not stick together.

• Learned how to make quick breads

• Learned how to make my own Irish Cream liquor.

• Learned how to make my own whiskey infusions.

• Learned how to make my own spiced rum.

• Made progress on effectively using my oven.

While these are a few of my favorite things, I have a long way to go. Still left to do is making my own cured meats, perfecting crumb crust, working on homemade pie crust, baking cookies and brownies from scratch, working up a standard super-hot jerky recipe, making cheesecake from scratch, and getting to where I can consistently cook bacon in the oven. These aren’t must-do items—just things I would like to learn to make. People have asked me why I want to make my own pie crust or shotgun shells or sausage when I can just buy them. The answer is I feel better making that choice after I have learned to make them for myself. There are elements of a well made dish that are difficult to appreciate if you haven’t attempted to replicate the result on your own time. There are certain dishes that are just better when made by hand. I am never going to be the super-maker of the group but I am hoping to add a few more notches in my belt this year.

Thank you to all the people who gave advice and tested my concoctions. For every proud victory there have been a couple not-so-great attempts. Your willingness to come back to the table over and over again is part of the reason I continue to strive for ever-greater gustatory heights.

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