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archive for June 2007

back in the land of cool

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

We have returned from the Land of Hot, that being New Mexico. Mind you, it’s a dry heat. And despite everyone who rolls their eyes when someone discusses dry heat, 100 is definitely tolerable dry than humid. Jeremy, being a native son of New Mexico, used to wax nostalgic for his homelands all the time. But these days I think the romance has faded just a little for him. I think Colorado is what puts an extra spring in his step, not to mention the immensely long ski season. There is something to be said for coming home to 58 degrees in the mountains to have the rich smell of pine forest fill your nostrils as you hose the dog down for a bath.

It was a bit of a mental shock to go from Grandma Darling’s lack of short term memory and endless repeat of the same 7 stories (at least it was 7 and not 1) to fully engaged discussions with my aunt. I’m lucky to have her in my closest circle of friends. We talk about food, relationships, professional issues, politics, gardening, more food, our family, raising children, raising pets, cultural issues, diversity, all sorts of stuff.

Elena and family have lived in Los Alamos for almost 5 years now. We drove down 2 years ago when they were in the midst of overhauling the backyard. It used to be a bit of a mess from the previous owners and Elena had a master plan. The woman has impeccable taste – classy, elegant, unique, beautiful. It shows in her art, her clothes, her house, her garden. In two years, I’ve let my yard grow more weeds. In two years, she transformed a dirt and grass yard into this:

just half of the the fabulous garden at elena’s house

**Jump for more butter**

cake, cake, and mini cake

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

I should just learn to accept that it is okay to purchase a cake. But not yet.

It’s really hard for me to bake in someone else’s house, mainly because their kitchen isn’t outfitted the way mine is, but also because I need to dominate in the kitchen – no room for yackity yack, please get out of my way.

Today’s endeavor involved two cakes that will be traveling with us. The first: lemon lemon with lemon cake. The second: chocolate with chocolate and chocolate cake. If the second cake was not for Jeremy’s grandma, I might have gotten a lot more interesting with the flavors, but the Darlings like their chocolate straight up. Not the most sophisticated, but certainly doable.

The recipe I have for the lemon cake base makes a lot because I only have 9×2 pans. I like the 9×3’s they have at school. So we had enough batter for a mini 6-inch. I made all of the components for the cake and then packed them up since it makes more sense to assemble it at Elena’s place. I wanted to test it out though in mini form, so I made the 6-inch version with limoncello simple syrup, lemon curd, and lemon buttercream. It’s cute.

mini lemony lemon cake

**Jump for more butter**

crock pot bbq beef brisket and bonus recipe

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

For Ro, I’ll post about my bbq beef brisket in the crock pot experiment. Typically bbq beef brisket is slow cooked/smoked over coals for 10-12 hours. I have no interest in keeping an eye on something that could burn my house and my neighborhood down for that long, so I had the choice between the oven and the crock pot. Oven is out of the question with the latest heat wave, and the winner is: crock pot.

I picked up a 2.5 pound beef brisket, which ended up being about a half pound of fat. Clever little butchers wrap the meat up so you can’t see the fat… You’ll want to remove as much fat as possible, which is a tedious, but sort of fun task. At least I take a sort of OCD pleasure in doing so with my very very sharp knife. Once the brisket is ready, pop it into the crock pot. You can cut it up if the shape results in appendages protruding unceremoniously above the liquid. What liquid? I’m getting to that.

I found a recipe that calls for a cup of water, 1/4 cup Worcestershire, a tbsp of vinegar, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp ground cayenne, 1 tbsp brown (or any) mustard, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1 cube of beef bouillon (I use a bouillon paste). Mix all of that together and toss it into the crock pot. Add more water to cover the brisket. I set it on high for 5 hours. At 5 hours, it was still pretty cohesive, so I set it for 6 more hours on low. By morning, it was at easy pull apart, although I suspect if I let it go another 3 hours, I could have had it falling apart – dunno.

Ro’s question was how to serve brisket. When I’ve had the Best Beef Brisket Ever, we always sliced it up and ate it with bbq sauce and all of the other delicious sides from Hogly Wogly’s.

you can slice up the brisket

**Jump for more butter**