Successes, Failures, and Snow

Just so you all didn't think that everything I touch turns to gold, I wanted to share some of my recent failures along with my successes. My failures were three-fold. First was a dismal attempt at making a lemon meringue pie. You may not believe it, but I have been making pies since I was a kid. Mainly because I just liked to eat them and no one would make them for me. Now, I'm convinced that I only enjoy making overly complicated and difficult foodstuffs, i.e. cheese, beer, pies. And I still like eating pies. But the high altitude and the fact that I haven't made a pie in like 10 years got the better of me. My pie crust was crumbly, my filling was runny, and my meringue dried out, cracked up and fell. However, I made a couple adjustments, and my coconut cream pie is pretty boss, as you can see.

Probably wouldn't taste much
worse that what came in that
bottle (McCormick Vodka, baby!)
My second failure was making soap. I'm still pretty stuck on the idea of how cool it is that you can make soap from firewood ashes and any kind of fat you have laying around. I think I've gotten the actual act of making soap out of my system though. I'm not entirely sure why it didn't work. I have a feeling it might be due to the relatively soft wood that I'm using (aspen), I'm sure that my lye was not strong enough, and I think I added too much oil. Basically, after hours of sifting ashes, boiling lye, burning my skin with it, and heating oil, I was left with an oily mess that did not resemble soap in the slightest. If I ever did try this again, I think I would try to evaporate the lye to make potassium hydroxide crystals so that I could follow a regular recipe. I also don't think my heart was really in it from the start, since I couldn't eat or drink the end product. (In case any of you were wondering, I get most of my crazy pioneer ideas from one book that Shawn and Ryan Haubenstein gave me for like my 13th birthday. Its pretty much the sweetest outdoors book ever, called Camping and Woodcraft, copyright 1917.)

I also tried to extract orange oil from orange peels, and failed at that as well. I blame the instructions I followed for this, since after reading a little bit more technical writing on the subject, I found that it's not actually possible to extract pure oil from soaking in alcohol as most websites suggest. I'm building up my dried orange peel stock again though, and will attempt to distill the essential oil out of it. I don't have my hopes too high that I'm actually going to accomplish this, but at least it keeps me busy and motivates us to eat all these oranges we somehow acquired.

On the other side of things, my first cheese is done, and I can hardly believe how well it turned out. Since I never have heard of or seen caerphilly cheese before, it was hard to imagine what it was going to taste like. As I said before, the only reason I really made it was because it only took 3 weeks to age, versus 2-3 months minimum for most cheese. Its a lot harder and saltier that I expected. It really reminds me of a little milder & softer version of parmesan, with a nice light tang to it. And I didn't have to age it 2 years! It went over really well with the guests, as did my second batch of cottage cheese. So you can trust me, I've got a second opinion. Up next is my edam, which is ready whenever we finish the caerphilly.

Isn't she purdy?

In other news, we got a solid snow last night. The wind was blowing hard, so its hard to tell how much we really got, but I would guess between 12"-18". I'm sure up higher at the top of the ski resort they got more, maybe as much as 2 ft. I feel some snowshoeing and backcountry skiing in our future...

Guess we're not going out that door. 

Can't wait for that to fall on me while I try to bring in more firewood. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, nice looking coconut pie - you have not lost your touch!! The soap looks good from a distance but from what you describe, maybe it would be best to re-purposed it...not soap that burns your skin?! Not everything from 1917 is good in 2013. I have no suggestions on orange oil but the cheese looks positively perfect!!! Jay, bring the firewood in from the garage - safer! AND what is this I read about no one making pies for you?!? I made chess, apple, cranberry-peach, pumpkin, mincemeat, apricot-raisin, blueberry, many berry, strawberry-rhubarb, peanut butter (from the pie book I got you for your birthday), and cherry... Surely if you do not remember the first 10 varieties, you do remember the cherry. Now tell me you do not remember crawling into the kitchen asking if we should get out of the house or call 911... just because a few cherries ran over in the oven and filled the house with smoke.