14 January 2015

food and a farewell to Christmas

Today has been a cool, humid day--the kind where E. and I head out for a walk, cut it short, and then make coffee when we get home because we were really cold (well, she had milk and just tried to stick her fingers in my coffee). I took advantage of an unexpected nap to put away the Christmas decorations, at last. It's a week after Epiphany, so it's about time. It took me about five minutes. We don't have a lot of Christmas decorations. Everything except the tree fits in an old vodka box, and I'm thinking of pruning a few things next year, like the sparkly glass ornaments that were a gift and don't go with the rest of the stuff.

J. isn't that keen on household decorations that are only used for one month out of the year (my rule is that they can go up on the first Sunday in Advent, and I try to take them down around Epiphany), so we don't have fairy lights or a massive tree (not that most of the apartments we've lived in have been okay with massive real trees) or piles of ornaments, not that we really have the room to store them all, anyway. The tiny tree fits neatly on top of the shelves next to J.'s board games, comfortably out of reach of the tiny person. She was fascinated by the tree. I had to move the Nativity scene up there, too, after she started pointing at the windowsill and exclaiming about the "dolls."

So, the place is back to normal-ish. The weather's been such that I keep wanting bake things. English muffin bread is on my list for a little later today, mostly to use up more of the whey in the fridge. I had the urge to bake an apple tart the other day, and this was the result:

This was my first attempt in recent memory at a lattice crust, and I really liked how it turned out. I've been kneading bread enough lately that I've lost a little of my touch with the piecrust and it came out a bit tough, but still tasty. I need practice, or patience. Or both.

Continuing with the food theme, I tried making enchiladas using TVP as a meat substitute. TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is a soy product that looks a bit like beige panko. You measure it out and pour an equal amount of hot water on it to rehydrate it, then mix it with whatever you're cooking. Like tofu, it takes on the flavour of whatever you happen to be cooking it with. While "textured vegetable protein" sounds like something you'd find in the galley of Serenity, it's actually pretty good. When rehydrated, it has the consistency and texture of cooked ground meat, and the first time I had it, at someone else's house, I had to be told it wasn't ground beef. I made tortillas for the enchiladas, and combined the TVP with black beans, yellow bell pepper, onion, garlic, and a few spices.

Enchiladas in progress.
And it was tasty. We had enough leftovers for dinner tonight, too. French onion soup is on the list for tomorrow--possibly officially vegetarian if I don't get lazy and use Bovril for the broth.

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