May 05, 2007

Lost: 1 Brain, If Found Please Return Here

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I’ve been having a huge mental block lately. Usually when I sit down to write my blog entries the words flow freely and I’ve got a post up in no time. But the past week has been somewhat of a struggle. The problem extends further than the blog though. I can’t focus on conversations either so trying to interact with others is painful. I’ve been off in my own little world, my brain wandered off quite some time ago and hasn’t felt the need to return. Luckily, this doesn’t affect my cooking. Quite the opposite in fact. The kitchen is the only environment where I don’t have to worry about anything other than what’s right in front of me. I can easily get into a pepper chopping rhythm or a tortilla flipping rhythm and not think about anything else. Never mind the fact that before today I had never made tortillas, they were easy to focus on and surprisingly easy to make. Sometimes I get impatient when I’m making a dish that requires a whole lot of repetition like pancakes or crepes or tortillas but today I enjoyed that repetition, it was oddly soothing. I had two pans going, managed not to burn anything other than my fingers and wasn’t bothered by that either.

There are some days when making tortillas would have been enough of an adventure and I wouldn’t really want to make anything else. Today was not one of those days. Before making the tortillas I made my Grandma’s broccoli salad and my recently created Asian inspired salad so that they would have time for all of the flavours to meld together. I also started marinating the steak I was going to fill the tortillas with for a sort of fajita, (onions, red, orange and yellow peppers would later be joining the mix). Usually when I make a marinade, I only make one. Today was not a usual day. I decided that a day like today required two different marinades so I made one up and turned to the blogs for the other. The steak strips were marinated for 4 hours before cooking and it definitely resulted in a more flavourful dish. All of this would have been more than enough on most days, but today was not one of those days. I also made brownies.

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Flour Tortillas (Adapted from BakingBites)

3 1/3 cups flour (bread flour is slightly preferable to all purpose)

1/2 cup lard

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup warm water

Combine flour, salt and lard in a food processor and pulse briefly. With the processor on, pour in the water until the dough turns into a ball, let it go around a few times until the sides are completely clean.

Take the ball and divide it into 15 balls. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes.

Roll out each ball into a circle. Get them as thin as you can - about 1mm thick.

In a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, dry fry each tortilla. Fry the first side until the surface has many bubbles. Flip it over and cook an additional minute. Both sides should have bubbles and be dry. Cooking times may vary with your oven, but don’t increase the heat any or the tortillas may burn.

Tortillas can be frozen for up to 1 month, layered with sheets of wax paper.

Ginger-Soy Marinade for Steak (Adapted from Lenn Devours)

5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 vidalia onion, roughly chopped
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup good-but-not-great olive oil
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika

Zest of 1 lime

Combine in a food processor and pour over the steak. Cover, refrigerate and let sit for about 4 hours.

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The second marinade I made was a hodge-podge of whatever I felt like throwing in and included: smoked sweet paprika, cumin, olive oil and cilantro, mixed again in the food processor.

Broccoli Salad (From Grandma)

4 broccoli trees, chopped into bite sized pieces

2 eggs

1 T cornstarch

1 T dry mustard

1 T sugar

¼ white vinegar

¼ cup water

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup baba ghanoug (this was my addition, Grandmas usually just does a ½ cup mayo)

½ cup raisins

½ cup toasted slivered almonds

1 can mandarin slices, drained

1 small red onion, chopped

4 thick slices of bacon, chopped and fried then drained

Whisk together the eggs, cornstarch, mustard, sugar, vinegar and water. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool. Once the mixture is cool, add mayo and baba ghanoug and whisk to combine.

Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a big bowl and pour the sauce overtop, then stir.

The brownies will make their appearance in another post, don’t worry, they’ll be here. And EJM- they even have raisins!

One last thing to end this ramble; a big thank you to Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen who has given me a Thinking Blogger Award, despite the recent absence of my brain.

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Peabody said...

Perhaps your brain is hiding with mine.

Helene said...

Well, not that I wish you would lose your brain more often but those tortillas look fabulous.
I smiled reading the brocoli salad recipe because I sneak hummus in mine instead of mayo. I'm gonna try your change next time.

Kalyn said...

The photography part of your brain seems to have stuck around, great photos!

Truffle said...

These all look so delicious! You are a brilliant cook :)

Little Foodie said...

So glad I'm not the only one whose brain takes the odd leave of absence. It all looks scrummy. Amanda

Kelly-Jane said...

I lose mine as well sometimes... my theory is it comes when there is just too much going on and it says right I'm out of here! See you when it all calms down again :)

I'm happy you can still cook though, I've always fancied making home made tortillas, and yours look great! I like both the salads too. Will copy them and give them a go.

Looking forward to seeing the brownies. After seeing the Brownie babe round up I really think I need to make more too. xx

Ash said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Deborah Dowd said...

You do pretty well for someone without a brain! These look delicious and the broccoli salad with a twist sounds good and healthy (a big priority in our house these days!)

Lis said...

You always amaze me with the things you decide to make on your own instead of purchasing. Bacon.. *swoon* Smoked salmon.. *yum* and now tortillas? You rock!

The fajitas look heavenly as does your grandma's broccoli salad! Woo!!


Anonymous said...

Your broccoli salad looks wonderful. I'm new to your site, do you have a recipe for baba ghanoug. I used your search feature and didn't find it. I don't know your history, but you sure you're not pregnant? Sounds like pregnancy brain to me!

ejm said...

Speaking of lost brains... I just left the following comment on your mirror site. I kept wondering who this funny new blogger was and how could I not have seen it before?

All that sounds fantastic. (I adore fajitas…)

It sounds to me as if you have not lost your brain at all. But then, with what’s left of my mind, who am I to judge? (I’m pretty sure that I didn’t have all that much of a brain to lose and all that’s left are the motor impulses…)

I hope you used Thompson raisins in the brownies!


Judy said...

Oh wow, everything looks fantastic. I have yet to attempt to make my own tortillas even though everyone talks about how easy they are. One day.

Deborah said...

I wish I could do work like this when my brain has left me!!!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Bri, I always love your witty texts, amazing photos and delicious recipes (sometimes, so delicious I keep remembering them while talking to my boss at the office - huge problem).

Ellie said...

I know that EXACT feeling, though at the moment my brain power is dedicated mostly to my studies which means that I'm on the verge of becoming a drooling zombie of a mess! I'm glad that the kitchen still provides refuge for you even when you're feeling uninspired :)

Jasmine said...

I can sympathise...everything that currently flows from my pen feels trite and contrived and not...right...I blame spring.


sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

Great photos... this looks awesome.
I think your brain is perfectly perfect.

Amy said...

Wow homemade tortillas, they look wonderful! The steak looks delicious too. I'm going to have to try making both. Thanks for the recipes!

I know what you're going through, except I always have trouble writing my blog posts. I'm hoping my permanent writer's block will clear up in a year or so. :P I'm sure you'll find your brain again soon. Lose something else, maybe like keys, look for them and you'll find your brain instead. :D

Kristen said...

My brain is often lost somewhere and I am left without a clue as to where I can find it.
You do well with cooking without a brain. These all look tasty!

Brilynn said...

Anonymous- I assure you, pregnancy is definitely NOT the reason for my lost brain! As for the baba ghanoug, I've repeatedly failed at trying to make my own and am ashamed to say I just buy the store stuff because I like it better.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I think if we could just find the place they convene, we could have way more than enough brains for all of us.
I'm in love with your grandmother! That broccoli salad looks heavenly!