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Happy Seed Catalog Day

Friend Z. arranged for Happy Seed Catalog Day (HSCD) to happen today.  This is a very casual event, where we gather somewhere nice in the dead of winter and talk gardening.  This year, we again scored the basement horticultural library at Boerner Botanical Gardens.  I pored over its many fine and uncommon books, and the Richter's Herb catalog.  It was a good day.

It was, however, a bit more rushed than we'd planned.  Instead of closing at 4pm, the building was closing at 2pm today - like every other television-free location in the state - so everyone could go watch the Packers-Bears game.  I actually kind of like watching football, but by game day I was already fed up with people talking about the game, planning for the game, and praying to god for their desired outcome in the game.  Closing our library 2 hours early was pretty much the last straw.  Well, it did at least convince us that we need to have HSCD more than once a year, so we have time to really savor the experience, and maybe read a book from cover to cover. 

We consoled ourselves with a lunch out, then a casual drive home.  We stopped at an Indian grocery, which had fresh tindora (ivy gourd).  I picked up a bit to try, probably in my next vat-o-food (likely kale and pintos with mint leaves and sri racha sauce).

Speaking of food, for HSCD I tried my hand at homemade cream puffs (yes, we had food in a library - creepy, but we were tidy). 

The basic recipe for cream puffs went something like this:

Put 1 stick butter, 1 C water, and 1/4 t salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil,
then add 1 C flour and stir until it forms a nice ball.
Let that cool.
Then add eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly and keep mixing, with every egg.
Four whole eggs does seem to be the right number.  I experimented with 4 yolks and 3 whiltes, and with 5 whole eggs.
The end result should be starting to get a bit shiny, and you want to get as much air as possible into the batter.
It should be like a thick cake batter - spoonable, but not so stiff that it holds its shape.

Five eggs gave me something like a delicate gourmet burger bun.  It is nice to have a bit of egg white to brush the tops of the cream puffs with before cooking, but I think not essential.

Anyway, oven should be at 400 degrees.
Spoon/pipe/whatever the batter onto greased cookie sheet, and  bake.
About 20 mins for golfball-sized puffs.
Once the tops are browning, poke a hole in the top of each puff.
This allows it to dry out a bit inside.
Cook just 5 mins or so more, then take out.
Once they've set a bit, cut the tops open to let them dry out further.

I was surprised to actually end up with mostly puff-shaped puffs, with actual hollows inside.
When cooled, I filled them with hand-whipped cream (sm. carton whipped cream; whisk until starting to thicken, then add 2 or 3 T powdered sugar, and amaretto or other flavor if desired).

The cream puffs went over well and were declared by Z. to be "better than state fair" (and, no long line to buy them).  So, I think I will continue to work on this recipe so I can get better at it and more consistent.
Friending welcome, but lurking is fine too.

Constructive criticism is also welcome - whatever it is, trust me, I've heard worse.



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