Friday, November 9, 2007

Back in the Kitchen

On Thursday morning, I watched the woman driving the car in front of me blow-dry her hair all the way from where I pull out of our cul-de-sac to the college campus. Multitasking at its finest. At least she wasn't on the freeway, where I've seen even worse.

In my effort to keep my kitchen somewhat tidy before I have to go into a panic the day before Thanksgiving, I've been going through the containers which were in the back yard for most of the past six months and sorting the contents to get rid of the duplicates (if Len can't find something, he never asks; he just goes out and buys another one) and the stuff that doesn't work.

I've got more sets of measuring cups and spoons than I can count. Many are plastic and have developed stains and tackiness that are best dealt with by throwing them in the trash. I just bought a good, heavyweight set of metal measuring cups which have no place for crud to build up and I'd like to find a replacement for my Tupperwear dry-measure cups which have the in-between sizes. Maybe if I go to the Rose Bowl Flea Market on Sunday I can score it. I reconfigured a couple of sets of measuring spoons and have the rest set to go away. I've gotten rid of all of the stained and melted plastic spoons which seem to be replacing good old wooden spoons. When I wasn't looking, Len went out and bought a number of plastic cutting boards and every time I try to get rid of the one shaped like a Scottish Terrier, he retrieves it. I've still got one more paper bag to go through and I just hope that my cleaning lady doesn't think she's doing me a favor by going through it and hiding stuff all over my kitchen for me. I need to have a yard sale or have my son move out to a place I can outfit for him.

Sometime in the last year, I felt the need to replace the Fry Daddy we had. The non-stick had partially peeled away and it seemed like a bad idea to use it any more. So I went off to Bed, Bath, and Beyond with a 20% off coupon (which I collect like crazy) and found a nice little number from Cuisinart. It got taken out of its box for the first time last night and it will now go into a much smaller space.

As part of the pre-Thanksgiving prep, I'm trying to get rid of stuff in the fridge and freezer, so last night's dinner was frozen fish and French fries. I have to say frozen French fries taste a whole lot better when they are fried than when they are cooked in the oven. The new deep-fryer did a great job on them.

Maybe I'll use the fryer for some of the traditional Italian Christmas sweets that I usually don't make like chichi cookies that have a sweet chick-pea filling and look like fried ravioli or the cone-shaped tower of fried dough with honey syrup and sprinkles called struffoli. The Christmas after my father died, I sat in the kitchen and watched my mother make all of the traditional Italian sweets and made notes in the margins of the recipes I had written out so the actual ingredients and amounts matched what she was doing and not what was written down. I've had a lot more success with the family recipes in the years since then than I did before.

The pre-holiday attack on the kitchen was also precipitated by a search for a special cupcake sheet that was given to me last year. It has many of the shapes of the Nordic Bundt cake molds reduced to cupcake or petits fours size. I searched literally high and low and began to panic that somehow it had gone missing when stored outside during the reconstruction (which is still not finished.) After two weeks of looking, I found it when I sat down on the floor to open my cookie sheet storage boxes once again, and there it was tucked high on top of one I could not see except by sitting on the floor. I was greatly relieved to find it.

I saw some really large baking sheets and a 24 hole cupcake sheet at Smart and Final the other night. I would never be able to use them in my wall oven, but the new oven could easily accommodate the big sheets and I could make a whole lot more cookies in less time that way. If I can figure out where to store them, I might just indulge myself. Parchment and heavy-duty shiny pans are much better for baking than dark, non-stick pans are.

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