2012 In Review ~ The Good, The Food, and The Published
- Events Attended: 24
- Countries Visited: 5
- States Visited: 4
- Outfits on Show: c. 38
- Contests Run: 6 Manga; Teapot; SDCC swag; E&E ARC 1; Manga II; E&E ARC 2
- Books Released in the US: 5 Manga I; Parasol Protectorate Omnibus II; Timeless; Parasol Protectorate Boxed Set; Manga II
- Victorian meals cooked: 1
- Dear Lord Akeldama's Posted: 5
- Mugs of Tea Consumed: Countless
Last Year's Goal
To try a new recipe each month.
Did I do it?
What did I try?
1. Lamb Vindaloo
The stew is one I have made before but I was looking for a way to change it as there was a lot of stew and only a few of us and we were getting tired of eating it. I did a blog post on the result.
2. Caramelized Brussels sprouts
I hate Brussels sprouts. And I have eaten guinea pig, tripe, chicha, you name the disgusting thing. This was just Brussels sprouts slightly masked by sugar and nut, I even added bacon to no effect. Still nasty little baby cabbages.
3. Fruit & Nut Pancakes from Epicurious
The AB found this one and cooked them and they were a hit. They are dense little creatures and one pancake is very very filling. We discussed making them with an extra egg white and 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt and possibly even a scoop of protein powder in order to up the protein content. We ate ours with just a little maple syrup. Bonus they keep well in the fridge and heat up nicely in a toaster, so they make for a wonderful easy weekday breakfast.
4. Salmon in Curry
Excited by my Vindaloo experience we attempted another Indian curry. This one was not as successful, although it is a good way to hide frozen fish. (I usually insist mine be fresh and, if possible, sushi grade.) This was not a winner for me, the AB liked it, but it didn't "make the book."
5. Salmon Chowder
This was a failure, categorically. I don’t understand why there wasn't a rue made of the cream first into which the tomatoes and broth were added. Always add acid into diary, not he other way around! The dairy curdled, the fish was wasted. I ended up having to salvage the veg and fish and make it into a salmon salad (little mayo, lemon, capers, fresh dill) for sandwiches. That turned out to be delicious.
6. Shrimp White Beans
7. Dark Chocolate Tart
Not a success. Nice and chocolatey but didn't keep well and was rather dry. Mostly like cutting into a chocolate bar, and too much for two people.
One of my best friends in the whole word had a birthday in August. When asked what she would like me to cook for her, I am pretty much sure she'll opt for my shepherds pie. However, her birthday falling mid August we gave her a BBQ and I offered up whatever desert she would like (instead of shepherd's pie). Well, her favorite thing is Tiramisu. I have always been scared of this desert so I went looking for a good frozen or ready made. TJ's no longer carries the good kind, and the ones at Lucky's and Safeway looked very suspicious (as in: made with white sheet cake ~ oh no no). However, Safeway did have lady fingers so I threw my hands up and said, what the heck, I'll make it myself. I found this simple recipe and with a few tweaks . . . Something awful happened, it turned out to be so very easy and so very tasty. Said birthday girl actually licked out the platter.
Some notes on this recipe:
- I used brandy, not rum.
- I used all strong dark roast regular coffee, no espresso needed, augmented with an slosh of Kahlua.
- I used a little less sugar than called for, more like 1/3 rather than 1/2 a cup.
- I used very high quality unsweetened cocoa powder, and the consensus was that next time I should use more. Cocoa powder is a serious business. I order mine special from Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Company in Colorado, their gourmet cocoa powder is not to be equaled.
- I forgot the chocolate shavings on top and I think they really would add something, so next time I wont.
9. Potato Crust Quiche
Just substitute thin cut potato for crust. Oil both sides, Par bake for 10 - 15 minutes, then treat as a normal crust.
Not crispy enough, more experimenting needed.
10. Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake
Without a doubt the best recipe I tried in 2012. I loved this cake. LOVED IT! I made it four more times, including as my Thanksgiving Offering. Interesting to note the AB, who is the chocaholic in the family, is a tad sniffy about this cake as he finds it almost too orangey, and prefers a more honest chocolate and nut with flour combination, like a brownie. I, and my glutton intolerant friends, adore it.
2 small thin-skinned oranges, c. 3/4lb total weight (or 1 large)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup heaped almond meal
1 cup fine sugar, or slightly less
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
orange peel, for decoration
1 Put the whole oranges in pan + cold water, bring to the boil, cover, cook for 1 hour until soft to touch
2 Drain, and when cool, cut the oranges in half and remove big pips + green ends.
3 Pulp everything gently - pith, peel and all - in food processor.
4 Preheat the oven to 350. Line bottom with wax paper then butter a 9 inch spring-form tin.
5 Add eggs, baking powder, baking soda, almonds, sugar, and cocoa to the orange in the food processor. Run until you have a cohesive cake mixture, but slightly knobbly with the flecks of puréed orange.
6 Pour into the cake tin and bake for 45 min, by which time a cake tester should come out pretty clean.
7 Leave the cake to cool in tin, on cooling rack. When cake is cold, remove from tin. Decorate with strips of orange peel or coarsely grated zest if want, but is darkly beautiful in its plain, unadorned state.
Moroccan Chicken AKA Chicken Tagine
America's Test Kitchen version. I liked this dish but I wasn't super excited enough to keep the recipe. For one thing it certainly could use other veggies, and at least double the onions. One of my issues with America's Test Kitchen is how unhealthy many of their recipes are. This dish certainly needs a flavored spicy rice with peas to go with. Also it could use some slivered almonds sprinkled on top. If I do it again I'll up the hot pepper. Recipe says this serves 4, but I'd guess 6-8. I used bone in legs and boneless skinless thighs instead of a whole chicken, we aren't big white meat fans in my household, and so adjusted cooking time accordingly (longer for the bone in & skinned shorter for the not).
This one is an adapted recipe from others I have. Still working to perfect it but the AB seems pleased. He's already inhaled four.
I also tried two new fruits:
The Kiwi Berry, and the Nectarine Plum. The kiwi berry was a small grape sized berry that tasted like a kiwi and the nectarine plum was mostly just like a white nectarine.
2012 in Review ~ Highlights
- Passion & Prose ~ got to see the new Mysterious Galaxy
- Goodbye Parasol Protectorate Tea Party ~ we raise over $400 for charity
- Timeless US book tour ~ over 100 people come out to meet me in Portland and Houston, I see old friends in San Diego, and my name in lights in Austin.
- Polidori Award
- European tour ~ arguing kings at Eastercon, an event at the legendary Foyles, meeting to Pornokitsch peeps, new steampunks friends and old school chums in a changed Nottingham, the steampunked booksellers and a scotch egg, the amazing Stockholm library, actually getting to see Budapest plus meeting my translator and some awesome bloggers, the whole team and fellow authors in Barcelona.
- Filming a documentary in the back yard
- World Steam Expo ~ giving my first lecture on Gothic Lit roots of steampunk
- Sunnyvale library ~ surprise visit from my old archaeology boss
- Dead Raccoon Encounter
- Timeless Clock App
- Comic Con ~ the amazing treatment of being a special guest, Aexia Manga II standie, getting a Starburner award, meeting the tiny spider-man, meeting Bruce, meeting Chris, the number of people at my spotlight, and then in the signing line, and the little tweet-up gathering.
- Film Option ~ announcement and finalization
- Fan Site ~ such an honor
- Quick drop in to a tea party in Hayward
- Soulless Turned 3!
- NCIBA ~ and seeing Ken and co after
- Sword & Laser
- Nimrod ~ meeting a proper poet laureate, and the lovely Talia, hanging out a drinking with the literati
- Manga II launches!
- Las Vegas ~ hanging out with the LB crew
- Borderlands saves the day!