Cure for one obsession : get another one - Mason Cooley
Obsession - while this is not exactly unheard of, it gets a new dimension with food blogging. Obviously, people who are obsessed with food are the ones who write food blogs. This only compounds the obsession, taking it to greater heights. While the families do get to eat some new chow now and then, they also need to live with this species called as food bloggers. Here come some of my confessions about my passion and obsession...hopefully some common to the food blogger community and probably some specific to me(sheepish!)...
- Food is on my mind almost 24/7, no exaggeration. Dreams feature baking that perfect flaky croissant or what I can do next with the puff pastry. Nightmares are power cuts when your rich Christmas cake is baking or your trusted brand of chocolate out of stock...
- Storage space constraints just don't matter when I buy new baking pans or blog props. God forbid, you may see me limping tomorrow as one of these may fall on my foot - either from the overcrowded rack in the tiny dining room or from my overflowing wardrobe where I stash away some precious jumbo sized bake-ware. I guess some may be of no use to me currently, but am sure I will find it extremely useful ... may be 3 years down the line?
- Oh yeah, talking of props, those delicate dessert glasses are more for my pictures. Once I am done with the pictures and we eat out of them, any leftover desert the next day can be eaten out of the sturdy melamine bowls which can actually be tossed into the sink!
- My son mentioned he needed a plain white T-shirt for his school day, and I made sure he got it... after dragging the reluctant kid to may be just half a dozen shops for that perfect white shirt - he needs it you see. And may be it will also make a nice background for that ice cream in a cone shot, no?
- Love it when folk visit us. A chance to bake something - for a new post! That cake which I want to post, but the pictures are not quite nice. Bake it again, take the pictures, quick! hide any signs of 'shooting' before the guests arrive. But save the presentation and serve it to them like I that's how I eat food everyday!
- I was never interested in gardening - or may be I should admit, my only serious interest till date has been food. But I never find these fresh Italian herbs when I need them - so I grow them! Apart from oregano, basil, thyme and sage, and yeah, mint, coriander and red chillies make a great garnish, so I got to grow them all. Oh yes, I would have grown strawberries and oranges too, but I guess they don't grow all that well in a pot?
- I plan and plan for that birthday cake for hubby and kids, as I want to bake it for them of course ( please don't hurt my feelings by even thinking otherwise!). Guess it would also double up as a nice post for the blog anniversary or Valentine's Day or some such thing ?
- Just twice in my 2 years of blogging, I was so engrossed with hubby's birthday cake, I almost forgot to cook him a nice birthday lunch.. almost! - believe me. And when I am supposed to be happily singing the birthday song while hubby, son or daughter cut the cake (latest before 5.p.m before the sun goes down, we conspire for things to work like that ;-) ), I am more worried about how the cake will be cut. The first slice needs to pose for the pictures (a 15 minute break please) before its eaten...All food, freshly baked and cooked, will be eaten only once it gets photographed
and cold. Patience is a virtue - which I enforce on hubby and kids - for my convenience, and my blog!
- Christmas fruit cakes - I made about 4, all different recipes of course, (picture me indignant looking) in a week. I had to get the recipe which made me happy. By the time, the 4th one was baked, hubby and kids did not want to touch candied peel or fruit with a barge-pole or smell cinnamon and cloves baking for the next 6 months. Poor things, for all that trouble, power cut ruined the best cake and blogger could not post it on Christmas Day...sigh!!
- I have more pictures of food on my computer than of my own kids. Forgive me kids - I don't even qualify for applying to be the best mother around.
- From the time I was in school, I never was one to show any bit of interest in art and craft. I filled up one entire 6'' square cloth with cross stitches, chain stitches, crochet of that vague resemblance of a flower...all over a period of one year, in that dreaded work experience class. Forgive me Sister Susan. I can still see that disapproval in your nod for the pathetic art and craft student. I hope you will be happy if you know that today, I am really interested in something which vaguely fits this category. chocolate borders, candied roses with orange peel, painting cartoon characters, heck I even made Practice 'Buttercream' - just to learn how to pipe those borders neatly.
- Being unable to attach a picture on the blog is a matter of emergency. Hubby is my tech support helpline, no down time please! My small expectations - he can request the airlines to delay the flight take off by about 10 minutes, before he flies to Dubai for that meeting to discuss software and other uninteresting things. Gosh, the internet is down and I need to recheck that recipe, he could quickly read it out to me? I promise I won't stop him from getting back on that con call with the waiting client soon after!
- The friendly neighbor with the very pretty, immaculately manicured hands could please hold a basket of strawberries for my pictures...maybe a score or more till the non-photographer finally gets it right...Hey, hang on, I will just transfer them to the computer and check, in case I need to, could we redo?
The obsession also makes you feel insanely good about owning a pot of thyme, for stocking up on good fragrant dried herbs, something rare to find around here, something you don't get even for a price. Most of the times, I personally find the bottled ones less fragrant, the oregano seasoning sachets which come with pizza are something I love. I love thyme and when I get a packet of this fresh herb, I like to dry it in the microwave and store it. You could dry the herbs in the sun, but outdoor space to safely dry them and good sunlight are both real luxury for a lot of us here. Alternatively you could slow dry them in the oven at a very low temperature. Here is how we do it in the microwave...
Idea adapted from Champa
Wash and drain the herbs in a colander. Shake off excess water, remove from the colander, shake off any more excess water. Wipe dry with a kitchen towel. Pick out the very thick stems. Spread the thyme on a microwave safe plate in a single layer. Microwave on high power for a minute. Mix the herbs, microwave again for 2 more minutes, redistributing the herbs once after a minute. The herbs will feel fairly dry by now. If your herbs are wet, it may take another minute for them to feel dry. Microwave 3-4 times on high power for 30 seconds, redistributing them once after every 30 seconds. Once the herbs are almost completely dry, remove the plate from the oven. The herbs will dry and crisp further as they cool. Once completely dry and almost crisp, crush them between your palms or grind in the smallest jar of your mixer. Store in an airtight container. I store mine in the refrigerator.
Its worthwhile taking some time and effort to dry your herbs as it adds a lot of flavor to breads, soups, pasta...
Please note: The microwaving time may vary depending on the quantity of the herbs you microwave at a time and the power of your microwave. Do experiment with what works for you best. Be careful not to overdo the microwaving, avoid microwaving the herbs for long periods at a stretch as this may cause the herbs to burn.
Just between you and me, do you have any confessions of yours to tell me?