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Diary the First: Food and Fun at Moomba
Life in recent weeks has been Crazy. Mostly in a good way, and mostly by intent -- I'm staving off depression by keeping almost ridiculously busy and overcommitted. Sooner or later I'm going to need to take my foot off the gas a bit, but for now it seems to be what I need. It does mean that I've been too busy to actually write down what I've been doing, though, so let's catch up a diary entry or three.

The past two weekends were somewhat Moomba-focused. First there was Cooks Guild, which consisted of mermaidlady, Aaron and myself attempting to do strange things with alcohol. We did manage two clear successes: Aaron and I tried two variants of the same Posset recipe, and both came out quite tasty -- mine was a sort of Ale Milkshake (which even Morwenna liked, despite a professed dislike of beer), while Aaron's was a thick sherry drink, of the "drink it with a spoon" consistency. Both sweet, although his was especially so. Less successful was the attempt at a posset with no egg and red wine: this turned, quite instantly, into a fairly horrible-looking purple cheese. We're not actually sure this was wrong -- the original recipe is clearly talking about a pressed-curd dish of some sort -- but we couldn't bring ourselves to take more than a tiny taste, especially once Aaron demonstrated that, by rolling it around properly, it could be made to look *just* like brains.

(There was also a "medicinal" drink that Morwenna made, that apparently tasted so bad she didn't allow us to try it, and the first iteration of Aaron's Hypocras recipe -- quite tasty, if almost overpoweringly gingery.)

Last Friday was Morwenna's birthday party, a "dress your best -- leopard print preferred" affair. I experimentally tried taking my standard Pecan Pie recipes and adapting them to little finger-food tartlets. This proved to be more of a project than expected, since nobody seems to sell real, non-fillo, mini pastry shells any more. So I bought a few good tart trays and some Pillbury dough (since I was too low on time to try making my own dough), blind-baked those for four minutes, and filled them.

The results were solidly good, although they need work. As usual, I made half Pecan Pie and half Bourbon Pie, but I decided to step both up a bit. For the Pecan Tarts, each got one pecan and one chunk of good Lindt 70% at the bottom -- the dark chocolate complimented the sweetness nicely. For the Bourbon Tarts, I bought some almond paste, rolled it thin, and put a square at the bottom of each, resulting in a sweeter flavor, and a slightly more pervasive but subtler nuttiness than the pecan.

The tarts need about 17 minutes to cook (down from an hour for the full-size pie) -- the pecan ones were a hair overcooked at 20 minutes, the almond slightly too blond at 15. But I'd chalk both up as successes, just needing some tweaking to get just right. I'll undoubtedly refine this recipe and do it again.

(I continue to ponder the notion of trying to make them with the standard Cooks Illustrated Pie Crust, only substituting bourbon for the vodka to kick the flavor just a hair. ladysprite is skeptical, and may well be correct, but I may have to try it out and see what happens, just to satisfy my curiosity. For my future reference, one full pie-worth of filling makes about 48 little tarts.)

Other foods of particular note were ladysprite's Maki-Roni -- high-quality mac and cheese rolled up around red pepper and pickle, sprinkled with panko and baked -- and the second incarnation of Aaron's Hypocras, this time made with fresh ginger, which came out *much* milder. (The consensus was that mixing the first and second versions produced the best results.)

The party was generally a fine time, an even mix of SCAdians (mostly close friends) and Babydolls folks who I didn't know, all chatting up a storm. I need more good parties in my life right now...


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