Category Archives: Food

Getting the shakes

After another kitchen accident, this time involving the immersion blender instead of the mandolin, I decided to get something better for the heavy-duty blending and food processing I wanted to do. Basically, I hate to chop vegetables, so I wanted something that could chop them for me. The Ninja Master Prep set is a blender motor that sits on top of any of three blender pitchers of different sizes. The smallest is known as the “chopper” and is good for chopping vegetables.

If, that is, you don’t mind having to already chop the vegetables into small enough pieces to fit in the chopper. It’s good for dicing, and that’s something. When chopping onions, I just cut them into quarters and throw them into the biggest pitcher where they become onion puree. I’m pretty happy with the onion puree. The flavor is great, and it’s easier to cook evenly, although it does bubble in big splashes of onion if you’re not careful.

My onion puree went into an African peanut stew with similarly made tomato puree (use roma tomatoes and you don’t have to chop anything!) and sweet potatoes (chopped into cubes in the normal fashion). After cooking I add tofu, also cubed via conventional methods (please comment if you know of an auto-cuber). I find it surprising how much I like unflavored tofu just tossed into soup.

IMG_20171006_200435110.jpg

What I’m making even more of now, though, is smoothies. Bananas, nuts, chia seeds, soymilk, yogurt, spinach, it’s all good.  As you might have noticed in the featured image, I like them thick. Two shakes a day if I can’t get more. When I don’t have peanut butter I just use my delicious red-skin peanuts. They blend right up and the skins add even more nutrition.

Cooking for myself is so much easier with my soups and shakes, I don’t use my company’s cafeteria hardly any more. My additional control over what I eat lets me maximize my vegetable intake and cut out sugars and saturated fats, so I’m looking forward to the benefits of that if I can keep up with it. Moving as much chopping as possible to chambered blades means fewer frustrating kitchen accidents, so I heartily recommend blender-based (and mostly blender-based) cuisine!

Advertisements

Seed Crackers

Another opportunity to post pictures of food and pass it off as a blog entry! Yesterday I made crackers out of seeds. I got the recipe from an app called 8-fit. I take credit for the brilliant name, though. They just call them “healthy crackers.”

All you have to do to make them is combine sesame seeds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds with water. The chia seeds soak up the water and become a binding agent, then you cook at 400 degrees for 35, flip and cook for 25.

IMG_20170930_190019472

The texture is pretty cracker-like, and you can add a little salt and garlic powder for flavor. They’re packed with protein, and sesame seeds even have calcium. They’re so easy I might make them a staple.

Purple Tofu Time

I realize it seems like I talk about tofu sticks a lot, but you see, statistically, one could argue that the apparent proportion of tofu stick mentions is artificially increased by a perception of a proliferation of tofu stick-based posts. So, now that you’re all convinced that it’s fine for me to write another tofu stick post, here goes.

Hot off my big success making root beer tofu, I ran out to Harris Teeter to get ingredients for cheerwine tofu. Once I made it there, I got ahold of myself. Was I really going to deliberately enter the situation I had decried just weeks earlier? Surely cheerwine is better than root beer. Is it, though? I distinctly remember thinking I was going to enjoy that root beer when I bought it. Once I’ve bought cheap soda specifically to make a recipe, I can no longer claim to be the clever DIY’er making the most of the unfortunate circumstance of having such stuff in the fridge. So I classed it up. I bought cheap wine.

IMG_20170909_112901438.jpg

I specifically picked red wine in order to give the tofu some color, and color it it did.IMG_20170909_111439616.jpg

I also added sesame seeds, sesame oil, and soy sauce. I should have added more spices, because the sticks turned out a little bland this time. The most tragic part, though, was that the purple cooked away.

IMG_20170909_121718571.jpg

Glossy black is a fine color for tofu sticks, especially dotted with the light sesame seeds, but it’s no vivid purple. Like always, though, in the end the sticks proved to be the convenient, filling snack that I can constantly change the marinade recipe for and safely keep outside a refrigerator for hours. Expect many more posts on this delightful class of dish.

The Curse of A&W

Last Thursday, the host one of my regular writing groups said he would provide ice cream as a snack. Wanting to contribute, but not wanting to compete with my host, I brought something I felt would go with the ice cream – root beer for root beer floats. One guest and I had root beer. I was the only one that put my root beer together with ice cream to make a float, and it wasn’t very good. I wondered whether I had ever really thought it would be good. The root beer guest declined to take the root beer home with him.

So, I took the root beer home. Naturally, I have options besides throwing something away and eating it straight – I can cook with it. Yes, even A&W root beer has recipes dedicated to it online. It’s also a reasonable shot to try substituting it for another popular dark soda – the ubiquitous Coca-Cola. This was my first experiment.

This experiment was cut short when, moments after my root beer sauce began to bubble, Alice fled from her room coughing. In addition to being unappetizing and unhealthful, A&W contained compounds to render the atmosphere of our apartment unbreathable.

Displaying IMG_20170819_165217105.jpg
A&W root beer is specially cursed, even among soft drinks. It has 45 grams of sugar per serving.

After we spent some time eating supper on the porch and venting the house, Alice glanced at the oven burner and pointed out some egg that had fallen under and generated the deadly, invisible smoke. My experiments could continue! Nevertheless, I had soured on making a root beer sauce. Instead, I took advantage of the sheer quantity of the root beer to make a tofu marinade.

I added the same ingredients as for the coca-cola sauce, but proportional to the extra root beer. I added a generous helping of sesame seeds and left the tofu to marinate overnight. Then I cooked it for 20 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. IMG_20170819_115442928 The result was delicious. Alice said she could taste the root beer. The best part? It nearly used it all up!

The remaining root beer went into a root beer chicken recipe. This used substantially less root beer, but made up for it with a full bottle of barbecue sauce. It’s no New York Times recipe, but it tastes a lot better than swigging the stuff straight.

0

Now there’s only dredges of root beer left, and I have food for the weekend. Thus, the curse of A&W was broken.

Bah Hahbah

As I write this entry, I am sitting in a breakfast joint, possibly the only one in Bar Harbor, Maine (as the locals call it, “Bah Hahbah”). It is 6:15 AM, and the establishment is packed. A woman in a shirt depicting welsh corgies floating through space emitting comically bastardized dog sounds (e.g. “bork bork.”). Her accent seems out of place. Mostly Eastern European, although not without a flair of upper New England. I have ordered the wild blueberry pancakes, which I am told are the best in Bar Harbor.

The waiter stops by with my food. She is from Kiev. The pancakes are thick and goopy, soaking the chunky wild blueberry sauce that came with them. Butter, served as a scoop in a plastic cup, melts and sinks into the surface of the pastries until they become saturated with the purple sauce, at which point it sits on top in a white and purple swirl.

IMG_20170709_062854152.jpg

As a savvy reader may have guessed, food has been one of the main attractions of my trip to the harbor so far. My first experience with the area was a Japanese restaurant. We enjoyed rather standard Americanized Japanese fare in an atmosphere juxtaposing faux traditional affectations with color-shifting neon lighting. Our waters were served with what were described as “hand-twirled” drinking straws, and the tea included traditional style cups, except that they were four times the size. The water had a subtle spicy taste, and my aunts, with whom I was traveling, assured me that this was due to high heavy metal content.

IMG_20170708_135517814.jpgWhen we arrived at our rental house, supper was salad with grilled cheese in a much more literal form than one might expect. Halloumi is a cheese made from sheep’s milk that holds up under heat, and thus can be sautéed in a pan, giving it a beautiful browned appearance and a taste that lives up to what one might imagine if you fried cheese in a pan.

IMG_20170708_193151731.jpg

Dessert was s’mores. On the theory that every dessert can be improved with judicious application of alcohol, I tried drizzling whiskey on my s’more. The first bite, I only added a drop and couldn’t taste it. The second one, I poured on half a capful, and the s’more burned my mouth and throat. Thus I have eliminated “pour straight whisky on top” from the list of ways alcohol could improve s’mores.

Murder, chocolate pudding, and ponies

I was playing a game this week in which you play a little rabbit creature with magic powers. The unstated goal was to murder everything in sight, for which you were rewarded with experience that made you stronger in interesting and fun ways. At one point my little serial killer came upon a creature she had been chasing, who was now stuck under some rubble. The protagonist rescued it and the narrator of the game informed me that she had reminded this creature that there is still kindness and mercy in the forest. After accepting the stolen artifact for her inspiring love, the protagonist blew up an owl with two magic missiles and used its soul to empower her to do so again in the future using only one magic missile.

 

dark chocolate orange pudding recipe

On Friday, I made orange dark chocolate pudding for a party. I’m not sure it was the right snack for that venue. I didn’t put as much effort into the presentation as the above picture. People liked the dish for not being excessively sweet, and even though only three people out of eight (including me) ate any, one person may have had three bowls of it. I still have an awful lot left over, so I’ll take some to my co-workers who expressed interest on Friday when I mentioned I was going to make it.

But the crowning story of this week, if we include the prior weekend, is that Alice got to go visit the wild ponies of Virginia.

IMG_6009.JPG
Enraged, a wild pony viciously attacks Alice’s hip.

It is illegal to pet these ponies. Please witness in this picture, Alice is not petting the pony. To my knowledge, there are no laws in the state of Virginia against being eaten by ponies.

How to Accidentally Make a Non-newtonian Fluid in your Kitchen

This week was another with the mandolin. After learning just how deep into my flesh I have to go to reveal my knuckle bone*, I decided I would take my friend’s advice and start using a kevlar glove. Here is my kevlar glove.IMG_20170507_074504068

You can see around the edges where it’s already beginning to show signs of damage from the merciless mandolin. It’s not as hard to grip as you would think, and I can go really fast now that I’m not worried about my safety.

In any case, I’ve been making hashbrowns for Alice. After I soaked the grated sweet potatoes I left the water for a while.IMG_20170507_074422517.jpgAlice, who does the dishes, found a goopy white substance at the bottom.

IMG_20170506_095114142.jpg

I believe that this is sweet potato starch and water, a close cousin to the corn starch and water that together make oobleck. I wasn’t able to make my unintentional oobleck do anything exciting, but for those of you who have not heard of oobleck, it is a fluid whose viscosity changes depending on the forces acting upon it. Here is a informational video.

*This is hyperbole