tiger_spot: (glare)
Ever so often, one is presented with a novel vegetable: a mystery item in one's Community Supported Agriculture box, an interesting-looking thing from a market catering to an unfamiliar ethnic group, something your friend handed you enthusiastically. Here is what you do with that vegetable:

1. Is it a leafy green? If so, wash, dry, and if it comes in pieces bigger than spinach, remove any tough ribs and cut or tear into pieces smaller than an index card. Saute some garlic or onion in olive oil or butter, then add your green and cook over medium-low heat until wilted and soft. Taste. If bitter, add lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and give it another few minutes. If bland, add salt and pepper.

Alternatively, wash, dry, remove ribs, slice leaves into ribbons, and add to a vegetable soup. For tender leaves, add close to the end of cooking time. For tougher leaves, add earlier.

2. Is it a hard thing, like a root vegetable or a winter squash or a brussel sprout? Peel it if it has a tough skin, wash it if it doesn't, and chop into vaguely cubical bits a little under an inch on each side. Put the bits in a baking pan with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper, and roast at about 400 degrees F until tender and/or brown in spots.

3. If it is neither of the above, peel it if it's got a tough peel, cut it into bite-size pieces, and try a piece. If it's good raw, put it in a salad. (If it is in fact a fruit, an excellent salad can be made with spinach, nuts, and perhaps some additional fruits if you feel like being fancy. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dress.) If it's not good raw, you can roast it like a root vegetable (if it's squishy turn the oven down to maybe 300) or saute it in olive oil over medium-high heat until it looks tasty. If it doesn't want to soften, toss in a quarter-cup of water and put a lid on the pan so it can steam for a while. Then proceed as if it were a leafy green.

This will not always work (What happens if you roast 1-inch cubes of ginger? I don't know! Maybe I will try it and report back!), and it's never the most exciting presentation of the vegetable in question, but most of the time this procedure will at least tell you whether you like the thing and want to follow up finding more recipes or figuring out how to incorporate it into more complicated dishes.

If you have any questions or need more detail, hit up the comment box below.
tiger_spot: (sword)
Today I am thankful for chocolate. I commend to your attention Martha Stewart's Double Chocolate Brownies and note that if you don't have bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened plus 1 tablespoon sugar per ounce appears to be a cromulent substitute. Good lord these are intense.

Guacamole

Nov. 28th, 2012 04:38 pm
tiger_spot: (foot)
Last night we had fajitas for dinner. [livejournal.com profile] andres_s_p_b gave the baby a taste of guacamole. As she lunged for the third little sample, he said "I think she likes it!"

By reflex, I told the baby, "I'll fight you for it." Then I realized: "No. No I won't. I'll give you mine and be happy about it. WHAT IS THIS STRANGE FEELING?"

Also, [livejournal.com profile] andres_s_p_b wants to go find a highchair this weekend. He is very firm on this point, despite the lack of any opposition, probably because he is often the one holding the baby and getting his dishes grabbed at. She used to be pretty happy in her little rocking chair during dinner, but lately she's decided that all the action is clearly going on above the table so she's got to be up there. Getting her a spot where she can see what's happening without occupying any parental arms would be nice, and now that she can sit up by herself we should have plenty of chair-related options.
tiger_spot: (Default)
It was living in Santa Cruz under an assumed name.

Some time ago, I learned that the Joy of Cooking baklava recipe, while usable (it's hard to go too wrong with nuts and honey), was just not a good baklava recipe. The oven temperatures are wonky so it tends to burn, and it's sweet but not very flavorful. When we lived in Pittsburgh, however, I borrowed one of the Moosewood cookbooks from our housemate, and discovered the One True Baklava Recipe. It bakes up perfectly; it's full of spices and citrus and general sticky goodness; it is overall a thing of joy and delight.

After we moved out, I couldn't find it. I searched the Internet for "Moosewood baklava". No love. I used Amazon's "Search within this book" feature on every Moosewood cookbook. No love. I checked the index of all the Moosewood cookbooks I could find at used and new bookstores. Nothing! I was sad.

Years passed.

Then, yesterday, I woke up a bit earlier than everyone else, here in this delightful vacation rental that Cathy has found for us, and discovered that the fully-equipped kitchen included cookbooks in its fully-equippedness. Included, specifically, Sundays at Moosewood. Hmmm, I thought. We haven't gotten groceries for dinner yet; perhaps something in here will be inspiring. And there — there on the page — away from everything else on the page ("Your storytelling style owes a lot to Arlo Guthrie, doesn't it?" says Brooks) — was MY BAKLAVA RECIPE. I couldn't find it, all these years, because they had spelled it with a P. Paklava. Paklava. I ask you.

And then we went to the grocery, and I made a great big tray of baklava, and it is golden and delicious and overall a thing of joy and delight, and Andres OCRed the recipe and it will never, never leave my sticky little fingers again, and I can have baklava whenever I want.

Baklava. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
tiger_spot: (Default)
Christmasing has begun. Last night we all went up to Berkeley for tasty holiday dinner with [livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses's brother and sister-in-law and her sister and another friend of theirs. Great food, lots of fun, excellent company. We got to meet the dog, who is just the cutest fuzziest little bundle of enthusiasm.

Today [livejournal.com profile] chinders's dad is in town, so he's hung out with us as we go about our day (climbing, mostly, since we didn't go yesterday because of driving to Berkeley all evening) and will soon have dinner and then carry [livejournal.com profile] chinders's present for her sister off to the east coast.

Tomorrow there will be presents and big fancy dinner with just us, and seeing some friends, and then later in the week seeing more friends and general holiday spirit.

Right now everything smells like mulled cider. Perhaps I will go see if it is tasty yet....
tiger_spot: (Default)
Today I am running an experiment.

I have, in the kitchen, a Sussex Pond Pudding. This is, to a first approximation, a lemon in a pie crust, which is then steamed for 3 1/2 hours. The internet tells me it will undergo a miraculous alchemy and turn into food. I have my doubts, but I am game to try.

I suspect my not-a-pudding-mold substitute may be the most likely failure point, as it is more or less the right size but rather flatter than it should be.

Miscellany

Oct. 14th, 2011 02:46 pm
tiger_spot: (Default)
We have entered the dark time of year.

Lately, I'm getting up on train-catching days before the sun is properly up and biking home in the last little trailing bits of sunset. That means it's time to start buying my lunch more often, so I can take it out to the park and soak up some sunlight while it's there.

The other day, I went and bought lunch at the Indian place around the corner from my office, as I often do. However, it was cloudy and yucky out, so instead of taking it to the park I sat at the counter and watched the kitchen go. I knew the place was busy, but I hadn't realized quite how busy. I was really impressed watching all the various cooks zooming around doing six things at once, fetching and patting and frying and passing things off to other cooks and plating and serving and generally doing the well-oiled machine thing. An overclocked well-oiled machine.

One advantage of getting up before sunrise is that I cannot possibly be woken up before the alarm by the chickens or wild birds or anything, because nothing whatsoever is stirring out there. The chickens have been slow with egg production lately; Norska and Phoenix are both molting, so they're out of commission for a while. I may give in and buy store eggs again to support my ice cream creation experiments / late-night chocolate cake needs. (The five-spice syrup, by the way, worked stupendously. Piña colada next!)

***

Lunch today was exciting. I made a new recipe, kale bread, which is a fried Indian flatbread with kale, coriander, and chilis in it. They came out fairly tasty, although next time I am going to knead by hand, not using the food processor, because the food processor isn't really big enough and just makes a mess to clean up. Also I put too much water in, so the dough was really sticky and had to be overfloured to work with properly. As a proof-of-concept they worked, but I think I can make them better next time. [livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses helpfully fried them for me while I was finishing up the rolling and making a salad to go with them.

After the frying was done, the pan got a little overenthusiastic and set off the smoke alarm, which set off the dog, who remained agitated for quite a long time. One of the other alarms decided that ten minutes after the first one had gone off was a good time to start beeping for a battery replacement, which I'm sure reassured the dog not at all. He decided, after the beeping had in fact stopped, that the best thing to do was let himself out the front door. After being retrieved, he tried the back door (open to the screen to let out the smoke, so that one was easy). After being retrieved from there, he was not any happier about existence, and kept running around whining like something was making a noise I couldn't hear, although none of the other alarms were beeping or anything. After I sat out back with him for a while, he calmed down (and did a great job ignoring the chickens). Sunlight is magic, I guess.

***

I have noticed that some of my shirts are fitting differently in the arms and shoulders lately. I can only assume that I'm putting on muscle from climbing. In the abstract, this is good, but it is making it even harder to find shirts that fit, which I frankly didn't expect was possible.

Clearly I should only wear tank tops from now on.

***

The other day, coming home from the train station after Sociological Observation Shopping[1], part of my rear bike light fell off. I didn't realize it at the time -- I thought the noise was me running over a plastic cup or something of that nature. The next morning I checked the spot where the noise occurred (in the park) and found the light cover and the batteries. I reassembled the light and continued on my way. Unfortunately, the cover fell off again later in the ride, and before I could safely retrieve it a great big car ran right over it and pulverized the poor thing. (I did manage to get the batteries, which had not been pulverized.)

So now I have a nice new rear light. The screws holding it to the rack don't want to go in very far, so I'm a little concerned about its stability, but it seems to be doing okay so far.

[1] Sociological Observation Shopping is like shopping, but without the expectation (or in this case the fact) of buying anything (well, lunch and cream puffs, but those hardly count). It's much less stressful than the other kind. Oh, and we went to Paxton Gate, which I will have to take my sibling & sibling-in-law to if they ever come visit, because it is awesome. I wanted to buy them this lamp with chicken feet and a sort of bathysphere aesthetic and an anglerfish/lotus flower thing on a stem and a tentacle, but it was too expensive. (Aha. Not this one, but a similar one.) The website looks all respectable; this is a lie. The store is full of disreputably alarming things like mouse skeletons dressed up as cherubs and taxidermy unicorn heads and bowls full of penis bones and strings of dried pufferfish. Occasionally you get this feeling like you're being watched, and of course you are, by six things that have been dead for years and have their heads swapped around on the wrong bodies.
tiger_spot: (Default)
Recently, [livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses saw an ice cream maker somewhere-or-other and decided it needed to come live with us. So we've made a batch or two of ice cream -- the Mexican chocolate from the included recipe booklet, with chocolate, cinnamon, and cayenne, is quite tasty -- and determined that the custard base is an excellent base but ice cream flavors we can buy at the store are boring.

Help us think of new ones.

So far, the best idea is [livejournal.com profile] andres_s_p_b's suggestion of Victorian Sexuality: it looks like vanilla, but isn't. We're thinking white chocolate with either just a hint of peppermint extract or a rather larger quantity of almond extract; macadamia nuts might be a nice touch. I would also like to do a chai flavor.

What's good in ice cream that Ben & Jerry's doesn't already do?
tiger_spot: (Magritte)
We climbed a long time this evening. I climbed many wonderful things, including one spot where I'm not sure whether the move I tried actually worked or whether I found some kind of clipping error in the physics engine of reality.

It turns out that Z Pizza is not, in fact, open after 10:00 on weeknights. Pho Hoa, however, is, and has a perfectly acceptable vegetarian pho. It also has many interesting beverages, including salty plum soda and various fruit smoothies. The smoothie flavors include jackfruit, avocado, soursop, and (drumroll please) durian.

Of course I tried the durian smoothie. Andres says it smells (and tastes) like something out of the compost bin; I think it tastes rather garlicky, with a sort of fruit aftertaste as the garlic fades. The trick is not to inhale while you're putting it in your mouth. I probably won't order it again, but I'm glad I tried it and I finished the whole thing.

I'll have to try soursop next time; I'd never heard of it, but apparently it is in the same genus as the cherimoya, and the cherimoya is a most excellent fruit which I recently had the pleasure of sampling for the first time. Cherimoya is strongly reminiscent of jackfruit (also tasty), with a kind of banana-pineapple thing going on. I bet it makes great smoothies.
tiger_spot: (red river hog)
As you may or may not know, we're spending Christmas this year at home, having visited folks at Thanksgiving. This means that I can COOK NONSTOP FOR DAYS. Well, not me entirely, but that is the basic shape of the holiday plan here. Observe the menu for the next few days:

December 24th:
  • roast beef
  • green beans (possibly two batches, one Southern-style squishy and one Northern-style tender but crisp)
  • extremely sweet potatoes
  • popovers
  • spinach, onion, and chickpeas (I make this all the time, and I should think of a catchier name for it)
  • pecan pie


December 25th:
  • lasagna
  • salad
  • pumpkin custard
  • pumpkin cake (there is some chance this may end up being a brunch instead)


December 26th (includes various local friends and reveals our severe dining chair shortage):
  • roast ducks
  • wild rice stuffing
  • mashed potatoes
  • broccoli casserole
  • apple pie

plus whatever the various local friends are bringing, which is currently expected to include:
  • cranberry relish
  • nut loaf
  • grapefruit tart

and if the rest of the various local friends do not bring vegetables, we'll add:
  • cabbage & apples


Not to mention various cookies, beverages, fancy holiday chocolates, etc.

I love feast days.
tiger_spot: (Default)
Hello, living.

I am not sick any more. It got me awfully behind on things, but I seem to be about caught up. Now I shall catch you up.

Our Thanksgiving trip was quite nice, and I have here on my desk a giant hard drive full of all the home movies ever, courtesy my sibling. Yay sibling!

While I was sick, my permanent retainer succumbed to the pressure of years of flossing. I had my dentist remove it, polish off the remaining adhesive, and recommend me some orthodontists to consult about whether it (and/or my top retainer, which has been broken for years) should be replaced or altered in some way or whether I can just have teeth like a normal person now. I am really enjoying having the back surface of my front teeth back, so I intend to be very thorough about explaining to these orthodontists, when I get around to calling them, that I do not care what my teeth look like as long as they are more or less symmetrical, I did not want braces in the first place so the effects of said braces wearing off are irrelevant, and really they should only recommend I do or wear anything if not doing it is going to hurt or make it hard for me to eat. I like eating.

I made cookies for a holiday cookie swap and swapped them for other cookies yesterday. They are mostly gone now. The swapping-party was fun.

Andres put the house lights up and we hung the wreath on the door, but we haven't got a Christmas tree yet. This feels late to me, but we will go fetch one and decorate it up this weekend and there will be plenty of days of Christmas tree. (The live tree we used to have is no more; it was scraggly and horrible anyway, because of having been painted blue before we got it, and it's hard to keep container plants alive outdoors here. Or, as Andres put it: "You murdered Sparky!" Yes. Yes I did.)

Galen has been doing fairly well learning Rally Obedience. The class proper is over, but the instructor has started doing drop-in classes to cover the Advanced and Excellent exercises. He's still having trouble with right-hand finishes, which I expected given how long it took him to learn left-hand finishes. He's having trouble with them in really interesting and consistent ways, which reveals a lot about his thought processes and learning style, but it would be nice if he would just get the hang of them already. Also, apparently he really likes backing up (this was one of the new exercises last week, although I vaguely recall working on it a little bit just as a trick a while back). I should practice that this evening just to see if he's still as enthusiastic as he was in class.

Galen also had a veterinary incident a little while ago. Google has dispensers containing a particular kind of chewing gum that is high in xylitol, an artificial sweetener with some antibiotic properties. Unfortunately, xylitol is also extremely toxic to dogs. Someone spilled some of the gum, and Galen, who loves gum, found and consumed it instantly. Three pieces of the stuff is a lethal dose for a dog his size, so Andres rushed him to the vet, and he was unhappy for the rest of the day but is fine now.

The chickens have been molting. This is an unfortunate state in which feathers fall out, new, itchy, poky pinfeathers grow in, no eggs are laid, very little food is eaten, and tempers are even crankier than usual. (I would be cranky, too, if my feathers fell out in this weather.) I think Teckla's about coming out of it, though -- somebody's been starting to eat a reasonable amount of food again, and all the feathers clogging up the bedding-scoop have white spots so they're definitely Norska's. Also she's been merely her normal level of cranky the last few days, rather than the Bitch Queen From Hell she was last week and earlier.

Cathy is sick again, poor thing. She has a well-deserved promotion and accompanying massive raise to comfort her in her extremity, but it's awfully unfair to be sick again already.

Tethys is no longer sick, which is surprising but good. I was expecting her to need to stay on the antibiotics to manage the respiratory disease, since that is what the boys needed, but one course seems to have cleared it up. Hurrah!

As of yesterday, all the presents that need to be shipped have been ordered and/or mailed. I thought I had about half the household Christmas present shopping done, but then I got an e-mail that one thing I ordered wouldn't be in until after the new year (and did I perhaps want to cancel, which was very nice of them to ask, so I said no, I'll save it for a birthday present or something, but I should come up with another little Christmas thing in the meantime) and decided to maybe add a few things here and there, so there will be more happening on that front. Also the first of the presents I ordered to come to me arrived, so I can begin wrapping now. We probably need more ribbon, I think we were low last time I used some.

Tomorrow I will begin using the Clipper public transit payment system. I think I have set it up in such a way that it will actually work, and if this is so I will e-mail the various companies involved to tell them how to do that, because their customer service departments were well-meaning but entirely unhelpful. Or perhaps I will be ignominiously ejected from the train. We'll see.

... and I think that is the entire contents of my brain at the moment.

How are you?
tiger_spot: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses brought over this excellent vegetarian Indian cookbook a while ago, so I have many things planned for dinner tonight. I'll make these lentil-based griddle cakes, and saag paneer, and this interesting spice-paste-stuffed roasted cauliflower thing. This morning I made the paneer. It seems to have worked well, but as 8 cups milk + 1 cup yogurt = about 8 or 10 ounces of paneer, I have vast quantities of whey left over.

What do you do with whey? I expect that as the protein has turned into cheese it won't work right for cooking with in place of milk. Might be good for oatmeal or things like that where you can use milk or water, as it is in some sense intermediate between the two -- I expect it'll make excellent chai. What else could I do with it?

Bragging

Jul. 2nd, 2010 10:13 pm
tiger_spot: (glare)
I have here fresh, warm, homemade bread pudding.

It is teh yum.

We didn't have any cream, so its fat content is a little lower than the recipe called for. But it's good anyway.

Nom nom nom.
tiger_spot: (Default)
We've got some of Andres' relatives coming over for dinner tonight, and need to hit the grocery first. What can I make that:

* feeds 8 people
* is pretty easy to make (in terms of not wanting to painstakingly slice up a whole lot of stuff, because 8 people)
* is pretty fast (because I'll need to get groceries after work, and there is not much time between then and when they're coming over)

I'm a vegetarian, but nobody else is, so feel free to suggest things that the meat-eaters can cook as long as that's not all that's in the proposed meal.

I am thinking possibly potatoes au gratin, microwaved squash halves, and some kind of bean salad. Or possibly a green salad with pears and almonds. Potatoes au gratin are not particularly fast, but the prep is front-loaded and I don't think anyone will mind if we do the little house tour and chat a bit while things are in the oven. If I get groceries at lunch I can do bean salad ahead, and it will be better with time to marinate a bit.

This does not feel like a very inspired menu, though. (I do better with "What can I cobble together from available ingredients?" than with "What should I get at the store?", but available ingredients aren't going to make anything but pasta for this many people.) Any ideas?

Miscellany

Dec. 9th, 2009 05:17 pm
tiger_spot: (Default)
1. The water in the fountain was frozen solid this morning and yesterday morning (it melted in between). It's been cold out there! Interestingly, puddles I biked past yesterday morning were not frozen at all. Earth is a good heat reservoir.

2. The CSA has spoiled me. Now that it is in winter interregnum, I am bereft and hungry. What? I have to buy food? And plan?

3. I took my bike to the shop this morning. The funny grinding vibration when setting out from a stop was caused by a broken axle. Yikes! All better now. (I love the Off Ramp. In addition to fixing the problem, they also corrected the tension on the wheel that keeps going funny and nicely lubricated the chain. And gave me a little lecture about chain lubrication that sounded remarkably like the lecture you get from the dentist about flossing. And charged very little.)

4. There is this sidewalk on my way from work to the train station that has bits of glass or something in it. When it is dark, it is SPARKLY. I cannot look away from it while I am walking over it. This is unfortunate, because it also has lights embedded in it, and they are bright and hurt my eyes. But SPARKLY.

5. If I had an internet-enabled device on the train, I would make a lot more posts like #4 there, about billboards and birds and dogs and people asking for directions and other things I see on the way. Also random thoughts, because I have a lot of those while I'm walking but I don't usually remember them long enough to bring up later.
tiger_spot: (glare)
We actually got somewhere in the neighborhood of 31-40 Trick-or-Treaters. The doorbell rang perhaps 8 or 10 times, but most of those were small hordes of variously costumed children. The only solo Trick-or-Treater was the one who was clearly too old for this and didn't really have a costume, although there were two pairs (counting the family that had one walking child and an extra bag for the nine-month-old at home as a pair).

Nobody likes Whoppers.
tiger_spot: (bubbles)
I like to learn something new every day.

Today's experiment: lime sherbet / ginger ale float

Results: Pretty good actually. Requires a bit of waiting for the appropriate quantity of lime sherbet to melt before it reaches the peak of flavor.

Additional results: Produces nice tough foam which is fun to blow on and watch scatter about the inside of the glass.
tiger_spot: (Default)
Pursuant to this discussion over here, I have made cream puffs. I have made damned complicated cream puffs, which is, I think, missing the point of cream puffs a bit. But they are tasty.

Layer 1: Pastry from this recipe, which was lovely and simple and worked perfectly.
Layer 2: Pastry cream [livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses made from the Joy of Cooking recipe. This would have been a better layer if we'd had enough eggs to make a whole batch instead of a half-batch (it got spread pretty thin).
Layer 3: Thinly sliced strawberries from our farm box.
Layer 4: Freshly whipped cream with a bit of sugar and some mint extract (we were going to use mint from the farm box, but when we tried to extract it in vodka it got this weird grassy taste, so we used regular peppermint extract instead).
Layer 5: More pastry.

I believe I will go have another.
tiger_spot: (Default)
Chard: Two thumbs up, will eat again. With enthusiasm! (And garlic.)

Orach: Described as being just like spinach but purple, this surprised me by being both more like spinach and more purple than I was expecting. It gives off a liquid which is really remarkably purple, rather as though a radioactive magenta pen had sprung a leak. Tastes okay, but nothing to write home about.

Escarole and Turnip Greens (cooked together): Bitter. I added vinegar, which helped some. Edible, but not good.

Arugula (eaten raw in salad): Peppery. I kind of liked it, sufficiently diluted with lettuce, but Andres has declared it anathema and Doesn't Want Any.

There are supposed to be dandelion greens in the next box. I will be leaving those in the swap box because we've tried them before and they're nasty.
tiger_spot: (Default)
I picked up our first box from the community-supported agriculture subscription on Friday. I am quite pleased so far. Things from the box are bolded below for your agriculture-following convenience.

Friday night, I made, from a recipe included in the box, pasta with shredded beets, sour cream, and parsley[1]. I also sauteed chard with green garlic. The chard was super-fantastic. I like it quite a bit. I was going to put the beet greens in with it, but [livejournal.com profile] andres_s_p_b requested that they be segregated in case they're nasty, so they haven't been cooked yet.

The next day, [livejournal.com profile] andres_s_p_b made stir fry that included some of the Savoy cabbage, and also cooked up a chicken breast and mushrooms for him and [livejournal.com profile] chinders.

My plan for Sunday was carrot-and-parsnip soup, but we got invited out for Mexican instead, so I'll do that later.




[1] The recipe included, about halfway through, "meanwhile, make the pasta", so I started water boiling before I began chopping things. The pasta was finished well before I was done peeling and shredding the beets; beet-shredding takes a while. Oddly, the recipe left out the clearly necessary step, of, just after shredding the beets, staggering into the office to groan piteously at [livejournal.com profile] andres_s_p_b and display one's poor wounded hand, clearly covered in blood and bits of viscera (or possibly beet juice and stray shreds).

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