So I’ve discovered three terrific things here at the end of 2004 that are about to carry into 2005 and undoubtedly improve it.
First, I have a pizzelle iron, thanks to some great family friends who have known me since I was a zygote. Witty and eccentric folks, they gave it to me as a wedding present, lo, these many years ago, along with groovy accompanying tunes. I had monkeyed with this amusing kit a bit in the past, enough to know I dug the concept and that the cookies were about a billion times better than the ones you could buy. However, it wasn’t until this year that I decided to blow off Christmas fudgemaking (sure, it’s a euphamism, too) and instead make pizzelli for the holidays.
Now, making fudge, even with a pretty easy recipe, is time-consuming and involves a lot of rushing around, not to mention precision, and it’s messy. Whereas pizzelle making is yet another Italian delight. First off, you get to sit down. No need to stand around–where the hell do you need to be? Fix your batter in the kitchen (eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, baking powder, flour) for a couple of minutes, then heat up the iron and have a seat. Sure, pour some vino into a jelly jar and have at it while you’re “baking,” because when making any sort of Italian foodstuff, all the laughing and singing and music and drinking and carrying on and enjoying of life that you do WHILE the food is cooking ends up IN the food. That is the true secret of excellent Italian cuisine. It’s also why it takes a little while to do it right, why if you have a good time and use decent ingredients, it’s hard to make it wrong, and why it’s so fantastic and like no other food in the world. It’s magic.
Pizzelli are no exception. You have a seat with the iron (kinda like a small waffle iron) and your batter and your vino and get comfortable. You drop some batter onto the iron and clamp it down. Sometimes a little of the dough escapes. That’s okay because it’s really tasty. Sometimes the steam squeaks when you clamp down the iron. That’s okay too, because it’s funny. As a process, pizzelle making is warm, it’s steamy, it smells wonderful, and each beautiful pizzelle takes less than a minute to happen. You pop it out, leave it to cool, and put some more dough in there. After, like, 20 minutes or so, you’ve got a pile of beautiful, warm pizzelli that are just crisping up. And man, are people thrilled to get them–even more than fudge! Because the best part is the crisp delicate flavor and texture of the cookies (made extra-nice if you beat the eggs until they’re a bit foamy when making the batter). They’re a little drier than heavy American cookies, because you’re supposed to eat Italian cookies with coffee, or hot chocolate, or wine, or Italian soda, or Sambuca, or whatever. You don’t just sit around chomping on a whole box of the things in front of the TV. You enjoy them while you’re enjoying other stuff too.
Anyway, I love them, and I love making them. It’s joyous fun, with delightful results. I also discovered a fantastic pizzelle website with zillions of different recipes, some of which I tried, and they were GREAT! Plus, it was the only site out there I found that was anything like it. I plan to make a LOT of pizzelli from here on out. Now that I’ve done it in larger batches and it gets even better, I can’t wait to do more.
The second thing I discovered was juicing. If you’ve seen Sucks/Doesn’t Suck lately, you already know how way better drinking your vegetables is than eating them. Me, I might be convinced to eat a stalk of raw celery with a gun to my head, but celery juice is quite nice and requires no coercion at all. Phillip gave me a juicer for Christmas, and I juiced a few things we had lying around (carrots, apples, squirrel heads…), and they were SO GOOD! Incredibly refreshing and yummy, felt nourishing going down, concentrated interesting flavors, and then I felt terrific all day. I totally understand why people get to be total psychos when proslytizing about juicing. Maybe as Americans, our bodies can’t handle that much direct nutrition without getting a little wonky. I have books, I have juicer, I have fruits and vegetables, and I am curious and keen to experiment. I anticipate daily servings of fresh juice, and daily pulpings for the garden.
In addition to the nutritional and physical benefits, juicing is crazy fun (the books ALL harp on vitamins, but none of them talk about the fun part–it’s like eating your vegetables all over again–they are totally missing the point). You cut vegetables and fruits into just-small-enough pieces to fit down the chute, turn that sucker on, and start shoving stuff into it. Seriously, you get a little plastic shover. So you shove bits of fruits and vegetables in there, and in a matter of a few minutes, you have a big ol’ glass of fresh, cool juice. Nice. Plus, if you make beet juice, not only is the pulp a really beautiful color, but the whole kitchen looks like a CSI episode.
The third thing is my new skill for 2005. In 2004, it was juggling. I’m still practicing and getting better, but I think I can say with confidence that I juggle. I’ll work on fancier juggling, but I also want to try something new. Are you ready? It’s knitting. I’m learning how to knit.
Now, you know that I really like some frumpy things, and that I think if you are a foxy, voluptous mama, you can make any number of frumpy things look pretty sexy. You probably guessed that I LOVE yarn, especially all the groovy textures one can mess with nowadays. You may not know that I have always wanted to learn how to knit, and that several people have tried and failed to teach me. You probably don’t know that knitting is what’s hot in the streets. I didn’t. Lisa, who is an excellent source of such information, told me about “Stitch ‘n’ Bitch” groups that are springing up all over the country. Ah, creative, social multitasking for today’s hip, happening, busy, sassy woman. Then, the other day, I was in the bookstore looking for a good book or two about juicing, and I came across some neat little knitting books, and it was all over.
I highly recommend Knit Wit, a great little hands-free stand-up book for beginners and lapsed knitters. It features terrific illustrated directions, and a friendly, easy, funny style with lots of encouragement. It also has something like 20 groovy projects from cute hats to bags to sweaters to slippers… everything in there is something you would like to have–and like to make. Last night, I learned a two-needle method of casting on from another pretty good book, mostly because the instructions for the one-needle method were a little too telegraphic to follow. I’m sure I can learn it from Knit Wit, though, and someone out there is getting a six-foot green scarf from me pretty soon!
Thursday, December 30th 2004
Late-breaking rave reviews
posted @ 5:41 pm in [ - ]