Monday, February 20, 2012


Some random bits and bobs to start the week.

What better to start with than creme brulee?  (There's an accent somewhere in there, and foreign terms ought to be italicized; but, I don't know which E gets the accent, and I'm too tired to care--much less figure out--how to include accent marks in Blogger. And I'm not italicizing something I'm going to write 100 times in one post.)

I love creme brulee.  This simple statement is partly explanatory of a fundamental breakdown in communication between myself and my immortal beloved when we are served with dessert menus in a restaurant.

Him: "How about the flourless chocolate cake?"
Me: "How 'bout not?"
Him: "Ok, what about the chocolate lava cake?"
Me: "What about it?"
Him: "What about the chocolate torte?"
Me: "What about something NOT chocolate?"
Him: [Long pause; staring at each other over the menus; neither one of us blinks; I carefully go for the dagger hidden in my boot ...] Finally: "What are you talking about?"

I like chocolate. I do not desire it on a regular basis and I rarely think about it in restaurants.

[Aaaaaaaand there goes the loyalty of 60% of my readership. It was nice while it lasted. I knew they wouldn't like me forever.]

Over the years, I've realized that I actually pick desserts based on texture, not flavor.  The general rule of thumb: If it's silky, I want it.  (This is also a good rule of thumb for blouses, hair, sheets, and body lotion.)

I want the silky dessert; Ron wants the chocolate. We always say that we're going to split dessert and then we never do because our respective choices are so offensive to each other.  UNLESS, there's pecan pie on the menu: THAT is the one thing we can both agree on.

Last week, we had creme brulee.  Ron's made this before, but not for a long time.

What would Nigella say?: "Little lovelies, so eggy and smooth, dotted with vanilla gorgeousness." Probably something like that.

I've never actually made creme brulee, so I can't say too much about the actual making of it. I do know that Ron uses Alton Brown's recipe and I can tell you that it's pretty damn close to perfect.  At the very least, it's as perfect as Ina's marshmallows.  (Seriously people: If you're not in the habit of being friendly with sugar, you really should be.)

Alton's recipe will fill four typical ramekins.  Personally, I like a thick crust on top, and I don't care if it's a little too ... how do you say? ... brulee-d.  But, both of us agreed that we overdid it on the first two: too much sugar, too much heat for too long.

They were still incredibly lovely because with one solid swack of a teaspoon, you reveal this underneath:

Ramekins are the perfect size: You don't want anymore once you're finished, but you aren't wishing that you had any less.

A note about hardware: Ron doesn't have one of those cute little blow torches that you buy at Williams Sonoma for the express purpose of finishing a creme brulee. He uses the scary blow torch that he keeps in the basement ... the same one that he used to install the hot water heater three years ago.  It's slightly terrifying, but he knows what he's doing. I'm thinking carefully about this now, and I'm pretty sure the blow torch has been used in the kitchen for food more often that it's been used in home improvement projects ... not sure how I feel about this unofficial statistic.  I'm also wondering if such cooking techniques are slightly carcinogenic?  Don't answer that.

We tried brulee-ing again the following night, and we're pretty sure we got it right: less sugar, less heat for less time.

We probably won't do this again for three more years.  It's ok, though: Nobody should be eating this very often.

And now, we shall commence the Hodgepodge:

Lovely orchid from my momma on Valentine's Day--my first (orchid, that is).

My sister gave me this cool black and white toile (what is up with the French in this post?) T shirt for Vday, so I paired it up with a turquoise cardi and royal blue cigarette pants.  According to one of my fave former students, I was "Like, WHOA, totally visible from across the cafe."  I was assured that this is a compliment.

Longwood with my mom over the weekend:

Witch hazel

The BIGGEST foxtail fern I have EVER seen! It's the coolest thing ever. It's like a cross between a muppet and a space alien. Someone needs to paint a face on the container. (I'm sure a classy place like Longwood would totally go for that.)

If you've ever since a cat's tail get puffed, this is exactly what it's like.

Foreground: yellow clivia, this particular color developed by Longwood for Longwood.

Background: forsythia!  Forsythia = Easter

 What would Nigella say about these?

"Look at these dear, jam-stained babies."

"Good enough to eat."

One of these days, I will teach myself to write after 8am and before 10pm.  The voices in my head need to learn to talk louder during those hours.

Hard determinism on the docket tomorrow.  Still need to find the news clips I want to use in class.

For now, off to bed.

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