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Chovocado Pudding

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This recipe from Forgiving Martha caught my eye on Pinterest about a month ago, and I finally got around to trying it. The verdict is yum.

The pudding is very simple and very rich. Jess' recipe yields two servings, and you will find that a serving is quite filling. This isn't low calorie (my calculations say that it is about 282 per serving) but it is vegan, if you are looking for that.

The next time I make this, I think I will substitute honey for the agave nectar. I like honey much better. It will alter the flavor profile a bit, but it would be interesting to try.

Another thing I will do differently is to blend it in a smaller jar, or use an immersion blender. The small quantity of pudding didn't work very well in my full, large blender. I had to keep stopping the motor and stirring with a spatula to get the mixture back into the blades. In the end, I left some of the avocado unblended, so there were tiny chunks of green floating throughout the creamy brown chocolate. I was ok with this, but I'm sure that other people might find it less than appetizing if I were sharing this.



Canning for a New Generation

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Since this spring, I have been working my way through Liana Krissoff's Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry. So far, I have made rhubarb and orange jam, pickled asparagus, kohlrabi and radish refrigerator pickles, brandied cherries with red wine, and peach jam. Everything has been extremely tasty and surprisingly easy.

Krissoff's writing style is clear and easy to follow, infusing a touch of gentle humor with understandable descriptions and directions. Rinne Allen's gorgeous photography also goes a long way towards making the book a delight to hold and read.

One truly wonderful thing about the book is that the recipes are geared towards small batches, which work well for the modern pantry. Most of the preserved fruits I have made have been in quantities about about six half-pint jars. This allows me to make a variety of recipes without becoming overwhelmed by a wall of canned goods.

The book is divided into Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, and then subdivided into Fruits and Vegetables for each section. Along with the pickles and preserves, Krissoff includes a few recipes that incorporate the things you have canned. I am particularly looking forward to trying her "Perfect Sidecar" with my brandied cherries.

One cruel thing about summer canning (particularly this summer) is that you end up spending time with a lot of boiling water during the hottest part of the year. (It was in the high 90's when I made my rhubarb orange that point, I figured I would hardly even notice the extra heat.) However, the occasional cool evening is the perfect time to hit the kitchen.

I don't think I will make every recipe in the book, but I do have hopes for at least one fruit and one vegetable from each seasonal section. I may even start freestyling as my CSA bounty comes in. I do remember having some success with dill pickled summer squash and zucchini a few years back.

The book may be "For a New Generation", but I come from a long line of canners. Shortly after I began my canning journey, in June, my Grandmother died. She was my Dad's mother and, at 92, she was my last remaining grandparent. One of the things I brought back with me from her house after the funeral was the jar lifter that she and Grandpa had used in their canning. It was a step up from my clumsy rubberband-wrapped tongs, and I think of my heritage every time I use it. I have a feeling that, at some point, canning jars from my grandparents (and great-grandparents) may make their way into my kitchen. It turns out that we aren't just preserving produce when we do this.



Jiro Dreams of Sushi

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I didn't see any films on Friday night, since I was at the Overture Center singing in Verdi's Requiem for most of the evening. But first thing Saturday morning, we were off to see Jiro Dreams of Sushi at the Orpheum.

During the pre-show announcements, they mentioned how many sushi restaurants there were within a five minutes walk of the theater. Good thing they did, because I'm pretty sure everyone left the theater dreaming of sushi as well.

While the film wasn't quite as meditative as The Meaning of Tea, it was very peaceful and refreshing. I have an admiration for people like Jiro Ono, who thrive on simplicity and order, and who can do the repetitive work needed to achieve excellence at something. I don't work that way myself: I like the idea of simplicity, but I tend towards complexity, variety, and a wee bit of chaos. But the contrast between my way of life and Jiro's made it particularly pleasant to watch.

The visuals were great. If you didn't want sushi by the end of the film, you probably never liked sushi to begin with. Piece after piece of perfect nigiri was lovingly filmed in lingering close-up shots. Mouth watering. Trips to the fish market were slightly less mouthwatering, but far from disgusting. It is easy to forget how crazy huge tuna are. It's rather a shame how divorced we get from what and where the food we eat comes from.

In some tiny way, I was reminded of Great, a webcomic by Ryan Armand (KIWIS BY BEAT!). Jiro doesn't seem to have much in common with Lyle Phipps (who is often an angry sad sack) but I found myself thinking of Lyle's drive to create the greatest ramen in the world. (I also found myself wanting ramen.)

Later in the day we stopped at T. Sushi, to give the newest sushi restaurant a try. It was good, but definitely no Sukiyabashi. I might go there again, but it won't be at the top of my list of Madison sushi restaurants. (I have a hard time taking a sushi restaurant seriously if you order tea and are given a cup of hot water and a generic food-service tea packet.)

Next up: Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation



Three Things Make a Post

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First off, if you ever have the opportunity to try the cheesy pub fries at Laz Bistro and Bar in Stoughton, WI, do not let the moment pass you by. Those are some amazing, tasty chips. However, unless you plan on making a meal of nothing but them, plan to split them with at least one friend. While it may be found in the "tapas" section of the menu, there was nothing "small" about this plate.

Secondly, the Stoughon Opera House is remarkable beautiful venue, both in terms of looks and in sound quality. Even though it was a bit of a drive to get there, I will gladly go again. (And now I am extra sad that the Carolina Chocolate Drops show there last fall sold out before I got tickets. It must have been an astonishing show in that space.)

Finally, even with a hint of laryngitis roughening up her voice, Dar Williams remains as luminous and buoyant as ever. It was an intimate show, just Dar with her guitar and a piano accompanist on some songs. The last few times I'd seen her she had a band along. As nice as the bands were, I definitely prefer her solo (or almost solo) sound. I have always been fond of the way she interacts with the audience and introduces the songs with little stories. It's that kind of thing that gets me to live shows.

She also looked fantastic, and gave me a great idea for what to do with my hair when it gets a bit longer. I think I've always had a tiny girl-crush on her unassuming hippy-goddess rockstar style. She never goes over to top in any direction, but nails it with confidence. Considering her severe stage fright in her early career, it really inspires me.

It was a great night.



A little reminder of summer

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Eating Sunshine

The days are getting shorter and cooler. School has started and Labor Day has passed. But I am not quite ready to let go of summer. Not yet. So here is a photo I took at the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival, back in August.

It was like eating sunshine.



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