Lots of fun with the whole cooking/baking/etc thing in the last month or so. First off, I've been baking all sorts of bread, and it's been going well. I'd have to say that I have the baguette down pat now. I'm sure if I ever go to Paris, I'll feel like I've been making some sorry bread, but everything is relative. I'm getting a good rise, I'm shaping the loaves well, and when they come out of the oven they have good color and the texture is great. And they never last for long. I've basically memorized the proportions of ingredients and how to put them all together, which is something I never do.
About two weeks ago I finally went ahead and bought some cheesemaking supplies, and I made some chevre. All in all, it wasn't that hard, although it's an easy cheese. Basically I heated up some goats' milk, added in some culture, and let it sit overnight. The next morning I ladled the curds into some cheesecloth and let them drain. The draining process was interesting because I didn't really want to hang it over the sink all the time, so I set up this contraption where I could drain the whey into a container and put it all on the stove. This was also good because it was incredibly cold when I was making this stuff (below zero outside), so every now and then I turned on the oven to keep the room temperature up a bit. The cheese drained for about 24 hours, and when it was done it was nice and dry and spreadable.
Last weekend we had a pizza party. This was great on many levels. First. making pizza is fun, and this was no exception. Han got me American Pie by Peter Reinhart for Christmas, and it's a great book, entirely devoted to making pizza. I made two crust recipes from it - a 'New York' style crust, and a slightly thinner Neapolitan crust. We premade a bunch of toppings - some basic tomato sauce, some carmelized shallots, roasted peppers, some spinach, artichoke hearts, a little jar of pesto, and a couple of other things. More than once all of those ingredients and more found their way onto the top of a pizza. Once all that was done, we all had sundaes for dessert, and that was the bomb.
But what was really great was that this was the first party we had in our house that felt really comfortable and fun. We're developing a group of friends here in town, all basically our age, and all sharing a bunch of interests and getting along really well. For once we weren't stressed out, like we were for our housewarming and Thanksgiving. There was lots of wine and good conversation, and when the food was all gone people started dancing in our teenly little den. It was really great, and I can't wait to do it again.