Roundup: cooking with kids, yellowjackets, plays and IMBB

I am beginning to feel overwhelmed. The publishing venture is picking up steam. I have a slight uptick in the amount of work I SHOULD be doing for my contract employer (but I am not quite getting to it) and we went on a trip with the kids and we have visitors both days this weekend and school has started for the kids and soccer has started for Grace (first game today and yes, I AM coaching again!) and swimming starts for them next week and Amelia has the lead in the school play…

…OK, you get the picture.

Let’s start in reverse order so we don’t get distracted. IMBB is coming up again next weekend. This time the subject is wine and spirits – any kind of cooking with wine and spirits. This one will take some thought – I probably will do something new, but the better alcohol-involved dishes I have made include roast lamb marinated in tequila and rosemary, sherry trifles (all kinds), moules mariniere, whiskey cream on berries, poached pears, and of course, beer. In fact, that might have to be included as an extra post…

Next up – the trip. We went with friends to a cabin (translation for anywhere other than the Sierras+small house in Arnold which is literally due East of here about 200 miles in the Sierras on the way up to Bear Valley and Calaveras Big Trees. The adventure was a lot of fun but we had some clear highlights and lowlights. The lowlight was obviously the point when Grace got stung by three yellow jackets after accidentally disturbing their ground nest. After I got her in the house she kept spooking at any movement and we soon found out why when she got stung a fourth time by the one that had crawled up under her shirt.

Fortunately there were some good times to balance the bad. Kayaking and swimming at the resevoir (forgotten the name) at 7000 feet. Hiking around the neighbourhood and finding the old swimming hole/lake completely dried up. Apparently it has some serious blockage issue which needs to be cleared before it can be allowed to be refilled. Much too much food.

The kids mainly helped with two meals. The first was crepes for breakfast. I mixed up a quadruple recipe – four eggs, four cups of flour, four cups of milk and whisked it until smooth. Then Grace took over and taught the other kids how to cook crepes. Meanwhile I made up some spinach with garlic and lemon and adults had crepes with that and with a little grated asiago. Kids had syrup, jam, lemon, sugar, etc.

The other dish Grace helped with was blueberry creme brulee. This was going to be a blackberry creme brulee from a BBC Goof Food magazine but there weren’t enough blackberries around so I bought some blueberries at Trader Joes. No pictures – I brought the camera and forgot to use it…

Blueberry creme Brulee

We creamed together ten egg yolks and six ounces of golden caster sugar (fine organic sugar also from Trader Joes). Meanwhile we heated 500 ml of heavy cream to almost boiling and added two tsp of vanilla extract. Then we let the cream cool for ten minutes and whisked in the egg and sugar mixture and returned it all to the heat and heated it whisking constantly until the mixture thickened up to where it couldn’t really whisk well anymore. Then we put the blueberries in a large flat glass dish and poured the mixture on top and put it in the fridge to set. An hour and a half later. We sprinkled a very thin layer of sugar on top of it all and put the broiler on high. We put the dish as close to the heat as we could and kept rotating it with an oven mitt every ten seconds until about three minutes later all the sugar was caramelized. We set it to cool again in the fridge. It was delicious. Really delicious.

Other food from the weekend included tequila marinated roast lamb. Roast potatoes. Greens. Chicken curry made with masala paste. Etc.

That’s all for now. I hope to get back to more recipes and cooking soon.

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