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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Baking, Not Cooking (Or) 40 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 18

I've written before about how much I dislike cooking. Mind you, I love eating, but I'd prefer someone else to do the food prep and I do the washing-up afterwards. Hence, I usually exist on popcorn, steam-in-a-bag veggies, peanut butter apples, and other quickly-assembled one-step dishes. Many male bachelors eat better than I do, and I don't resent this--to each his or her own. But I really do like to bake occasionally, namely sweets in quantity, and this time of year I love to prepare my own specialty, baklava.  It's my contribution to the Greek(ish) side of the family's Thanksgiving potluck.

Baklava is the queen of desserts--it has everything: honey, sugar, spices, nuts and pastry, not to mention a ton of butter. I love it. Baklava is the apple pie of the Mediterranean--you can do all sorts of things to it and it always turns out delicious. Being a Southern Greek, my personal recipe includes pecans. Out of all the kinds I've sampled, I think mine the best, if I do say so myself!

I still can't Photoshop very well--I was trying to blot some distractions from behind my copper mixing bowl, and it came out all choppy.  At any rate, I chopped up pounds and pounds of almonds, walnuts, and pecans, mixing in some demerara and refined sugar, and hefty portions of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg...

Melted a full pound of butter to brush over the filo leaves (every few layers got a generous sprinkling of spiced-sugared nut mixture)...

Cut the pastry into pieces (I couldn't decide what shape I wanted them, that's why it looks like a drunk with a knife had at the pan--I swear I was sober as a judge!) and stuck a whole clove in the middle of each, then baked it until golden brown...

Poured lemon and orange-infused honey syrup over the hot panful, and extracted a small corner piece for sampling (had to make sure that it was OK to serve, you know). It passed the test (in about three seconds...it's hard to take a selfie of yourself licking your plate, though).

Today I am grateful that I don't have to cook everyday, and that so many of my friends and family members enjoy doing so instead!  Thank you to all who have served me and others faithfully in the preparation of meals plain and fancy, enduring the tedium of kitchen work, and creating tasty dinners day after day, oftentimes for decades, with many of us taking your considerable efforts for granted. I really appreciate it!

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