Friday, April 25, 2008

playing ketchup

Not dead! Me! Not dead!

That was a strange way of explaining my absence, but I’m kind of a strange cookie sometimes. Other times, I’m a strange cracker.

(Incidentally. Ketchup? Catsup? Catchup? Strange word for sauce, no matter how you spell it, neh? Wikipedia, my supplementary brain, reports that it is believed to come from the Amoy dialect of Chinese. Or from Malay. Strange indeed.)

Returning to our regularly scheduled programming, I am indeed not dead. I went home for a delightful weekend with family and friends, and after two delightful days with family I started vomiting my brains out, and remained quite sickly for the remaining day-with-friends. I might possibly have gotten food poisoning.

Food. Poison. What a dreadful combination of words. I felt downright betrayed! I love food! I always try to do right by it, and enjoy it properly and all, and here was a meal most emphatically not appreciating my efforts. While it may have been a stomach virus after all, I am still very suspicious. I hate to look askance on a fine-tasting portabello cooked in the restaurant of a family friend, but I’m afraid I can’t quite tamp down my doubts.

So a weekend of fine food and not mucking around in any kitchen turned into a weekend of almost no food and not mucking around in any kitchen, except for when I made ramen and jello. I really enjoyed the jello. I made two boxes and ate one scoop… you’re welcome, familia, for the jiggly goodness in the fridge! :D

It really does jiggle. It is possibly the best thing ever.

So I have only recently returned and recovered. Faced with an empty crisper and scantly-filled cupboards, I made tacos. Because pantry + cheese = dinner. And how can it get much more perfect than that? A lot of great young-broke-and-clueless dinners consist of pantry+cheese. Pasta. Rice and beans. Well, that's all I can think of, actually. So I'll say it again: lots.

Anyway, taco-making also involved making my first corn tortillas. The process is incredibly easy; probably the easiest recipe in the world. Mix masa harina and water; press into a circle; cook on ungreased skillet for 50 seconds per side.

Of course, being so easy, I managed to find every possible way to make it harder. Here are a few suggestions: Suck at measuring things. Randomly decide to add extra water. Don't have a tortilla press. Don't have a timer.

Actually, not having a tortilla press was kind of fun. Kind of. It meant I had to press the tortillas flat with a big cast-iron skillet; so first I tried on the counter, and let me tell you what, my upper body strength (or lack thereof) was not cutting it. Or pressing it, rather.

So I ended up with a plastic-covered cutting board on the floor, masa on top of that, then a big skillet, then a plastic bag, then me. Me, standing in that skillet in my professional kitten-heels, moving my weight around to try to press the tortilla evenly... I sort of rocked back and forth a little like I was pretending to surf.

Would a tortilla press have been that much fun? Certainly not!

(P.S. -- I want a tortilla press.)

So the tortillas turned out okay -- some a better thickness and texture than others. I need more practice. But masa harina was really cheap, and the whole thing was a bit of an adventure.

Last night I made indian food; rice pilaf, curried vegetables, garlic naan. It was all okay. The naan recipe I used this time had yeast, but no yogurt, which is interesting, as the last recipe I used had yogurt, but no yeast. I wish I could do a side-by-side taste comparison, because my memory has them both tasting like, well, naan. I guess I could do a taste test... but I'd feel silly making two different kinds of naan.

Exciting discovery! Naan can be reheated in a toaster. Okay, maybe it's obvious to you. But it was totally the delight of my afternoon.

That's all.

1 comment:

tom said...

1. Making your own tortillas is awesome. I now want a tortilla press.

2. Wikipedia only trustworthy if the article has been properly vetted by knowledgeable people. Even links to other pre-existing websites can be nothing more than intentional disinformation. Check out the talk back page of the Wikipedia article on the National Arbitration Forum for some comments about this.

3. Make two types of nan, invite some friends over and do a blind taste testing with different flavored foods. You may find that depending on the other food different recipes are best.