Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eat to Beat the Heat Part 1: The Mochi Monster



In this installment of my latest series, I'll be posting about my efforts to cook despite the disconcerting temperature in which the East Coast has been baking.

Last night I decided to fight fire with fire and do some baking of my own. How could turning on the oven when it's 85 in the house help beat the heat? Well, I baked everything for the week in one fell swoop. Doing so not only consolidates your heat into one session, but it also uses less gas. And any time you cut down on your fossil fuel consumption, you help reduce your carbon footprint, thereby combating global warming and keeping such freakish weather at bay. (I hope.)

As a result of my efforts, the oven was stuffed with a carnivalesque array of foods. A half chicken marinated in soy sauce roasted next to slices of eggplant, which sat above a tray of pastries, which in turn were next to the baked (baking?) potatoes. Everything was going well until something went awry. Then everything starting going really well...

Examine the introductory photo. Besides the fact that a rhubarb turnover and mochi puffs make strange bedfellows on a single cookie sheet, nothing seems out of the ordinary. Unless you look at it from above.



Because the landlord at my new apartment has yet to install an oven dial with any numbers on it, the temp was running high, so the slightly eggy filling in the turnover seeped out before the pastry had cooked enough to retain it. Like a broken off piece of the bad Terminator from the second movie, it reached out for the nearest thing like it, grabbing hold of a helpless little Japanese rice cake. When I finally pulled out the tray, I couldn't tell mochi from turnover, and the result was delicious.

Many famous foods are said to have been created by accident. Among these are Wheaties and American Cheese, which I'm guessing came into being when a fifth grade class on a field trip to a cheese factory all accidentally dropped their retainers into a vat of cheddar at the same time, giving us that plasticky non-cheese we all know and do not love.

In this case, the strange, new thing that lay between the two baked goods was absolutely divine; fluffy yet crunchy, sweet yet still tasting of whole grains and rich egg. I'll do my darndest to play with it again some time soon and keep you posted, because I really think I'm onto something. Mocheggy, anyone?

Heat: 0, Aaron: 1.

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