It's been a long time since I've posted! The longest, actually, since I started this blog a year ago. I'm not sure exactly why it's taken me this long to get back to the blog. Sure, I've been busy at work, but I've certainly had busier months (it hasn't been totally laid back, but it's not nicknamed the "VA spa" for nothing). And it's not like I haven't been cooking: last night we had my favorite pasta, and tonight we're having bulgogi (Korean barbecued beef) with mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. There have been recipes I've wanted to write about here, and I've even started, but not finished, a couple of blog posts. They didn't seem inspired, so I'm not sure I'll ever finish them.
Somehow, the very fact that I hadn't updated in so long made the decision about what to post today momentous. I felt like whatever I wrote about had to be good, creative, unique: a veritable humdinger of a recipe, to make up for the fact that I haven't written in such a long time. I'll leave it to you to decide whether this recipe meets those exacting criteria.
Here's what's happened since I last updated. Some people have asked about the holidays. We had a wonderful, joint family Christmas in Tahoe. B and I know that we are so lucky that our families get along! We only went skiing for one day at Squaw.
Both sibling pairs and my dad hung out on the chair lift, but we separated when we got to the top of the mountain. You see, B is an expert skier who likes hills as steep as possible or as many moguls as possible or (in a perfect world) a run that combines both.
Since we only went skiing for one day, I bet you're wondering what we did the rest of the time. I have one photo, and three words for you: Beatles Rock Band.
It's a good thing we stayed in a house and not a condo, because we were pretty loud. BRB, if you haven't played, is an awesome game.
Once we got back from Tahoe, I went back to work to cover the New Year's holiday, and have been pretty busy since then. Because work is work, and not blog-worthy, today I want to tell you about a really nice day off that I had. Because of my ridiculous schedule, I only had one weekend day off in January—last Sunday—and I was determined to make the most of it. For lunch, RK brought over Arizmendi pizza (one of B's and my favorite lunch treats), and then we three went to go see the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo. You see that lump in the foreground near the boardwalk? You may wonder idly whether it's a shiny rock, or the biggest slug anyone's ever seen. Nope, it's 5000 pounds of male elephant seal. In the background you can see another elephant seal, raising its head, inflating its proboscis, and making a (very loud) guttural cry. We heard a lot of that on our guided hike.
The elephant seals, which were almost hunted to extinction in the 1800s (much of that 5000 pounds is blubber that was used as lamp oil), return to several breeding grounds along the coast of California every winter. The place that you can get closest to them is Ano Nuevo State Park on Highway 1. Ano Nuevo island is off the coast, behind one of the main beaches where the female seals give birth to their pups.
I think that anyone who lives in Northern California should venture to the coast at least once to see the seals; they form a very impressive, dynamic sight. Two tips: it's windy, so dress in plenty of layers; also, you have to reserve tickets ahead of time.
While the elephant seals were great, this is a blog about food. And I haven't told you about what we had for breakfast last Sunday, which is the recipe I want to tell you about today. I've told you before how much I like cooking breakfast on lazy Sunday mornings. Also, I've been looking for a recipe for popovers basically since we came back from our trip to Maine two summers ago. We went to Acadia several times while we were in Bar Harbor, and twice visited the Jordan Pondhouse, which is famous for their delicious popovers.
I mentioned my search for a popover recipe to A a few weeks ago after reading Mark Bittman's article about Yorkshire pudding, and, lo and behold, A is a bonafide popover connoisseur. Apparently, she grew up eating popovers many weekend mornings, and has tried several popover recipes. I've only tried the one recipe below that she sent to me, and only with butter and jam, but I can imagine lots of variations, including the savory applications that Bittman suggests. (A recommends "slathering them with buttery and honey." B crossed the line between sweet and savory by using R's strawberry-jalapeno jam on his.)
Popovers are basically crepe batter. As there's no leavening, I'm mystified as to what causes them to rise so beautifully in the oven, but rise they invariably do. I don't have an official popover pan, but I actually liked the muffin-sized servings I ended up making. The popovers were a delicious breakfast, and made me pine for another summer in Maine at the Jordan Pondhouse. Sometimes I wish I had the kind of life that would allow me to use "summer" as a verb.
Instead of clear skies and hikes through Acadia, though, I'm stuck with being on call tomorrow and rain in the forecast for the next few days. At least I now have a good popover recipe. I promise it won't be so long until I post again. Until then, enjoy!
Adapted from The Bread Bible
Makes: 11-12 muffin-sized popovers, or 6 regular-sized popovers
Time: 15 min active, 1 3/4 hours total
1 c. milk (I used nonfat)
1 c. flour
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 t. salt
In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs until foamy, approximately 60 seconds with a hand-mixer. Add milk, flour, butter, and salt, and beat until just smooth, being careful not to overmix. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
Generously grease 12 muffin cups (my silicone muffin mold worked better than my metal tin). Pour batter until cups are 2/3 full.
Place in cold oven, and set temperature to 375. Bake for 30 minutes. Take popovers out, pierce sides to allow steam to escape, and then bake for 5-10 min more until firm and golden brown. Cool briefly, then release by running a knife around the edge.