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.

01 May 2009

Dark Matter Dinner

Today was a day dedicated to the sole purpose of slogging through as much information about galaxy formation and dark matter as possible. It turns out that they are neither interesting nor relevant topics to my research (at least in the way that it was presented) so studying it is about as fun as, oh, watching Guy Fieri take a bite out of a deep fried sandwich twice the diameter of his beach ball sized head. Nevertheless, I had a study partner coming over with wifey in tow and a husband of my own to feed (he gets grumpy when I forget to feed him), so I decided to use that seven-dollar-a-pound-too-lean-free-range-ground beef that's been sitting in my freezer and make burgers. They turned out wonderfully and were much more delicious than n-body simulations of dark matter halos.

Green Chile Cheeseburgers
1 lb ground beef
1 can hatch green chiles (not sure what size, but it's an awfully small can)
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp parsley (because what the hell, why not?)
1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 onion, sliced and caramelized
~3 tbs chevre

Drain the can of chiles to get some of the water out and then mix in with the granulated garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, and mozzarella until well combined. Make four patties that at least stick together, making sure not to over work them. Cook the patties in your preferred cooking machine. I have to pan-fry all my stupid burgers because it's apparently illegal to have a grill on a balcony in Austin. So. Not. Cool. Towards the end of cooking, add ~2 tsp or so of chevre to each burger and cover with caramelized onions. Cover for a few to get the cheese warm and gooey-ish. Nom nom.

I ate mine plain, Colby ate his with a ton of ketchup (because he's classy like that) and study parter covered his in spicy brown mustard (because we don't have no stinkin' yeller mustard in these parts because like... EW). These were also served with a large helping of nachos a la Crown&Anchor because we're nothing if not classy in this joint.

Tomorrow is a pizza party kind of night. I bet I'll be kicking myself for not starting the dough tonight, but the bit of evening that I managed to salvage was spent over a dutch oven deep frying things... but that's for another delectable post. :)