Monday, August 10, 2015

An Excess of Almonds

I had 2 egg whites in the fridge. I know they will keep practically forever in the freezer, but I needed to do something with them and there was a recipe that stayed on the edge of my mind, maybe because the recipe was always on my computer on a tab that kept popping up. Almond cloud cookies.

The recipe was fairly simple and it would give my 2 egg whites a place to end up.

I'm a fairly good cook and baker and I pride myself on the finished products that come out of my kitchen. I fearlessly go where no cook has ever gone before in many cases, like the time I decided to make corned beef in my refrigerator. That went really well. I love corned beef hash, corned beef sandwiches, hot corned beef, corned beef in every permutation, especially when it ends up with me eating it. I love almonds the same way and I'd never tried working with a 10-ounce lump of what is essentially marzipan (almonds processed with sugar into a paste).

The almond cloud cookie recipe I used requires two kinds of almond extract: regular pure almond extract and bitter almond extract (smells like cyanide or rather cyanide smells like bitter almonds). I took my brand new bottle of bitter almond extract from the drawer and set it on the counter while I collected the egg whites and a few other things from the fridge. I turned around juggling the egg white container (BPA-free plastic) and knocked the bottle of extract to the floor, flooding the floor and my senses with the overpowering aroma of almonds. Well, that bottle was ruined. The fall onto the ceramic tiles resulted in a broken bottle cap and most of the contents spreading quickly across the kitchen floor. I mopped up the oil, but the scent lingered on.

It still lingers on because it is an oil without alcohol and oils do not evaporate quickly. The kitchen smells of almonds now 2 days later, and it's not just the cookies, which also smell wonderful. I'll have to buy another bottle to replace the damaged one. Probably best to get 2.

Anyway, if this is what cyanide smells like, it's no wonder that criminals -- and the Feds -- use cyanide. It smells pleasant even though you die when you drink it in a cocktail or bite down on that faux tooth or cyanide capsule. What a way to go. It's rather like coming and going at the same time, at least from a gustatory standpoint.

The cookies still got their shot of bitter almond oil and pure almond extract and I have 2 more cans of almond paste (marzipan) to use again before the cap-less bottle gets spilled again. I think it might be a wonderful oil to rub on the wooden cabinets to keep them from getting dried out and just because it smells so good. It smelled good when I put the almond paste into the mixer, added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar and turned it on. The almond extracts and the egg whites and a dash of salt went in after the lump of almondy goodness was more like pebbly sand until the egg whites turned the mass into a lovely slurry that I scooped out and onto the greased cookie sheet before I dusted them with powdered sugar and put them in the oven where the aroma was intensified by the heat.

Yes, I did try the cookies before they were completely cooled. I did wait a decent amount of time so I didn't burn my tongue, but they were good. I still have some in the cookie jar on the kitchen counter if you'd like a taste of what crisp around the edges and soft and luscious in the middle. It pays to learn to cook -- and to stretch your skills to a new recipe.

Overlaid with the almond scent today is the scent of pepperoni, garlic, mushrooms, butter, and cheese since I decided to make calzone for supper. That's another aroma I like and it was my first time making calzone dough from scratch. Delicious, although I did have to clean the over afterwards. Some of the olive oil in the pesto I used as a base for the ingredients smoked up the inside of the oven. Since the oven was still hot, it seemed a good idea to clean it. I would not need the oven for the next 3 hours. I'd be busy eating my calzone and working on a new editing project happy as a clam.

I wonder, are clams happy?  How does one tell?

There will always be mishaps in the kitchen if you spend enough time in it cooking and baking, but at least the mishaps don't end up on anyone's plate -- or in the garbage. I don't have any animals to feed those kinds of mistakes and my mistakes are more of the spilling variety than the cooking disaster variety.

I bought more peaches today. I bought peaches earlier this week, but those are all gone. I could not resist the sweet, melt in my mouth, juicy peaches, so I ate them. I bought more so that I can make peaches and cream ice cream, peach clafouti (French cakey cobbler, and my grandmother's peach cobbler recipe. I have the iron skillet and I know how to use it. I also have some baker's sugar to go on top.

No, I will not use the homemade peaches and cream ice cream. Growing up, whenever Gram made peach cobbler, we put our pieces in a bowl, poured on some cold milk, and stirred in a bit of vanilla extract. It sounds weird, but try it. You'll like it.

Yes, I still do occasionally put a piece of cornbread in a bowl or glass of milk and eat it that way too. My dad was a country boy and he did it that way. He also stirred maple syrup into peanut butter to spread on bread or toast. I sometimes do the same thing with honey. Yummy.

Food is good for you, but don't forget to play with it from time to time. There's nothing wrong with playing with your food as long as you don't decorate the walls (or the kitchen floor) with it -- either on purpose or by a clumsy accident.

Well, that's all for this week's food diary. I have editing to do.

That is all. Disperse. 

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