So I called out sick from work on Friday. Yeah. It was lovely.
Basically, I had a food blogger potluck, no food, and performance anxiety. And a plethora of sick days available.
Plan A for food: Pita chips and tzatziki.
I’ve started taking that to almost every pot luck type thing, and I wasn’t feeling it this time. I drained the yogurt, but I didn’t even work up to buying the pita.
Plan B for food: Salsa
I’ve got a butt load of tomatoes from my garden, but, again, I didn’t work up enthusiasm. (It’s okay – I think I’ll work up to it next week or so and then can/jar some)
Plan E for food: So I had a two-week old plan to use up eggplants in my fridge in imam bayildi… and two week old eggplants, which ended up in the compost because they were a little fuzzy. But it was a good plan – and one that would help me with my tomato backlog. So I drove off to one of the big Asian supermarkets in south philly to acquire eggplants (of the variety often found near me, but not when I’m looking for them).
food bloggers potluck
Okay, so let me tell you the genius of using Asian (long, skinny) eggplants for this Mediterranean dish: bite-sized imam bayildi!
Not a big pile of mush! No, these were 4-5cm long segments, each one with it’s own little pocket-forming slit and awesome deliciousness. It turned out just as well as I had planned (and better than I’d feared, the big pile of resulting mush would still have been delicious, though, so no worries). And I got the portion right (about 30 pieces) for the gathering, so there was just enough let over at the end of the evening for a lunch-sized portion for me.
And what do you know – someone else had brought chips and homemade salsas and another person has pitas and dip. No one else had mysteriously delicious eggplant with tomatoes and onions and parsley.
Oh, and I also took a fruit salad which I loved
watermelon, hand-picked blackberries, and banana slices that had been dosed in lime juice and ginger juice.
I loved it and thought it needed more of the sauce throughout! Those bananas were yummy.
What else was there?
Teagan brought a pasta salad with mint pesto and an indian string bean and carrot dish with mustard seeds. Oh, and she also had a pumpkin and coconut pudding.
Marisa brought a big jar of pickles with delicious onions.
Someone had a plate of traditional pimento cheese sandwiches. Up here, that is an exotic gourmet treat. Yum!
Messy & Picky brought a tasty and simple corn salad.
Someone made little caprese salads on a stick with grape tomato halves framing little mozzarella lumps and basil
someone brought carnitas
There was a fruit tart.
And the host made tasty peanut butter cookies.
There was socializing.
And then I left.
farmers market! – where I achieved my primary goal of acquiring a lot of dubious peaches.
looking at potential houses…
Meeting up with friends for a game night
I took some more of the same fruit salad (but with a slightly higher ratio of lime/ginger to fruit that for the potluck), but the people trying it this time thought it tasted a bit wonky.
a failed quest for ice cream
first there was kick ass yoga.
then I went on an emergency quest for pectin (only to be found in solid form at the whole foods)
and did laundry
and then I made jam
and then I made a tonne of peach jam.
I started cutting up and sugaring peaches while I boiled the jars.
first project was re-cooking the white peach with lime and ginger from last time that did not set up properly. I just cooked it down more and added some more pectin from the last packet of liquid pectin. I think it turned out better, but I haven’t tried. it. (yield: 4 – 4oz jars)
second project – was making a non-spicy jam for geeksdoitbetter, but I think the 2 parts fruit to 1 part sugar recipe is a bit too sweet for me, and I like spicy to balance that. Also, I’m actually not a bit jelly person, and I quite like jam from the supermarket. I’m not trying to make something I will enjoy from any ole source, so I might as well get wacky. So a simpler recipe was hard. I ended up adding about 1/4 cup of the cherries we’d picked together and that she’d dried with quite a lot of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and possible allspice. When those cherries were finished, she was quite sure they were way too heavily seasoned, so I only used that many for about 6 cups of fruit and 3 cups of sugar – and then I added cranberries when I decided it was a little too sparsely populated with fruit (if you are going to have random dried fruit chewy bits, then there should be enough to pop up reliably, instead of as surprise chewy). No other seasoning. For this one, I added 3 teaspoons of dried pectin, and it seemed like it was going to set up rather solidly. (yield: 3 – 4oz jars; 3 – 8oz jars)
third project – so then I went looking for savourier options, and started with 5 Spice Powder. A lot of 5 spice powder. And then some ginger juice. And a wee little bit of black pepper sauce. Stir cook stir. And then it didn’t seem to have a distinctive enough flavor, so things went a bit wacky. I added a little rice vinegar and some soy sauce, and then I added some sambal oelek for kick, and the hot version finally tasted right. (yield: 5 – 4oz jars; 3 – 8oz jars)
Fourth project – So I have a coconut, and I was thinking of adding shredded unsweetened coconut meat to one, but at 10pm it was a little much work to start on. So I went for a peach masala theory. I added a lot of Penzey’s garam masala. And I wanted a few more savory notes, so I added a shake or two of Penzey’s Rogan Josh. Oh, and this one got just 1 teaspoon of solid pectin for about 6 cups (maybe more) of peaches. Cook cook stir cook. And then when it was near thick enough, I melted some coconut fat in another pan and fried up a generous quantity of mustard seeds and nigella seeds (and added three drops of mustard oil when the coconut fat seemed to be toasting more quickly than the seeds). Add to jam. This one tasted awesome hot, and I have high hopes for it being my favorite. yield: 6 – 4oz jars; 2 – 8oz jars; and 2 wee tiny jelly jars because I couldn’t bear to leave the little scrapings in the pot to be washed down the drain)
Fifth project – And I liked the peach chipotle jam I made in the first experiment so much, that I tried to replicate that batch. By this point my tastebuds were so blown with sticky peach that I suspect I made it spicier, but hey. Same ingredients at least. (yield: 6 – 4oz jars; 1 – 16oz jar)
project 4.5 and while I had just started cooking down the peaches for batch 5, I threw my Green Tomato Salsa in a pint jar and boiled it for the entire length of the cooking process and all because I couldn’t bear a 6th round of heating stuff before canning it. I’m storing it in the fridge in case that wouldn’t be sufficient to make it shelf stable, but it should at least slow down the aging process. (yes, there’s lots of vinegar in the salsa)
Oh, and I went out to dinner
Oh, and I went out to dinner. With a boy. Yeah, it’s my co-worker on whom I have a vague crush, but I’m pretty sure it’s doomed.
So we tried out the new Tampopo near me. The dumplings were exceptional – with a light skin and filling with flavor. Pan fried to deliciousness. He ordered the hot, spicy tofu – which was tasty. The tofu had nice crispy edges. I ordered hot, spicy squid, and my tentacles were not too chewy. Same sauce really was used for both. And the portions were small, but it was a full meal’s worth and sized right for the price. No service and free water.
And the place was chock full of the most stereotypical west philly people, and I kept getting distracted from my barely coworker level of intimacy conversation by the wacky west philly people discussing their accupuncture and tattoos.
a little more house shopping before work…