I forgot to post some nifty music in honour of Christmas Day itself. We're past Christmas, so let's have some non-Christmas music. How about this?
And that was the 12 cellos (celli?) of the Berlin Philharmonic playing "La Vie En Rose". Was that elegant or what?
Christmas was a fairly tame event. The high point is that Dad was able to join us for Christmas Day when the local family gathered, and then a few days later when the out-of-towners were up. He seems to have recognized all of us, which is amazing, and was a wonderful Christmas gift.
I spent New Years Eve with John and Alan, and had a splendid time playing in the fibre store that doubles as their home. It was a great break. I got some fibre carded up, spun some, read stuff, and just generally had a super relaxing time.
Between Christmas and New Years I did a bit of baking, which is quite rare in the household. I made a loaf of The Most Delicious whole-wheat bread I have ever tasted from this recipe. It's the brain-child of bread-meister Peter Reinhart and uses a unique approach to developing flavour and rise in the dough. I haven't made bread in about 10 years so my skills were somewhat rusty, and I miscalculated the rise, and I think my oven temps are inaccurate. You'll read the recipe through and think "What the heck is he doing?" but it works and the resulting loaf is delicious. Seriously.
While that was rising in the pan, I made baking powder Stollen (as opposed to yeast-raised), which I'd wanted to do for several Christmases.
I used this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Solid instructions, excellent result. I still have quark in the fridge, so will make another batch soon.
In Other News
Registration for the annual Men's Spring Knitting Retreat held near Albany NY is open. (It's been open for a coupla weeks, actually.) If you don't know what the retreat is, or where it's held, or how much it costs, or how to register, see here. Dates this year are Thursday May 19 (starting with the evening meal) to Sunday May 22 (ending with the noon meal).
This year we have 2 scholarships available which will cover full retreat fees for a bed in a quad room as well as some monies to assist with transportation costs. You may nominate a guy, including yourself; deadline to have your nomination to Joe is January 28, 2011. More information about how to nominate is in this post on Joe's blog. (Disclosure: I'm one of the guys evaluating the nominations.)
Speaking of knitting, a couple of people have wondered whether I still do. Um...yeah. A couple of weeks ago I posted on Facebook that I thought I had stopped knitting, after realizing that I hadn't knitted a stitch since about mid October. (There's a half-knitted sock sitting on the arm of my knitting chair, and I don't remember the last time I even poked at it.) Commenters replied that maybe I just needed a break and, kindly, no-one asked what I am planning on doing with the stash. (At this point, keeping it.) I have been doing some spinning, but no knitting. I have no idea what this is about, or why. I've considered that maybe I should just start a piece of potato-chip knitting, or maybe I need to dig into a full-project. I could always look at what's on the Life Knitting List.
Supper tonight, for those of you who are interested, will be this.
Pasta with Ham, Leeks and Peas
1 large or 2 small leeks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces pancetta, sliced and cut into small strips
3 ounces boiled ham, in small strips
1/2 cup cooked fresh or frozen peas
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 pound tagliatelle pasta, or linguine
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano
While you get the pasta water boiling and the pasta cooking, prepare the leek: Cut off about 1/3 of the green part, and the very root end. Cut in half lengthwise, lay each half on the cut side and cut into thin demi-rings. Put into a sieve or colander and toss under running water to wash away the dirt. Toss well to shake off the excess water.
While the pasta is cooking, wilt the leeks in the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the meats and peas, maybe some pepper, maybe some salt depending how salty the meats are. Cook for, maybe, 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, and let the sauce heat through. If it's thickening too much while you're waiting for the pasta to finish cooking al dente, take it off the heat.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of pasta cooking water or chicken stock. Plate up and sprinkle with parmigiano.
Recipe from Biba Caggiano's "Modern Italian Cooking" (worth looking for in your public library: some interesting pasta recipes), slightly revised by me since I've made it a couple of times. She also did it on a TV cooking show, slightly differently. And she has a variation replacing the leeks and peas with sliced mushrooms. If you can't find pancetta use an equal amount of ham (so 6 ounces ham). Very good on a windy, snowy, cold winter night, or a cold, drizzly fall night.
That's it for now.