Eat, Drink, & Be Merry

There is only one way to eat hot cereal, and that is dutifully.  The mechanical, rhythmic delivery of each spoonful to my mouth is accompanied by a military march ringing through my head and motivational thoughts such as, "Sure, it looks like something unmentionable, but it's cheap and it's got so much fiber!"  Then I wonder if I should be alarmed that I'm 25 years old, eating hot cereal, and concerned about fiber.

I did get a dash of perspective yesterday when I began a weeklong cat-citting stint.  I opened the tin of wet food for the cat's dinner, and out plopped a greyish-pinkish congealed cylinder, slightly wobbling for dramatic effect upon contact with the bowl.  I looked at it quietly for a moment and thought to myself, "I am so thankful I'm not an animal."

The Christmas season is upon us, which means of course that copious amounts of good food and drink are being practically flung at us from all sides.  On the last day of school one of my students planted himself in the doorway to the teachers' office and stared at me.  
"Can I help you, Harry?"
He shook a huge white bag at me.  "Do you want to get your present?!"
Before I could decide upon the best way to answer this question, he indiscriminately pulled two boxes out of the bag -- gingerbread and fudge -- shoved them at me and then disappeared.

One dish I'd like to perfect and establish as part of my holiday cooking (SNOB ALERT) repertoire is the classic brie en croute, or brie baked in puff pastry.  It's so delicious and decadent and has lots of potential for visual impact, depending on how crafty you feel like being with the leftover scraps of pastry. Puff pastry is a fragile thing...When I made it this past weekend for a party, I spread plum jam and chopped candied pecans inside and I think one of the pieces of nut must have punctured the pastry, because when I peeked into the oven halfway through the bake, a shining pool of cheese had melted out onto the baking tray!  It still tasted delicious, but I'll have to practice handling this pastry a bit more carefully.  Thankfully most boxes of puff pastry include 2 sheets.  :)

If you'd like to give it a go, here is the recipe I loosely followed, substituting plum jam and candied pecans.  You can use brie or camembert; when I shopped for ingredients Trader Joe's didn't have full wheels of brie, so I used camembert and it was delicious.  Regarding the bake temperature, 200 C translates roughly to 400 F...I baked mine at 400 but made sure to keep an eye on it.


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