Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Great Coffee Experiment Results

Dear Not Turkey,

In the name of science, I bought two kinds of soymilk -- the usual and Silk Original:

Silk, you let me down:

No layers, however, the sugar and sketchy additives in the Silk made for a tasty latte. I even tried adding a hot shot on top of cold Silk and it still mixed.

I think I need to try this one because is has 130 calories/serving (instead of 100), so maybe that will hold up the coffee more.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Bday Flan

Dear Turkey,

Remember when my mom had a landmark birthday and she wanted flan? And it was so hard to make and the ramekins were impossible to wash (you probably don't remember that part, since I washed them)? Apparently we didn't know how to cook then.

This time, my mom wanted this one, by one of your favorite local chefs. It was pretty easy:

I reduced 1 c maple syrup by half on low heat.

I whisked together 1/2 c maple syrup, 2 c heavy cream, 5 eggs, a pinch salt, and 1 t vanilla (I simplified the recipe slightly here).

I poured the reduced syrup into the bottom of six ramekins.

I poured the "batter" on top and placed them in a pyrex dish with an inch or so of very hot water in the bottom.

350 degrees, 45 mins. Then I turned the oven off and let them sit for about 45 more minutes, while I gave my mom her birthday massage. 

For dinner, we had seasonal veggies roasted with sweet and sour sauce (from a jar), angel hair, and scallops that I pan fried in olive oil, butter, garlic, dried parsley and basil, a little salt, lime juice, and white wine. I topped the pasta with olive oil and parm; we also had salad.

Ta da...flan.

They even turned out, releasing the delicious sauce on the bottom. Easy washing! I guess we know how to cook now, lucky for my mom.

I moss you,

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Last Winter Soup

Dear One of my Two Friends (You Know Who You Are -- if not, use process of elimination),

I am so excited to see you, your baby, and your Lt. Veggie Nugget (aka sister) for lunch today. In your honor, I took everything perishable out of my fridge/hanging root basket (don't worry -- nothing was bad -- I am anal, remember?) and made it into The Last Winter Soup. People who think that it hasn't been winter for a while obviously don't live around here.   

Here are the suspects (not pictured are some canned tomatoes from the other day):

I put the roast-able suspects in my dutch oven with lots of olive oil and salt: 

Here are the non-roast-able suspects:

One hour, 425 degrees (cover off) later:

I carefully put the dutch oven on the burner (can you tell that I'm trying to minimize dishes? you don't even have to wash the dutch oven when you're done -- quality), and added the non-roast-ables and a quart of veggie broth: 

Cook just until tender:


I made this yesterday so that the flavors would be all married by lunchtime today. We are going to enjoy it with whole milk ricotta on top, homemade bread, iced coffee, and whatever you guys bring.

See you after nap time (I'll leave it to the audience to decide who is napping),

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nine Dollar Guacamole

Dear Cantina Laredo,

Thank you for your generous offer of free lunch in exchange for a shot at fame and fortune on my blog.

Just kidding:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you for letting me and Lt. Veggie Nugget use your credit card to eat lunch, self-serve froyo, and Starbucks at the mall yesterday while pretending to be teen moms.

Either way, I went to lunch at Cantina Laredo yesterday in order to answer an important question: what exactly goes into $9 guacamole?

Luckily, they made the guacamole right in front of me, so I could see what goes into it: exactly what I put into it at home, where I still get to watch myself make it, and it costs about $2.75.

Actual size
That said, I appreciate the addition of a "Mexican" restaurant to our horrible mall. They conveniently marked the vegetarian entrees (few though they were) with a green square (or was it a triangle?). I had spinach enchiladas (served the "traditional" way, with beans on one side and rice on the other). It was nice not to have to ask if the beans had meat in them, and I enjoyed the "free" chips and two salsas came to our table right when we sat down.

Of course, Cantina Laredo isn't nearly as good (or as cheap) as Our. Local. Favorites. But, Mom and Dad, I wouldn't say that your money was wasted, either.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Soymilk Advice Contest

Dear Readership,

Like my friends, you are a small, elite, community. In fact, if you're not related to me and you're reading this, you are probably one of my three friends (including Turkey). Turkey, just stop reading right now because this post is about coffee.

In fact, it's a coffee contest. I need some advice. If you give me the advice, you win...Turkey's Vitamix. He will ship it to you.

Here's my problem. I use this awesome soymilk:

The only ingredient: soybeans. Quality. However, it doesn't really work for layered iced coffee drinks. Everything just mixes together and turns into a latte.

I heard that Silk makes a "coffeehouse blend" but I can't find it online. I went to my favorite coffee shop with Little Veggie Nugget yesterday. They made an awesome layered iced coffee, and I think that they used Silk Organic Vanilla (they took it out of the fridge so fast, I could only see the green packaging). 

Hypothesis #1: Silk is better for coffee drinks because it has tons of yucky additives that make it heavier so that the coffee can float on top.

Hypothesis #2: Westsoy Original (as opposed to Unsweetened, which is what I use) might work almost as well as Silk, because the sugar makes it heavier.

Hypothesis #3: There is no such thing as Silk Coffeehouse Blend (but I swear I've seen it at Starbucks).

Okay, small elite readership, can you comment on my hypotheses? Otherwise I will have to buy tons of different types of soymilk and do another experiment.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Finally Something Savory

Dear Deb P.,

Hi! Did you miss me? Did you think that I had forgotten about our friendship? I bet you're regretting asking your lawyers to forget about the cease & desist order right about now. Well, don't worry, we are still friends. Actually, we are friends with benefits. And, by benefits, I mean that I steal recipes off of your blog and you do not read my blog or even know that I exist.

Anyway, I wanted to point out another way in which I shamelessly poser off of you: I don't post that many savory recipes. So I thought that I should post something so that those of you that are on the Diet (app coming soon) can give your cholesterol a break (actually, when you read the recipe, you will realize that I am lying).

I actually stole this from Food52, who in turn stole it from Craig Claiborne (so I don't feel that bad), but it's so good, easy, and fresh, that I could have just as easily stolen it from your blog. (NB: Food52 -- why did you have to be snobs and call this Pasta con Asparagi? It's cute, but, when I search for "asparagus" on your site, this doesn't come up, and that's annoying.)


You will need:

5 stalks asparagus, cut up small
1/4 lb Lemon Pepper Pasta that you got from the Regional Market
1 can diced tomatoes
3, or, better yet 4, T butter (no, that is no a typo, and yes, this serves two)
1 t dried parsley
1 t salt
1 t pepper
2 t minced garlic
1 egg, beaten
Parm, for topping

Melt the butter, herbs, spices, and garlic and let the garlic brown a little.

Meanwhile, cut up the asparagus and start the pasta water.

Add the tomatoes to the butter/garlic etc. and cook until about 2/3 of the juice is gone. Then add the asparagus. Cook about a minute. 

Take some of the tomato mixture and add it to the beaten egg to warm it up (yes, I know, this is cheating, but I don't care). Turn off the heat. Slowly add the egg to the pan and stir gently. 

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan. This should be enough to cook the egg but, if it isn't, or if you're paranoid, turn the heat back on to low. 

Divide and serve.

Top with parm.

So, Deb, like many of your "savory" recipes, this is the health equivalent of eating a big doughnut topped with asparagus. And it tasted and smelled pretty much like you'd expect it to.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Yet Another Way to Use Buttermilk

Dear Turkey,

Remember that fight that you and I had in college about whether or not you are my best friend? Well, I hope you haven't gotten too comfortable, because you are competing with buttermilk.

Ah, buttermilk, what's not to love? You're cheap, you're nutritious, you're alive (that's right -- active cultures), and you make everything taste delicious.

I recently made a declaration that I must have buttermilk in my house at all times. How many people have said that about you?

This is a cake that I adapted from a blog that I love. If you click on the link you will see that I added You Know What. I decided to make it because I had a Corning-ware dish out that I didn't want to put away (it goes under lots of other heavy Corning-ware dishes on a high shelf). Other lazy perks: it only uses a couple of  spoons and cups, and they're easy to wash (meaning, you don't measure fat in them); you can melt the butter in the Corning-ware dish while you preheat the oven, pour it into the batter and, voila, your pan is greased. If your cake lasts more than one day, you can cover it with the lid of said dish, since you didn't put that away, either.

Raspberry Buttermilk Pound Cake:

In a bowl, combine (okay, okay, all of my recipes start like this, and I concede that if I had gotten out my Kitchen-aid mixer and creamed and sifted and added it would have been really delicate and delicious. But guess what? It was still gone in 24 hours, and there were only two people eating it):

2 c sugar
2 sticks butter, melted
6 eggs that you got for free from your friend
1 t vanilla
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt (measure the soda and the salt first, use the same spoon for the vanilla -- only one spoon to wash)
1 c buttermilk MY NEW BEST FRIEND
3 c flour (if you scanned down the recipe to maximize your laziness potential, you will have measured this before the buttermilk so that you only have to wash one cup)
1 -2 c frozen raspberries (cup already in the sink? estimate -- that's why I gave you a range)

Bake in a buttered dish at 325 degrees for 90-100 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Serves one.

Just kidding, this is a serving (and that's not a joke).

I moss you,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Great Coffee Experiment

Dear Turkey,

Once again, I know what you're thinking: "what's so great about a coffee experiment? I don't even like coffee."

Fine. You can just skip this post. In case you're still reading, I'll tell you what's so great about it: I did it at home. By myself. With only NPR and a fire in the non-vented propane fireplace for company. I could have even turned off my phone if I were brave enough.

So, I have two coffee makers:

Pros: makes really good coffee, milk frother. Cons: lots of little parts to wash, has a plug, doesn't make much at once.

Pros: easy to use and wash, makes a lot at once, works while camping. Cons: you have to wait for the water to boil.

Research question: is it really worth it to use the espresso maker?

Hypothesis: No, it only makes snobs feel better. 


The World's Best Coffee (don't believe me? do an experiment)

Procedure: make some coffee. Use the same amount for each machine. Grind it all at once. Use the same amount and temperature of water. Heat up your mugs before adding the coffee.

Taste test: French Press on right. In between, cleanse your palate with...more coffee?

Results: I had some tasty coffee. They were different, but not that much different. The espresso had...let's not get too technical here...more...taste. I didn't want to get heartburn so I combined (gasp!) them in a jar in the fridge for iced coffee later. 

Sources of error: when you combine coffee with frothed soy milk and hazelnut syrup you can't really appreciate its finer points anyway.

And giant muffins don't really cleanse your palate either.

Well, Turkey, you've probably stopped reading long ago. So long, fellow coffee science geeks,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Carb Loading for Mother('?)s('?) Day

Dear Fellow Mothers,

Yes, I do not know where the apostrophe goes in Mother('?)s('?) Day. I don't even know if there is one. And yet, the Parenting Review and Permits Board still allowed me to become a mother. Go ahead, try and vote me off the island.

I am here to offer you some mother-ly advice about how to really appreciate that holiday with the tricky punctuation, especially if you are nursing, just ran ten miles, and are concerned about fulfilling your caloric needs.

First, appetizers:

If you are a lightweight, you can start working on this one on MD-eve. But the elapsed-time should be no more than 24 hours:

Second, carbs:

I stole this recipe from food52 (even though I am mad at them). The only things that I changed were: adding sourdough starter, replacing the milk with buttermilk, and melting the butter. Oh, yeah, and not measuring anything. They were still heavenly.

Third, carbs with fat and sugar:

I made this batter and let it chill overnight. I served it with berries, orange marmalade, and whole-milk ricotta with maple syrup stirred into it. 

You all probably wish that you were my mother, since we invited her, too; except for my actual mother, since she had to raise me in order to qualify for this brunch. 
Keep up the good work, Mom,

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ducks are Friends, Not Food, Version 2.0

...Or should I call it Version 1.0, because, as of this printing, there is only one duck. And I found the culprit: my little neighbors' dog. 

And guess where my little neighbors were when I texted them to tell them that their own dog was eating their ducklings:

At court. For speeding. Because they are 21.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How to Keep Organic Ice Cream from Getting too High and Mighty

Dear Turkey,

Now that you're en -- oh, you stop gossip-hand! -- that's not your story to tell! Ahem, sorry. Now that you're almost thirt -- oh, bad hand! Anyway, now that it's Sunday, I thought you might be looking for some handy advice tips from your old friend Tofu.

Have you ever enjoyed a big bowl of tasty, expensive, wholesome, organic ice cream and you've just felt like it was a little too full of itself? It didn't know how to gets its organic panties out of a bundle and just have fun? Well, here is a solution for you: 

Show that smarmy organic ice cream who is boss by smothering it with un-wholesome , NOT-food, M&Ms and Heath Bar bits (disclosure: I think that M&Ms are the perfect food).

Congr -- oh, stop it, hand!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ducks are Friends, Not Food

Dear Fellow Vegetarians and Fake-Vegetarians,

Yes, this is my backyard. And, while ducklings are not food for me, they are food for somebody. These are our little neighbors' ducklings (I call them my little neighbors because they are 21 and they are SO 21...and I am SO NOT 21 anymore). There used to be six. Then there were five. Yesterday morning there were four. At the time of publication there are three. 

So one of these ducklings is deceased. Which one? Geez, they all look the same to me.

My baby can say "duck."

Let's just say, if you've ever had duck-itch, you will not be coming over to swim in my pond.
Now let's discuss something that IS food:

Burritos with beans/poblanos, rice, tomatillo sauce, queso blanco and guacamole on the side.
I could eat beans and rice every day.

Goodbye for now, vegetarians,