Thursday, September 17, 2009

It Went Downhill From There...

I'm blaming it all on Julia Child.
It all started a few months ago. I had been hearing so much about that movie, Julie and Julia. Even my monthly subscription to Bon Appetite couldn't help mention it and dedicate a whole issue to Julia Child. It got me excited! So, I researched, I saw the movie, and I promptly decided that I needed that cookbook. YES, THE COOKBOOK! The one you would find on any real chef's bookshelf! The one that has been around for nearly 50 years! The one that has been sold out of every bookstore everywhere for months... Yes, I'm talking aboutMastering the Art of French Cooking. This is the cookbook I have been in hot pursuit of for weeks now. After too many dead-end leads, I was informed that they were finally back in stock on the Indigo website (hooray!). I ordered it and five business days later, it arrived on my doorstep. It was love at first sentence, really. And this is where the trouble began.
You see, I'm two weeks into another semester of school. University, unlike high school, doesn't waste any time getting to the hard stuff. No, you just jump right it. So picture this: I am sitting on the barstool in the kitchen, salivating like mad as I hastily skim through all the lovely recipes. I start to daydream about this great party where all we eat is food from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and drink expensive merlot (or something?). From this point on (this was Monday by the way), all i want to do with my time is make food. Please ignore the mess on that table. That would be my homework. I had this strange idea, like maybe if I pretended hard enough, it would disappear for good. But now, on the table it remains: 50+ pages of reading to do for Psychology alone, and an editing/revising project for Communications. I haven't even mentioned the Philosophy test I should be studying for or the story I should be starting for Creative Writing. Look, I'm sorry! I'm really sorry! I just can't help it. Julia has put me in a trance and I just can't get out!!
Ever since my dear cookbook arrived, I can't stop thinking about cooking and baking and dinner parties. This afternoon, for example, I made Harvest Cookies, Candied Orange Peel, and a Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake with Carmel Cream Cheese Icing, all instead of doing my homework. I brought a cookie (warm from the oven) to my grandma and she smiled and said, "Girl, you should just stay home all day and cook and bake. What are you in school for?" Good question. I hear education is important. Maybe I'll use my degree, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll stay home and bake and cook all day...

I don't have anything really exciting to share with you yet (waiting on pictures of the cookies, and a taste-test of the cake), but here, have have some candied orange peel. It's oh-so -easy to make and delicate and pretty. You'll feel like a confectioner whose been in business for years.

So I'm sending out a warning for all you students who haven't yet got your hands on Mrs. Child's glorious cook book. Be warned. Julia will suck you in and hold onto you so tight, you just might not be able to get to that 2000 word essay. She'll fill your mind full of tasty dinner ideas and send you into a daze. I've got an idea though. When you get the urge, today at least, make something simple. Something like those candied orange peels I was talking about earlier. They won't take you long to make, and you'll feel proud of your accomplishments. Plus, I guarantee that you'll still have time for all that homework! That is, unless you suddenly get the urge to make cookies, and cake, and...

Candied Orange Peel
Adapted from Bon Appetite, February 2005

These candied orange peels remind me of those sugared fruit wedge candies from the grocery store, only they are about a million times better! They have a wonderful sugary-sweet flavor, so feel free to eat them plain. I also like to use them as a garnish on top of a slab of cake or a mug of hot chocolate.

1 orange
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water

Using a vegetable peeler, remove orange part of peel from orange. Cut peel lengthwise into 1/8-inch wide strips. Stir ¾ cup sugar and ¾ cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Add orange peel; simmer 15 minutes.

Place remaining ¼ cup sugar in a small bowl. Using slotted spoon, remove peel from syrup and transfer to sugar. Toss to coat. Cool in bowl, tossing occasionally. Cover bowl and let stand at room temperature overnight

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