Friday, October 15, 2010


Behold this marvel of modern science!

These jars are filled with perishable food yet they do not rot. Or at least not yet. Canning is not scary and will not kill you, unless you can non-acidic food like (non-pickled) vegetables and they develop botulism. So refrain from doing that and don't be afraid.

On the bottom of the pyramid are pickled beets. In the next row are bread and butter pickles, which are sweet pickles with onions. At the top is a container of freezer jam, which I made from a twenty pound box of peaches. I cooked the fruit for a minute or two with a little bit of sugar, added some lemon juice, thickened it with freezer jam pectin, and then froze it. I also made six quarts of pear sauce with cinnamon. I have so far resisted the temptation to eat my winter rations, so I can't tell you how anything came out yet. But I'll report soon. Here's a closer look at the beets:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Julia Child's Leek and Potato Soup

How could I have missed it for so long! It's a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking that isn't outdated (Aspics and Molds, 544-6), uses no extravagant ingredients (Foie Gras Stuffing with Prunes for Goose, 284), and does not involve cooking lettuce (Lettuce, Braised, 489). Also, it's the very first recipe in the book. It makes enough for 6-8 people, or for two people with some for the next day's lunch and some for the freezer. It's better on the second day. Julia Child calls for a bit of cream or butter, but I had some good milk in the fridge and used that instead with fine results. Julia Child also calls for peeling the potatoes, but that's just silly. Here's the basic recipe:

  • 1 pound potatoes, chopped
  • 1 pound thinly sliced leeks
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tbs. salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk or cream

Simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered, for 40 to 50 minutes. Mash the vegetables with a potato masher (or fork, or food mill); don't puree it. Immediately before serving, add the milk (or just add a tablespoon or so to each bowl).

The recipe also calls for parsley or chives added at the very end, which I would have done if I had either. My mother likes to put cilantro in her leek and potato soup, which I also endorse. Julia Child mentions that you can add carrots, turnips, tomatoes, half-cooked dried beans, peas, or lentils with their cooking liquid at the beginning. You can also add cauliflower, cucumbers, broccoli, Lima beans, peas, string beans, okra, zucchini, shredded lettuce (oops!), spinach, sorrel, or cabbage after the soup is mashed, to be cooked for 10 minutes or so. I made my batch with some carrots and parsnips, even though parsnips aren't on this list. Deviation from a Julia Child recipe usually leads to ruination, but I got away with this one.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale

Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale
Fresh Hop Ale
Chico, CA
6.7% Alcohol
Rating: 5/5

This beer reminded me of Pliny the Elder. It's powerful and direct, but there are a lot of flavors to it, and none of them are off in any way. I expected something more delicate, but I'm really happy with what I got.