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Some people wake up with a hangover and no money. The morning after my last midterm (and post-midterm celebrating), I bounced out of bed to find temp job paperwork in the "sent" folder. I'm okay with this outcome.

In better news, I won a raffle for a Farm Fresh box while sober. Free organic food is great, but I don't recognize everything that came in the box. Are the stalk thing at the bottom of this picture leeks? Sauteeing is my default in the face of unfamiliar veggies. Is oil + heat a good option for putative leeks?

10 pounds of leafy greens?!
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Dear Diary: today my new city's baseball team captured the pennant. Tonight, my city celebrates! GO GIANTS!

While the bars and restaurants and taxis and Muni swelled with waves of orange and black, I made Beef Stew 2.0 with several updates*, served with rye bread, and knocked Roommate Number Three into a food coma. Next round of tweaking will feature much, much more pepper, and larger chunks of carrot.

*Reduced meat and vegetables by about one quarter, hacked rough flank cut into stew-sized pieces, used 1 tsp of salt, swapped olive oil for vegetable oil. My concerns about the cut were justified: the tough tendon-y or whatever parts did not transform into meat. However, chopped into bite-sized pieces, it softened enough to be interestingly chewy.

As suggested by the sudden beef stew, winter is coming to San Francisco. The first real rain in months fell Friday night, and left puddles all over my Saturday morning volunteer gig, a fundraising walk. In practical cities, this sort of walk happens in sensible and (presumably) sensibly priced public parks. In San Francisco, "sensible public park" sometimes means Marina Green, a site of dramatic physical beauty enhanced by the Golden Gate Bridge. So I volunteered, scored a coupon for Sports Basement, and bought rain boots just in time for the first autumn afternoon of cool, soaking rain.

I didn't know I liked volunteering until I moved to San Francisco. It turns out that, if you agree to help people herd other people for partying, parades or fund-raising, they feed you, give you ugly t-shirts, and motivate you to get out of the house before noon on weekends. Awesome.
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My cookies came out flat again. I've changed half the ingredients, bought new baking trays, opened The Joy of Cooking to Old Reliable (oatmeal cookies), and do I have cookies? No: I have a puddle of flat mush on parchment paper.

The major differences I can think of are
1.) letting the butter sit until it reaches room temp
2.) used warm cookie sheets
3.) West coast butter?
4.) AA brown eggs?
5.) Quick oats instead of standard rolled
6.) The oven is running hot/cold

The eggs are probably a red herring. West coast butter ought to be functionally identical to east coast butter. The oven thermometer suggests the bottom rack runs cool; that's why I rotate top and bottom pans about halfway through the suggested baking time. The sheets could be an issue; unlikely to be wildly significant. The oats could be a contributing factor, but the puddle-cookie problem predates the oats. Next time I make cookies, I'm taking the butter straight from the fridge to the mixing bowl. (Or maybe knocking off a tablespoon.)

Oatmeal cookie recipe )

Roommate Number Three tried to modify his fried rice approach last night and sounded about this irate about how his experiment came out. Is it time to exorcise the oven unit? Or should we break into the liquor cabinet again? Studies suggest this is one time a binary construction is a good idea: mixing booze, ovens and exorcism just doesn't end well.
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Who moves to San Francisco and decides the most logical interaction with the Pride Parade is volunteering as a parade safety monitor?

Hi! I'm told the 180 contingents did not form the largest Pride parade ever. Tell that to my aching leg muscles.

After being on my feet from about 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM, I have earned a night of dining out. I'm thinking Thai, and either a chocolate bar or a giant jar of Nutella for this week's snacking.

(I do not know where this sudden urge to gobble chocolate is coming from, but it may be necessary to sample milk, dark, and white chocolate to nail down the actual sugar/fat/chocolate compound craving in action this week. Mmm, chocolate.)
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I remember making french toast and liking the results sometime in the past. Either I didn't write down the recipe, or I did and didn't tag it. So it's back to basics! Parentheticals are things I want to try next time.

6 - 8 slices week-old TJ's sliced sourdough bread (or other bread)
2 eggs (thoroughly beaten)
2/3 c Silk vanilla soy milk
water as necessary
margarine / better / other oil for pan

Find bread-shaped container suitable for mixing ingredients. Crack eggs into container (beat until homogeneous). Add soy milk and spices, beat until mixed. If too stiff, add water to thin. Use a paper towel to smear oil on pan surface, then place pan on oven burner set to medium-high. Dip 'n flip bread slice, put on pan (depending on the pan and bread, it may be possible to cook two slices together), and flip when it's done: look at the eggy stuff at the edge of the bread for hints. Repeat, re-greasing pan between pieces, until out of bread, or liquid, or hungry people.

Notes: beat the eggs first, or they don't mix well with anything else. Sourdough was okay but needs more oomph in the liquid ingredients. Orange zest, maybe? Salt?

Optional sides: bacon (can be cooked in oven at 350 for 15 - 20 minutes, so start it first), cherries (yum!).
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Brownies come / from a pan

Food made after you're supposed to be in bed tastes better, yes?
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Instead of doing a full trip report, I'm going for highlights. So my first trip report is a love letter to a chicken curry puff.

[personal profile] norabombay, [ profile] trolleypup and I had dim sum at Yank Sing on February 14th, aka Valentine's Day, aka the Chinese New Year. We ate fantastic food, possibly even better because of turnover rates. [personal profile] norabombay had ecstasies over the sea bass, I decided that yes, I really do like seafood, even when it's not sushi or canned tuna, and as we were winding down a 1 1/2 hour food extravaganza we got a plate of the chicken curry puffs.

Imagine, if you will, a pastry with a soft filling. Not just any pastry: the dough was light, flaky, separating into layers that sort of melt into warm buttery heaven in the mouth. The filling was mildly but definitely spiced, and had sort of potato-ish base, with little bits of chicken mixed in. I am not usually an epic foodie, but for this I would become one. Starch plus protein is my OM NOM NOM NOM spot, and this was approaching a platonic ideal of NOM-ness.

Other food and booze highlights were the Return of the Captain Morgan's Coconut Rum (coconut rum doesn't make everything better, but I have good associations), and lunch at Ebisu.

I flipped my Sunday and Monday and went into work on Sunday so I could hang out with one of my Boston crew today. Given the 100% prediction of rain, I am glad we are focusing on museums. I'm also super-glad we're getting a late-ish start, because I am a slacker.
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Or, what happens when I am out of work four days running: I get creative in the kitchen.

Recipe under the cut. )

Notes: this was an attempt to combine a bland recipe with rice with a spiced version of lentil soup. If I were going to do this again, I would either reduce the amount of rice and lentils, or I would try doubling the spices (except the garlic and chile de arbol - the chile was doubled, oh my dripping nose) and using more sausage. Also, the picture isn't great. Next time I must remember to remove the soup to an attractive bowl before trying to get a snapshot.

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Brought these to B'more this weekend and got a request for the recipe. Here it is!

From with small modifications, most significantly the addition of allspice.

Okay, here it is behind the cut. )

I like these because they're basically soft sugar cookies with tons of spices. It's easy and relatively painless to clean up after (unlike any recipe that starts, "melt the chocolate"), but if I'm bringing these to an event with a crowd I'd probably double the recipe.
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Brown Sugar Cookies
From Cook's Illustrated

When I made these, they came out of the oven fairly soft, but hardened so much they were only really edible as "dipping cookies" (dip in milk / drink of choice) the next day. If you think the only way to eat cookies is with milk, this is fantastic, because they do a great job absorbing liquid and softening into crumbly deliciousness, but if you like your cookies without milk these aren't as good. Note: before/after pictures not only not particularly to scale, they're probably not even on the same scale relative to each other.

Recipe, with footnotes. )
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Thanks for the "what to do with shredded papers" suggestions: chucking in the garbage/recycling seems to be security-acceptable. (I would ask, "what would you do with my identity? I have nothing worth stealing," but I am certain someone would come up with an appropriately gruesome story. So let's skip storytelling hour and say thanks again for the advice.)

Tonight's attempt at ginger sugar cookies ended in a single, flat, burned "cookie" the size of the pan, that tasted like pure butter. Tentative guesses: overbeat ingredients, not enough flour (2cups flour to 1 cup butter seems...low). I may find another sugar cookie recipe and try adding ginger to it as a workaround.

Snowpocalypse has been a blast: the official snowfall was 22" - 24", but it felt more like 17" in my neighborhood. I had adventures in the snow on Saturday and Sunday, and took some lousy pictures that might eventually be photoshopped into decency. (Or cat macros. Is it still a cat macro if there isn't a cat?) Some of the drifts were hip-high, and I felt lucky I didn't have a car, at least until I volunteered to help dig out M's. Continuing what is becoming a tradition of practical gifts, someone is getting a snow shovel for Christmas. I have great hopes for January and February.
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Poll #1862 Cookie poll!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 9

Should I make cookies tonight?

View Answers

9 (100.0%)

0 (0.0%)

I should make...

View Answers

Triple-chocolate cookies
0 (0.0%)

Chocolate chip cookies
0 (0.0%)

Butterscotch walnut cookies
4 (44.4%)

Sugar cookies (plain)
0 (0.0%)

Sugar cookies (icing)
1 (11.1%)

Oatmeal raisin cookies
0 (0.0%)

Peanut butter cookies
1 (11.1%)

Gingered sugar cookies
1 (11.1%)

Peppermint mocha cookies
1 (11.1%)

1 (11.1%)

A recipe I will leave in comments
0 (0.0%)

What is a Christmas/Hannukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/Festivus cookie to you?

View Answers

Sugar cookies
5 (55.6%)

4 (44.4%)

4 (44.4%)

Chocolate-peppermint cookies
3 (33.3%)

Thumbprint cookies with jam
1 (11.1%)

Thumbprint cookies with chocolate
2 (22.2%)

A cookie I will describe with loving nostalgia in comments
0 (0.0%)


View Answers

Ticky has no milk in the house
3 (33.3%)

Tickybox for sugar high
3 (33.3%)

Ticky for finals procrastination
3 (33.3%)

Tickybox has no cookies. Tickybox needs no cookies!
4 (44.4%)

Ticky for baking
5 (55.6%)

Ticky is going to bribe M. to brave the night for ingredients.
4 (44.4%)

Bonus round! Farscape is $60 at Amazon for all four seasons. Buy?

View Answers

7 (100.0%)

Don't buy!
0 (0.0%)

Important context for bonus question: I thought about this for two days. Then I got a Christmas check in the mail. Then I thought about it for another day. Now I am posting a poll.
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Today I learned that brussels sprouts fried in olive oil are sweet and delicious. Tomorrow's lunch: brussels sprouts and asparagus with dad's lentil and sausage stew-like soup! Mmmm, food.
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Tonight I had brownies and soy milk instead of dinner. If you'd had my day you might have done the same.

Also, they were delicious, gooey brownies make from scratch. M. - not an unbiased audience - was appreciative.

Delicious pictures behind cut. )
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I've been sitting on this icon for a while, and I still don't like the text, but I can redo it later. I have a reason to use it!

Beef Stew, V2.0. Okay, Beef and Vegetable Stew. )

The beef was, indeed, meltingly tender, and boosting the spices was a really good idea. (Some day, I am likely to throw vegetables, potatoes, beef and curry mix into a pot to see what happens.) I didn't add any salt above the salt in the beef broth, which really wasn't enough. I didn't think so, M. really didn't think so - M. made puppy eyes at the cookpot all night, so I did all the work and we both had beef stew for lunch. I will bribe her to take me to the store one bitterly cold January night with the magic phrase "but M., stew beef is on sale!" - so next time I may unbend enough to add a whole teaspoon of salt for flavor. I may also ask M. to donate her wine stash - untouched for many months and counting - to the beef stew cause.

Autumn Slam

Sep. 1st, 2009 10:43 pm
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I am sitting, barefoot, under a fan which is whipping cool air with the bay-and-beef draft from the beef stew simmering on the electric burner. Tonight I ate leftover stir fry, but tomorrow's lunch will be eaten with a spoon.

Usually September rolls in with humid, sticky afternoons and warm nights, but this year school started and the weather broke barely hours apart. I like it; I am about the only person at work who is rejoicing.

I am on the countdown to my fall class - intro to medical genetics - and to vacation! I am going to have so much fun in S. F.: less than three weeks to go.

Quick stew conclusions: om nom nom nom, but needs more salt. Writeup to follow.
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By six minutes and twenty-two seconds into the first episode of Leverage I was already a little in love with Parker and Alec. I know, you're all shocked.

This morning M. took a personal day - I renewed my vow to never date long distance before catching the late bus - and tonight I made pancakes, which we ate with M.'s vanilla soy ice cream and caramel topping. Except for the part where I didn't do a bit of laundry, or get any GRE studying accomplished, or pack my lunch, and stayed up past my bedtime, a successful evening.

Five words from [ profile] charlie_ego: apocalypse, biology, cooking, graphics, Butler (the last is time-dependent... I just got a whole bunch of Octavia Butler books from the library and thought of you :) ) )

If anyone wants to play, the rules are out there.
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If you think I've been ignoring you this week, you are absolutely right: I am house-sitting, and spent last night navigating someone else's kitchen to create a fruit cobbler for a work bake-off.

Via epicurious, Blackberry Peach Cobbler with modifications.

Snapshot and recipe behind cut. )

The original recipe had a heavier topping, but someone suggested the topping I used in comments, and many people raved about it. If I do this again, lemon juice is going in the fruit to brighten the flavor, but that's about all I'd change. This was... cobbler. I'd make it again, but I'd rather eat the fruit with biscuits on the side.
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I think I accidentally reinvented the pan-seared chicken breast tonight. If only all my cooking experiments turned out so juicy and delicious! (Hint to future me: set to 5 / exact middle of your lame electric stove, stop poking at it until it's brown. Go chop vegetables or question your roommates' TV choices or something. Then flip it. Yes, it's going to take more than five minutes for each side, get over your instant gratification complex.) I also did something with the chicken skillet, shallots, bean sprouts, garlic, ginger, broccoli, zucchini, and soy sauce which was okay, except for the zucchini, which soaked up the ginger and soy deliciousness. I want to pick out just the zucchini and eat it until I figure out why it worked so well. Tomorrow, proper write, probably with pictures.


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