Monday, November 26, 2012

The Blogger Blues (Or Happy Turkey Day)

I wish, I wish, I WISH I was one of those bloggers. You know, THOSE bloggers. Who take their own photographs and are therefore ALWAYS ready for a photo op. Who manage to get their head in the writing game at will. Who never seem to struggle for something to say. Who document their holiday recipes before the day, so that their readers can make use of them should they so choose.

But, alas, I am not. If I tried to take my own photographs they would a) be woefully and laughably sub-par to the ones already here and b) most likely be nonexistent, because I would drop my camera in bubbling caramel sauce and then run around screaming like Beavis from Beavis and Butthead. And as for writing, I am at present a slave to my manic whims, which provide the only state in which I am focused and truly productive. So basically, I'm screwed and those of you who read me faithfully will be instantly recognized at the gates of heaven. By the Lord. Because you are saints.

Boyfriend Adam took the pictures from our Thanksgiving Feast, dutifully documenting every dish, not to mention committing to history images of my every bloated kin. Thanks, Boyfriend. I won't be photoshopping that poochy belly at alllllll....

I have just remembered it's Thanksgiving, and I have a blog. All the other bloggers are blogging on their blogs about Thanksgiving. Le crap. Last minute boyfriend bribe, stat!

OMG. Turkey. Turkeyturkeyturkeyturkey. Incidentally, we use Alton Brown's turkey recipe...or "Uncle Alton," as he's known around our house. I feel like I should probably not make a point of sharing this detail with him...

Top left: my brother will not touch turkey without gloves. It's in his contract. The Ed-dog fires mind bullets at him, willing him to upend the entire carcass on her face. Top right: my desserts. All of them. Stay back. I bite. Bottom middle: coconut flour crust homemade pumpkin pie with red wine caramel sauce. If you're good, I'll post some recipes for these! If you're not, well. You know. Coal.

Chocolate pie with meringue topping. A seasonal non-negotiable MUST-HAVE in our house for as long as I can remember. I mean, it's no coincidence that there are two of these babies. Yes, we are accommodating some food allergies (the one on the left is crustless and thickened with cornstarch) but we're also paying tribute to my grandmama, great-grandmama, and materfamilias's who came before. We are all about family and traditions, even if we tweak our understanding of them both as the years go by.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all! I do hope it was so blessed. 
Tell your mama and them I said how they doin'.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

MS On the Path to Wellness

One of the things I love/hate the most about where I live is the weather. There's no gray area here; I'm never just ambivalent about it. Either it's dear god hang me from the rafters hot or this is almost getting me high lovely. "Lovely," because it doesn't really get "cold." Just breezy, brisk, and justifying a hot chocolate for a few consecutive days.

The weather in South Mississippi is a huge deal to us. In the "fall" (which we don't really have) and the "spring" (which could come as early as January or as late as May) it's a different season every day. Literally. I've worn shorts on Christmas day after having spent all of November huddled in a ski jacket. And we discuss the weather a lot. Especially the heat. Sometimes with scorn, suggesting that this heat really should get a job or something and quit bothering us. Seriously, heat. Grow up.

The summers can be so brutal that we actually forget about them once they're over, in the same way I've heard women say they forget about the pain of childbirth. It sucks so much that our sweet little brains volunteer amnesia just so we don't ever have to revisit the experience. Of course, what that translates to is that every year we are stunned by just how hot this place gets, and we swear it has never gotten this hot before. I've lived here for 26 years and am only just starting to be skeptical of my expectations.

So now to the "love" part: we have a year-round growing season. That's right! While you couldn't harvest so much as a freezer-burned gopher from the ground in Massachusetts from mid-October until sometime in April, our only limitations are what we can plant. And we are an agricultural state! So the obesity epidemic that currently grips us is simply...inexcusable. We used to have gardens and farms. My own great-grandmother got most of her produce from her garden/the woods and kept chickens. But once the national food industry started trying to sell more cheap food to the same amount of people, a marketing campaign emerged that told country folks their way of life was backwards and shameful. Civilized people bought their food, they didn't grow it. So years of this fabulous unending growing "season" were lost! But I'm so excited to see that now it's becoming popular, if not necessary, to return to the homestead. Or at least the Farmer's Market.

One example of this shift is a great show on MPB called "Fit to Eat" that teaches cooking with local ingredients to a generation of Mississippians who are regrettably disconnected from our roots. He uses not only local produce, but local dairy/meat/poultry, and local seafood! By the way, another perk of living on the coast: fresh, right out of the water (if you care to get up that early) seafood. And yes, it is safe to eat, in spite of BP's best efforts.

I'll probably be drawing on this show a bit to post my own recipes! It's a fascinating day to be a Mississippian!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to Make a Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

Because everybody loves Red Velvet Cake. And almost everybody (these days) is gluten-free.

The office where I work celebrates its employees by having a birthday party a month for the appropriate folks. When there are more than 3 in a month, or we're just wanting extra reasons to shirk work and eat cake, we have multiple birthday parties.

Goes without saying, those months are the best.
Now because the people I work with are patient, accommodating, and selfless (practically sainted), they allow me to butt into their lives enough to actually make their respective (usually gluten-free) birthday desserts, thus foregoing their shot at the decadent cakes available at any one of our several fabulous bakeries. I imagine they do this with the same mindset as when they allow their small, begging children to decorate the Christmas tree:

"This is NOT going to go well, but it means so much to them. Why not." Beer swig.

The results are pretty much the same, too: only the bottom gets decorated, I may or may not lose interest halfway through (and subsequently half ass the rest), and I never know if the outcome is really any good because everyone's pretty much obligated to gush over it. Also I make a huge mess and lick everything.


The most recent of these little adventures was a red velvet cake I made with Better Batter brand gluten-free flour (we have some wheat allergies around the office). BB swaps 1:1 with all purpose flour and requires no additional ingredients. Also there's no funky taste to it like with some gluten-free flours.

Who shall remain nameless.

How to Make a Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

Crumb Coat Method

Have you ever looked at a perfect carrot, red velvet, or even chocolate cake and wondered, "How in the heck do they keep the frosting so perfect? And blissfully crumb-free?" Have you then sighed, remembering all the crumby cakes you yourself have turned out, certain that only the crème de la crème of bakers could know the secret technique behind flawlessly smooth frosting veneers?

Well, cher. I am about to give you the key to the castle. For freezy.

The trick to a beautifully frosted cake is the Crumb Coat Method. Here she be:

Crumb Coat Method