Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Daring" Don't

I went to see a play last week at one of the many theaters in town. Ok, it's summer, so if you live in Philadelphia, you may be able to guess where the theater was and what play I saw, especially after what I'm about to say.

It was a classic play, so it had that going for it. It was a classic play that doesn't get done much, even better. The description of the production sounded exciting: it had the word daring in it.

Lordy, daring it was not.

First, let's look at what daring means, according to Princeton's Wordnet: "the trait of being willing to undertake things that involve risk or danger."

Staging a classic play, using a newish translation and sticking with period costumes, is not daring. Sticking the audience RIGHT there in front of the actors, not terribly daring, especially if you are doing it to compensate for the bitch of a theater space you have. There was no risk involved in that production. It was not earth shattering. If it failed, it was a small failure, something most people won't remember it a few years.

It didn't fail, the story came through loud and clear, it just didn't entice, which is exactly what its blurb did: entice. Do I feel cheated as a theater-goer? Yes. Was I promised something more exciting than your standard blue-haired subscriber based (ok! It's summer, so no subscriber base!) theaterjawn? Yes. I was promised daring. And what I got was self-congratulatory yipyap for 3 hours.

So maybe, stop using the word "daring" as a way to convince people to come in the door. Because when they walk through that door and get the same old same old, they most likely won't be coming back.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Zucchini Butter

One vegetable I haven't tried to grow is zucchini. I've already got enough trouble with the cucumber plant that wants to take over the backyard, so adding another curcubit to the mix seemed like a bad idea. There's also really no point in growing my own zucchini since everyone else in the entire world  state of Pennsylvania also grows the thing. It's one of the first summer veggies to appear at the farmer's markets and one of the last to leave at the start of fall. Zucchini, it knows how to party.

Eating zucchini week after week gets a bit dull, as we all know. I usually give up purchasing it by the first week in August because the thought of eating more sauteed zucchini makes me want to head out to the pizza place.

Thankfully, the Kitchn has stepped in, offering this recipe for zucchini butter from Jennie Cook.

Zucchini butter, what's that? you may ask. Quite simply, it's grated zucchini (or summer squash, in my case), combined with olive oil and a shallot and cooked until it turns into a jam, or rather, butter. I had some zucchini and summer squash sitting in my fridge that really needed to be used, so I attempted the recipe tonight.

It's really retarcuously easy. I ended up halving the recipe, since I only had about a pound of squash, including some I had grated a few weeks ago and frozen. I used a microplane grater on the squash, grating it directly into a tea towel lined colander.  It didn't look very pretty.

As it sat and drained, I minced a shallot, heated olive oil in a cast iron skillet, then sauteed the shallot a bit. I gave the squash a good squeeze in the towel, over the sink, to get rid of excess water. Then I placed it in the skillet and tossed it about a bit. After a few minutes, I added a bit of salt and some pepper.

I'm not sure how long it took for the squash to cohere and become a spreadable butter, I think I listened to five or six songs, so around 25 minutes, I would guess. After a bit of time on the heat, the squash looked like this:
I'd guess I got about a cup of butter. I put it in a pretty jar, because that way I'll be more likely to eat it and instead of forgetting about it in the refrigerator.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot Pepper Harvest

I left the country for a week a couple of weeks ago, and returned to find my cayenne plant had plenty of peppers ready to pick (the strawberry plant also had a few gifts to offer). I'm not really sure what to do with the peppers. My first thought was hot sauce, but I don't think 6 peppers is quite enough to make any substantial amount of sauce. I tossed one into a tofu scramble I made and put another in rice and beans.

Cayenne peppers are hot, but not super hot. They apparently fall between 30,000 and 50,000 on the Scoville scale, which is hotter than a jalapeno but less hot than a scotch bonnet, if that's any help. The more stress a hot pepper plant endures, the hotter its heat. I've made it a point to be a bit of a gardener bitch to my cayenne. I've let it dry out, made it endure 100 degree temperatures (okay, really that was beyond my control and the entire garden had to endure it). The resulting peppers are pretty spicy. I only used a small one in the tofu scramble and it was enough to add a layer of heat to the entire thing, even a small bite.

Now, if only the rest of the garden could put out like the little cayenne (okay, actually pretty huge cayenne--he's three feet tall).