Home making

Having the C/Karls around has done wonders for my cooking. I do more of it. And it’s more inspired. And I think nothing of having an impromptu Wednesday-(or Monday, or any) night dinner party these days.

It’s also done wonders for my eating: Carl makes no-knead bread twice a week. And his granola is not only orders of magnitude tastier and costs a quarter the price of the store-bought kind, it also makes the apartment smell like a coconut paradise (personal horn-tooting: I try to contribute to the ambient coconut fragrance by making toasted coconut ice cream every other week). Karl has made it his mission to conquer cookies of all kinds, starting with the molasses cookie:

Three trials later, the Cook’s Illustrated orange zest-sugar topped specimen has emerged the winner. (Alice Waters’s version was a total baking soda-saturated disappointment.)

And cooking with Carl has pleasantly surprised me in many little ways; I’ve learned a lot from him. Mostly about being openminded about solving problems. (I’ve forgotten how to be an engineer.) For example: I’m pretty religious about getting good salted, high-butterfat-content butter for my bread (unsalted for cooking and baking), and what with all the bread in the house these days, we go through butter like you wouldn’t believe. And of course, one day we were out of all the salted kind, and Carl just picked up the Maldon and shook it all over the butter — which, of course, worked like a charm. Totally obvious, perhaps, but though I know all about compound butters, I, for whatever reason, felt constrained to only letting the buttermaker put the salt in my butter. And I’m pretty sure a lot of other food people are the same (corroborate or refute, please?). Also, though Carl maintains that he’s a pretty strict recipe guy, he’s come up with some pretty brilliant things recently. Tonight, for instance:

Chickpeas with sautéed sliced garlic, cilantro, black olives, anchovy paste, lemon juice, and mustard seeds. So, so tasty.

Living with the C/Karls means there is no going hungry. Not that I ever had that problem.

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