Leftovers: Odds & Ends

I think our neighbor thinks we’re freaks.

Okay, so she’s actually the one who should worry, because she talks over me like she’s practically deaf, so our circuitous conversations always seem to have the comedic element of “What?” and “Oh, I just said that” added to them. Too, she somehow always manages to talk and talk and TALK to one about banalities like the weather, the birds in her dryer vent (poor things) and what she’s having done to her house whilst one is digging for one’s keys and concurrently has to pee, but can’t find a way to politely hurry her along. AND, she is … erm… NOSY. Okay, she is awfully curious about some of the things that come into our house. A box from SFHerb.com. was left on the porch. Boxes of produce from our CSA, which prompts her to bring us baskets of strawberries and tell us that she bought them at a farm. We shared fresh-baked bread with her, and she utterly fails to be able to acknowledge that D. made it, not me. Lots of stuttering as she goes on, and on, and ON on the telephone. Poor thing. We totally rock her little world. A man that COOKS!? If only she knew. The knitting. The cans of jam. The (sob!) sewing on of one’s own buttons and ripped pillow case seams! This whole blog would blow her tiny, little mind…

Somewhere, Rick Bayless is screaming.

Lest I come off as too much of a foodie in this blog (friends express astonishment that we attempt tofu, grow a large garden and can our produce. They remark that they wish they had a.] time, b.] patience, c.] creativity to do what we do in the kitchen: mostly they’re thin, and don’t know what a mess our house is, please note), celebrating the joys of eating fungus in Quorn and going on and on about what is generally back-breaking and odd work like baking bread from scratch every week and experimenting with drying things, I wanted to tell you something: there is something I couldn’t bring myself to eat.

It was from the CSA. It was organic. It was fresh — so fresh, it still had a lively inhabitant. It was ethnic and valued by chefs of fresh flavors and new experiences. Even the handsome Ming Tsai has fixed it. It was …corn smut. Huitlacoche, Latin Americans call it, and praise it for its woodsy, earthy, delicate mushroomy flavor. The Beard Foundation, apparently in an effort to get Americans to pay more attention to it, renamed it the Mexican truffle. Nice try, people, but no dice this time. And it had nothing to do with the snob appeal of having something called a truffle, okay? I have to admit… it was mostly… well, the occupant which turned me off. I’m usually pretty game, but… I have a thing. With worms. And spiders. But today: the worms.

(No, I will never know the joy of tequila. So what? And yes, I, too, rescued drowning earthworms in the rain as a child. That was different, leagues different from enduring the blind, hornéd stares of the tomato worms that infested our yard one year. I have never recovered from being required to blend them with cayenne and garlic and spray them on the plants… thank-you, Mama, for your green-sense to save the earth, but GROSS!!! GROSS!! GROSS!! GROSS!!!!!!)

It was just… alive and all, it felt like a pulpy tumor when I touched the corn cob. I peeled back the husk with dread, and saw the familiar puff of blackness, the …worm… and then the spore-filled horror.

Oh, the horror!

Couldn’t it eat. Couldn’t look at it (notice the blurred photographs – shaking hands?) Couldn’t really even think about it.

And, glad I didn’t try. It’s only spore-filled when it’s too old to eat. And really, if you are allergy prone like I am, it’s probably not too great an idea to play with spores, and I don’t know, but I think I need a guide before picking mushrooms, so I’m not going to claim some kind of fungus hipness with stuff that grows on corn. But someday, I’d like to try this — properly prepared, (not sold in a can, like I’ve seen it!) and not by me — and see what it’s all about.

As long as there are no worms.

Sorry, Rick, sorry Ming. Dudes. I tried.

I have been whinging away about the amount of baking going on around me… and I’ve come to a conclusion: self-control is less expensive than diet foods. I don’t believe in de-greening the planet with packaging. I refuse to pay other people to make me do what I’m supposed to do anyway, which is to stop eating sometimes. (Okay, I’ll pay my gym dues, but that’s about it.) I am going to have to find a balance between the comfort of winter baking and the comfort of having a body that I don’t have to roll down inclines. I am going to have to make friends with my freaky neighbor, and keep giving her food. Really, it’s the only way…

When you bake without eggs, AND without oil, you need to take precautions to be sure that you’re not making a brick that is going to be perma-welded to your pan. Why, you ask yourself, did we make this brode without eggs or oil!? It was not in any attempt to be über health conscious in any way. We were weighing and measuring and tootling away on engineering this bread recipe, and we … erm… forgot.

We realized our error about the time we were going to pan the bread, and we thought… “Ah, what the heck,” and lined the pan with oiled parchment. It worked! It came out, it held up, it rose, thanks to the experimental flaxseed and water blend we used. It was quite exciting to look at something attractive, something that someone might actually want to buy one day, and think, “Hey! We did it!”

Okay, now, so much for being good, I need to go and get a piece.

Happy Baking!

3 Replies to “Leftovers: Odds & Ends”

  1. And the way cool thing about this loaf? It stayed moist for days and days! That’s the xylitol + sugar + maple syrup! Different sugars, makes it stay moist.

    Either that or it’s the flax-seed goop, ’cause the ginger-bread cousin of this weekend is staying moist, too, and it doesn’t have all those different sugars.


  2. Well, the gingerbrode is more dense and moist than I expected — mainly due to the unmeasured amount of ginger (thanks to the efforts of Ginger Boy) and the oil (Princess Chef? Or the recipe?) We’ll have to experiment with that again, sans adolescent experimentation. Maybe. Theirs turned out pretty good.

    Did Okara end up in that loaf? Maybe THAT’S what did it!

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