Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An oven for fiddlers - more Aga magic

One of the joys of having the Aga has been preparing meals for friends with serious Aga-envy (or just those who enjoy good food). The first weeks saw a procession of friends and family invited over for lunches and dinners. The Aga has a magnetic attraction, people tend to gather around it, enjoying the warmth, marvelling over the completely new way of cooking ( or otherwise - I still have several friends who thing I am seriously screwy for doing this). The bread has been a universal hit, and thanks to the Aga and No-Knead Bread flours we haven't bought a loaf of bread in 6 weeks. The one thing about the Aga that I have found though is that it requires a lot of moving things around - from the roasting oven to the simmering oven, from the boiling plate to the simmering plate and back again. Keeping things warm on the stove top, lifting lids up putting lids down. All of which prompted the comment from fellow bookseller Jeremy at a dinner meeting last month: " It's a stove for fiddlers, isn't it?" I couldn't agree more - no set and forget for me. Although I will qualify this - sometimes I do set and really do forget. I've been madly cooking up casseroles and lasagnas etc to stock the freezer for my kids while I'm away. On Monday afternoon I prepared a red wine beef casserole and a massaman curry from a batch of stewing steak and popped them in the simmer oven for a long cook. Next morning I walked into the kitchen at 8am looked at my list of things to do that day, realised I hadn't ticked off the casseroles, and had a sudden dawning realisation - I'd left them in the simmer oven for 15 hours!! I can report that the meat was (literally) fall apart tender, in fact a little longer in there and I could have made good baby food. Oh *&^% and I've just remembered a loaf of bread's in the oven!

OK bread is a little dark on the top, but otherwise ok. I'm off to the US this coming Saturday and will be blogging from San Francisco, Yosemite & environs. Looking forward to buying lots of kitchenalia treasures for the shop, stocking up on copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking in anticipation of the movie Julie and Julia coming out on October 8th, and renewing my acquaintance with the farmer's market.

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