Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year, Happy Birthday, AND an Honorable Mention! (with recipes...)

Every New Year's Eve (that we can) my friends and I gather for a lingering dinner party and overnight.  Each couple prepares a course to serve, and often times we play parlor games while we wait for whatever's coming next. You know - paper and colored pencils, 60 seconds to draw a combination of whatever 2 animals you pull from a hat, like Rooster/Lobster or Iguana Pig. Lots of fun, especially when you can't draw, as your mind will take over whenever there's a time limit involved, as though your life depends on it. But your life doesn't actually depend on it, unless you're laughing so hard you choke on your food.

This year my course was a savory sorbet, served  in between Gillian's Fried Oyster Salad and Katie's Try, Try Again Cheese Fondue. JP, who always has to work out of town at the most inconvenient times wasn't around to help me work the ice cream maker (which is really the only appliance he has mastered) so while my Carrot-Apple-Lemon sorbet tasted fantastic, the texture was a bit crumbly. Nobody Cared.

The recipe was rather simple - I juiced about 2 cups of carrot juice with 1/6 of an unpeeled lemon and 1/2 an apple. I boiled it on the stovetop with 1/2 cup of sugar (I was too unsure to leave it out) for 2 minutes and then refrigerated the mixture for a couple of hours. I then strained it and processed it in the ice cream maker and put it in the freezer. Pretty easy! Cleaning up the juicer was the worst part, as usual. I'd like to try it again with no sugar at all, or maybe agave syrup.

I also brought roasted garlic, homemade seed bread from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day , as well as pickled beets, preserved apple chutney, and bread and butter pickles all from my garden. These were a big hit. Sadly, the beets are now gone, but I have a 4 x 8 bed of Chioggias in the hoophouse right now that I think I should harvest and pickle, as the tops did not withstand the latest cold snap.

New Year's Eve is also my sister's birthday, and last night was a big one. She turned 40! And while "40 is the new 20" to many, she pointed out that she herself is not Courtney Cox, and 40 feels a bit different to her. Touche! Here is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake I made her:

I decided to make it just before I went to work in the morning, and used a quick recipe I found this summer; Easy Dark Chocolate Cake . For the frosting, I used a hand mixer to beat a package of cream cheese, a few heaping spoonfuls (3/4 cup-ish) of Marantha No-Stir Organic Peanut Butter (simply life changing,) and about 1/2 cup of whipping cream. After they were well combined, I beat in about 1 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar. The other recipes I saw online didn't have the whipping cream, but I thought it made a huge difference. I also noticed that they had extreme differences in the sugar content, but I found the 1 1/2 cups to be on the sweet side (one recipe called for 5 cups!) So, taste as you go... And my sister doesn't like bananas, but I think this cake is screaming for them!

Here is a picture of my friend Katie 'cooking.' She brought a girlish apron, and her cookbook is a blackberry, but even she considers it just a costume. Her cheese fondue is always a "keep'em guessing"theme, and we all love it - can't wait for next year!

and, a tragedy - Gillian's $20 FryBaby deep fried it's own lid, Oops! At least the oysters were safe...

Lastly, I was so happy to wake up this morning and find out that I won an honorable mention for my entry into  Mary Ann of Gardens of the Wild, Wild West 'Why I Garden' Essay Contest  -
Happy New Year!

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