Next Project, Please

Phew. Weeks of translating Italian cuisine have come to an end, with my submission of the final chapter this morning. The book itself wasn’t particularly challenging – in fact, most recipes were very conventional. There were few dishes I’ve never had before, and most of those were foods I don’t care about, offal and venison and pork – not my bag, any of those.

Introductions to individual recipes are usually the most charming part of any cookbook. The little chatty paragraphs that explain a special ingredient, or the author’s history with a recipe, a little back story of sorts. In this case, there was not a lot to work with in terms of those – this particular author seems to be more of a chef than a writer, so it’s all quite to the point, go hit the chopping board, pots & pans.

So, all in all, a lovely, not very difficult book to translate. This was a stroke of luck, because I was struggling with my time management a bit. Working part-time, being a new Dog Mom, not to mention a Mom Who Does School Things… I managed not to drop any balls, but my attention span left a lot to be desired! Don’t know how it would have been with a manuscript of lengthy chapters and/or complex content. All you people with brainy jobs who are also responsible pet owners, I tip my hat to you. How TF do you manage, and not lose your minds?!

But now this job is done, my brain is deep-fried, and my body has responded to the stress by giving me a mean bitch of a migraine. I’m so glad nobody is expecting great things of me today. All I need to do is go see the dentist and cook my children dinner. I’ll walk the dog, and I’ll do laundry. And I’ll write a rambling post for my stitch friends :-), while I’m still too zonked to talk to potential clients about my next assignments. Tomorrow, maybe.

So I was going to share with you guys two recipes. The first is a perfectly seasonal celebration of three yummy late summer ingredients:

Chanterelle Mushrooms, Green Beans and Arugula (on Pasta)

Seems random, you say? Well, that’s because it literally was the contents of my veggie drawer on a day I needed to whip up a quick meal for kids & friends. You may be familiar with this situation. The combined flavors of the aromatic chanterelle mushrooms, the scent of the rosemary, the fresh, creamy green beans and the peppery arugula were surprisingly good! It had never occurred to me before to put beans and chanterelles in one dish, and now I have, and my son has asked me to make it again, so praise from high places. Maybe I can take a picture next time I make this and add it later on – because today, there’s no valid photo of the dish. It was late, we were starving and we finished eating before I even thought of photographing. I have two other pics that are vaguely similar. Maybe you can kind of merge them in your mind’s eye :-).

Just picture the above mixed with a nice bowl of fusilli pasta, tossed with a couple handfuls arugula, a splash of olive oil and a dusting of black pepper, topped with coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.

In my large frying pan, I sauteed 1 chopped shallot and 1 clove garlic, about 500 g chanterelle mushrooms and 500 g green beans, all at the same time, with a twig of rosemary and sea salt. Meanwhile I boiled the pasta, grated the cheese and washed the arugula.

Drained the pasta, mixed it with the vegetables in a large salad bowl, let sit for a bit, then tossed in the arugula. Put pepper and Parmesan cheese to taste on top. And sat everyone down for an impromptu and very satisfying meal.

The second recipe is also experimental, for me anyway. When it comes to sweets, my taste-buds seem really conservative compared to my friends‘ – no orange and basil ice-cream for me, and I don’t go in for the whole marzipan and goat cheese flavored chocolate (I just invented this, no idea if there is such a thing, the combo sounds gross to me), thank you very much … However, last week I had a wonderful organic iced tea with peaches and rosemary flavor, and no artificial ingredients whatsoever. It was absolutely delicious. I had wanted to make peach jam anyway, and that iced tea made me want to try to give my peach jam this precise, subtle rosemary zing. So I did :-).

White Peach Jam with a Twist

2 kg white nectarines or peaches (skin the peaches if you want – same procedure as when blanching tomatoes)

Appropriate amount of gelling sugar (there are different types, check the fruit/sugar ratio before cooking)

1 lemon, squeezed

1 twig fresh rosemary

Proceed as described on your gelling sugar package – in my case, this was: wash, pit and cut up the fruit. Puree with a stick blender, then mix with gelling sugar. Bring to the boil and cook 4 minutes on high heat, stirring all the while. During these minutes, put in the whole rosemary twig so that your jam can absorb the flavor. Here’s the tricky part – too long, and the rosemary may become too dominant. Too briefly, and the flavor may be too subtle. You want to test frequently until the flavor is to your liking. Do not double dip – use as many spoons as it takes if you don’t want germs, and I’m not kidding. At this point, bear in mind that the concoction may seem overly sweet now but will seem less so once cooled. I guess you knew this, now I feel stupid reminding you of these basics. But for those of you who are new to jam making, it may still be valuable content, so.

Remove the rosemary immediately and discard. Stir in the lemon juice and let boil one more minute. Test the jam’s consistency by putting a little spoonful on a plate. If it sets as it cools, your jam is done. Put in sterile jars, stand those upside down for a minute to seal, then put them right side up and let cool.

This jam has been tried and approved by a prestigious jury with: toast, bread, crispbread, buttermilk pancakes, crepes, and on one of the rare occasions I was craving something really sweet, I ate it plain with a spoon. Je ne regrette rien :-).

Finally, crafts. As I pointed out in the beginning, I was kind of too busy to even think about stuff like that. Okay, I did make a granny square on Granny Square Day over lunch, here, feeling all the autumn-y color feels:img_1202.jpg
But over the past weekend there were car rides, and since I wasn’t driving, I got to finish one sock and the first half of the second for my sweet little friend A. Here’s how far I’ve gotten:IMG_1290.JPGAny day now. My daughter has dubbed these the ‚Night Socks‘ – she has a point, doesn’t that yarn look exactly like a starry night…? My little poet.

May you all have a lovely, late-summery week.

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