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December Cottage Cooking Club


Slightly swirling, a quick jilt of the head, strongly determining to maintain control through a slight graduating blurriness, was this illusion? Edging the closest grab spot, somewhere to hold on, just in case, until this next episode subsided.

Perhaps some developing and unrelenting vertigo? Feeling like tiny pins daily jilting the temple area between the eyes, oddly so, for an individual barely suffering a headache a year. Then the pressure began, much like the air blown sounds inside an airplane as it slowly ascends, up, up, into the air.


It turns out ones balance gets a bit off center when suffering infections in both ears, and, the sinus. Ouch. Even the camera seemed to focus a blur, that is until getting a couple of doses of antibiotics under the belt, and then preparing one of The Cottage Cooking Club dishes for December, Chachouka, a spiced North African stew nestled with eggs for cooking to its finish. Nothing can slam one right back into restored vision like the realization that perhaps this cooked dish, for photography purposes, should have been transferred to another casserole platter after its saute to avoid the red tomato-e crust formed around the sides. But I’m not yet feeling that completely restored to do it again. Besides, I have no hot water in my home at the moment. 


Its true. These are the sorts of stories you just can’t make up. In fact, my longtime plumber, Frank, just turned off all the water while he picks up the new water heater for installation.

I slept in past 8:30 am this morning, resting peacefully with the meds kicking in, before jolting straight up from my slumber as if in a nightmare, the horror of seeming to recall that Betsy at a Plateful of Happiness had already posted this months Cottage Cooking Club last night. Was I late?  Had I missed the day? Curse these ear and sinus infections that had set me off my balance. Oh my gosh, downstairs I dashed, like one of Santa’s reindeer, straight to the garage refrigerator holding this months ingredient goodies in wait and setting them out in sections like designated areas of  gifts under the tree, preheating the oven first, of course.


Water is helpful when cooking as we all know, and so before Frank the Plumber’s arrival, when the water was bone chilling cold, no hot water, I began cooking the cumin seeds in butter and olive oil for a couple of minutes before dropping in the sliced onion for another ten on low heat. That readied, in went the garlic with the red and yellow peppers for another 20 minutes, sprinkling in the Spanish smoked paprika which I doubled to 1 teaspoon, along with a pinch of saffron, and a whole can of tomatoes, just chopped along with the juice. The combined mixture cooked up about fifteen minutes thickening up before setting in the four eggs in and baking for 8-10 minutes. Well, all except, at exactly 8 minutes, my eggs were overcooked, so if one has a powerful oven, I’m thinking 5 minutes will do the trick.   No matter though, for Frank the Plumber loves food, and cooking, and will talk about it for hours, so I simply tossed out one of the overcooked eggs, placing a full quarter of the Chachouka mixture into a plastic container for Frank to take home, heat up, and set in his own egg at a later time.


The second dish I prepared this morning among our December list, as monthly provided through our talented leader, Andrea, of The Kitchen Lioness, Notes from a Very Small Kitchen, was the Spicy Carrot and Chickpea Pita Pocket, photo shown at top of Post.  Just an aside though for the word, ‘Small’  in Andrea’s tag name continues to be up for debate among members of the group with many of us believing she really secretly lives in a castle. How else could she possibly produce all that she does in a month, just check out her baked goods, and her photo props, you’ll get my drift. So here we are yet another year later cooking along with the Cottage Cooking Club with our leader still not coming clean on her little secret. 

One thing for sure that is not a secret is the groups elemental part within the Cottage Cooking Club of incorporating more fresh and local vegetables into our everyday repertoire, much like the title of the cookbook we prepare from, River Cottage veg everyday! by Hugh Fearnely -Whittingstall, cookbook author and television personality in Britain.


Anyway, back to the Spicy Carrot and Chickpea Pita Pocket, a sauteed preparation of carrots and cumin seed cooked in butter and olive oil were softened before adding in finely sliced garlic, the zest of an orange, some hot smoked paprika and warming though a tin of drained and rinsed garbanzo beans with the squeezed juice from the zested orange. Stuffed into halves of pita pockets these were as much enjoyed as the Chachouka, both dishes perfectly fitted too for a rainy, cold, winter break day recovering from ear and sinus infections, without any hot water, later remedied with now a brand new water heater, alongside sharing this months selection with the hero of the day,  Frank the Plumber. I told you he loves food. 

To see what other members of the Cottage Cooking Club have prepared this month click here.

Happy New Year 2016 All!





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