Today Feels Like a Cooking Day

It’s been grey out. Grey and wet. I know that’s what I was promised it would be when I moved here, but somehow knowing that wasn’t the same as experiencing it. It’s gotten me down.

Bill and I still haven’t found the sunrise alarm clock we normally wake up to. It’s making mornings a lot harder. On the other hand, though, he found a very cool bulb which fits into our normal lamps that seems to be helping. I try to sit under it for 20+ minutes a morning.

What isn’t helping is the completely terrible photo lighting in my kitchen. We actually have really big, beautiful windows and a nice view. It’s great for being in, when there’s even half decent amounts of natural light. But it’s not really enough for photos. I haven’t sorted that out yet, and I’ve been letting it stop me from doing some of my blogging. For my first gift guide post I rearranged much of the dining area to get the pictures, and tried to shoot two posts at once (the other was going to be a squash custard).

But, here’s the truth. Today is grey out. Grey and wet. It’s exactly the day where, were I not concerned about photos, I’d just want to burrow in and cook. So, I’m going to. My plan is to take pictures even if the lighting sucks, as best I can. (For example, I’m not going to get raw chicken drippings on my phone.)

If you click on the photo below, which is of my kitchen in its current state, you can follow along. It will be a bit like the previous live-blogging I did here on MetaCookbook and that I did on Getting Ready to Go. I’ll update this post as I can, but mostly it will be the flickr album below.

A messy kitchen counter containing a bowl full of clementines, eight lemons spread out, a baggie of chocolate, a note under the chocolate, salt and pepper grinders, a tiny suculent plant, and more.

I’m starting with a modification for two people (and what I have at home) of Chile and Beer Braised Turkey from Angela at Kitchenista Diaries. I may also make pumpkin bread and/or chili.

11:57 am – I got out of the shower (which I realized I should take) and saw that the weather had moderately improved. The inside lighting is still crap, but it’s not raining and it’s less grey. That means there was only one thing to do.

Take advantage.

Two dogs, one in a blue sweater, attempting to walk opposite directions. They are each leashed, and the leashes go to the same point off-camera.

So the pups and I went for a walk. What would be a short walk in the summer and was definitely a long walk by recent standards.

As of this moment, we have gotten back home, I’ve made a cup of tea, put on some shoes I’m trying out from Zappos, and pull up this post to let you know where I am. I’m about to dive into braising a turkey thigh. (Yes, just one.)

12:24 pm – It’s starting to smell good in here. I’m giving the spices a bit of a toast, and because it’s what I have readily at hand (meaning, I don’t have to dig through the bowels of my damn pantry to get at it), I’m using powdered New Mexico red chile from Dixon, NM. It’s good stuff, albeit spicy.

And I accidentally added too much paprika, but I love it, so I think I don’t care.

A colorful mix of spices and dried herbs in a pot. Smoked paprika, oregano, a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick, New Mexico red chile powder.

One of my major divergences from Angela’s recipe is that I skinned the turkey thigh before doing anything else to it. She uses it to deliver flavor to the final dish, but I don’t want super flavorful turkey skin. I am saving up for making shmaltz, and fully unrendered skin will be best for this.

A skinned turkey thigh with the skin next to it.

But, don’t worry. I also don’t want to lose out on potential flavor, so I have a back up plan. And that plan is also related to my schmaltz working. Namely, I very, very simply roasted a chicken last night, and I will use some of the drippings (sans fat) in this roast. The fat goes into the “saving for schmaltz” bag.

A two layer round disk. The top layer is a medium brown and is non-fat chicken drippings. The bottom layer is pale ivory and is rendered chicken fat.

12:35 pm – And then before I managed to even hit “update” on this post, I got distracted with my cooking. Clearly it is a day for cooking.

1:08 pm – I just got the thigh into the braise. I’m now debating making the schmaltz. Highly likely to do so.

3:31 pm – So, I made the schmaltz and I’m excited with it. Not a lot, but it’s some. And as I’m still learning how to make it, this sort of thing is good practice. The braised thigh came out nicely, but I’m not sure about the sauce’s consistency. I’ll work on that tomorrow.

I went to go bake a variant on my birthday cake. And I looked outside, and there was sun. And I waffled between going outside and baking. I decided to bake.

And the universe laughed. I posted a photo to instagram of a lemon that molded on the inside (but not outside), a egg carton that broke, dumping eggs on the floor.

So then I cussed, cleaned up, and took the dogs outside. I cleaned up a bit more, and I am done doing productive things for the day. I may add more photos to this post later.

Thanks for hanging out, everyone. It made the day better.