I'm sure I have plenty of things to report and things I've been thinking about, but I am also sorta kinda caught up on grading assignments, and whenever I have had the energy to actually think about what I might write here, I have graded things instead, and whenever I have been too tired to grade things, I have been also too tired to think or do anything much except stare at random stuff on the internet and not even comment.
But tonight I ran into a student assignment that peeved me, and I cooked a big fancy dinner to blow off steam. And now I don't feel like grading! Or cleaning the kitchen!
So after I got back here in January, grumpy and annoyed by a pretty crappy Christmas, I treated myself with this fancy All-Clad big saute pan. The kind with the carry handle and long handle and straight sides. It is perfect for frying up meat or searing and then pan-roasting it. Now, I am mostly vegetarian, but have definitely fallen off the wagon since Christmas. I blame the pan ---- you know the phrase where when you have a hammer, you think everything is a nail? Well, when you have a pan that all the snooty food blogs tell you is the absolute best way to sear and oven-roast meat to get the crispy outside and tender inside, you tend to see everything as something you can fry. I should note that my cats do not come in to this equation at all.
Anyway, I think I got a coupon for some free meats from my hippie grocery store, and another time I picked up a package of chicken breasts, so I have been working on my pan roasting and learning how to make a simple pan sauce. Unfortunately, most of my cookbooks are vegetarian, and the one my sis-in-law got me that has lots of chicken recipes is a "Fast dinners for weeknights" type and they want you to grill everything. Do I have a grill? Nooo! (Maybe that will be my next splurge? Stop it!) This means that I tried making a roast with pan sauce (all of this requires lots of wine too, by the way) once with an internet recipe and it turned out pretty good, and then I got cocky and tried making it from memory but couldn't and also couldn't find the same website with the oven time recommendations, and that went pretty badly, and this time it turned out ok, although I should go back and check on what goes in the reduction again, as it was not as lovely as other times.
It is my goal, then, to get pan-roasting and making a reduction sauce down to the point where I can work it and know all the times without looking anything up, the way I have gotten with broccoli, and asparagus, and green beans. Everything else I sorta know how to make, but have to look up measurements and times to be sure. By the way, the above picture looks muddy and horrible but it is actually delicious pan sauce with some white wine reducing. Mmm.
I also roasted up potatoes with garlic and it was very good --- especially when swished around in the excess sauce --- but getting the timing right for cooking multiple things at once was very difficult. And my food got cold pretty quick, which lessened the tastiness of the whole project, but that did not stop me from eating far too much. Yum.
My other problem was that I am an idiot! And do not remember the obvious fact that, once you take a pan like this out of the oven, the handle is still hot! Last time I burnt the side of my arm on it real good, and this time I kept taking the potholder off the handle before reaching for it, like the potholder was in the way or something, and stopping myself just in time. Sigh.
I actually like cooking fancy stuff for myself, despite the timing issues, but I don't feel like cleaning up the enormous mess in the kitchen right now. It is less of a mess than the last time, though --- man, if you get the olive oil a bit too hot it really spatters! Ideally I would get to the point where I could plan the flavors of a whole meal to go together, but I think that involves planning at the grocery-shopping stage, as well as being willing to look up different spices/recipes for the vegetables instead of just using the one recipe I have memorized.
And another problem? This is fun. You might wonder how that could possibly be a problem, but remember, I mostly have shoddy cooking stuff from my undergrad days and hand-me-downs --- I am soooo tempted to lay in an entire supply of swanky cooking equipment and gourmet spices and imported foodstuffs of all sorts --- and I don't really have the money for anything right now. Luckily, I still have one more chicken breast left. But no more wine. Hmm.
I just may have to use that lemon in the fridge and break out the butter for my next pan sauce. Aw, yeah.