13 December 2009

Holiday Party Menu

Colby's watching Dexter right now and I can't bear to watch it. It's way too suspenseful for my taste and it makes me feel jumpy as hell. Instead, I'm in the home office (doors closed, of course) writing out the recipes for my Holiday/House warming party. You should probably come if you're in the Austin area. :) And just for a taste of what's to come, here's my proposed menu

garlic potato bites with prosciutto
hummus w/red+green veggies
sun dried tomato dip adapted from the Gourmet Today cookbook
baked brie wrapped in puff pastry
endives with mascarpone cheese and habanero jelly
gnocchi alla Romana (also from Gourmet Today)

chocolate chip cookies
rice krispie treats (because why not?)
rum balls (from Chris)
sugar cookies (from Baked)
coconut oatmeal cookies
thumbprint cookies (maybe)
gingerbread cookies (perhaps with a decorating station)

mulled apple cider
spiked hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps

06 December 2009

re-dishing thanksgiving

I posted a lot in November. I didn't quite make it the whole way through NaBloPoMo, but whatever, I tried. After like.. 27 posts or something ridiculous, I'm sort of out of things to say. Also, after prepping and cooking Thanksgiving for what seemed to be hours, I'm also a little burned out on the food front, although I did manage to make some tasty Thanksgiving "remixes".

Potato Croquettes (Adapted from Paula Deen)

1 T flour
1 T milk
3ish C mashed potatoes
2 eggs
panko breadcrumbs
3-4 T olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Mix flour, milk, mashed potatoes, 1 egg, and salt+pepper to taste. beat the other egg in a separate bowl with a little bit of water. form little disks (~2 in diameter) out of the potato mixture, and then dip them briefly in the egg wash, shaking off the excess. Dip into the panko and repeat for all. Working in batches, fry up the croquettes in the hot oil and flip when golden brown. Make sure there's enough space for each of the croquettes (they shouldn't touch). Serve with hot mustard because we all know that these are basically stand ins for knishes.

28 November 2009

I watch... Glee. :(

I resisted for 11 episodes, but I finally caved over Thanksgiving... :( Yes, I'm watching Glee.

It's sort of like Freaks and Geeks minus good writing and likeable characters + music.

And in other news, my in-laws have left, my Thanksgiving dinner went really well, and I'm super looking forward to the end of the semester. :)

25 November 2009

last vanilla ice cream recipe that you'll ever need

Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Like seriously. Not joking.

Best Vanilla Ice Cream like evAr:

1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1.25 c cream
vanilla bean, split and scraped

heat evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla bean on medium heat, stirring constantly, until it simmers. Remove from heat and in a separate container, add cream. Stir together. Place in the fridge overnight to chill. Remove vanilla bean (and rinse and add to a sugar jar) and strain. Place in your favorite ice cream maker.

24 November 2009

I am (not) thankful for stellar seminar

Operation mise en place is in place. I've decided to prep things this time, instead of measuring everything out at the last minute. It turns out that being prepared makes things go more smoothly. Who'dathunkit? So far I have the brine mix (minus the liquids), tarte tatin dry goods, and pumpkin pie filling and crust stuffs ready. Colby's currently hacking through a loaf of sourdough bread for the stuffing and I'm cramming information in my brain to make sure that I don't sound stupid when I give my talk tomorrow.

"What talk?" you ask. Well, see, I'm a genius and forgot that Thanksgiving came at the end of November and decided that it was a good time to give a talk. I'll be giving a 30 minute presentation on isotopic lithium abundances in metal-poor stars. Since you're all on the edge of your seat about it, I'll tell you the punch line: lithium-6 is SUPER hard to observe and unless you're the world's most careful scientist, or a liar, you haven't seen it in the sense where you have a legitimate detection.

23 November 2009


I've sort of given up on NaBloPoMo... although this technically extends my streak. This week I have to present at Stellar Seminar, make a Thanksgiving dinner for the in laws and resist the urge to run screaming from my own house.

22 November 2009

Iron Chef America

I sort of hate Iron Chef America. Shh. I know that I'm supposed to be obsessed, but I can't stand Bobby Flay and the best one (besides Morimoto, who is sort of a sell out) left awhile ago. That would be Mario Batali. Alton Brown is quite possibly the only reason why it's tolerable.

21 November 2009

Thanksgiving Menu!

This is mostly for my own benefit... and it doubles as a post. Sweet.

butternut squash soup
some sort of salad


sausage and wild mushroom stuffing
roasted brussels sprouts
green bean casserole
mashed potatoes


tarte tatin
pumpkin pie

20 November 2009


I'm going to go to karaoke tonight... sober. This should be interesting. Maybe I'm not done with alcohol forever and always anymore?

Madras Pavilion

I ate myself into a food coma last night. Madras Pavilion is way too tasty for its own good which is why I spent 10 hours having cracked out dreams (instead of like 4 hours).

We started the meal with mulligatawny soup, which is lentil based. Very good and actually sort of filling. We followed with amazing samosas which were served with some sort of herb chutney (I think it had to have cilantro and mint) and some sort of spicy Indian bbq sauce. After that was the dosai which are giant crepes with a spicy potato and pea filling served with an amazing coconut dipping sauce and some sort of smoky tomato sauce that's almost more like a chili without, you know, meat because MP is a vegetarian place and apparently also kosher. And after all that they bring out the entree which consists of saag paneer (creamed spinach), lentil daal, and chana masala (think chicken tikka masala, except with chick peas instead of chicks) accompanied with rice that had been cooled with veggies and saffron as well as raita, "pickles" and naan. Dessert shows up and it's rasmali and it's too good for words.

I guess this will be a double post sort of day to make up for my sleep. :)

18 November 2009

Assorted thoughts

For dinner I heated up some leftover chicken and made couscous stuffed red bell peppers. It was pretty good and Colby ate like 2 cups of couscous because Colby:carbs::black holes:matter. I'm also in the middle of making a crustless quiche and sipping on homemade hot chcocolate. I'm also not the least bit motivated to post recipes, so I thought I'd share links to things that I think are noteworthy.

First and foremost, I've mentioned on twitter that Aiming Low is one of my favorite blogs. It's funny and relatable and gives me something to read on the bus... or, you know, anywhere I have my phone. In the past two days, the founder of the blog, Anissa Mayhew suffered a massive stroke and is in the ICU. The writers at Aiming Low have started a page to keep updates on her condition and started a way to send help, but mostly are asking people to keep them in their thoughts/prayers(if you're into that sort of thing). Most people who read this blog probably don't read Aiming Low, but I wanted to share this not just because I'm a fan of the site, but because I sort of understand what their family is going through.

On a lighter note, The Delicious Life is posting a lot again (yay!) and has compiled a list of assorted recipes from Thomas Keller's book Bouchon.

And now thanks to Chris, my new favorite blog is On Becoming a Laboratory and Domestic Goddess, written by "Dr. Isis". She's funny and has an awesome taste in shoes and is a must read for all you female scientists out there. (Do I know my audience or what? Hello people from the astronomy department! ;) )

And finally, here's a visualization of the risks associated with the HPV vaccine. Seriously, you should probably get it if you're female, single, and plan to be sexually active between now and t = infinity.

17 November 2009

Miso Glazed Salmon

I've been chronicling what I've been eating for about a week now. I told a few people about it (so, like... Colby), but it's sort of embarrassing how much I eat. I guess I understand now why I've gained so much weight. It's easy to blame it on school and stress, but in reality, I've mostly just let myself go because I'm lazy. I'm taking the opportunity now to refocus my energies in getting healthier by eating less and exercising more. I'm definitely not going to turn this into my personal diet journal (because that's what my super secret livejournal from high school that has since been deleted was all about), but I'll share insights into how much it sort of sucks and what I'm eating (since that's really what matters on a food blog).

Dinner tonight consisted of an awesome salad (if I do say so myself), leftover gnocchi, and miso glazed salmon

miso glazed salmon in parchment

2 salmon filets
1.5 T miso paste
2 T brown sugar
1 T hot water
1 T soy sauce
1 small clove garlic, grated
1/2 tsp grated ginger
salt + sichuan pepper
olive oil
parchment paper

set oven to 400. Whisk together miso paste, water, brown sugar, soy sauce, grated garlic, and grated ginger to combine. Drizzle salmon filets lightly with olive oil, only to coat. Season with salt and sichuan pepper on all sides and coat with about 1/2 of the glaze (save the rest to dip in the salmon). Place the salmon in parchment and crimp closed. Place in a baking dish and cook for ~20 minutes, or until the salmon is 145 deg in the middle.

You could also just use cooking spray instead of olive oil, but I hate cooking spray like... a lot. Also, black pepper for sichuan pepper is also fair game.

We got our (wild caught) salmon from Costco on our (yuppie) shopping day. Unsurprisingly, the pieces are freaking huge, so I only ate half. Thankfully, Colby liked the recipe and ate the rest of mine as well. :)

16 November 2009


Since I'm tired, here's a picture I drew for Chris

15 November 2009

yupping out.

Real Estate Intervention is kind of a depressing show. It makes me scared for when we have to sell our house, but that's not going to be for some time. Right now, we're finishing up fixes to the paint job and furnishing the rest of the rooms. We had a rather yuptastic afternoon, starting with bamboo bathroom accessories from Crate & Barrel, a quick trip to Verizon to fix the trackball in my BlackBerry, a stop a Nordstrom Rack (which is *awesome*) and then finally a tour of Costco where I was taunted with hordes of ridiculously cute little kids.

I guess I don't have too much to say. I roasted a chicken. It was tasty, but I'm not done tinkering with the recipe. Also, roasting chicken scares the bejesus out of me because I'm never sure if I'm giving myself salmonella. Hopefully I'll figure it out before I make a huge mistake and end up in the ER.

14 November 2009

Gnocchi... gnuff said.

There's a giant wad of potato yumminess in the bottom of my tummy. I'm pretty sure that I don't have to eat for the next three days and I'll be fine. We had a couple of the people who helped us move over for dinner and I made gnocchi from scratch. It was really freaking good, but I'm super full. It was also pretty simple.

4 lbs potatoes
3-ish c all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 t kosher salt

Boil the potatoes and let them cool enough to handle. Remove the skins and rice the potatoes into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Gently sprinkle/fold about 2.5 c of the flour into the potatoes. It's really important to not overwork the dough. Gently break the yolks of the eggs and pour into the center of the potato bowl. Knead the dough until it comes together, adding in the rest of the flour if it's needed. In my case, I needed all 3 c because the potatoes were a little bit wet from being a bit overboiled.

Grab a baseball sized amount of dough and place on a well floured surface. Roll into a long skinny tube and cut into individual pieces. You can smash each piece a bit with a fork to get the "grooved" look of gnocchi (and also so that sauce has a place to go). Boil the gnocchi for ~1 minute or so. The pieces should float to the top. Nom nom nom.

13 November 2009

IKEA hijinks

IKEA has a lot of our money. Things we have from IKEA: this desk I'm sitting at, the accompanying drawer set, random kitchen implements, couch, dining table, chairs, bench, about 3 or so of those little LACK tables... the list goes on. In order to celebrate our new house, we went there tonight... and by "we went" I mean that I was driving and Colby had no choice. Mostly, we moved from a cramped 2 BR/1 bath apartment (and by cramped I mean that we had way too much shit) to a house that was over twice as large so we needed to fill some space. 2 hours later, we came back with a futon chair for the office, 2 bar stools for the kitchen island, another chair for the dining table, a couple garbage cans, closet organizers, and tummies filled with Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jelly.

So... since we had dinner at IKEA, I didn't really eat the pumpkin gnocchi that I made... which is sort of good because I just tried one and it wasn't very good. It turns out that whole wheat flour tastes like bitter ass... which is why little kids like white bread so much. I told myself that I was trying to healthy up the pasta, but in reality, the whole wheat flour that I have is going to expire in the next 6 days... which probably tells me that buying it in the first place was a mistake, but instead of listening to that instinct, i'm just going to try to sneak whole wheat flour into as much stuff as possible. :)

p.s. real post tomorrow. making gnocchi for realz without the pumpkin, whole wheat flour, and ickiness.

12 November 2009

Musashino is Japanese for yummy

The closest that I've come to preparing food today was either when I washed the apple I ate at 10 am or when I almost set my office on fire when I microwaved my soup for too long. Dinner at Musashino was holy crap amazing, but also crazy expensive. Oops. Oh well, sushi should probably be one of those things you splurge on because cheap sushi makes for terrible nights.

so basically, I'm phoning this entry in because I'm supposed today and I'd really just like to hit the sack.

11 November 2009

at least it's a post.

Things I almost forgot to do today:

charge my iPod
change the load of laundry
post to the blog

All of these would be tragic, if forgotten. See, if I didn't have my iPod, I pretty much would get no work done. Also, I wouldn't have a white noise generator to take naps. It turns out that the new nanos have a radio feature and you can pick which region you want to listen to. I picked Japan and listened to static for a blissful 30 minutes while I slept in my office under the cover of Colby's hoodie. I only awoke when my butt totally fell asleep, which is ironic, I suppose.

I've been trying to be good about doing the laundry as well, but usually I put in a load, forget it's there, re-wash it a day later. repeat. about 3 more times. This would have been unusually bad this time, though, because our crazy awesome 1000-thread count sheets were in there and I'd really like to sleep on them again free of both dirt and mold.

finally, I'm surprised that I've been able to post every day, considering the move and all the stuff that's going on at school. it's okay, though, because I remembered before I hit the sack... because now I'm old and can't stay up past midnight.

and since this is a food blog, today we ate "mustard chicken", which is something that Colby makes. I should get him to write a "guest post" (so I don't have to write 30 posts in a month) about it. We also had more of the butternut squash soup and I made this pumpkin bread, with a few tweaks. I'm not totally happy with it, so no posts on that... yet.

10 November 2009

Thai-inspired butternut squash soup

I've been experimenting with butternut squash soup because I want to serve it as part of Thanksgiving dinner. I should probably decide soon enough because Colby's getting sick of it and Thxgvg is just around the corner with the added pressure of Colby's immediate family joining us for dinner. {begin rant} It was pretty awesome... they invited themselves at the last minute after I told everyone in the astronomy department that I would host the department's Thanksgiving party. Colby, being unable to control himself, was totally cool with the idea of his entire family showing up and so then I had to cancel the party because my crazy father-in-law asks me about the alignment of the planets and the year 2012 every *freaking* time I see him, so putting him around a bunch of proto-astronomers was just a bad idea.{end rant} *ahem* where was I?

Oh, right. soup.

My friend pointed me to the Whole Foods recipe for butternut squash soup and it's a great base and I began to experiment from that. My favorite incarnation of it thus far has been Thai inspired and is what we ate for dinner tonight.

1 medium butternut squash, roasted
1 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, grated
2 T pine nuts
1 T brown sugar
1 T red curry paste
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 large stalk of celery, diced
32 oz vegetable stock, homemade is preferred

To roast the squash set the oven to 400 and split the squash in half. Take out the seeds and rub 1/4 T butter on both of the cut sides. Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven cut side up for about 35-45 minutes, or until the flesh is easily pierced with a knife. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 T of butter with the olive oil in a stockpot. Add in garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant (~30s). Add in the onion, carrots, celery, and pine nuts and about 1 tsp kosher salt. Let this sweat for a few minutes until the veggies soften. Add in the curry paste and stir until the veggies are all coated and everything starts to smell awesometastic. Add in the vegetable stock and the brown sugar and let the mixture heat through. Add in the squash and attack with a stick blender until smooth.

This could also be served with a tiny dollop of creme fraiche to help cut through the heat. It's a little spicy, but in a really good way.

09 November 2009

New Kitchen

We finally unpacked the kitchen enough such that I could actually find enough bowls, pots, and pans to cook a meal. Granted, the entire house is still in boxes and bags, but there's a ton of space in the kitchen so I settled on my new go to meal: pasta with garlic, artichokes, and sundried tomatoes. I served it with a salad made with spring mix, crimini mushrooms, getost cheese, and croutons with a bottled dressing (shameful, I know!).

garlic pasta toss
1 lb spaghetti, cooked to al dente
reserved pasta water
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
6 oz jarred artichoke hearts, quartered
1 T dried basil
parmasean cheese

heat EVOO in a crazy large pan (or stock pot if you don't have one). add in garlic and stir for 30 or until fragrant. add in artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes and stir to heat. add pasta and basil and toss to combine. If it's too thick, add in the reserved pasta water to thin. season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated parm.

p.s. if you've never had getost, you should really try it. it's pretty awesome and it goes well with fruit.

08 November 2009


There is something completely wonderful about the first time you step into a place that you're going to live. Everything is empty and no boundaries have been drawn. Seeing that same place emptied after living in it for a year and a half, however, is not quite the same. The couch obviously belongs against the wall and the TV in the corner. It's no longer filled with possibility, but rather with memories and indentations from the furniture.

Leaving our apartment was bittersweet. It was the first place that Colby and I lived together and where we spent the first 10 months of our married life. This new house, though, makes up for it. It's amazing and I can finally put all of my kitchen supplies together. We're still in the midst of getting organized, but I almost have my kitchen back... which means that I almost have my food blog back. :)

p.s. pictures soon... once we're done unpacking.

07 November 2009

Moving Part 2309483

I've been cheating my way through NaBloPoMo with kind of watered down posts. I think this is what happens when i'm forced to write every day. Oh well. I haven't been publicizing the fact that I've been posting in the usual spots, but once I post something of substance I will.

As for now, we're done with most of the painting for awhile. All we really need to do is to touch up some spots where we totally sucked at painting (and trust me, I do). Today is going to be filled with moving and Sunday will be cleaning the apartment time. Such (not) fun to be had...which is why I'm posting so early today.

P.S. my meals today were Potbelly's and Jason's Deli. Ugh. I can't wait til I have my kitchen back!

06 November 2009

We've been painting for most of the day. One room looks amazing. The other room looks kind of like crap, but I'm trying to live with it. MÝ best advice in terms of painting is to sit on the color for a week, at least, to make sure it's not a horrible decision.

05 November 2009

Another quickie

The fact that we don't have a full kitchen anywhere at the moment means that we've been eating out a whole lot lately. We've been to Luby's, Zoe's Kitchen, and today we went to Taco Cabana. Mind you, it's not fancy eating, but they're Austin-ish establishments and now I can say that my suspicions were confirmed about Taco Cabana and it's a giant crap hole. Regardless, it fed me and shortly thereafter we went to our new HOUSE. :)

So we're painting tomorrow, moving on Saturday, and hopefully getting unpacked shortly thereafter. Expect no posts of substance because that's what NaBloPoMo does to a blog.

04 November 2009

Packing Part 26

Okay, I admit that the last post was a cop out. I also admit to waking up at about 11:30 last night and asking my husband to post for me so I wouldn't miss a day for NaBloPoMo. I should actually talk about what that is in an upcoming post... but I'm still tired.

We've been packing all evening. It's been less than fun, but we're close to the point where we get to start cleaning everything (yippee...), but we need to be done with that so we can purchase paint stuff tomorrow. Given all the packing, my best laid plans with that menu have definitely been thrown out the window. The kitchen is almost completely packed away now so yesterday we hit up Firebowl one more time and tonight we tried Zoes Kitchen. I might have to review both of these places, but let's just say that I'll miss Firebowl and not so much Zoes Kitchen.

Colby made the observation that once we move into our house, we'll actually be "grown ups". I recoiled at the idea and immediately left the room. The idea of being an adult beyond the legal sense is something that I do not embrace warmly. I'm still convinced that we're playing the most drawn out game of house ever... and it's totally the most fun ever.

03 November 2009

will post later too sleepy now :(

02 November 2009

Collisionless Boltzmann Equation my butt.

So the reason why I don't post as often as I would like is because of stuff like this:

\int{v_{j}(\rm{CBE})d\overrightarrow{v}^{3}} \Rightarrow \frac{\partial{}}{\partial{t}} \int{fv_{j} d\overrightarrow{v}^{3}}+\sum_{1}^3 \int{v_{i}v_{j}\frac{\partial{f}}{\partial{x_{i}}}d\overrightarrow{v}^{3}} -\sum_{1}^3 \frac{\partial{\Phi}}{\partial{x_{i}}}\int{v_{j}\frac{\partial{f}}{\partial{v_{i}}}d\overrightarrow{v}^{3}}=0

I've spent the afternoon up to my eyeballs in LaTeX, which is the scientific community's answer to Microsoft Word. It's actually a lot prettier, but that's a different post for a different day. Basically, I'm taking a class that is 90% based on presentations and tomorrow I'm going to have to fake that I know stuff about tensors. In order to skirt any responsibility of actually understanding them, my partner and I have decided to talk about the tensor virial theorem, which we went over in a different graduate course (galaxies). I had really hoped that I would never have to see TVT ever again, but I guess that was too hopeful on my part.

So yes, instead of going to play softball tonight, I'm going to type more things out that look like the above and hope that I don't fail my courses. Oh, and pack.

01 November 2009

Moving Menu

We went to Costco today because I wanted to get out of the apartment and Colby wanted to go for a walk... and because we needed to go and buy stuff to retain our yuppie badges. Mission accomplished. In an effort to, you know, minimize the amount of stuff that we need to move, we spent 70 bucks on things that we probably didn't need, but will definitely have to move because everything is in bulk.

We're also working on packing up the kitchen and hence will be on a limited kitchen supply list. Here's what I think we'll have: baking sheet, omelette pan, stock pot, pizza pan, bamboo steamers, sauce pan. I think this means that I need to actually plan out what we'll be eating for the week so here it goes (and let's see if we'll be able to follow it...)

fiesta chicken salad (ala O's) w/black beans, tortilla chips, and a salsa yogurt dressing

pasta w/artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, chicken

salad w/sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, chicken

some sort of chicken w/cream sauce (Colby's making it)

painting day... so... it'll be take out.

moving day... also take out, with my moving peeps.

assorted snacks will include: dumplings, noodle soup, mac'n'cheese

I've been trying to make a calendar which highlights all the meals that I'll be making, but I honestly haven't stuck to it at all. Maybe when I do, I'll eventually post it, but it's not worth it right now.

31 October 2009

NaBloPoMo: November 2009

Sometimes the best lunches are the simplest. Today is kimchi ramen with a poached egg atop. So delicious and so easy. All I had to do was tell my husband what I wanted for lunch and it appeared 10 minutes later. :)

I think that I'm going to try to do NaBloPoMo for November. I've tried to do it many times before, but I always fell short sometime mid-month, but this will give me a reason to blog for a bit, at least.

30 October 2009


My shameful foodie confession for the day is that sometimes i like really (and I mean *really*) mediocre food when I'm stressed. I had a committee meeting today which I thought I was totally going to rock, but ended up sounding like I hadn't done anything and didn't know what the hell I was doing. It was pretty much awesome and didn't make me want to quit astronomy to be a hobo at all (sarcasm). So to celebrate, Colby and I hit up Luby's, the Texas version of... well, I've never quite been to any place like it. It's basically a cafeteria with sit-down looking seating with real waiters who offer to get you free refills and salad dressing.

In all, it wasn't half bad and it was much better than the cafeterias at Michigan State. Then again, people who go to MSU get the freshman -15 because the food is so bad. I'm pretty sure, though, that the next time I go there will be when I'm 75 because the place seems pretty geared up for old people because the food is all soft and easy on the dentures and there's a drive way next to the door that allows you to drop off Grandpa right near the start.

28 October 2009


okay, so i've been absent lately. I blame this on getting pretty sick last week and on the stresses that are involved with moving, taking tests, and trying to dedicate my life to something that I really hate at the moment. Since I'm not going to post anything of substance until after my interstellar medium test, I'll leave you with amusing tidbits daily:

(12:58:45 AM) Chris: I need to eat dinner
(12:58:51 AM) Chris: also: decide what I want for dinner
(12:59:22 AM) julie: turkey sandwich with brie, field greens, fig spread, red onions, roasted tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar
(12:59:35 AM) Chris: yeah, my life isn't cool like that

12 October 2009

Fakemosas: What to do When Your Shortening Smells Like Freezer Burn

We've been getting dim sum a whole lot lately. There's a great place on the weekend called Chinatown-Mopac which serves it on Saturday and Sunday and is located above Musashino, my favorite sushi place in Austin. My fervor for dumplings (and dumplingesque items) was so great that one night I went to HEB and got frozen spring rolls, samosas, and chicken potstickers from HEB. It was a lot cheaper than getting dim sum from Chinatown-Mopac, but it was a lot less satisfying.

I decided that I wanted to make my own dumplings and with the tip from April from The Hungry Engineer, bought Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen. I've made three different dumplings from the book so far and they've all been fantastic. The first two were very true to the original recipe, but the samosas are a bastardization of her awesome book. I'm definitely going to try to make samosas the proper way, but discovered that the shortening I had on hand (which is required for making the dough) smelled like it had been sitting in my freezer unsealed for 3 months (because it had), so that just wouldn't work and Colby was sick of running to the grocery store. Since I had the mix already made (because I'm nothing if not disorganized), I decided to use wonton skins instead because it seemed like a better idea than throwing away a bunch of potatoes. The results were pretty good, but I know that the recipe in the book will be far better and much more rewarding. I'll take it as a lesson in learning to get organized, but for now, here's a recipe for fake samosas for the cluttered at heart.

Adapted from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen

2 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes (~10 oz)
1 1/2 T canola oil
1/4 c fresh (or frozen and thawed) peas
1/4 c finely chopped onion
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala

wonton wrappers
canola oil for frying

boil the potatoes in water until they are easily pierced with a fork. let cool and peel the skins. cube into 1 cm pieces. In a frying pan, heat 1 1/2 T canola oil. Add in the garam masala, coriander, and cumin until fragrant. Add in the potatoes, onion, peas, ginger, and salt and fry until the onions are wilted and the entire mixture is warmed. Remove from pan and then let the mixture cool.

Place a rounded tsp of the potato mixture into each wonton. I'm not a good person to ask about how to do this, but I'll try to explain how to do this through pictures:
Fill a small pot of oil about 1.5-2 in deep and heat it until the temperature reaches ~340 F. Place the samosas in a couple at a time. Cook until they are golden brown on both sides, flipping midway through. This should take around a minute, but watch the samosas closely and make sure that your oil is hot enough (but not too hot.)

Place fresh samosas on paper towel to soak up the oil. Let cool and then enjoy the fruits of your labor!

07 October 2009

High Altitude Ground Beef Sandwich

So I haven't posted anything lately, because I haven't really made anything new or exciting. As per usual, I blame this on school. In the past month or so, I've proctored and graded 3 exams in addition to taking my own, being in class, and trying to get a research project done. This makes me want to not do anything except sleep and zone out in front of my TV. (Monday nights = best night of television, by the way. Lie to Me, Castle, and How I Met Your Mother make for a great way to start the week and actually have my looking forward to Mondays.) Needless to say, we've been eating out a lot and tonight we finally went to Elevation Burger.

I'm sort of surprised that it took us this long to try it out considering its premise: grass fed beef and natural ingredients. It's a similar concept to Terra Burger, but they claim to use organic or natural, as opposed to grass fed beef. Colby got the Elevation Burger, which is two patties + two large pieces of cheese and I got the cheeseburger because I'm a one patty, one slice sort of girl along with a side of fries. For the two of us it ended up being a little under $18, which isn't bad, but is sort of pricey for burgers+fries. It's sort of par for the course for what I've deemed (in my head) the upscale fast food places (like Five Guys).

I found the burger to be incredibly salty. If it weren't for the cheese and bun, the patty would have been inedible. Colby thought it was salty as well, but he couldn't tell if it was the burger or the cheese. Aside from the saltiness, I actually enjoyed the burger as a whole: bun+cheese+patty+ketchup, but it wasn't the best I've had. I'd place it between Five Guys and Terra Burger in taste, but the grass fed meat definitely gives it an edge over Five Guys.

The fries are another story. Colby thought they were too salty, but I didn't mind that as much as I minded how mushy they were. The fries are a little larger than the ones at Steak'n'Shake with the texture of the fries at Wendy's after they get a little cold and mushy. I could write a whole post on my favorite fries, but I'll save that for another day. In all, they weren't inedible, but they weren't very good either.

I think that we'll probably end up here at some point in the future. We ended up being the last customers in the store (oops), so maybe the incredible saltiness was a fluke.

29 September 2009

Homemade Apple Cider

I love the fall. It's my favorite season by far. It's the time of boyfriend (or I guess husband) hoodies, college football, and cider mills. In Texas, the changing of the season means almost nothing. The temperatures dipped into a 60s last, which was a huge respite from the heat, but the extended forecast shows highs in the upper 80s to 90s, meaning that the only place to wear a hoodie is in my over-air conditioned office. The excessive heat means that apples are ill-suited to grow and the closest cider mill is in Lubbock, TX, a mere seven hours by car. Considering what it would cost in gas, I decided that it would be a lot cheaper to just make my own cider.

The term "cider" isn't strictly regulated by the USDA, but generally apple cider is the raw, unfiltered juice from apples, whereas apple juice is the cooked, strained juice. It turns out that cider tastes like apples and apple juice tastes like an apple-y byproduct. Since it's not actually regulated, some unscrupulous companies change the name of their product to "apple cider" when the fall season hits, but that doesn't even come close to the greatness that a fresh apple cider can bring.

The only ingredient you need for cider is apples. I used a random mix, based on the cheapest ones I could find at Whole Foods, but in general, the idea is to balance tart and sweet to get a pan-apple flavor that has a wonderful tangy finish.

homemade apple cider

apple corer
food processor
fine mesh strainer

wash all the apples and pat dry. remove the core with the corer, but be sure to leave the skins on.

place apples in the food processor and turn it on until it looks like apple sauce. call this a "mash"

Now is the point where most recipes will tell you to put the mash through a cider press. That would be super awesome to have if they weren't 250 bucks for the basic model. I experimented with a few ways of doing it and the best solution I had was to run it through a fine mesh strainer. I used my chinois and pestle to force the juices out, but it really doesn't get *all* the juice out. For the 11ish lbs of apples that I used I probably could have gotten ~3/4 of a gallon or so of cider, but I only ended up with 2 quarts.

There are other options besides the strainer and they have their pros and cons. I've never used one, but I'm guessing that a food mill lined with cheesecloth would work okay. I also experimented with lining a potato ricer with cheesecloth, which works really well, but you can only do small batches. It gets the juice out better than the strainer+pestle, but it definitely will take a whole lot longer (and you'll spend a fortune on the cheesecloth!).

So now, what does one do with the juiced mash? Compost it!

27 September 2009

chocolate+food coloring+... = cake?

I am the anti-Texan. This isn't really surprising to anyone. I find that 50 degrees is an optimal time to bring out the shorts, rather than the night time average temperature in the dead of winter. I enjoy baseball more than football and I voted unlike most of Texas (with the exception of Austin, of course). That being said, I have never tried red velvet cake. In fact, I had never really seen red velvet cake until I made it myself, and let me tell you, it was good... according to everyone else. I never tried it.

You see, I hate chocolate. Well, hate is a strong word. I dislike chocolate because it tastes bitter to me and why would anyone want to ruin a perfectly good cake with it? Furthermore, I hate food coloring. I hate food coloring so much that I can't eat sweet and sour chicken from Chinese places due to the bright red sauce. chocolate+food coloring = my nightmare cake. However, it was a friend's birthday and at her request I made red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for her party.

Red Velvet Cake (adapted from Joy of Baking)

2.5 c cake flour, sifted*
4 T Dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
1.5 c sugar
1 c buttermilk
1 T red food coloring (if you must)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar

Set oven to 350. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to evenly distribute the CP, BS, and NaCl. Whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and the vinegar. Add to the butter and mix to combine. Combine the buttermilk and food coloring and stir to evenly distribute the red dye. It's probably going to look crazy gross. Alternate adding in the flour mix and the buttermilk mix in 3 batches. Keep the mixer on stir and be sure to not overmix. Pour into parchment lined cake pans that have also been sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until you can cleanly remove a toothpick from the center.

*I measured the flour first, then sifted. According to the website, you're supposed to sift then measure. Oops. The cake turned out fine. Do as you please.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 c heavy cream

cream together the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese. Add in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar and beat together until combined. Whip the heavy cream until just past stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mix until combined. Try to not eat this all with a spoon right away.

Since I'm not crazy rich, I only have one stand mixer and so I beat the cream cheese with the stand mixer and used my immersion blender for the heavy cream. It worked surprisingly well. If you don't have an immerison blender, then you can use hand beaters, which would also work well.

19 September 2009

My problems with ∫Fdt control*

When I want something, I want it badly and I want it now. This is how Colby and I found ourselves engaged after three official (plus three unofficial) months together and then married less than a year after that. This is also how we ended up with a brand new car and a monthly car payment that makes my head spin. These gotta have it NOW urges aren't usually a bad thing, though. Being married (aka playing house) has been wonderful and my new car isn't plotting to kill me, but occasionally it backfires. For instance, right now I'm eating a pomegranate that I *had* to have from Central Market and I can tell you that it is definitely not pomegranate season.

For the most part, my urges are reasonable and are things that I was planning on doing/saying/getting at some point anyway. This latest impulse buy, however, is a big one and is forcing me to rename my blog. For the past two years Destroying my Apartment One Recipe At a Time was my place to chronicle my kitchen adventures in the first apartment I ever lived in and in the apartment that I now share with my husband. The title will be inaccurate within a month, so I'm changing the name of my blog to Kitschn Calamities because we bought a house.

After months of watching House Hunters and Property Virgins on HGTV, Colby developed a crush on Sandra Rinomato and I decided that I wanted my own place to decorate. Colby had wanted a house from the get-go, but we decided to save up some for a down payment and take advantage of the $8000 tax credit. So stay tuned for house updates, as our role as homeowners will take us interestingly close to the world of adulthood.

*I made a physics joke. ∫Fdt is impulse.

11 September 2009

Chai I Scream (in pain from the lactose)

I think that my moderate lactose intolerance has helped me over the years. For instance, I would never know the wonders of pizza without cheese if it weren't for the subsequent pain hours later; however, that is not to say that I avoid all dairy products. I am in love with cheese even though it isn't very nice to me. That being said, without the fetal-position-inducing cramps, I'm pretty sure that I would weigh 300000 pounds because I just can't help myself, especially not when it comes to homemade ice cream. I've been meaning to try to come up with a good chai ice cream and I was happy to find this recipe from Oregon Chai.

Vanilla Chai Ice Cream (adapted from Oregon Chai)

2 c heavy cream
2/3 c vanilla sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
6 egg yolks
3/4 c whole milk
1 1/2 c Oregon Chai concentrate (I used the decaffeinated because that's all I could find)

heat heavy cream, vanilla sugar, and vanilla beans+seeds over medium heat until just simmering and then remove from heat. While the cream is heating, whisk the eggs until they lighten a bit in color. Temper in the simmering liquid a whiskful at a time until about 1/3 of the cream is incorporated to the eggs. Whisk the eggs back to the cream and place over low heat, whisking continually. Heat until the mixture thickens. (The recipe says recommends that you bring it up to 160 deg.) Strain and then mix in the whole milk and tea. Cover and refrigerate for 4ish hours (or until the mix is cold). Make in your ice cream making according to manufacturer's instructions.

By the way, don't throw away that vanilla bean! Rinse off the milky bits and then plunge it into a container of sugar. In a couple days, you'll have vanilla sugar which is good on just about anything sweet!

07 September 2009

Recipe for Disaster

Take 1 part sleep deprivation and 2 parts clumsy and shake over concrete. Pour all over the sidewalk, rip a pair of leggings at the knee and call it Disaster on Cement or What Happens to Julie When She Should Be Sleeping Instead of Running. It should look something like this: Warning, not for the squeamish.

I've been running with a few people over the past couple of weeks. Two of them (Irina and Theresa) are training for the Ragnar Relay from San Antonio to Austin and I'd just like to be less fat. This morning I went to bed at 6 AM because I couldn't sleep and woke up at 10 to go running. This was a mistake. About 5 minutes into our run, I tripped over a raised piece of cement and ended up taking the skin off of a significant portion of my knee. Whoops. Fortunately I was in good hands and we went back to Theresa's house and cleaned and bandaged it. After I got back home, I was pretty convinced that I needed to go to the hospital to make sure that I got all the dirt out, but decided to call my Dad first. Colby sat there rolling his eyes at me as my Dad told me to just wash it out and put some Betadine on it and cover it with gauze and I began to miss my Mom more accutely than I have in quite some time.

You see, we used to have Betadine swabs all over the house along with gauze and alcohol swabs and so she could be at home and administer IV medication and injections. And it wasn't just the mention of betadine that reminded me of her, but immediately after I fell, I wracked my brain to see if I knew any people in the medical field to talk to about this and she was the first (and only) person I came up with which wouldn't quite do. It's funny how grief sneaks up on you like that, but it does and there isn't much to do about it.

So $31 worth of medical supplies later (hey, betadine is expensive and apparently so are gauze pads), my knee is bandaged up and I'm out a pair of leggings.

29 August 2009

Julie and Julie & Julia. Oh, and mayo.

I went to the Alamo Drafthouse a couple weeks ago and saw Julie & Julia "with" other Austin area food bloggers. I say "with" because there wasn't much talking, mostly watching, which was sort of a relief. I had read all the reviews of the movie and was sort of apprehensive. They mostly all said the same thing: Meryl Streep is a vision as Julia Child and Amy Adams can't hold her own against the actress, though she is handicapped by her role because the story of Julie Powell isn't nearly as intriguing.

In a way, they're totally right. I first picked up the book in the fall of 2007 because I saw my name on the cover, which was impetus enough for me to flip it over and read the dust jacket. This was around the time that I first started cooking, so the theme of the book resonated with me. Not wanting to actually pay for it myself, it made its way onto my Christmas list and my little brother got it for me. I read it in the span of about three days when I went to D.C. for New Years and I was really glad that I didn't pay for it myself.

The book and movie are set up in a similar fashion. It weaves the stories of Julie and Julia's lives in a way similar to the way the Earth (Julia) and Moon (Julie) orbit the sun together. No, the Moon does not actually orbit the Earth, it orbits the Sun, but it sure does look like the Moon is orbiting the Earth. Astronomy references aside, they both tell their separates stories together, except that in the book, Julie Powell made up stories about what Julia's life was like and in the movie, Julia's story was adapted from her autobiography My Life In France. I highly recommend that book. The fictitious Julia scenes in Julie&Julia(thebook) were kind of stupid and MLiF is a really sweet story told by Julia about the great loves of her life: Paul, food, and France.

By the time I went to see the movie, it had been awhile since I had read J&JtB, but MLiF was fresh in my memory. On the Julie side of the movie, it softened her imaged and rounded the corners of her pricklyness. She was still portrayed as rather self-centered, but in a way that didn't necessarily make you hate her, unlike the book; meltdowns seemed the exception, not the rule. For this, I'm grateful to Amy Adams for making me feel less stupid for going to see the movie; however, the Julia side was rife with inaccuracies that bothered me. Now don't get me wrong, Meryl Streep plays an amazing, impressive Julia Child. She makes up for the height differential by the cadence of her voice and her movements as she really becomes Julia, but the story wasn't 100% true to MLiF.

My Life In France is as much a love story between Julia and Paul Child as it is between Julia and French cuisine. The movie makes their (julia and paul) relationship much more lustful than loving... i.e. I could have done with way fewer Julia Child sex scenes. And I think the scene that bothered me the most was when they showed her famous mortar and pestle on her counter with a big red bow atop as a gift. In the book, she and Paul went around the markets and she found a giagantic mortar and pestle and Paul lovingly carried the large thing on his shoulders all the way back to their car. It's one of the most touching parts of her book and it's completely misrepresented in the movie. Her difficult relationship with Simca was also glossed over, as well as the timeline of her relationship with Avis de Soto, but most glaring of all Meryl Streep is WAY too old to play out most of the early scenes in the movie. She was in her mid thirties when she attended Le Cordon Bleu, and though Meryl Streep did a wonderful job, she definitely did not look anywhere near 30... or even 40.

In all, though, it was a wonderful movie and my complaints are nitpicking. I loved the movie and it inspired me to try to cook more often and with more creativity. In fact, shortly before the movie came out, I bought a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and until the movie came out, I hadn't really used the book. Shortly thereafter, I made her scrambled eggs (whoa em gee. so good!) and tonight I made mayonnaise... by hand. It turns out that she definitely knew what she was talking about.

3 egg yolks, room temperature
1/2+ tsp salt
1/4+ tsp mustard (I used dijon because I hate yellow)
1 T+ acid (I used white wine vinegar, but is interchangable with lemon juice)
1 2/3c olive oil
2 T crazy hot water

1)Take a metal mixing bowl and run under hot water to make warm. Wipe dry with a cloth.

2)Beat the 3 egg yolks with a wire whisk until they're "sticky" (Julia's word not mine). This should take 1-2 minutes.

3)Whisk in 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t mustard, and 1T acid until combined, about 30 seconds.

4)Begin whisking the mixture and add in the oil a few drops at a time. Julia suggests that you whisk at least 2 sweeps per second. Don't stop whisking. After about 1/3-1/2 c of oil is incorporated, it should be cream-like and sticky-ish again. At this point you can stop your continual whisking and add in the oil about 1-2 T at a time. If the mixture gets too thick, then add in more acid a couple drops at a time to thin it out. Also, hot water will be added at the end so don't get to carried away.

5) Once all the oil is incorporated, whisk in 2 T of hot water. Julia says that this is a safeguard against separation. After, season with the mustard, salt, acid, and pepper to taste. (I ended up adding more salt.)

I ended up with a little under 2 cups. It's different than Helmann's and I would argue to say much more flavorful and way less gross. ;) Be sure to refrigerate if you're not using it right away and put it in an airtight container. If you put plastic wrap down over the top, it won't develop that gross film on top that so defines mayo.

25 August 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

It's that time of year again... classes start tomorrow and I'm not particularly excited about the prospect of grading, being graded, and being degraded. (Okay, maybe that last one is a bit dramatic, but I am *not* a drama queen. ::ahem::) Usually, the ill-effects of class going are mitigated, at least slightly, by going out to lunch. This has become a daily occurrence in the department, but it all seems a bit costly. My solution to this for this year (at least for the next week or so until I forget about it) is to make large batches of soup and take that to lunch.

The other day I tried making chicken tortellini soup with horrible tortellini. They were discarded before hitting the stock pot, but I was left with a lot of vegetables in broth. And then I discovered the jar of salsa in the fridge. Thus chicken fauxtilla soup was born.

3 chicken breasts baked and pulled
1 jar salsa (I used some smoked chipotle stuff. the kind in the small jar)
64ish oz chicken stock
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ear's worth of corn kernels
1.5 c tortilla chips
1 Tbs olive oil

Saute onion, carrots, and celery and about a tsp of salt in olive oil until the veggies are softened. Add in corn and garlic and stir until fragrant (like 30 seconds). Add in chicken stock, salsa, chicken, and tortilla chips. Let simmer until the tortilla chips are "dissolved" and the soup gets a thicker consistency.

You can also add in herbs. I guess if I had been thinking ahead, I would have put in oregano. I also took the celery leaves from the heart and chopped them up and put them in the soup because it makes me feel thrifty.

18 August 2009

Potato Chip Chicken

I should really start taking pictures again, but I'm currently using a film camera, which makes me all hipster and shit as well as completely broke. You see, it costs EIGHT BUCKS to develop ONE ROLL. Hence, my picture taking has been limited. Anywho.

Dinner tonight was awesome, although now I'm regretting eating like 3/4 of a bag of brussels sprouts. It turns out that they're really tasty. In addition to the brussels sprouts bonanza, we had potato chip chicken in an effort to do something different. The idea for potato chip chicken came from tortilla chip chicken that I saw on a Martha Stewart Kingdom show on Create. We had salt and pepper chips on hand, so I took a handful, crushed them in a plastic bag with a jar of honey (this isn't a required implement).

Potato Chip Chicken (Makes 4 servings, unless you're married to Colby in which case it makes 2. 1 piece for you and 3 for him.)

2 chicken breasts cut in half
flour for dreging
1 egg + 1ish Tbs water beaten
crushed potato chips

Preheat the oven to 375. Season chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour making sure to shake off the excess. Dip in the egg wash and then coat in the potato chips. Place in the oven for 25ish minutes or until the inside is 175-180 F.

It sounds kind of crazy, but it was really good. We buy frozen chicken breasts because we're poor. I discovered that the chicken being completetly thawed is super important if you want the chips to stay crispy on the outside. This is also somewhat healthier way to get a "fried" flavor into your chicken without actually almost setting your house on fire. :)

The reason why I wanted to do something *different* was because we're trying to menu plan and not eat out or go to a grocery store for *at least* a week, but Kyle's coming for a couple days at the end of the week, so we'll see if I can actually stick it out. And posted below is our menu for the week (which is mostly for my sake).

Monday: Potato Chip Chicken and Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Tuesday: Chicken Salad (w/greek yogurt, NOT mayo), roasted corn
Wednesday: baked Chicken Parmasean with pasta
Thursday: Umami burgers and corn
Friday: Chicken Tortellini Soup

16 August 2009

Hatch Season!

It's hatch green chile season once again and there's a glut of them at the local grocery stores. I'm pretty sure that if there's a state that I am spiritually from besides Michigan, it's definitely New Mexico. I definitely go hatch crazy! Anaheim peppers are similar, but not grown in the designated county, so these are special peppers. Being that I've been on a hummus kick, I decided that roasted hatch "hummus" would be a really great end-of-summer snack.

Hummus is very basically garbanzo beans + tahini + lemon juice + olive oil. A lot of other ingredients are often added including roasted red pepper. In fact, I have roasted red pepper hummus sitting in my fridge, but I couldn't resist making this reformulated version for a light dinner tonight. In the version, black beans replace the garbanzo, lime juice replaces lemon, and avocado replaces tahini. Tahini is roasted ground sesame seeds and has a high fat content, so something that was similarly fatty needed to replace it to help maintain a similar texture.

Hatch "hummus"

2 roasted hatch peppers, seeded and skinned
1 14-15 oz can black beans, rinsed
1/4 c avocado, diced
1/4 c olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
2-3 Tbs lime juice
salt to taste

Roast the hatch peppers any way you like. Since we have an electric stove as well as a grill ban at our apartment, I coated the peppers in vegetable oil since it has a higher smoke point than olive oil and then put them under the broiler until the skins blistered. The time will vary based on your oven, peppers, etc. so keep an eye on them. It probably took 3-4 minutes on each side for me. After roasting, place in a sealable plastic bag and leave sealed until they're at least cool enough to handle. This makes taking the skin off super easy.

Add the peppers, black beans, avocado, 2 T lime juice, and garlic to a food processor. I usually just grate the garlic over the other ingredients. Pulse a few times to break down the beans, peppers, and avocado. Taste to see if you want more lime juice and add if desired. Turn the food processor back on and drizzle in the olive oil.

The peppers add some water to help thin out the mixture. If the texture isn't to your liking, add in water, about a tablespoon at a time.

09 August 2009

best burgers ever

Umami is the fifth taste. We all know sweet, sour, salty, and bitter but umami is what adds depth and savor. Mushrooms and soy sauce are loaded with umami, but one sure way to add umami to your dishes is with fish sauce. Most people are afraid of fish sauce (okay, by "most" people I mean all of my very not Asian friends in the central Texas region), but be not afraid of fish sauce! It's what you're missing in many of the meals that you eat. I'm pretty sure that the lack of depth in my Thai curry is due to my timidity with the fish sauce. And thanks to White on Rice Couple I've discovered that what I've been missing from my burgers has been fish sauce.

Adapted from White on Rice Couple:

1 lb ground beef (I used 90/10 grass fed)
1 Tbs fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sugar

Mix fish sauce, garlic, pepper, and sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. No need for salt here since the fish sauce provides plenty. Mix into the ground beef and let sit for about 30 minutes. Form into four 1/2 inch patties and cook in your favorite (or only legal) method. Apparently the city of Austin forbids grills on apartment patios, so we cook all our burgers in a piping hot cast iron skillet. Flip once and *never* smash. Then, top the patties in (bleu) cheese and cover towards the end such that the cheese gets nice and melted. We ate ours with umami packed mushrooms that were sauteed in butter, garlic, and the most expensive olive oil I've ever bought. But I guess I have to use it at some point.

04 August 2009

Olive Oil Cake... tastier than it sounds

The September issue of Bon Appetit featured two very happy articles. First, it named Faygo Root Beer as the number one root beer in the Top Picks section. I take pride in this, of course, because anything that remotely involves Detroit totally has to do with me (except for the whole crooks running the local government). Second, it included a recipe for olive oil cake. The original recipe called for orange zest, but I subbed meyer lemon zest because that was all the citrus we had on hand. So tasty! I also covered it in a glaze to help amp up the citrus because I didn't want expensive pieces of fruit to rot and I had some left over from a batch of meyer lemon ice cream.

Olive Oil Cake (adapted from Bon Appetit)

1.5 c AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4c milk (we had 2% and it called for whole, so I added in a Tbs of cream as well)
1/2 c olive oil
1 T packed meyer lemon zest

lemon glaze (1/2 c powdered sugar + 2 T lemon juice, stir well til smooth)

set oven to 325. flour and oil a loaf pan. whisk dry ingredients together to combine. whisk eggs, milk, oil, and zest in a separate bowl and then stir gently into the wet ingredients. pour into pan and bake for ~1 hr or until you can cleanly remove a toothpick from the center. Remove from the loaf pan and let cool for 15 minutes. Top with lemon glaze.

I used Central Market Organics brand extra virgin olive oil, which isn't heavy handed in its oliveyness, but rather slightly fruity. The oil shouldn't be incredibly assertive because it will clash with the sweetness.

25 July 2009

Easy Shrimp Pasta

I've spent most of this summer working from home, which means that I get to dictate my own hours. At first, it starts out by me getting up at 10 and going to bed at 2 or 3, but then it evolves into the get-up-at-4PM-go-to-bed-at-8AM. This leads to three things:

1) I am out of sync with the rest of Central Time
a) incidentally, that means I'm in perfect sync with Chris, who's in Hawaii.
2) Colby doesn't get nearly as much sleep as he's used to
3) I watch a lot of late night television, with laptop enlapped.

Late night tele usually involves police procedurals (oh Bobby Goren, you are, by far, my *favorite*) and whatever's on Food Network that doesn't involve Paula Deen, Mark Summers, or Bobby Flay. This leads to an enhancement in Alton Brown in my TV diet and lately he's talked a lot about crustaceans and how they're very closely related to roaches in the animal kingdom. This hasn't really helped my appreciation for lobster as I found one of their animal kingdom cousins wandering around my bathroom (which involved quite a bit of screaming and frantic searches for things to throw); however, I am able to ignore the roach-shrimp dichotomy in my head because phobias are nothing, if not irrational, which had left me craving shrimp.

Rewind to a week ago, and I found myself at the downtown farmers market with basil, brussels sprouts, pan sausage, and okra. Basil presented a myriad of possibilities, so I decided to make a cheesy tomato sauce with shrimp and linguine for dinner (in part, because I always wondered what canned tomato sauce actually was.). Nom. Nom. Nom.

1/2 c ricotta cheese
1/3 c grated parmasean cheese
1/4 c basil, chiffonade
8 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce (note: this is what I used... in the future, I'm using crushed tomatoes)
1 lb frozen shrimp, thawed in water and boiled for 3ish minutes, then shelled
1 lb linguine, boiled in heavily salted water
s+p to taste

combine ricotta, parm, basil and about 1/3 of the garlic and add salt+pepper to taste. The parm is salty enough, so it probably won't need a lot of salt and the pepper depends on your tolerance for heat. set aside. In a sauce pan, add olive oil and garlic and stir around until fragrant. Add in tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes) and cook for a few minutes. Add cheese mix and cook some more until it's completely integrated into the tomato sauce and heated. Toss with linguine and shrimp.

15 July 2009

10 Year Mints

Every December my grade school holds the highly anticipated Santa Shop. Parishioners donate gift-like items and the school children come in and buy little trinkets to give to their families for Christmas. A lot of what I bought for my family was total crap; little statues and other knickknack items contributed the majority of the volume, but for ~2 bucks it wasn't a bad deal. I think the best gift I ever found was a jewelry box that I got for my mom when I was in the 4th grade. She kept jewelry in it, but mostly she put anything that happened to be crammed in her pockets for the day. It's also where she stored her money. I have no idea how, but she always had a fat wad of 20s in that box. Maybe it was from social security or her pension, but that was where she got money when my friends and I would go to the corner market and get lunch or to the pharmacy where they sold Beanie Babies.

It's been over nine years since my mom died. My dad, the practical guy that he is, is selling the house next year and wanted me to go through things that she had and figure out what I wanted. A lot of it was religious paraphernalia that I'm not prepared to deal with yet, but I found her jewelry box shoved in the corner of a dresser drawer and took that immediately. I didn't really go through it because I was looking for other loot to cart back with me. I brought it with me, mostly, to clean it out and use it as a jewelry box of my own; something that had significance because I was using my mom's jewelry box, but as I opened it, I realized that it is basically a time capsule of my childhood and something that is too dear to be taken apart.

I found an 11 year old receipt from K-Mart, something that is non-existent where I live. I found another receipt from JoAnn fabrics, and from the faded lettering, I think it was for a project about a cell that I did in 7th grade. There was a significant amount of change, along with a multitude of buttons, a couple necklaces, and some mints that are nearly nine years old. I also found a couple unmatched earrings leftover from a raid on our home from a cousin that had a drug habit. I also found a 20 dollar bill. It's Canadian, but it's so fitting that it's in there. I found another small jewelry box that my brother gave to her, and much to my surprise, there was the mate to one of the earrings! It's like a gift from my mom. Where some people have shoe boxes filled with pictures and letters, I'll always have this jewelry box. And mints that are a decade old.

More food posts in the *near* future, I promise! :)

17 June 2009

Going home

Okay, so I've been absent in the month of June. I blame this on housesitting for the boss, working from home, and not sleeping at all. Ah, the pleasures of graduate school.

We're going home in a few days. SO EXCITED! I've got an itinerary all scheduled around food.

In only a five day span, I plan to visit these places

National Coney Island - ultimate in late night, metro Detroit dining!
Caribou Coffee - yes, I know this is a national coffee chain, but it's tradition.
Charlie Kang's - where I first fell in love with bibimbap; the have the best gochujang
Old Chicago - home of the World Beer Tour and delicious Italian nachos
Menna's Joint - the ultimate drunk food. also, amazing good when sober.
Jack's Waterfront - where we had our rehearsal dinner. awwww...
Cloverleaf Pizza - great Detroit style pizza!
Steve's Backroom - middle eastern food. awesome
Zingerman's Delicatessen - gourmet deli. amazing pastrami and the associated restaurant made Bon Apetit's BBQ edition!
Dusty's Cellar - fancy food, East Lansing style

this should be one delicious vacation, but it will definitely need to be punctuated with frequent visits to the gym!

23 May 2009

Bibimbap in a plastic container...

...because stone bowls are for chumps... or, you know, real Koreans.

So I thought I'd have those pictures of bibimbap a week ago but... I'm slow. Ask my professors, they'll back you up on this one.

I didn't really have a recipe for anything except for the gochujang sauce and short ribs, but that was stolen directly from Chow, so I'll leave it to the discerning reader to take a look. I followed that recipe to the letter and the sauce was amazing. It was basically everything I've been looking for at the Korean restaurants in Austin, but have failed to find. The other thing that I had a recipe for was a marinade for Korean short ribs... but I can't find that any more... which is probably okay because it wasn't spectacular, but it's where this bibimba(h)p mess began.

We went to the farmers' market with Irina and Josh one weekend and I couldn't help but get *something* from the grass fed cow guy, so we ended up getting short ribs with the intention of making kalbi. We also picked up a couple yellow zucchini and leeks, but that's for another post. Anywho, after about a week of trying to make the kalbi, I finally got the opportunity after my stupid Galaxies test (and I only call it stupid because it was on dark matter). The kalbi was okay, but it was served with broccoli-potato-leek soup and was mostly left uneaten. Fast forward a few days later and I was trying to finish up my final project in my Data Analysis for the Physical Sciences class (which wasn't ever stupid because it never talked about dark matter) and after I figured out how to finish it, I took some cooking interludes to make the bibimbahp because what else was I going to do with that leftover kalbi? (And yes, I know it's not *traditional* but what can I say? I'm an untraditional sort of person.)

Step one: peel some carrots.

Step two: chop then sauté the yellow zucchini in sesame oil

Step three: sauté some baby corn in more sesame oil because I'm not *really* Korean, I'm adopted so anything that looks like it *should* be stir-fried is allowed and I really needed to clean out my fridge. (This is also the reason why I freely switch between spellings of Korean food because the only word I know in Korean is "anyasayo" which means "hello". I only know this because the hostess always screams it at me whenever I walk into Korea Garden and then is sorely disappointed when I say "table for two, please," in perfect northern Great Lakes English)

Step four: sauté a handful of spinach in sesame oil with salt

Step five: chop and sauté mushrooms in olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and granulated garlic. As much as it seems like it's cheating to use granulated garlic, I actually like it better for mushrooms because I think they soak up the flavor better.

Step six: cut up leftover kalbi and throw it on the plate (unreheated because hubby's going to do that anyway) and take some time to admire your hard work

Step seven: fry an egg to place atop it all.

Step eight: TADA!

So full disclosure... this is more "bibim" than "bibimbahp" because I was really making this for Colby's lunch the next day and I left it to him to make the "bahp" (rice) in our amazing rice cooker that we bought from Fry's, which is like Best Buy but cheaper. It was quickly transferred from the plate to a plastic container, with the baby corn left because he thinks it's "yucky".

15 May 2009

conflagrative convolutions

Okay fine, I should be working on finishing up my grades which are technically due today. And you've got me... it's 6:00 in the morning and I'm still up. I blame that on the 16.9 fl.oz. of sugar free redbull I drank and the scent of sesame oil wafting through my apartment. Oh, and also, I blame it on this final project that was just barely finished. But it's done. Wanna see? Sure you do:

You see, I started working on that at around 10:00 PM and finished it at 4:22 AM. Granted, there were interludes of confusion and apartment pacing, but still, I was mostly dedicated.. until about 3:30, when I realized that I knew how to finish the assignment in the most cheating way possible. I won't go into details, but it turns out that the human eye isn't so bad at fitting data. So two hours later, I'm still up completely cleaning my kitchen because it's almost the summer and we had an infestation of miniature ants. I don't care that ants aren't disease vectors, it's still gross. But before this ant discovery, which involved screeching and the waking of the husband, I made bibimbahp for the first time. I'm not sure how it turned out, but the pictures look promising. Colby's taking it to work today and I'll dump the pictures from my camera, so expect a much longer post... or an edit. Yeah.

09 May 2009

On Why I'm Not Currently "Into" Mothers' Day

April 16th always sneaks up on me. By then, the Christmas season has long since passed as well as the icky feelings that go hand-in-hand with the holidays. By mid-April, I am fooled into thinking that the next major holiday is Memorial Day, but April 16th always comes around and knocks me on my ass. This year was no different and I mostly suffered in solitude, so no one had to know. April 30th conveniently fell on another day where it was easy for me to hide, but it is impossible to escape the ubiquity of the second Sunday of May. So what is it about this string of dates? Why do they make me take a "personal" day to abandon most of society? I attribute my sentimentality to my dad, who becomes weepy and emotional when watching commercials with babies and who cried through my entire wedding. I blame my propensity to hide on losing my mom almost nine years ago.

Spring time is never fun. Allergy season is in full swing and I usually end up filling my class schedule with impossibly hard physics classes that leave me deeply confused, rather than intellectually enlightened. On April 16th, my mom's birthday passed; she would have been 57. On the 30th, my parents should have been celebrating their 27th wedding anniversary. And right now, I should be browsing Amazon for a belated Mothers' Day gift and writing a note to myself to call home, but instead I'm writing a blog entry about why spring time basically sucks. I find, though, that the "best" is yet to come.

In June of 2000, Fathers' Day fell on June 18th. I recall this Fathers' Day well because my brothers and I had managed to save almost 50 bucks between the three of us, which was a feat at 14, 11, and 9. We decided to get my dad a gift certificate to Jack's Waterfront, a family favorite and the eventual site of my rehearsal dinner. I almost didn't have my share of the gift money, though, because I almost bought a Hummel figurine,which was pretty pricey, as a sort of bribe to my mom to come home because a few weeks in the hospital had been enough and it was time for her to come home. I never ended up buying the figurine because it became abundantly clear that this time was different and she wasn't coming home and in the early hours of June 18, 2000 my mom died. So now, every Fathers' Day and June 18th, I quietly mourn her passing and wonder what it would be like to have a mom again.

07 May 2009


It's been a rough sort of week. Classes are ending for the summer, which means that the professors need to cram as much graded material as possible into the remaining few lectures. This has translated into one very thorough test, a couple note sets due, homework, two final projects, and two proposals that I should have finished by now. I've been better rested in more relaxed in my life, but it will all be over soon and a new sort of pandemonium will take over for the summer. I guess this will be the litmus test; if I can return to doing *just* research and enjoy it again, then maybe it's worth sticking it out, but if it's not even a little fun ever any more, I think I will have found where I need to draw my line. I guess this is the last summer before I'll really have to grow up and I intend to enjoy it to my fullest.

Soliloquy aside, these are mostly just my excuses for not sticking to my meal plan. In my defense, we did make the pirogies and kielbasa and we ended up eating portions of the other meals, but really I've been too tired/busy to cook and Colby's been too busy to eat a real, full meal at work. Our meals have been structured around ease and quantity, so tonight we found ourselves at Manny Hattan's, my pseudo replacement for Zingerman's. We haven't really found any good delis around here and Zingerman's does it a lot differently than most (I guess Cissi's is the closest in Austin, but it pales in comparison). Anywho, MH is not nearly as gourmet as Zingerman's, but it'll do in a pinch and it has huge portions, which means that I have a midnight snack, breakfast, and lunch in addition to dinner.

The one thing that MH might have over Zingerman's is their knish. MH's is baked and much larger and more mashed potato-like and they can also be "stuffed". I had pastrami stuffed knish tonight and it was amazing. Instead of bread, there was knish. So. Good.

And better yet, Wednesday is free cheesecake night. Awesome. I was sad that it was only one piece per table until they brought it out and it was ginormous.

knom. knom. knom.

P.S. sorry for the crappy camera phone pictures, but at least there are pictures. :)

03 May 2009

Week of Menus part 2

Since meal planning actually helped a whole awful lot last time, I came up with a week's worth of meals again.
Chicken stir-fry with deconstructed crab rangoons

Pirogies and sausage with roasted corn

Roasted Cornish game hen on sun dried tomato couscous with fried okra

Hash browns with scrambled eggs and waffles

Chicken flautas with refried black beans and rice

Puff pastry pizza pinwheels with chicken caesar salad

pizza party

I've been craving Detroit style pizza for quite some time. I never really knew that square pizza was an especially Detroit thing, but moving to Texas has proven to be quite dismal in the pizza department. It seemed time to take matters into my own hands and clean out my pantry so we had a pizza party a couple days ago with a couple friends. The results were quite tasty, though not close to my cravings, so I will yearn some more until we make the trip back home in the summer.

pizza dough (makes 4ish pizzas)
1.5 c warm water
2 packets dry active yeast (or 4.5 tsp)
2 c + 1 tbs AP flour
2 tsp honey
2 tsp salt
6 tbs olive oil + more for coating

dissolve the dry active yeast in the water and let sit for ~5 minutes. while this happens, coat a large bowl with olive oil. whisk together flour and salt and add in yeast+water, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of your stand mixer that has been fitted with the dough hook. turn on medium-ish speed until the dough comes together. Be sure to pause and scrape down the sides a few times to make sure that all the flour is incorporated. Add extra flour as needed to make the dough less sticky and come together. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl and roll to coat. Cover and allow to rise for *at least* an hour and punch down after it's risen.

Pizza sauce

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 little can tomato paste
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
1 tbs grated parmesan
s+p to taste

combine everything over low heat until warm. Add salt+pepper to taste. You're probably going to need more salt than you expect because tomato paste is fricken sweet, tho be sure to taste it first because the parm is salty too.

To construct the pizza, grab a handful of dough, roll in flour and stretch it to form a disky shape. If it's not perfect, it doesn't really matter because it's pizza. Our first pizza looked like this:

Add on sauce, cheese, toppings and brush the edges with olive oil.

You could also sprinkle the crust with tasty things if you remember before you put it in a 425 degree oven for ~15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the cheese is melty and delicious!

We served the pizza with "Italian nachos"... here's a picture after they had been partially devoured:

The "italian" bit is that the nachos are actually deep fried pasta, instead of corn tortillas and served with pizza sauce instead of salsa-like things. They turned out really well, though now I have a ton of fried pasta chips left over. The pasta chips are super easy to make, especially if you cheat and use wonton wrappers. I got the small square kind and simply cut them in half to form triangles. Be sure to separate them!

In a dutch oven (or some other frying vessel) bring ~2 in of oil to 350-360 degrees. Working in batches, submerge 5-6 wonton skin halves at a time for ~20-30 seconds until they are no longer floppy, but not incredibly golden as well. A little color is okay, but they'll still crisp up a bit even after you fish them out of the dutch oven. You'll probably figure out the best amount of time/number of wontons after a few batches. Cover in salt when they're hot. We did this the Alton Brown way and took a sheet pan, lined it with newspaper, and then put a wire cooling rack upside down to help wick away oil.

After they cool, store in a ziplock bag for awhile. I made these on Thursday, and they're still good in the wee hours of Sunday morning. With any luck,they'll become part of dinner tonight. :)

To make them "italian" take the pastchos (that doesn't work, does it?) and cover in mozzarella with other typical pizza toppings. We had banana peppers, pepperoni, and italian sausage and place in an oven until the cheese is melty.