1. The Raves:
I definitely cooked some tasty food these past two weeks at home.
On Sunday night, we had ribs in a very tasty, homemade spicy/sweet chipotle barbeque sauce. I rarely have the forethought to slow-cook ribs all day, so I short-cut via blanching the meat in salted water to get the cooking and softening started quickly. Then sauced, covered, and into a 375F oven until cooked through and falling apart, then sauced some more and cooked uncovered, turning and basting once, to caramelize the sugar in the sauce and make the ribs sticky, messy and delicious.
Last Wednesday night, I randomly found a fresh leg of lamb at the butcher. Not a whole leg, mind you, but a good chunk of one, on the bone. Fresh lamb is rarely available at retail outlets in Kingston, so I snapped it up, even though it was not what I had in mind. The meat was so lovely and tender that it really could have been marinaded and dry-roasted, but I braised it until it fairly fell off the bone and into its rich sauce.
This lamb was from Alberta, which I had not, to my knowledge, tried before. I like very gamey lamb, and consequently prefer Quebec lamb to the milder New Zealand lamb, and local lamb has a pretty strong flavour, making it hard to pass up at restaurants, but not easy to find at the store. This western meat was very tender, and was quite mild. Even the fat, which is usually the wooliest-tasting part, could have been mistaken for something else. The leftovers were shredded into the super-flavourful braising sauce and eaten over rigatoni.
On the whole, this braised lamb business was just delightful, and I am pretty happy to get in a few more wintry braises before Spring is really upon us.
Furthermore, last night, I made a plain old roasted chicken, with plain old potatoes, and plain old asparagus, AND THE BEST ICE CREAM I HAVE MADE EVER!!! I made milk chocolate ice cream with black pepper, creme fraîche and ruby port. Seriously. The port adds depth to the sweetness of the chocolate, the creme fraîche adds a zippy richness, and the pepper? Coarsely cracked whole peppercorns added textural interest, a bit of spiciness, and when combined with everything else going on in the ice cream, actually added a licorice-like smoothness to the flavour profile. I suspect that the awesome ice cream will be a tough sell if it's called 'milk chocolate and black pepper', but once I've forced it on the unsuspectingly lucky victim, there's no turning back. Mike, who is normally conservative with what he thinks is going to be tasty, admits that this ice cream is surprisingly outstanding. I call that a win.
2. The Rant:
I went back to the gym last week. It was way harder to think about doing than to get off my arse and actually do. Once there, I quite liked it, and went 3 days in a row. I felt bad about not going the 4th day, but laundry had to be done and I work early on Thursdays. Since then, I've gone back to the gym every day that seemed reasonable (ie: not after marathon weekend shifts).
The following is a short, and by no means exhaustive, list of things I like to do(aside from cooking, that is. By far, that is the thing I like most):
Hanging out, knitting, chatting, reading, visiting, looking at cats, having cocktails and luncheons, napping in front of movies, snuggling.
These are all fairly sedentary activities, and even though I stand and sweat in a kitchen all day, I am a fairly sedentary person. When I have down time, I never get in that 'crazy hiking mood'. I am not particularly outdoorsy. Don't get me wrong: I like outside, but mostly from a seated, comfy position, with nice company and nice wine, and probably cheese and a cozy fire. I generally have no urge to actively investigate it. I prefer a more gentle, passive appreciation.
When my sedentary lifestyle is examined in combination with my appreciation of animal fats (exhibits #1-18: the entries on this weblog), it should be plain to see that periodically, I need to go to the gym to stay healthy, and fit in my pants.
And plus also: it has come to my attention that I am not getting any younger, and that maybe my skeletal system would like some weight-bearing exercise to complement all the calcium I intake from fancy cheese and ice cream. Just saying.