Maybe Snack Not For You

One of the benefits of being unemployed is having a sit-down family dinner every night.  Tonight we had "snacks" or "pupus" if you are from Hawaii.  We clustered around the kitchen island shoveling homemade membrillo and eggplant dip into our mouths and hacking away at a Costco chunk of Manchego.  Snack dinners necessarily include cheese, and can be good for a quick meal or an all day slug fest ala Super Bowl Sunday.

It was back to school night this past Thursday, so this was just a quickie.  Sophie walked us over to the school, realized that there were no other kids and said, "I told you it was just for parents," and promptly walked home.  When you are counting on your child's teachers to fill in the blanks re: a typical school day, I always come away from back to school nights a little underwhelmed.  Too rushed, and never time for one-on-one discussions with the teachers, unless you are one of those parents.  You know the ones, they latch onto the teachers like white on rice despite the handout that specifically said you need to arrange a conference time for that sort of thing.  Probably the same folks who have been nearly running me over on my bike, drifting through stop signs while on their cell phones. 

If you are one of those people that has a lot of time on their hands and relatively less money, you may want to try this recipe for homemade quince paste.  I made ~1 lb. for about $6.00 vs. $8.00 for 10 oz. 

4 large quince, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

2" strip of lemon peel

In a heavy saucepan cover quince with water and add lemon peel.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender ~30-40 minutes.  Drain and place in food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Measure the puree and add sugar in a 1:1 ratio.  I had 1.5 cups of quince puree and added 1.5 cups of sugar.  Return to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the quince becomes a thick paste (think biscuit dough) and turns a deep brownish/orange color, this may take >1hr.  Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and brush paper lightly with a neutral oil.  Scrape paste into the pan and smooth the top.  In a low oven (mine only goes down to 170) allow paste to dry further.  It will set a little more once you chill it, but it should be fairly firm before you remove from the oven, kind of like tofu (this took forever for me, just keep checking).  Chill and cut little squares off for your Manchego slug fest.  Store in the refrigerator.