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Since we’re stuck at home, why not cook?

So, this was supposed to be a travel blog. You could go along virtually with me as we took a train trip through the English countryside, viewed Lake Cuomo for the first time, and relaxed on the beaches of Florida and North Carolina.

I’m sure EVERYONE had some kind of plan for SOMETHING fun this year, but now we’re all staying home and staying safe due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We were just starting to cover it when I left KATU back in mid-March. A few days later, we were in lock down in Portland, and Oregon. As I write this, it’s day 51, and the truth is out…..

 

I’VE BECOME A BAKER!

It all started that first lock down weekend with just a box mix…Lemon Cake.

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Sure, I’d baked plenty of stuff in the past, but just this way, not from scratch. Now that’s changed, because all I have is time. So, why not make stuff from scratch? How hard can it be? Um, it’s time consuming, gives you something to focus on, and you get to EAT the results, good or bad!! First, I moved on to another couple of boxed goodies…

But that wasn’t enough! My new obsession became pastry dough. I wanted to make the BEST/EASIEST one possible, and I found it thanks to my “friends,” Megan and John at The Joy of Cooking.

CREAM CHEESE PASTRY DOUGH

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 stick cold unsalted butter – cut into small squares

4 oz. (same amount as 1 stick butter) cold cream cheese – cut into squares

1/8 tsp. salt

Put flour and salt in a large bowl at squares of butter and cream cheese and cut together with a pastry cutter until the mixture starts to come together. Knead dough together in bowl into a ball, and remove. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove when ready to use and roll out on a floured surface. Makes enough for one open face pie or other use.

 

I was stunned! I could make pastry! This is a revelation! While I had a love of the ease of using the Dough Boy’s product, this was SO MUCH BETTER!! I was bored one day, and made this…Apple Custard Pie.

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But then my husband suggested we really go for it. We were supposed to be on a trip to Scotland and the U.K., seeing some family, and hitting one of our favorite restaurants in London, St. John. In our house, Fergus Henderson (the chef behind this restaurant) is much-beloved. Why not make a dinner that would be a tribute to him? Beef Wellington, Creamed Spinach and for dessert, a Chocolate Custard Pie.

My new talent for making pastry crust was used TWICE, and my husband not only conquered the mushroom duxelles that had previously eluded him, BUT he also NAILED the cook on the beef! We BOTH had successes. (And I got him to help with the pie, so he also “baked,” not something he usually does.)

So what’s next? I’m not sure yet. I have a lot of apples lying around again, so we’ll see.

STAY TUNED!