Right now we are at the height of ramsons season here in Denmark (ramsløg in Danish). I'd never encountered them before, and I assume it is because it is native to Europe and so not generally found in the US. They are quite fashionable in Danish kitchens these days. Ramsons are a member of the Allium family, kin to garlic, onions and chives. The flavor is a great blend somewhere between garlic and chive, and you can eat the whole kit and kaboodle: leaves, bulbs, and flowers. We've been using them in various ways from simply adding them as salad greens, to making a pretty kickin' pesto. They are great in a omelet as well. I've also heard tell of making ramsons capers from pickling the flower buds, which I'm dying to try out since I have a deep, deep love of capers and garlicy ones sound divine. I'm hoping to go bud picking this week since the buds are just starting to come up.
One year ago I gave away most of my belongings, packed my bags and left home, or at least what had been home. I was running away from a life that had left me confused and feeling stranded, and running towards... something else. I knew not what. I've been living in various cities for the last year: Dublin, Copenhagen, London, Edinburgh, and Montevideo, with stops in other places for shorter periods (San Francisco, New York, Vancouver). When I was in Ireland, the first place I landed after leaving Maryland, I got myself a tattoo of the constellations of the Big and Little Bears, or the North Star and its pointer stars. I was trying to find direction again.
This Friday I am returning briefly to my favorite city, Copenhagen, only to shoot off again and go on vacation for the first time in years (that's a whole post in and of itself). On Saturday it turns out that there will be a event called Geek Girl Meetup Copenhagen (in Danish). There was such a huge response that the organizers had to close registration until they could find a larger venue. Hell yeah!
I signed up out of reflex even though it will be largely in Danish (um, jeg taler ikke Dansk?). I mean, I'm a geek. And I'm a girl. And all of the geek girls I know in Copenhagen are going too (and apparently a ton who I don't know). Even if I can't understand many of the sessions, I'll be spending my time chatting up with other girls who identify as geeks. Then today, one of those friends, Mary, went ahead and posted something thoughtful about it all, passing on Henriette Weber's blog baton. I do indeed have some thoughts on geekiness. (Jeez, Mary, making me blog and all.)
Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Of course, in my normal fashion, I decided to not use the recipes provided but to make one up and just use the guidelines for the wrapping and cooking. I've never made dolmas before, so this was a fun one to just make up as I went. However, I did pay attention to the cooking directions, though not quite as well as I should have....
Well I've moved on again. I spent the summer in Copenhagen and loved every minute of it, but my time on my visa is running out so I had to leave the Schengen Area. As my time ticked down I needed to figure out where to go next - the whole world is open to me. I'm still pretty partial to Europe though, and thankfully the UK and Ireland do not partake in Schengen visas. I spent part of the spring in Dublin and considered returning, but I want to try a variety of places, so I set my sights on London for the rest of the year. I've only visited the city twice, and I had a great time on both trips.
The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale. I didn't decide to do anything locale-specific but since it is a beautiful summer here, I opted to make mine with fresh fruit, as a dessert pierogi. I'd never seen or heard of a dessert pierogi but it sounded like a fun little challenge.
I had a little bit of an advantage on this one because Camilla made her challenge for dinner for us before I got around to doing mine. That gave me an opportunity to assess the general pierogi-making experience and things to keep in mind in my go.
I'm on to my second Daring Kitchen challenge, which is on the baking side of things. The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home. This has a few moving parts so it was recommended to do the challenge over two days. I'm no masochist so that's what I did, and I'm glad. First you need to make a swiss roll, then two flavors of ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Once the various components are ready you have to assemble it into a bombe. This was a good challenge for me since I haven't made a sponge cake swiss roll since my childhood days helping my mom make Bûche de Noël for Christmas, and I have never made ice cream before.
I love fresh-baked cookies. A lot of people do. I'm particularly stuck on the fresh-baked aspect and regular cookies which have been sitting around for a day or more are, well, just less interesting to me. I may poke at them out of boredom if I'm having a sweet craving. Store bought cookies in particular can sit on a counter for weeks without raising my interest. So I make my own cookies and gleefully eat them right out of the oven, but I also don't need to be wolfing down two dozen fresh cookies in one sitting. Years ago when I was in this quandary of how to make small batches, I decided that actually mixing up small batches was stupid and frustrating, so I turned to the master of food longevity: the freezer.
Last month I joined the Daring Kitchen. It is a site for cooks to come together and try to cook the same challenge recipe, then report back on their blogs. They have two kinds of challenges, one for Bakers and one for Cooks. I signed up for both, since I love both of those adventures in the kitchen. I love the idea of having a goal to accomplish and being presented with things that I might not ever venture to cook, either through uncertainty or just not knowing or thinking of it.
This is also a great way to challenge my nomad kitchen. I move around and rent places as I go. I don't have my own kitchen, and I'm limited to what my rentals give me. The only kitchen tools I pack with me are my Mac chef's knife, a sharp paring knife, a digital scale, a Flavour Shaker, and US measuring cups and spoons. So cooking recipes that are often designed for someone in control of their own kitchen can be quite fun. I do love the challenge though, and I'm excited about being a part of the Daring Kitchen now too.