In what could have been the most expensive raclette ever, I almost get rid of my oven! Last weekend, to fight the ongoing cold wave, we decided to have a raclette with mountain cheese and potatoes, but the raclette machine (mostly a resistance to melt the cheese) had an electric issue and kept blowing the meter. We then decided to use the over to melt the cheese but, while giving all signs of working, it would not heat. Rather than a cold raclette, we managed with the microwave (!), but I though the oven had blown as well. The next morning, I still checked on the web for similar accidents and found the explanation: by pressing the proper combination of buttons, we had succeeded to switch the over into the demo mode, used by shops to run the oven with no heating. The insane part of this little [very little] story is that nowhere in the manual appeared any indication of an existing demo mode and of a way of getting back to normal! After pushing combinations of buttons at random, I eventually got the solution and the oven is again working, instead of standing in the recycling bin.
Archive for cooking
As I could not book my “usual” maths house on the campus of the University of Warwick, I searched for another accommodation and discovered a nice shared house in the countryside (next to my standard running route), run by the Warwick Institute of Advanced Study, and called Cryfield Grange. As seen from the pictures, the building itself is impressive, even though there is not much left inside of its Tudor foundations, except some unexpected steps in the middle of some rooms and a few remaining black beams; it is also quite enjoyable for a week visit, with a large kitchen where I made rice pudding and pissaladière for the whole week, and a bike path to the University. I will definitely try to get there in the summer, as it must be even more enjoyable!
I often make bruschettas on Friday night, if only because they are easy to cook and make a light and warm dinner. However, I usually make them with toasted Poilane bread and with a mix of tomatoes and Normandy butter…! Last evening, I tried a new recipe where eggplants replace bread (and are sliced, psrinkled with olive oil, then baked for 20 minutes) and topped with pesto and quickly boiled tomatoes (to peel the skin away). This is quite different a taste, with the eggplants providing a soft and fresh counterpoint to the topping, and I think I will move to this recipe from now on!
A series of pictures showed a urban greenhouse in Le Monde today showed a proposal for a spiral greenhouse that would grow vegetables next to cities. The greenhouse is presented as a way to recover lost arable lands and “to grow local and eco-friendly crops in an urban environment“. I do see some appeal in producing vegetables nearby cities since this would reduce transportation costs and in using greenhouses to efficiently muster water utilisation and recycling, and to take advantage of the sun. However, I do not see mentioned some obvious difficulties with the project:
- having greenhouses within cities is a cool look, but nobody mentions the potential quality of the products delivered by those greenhouses. Artificial air (I would not want car exhaust and heavy metals to enter my tomatoes), artificial soil (recycled compost?), artificial nutrients, and artificial water (in that it would be delivered via pipes from recycling plants, not by rain). Some tomatoes are already tasting very poorly (like those delivered from the Costa Plastica during winter) and I am not optimistic about the futur products of those greenhouses!
- arable lands are getting scarser, true, but land plots in cities are also getting more and more expensive. The economic worth of the venture may thus be limited (even though nothing prohibit to build those greenhouses further away from cities). The journal mentions a cost of 21 million euros per structure, amounting to 2 million euros per hectare, and this does not include the price of land. Even with one production per month, this is very unlikely to be worth the expense for basic products.
- given the current adverse reactions to the installation of wind turbines, I fear neighbours won’t welcome those greenhouses so warmly! Especially because they will involve traffic, in and out, as swell as nuisances (noise, garbage)…
This may sound grumpy and all that, but using much more efficiently water and soil in natural environments would seem much more useful…
I only recently figured out that cooking tiramisu was much easier than it looked! All you need is mascarpone cheese and ladyfinger biscuits. You briefly beat the mascarpone with heavy cream, quickly dip the biscuits in strong coffee, build up layers of each, and end up by spreading pure unsweeted cocoa on top. Et voilà!
For more than two months now, I have been cooking apple crumble most evenings. Many reasons for that: an easy way to have my kids eating fruits (albeit cooked hence loosing some of the benefits!), apples are really cheap at this time of year, especially those produced locally that I can store for months in my cellar, it takes about 5 minutes to prepare, mostly pealing the apples, it can cook at the same time as a main dish and it warms the kitchen (which is very cold at this time of the year). The recipe for the crumble cover is quite simple: mix 50g of melted butter, 75g of brown sugar, four tablespoons of flour and as much cinamon as you like with a fork then your finger. Cook at a low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, until the crumble cover is hard enough. Usually, the dish just lasts the single meal!