It seems weird going back in time to write this post. I’ve had a crazy week and all I want to do is write a moody rant about how I trust the world a little bit less now because my car got stolen earlier this week. Or, I could write a gratitude post about how thankful I am that, even though my car was stolen, it was found shortly thereafter; that, even though they took a few valuables, they left everything else; that they didn’t strip my car or do any other obvious damage to it. I’m thankful that I have my car back, that it still runs, and that campus safety immediately issued me a new permit without hassle and without charge (to put that in context, you have to understand that these permits cost $300).
While street smarts aren’t always my strongest suit, I’m not completely naive either. But it’s one thing to know that things like this happen. It’s another thing when they are happening to you.
So, when I originally envisioned the content of my last “cooking project” post, I was not planning to talk about stolen cars. But life happens, and Sebastian Felix got stolen and then recovered this week, and I feel weird about it.
Anyway, let’s rewind back to the 4th of July weekend, before my car, my sense of privacy, and my sense of security all got violated.
A few of the recipes that I tried out resulted in various “extras” that I didn’t want to waste. When I had finished dipping all of the cake batter truffles in the melted white chocolate coating, there was still extra melted chocolate. So Mom and I grabbed some gingersnap cookies that we had on hand and used those to scrape up the last of the chocolate:
“Good to the last drop!” as my grandma would say.
Another curious leftover item: the “cupcake bellies” from the cookie dough-stuffed cupcakes. As you may recall, part of the process involved cutting out the centers of the cupcakes to make room for the cookie dough. The end result was that I had a bowl full of cupcake bellies. My mom suggested the brilliant idea of making a sort of parfait with them. Add a few layers of chocolate pudding and blueberries and voila:
Finally, when I made bacon & egg toast cups, the recipe called for circle cut-outs from sliced bread, meaning that I had a lot of useless bread parts leftover. So I made croutons! I found a fantastic, easy recipe that pretty much just involved mixing the bread pieces with melted butter, garlic salt, and dried herbs, and then toasting them in the oven.
The result was a crispy, buttery crouton that all but melted in your mouth!
Even after the weekend was over, the cooking didn’t stop. We had bought chicken thighs for a Hawaiian grilled chicken recipe that I wanted to try. However, there just wasn’t time for it over the weekend. At the beginning of the week, Mom pointed out that we either needed to use the thighs or freeze them. Since I had already been in the cooking groove for the past few days, I figured why stop now?
This is one of those recipes where you really can’t “over-marinate” the chicken. So, I prepped the marinade the night before and let it do its thing overnight and all day while I was at work.
This one was definitely a team effort: my mom washed and trimmed the chicken thighs while I put the marinade together, and my dad was the Grill Master when it was time to cook the chicken. Look at all of that raw meat! Yikes.
The end result was perfection. The three of us were absolutely enamored with our success – the flavor and tenderness of the chicken was incredible. And the bed of coconut rice over which it was served just enhanced everything.
The last experimental thing that I tried making was an amaretto sour. My co-worker gave me the basic instructions: equal parts amaretto and sweet & sour mix, topped off with club soda. I added my own touches based on the ingredients we had on hand, so the end result was equal parts amaretto and sweet & sour mix, with a dash of bourbon, topped off with tonic water. At my mom’s request, I also tried a variation with ginger ale instead of tonic water. We decided that we needed to get some actual club soda. The tonic water added a little too much bitterness, and the ginger ale made it a little too easy to drink.
However, the name “amaretto sour” is, in my opinion, a misnomer. There ain’t nothin’ sour about that drink!
And so, my 4th of July cooking & baking extravaganza has come to an end. I feel very satisfied with my accomplishment. I made a ton of food over a short period of time, and nothing turned out terribly gross! What’s more, I don’t even feel burned out about cooking. I didn’t come away feeling like, “Okay, I got my fix and now no more of that for at least six months!” Instead, I’ve been pinning more recipes to Pinterest (my “recipe book”) and I’m already starting to brainstorm ideas for what I want to make next. My sister and brother-in-law will be back in another week for my birthday, and I still have plenty of recipes that I want to try. There really is something incredibly fulfilling about the whole process: assembling the ingredients, compiling them, watching cups of watery dough transform into fluffy muffins, or gobs of cake batter become adorable sprinkle-topped truffles, or lumps of slippery raw meat turn into crispy, delectable chunks of savory goodness. It’s a creative experience, and it is also methodical and organized. And that is what makes it beautiful.
For those of you that have been following along, thank you for indulging me while I documented my experience here. I’ve really been having fun with this, and I look forward to many more future cooking projects.
I feel like the most appropriate way to conclude is with this video tribute to Julia Child.
Bring on the roasted potatoes!
(And, of course, bon appetit.)