Wednesday, July 20, 2011

National Fortune Cookie Day

Izzy gave me the week off (almost) last week. Thank you, Baby Girl, for taking care of the blog and for your great work on Bon Voyage Atlantis salad.

I wasn’t quite sure what to write about this week. Then I remembered a note I had written to myself. July 20, 2011 is National Fortune Cookie Day. Who doesn’t like fortune cookies? Of the millions of people who love fortune cookies, how many have no idea how those little pieces of wisdom get inside? Stick around and I’ll share the secret.

I used to have a perfect recipe for fortune cookies but I lost it. That’s when happens when you don’t compile your recipes in a book or a box before computers became household tools. It doesn’t make things any easier when you move eight times or more. (I lost count.) Since the loss of the perfect fortune cookie recipe, I’ve been looking for one that’s close.

1 egg, separated
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup cornstarch

Get the fortunes ready to insert in the cookies.

Beat the egg white, stiff but not too stiff. Set aside.

Beat the sugar into the egg yolk. Fold in the corn oil. Mix about 1/3 of the egg yolk mixture into the cornstarch. Add the rest of the egg yolk mixture and stir until thouroughly mixed. Fold in egg white until smooth.

Heat an electric skillet to 350. Test with a drizzle of water. When droplets of water “dance,” the pan is hot enough. Pour batter from a loaded teaspoon or not-so-loaded soup spoon. Spread into a 3 to 4 inch cookie, about 1/8 inch thick, with the back of the spoon. Cook about 5 minutes until light golden brown and easily lifted from the pan. Turn and cook until second side is light golden brown. Quickly put one fortune across the center of the cookie. Fold in half. Take both sides of the half-circle and fold into the familiar fortune cookie shape. (You may want to use the edge of a plate or bowl to help the last fold.) Place in a muffin pan or cup and let cool.

WARNING! I haven’t made these cookies yet. Try them if you dare. The proportions in the recipe looked so familiar that I just changed the directions a bit. I felt like I was making the cookies during the writing of the recipe. I can almost taste them! The cookies cool quickly so you don’t want to make more than three or four at a time. If the heat of the cookies makes the folding process painful, a pair of clean white gloves might help.

Once you’ve mastered making fortune cookies, you’ll probably learn as I have that the hardest thing about making fortune cookies is writing the fortunes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Macaroni & Green Bean Salad

Friday was all about Atlantis. The last space shuttle took flight. Late morning was exciting. There were storms in the air. Would she fly or wouldn’t she? I knew but I wasn’t telling anybody.

I relaxed on the floor in front of the TV and watched the show. Parts of it seemed a little boring to me so I looked at the jar of peanuts that was blocking one corner of the picture. Guess nobody ever watched TV from this spot before.

We usually run to the back door on launch day to see if we can see anything from the other side of the state. We stood our ground in the living room this time. Clouds between here and there would have separated us from the view. It seemed sad to miss the orange-yellow trail of Atlantis but it was more relaxing than most of the launches lately.

Friday afternoon a small pot of water waited on the stove for small shell macaroni. Frozen shrimp unfroze quickly in the 88-degree temperature at the counter. A steamer bag of green beans steamed in the microwave. Bon Voyage Atlantis salad was being born.

Once the beans were cooked, they came out to cool. Once the macaroni was cooked, it went into a colander. Both were mixed together in a bowl with some parsley and tarragon. The shrimp finished thawing in the colander and was rinsed there as well. Mayonnaise, about a quarter of a cup, got mixed into the macaroni and bean concoction. Once it was all mixed up, in went the shrimp. Then it went into the refrigerator to cool and the parts to become a whole thing but not before we both had a taste.

I hope you can understand how this was made. This is my first time explaining how things get cooked from my point of view. You see, this is Izzy. I need Mommy’s thumbs to get things done.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July, 2011

It’s time again to celebrate the birthday of our country. On July 2, 1776, John Adams said that date would mark the most memorable time in our history. That was the day the colonies declared themselves free from Great Britain. We moved faster in those days without an Internet. Only two days later the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

We didn’t move with lightning speed getting the news out. Philadelphia had a party, complete with a parade, on July 8, 1776. George Washington heard the news on July 9. It took until 1781 for Massachusetts, the first state to do so, to recognize July 4 as a date worth celebrating. It took ten more years for the rest of the young nation to follow.

One of my neighbors told me he didn’t have any idea what they were eating this Fourth of July but he would offer me some of whatever there was. Actually, that’s kind of scary. I haven’t seen the neighbor on the other side for a couple of days. Now, they’re the ones I’d rather party with. But, they have friends and relatives. They might not even be home for the holiday.

I’ve taken out a package of hot dogs from the freezer. Izzy and I have been eating Izzy steaks (hamburgers without a bun) a lot lately. It’s been about a year and a half since we’ve had hot dogs. I also plan to make angel potatoes. Maybe a bit of macaroni salad might go well. This Fourth of July I will attempt a real-time description of what I cook and how I cook it.

We’ll start out with the angel potatoes. First trick: clean and boil six red potatoes, skins intact. A fork goes into the potatoes fairly easily. Luckily, the fork comes out fairly easily too. Cool off the potatoes until you can handle them – with impeccably clean hands. Cut the potatoes in half. If necessary, pare each half so they’ll stand up on their own. Using a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out the center of each potato half. Reserve the scooped-out potato in a small mixing bowl.

Mash the potato innards with the back of a fork. Add about 3 or 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise, about 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard, and a dash of garlic powder. Stir it all up. Add a small dash of hot sauce. Stir it up again and spoon it into the potato cups. Refrigerate until serving time.

I used Sriracha. If you use another hot sauce, you may want to add a bit of salt and pepper. Izzy really likes Sriracha. That surprised me. Think maybe she’s trying to tell me how strong she is? She likes it on her nachos, her quesadillas, and now her potato angels.

Now we’re having a couple of hot dogs. It’s really true that mustard lasts forever. Don’t think ketchup does, though. Izzy wants a bite nearly every time I have one. She’s getting more bun than dog but it’s making her happy.

I’m saving the angel potatoes for later. We’ll wait four or five hours to see if there are signs of life on either side of us. If there is, we’ve got enough for everybody to have one. The smaller the neighborhood gang, the more we get. Izzy wants to keep the doors closed and me to take a nap. Sometimes I like the way she thinks.

I cooked a little, ate two hot dogs in around a half an hour (no match for the Nathan’s contest), and fell asleep. Missed everything that happened after dark. The four or five hours of waiting with the angel potatoes finally ended around 3 A.M. when I reached into the refrigerator to try the first one.