Archive for the ‘eating’ Category
Yesterday I mixed up a batch of molasses cookies. Since I didn’t have time to bake them, the dough is sitting in the fridge right now. Leaving dough overnight in the fridge is a tried and true method of making cookies taste better. The cookies will have a better consistency and the flavours will be more intense. I haven’t actually done this before with molasses cookies, but I’m hoping it will give all the spices a chance to really infuse the dough and make the final product spicy and intense. I guess I’ll have to see when I bake them.
I am almost positive that I will be taking a completely ridiculous amount of photos of the cookies when I do end up baking them, so next post will have the photos.
Want the recipe? It’s really quite simple and a basic cookie recipe and you may already have most of these ingredients in your house (except for maybe the molasses).
Note: You may have to adjust the amount of spices in your cookies. I like mine to be pretty strong, but you may not like yours to be so spicy.
Slow as molasses cookies
3/4 c sticks butter
3/4 c white sugar
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
In standard cookie making fashion, cream the sugar and butter, add the molasses and egg, and beat to combine. Then add all the dry ingredients (I usually measure them out onto a waxed paper before slowly pouring them in).
Chill the dough overnight or longer (I hear 36 hours is perfectly long enough). Alternately, you can bake them right away too if you don’t have time to wait.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Form the dough into balls and drop onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. You can roll the dough in sugar if you want a pretty top to the cookie. Bake 8-12 minutes each, cooling for a minute on the sheet before transferring to a rack.
So I’ve quite forgotten how much I enjoy baking bread AND taking photos of the bread, so here I will dedicate one entire entry to just the bread. Yeah.
I use the 5/3 method of baking which pretty much is 5 parts flour to 3 parts liquid (usually water, milk, or some other yummy liquid like that). If I want to add honey, I will typically add some to warm water or milk so that it is included in the total liquid amount and I don’t screw up my ratio.
Using the 5/3 method makes it really simple to measure everything out. I pop the bowl onto my kitchen scale, measure out the flour by weight, and then measure out the liquid by volume. One loaf takes about 20 ounces of flour, and 12 ounces of liquid. If you want to make more or freeze some, you can simply double this recipe. Then toss in about a teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of salt per loaf and you’re all set for baking. Mix everything together and start kneading the dough
Whether you use an electric mixer or the manual method, you will know when you’re done kneading when the dough is elastic and has a nice sheen to it.
You can sorta see how the top looks smooth and shiny, right? This is what you are looking for.
Next step it to let it rise by covering it and putting it in a warm spot. What is happening is the yeast will react and create little air bubbles inside the dough. This is how the dough gets flufy and nice. The more you let it rise, the fluffier your bread will be, but watch out because if you let it rise too much, the dough may collapse upon itself and you’ll have to start over again.
I cover the dough by cutting a piece of plastic film and putting it on the countertop. I then use a oil sprayer to lightly spray the center of the top of the film and then place it directly on top of the dough so it’s in contact. The dough will then rise and the film will move with it. Alternately, you could put the film along the top edge of the bowl.
After the dough is done rising, you want to knead it lightly again to redistribute all the air bubbles and yeast and then form it and let it rise again. This rise will happen in your bread pan or on the baking sheet. You can re-use the plastic film to cover the bread during the second rise. During this rise, you will want to turn on the oven to about 50 degrees above your intended baking temperature.
When the bread grows large again, pop it into the preheated oven and lower to the correct baking temperature. I usually bake it almost until the time the recipe tells me. About 5 minutes early, I will pull the bread out and check the temperature. I use a meat thermometer that we bought for smoking meat, but you can use just about any thermometer you have around, as long as it measures around 200F.
Take the bread out of the pan and flip it upside down (don’t forget to wear gloves or something so you don’t burn yourself). Stick the temperature probe into the bottom of the bread so that you are measuring from the center. A soft bread will measure about 190F inside. A harder bread will want to be about 200-205F on the inside when it’s done. If you’ve reached the right temperature, then let the loaf cool on a wire rack before slicing. If you need more, put it back into the oven for 5 more minutes until you reach the right temperature.
You know how I was saying that photographing fresh bread is fun? Well here are a couple of the photos I took of this loaf. The cracks and stretches in the bread are so beautiful.
So you may or may not know that Mister is out of town this weekend. The very strange thing is that I told someone this on Friday night and he cocked his head at me and said that it was very weird for that Frank went away without me. Now, this person doesn’t really know me at all (I went to a Strangers Party, which is what I like to call mixers where I don’t know anyone), so I guess it would sound weird to someone I just met if I mentioned that me and the Mister go on separate vacations sometimes.
But hey, why is this strange? It makes a lot of sense to me since Mister and I have different hobbies and we like different things. He needs to take his little hockey trip once a year or so so he can do his manly man things without me. Honestly, as much as I love my Mister, I do not want to stay in a hotel room with his hockey gear (have you EVER been in a room with freshly used hockey gear before??), so it makes sense to me that if he wants to go on a hockey trip somewhere, I will not be going with him.
I guess most couples take vacations together and wouldn’t dream of going somewhere awesome without the other person, but maybe this is just how me and my Mister work. We like to do separate activities (photography, biking, hockey), but we also do our share of things together to make sure we don’t end up acting like roommates. It’s so important to retain your own identity in a realtionship and keep doing what interests you, but also to balance it out and remember to lose yourself with the other person too.
But anyway, what am I doing this weekend while he’s gone? Yesterday I reorganised our entryway with new shoe storage, something that has needed to get done for months. The best thing about Mister being gone is that I get stuff done at home without him. It keeps me busy and happy. When he’s home, we usually end up doing other stuff like going to brunch or sitting on our butts watching films.
I replaced our tall, skinny bookcase-like shoe storage with these two shorter, shallower shelves. We now have more shoe storage than before, and it looks nicer and provides a nice countertop area where we can put keys and mail when we come in. Plus, since the shelves are shallower, I think it feels more open than when we had the very tall bookcase looming at the entryway. I do with the little bench could go up against the wall, but it seems to be just fine sticking out a little in the little corner made by my desk.
As for social engagements, when Mister’s out of town, I usually book myself up and go go go non-stop, but this time I decided to take it easy and spend some quality time by myself (and with Cat). I did go out Friday night with some friends to see another friend’s photo exhibit in downtown and then went to the Strangers Party, where I got to meet a ton of people who were really fun, but also pretty drunk. A guy has resultingly asked me out to dinner, but I’m not sure if it’s a date-date or a friend-date, and I do not know if it’s okay to ask or if I should just ignore it altogether (how do these things work these days anyway?).
Other than the Strangers Party and a photog-party tonight, I spent most of the weekend alone. It has been so nice to just do whatever I want and not make a ton of social engagements, only to start dreading them an hour before they start.
To be sure, I usually have a ton of fun when I’m out with people, but I often dread going out right before I meet them. Yes, I know it doesn’t make much sense, but it’s just a little social anxiety I suppose. As long as I don’t let myself cancel, I will go out and have a super fun time.
This morning I am baking some bread. I bought bread from the store last week, but I was thoroughly unimpressed by it and ended up deciding to bake my own this weekend, and Sunday morning felt like a perfect time to get it done. I’m sure it won’t be as good as bread from the the farmer’s market bread bakers, but I do enjoy the process of making bread and the pride of having made it myself.
Oh sorry, but the bread looks thoroughly unexciting at this moment. This is during the first rise. If you don’t make your own bread, the main steps are:
- Mixing and kneading the bread together until the surface looks shiny like this
- Let it rise in a warm place for anywhere from 1-4 hours until the yeast has made the dough puff up
- Knead the dough back down again to redistribute the ingredients
- Form the bread into a loaf or into buns, etc and let it rise a second time until puffy
- Let cool, slice, and eat yummy bread you made all on your own
Right now I am doing the first rise, so this is why the dough looks like Jabba the Hut melted in my mixing bowl. Trust me, it will be tasty later on. Yum!
Mid-baking update: I finished both rises and stuck the loaf into the oven for baking. I can’t wait for it to finish!
I haven’t posted here lately, but I’ve had plenty of ideas of what to write about. Somehow, I’ve just never gotten the chance to sit down and do anything about them, so here is a quick update on what I’ve been up to lately.
I’ve been knitting like a crazy mofo. The good thing is that it keep my hands busy and I feel very productive. The bad thing is that I like to knit with wool, which is a fiber that I am sensitive to and cannot wear, so I am planning to give these away to people as gifts sometime in the future, including this nice green hat.
I haven’t been doing much photography at all, but I did finally scan in the slide film that Jan sent me from Germany and I finally realise that slide film is pretty freakin’ awesome.
Also, I’ve thought about going back to just doing simple photos of food and stuff again because that simple stuff just makes me happy and I was starting to pressure myself too much to make “good” photos and not just upload all the crap that I shoot all the time. Oh, and I’ve realised that I shoot a whole lot of crap most of the time. Wow. I think my photos need a little bit less editing, and lot more FUN.
I got a new bike and I haven’t ridden poor Dennis ever since. I am a huge fan of gears, now that I finally have them! Love… I continue to ride my bike every day and completely adore it. Riding my bike makes me happy.
Also, I made it to one of the SJ Fixed sprints and it was super fun meeting other bike people and watching the boys race. Boys on bikes make me so happy.
No, there is no such thing as polaroid bread… I guess I should have put a comma or something in the title, but now I actually like the idea of something called polaroid bread!
The big news this weekend (in addition to the usual news of seeing good friends, having good conversations, and eating good food) is that I finally figured out how to rewire my Polaroid Land Camera Automatic 210 (what a loooooooong name) to accept alkaline batteries so I can shoot with it. The old connections were all crusty and gross, so I snipped them off, cut the wires, stripped them, and rewired the whole thing to take AA batteries instead. Yeah. Fun times at my house. The only thing I need to do now is get a pack of film to test it out and see if the exposure is correct. If it’s not, then maybe I’ll try my hand at getting another Land Camera and rewiring that one too.
Also, I’ve decided to try to bake bread again. I’ve never been super good at making bread, but I really do need to figure out how to make good bread without making a huge mess in the kitchen. Also, I’ve had a hankering for some really good, tasty homemade bread lately, and this needs to happen. Mmm… homemade bread, warm with some honey and butter sounds like a good idea today, and my stomach is grumbling just thinking about it. Good thing I bought all that flour recently.
Yes, homemade bread and polaroids are in my imminent future.
So remember two posts ago when I discussed changing my eating habits? I went from 3 meals a day to 4 smaller meals of about 400-500 calories each. I’ve given myself a pretty strict schedule:
- Meal #1 around 9am. This usually consists of 1/2c oatmeal made with water, cup of coffee, piece of fruit like a banana or apple, and toast with peanut butter on it.
- Meal #2 around noon or 1pm. This might be leftover lasagna, tomato rice soup, or some kind of light sandwich.
- Meal #3 around 3-4pm. This is sometimes more of a snack like hummus with pita chips, a handful of carrots, and a piece of fruit.
- Meal #4 is dinner and is typically the last meal of the day at 8pm the latest.
With the smaller meals, I often feel much hugrier in the mornings, which was part of the plan. Before, I was eating dinner so late that I wasn’t even hungry for breakfast in the mornings, but now I wake up feeling hungry and breakfast tastes even better! I have a hard time keeping up with my eating schedule, and I sometimes end up eating when I’m not so hungry. I suppose that it goes against my idea to eat only when I feel hungry, but I’m already seeing results on the scale, so it must be something right. Plus, when I can keep to the schedule, I don’t feel too hungry during the day, and it keeps my mood buoyant.
Lunch today: Homemade lasagne with turkey, spinach, and mushrooms
After we moved to the new place, I decided to grow things in our quite narrow backyard. Since we tend to move around a lot, I figured that container gardening for herbs and vegetables was probably better so that we could move them with us, and that I could try to grow some wildflowers directly into the dirt. I didn’t really know much about planting and growing things, so I went out to the store and bought some pots, seed packets, and a big bag of dirt. I set to tilling the intended plot of dirt for the flowers and filled the pots with dirt and seeds.
Silly amateur gardener me, I planted an entire packet of seeds per pot. I had no idea how many seeds would grow if I put them in the dirt, so I worked out some probability and decided that putting an entire packet of seeds in there would guarantee that something would grow. Well, probability worked against me when it came to the basil plant, and a ton of them sprouted and started to grow in the small pot. I only found out that they had surpassed the pot capacity when I tried to move the pot and found that the roots had somehow found the dirt underneath the pot and rooted directly into the ground. Snap snap snap, it went as I tried to pick up the pot to move it one day.
So what was an noob gardener with zero experience to do? “Separate them out,” my friend Jeff told me. He might as well have been trying to tell me what to do via semaphore, but I dutifully looked it up on the internets and decided to try this magic thing called “separating.” Turns out, it’s just the term for taking a clump of plants, separating them into individual plants, and replanting them. So that’s exactly what I did, and I ended up with a bunch of basil plants growing like weeds in the back yard. That made me pretty happy!
After faithfully watering and cooing to the plants (yes I talk to them, shut up) for several months, I decided that maybe I should try eating them now that fall is upon us. Lo and behold, I find out that basil is only an annual plant, and it will die at the end of the season. Oh no! This means that I can’t keep growing the basil all winter and letting them take over the entire back yard like I intended (crazy me never meant to actually EAT any of it).
And this ridiculously lengthy exposition leads me to my “problem” today. What shall I do with all this basil? I asked a few friends and it seems that the resounding answer is “thou shalt make pesto.” Having never made pesto before in my life, I’m looking forward to figuring out what’s in it and how to make it.
Does anyone else have other suggestions as to what to do with all my basil?
Before the trip to NY and Boston, I took a bit of a break from running. I ran out of motivation, and I got really busy with other fun stuff that involved seeing friends and tasks for work. After we returned to the Bay Area, I decided to get back into running, especially after I noticed that my thighs were losing the muscle definition that I’d worked so hard for. And thus, I decided to rededicate myself to running on a regular basis. I set a schedule for myself, and I plotted out 2-3 different running routes so that I wouldn’t get bored. It’s amazing how different a running route feels even when you are running the same course but in reverse direction. It’s like a whole new route!
I’ve been running about 3 miles three times a week for 3 weeks now, and just last week I decided it was time to start increasing my mileage per run. Following the magic 10% increase rule (increase 10% of distance or time), I decided to add another 0.2-0.3 mile to my running route. Of course, this required plotting out more routes (thank you, Google maps) and soon I had another new route to test out.
Oh wait… a bit more background information before I continue…
My old running route used to be around campus. I would go twice around and that would be approximately 3 miles to and from my house. Needless to say, it got boring after a while, especially because I was going the same route all the time and I never even changed up the direction I ran. That’s probably why I got really bored with running outdoors. Anyway, when I first started running around the campus, I couldn’t go for more than a block or two without stopping for a break. I used to be really good on the treadmill, but it’s a lot harder to run the same distance outdoors!
My brand new running route has me doing a single loop around the campus before heading off into the residential neighbourhood for another large loop. What’s been really nice is that I can now run a lot further than I used to around the campus without taking a walk break! Ha… it’s funny because I never really noticed if I improved my running skills or not, but apparently things ARE getting better even if I’m not paying attention.
Now that I’ve gone for my 3.3 mile run, it’s time for some really tasty tamales from Lucy’s Tamale Factory. We tried them yesterday and they are AMAAAAAAAAZING. I think I’ll get the jalapeno & cheese and sweet corn tamales today. Well, maybe one of the chicken ones too. Maybe… God they’re so good…
One last thing… I dropped the Mister off at the airport early this morning for his business trip. Four days of me-time all to me-self! Yay… This probably means I’ll be eating a lot of the fruit I bought at the farmer’s market yesterday, and also having more tamales… Who knows, maybe I’ll try to perfect my pan-seared ahi tuna with curried quinoa recipe.
Two years ago, Frank and I took a trip out to Amsterdam for a few days and stayed out near Leidseplein where we went to a small local cafe and ate breakfast everyday. The very first day we were there, I ordered an herbal tea by Simon Levelt. Of course, they had no idea which blend it was since they had ordered it in bulk and didn’t have the label for it anymore and the person who would know wasn’t there for some reason. Well, I went and fell in love with that tea, and we proceeded to go to every market to look for this tea (and even the Simon Levelt store itself), but I couldn’t figure out which one it was. The only thing I knew was that it was a type of “biologisch” blend.
The whole thing drove me crazy because the tea had a natural tangy sweetness to it that I had never experienced in any other tea before, so I just felt like I had to find it. On our recent trip up to Portland, we stopped at a small pub called Greater Trumps and I ordered a pot of tea. They had a decent selection of tea and had a tea that tasted suspiciously similar to the Amsterdam Tea! Thrilled beyond belief, I actually took one of the teabags (sorry) and stashed it in my bag for later reference (Sweet Chamomile Tea by China Mist). It’s not exactly similar to the Amsterdam Tea, but it is pretty close and I discovered that the sweetness is actually from licorice root. The ingredients on the bag are: chamomile flowers, spearmint, peppermint, and licorice root. Aha! Sadly, I went to go look at the website, and I’m not sure that they sell these teas in retail stores, but they do sell it online! I might have to just break down and get a couple boxes of the stuff so I can drink it!
I spent about an hour today doing some research on teas that contain licorice root (and consequently discovered which Simon Levelt tea it was), and found the following:
Mighty Leaf Tea – Organic Detox
Mighty Leaf Tea – Calming Moon
Republic of Tea – Get a Grip
Stash Tea – Licorice Spice Tea
The first three sound pretty good, but the last one is a bit more licorice than might be good for me (it supposedly raises blood pressure, which would be good for me and my low blood pressure) and you shouldn’t have too much of the stuff. I guess I’ll check out the first three and see how they taste!
Yesterday, after a fun day of walking around Pacifica and shooting the area there, Darren and I headed to an Indian restaurant for a somewhat late dinner. He ordered the baingan bhartha (roasted eggplant mashed with onions and spices), and I got the palak paneer. We both decided to get the thali dishes, which are like a combo plate: you get the main dish, naan, rice, soup, vegetable curry, and dessert. It comes in a large round metal tray with smaller metal bowls crowded inside. Lemme find a photo of when we ate somewhere else:
There we go… It looked just like that, only it came with gulab jamun as dessert, and the rice was in a giant mound in the middle of the tray. A huge amount of food, and oh-so-good.
Anyway, the food came, and we both dug in because we had only had breakfast earlier that day. Darren looks at me and says that the soup we’d both received had eggplant in it, and I suddenly decided to figure out exactly what the hell I was stuffing in my face. I looked on his plate and saw that he had gotten a little bowl of palak-something (spinach) and that I had gotten one dish that looked different from his. Of course, it took us a little while to make the connection that we had basically received the same exact food, only he had gotten the larger bowl of baingan bhartha and I had gotten a larger bowl of palak paneer. That’s right. I had not one, but TWO dishes of eggplant on my tray.
Now, for any normal person, aubergine dishes are tasty and good, but for someone with an eggplant allergy, this is like finding out that you’ve been eating ground glass in your food. I freaked out for a little bit inside and waited for the typical reaction (my throat will start to itch and then it will get a bit difficult to swallow easily). I don’t go to the emergency room or fall down twitching, but it’s really annoying and pretty much leaves me feeling like I wish I hadn’t eaten that for a day or two afterwards.
One of the main problems it that I love eggplant. I love it. I love the taste, the texture, the smell of it. The only thing I don’t love is the whole itchy throat/”I can’t swallow” feeling that comes soon after eating it. I’d eaten about half of the little bowl before figuring out it was eggplant (it’s been a LONG time since I’ve had it and I don’t really remember what it tastes like anymore), so the only reasonable course of action was to simply stop eating it. Of course, being a total glutton for punishment and also having such intense love for eggplant, I decided that since I’d already eaten half of it, I might as well finish it. Oh boy was that a bad idea. My throat got itchier and itcher and it was harder and harder to swallow, but wow was it worth it. Man, I love eggplant so much.
When we got home, I quickly popped two Benedryl since my throat was really hurting at that point. I should also mention that I haven’t had to take Benedryl in a really long time. Anyway, since this time the reaction was way worse than before, I decided to take two, which then knocked me out and made me all groggy and I sounded drunk as hell. I think I was talking, but I don’t have any idea if it was making any sense. It put me to sleep for about an hour and then had me fitfully tossing and turning, my entire body aching like it was on fire. Well, I tossed for about another hour half-crying, half-begging Frank to make it all better, until he finally gave me a sleeping pill that knocked me out for the rest of the night. It’s morning now, but I’m still feeling a bit spacey from the sleeping pill and wishing that I hadn’t eaten the rest of that eggplant dish last night. Silly me.
Oh, and here’s a bit on the weird allergy. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family. There are actually quite a few vegetables in the nightshade family, and if you are sensitive to one, you probably have a sensitivity to others. You can read a bit more on this site. I am especially sensitive to eggplant and raw green bell peppers. Reading through all the nightshade vegetables, I am really really hoping that I don’t develop higher sensitivity to tomatoes, potatoes, or onions. That would suck big time and I wouldn’t be able to eat a lot of stuff. Separately, I have a pretty bad kiwi allergy that I plan to test out in the near future. Both Darren and Frank say that this is a really, really bad idea, but I’m willing to see what happens if I eat a kiwi. I want to know if I have gotten more sensitive to it. Maybe it’s gone away, but that’s only wishful thinking.