Sunday, January 4, 2009

Stock, bark, birds

The secret to a perfect risotto? The stock. In this case, Turducken stock. I made a mushroom risotto Friday night that was out of this world. Thanks to the Commodore for the stock, and thanks to Mark Bittman for the dry-cooked mushrooms. This is the way to go if you have ewwww-slimy-mushrooms! types at your table: a little bit of fat, the sliced mushrooms, tight fitting lid for 5 or so minutes on medium heat, until the liquid has been pulled from the ‘shrooms. Then take off the lid and turn up the heat to cook off the liquid, keeping an eye on the pan so that the fungus doesn’t burn. The mushrooms end up chewy and meaty.

And thanks to the Adventuress for the country style ham. Saturday night corn bread, herbed scrambled eggs, and fried ham, yee-haw! For dessert, OHS turned me on to bark: take one package of Saltines (no kidding) and lay them out on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Make 1&1/4 cup sugar and 1&1/4 cup butter caramel to pour on top; bake for 8 minutes at 350, take out of the oven and drop on bittersweet chocolate chips to melt (spread around), then add nuts, dried fruit, etc. Let cool for 30 minutes. We put ours outside in the backyard since my fridge isn’t all that big…

And speaking of the cold outside, I’m noting all the bird species I see this year. The Year in Birds so far: On the 1st, I saw Rock dove, House sparrow, European starling, & Ring-billed gull, just by looking up. On Jan 3rd, I saw an American kestrel (Dean St/6th Ave on a DirectTV dish), American crow, and, over Atlantic Center, a Red-tailed hawk, probably searching for Ratner-carrion. This morning, I was in Prospect Park, which naturally made the list jump: Blue jay, Downy woodpecker, Hermit thrush, American robin, White-bellied nuthatch, Mourning dove, House finch, Red-bellied woodpecker, Northern cardinal, Black-capped chickadee, American goldfinch, Tufted titmouse, Gray catbird, Song sparrow, Herring gull, Great black-backed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, Mute swan, Canada goose, American coot, Mallard, Northern shoveller, Pied-billed grebe, White-throated sparrow, Winter wren, Hairy woodpecker, Brown creeper. Descending the Slope down 9th St, I saw a Monk parakeet.

Budget outflow: $0 spent yesterday and so far today.

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