One of the nicer things about being retired is having the time and the energy to enjoy baking and cooking again. In the past two months, I have baked more than I have in the previous two years. I have made two plum cakes, two banana walnut cakes, a pear crisp, an apple crisp and a loaf of whole wheat bread. Though, perhaps, the less said about the bread, the better. It wasn't exactly a rousing success. But I think I figured out where I went wrong and will attempt the recipe again. I have plans to make some genuine New England style gingerbread, a black walnut teacake and a fresh apple cake in the near future.
Yesterday, I candied the peel from our morning grapefruit and will make citrus peel nut bread today to have for tea. It's oddly satisfying to cook and bake from scratch again after the last few years of cutting corners and relying on take out and partially prepped foods from the grocery store. Even a simple thing like candied peel is so much better when prepared at home. The trick is to remove all the bitter white layer, leaving only the flavorful peel. My husband questioned why I'd take the trouble and the time to do such a thing. I explained that using all the usable bits of our food purchases is just plain good sense. [Anything left foes in the compostor]. It's also a rather calming activity much like whittling which the act of paring away the white layer very much resembles.
I have also done a lot more cooking and have espoused the whole foods movement, serving as much of our intake in its least processed form: whole grain cereals and breads, lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, cage free chicken eggs, fresh herbs, antibiotic free chicken and beef. I use more agave nectar, honey and molasses than refined or brown sugar though I am not completely weaned from the last two. My menus this month have included eggplant Parmesan, chicken Parmesan, chicken cacciatore. chicken cutlets in a shallot and white wine reduction, quiche, Western omelets, pasta bolognese, mac and cheese and homemade chicken soup. The occasional pizza and burger from The Filling Station have slipped into the mix bur not anywhere near as frequently as in the bad old days of irregular late night schedules.