the only thing i had to do today was make the flan for thanksgiving dinner. i went to the cafe via motorcycle to refill my bottle of pure vanilla extract. after some curry rice noodles for lunch, i went to market basket to pick up the rest of my ingredients (eggs & milk). i'm glad i went via bicycle because the parking lot was completely packed.
when i got back home i remembered i had a norwegian package to send. i taped up the box, put some address labels on it, and filled out a custom form before bringing the parcel strapped to the back of my bike to the porter square post office. there was already a line half a dozen customers long but i had no choice but to wait. when i finally got to the counter, i got the talkative clerk, who took forever to ring up my shipment. "scarves, huh?" he said. "good thing it's not going to italy, scarves are banned." i thought he was joking. "yeah, italy is weird. scarves. and shoes. no shoes." when i returned home i went alone to verify this bit of trivia. sure enough, italy has the strictest (weirdest?) import laws, all in the name of protecting local business interests. besides scarves and shoes, the following items are also prohibited: musical instruments, artificial flowers, hats, leather goods, nutmeg, vanilla, sea salt, saffron, perfume, coffee, saccharine, tobacco, and finally any toys that's not made entirely of wood. italy, you crazy!
i didn't start preparing the flan until it got dark. the recipe makes 8 flan but i needed 15. in hindsight it should've just been a simple matter of doubling the portions, but for some reason i made it more complicated than necessary because i was looking to make a few extra flan as well. i ended up using all my 15 of glass ramekins (6 oz.), 4 blue ceramic ramekins (6 oz.), and 2 red ceramic ramekins (4 oz.). the final ingredients came out to be: 13 eggs, 8 cups of milk, 1-1/2 cups of sugar, 3 tsp of vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt, and a little over 2 cups of sugar (for melting).
in order to fill all 21 ramekins i need to use 3 glass lasagna dishes. to have enough boiling water for the bath i used two stovetop kettles and the electric kettle. i made the flan mixture first, dumping all the ingredients into a stock pot. the problem with the stock pot was it was so deep i couldn't get to the bottom with the mixer, so i ended up stirring with a spatula to properly melt the sugar. i prepared the hot water bath first before pouring in the melted sugar. after all the ramekins were filled, i began pouring the flan mixture through a sieve, just to filter out the stray bits of unmixed egg white. my calculations were perfect because i had just enough to fill all the ramekins.
into the 350° oven went the 3 lasagna dishes. i baked them first for 45 minutes, but they were nowhere near ready when i went to check. i then added 15 more minutes, than another 15 minutes, then another, for a total of 1 hour and 30 minutes. the top ones were done, but bottom ones were still liquid, so i took the top ones out and let the bottom ones bake for another 15 minutes. finally i decided they were ready, even if they were still a bit soft.
after they properly cooled, i put them in the refrigerator, where they'll age for 48 hours, just in time for thanksgiving. i saved 2 of the smaller ramekins for my myself and marco, should he want to try one.
when marco came home around 8:00, he thought it was early enough for him to go out for a run. he said he wanted to burn off the calories he accrued from all the cream puffs we ate last night. he was also trying to figure out what to bring to a thanksgiving dinner held by his professor. there'd be no alcohol (rumor has it the professor is a recovering addict) so the standard bottle of wine was out of the question. he was thinking maybe he could bake a cake but then i suggested some cream puffs (everybody loves cream puffs).
for dinner i continued working on the pulled pork from last week. just a little bit left, enough to last me until thanksgiving.