I cried when we sang 'Jesus Christ is Risen Today,' and I heard my grandmother's voice singing it beside me. I got choked up when, at coffee hour, people asked how I was doing. I did better when I talked to my friend A, who has recently gotten a new guide dog. The previous one has retired, and there are adjustments all around, I think.
Then I tried really hard not to cry when I was making a pie crust and it wouldn't come out just right. There wasn't enough flour on the working surface (my table), and the dough stuck, and then it tore when I picked it up. I tried not to cry, but I did anyway. Sill, the pie got made.
Then I cried a lot when I went to take the dogs for a walk, and I was wearing the wrong socks and Rocky was trying to get into my lap, and then I got the right socks, but I'd lost one of the rubber tips on my earphones for my iPod. It wasn't pretty. I sobbed and raged because I couldn't find the backups. Ana brought me some other earphones, and, even thought they weren't right, I accepted them and went to walk. By the way, I actually have an appointment with a therapist. Not until the 3rd of April, but I have one.
When I got back, I decided it was time to cook. Cooking is one of those activities that is almost pure pleasure for me when I'm not in a hurry or tired. Cooking is a creative release. It uses a different part of my brain than writing and drawing uses, and it's fun. Even when it turns out badly, it's fun.
For Easter, I bought a duckling, some potatoes, some fresh asparagus, and a fennel bulb. "What," I asked BadDoggie on IRC, "would you do with fennel?" Following is the recipe:
Cut the fennel bulb into half-inch slices, rinse, then blanch for 2 minutes. [[ed. note: do not try to grind up outside "leaves" and tops in garbage disposal, or the sink will clog and you will start to cry uncontrollably and your spouse will have to come and fix it because your brain will short-circuit]]. Shock cool. In a skillet, saute finely chopped onion (I used 1/2 of a small onion) in butter and olive oil. Add fennel, some white wine, some tarragon, and some salt and pepper. Cover and reduce heat. Let simmer until the fennel is pretty tender (about 3 minutes). Add some cream, some more salt and pepper (to taste) and let reduce. [[Ed note: I didn't have cream, so I used the 2% milk I had, a tablespoon of butter whisked in at the end, and some garbanzo bean flour dissolved in milk as a thickener -- it turned out fine.]].
I'd never had fennel before, but this was delicious. Of all of the dishes, it had the mildest flavor (as BadDoggie and I had discussed). The blanching and the cream knocked the strongness of the anise flavor down significantly, and it was ideal with the rest of the meal.
Whole Foods has whole, refrigerated ducklings on a regular basis, so I picked up one that was about 4 pounds. I cooked it based on a discussion I remember blixco having about duck-cooking, and the suggestions BadDoggie had when we chatted last night.
2 blood oranges
3 cloves garlic, sliced into bits
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
3 bay leaves
First, I preheated the oven to 375F (190C, about).
Then removed the giblets and discarded them, because organ-meats-ewww. Then wash and pat down. Prick the breast all over and pour a kettle-full of boiling water over it.
Zest and juice one of the blood oranges. Rub the outside of the duck with the juice and zest. Sprinkle all over with kosher salt.
Peel and cut in half the other orange. Stuff the bird with the orange halves, the garlic bits, the ginger, and the bay leaves. Put the duck on a rack in a roasting pan (so it won't be sitting in the fat which should render out), and roast for approximately 2 1/2 hours.
I already talked about the fennel, which was delicious with the duck, but I also used some of the rendered duck fat to roast potatoes (salt, pepper, and dried thyme).
And I roasted asparagus with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette sauce. Roast 3 cloves garlic, mash in a mortar & pestle. Add a teaspoon or so of Coleman's prepared mustard. Add balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in olive oil. When the asparagus is nearly done, drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over asparagus, toss, and finish roasting.
I roast garlic on a bed of kosher salt and drizzle the cloves with olive oil. I use that salt for the rest of the dishes I'm making.
I actually really enjoyed dinner. I haven't cried since I served dinner and watched Ana really seem to enjoy the food. I usually enjoy cooking far more than eating, but I was pleasantly surprised by just how tasty and flavorful everything was. Bonus: it only took about 2.5 hours from starting to serving. +1 would cook again.
And, of course, Ana's pie is incredible. It's a rhubarb-cranberry pie, and I can taste the cloves. The pie crust wasn't as much of a disaster as I'd feared (the hippie crisco I got at Whole Foods should not have been refrigerated before use, and then there was the whole sticking and tearing issue). It's delicious.
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