Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November Date Night

Continuing with the monthly date night gifts I gave Neil (here is September and October) - November date was: Take A Cooking Class.

Too bad we did NOT have our act together. First we got a dog, then I got a cold, then it was the holidays. Then our dog got a tick and its vet bill adjusted our budgeted "monthly fun" dollars. We just dropped the ball. 

Not to let it all go to waste, we decided (1) we will still take an actual cooking class in the near future. and (2) we will still have a cooking-centric date night in which we make the things that intimidate us.

Item #1 was homemade bread. Right out the gate we went wrong. We did not leave enough time between looking up the recipe and eating dinner for the bread to rise (Note: always read the entire recipe before you begin) So we had to improvise. That's when we discovered Beer Bread - no yeast required (probably because its in the beer? I'm guessing? actually, i have no idea). this stuff is so quick and easy. We used this recipe, we halved it so it only needed about 25-30 min to cook. We also used less sugar and a dark porter beer. It was kind of dense and sweet, so if you're into to that sort of thing than make it happen! like, tonight! We didn't add extras this time but two days later I made it again with 1/4 cup shaved dubliner cheddar and a teaspoon rosemary and it was even better. verdict: modified success

Item #2 was a pumpkin. It seems funny, I've carved into them for jack-o-lanterns my whole life but for cooking I've always gone to the canned version. I don't know why this would be a hurdle. We've made spaghetti squash and other winter squashes a million times, isn't a pumpkin pretty much the same? 
Turns out the answer is yes. yes it is. Just cut into chunks, bake at 350 in a pan with a bit of water for about 45 min, scoop away from the rind, and your done. Its so easy. We pulsed the cooked pumpkin with an immersion blender and added it to this soup recipe. verdict: success

Item #3 was scallops. I've watched enough Top Chef, Chopped, and Hells Kitchen to know that if you cook one of these wrong, you go home. They intimidate me. Neil took charge here. First try through we burned the butter in our pan. Second round we may have been too gun shy on the temp. They're supposed to take 3-4 min on one side and 1 min on the other side (hot enough for a buttery sear on both sides). Ours took a bit longer. However they were not dried out and still very delicious so I can't complain. verdict: success-ish

We topped it all off by uncorking the bottled of champagne that we had saved from before the surgery. The whole dinner was a celebration of making it through to the 3 month mark (and beyond). We realized that during the cooking we had background music playing (!) and I didn't need to sit and take breaks (!!) We toasted to all the great things we have in life, including all the time in the world to adequately plan an actual cooking class that does not involve youTube instructions!


  1. Dude, Teddy got a tick a few weeks ago -- is there anything worse than finding that sucker (literally) on your puppy? This looks like a fantastic date night, and that cheese with the addition of Dubliner sounds like my idea of heaven!

  2. Thank you for opening up your life to us and for writing about your health and how you're feeling. There's so much that I didn't realize you (and Neil) were dealing with. And I love to read about the simple things that you're rediscovering day by healthy day. But most of all, promise that you'll always post pictures of your puppy! That being said, please don't get so busy getting your life back that you stop blogging. I look forward to reading it every day.

  3. Way to go! Glad you made it the whole way through without a break. :) I just made a pretty easy potato cheddar (ok, and some bacon) soup. It's pretty dang good! I'm usually happy with carrots and hummus and anything else it's nice to feel industrious in the kitchen sometimes. I'll have to try that bread recipe sometime!

    Have you ever tried to make yogurt? Now that's a fun culinary experiment!