Last weekend I was alone with the kids, and by taking Friday off I had time for chores, playing, and cooking. We started with a big pot of baked beans, cooked for hours and hours in my homemade daubiere, something I made almost twenty years ago (!) when I first read about the old traditional cooking pot. I’ve still never seen one other than my own, and when I look at the saggy terra cotta clay I kind of laugh, but it’s served its purpose well for all these years. My son loves baked beans and because winter seems to be an intermidable season this year, I thought beans would be good. There’s nothing fancy about baked beans, really. I used great northerns, a hunk of salt pork, an onion, ground mustard, brown sugar and molasses, and cooked it all at 250°F for the better part of a day. Then I did the same the next day and the resulting $2.00 dish was awesome.
One of our favorite desserts is pots du crème au chocolat, and my kids regularly chant “Pots du crème! Pots du crème!” in declaration of this awesomely rich dessert. But, the other day I discovered that all our eggs had been boiled and dyed, so we had to adjust. Our chocolate craving can also be satisfied by a quick batch of chocolate pudding. Lacking the eggs and slow water bath, chocolate pudding is nearly as quick as the store-bought instant pudding, and infinitely better. We make the flavors rich by a combination of baking cocoa, semi sweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate. A bit of milk and sugar and some corn starch to thicken it, and it’s done in ten to fifteen minutes. We used pretty simple chocolates – all regular supermarket varieties, and the richness of the pudding is great. We brought it to a friend’s house so we added a dollop of whipped cream, and we licked the bowl clean.
I usually start my tomatoes in mid-March, but something sidetracked me this year. Luckily, schools closed early yesterday so I had to leave work early to get home. With a few spare hours I got the break I needed and started a few trays. In years past I’ve started as many as a dozen different varieties of tomatoes, and have planted tomatoes strategically to avoid cross-pollination. Last year, I planted only my two favorite varieties and had such good results that I decided to focus on the same two again. My hands down favorite is