Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Banana House

I realized that I've been living in Prof. Ken Sharpe's house for almost a month and I still haven't taken any pictures of it and our daily life here. The house certainly deserves lots of comments, given its peculiarity. For those of you who don't know, Madeline Sharpe believes that the banana is her alter ego and therefore has placed banana decorations all over the house, especially the first floor kitchen. Having a fully stocked kitchen has been ridiculously wonderful. I don't think I've eaten this well for months (in fact, now that I remember what Sharples is like, I'm almost certain of it). Faye Walker, one my housemates, is a particularly adventurous and expert cook. And with the added bonus of being spontaneous enough to make things whenever the mood strikes her, provides us with an endless amount of delicious food day in and out.

In an effort to capture all the delicious food that we make, and make up for the numerous un-photoed vittles in the past, I'm starting this blog. It'll probably filled with mostly pictures (usually under bad lighting circumstances since the flash on my camera is broken) of food and sometimes other things that's going on in my life.

So here we go.

521 Elm Ave, amidst a "jungle-like atmosphere"

Our porch

The first of many bananas to come...

Hark! A banana light!

Our gorgeous kitchen. Can you find the hidden bananas?

The the Sharpes decided that it was a great idea to rewire their dining room light. Notice the reduction in the total area lit as a result. The person sitting there is Faye, the aforementioned chef of brilliance.

The first of Faye's banana house series, documenting actual exchanges in the kitchen:
Helen: I've only eaten two of these potatoes? What am I going to do with all of them?
Faye: Why don't you make gnocchi? That'll put a dent in the bag.
Sunjay: Oh snap, you guys make your own gnocchi?
Faye: Snap! That's how we roll!
Helen: Ye-Ah!
Faye: Rock on!

We started a bread starter, and we named him Sunjay.

My side of the room shared by me and Natasha.

Today Faye decided to make baklava using Dessert Candy's recipe. I helped, mostly because of the anticipated reward.

It was delish.

We had a mountain of phyllo left after the baklava, so Faye and I decided to make those spinach triangles (Spanakopitas) we see so often, most recently at Trader Joe's frozen section. But we didn't have feta cheese, so after consulting some recipes that use phyllo in the Joy of Cooking (hereafter referred to as the House Bible) instead we combined recipes for a spinach tart and mushroom triangles to make spinach mushroom triangles.

We sauted mushrooms (cremini and shiitake) with onions and garlic, added some fresh spinach, and hodge-podge of cheese (cream, goat, and deli swiss) to make the filling. After layering two strips of phyllo with some clarified butter (leftover from the making of balkava) in between, we spooned some of the filling into a corner and rolled the whole thing into triangles. Then we baked them at 400ºF for about 15 minutes (we may or may not have lost track).


But! We STILL had phyllo scraps left! The only solution Faye saw was to toss them into the remaining clarified butter (if you haven't noticed by now, we clarified A LOT of butter for the baklava. The original recipe called for 3 sticks, but I think we used less. Otherwise it meant having 2/3 of a tablespoon of butter in every PIECE of baklava, thus making eating multiple pieces the biggest guilt trip ever), added cinnamon and sugar, and tossed it into the oven while the spinach tarts were still baking. The result:

Just like candy.