In which I am almost defeated

We had a training day today, so no kids, and one of my co-workers walked in and handed this to me. It’s his wife’s work, and I’m happy to announce that I am now in a polyamorous relationship, because I absolutely must be married to anyone who is able to produce pecan cheesecake in any capacity, and pecan cheesecake of this unbelievably high quality should be on sale in stores.(*) I told my co-worker that had I paid $30 or $40 for an entire pie I would not feel cheated. It was that good– gooey, caramelly, with absolutely perfect cheesecake and a fucking amazing crust. My mouth is still watering looking at it.

Of course, the sugar level sent me into a coma for the rest of the day– the second piece I had a couple hours later did not help– and it is 9:19 as I’m typing this and I didn’t not get around to posting today so much as I completely forgot the blog existed until just now, so lucky for everyone I had this deliciousness on my phone to make you all jealous of me.

Just don’t have two pieces. You will die. You will die happy, but if you die, you can’t have any more pecan cheesecake.

(*) I did not inform either my co-worker or his wife of this, although I did tell him he should do whatever is necessary for the rest of his life to keep her around. I should probably get around to that. People like to know about it when they’re married to other people, right?

In which I achieve something, maybe, a little

On the one hand, my dinner just now represents somewhat of a milestone. I wasn’t in the mood for anything we had premade and on hand, and I didn’t want to leave the house to go get something, so I looked in the pantry, found some ingredients, and put together a tasty thing to eat. On the other, what basically amounted to ramen tomato soup doesn’t really scream “creativity,” and it doesn’t look like much either, but here it is:

That’s butter, minced garlic, tomato paste, cream of chicken soup, a little bit of heavy cream, ramen, freshly-grated parmesan, and salt and pepper, and if I’d have been thinking I’d have thrown some Italian seasoning into the sauce as well. Yeah, it looks a little gross; I am not a food photographer, shut up. Yes, I could have achieved very similar results by simply throwing a block of ramen into a half-jar of Ragú, and if I’d done it that way I would have the balance of sauce to ramen much better than this, which had too much sauce. Oh, and next time I definitely need to cook the ramen separately, as the sauce didn’t have enough water in it to cook it with its normal speed. (It wasn’t undercooked, and I added water, but next time I need to just cook it separately.

I’m not going to start writing cookbooks or anything, but this still feels like a step of some sort, as I am very very reliant on and panicky about recipes whenever I actually cook anything. So … yay me? Sure. Yay me.

Soooooouuuuuuuuupppppp

I think the general feeling is that the first experiment with Pepper Belly Pete’s recipes was a resounding success, although when I make this again I’m going to fiddle with it a little bit. I feel like it wants corn, for some reason, and both my wife and I prefer our soups a little creamier than anything with a chicken broth base is usually going to be, so there might be some experimentation to see what the best way to thicken the broth is. Maybe toss something in there to add a little heat, too. More experienced cooks than myself are welcome to leave suggestions.

The critical part, the “dumplings,” came out more or less exactly how we wanted them to, although next time we might cut them a little smaller than quartering the biscuits. That’s a minor complaint, of course.

This will be my next TikTok-related food creation– this is the same guy as the apple cider cookies from a few weeks ago– and then I’ll probably try something else of Pete’s:

Apple Cider Cookies!

Okay, so the icing is … evocative, and you can tell exactly which cookies were iced by my wife, she of I Might Not Want A Lot of Icing, and which ones were re-iced by me, of Fuck Diabetes More Icing, but the house smells Goddamned delicious and I have actually managed to successfully bake something.

Credit to @bdylanhollis over at TikTok, who found the recipe (he cooks vintage foods, and his account is fantastic,) baked better-looking cookies than mine and is also more entertaining.

The recipe: in a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup of softened butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of regular sugar, and mix. Add an egg. Mix again.

In a second bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoons each of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cardamom, along with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Mix.

In yet another bowl, chop the hell out of an apple (I used a Fuji, and probably could have used one and a half or two of them, since they were small) and add a quarter cup of apple cider. Note that in the video he appears to be using way more than that; I assume that’s just for filming purposes.

Add the bowl with the flour to the first bowl, mix, then pour in the apples and mix more. Mix forever. The dough will be super sticky, which is fun.

Chill. He doesn’t say how long; I gave it 25 minutes and called it good. Get ’em onto a baking sheet (this was enough for 26 cookies using one of those dough-baller-thingies) or two and bake at 350 for “at least” seventeen minutes; I gave them 18 1/2 and they were still super soft out of the oven but I don’t think they were underbaked. They’re just soft cookies.

For the icing, mix 3 tablespoons of melted butter, a third of a cup of cider, and powdered sugar. Lots of powdered sugar. Just dump a whole bag in there. It’ll be fine. (Directions are “until it’s thick.” This will produce way more icing than you need and probably not as much as you want.)

Ice and eat. Then lick the icing bowl. My God.

Yum

Pictured on this table: Lebanese salad, tahini, beef shawarma, fried eggplant, homemade hummus, homemade baba ghanoush, fried chicken, hand-cut French fries, and Lebanese rice, along with pita bread, both homemade and store-bought garlic spread (made for the chicken, but also delicious with the fries,) fresh parsley, pickles, tomatoes and a homemade tomato sauce to go with the eggplant. Not pictured: a thousand deserts, including about thirty different varieties of baklava and nammoura, which I had never had before this weekend and oh my God.

I don’t know if I made this clear, but my cousin married a Lebanese woman, and for this and a whole lot of other reasons it is very clear that marrying her was the best decision he ever made. And this was only one meal. Like, these folks don’t cook, they COOK, and trying to claim you were full was just not going to work. I can think of three-day periods where I have eaten better in my life– work trips to Nashville and Raleigh come to mind– but I have never come close to eating this well for three days in a row when literally everything in front of me was home-cooked, and she (well, not just her; my cousin definitely pitched in, but it was clear who was in charge) didn’t break a sweat doing it, either.

(Have I paid for my overindulgence today? Maybe a little, yeah. Worth. It.)


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