with thanksgiving in october beginning in just 2 more days, my job was to make the flan. including myself, the head count is 12, but it's always better to make a few more (for my 2nd aunt and uncle who won't be able to make it because of work, for my great uncle, and for my roommate who's returning later tonight).

FLAN(21 servings)

13 white eggs
8 cups whole milk
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups sugar (for caramel)

there isn't a lot of edible ingredients in flan. it's basically eggs and milk and sugar, and a bit of vanilla and salt. the hardest part is melting the sugar to make the caramel, and getting the tray of ramekins in a hot water bath into the oven. i did a count of my ramekins and realized i was missing a few. to went down to the cafe where my mother said they might have a few missing ones and to also get a refill on my vanilla extract. i managed to retrieve a blue glass ramekin and a clear glass ramekin.

i went to the super market when i returned home to get the remaining ingredients: eggs and milk. sugar i didn't need to buy because i still had plenty, from my experiments in candy making earlier this year.

i decided to making 21 servings of flan, or basically enough to fill my 3 lasagna dishes. whether they'd all fit in the fridge would be something i'd worry about later. i used the same proportions i used last thanksgiving, where i made 21 servings as well. i had 8 clear glass ramekins (6 oz.), 6 blue pyrex glass ramekins (6 oz.), 4 blue ceramic glazed ramekins (6 oz.), and 3 red creuset ceramic glazed ramekins (4 oz.). 2 of my blue glass ramekins were missing, not sure where they are; they're easy to lose because guests take home the leftover flan along with the ramekins. although the ceramic ones are pretty, i prefer the glass ramekins because i can gauge how deep the caramel layer is.

i bought a dozen brown eggs even though i already had a dozen white eggs just because i needed 13 eggs. i ended up using the older white eggs because they were slightly bigger. i only use whole milk since the recipe is already pretty decadent, no point in using something non-fat. one time i used actual vanilla beans instead of pure vanilla extract; i couldn't taste the difference, so now i just use extract because it's more convenient and cheaper.

before i began melting the sugar, i realized i was missing my strainer. i quickly ran to the nearby dollar store where they had a pair of zinc strainers for $1 (small and medium). not sure how long these will keep but at that price i'm not complaining.

i didn't use any teapots to boil water; instead i just used the electric kettle. that meant there were several minutes of delay between filling each lasagna dish water bath, but it meant i could use the stove top as a work surface since i wasn't using any of the burners.

i had to melt the sugar in 3 batches; by the 2nd batch i had all the ramekins covered except for 2. i find that an all-metal pan heats the sugar better than my non-stick; if nothing else they're easier to clean (like using an abrasive pad to scrape off any hardened caramel). so i had my stainless steel tri-ply calphalon pan (a present from jesse).

next i slowly poured the flan mixture into each caramel-covered ramekin using the strainer to remove any gelatinous globs. finally i put everything into the oven. the correct bake temperature is 350°F, but since my oven heats lower than what it says on the dial, i turned it up to 375°F instead.

after 45 minutes i checked. there wasn't any browning yet so i let it bake for another 15 minutes. that seemed to do the trick. the flan looked very tender, but i think that's the correct consistency (i think last time i baked it too long). naturally the tray on the top rack had the most browning, but i was surprised that the ones on the lower rack had browning as well.

i set out the flan onto cooling racks. looking at some of the clear glass ramekins, i noticed the caramel bottom layer seemed to have melted and expanded. i was worried that there wasn't enough caramel coating the bottom of apparently that's not the case.

by that point it was 4:00. i went to belmont (via motorcycle because it was quicker) to help my parents clean up the house and get some dinner.

back at home, drew returned around 7:40, right after i managed to find enough space in the fridge to fit all my flan. he came home earlier than i expected (i was thinking more like 8 or 9). he spent the rest of the night in his room preparing for his class tomorrow.

in health news, my drug arrived today. nothing glamorous, just my diovan high blood pressure pills. my old prescription had ran out so this was a new one. in my experience, sometimes the process can take a long time and in this case more than 3 weeks. my supply was starting to run out and i was beginning to get worried, but i knew it was coming because they already took out money from my account last week, so something was in the works.

earlier i finished watching the snowtown murders (2011), an australian based-on-true-events movie about one of their most infamous serial killers. i discovered the movie through a "best of 2011" list and now i'm kind of questioning how it got there. although it's an important film, it's excruciatingly painful to watch from the amount of violence both physical and psychological. i think it helped that it was an australian movie, so there was something otherworldly about it that made it semi-bearable.