velithya has a cold and wanted comfort food for dinner. Specifically, macaroni and cheese. (In actual case, pasta spirals and cheese sauce, but the concept is there.) I made the cheese sauce, and am now going to post the recipe, because she liked it and YOU CAN'T STOP ME.|
Sami's Cheese Sauce
- a bit of butter
- a bit of flour
- a pinch of salt
- a lot of milk
- a bunch of grated cheese
(Approximate quantities used tonight: about 1 tbsp of butter, 2 tbsp of gluten-free plain flour, 1 litre of milk, 2-3 cups of grated low-fat cheddar. Australian cheddar, the yellow kind. Not weird orange American cheddar. Like, Coon, or Bega, or whatever, I can't even remember, but standard cheese.)
Cook in either a saucepan or a jug/bowl, depending on whether you're doing it stovetop or microwave. Either works.
You will also need either a spoon or a whisk. I prefer using a French whisk because it's trivial that way to keep the sauce from having any lumps in it, but a spoon works too. (If your saucepan has a non-stick coating, then you'll have to use a wooden spoon and like it, or else destroy your saucepan.)
Put butter in cooking container, and heat it up until it's melted. Add flour, stir together thoroughly. Heat some more, until the flour/butter mixture looks sort of like a honeycomb.
Add some milk. About a cup's worth, NOT all the milk. Add a pinch of salt. Not a big pinch. Stir it all together *thoroughly*, then return to heat. On the stove, stir gently every minute or so until it starts to thicken. In the microwave, put it on for two minutes at a time until it starts to thicken up.
This can take several minutes at this point because the milk was cold, but it *will* start to thicken. If I'm doing it in the microwave, I generally miss the "starts to thicken" window and take it out at "oh, wow, it's all thick now", but that's fine, because I use a French whisk, so it doesn't end up lumpy. If you're using a spoon, you want to avoid it thickening too much at once, because lumps.
Add a bit more milk, stir it in thoroughly, then heat it some more. (Microwave: about 90 seconds at a time, generally.) Gradually add milk until you have about as much sauce as you want. If you want *moar sauce* you more-or-less just need to add more milk. If it's not getting thick enough, add a little bit more flour.
When you're happy with your quantity of sauce, add in the cheese, a handful at a time, and stir it in so it melts/dissolves into the sauce.
You have achieved sauce!
You can add stuff into it, and it will be delicious: chopped up ham, eggs, chicken for protein, and it works nicely with just about every kind of vegetable.
Serve over the pasta of your choice.
So, I'm weeks behind on the internet again, because due to Various Things, including a newly-acquired total inability to sleep (thanks to the assistance of sleeping pills, I can get five hours of restless sleep, HOORAY), my brain and I are really rather struggling at the moment.|
If I loved you before, I still love you just as much, I'm just barely keeping body and soul together here.
What else is helping: Yesterday I tried sago pudding again, and it was PERFECT.
Now, my first attempt was good - call it 80% - but my second attempt was absolute, total failure. (Well, near-total. The goop still tasted okay, it was just goop.)
Third attempt was yesterday, and it came out, seriously, PERFECT.
So, here is Sami's Recipe For Sago Pudding That Totally Really Works.
INGREDIENTS: Sago, fruit juice (flavour is your choice, but avoid citrus if you want to have it with cream), brown sugar, pinch of salt, water.
Step 1: Put sago/tapioca seed pearls (same thing) in a bowl. A much, much bigger bowl than you have sago. I used about 2/3 of a cup of sago - note that this will, in the end, require a large saucepan to cook. Assume that you're going to end up with ten to fifteen times as much pudding as you start out with in volume of seeds.
Step 2: Add water. Lots of water. Like, six times as much water as sago, minimum.
Step 3: Leave this to soak. Recipes I've seen on the internet for sago pudding say "soak for an hour", but they clearly do not aim their recipes at people like me (which is to say, people who would probably be as easily distracted as the average kitten even if we didn't have ADHD, which we do), so let's just say that you leave it to soak for "a while". I think I went back to it two or three hours later, having at one point glanced at it, found that the water level was barely keeping up with the sago, and added some more water. Whatever.
Step 4: Drain the sago. I sort of half-rinsed it, in that some of the sago was sticking to the bowl when I poured it into a sieve, so I put some more water in the bowl, swished it around, and poured that onto the sieve as well. The water was still coming off cloudy, but you want *some* starchy stickiness in the pudding, you see. (Thorough rinsing was something I tried with Attempt 2, but a lot went wrong with attempt 2, and I don't know whether that was one of the problems.)
Step 5: Put the sago in a large saucepan BIGGER THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED.
Step 6: Pour juice into the saucepan, so the level's a little higher than the sago. Add brown sugar - I used about two tablespoons of Dark Brown Sugar, the kind that's about as raw as you can get and still call it sugar. It's less purely sweet than white sugar. (Because I live in Australia, sugar, to me, is cane sugar, by the way.)
Step 7: Add a pinch of salt. This is vital! Remember, a pinch of salt in sweet, and a pinch of sweet in savoury. (ONLY A PINCH, dammit. American Processed Food Industry, stay the hell away from me with your high fructose corn syrup bullsugar.) Again, just a pinch, though, no-one wants salty fruity sago pudding.
Step 8: Bring to the boil, then simmer. Stir frequently. Periodically, add more juice as the liquid is absorbed/reduced. Occasionally, taste the liquid; if you reach the point (I did) where it seems like more juice will make it too strongly-flavoured/oversweet (I was using Apple and Blackcurrant juice yesterday), start adding water instead.
You will start to see that some of the seeds have gone transparent - it initially appears as if darker glops are forming in your cloudy juice-coloured pudding stuff. This is good! Your pudding is done when the cloudiness is gone, and the seeds are no longer white at all; instead, your pudding should now be a mass of jewel-like orbs the colour of your juice, holding together stickily. (Maybe I should post a photo at some point.)
Eat at any temperature; if juice choice and dietary requirements suit, could be served with cream or ice cream, or in all sorts of ways, really.
A stranger is parked in our driveway today.|
This morning, a middle-aged Chinese woman, who smiled a lot and was very polite and very very earnest, knocked on the door AND rang the bell and asked - pleaded, almost - if she could park in our driveway.
I couldn't quite make out where she needed to go, because she had an extremely strong accent and I'm not totally sure she was saying that part in English (she seemed to be having a somewhat stressful morning and English was clearly not her primary language; she might have forgotten to), but I think, from what I could make out and from her gestures, she was going to Princess Margaret Hospital For Children, which is walking-distance from our house.
There's very limited parking there and in this area.
However, I was willing to believe her need was genuine, given that she left her car key here in case we needed to move her car out of the way.
Sure, we're not going to steal her car, because patently, if nothing else, she knows where we live, but there's a fair amount of trust involved in leaving the key to it here, regardless.
I couldn't say no, and didn't. I was almost certainly going to say yes regardless, because she seemed very genuine, but if she's desperate enough to leave the key to her car here, she's definitely in real need, and the possibility that it will be A Problem is slim, because hey, I can move her car if I have to.
Of course, unless it's an emergency, I don't plan to do anything with her key but leave it on the table where I can be sure to find it easily when she comes back.
Still. Disconcerting moment, that. Despite the fact that we live in an area where parking is at a severe premium at the best of times, that's never actually happened before.
Meanwhile, today I've been cooking things.
First, my own invented Chocolate Custard Mousse, because I have a couple of friends coming over, who both love it. (Although the younger of the two was less than a year old last time he had it, I think, so it will probably be a fresh surprise.) I wanted to make it very fresh so that it wouldn't at all risk being pregnancy-unfriendly, since the older of my guests is in fact pregnant and already miserable with morning sickness, so I hardly want to give her food poisoning.
This is how you make it:
Step 1: Make custard. I use gluten-free custard powder, which I also find tastes better anyway, but this is up to you. Make it a reasonably thick custard.
Step 2: When the custard is about done, break up some chocolate and melt it into the custard, stirring gently until it's all melted and spread evenly through. (Doesn't have to be perfect, because this stuff will be whipped later.)
Step 3: Allow to cool. If making for pregnant friends and wanting to be paranoid, check regularly; when it has reached a state of reasonable coolness, proceed to step 4 without delay.
Step 4: Transfer to mixing bowl Add some whipping cream. (You'll note quantities are inexact; they don't have to be very exact, is why, and it depends how much you want to end up with.) Whip as if it were cream until it acquires a paler colour and a fluffier look.
It will be tasty.
I am also working on making sago pudding, but I'm not going to risk posting a recipe until I see if it works.
The thing with that is that my mother used to make a sago pudding when I was a kid that I *loved* - then Mum didn't make it for ages, and she forgot how. Most of the recipes I see for sago pudding-type things involve milk, which is patently wrong - the one my mother made was translucent and made with fruit juice, not milky and blurgh.