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November 4th, 2006 (08:32 pm)

ADVENTURES

I have been eating a lot of crap lately and feeling uninterested in cooking, so I decided to try to jump-start a Week of Healthy Eating with mitchco by teaching myself to make miso soup and onigiri (rice balls), two exceptionally basic Japanese dishes. They both proved to be easy and cheap, less the startup cost of dashi and miso. I found wikipedia and Cooking Cute, a great bento resource page, very helpful in my search for learning the methods.

The hardest thing, for me, was finding all of the ingredients. I usually go to more than one grocery store, but Kroger and Bloomingfoods didn't have what I needed, had really high prices, or had one version and that was it. I ended up going to Obo's Oriental Market, which had super-low prices on produce, so I'll have to remember it. I was totally inept at reading East Asian labels, though, and so it took me a looong time and some help from the cashier to find what I needed.

Here is the onigiri page I worked from. The basic method is to cook up a batch of short grain white rice as if you were making sushi rice, then dip your hands in salt water and form balls of the slightly cooled rice around about a couple of teaspoons of the fillings. For fillings, I tried:

Umeboshi, pickled plums.



mitchco recommended these, and says that every Japanese-American person she knows refers to them as "cat balls." They are basically packed in salt and allowed to ferment, and they smell awful, but are pleasant inside the rice balls. I like them once they're in my mouth; like capers, only bigger.

Canned tuna mixed with wasabi powder and a teeensy bit of mayonnaise.

Chopped krab with a bit of some sort of weird stir-fry sauce Ed had in the fridge.

Both were tasty, but a little bland. I think I might like to try these made with sushi rice sometime, though I know it's not traditional. I was also missing the nori that one often wraps around the finished balls.

Miso soup was a lot more intuitive to me. You make the dashi according to instructions on the jar, boil whatever veggies and tofu in it, then pour it over about a 1/2 T. of miso paste in the bowl and stir. Super easy, very tasty, and I could see myself eating it for lunch a lot. I made it this time with mushrooms (sauteed first with ginger and a bit of soy sauce) and tofu, but I would like to try it with seaweed, green onion, and sprouts.

Other things to try this week include Post Punk Kitchen's Carrot-Beet-Ginger Slaw and maybe some Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup. Lots of oranges, that's for damn sure.

Puttering about. [userpic]

Xposted from my regular journal.

October 3rd, 2006 (12:37 pm)

Here are some things I have made/ done recently.

Creating Cabinet SpaceCollapse )

Reusable menstrual pads.Collapse )

Crocheted Aminals that Courtney should not look at if she wants to be surprised.Collapse )

Yarn belt for belly dance.Collapse )

Ducky.Collapse )

For details on the patterns and yarns, visit my spankin' new flickr account, hookintoaneye, where I will post pictures and details of Stuff I Make.

This is now my general craft/cooking journal.

Puttering about. [userpic]

(no subject)

August 10th, 2006 (12:34 pm)

Penzey's has a lot of very high-quality curry options at prices comparable to the grocery store's. This is modified from a Rachael Ray recipe, as a lot of my favorites are.

Quick Curry
Servings: 6ish
Easyness: You will probably want to have the basics of saucemaking down, but the recipe and my notes describe it fairly well.
Price: Curry powder might be pricey, but make it vegetarian and it will be super cheap.
Meal: Dinner. I had leftovers for lunch today and I am STUFFED.

Quick CurryCollapse )

NotesCollapse )

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(no subject)

July 11th, 2006 (10:26 am)

Here's an approximate recipe of the appetizers I made for tiredbutwired's wedding. I was pretty happy with them considering how they were pulled out of my ass.

Greek Yogurt Canapes
Software
1 large container of full-fat yogurt
60 small premade phyllo cups
2 tsp. dried culinary lavender (optional)
1/4 c. water
1 c. honey
1/2 c. coarsely chopped pistachios, toasted
about 1 cup fresh mint leaves

Hardware
1 large bowl
1 fine strainer or colander that will fit inside the bowl and hold all of the yogurt
cheesecloth or a very clean dishtowel
tea ball, french press, or other tisane-making apparatus

Line strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth or the dishtowel and place in larger bowl. Pour yogurt into strainer, cover with a towel, and place in refrigerator for at least two hours and up to overnight, depending on how thick and tart you want the yogurt to be. If you're in a hurry, you can just completely wrap the yogurt in the cloth and squeeze the liquid out over the sink.

If you're infusing the honey with lavender: boil the water and use the french press or tea ball to make a tisane (herb infusion). Allow to steep for three minutes, remove the lavender. In a small bowl, whisk the infusion into the honey and chill.

Just before serving, spoon about 2 teaspoons of the strained yogurt into each phyllo cup, then garnish with about 1/2 tsp. of the infused honey and a sprinkling of the chopped nuts. Garnish with the mint leaves. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Puttering about. [userpic]

(no subject)

May 9th, 2006 (08:00 am)

I've been feeling kind of bloaty and generally gross lately, so I decided to take advantage of the return of my craving for veggies to go at least a week or so without meat or dairy, though I might have some fish at some point. I'm still going through this bizarre phase of not wanting to eat salad very much, so I ended up with the following after a trip to Bloomingfoods.

acorn squash
asian pears
green pears
pink lady apples
lemons for water
button mushrooms
radishes (yum)
tomatoes
walnuts
brown rice
quinoa
rice milk

I already had sweet potatoes, garlic, and canned artichokes at home; I will probably get some green beans, carrots, cucumbers, onions, and strawberries from a conventional grocery and some mint tea and maybe kamut flakes from Sahara Mart tonight; and I am going to try to cut out caffeine (green tea yaye!) and go very light on the corn, sugar, gluten, and soy.

I was really skeptical about trying rice milk again. I know that I like it better than soy milk, but I hadn't tried it in a year or two. It made my cinnamon shredded wheat wet and tasty, though, so while I probably won't be drinking it as a snack, it will do fine for breakfast.

I was up late processing everything to make sure that I would actually eat it, and starting a new batch of mung bean sprouts. For lunch today, I made an Italian quinoa pilaf, with mushrooms, walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, lemon juice, and parsley. I also have a sweet potato (for if I've very hungry), applesauce, and asian pear slices. The leftovers will probably make a nice stuffing for the acorn squash. Ed and I are supposed to go out to dinner tonight, so I will push for Roots or Encore, but we'll see.

Let's hope I feel better at the end of a week or so.

Puttering about. [userpic]

(no subject)

May 1st, 2006 (02:19 pm)

Cravings of the week:

blanched asparagus, plain
chocolate pudding, wtf
english muffins

A few weeks ago at Bloomingfoods, they had a sale on the Thai Express rice noodle ramen stuff, so I got a ton of it for when I didn't have anything to bring to work. I picked up some extra-firm tofu at Kroger last night and stir-fried it with some sauce made of chili-garlic paste, tamari, and orange juice. Today I made the chili-lemongrass version of the ramen and added the tofu, to yummy effect. I think I might try to figure out a less salty, more homemade version of this, maybe with soba noodles and a miso base? I am totally new to and suck at non-western cooking, but I should definitely learn to make a few basics.

My food-related activities have been very limited lately; I'm in kind of a rut and all of my experiments have been going wrong-- for instance, artichoke hearts are really gross when pureed, even with olive oil and garlic and pine nuts and romano cheese. Did you know that? Me neither.

I want to learn to grow sprouts. I'm willing to buy one of those sprouting jars or whatever else, but does anyone know how to do this?

Puttering about. [userpic]

Alton Brown's Cheese Grits and weird cravings.

April 12th, 2006 (11:22 am)
current location: Work. Fuck.

I wrote in my last post about how I was craving grits all the time since my trip to Atlanta. Well, I knew that my dear Alton Brown was a Georgia native, so I figured that his (probably idiot-proof) recipe would be the way to go.

AB's Cheese GritsCollapse )
NotesCollapse )

I am constantly craving the weirdest things lately. My current obsessions are Kedem Grape Juice cut with sparkling water and ROOT VEGETABLES OMG. I cannot stop eating roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets (especially beets), and carrots.

Any combination of these things can be made totally delicious by being scrubbed, chopped (except beets, because the juice will make a terrible mess), tossed with olive oil and the seasonings of your choice, and baked at 375 degrees for half an hour or so.

To prepare the beets, wash them carefully and cut them away from the greens about one inch from the top. The idea is to avoid piercing the skin. Rub them with olive oil and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for thirty to forty-five minutes, or until fork-tender. Let them cool, then peel away the outer skin if desired; it has a different texture, but I don't mind the taste. Slice, toss with a sweet vinegar, salt, and pepper, and serve cool. You can use lemon juice or vinegar to scrub the juice stains off of your fingers.

...I am so goddamn weird.

Puttering about. [userpic]

Atlanta: Home of Ludacris, Adult Swim, and Grits. Lots of Grits.

April 10th, 2006 (04:24 pm)

Oh lord, I have GOT to learn how to make grits properly. I could live on that stuff. It's like risotto or polenta, only BETTER.

A culinary rundown of our trip:

Friday night: We went all day long in the car with nothing but the road food I had brought: fruit leather, hummus and Wasa bread, and generic Cheerios mixed with Craisins, so by the time we checked into our hotel, we were ravenous. We went to a little Michael's-style pub that was relatively nearby and in what turned out to be a very cool neighborhood. We started with some fresh soft pretzels that were dipped in Guinness before baking and served with really coarse mustard. They were completely delicious; I burned my tongue because I couldn't wait until they were cool. For my dinner, I had steamed black mussels with a salad made of red and yellow roasted beets, blue cheese, and arugula, with balsamic vinaigrette. It was so. wonderful, in that way that food is when you haven't had a real meal all day. Yum.

The next day, we took Rachael Ray's advice and went to a cafe called the Flying Biscuit. They had a perfect combination of a totally southern diner and a menu that boasted lots of organic and vegetarian-friendly stuff. They had no red meat on the menu and a free-range chicken sausage that was house made. It was so great that we went there BOTH mornings and completely pigged out. Over the course of two days, I had: oatmeal pancakes with peach compote, eggs over medium, grits (twice), sausage, biscuits (they were like four inches tall and completely changed texture when you bit into them), a vegetable scramble, organic side salad, and love cakes (black bean cakes topped with feta and sour cream). OOF.

Saturday night: Brunch was so insane that we just forwent lunch altogether, opting for a reservation at a southwestern tequila bar caleld Agave at 9:15. They had fresh chips and housemade salsa. Ed had a fancy margarita which I tasted and liked, but I remain skeptical of the combination of margaritas and spicy food, so I stuck with water. I had a very sharply spiced grilled shrimp (craving it lately for some reason) that came with a fried jalapeno-cheddar grits cake (!) and grilled asparagus. Oh, yum. No words. Really.

Ridiculous food-tourism related side-note: Ed and I went to the Coca-Cola Museum on Saturday afternoon, and while it was appropriately corporate and glossy and "Death squads? What death squads? Have some free soda!" it was actually pretty fun. They had a timeline of vintage ads that spanned an entire floor, and it was neat in the way that any timeline of changes in (mainstream, whitebread) American tastes would be. Most importantly, the third floor was like one giant soda fountain, and it gave us the opportunity to try both the best fountain Coke we'd ever had (perhaps it was the ads talking, but I think it had more to do with the fact that it was made across the street not hours ago) and Sodas from the U.S. and Around the World. This included Fanta Birch Beer (I love it), Tab (blech); lots of very yummy fruit sodas of varying sweetness (apple [China] and lemon [Israel] were my favorites); and something called Bitters Soda from Italy that I sincerely hope is used in manner similar to the liqueur, since it is the most vile thing I have ever tasted. Everything got genuinely creepy and the post-soda stomachache hit us around the gift shop, but it was neat to try so many different kinds of soda. Very Willy Wonka, what with the Life Lessons and Being Grateful for What We Already Have and learning not to overdo it with the fizzy lifting drinks.

Whee!

Verdict: I like Atlanta, though I think I would prefer living there to being a tourist there. I will try to write more in my regular journal about what we did that was not related to food.

Puttering about. [userpic]

Cannelini Bean and Yam Hummus

February 13th, 2006 (11:30 am)
Tags: , ,

From Vive le Vegan. This sounds so delicious!

1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
3/4 cup cooked yam (not packed; would be too sweet)
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice (or combination)
1 small to medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 - 1 tsp chipotle hot sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (plus extra for garnish)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)

In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except the pine nuts and optional cilantro and puree until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times throughout. Once smooth, add the pine nuts and puree just a little, leaving some texture (you can blend until smooth if you like, but I prefer a bit of texture). Season to taste with extra sea salt, black pepper, and chipotle sauce, if desired. Serve in a bowl drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil, and a sprinkling of pine nuts and cilantro.

Makes 5 - 6 servings or more as an appetizer with bread, chips, and/or veggies.

Puttering about. [userpic]

Dairy: because it tastes good, dammit. Also, is this bad?

February 13th, 2006 (09:50 am)

I hope to write later about my excellent weekend, but I would just like to take a minute to pimp my current favorite dairy product, Wallaby Yogurt. Now, I have a complicated and conflicted relationship with yogurt. Generally, yogurt is too Something for me: tart, bland, thin, thick, processed, sweet, artificially sweet, chunky, smooth. I eat it by itself on rare occasions, because it is Made of Protein and Fills Me Up and Is Good for Me, and usually just use it as an ingredient or to make fresh cheese.

But this Wallaby Yogurt. This I eat because it is delicious.

It is organic.
It is creamy and mild and not sugary.
It comes in flavors like "Banana Vanilla," "Maple," and "Lemon."
It is 79 cents a cup, cheaper than most conventional yogurt, for those of us playing at home.
It is available at both Sahara Mart and Bloomingfoods. I highly recommend that you acquire yourself some and rekindle your love affair with yogurt.

Haha, oh dear.Collapse )

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