|Does a little gnome live inside there? Maybe.|
Yay for chilly weather! Yay for rain and woodstove fires and soup, soup, soup, soup! Yay for fall, except for how the leaves are more just dropping and brownly rotting than doing their glamorous flaming-colors thing! We spent the weekend hiding out under lots of blankets and eating lots of popcorn and drinking lots of tea and playing lots of board games. At least the children and I did. Michael was reuning with his youth, back in St. Louis. Also, seeing his ex not-girlfriend, the one on whom he had a crush through all of junior high, and I was very jealous. She probably still looks great in her blond braids and field hockey skirt, while I have turned into a kind of solo version of Planet of the Apes. Sigh.
|It is hard to take a picture of the weather, I find. It reminds me of that great book Painting the Wind.|
But the kids, the cat, and I, despite missing Michael, which we did extremely much, were in what Birdy calls “cozy heaven.” It was all we could do to leave the house, but finally, just before dinner last night, we bundled up and headed out into the soggy world to see what was going on out there. And what was going on out there was mushrooms. I have a field guide from the library, and let me tell you how different poisonous mushrooms look from edible mushrooms: not at all different. I could not successfully identify one single mushroom, and it was not for lack of squatting in the sodden pine needles and flipping confusedly through my book. We saw lots of the mushrooms that Birdy calls “fairy umbrellas” (“They must be so glad to have them in all this rain!” she says with absolute seriousness.) We saw mushrooms that looked like piles of white dog poo, mushrooms that looked like coral, like a little orange turkey wattle, like a yellow penis, like decorative wood-grain shelves scaling the trunk of a tree. We saw mushrooms no bigger than dots, on stems the width of a hair, and Birdy called these “Baby fairy parasols.” Still, I could figure out nothing.
Fear not (Mom): I wasn’t actually going to eat anything. While it’s true that I do eat puffballs and morels, it’s only because they are the mushrooms that nothing else looks anything like, and because the puffballs in our back yard grow to the size of basketballs and I simply cannot say no to so much free food. But what I really want to do is go walking with a some kind of a fungal mentor who can show me the ropes. “Oooh,” I kept saying, squatting over this or that specimen. “This is probably edible. Oh, wait, unless it’s this. . . Avenging Angel. Hm.” Birdy was very nervous, despite my reassurances that we weren’t going to have any special Omelets of Death or Straight-to-Heaven Stirfrys for dinner.
Of course not. Because it’s soup weather! Soup and popovers, a meal that I love. From the time the popover-shaped light bulb goes off over your head to the time you are pulling the pan from the oven a single half an hour will pass, which works well for me. Popovers are eggy and delicious, custardy-soft inside and buttery-crisp outside, and very, very cheap to make. They also make great scoopers for soup (for the hoop-soup-snoop group), although they’re great with jam for breakfast. The only possible tricky thing is the issue of the pan. My dear old friend Ali gave me this popover pan years ago, and much as I dislike single-function kitchen gear, I do love it. They rise up high and glorious, and they never stick. That said, I used to make them in a muffin tin, and it went okay, though they stuck sometimes. I have heard of using well-buttered custard cups, and I’m interested in that as well. Oh wait—the only other problem is that they very, very occasionally don’t puff up. “Perhaps there’s a draft in your oven,” my mother would say, Britishly, and that would seem to explain it.
A note: The enthusiasm over the last post makes me a) love you, and b) think I should call this blog “Pizza Toast.” And every week I publish the recipe for pizza toast.
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes (plus 10 minutes to heat the oven)
These are easy and good, and if I weren’t outvoted on this issue, I would snip fresh chives and marjoram into the batter, which is how I love them best. Annoyingly, the recipe actually usually makes only 11 popovers, no matter how stingy I think I’m being as I pour the batter.
1 cup milk
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
3 tablespoons salted butter
Begin by preheating the oven to 450, then place a nonstick 12-well muffin tin on a middle rack to heat for five or so minutes while you mix the batter. Whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, and salt until it’s all mostly mixed (a few lumps are fine). Now cut the butter into 12 slivers, pop one piece into each well of the hot muffin tin, and return the tin to the oven until the butter is melted and foamy. Fill each cup half full with batter (use all the batter), then bake for 15-20 minutes (don’t open the oven door to peek before then) until the popovers are puffed and brown. Serve immediately.
|You have to admit that this is not a lot of ingredients.|
|And the batter is not overly attractive.|
|But check that out! Alchemy. Quick! Rush them to the table while they're still glorious and puffy!|
|Ben scoops up the 7-bean soup that I was developing for ChopChop. More on that soon. I topped it with cheese, and it was delicious, if a little bit like being a commercial for Silly String.|
|I haven't seen the back of her head since she got that hoodie. Birdy Wan Kenobi.|
|I'm not sure why I took this picture. Maybe just to lure Michael back from St. Louis with my man hands.|
|Yes, sometimes things deflate and get soft, and it's sad, but not that big a deal, and definitely nobody's fault.|