[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

A Seahorse Called Gluttony
23 November 2010

[Seahorse shaped cake] Earlier in November, I mentioned making sausage for a medieval event. At that event, one of the recipes called for almond milk and the head cook made it on-site. This meant that we had about two pounds of almond mush with most of the flavor pulled out of it. Still, my abhorrence of waste collied with medieval ideals of illusion food and the result was Gluttony the Seahorse. (The idea of an allegory in which the sin of gluttony was defeated by eating it appealed to my fellow cooks and me, hence the name.)

The main ingredient is about two pounds of crushed almonds left-over from making almond milk. If you don't want to make almond milk, you could probably use just plain almonds run thoroughly through a food processor, or even almond flour, but the final result will be different. If you would like to make almond milk, essential in many medieval recipes, and also good in coffee, the process is pretty straight-forward:

Down and Dirty Almond Milk
Take half of a pound of blanched almonds (or blanch them yourself). Place in a food processor with at least two cups of hot water and as much as a quart, depending on how much and how thick you want the milk. Blitz the heck out of it. Strain the mix through cheesecloth and wring out as much liquid as you can. There are also lots of other almond milk recipes available on the web. You know how to find them.
So, for the main event, let's call it "Almond Soteltie": Mix the almonds with the apple juice and flour. If you want to add some sugar and/or honey to sweeten the mix, feel free. More apple juice will also sweeten it, of course, but then you may have to adjust the amount of flour. An egg or two should also help it to set. Ultimately, you are looking for a stiff batter or a loose dough.

Scoop the dough onto a baking sheet. You might want to use a silicon mat or line the sheet with foil or parchment paper. If the dough doesn't at least sort of hold its shape, put it back in the mixing bowl and add a bit more flour. It doesn't need to be structural, but it shouldn't ooze liquid or slump into a shapeless mass. Mold it into roughly the shape you want.

At this point you can pop it into the fridge for a while or go straight into the oven. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes. There should be little or no browning at this point, and your shape may have run together to some extent. (Ours did, in this run.) However, the Soteltie should now have set up enough that you can trim it to the exact shape you want without worrying about it slumping. If it hasn't give it another few minutes in the oven.

Take the nearly-finished soteltie and decorate with fruit, jam and so forth. Gluttony the Seahorse had pears for his mane, jam on his hooves and raisins for an eye. You might also glaze the whole thing with jam, or, as we did, drizzle honey over it. Then back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes to set the glaze, let the fruit cook and so forth.

And serve it forth ...

One of the cooks described the soteltie as tasting more like sugar cookie dough than marzipan, which results from the milk-making process which takes a lot of the lipids (and flavor) out of the almonds. Hardly any almond taste remained. Since most of the sweetening comes from the apple juice (or cider in our case, to be technical) it wasn't overly sweet either. And, of course, it makes a nice presentation piece.


Roasted Brusselsprouts

[Sprouts on their stem]

I love my CSA. It's not perfect, to be sure. Most times I want more onions, for example. And there are never enough brusselsprouts. This week, however, there were brusselsprouts, and they vanished in a twinkling. There are lots of ways to cook the little devils, but this is simple and delicious.

Roasted Brusselsprouts
Take one good stem-worth of brusselsprouts, perhaps two cups, and wash them. Trim off the stems and any bad spots. If they've just come off the stem, some of them may not require any trimming, especially the small ones. Cut the larger ones in half, so that you don't have huge disparities in size. Put them all on a baking sheet. Splash on a few tablespoonfuls of olive oil and then a half-teaspoon of salt or more, depending on your taste. Mix them all up together with your hands and spread in a single layer on the sheet. Pop it into a 375F oven for twenty minutes to start with. At twenty minutes, check to see if they are done enough for you. If not, give the pan a shake and stick it back in for another five minutes. Repeat until they achieve your preferred level of doneness.
© 2010 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite