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baking » digest LA
flinstone-sized lambchop, quinoa, asparagus

flinstone-sized lamb chop, quinoa, grilled asparagus

For dinner tonight, I made a Flinstone-sized lamb chop from Lindy Grundy. I put a spice rub on the lamb chop and grilled it on both sides and then finished it in the oven. For the quinoa, I cooked it following the instructions using homemade chicken stock instead of water. For the grilled asparagus, I… you know… grilled it. Delicious! The quinoa was rich and amazing. I loved the lamb chop, but it was so hard to eat.

brownie & vanilla ice cream

brownie & vanilla ice cream

I was craving a sweet treat so I baked some brownies. I learned how to bake, as a kid, because it is so easy to whip up a delicious dessert just from pantry items and because I have an incredible sweet tooth. I started with this brownie recipe from Epicurious. Weirdly, I didn’t have a metal bowl or a brownie pan. I have been so focused on cooking since I moved to LA that I had neglected baking tools. Now at least I know what to buy next time I am creeping around Surfas jonesing for something to buy.

Schematic NY pie contest

pie contest I organized at work

I have always had a sweet tooth. I love Tastycakes, Watchamacallits, Peanut Chews, Snickers, Twix ice cream bars, you name it; but growing up we never had sweets in the house. I would get a crazy craving for sugar and was trapped in the suburbs with no means of transportation. One thing we did always have in the house were eggs. And we had sugar because all those fake sugars hadn’t really been invented yet. And flour. If I was really lucky we had cocoa or unsweetened chocolate. We also had floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with books and quite a few of those books were cookbooks.

So I would pour through the cookbooks and figure out all the different things we had the ingredients to make and make them. Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts was a good resource. My parents would walk into the kitchen to cakes, cookies, tarts, even mandel bread. People say that cooking is way easier than baking because baking is a science, but I love baking… I love science. It all makes sense. I had incredible luck with baking until I encountered the dreaded Lemon Meringue Pie. I made Lemon Meringue Pie so many times and it would never turn out right. One time the custard wouldn’t set. Another time I couldn’t whip the egg whites into meringue. I couldn’t understand why things I had done easily for other recipes now just failed to work. I became obsessed with getting i right. My parents even started to help me. I think my dad finally put an end to it when he asked me, “Do you even like Lemon Meringue Pie?”

No, Lemon Meringue Pie is terrible. It is overly sweet and garish and thickened with cornstarch. I had made way more delicious and sophisticated desserts before this setback. The thing is I learned so much making that stupid pie over and over again. I learned about thickening agents and custards and meringues and pie crusts. So, why am I sitting here thinking about this? I realize that I need my Lemon Meringue Pie for cooking. This is how I learn… I need to make one thing over and over again until I understand everything about making it. And then I might hate it, but at least I will know how to make it. Any suggestions?