Friday, November 28, 2008

Haven't posted in ages, but had to braindump this.

Thanksgiving (yesterday) I'm knitting away on a present for the sea-slug-aka-E.D.-the-nephew. Friend comes over, looks at what I'm doing, I tell him it's a geeky knit **** **** for my baby nephew. "Well, that's not quite accurate," he says. "It really should be more drapey fabric. Couldn't you just go buy one?"

Craft:zine recently had an article[1] warning all of us crafters about people like these. You knit them a hat for a present. They look at you oddly and sort of say thank you, but look disappointed. "Oh," you say. "I knit them a hat. They must not like hats. I will knit them gloves - they will love gloves!" and you knit them gloves. They look at you oddly and sort of say thank you, but look disappointed. Rinse-repeat ad nauseum.

...there are two kinds of people in the world: the knit-worthy and the hopelessly knit-immune...The knit-immune are exactly who we want especially to knit things for. Knitters feel sadness for these folk, and in our hearts we're all on a conversion mission: we don't want everyone to knit, but we do want them all to respect it.[1]

You can remove "knit" and put in baked goods. Hand-sewn blankets. Homemade soap, cards, papercraft, toys - you name it. I want these people to understand it's not the same. I'm not making this gift to save some money. I've actually spent less money on a t-shirt for the baby. The time and energy spent making something special and unique is the important part. Instead of a piece of fabric made and sewn by some unknown hand possibly in another country I've spent hours looping yarn over needles, each time thinking about how cute he'll look in his final gift. Some people will never get that, and for them - well, there's Target.

[1] Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie. "To Knit or Not." Craft 9 (2008): 62.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Long Time No Post (and a list of foodlings)

I found somewhere the Omnivore's Hundred and the Vegetarian's Hundred. The dealie-o: Read the list, bold what you've eaten, cross out what you'd never eat. Easy, right?

I've eaten/cooked a LOT more of the vegetarian hundred than the omnivore's. That could be because the foods are safer (less random animal parts). It could also be that I rarely eat meat anymore...

I've for fun also starred the things I've prepared or made myself.

The Vegetarian Hundred (eaten 72, cooked/prepared myself 45)

*1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked
2. Tabouleh
*3. Freshly baked bread, straight from the oven (preferably with homemade strawberry jam)
4. Fresh figs
5. Fresh pomegranate
*6. Indian dal of any sort
7. Imam bayildi (never heard of it)
8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu
9. Freshly made hummus
10. Tahini
11. Kimchi
12. Miso
13. Falafel
14. Potato and pea filled samosas
15. Homemade yogurt
16. Muhammara
17. Brie en croute
18. Spanikopita
*19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes
*20. Insalata caprese
*21. Stir-fried greens (gai lan, bok choi, pea shoots, kale, chard or collards)
*22. Freshly made salsa
23. Freshly made guacamole
*24. Creme brulee
*25. Fava beans
26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles
27. Fattoush
*28. New potatoes
29. Coleslaw (ugh)
*30. Ratatouille
31. Baba ganoush
*32. Winter squash
*33. Roasted beets
*34. Baked sweet potatoes
35. Plantains
*36. Chocolate truffles
*37. Garlic mashed potatoes
38. Fresh water chestnuts
*39. Steel cut oats
*40. Quinoa
41. Grilled portabello mushrooms
*42. Chipotle en adobo
43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal
44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas
*45. Frittata
*46. Basil pesto
*47. Roasted garlic
48. Raita of any type
49. Mango lassi (thx Karo!)
*50. Jasmine rice (white or brown)
*51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry
*52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie
53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette
54. Quince in any form
*55. Escarole, endive or arugula
*56. Sprouts other than mung bean
57. Naturally brewed soy sauce
58. Dried shiitake mushrooms
*59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…)
*60. Fresh peach ice cream
61. Chevre
62. Medjool dates
63. Kheer
*64. Flourless chocolate cake
65. Grilled corn on the cob
*66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili
67. Tempeh
*68. Seitan or wheat gluten (and will never eat again)
69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese (cooked in things...)
*70. Sweet potato fries (but the ones I've made are NOWHERE as good as restaurants')
*71. Homemade au gratin potatoes
72. Cream of asparagus soup
73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip
74. Mushroom risotto (friend of Jared's family made it - real italian style - SO GOOD)
75. Fermented black beans
*76. Garlic scapes
*77. Fresh new baby peas
78. Kalamata olives
79. Preserved lemons
*80. Fried green tomatoes
*81. Chinese scallion pancakes
82. Cheese souffle
83. Fried apples
*84. Homemade frijoles refritos
85. Pasta fagiole
86. Macadamia nuts in any form
87. Paw paw in any form
*88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind
89. Paneer cheese
*90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!) (though I love both ways...)
*91. Fresh pasta in any form
92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps
93. Green papaya salad
*94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes
95. Pickled ginger
96. Methi greens
97. Aloo paratha
98. Kedgeree (the original Indian version without the smoked fish, not the British version with fish)
*99. Okra
*100. Roasted brussels sprouts

The Omnivore's Hundred
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
*3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (or was it gator? Don't remember...)
6. Black pudding
*7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
*13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras (no way. too cruel.)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese (uh, I'm good, kthxby)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut (::shudder::)
35. Root beer float (::shudder^2:: - i hate root beer)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
*38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (::SWOON:)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (uh, no. I hate fast food burgers.)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (IN Quebec even!)
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads (if we're talking about Bread? Yup! If we're talking about meat? no way.)
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (smells so.. wrong.. but i might try it.)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis (no thanks)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta (made it last night!)
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Monday, July 7, 2008

I feel horrid for not posting

I did both the April and May Daring Bakers' challenges, and then got swept up in life. Augh! So here's a very quick "My Life So Far" update:

* Jared travels a lot
* We found a new apartment for next year (huzzah) - it's Denille's old one
* I have no time
* We spent a week in Maine and DID NOTHING (and it was good)

Now to figure out how to blog more.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Going Green

I started writing this as a response to Karo's posting (, but it got big enough to warrant its own posting. Karo posted several things she's been working on/trying to do to go more green. Here's our baby steps towards doing the same.
  • Keep the heat turned low during the winter. Wear sweaters and use blankies. Put insulating curtains on windows and walls that suck. This made some nights absolutely freezing, I'll admit, but it saved us some money and helped out the environment. (The money I will fully admit was the driving force.)
  • Use Tupperwares instead of plastic bags. We still use plastic bags a lot, I'll admit, but for a sandwich there's perfectly good gladwares. There's also neat sandwich wraps, or wax paper, or many other more recyclable options. I'm looking into either making or buying cloth bags to store greens and such in.
  • Bring Your Own Bag to the grocery store! I have a great little rayon shopping bag that folds up wicked tiny and has a clip. It's permanently attached to my keyring, so I rarely forget it at home. We do occasionally get plastic bags and use them for holding kitty litter. I also have crocheted a kitty bed and a shopping bag out of plastic bags - the bag is outstanding.
  • Grow your own stuff! A plant inside looks nice and cleans out some air. (If you want a spider plant let me know. Mine is breeding. >_<) But you can grow your own bok choy or lettuce in a shallow tub with minimal sun and effort. There's nothing as satisfying as picking the first of your garden's greens for a stir fry.
  • If you don't have a huge tract of land, a Farmers' Market is def a great way to go. If you can find one, join a CSA. We're part of the Waltham Community Farm CSA, which provides fresh vegetables and fruits for the entire summer. It forces us to do meal planning. For example, the first few weeks we'll get nothing but greens, so I know we'll have lots of salads and stir fries. (OMG - it starts in LESS THAN A MONTH!) Also, if you can find one locally (Karo - contact Hampshire College if you can), support a local farm for your meats, or go vegetarian/vegan. I'm not either, but we tend to not eat a lot of meats or dairy (meat is expensive, and dairy makes me ill.)
  • I'm looking at the 100 mile diet. I don't think I could do it, but I can try to buy locally as much as possible. I'd rather buy a conventionally and locally grown tomato than an organic one from Mexico.
  • I'm looking for a dishwasher safe, bisphenol and PBA free water bottle. I do buy many bottles of water, but tend to reuse them several times for drinking, then for watering baby plants, and then off to the recycling bin.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

April 08

yes they are done, no i haven't posted yet - and are we posting on our blogs or on the forum or both? I DON'T KNOW. ^__^

Remind me next time I'm spending one weekend with fam and two weekends traveling I should not try to make the daring bakers' monthly challenge.

Friday, April 11, 2008

AIM convo of the day

Me: the [machine] WON'T LOAD [SOFTWARE]
Kat: wtf??
Me: hahahahahahaha
Me: i called service

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Birthday Cakes (in the lab of course!)

Last year, a few days before my wedding, I offered to make a birthday cake for a friend at work. "Pick whatever cake you want - anything!" He chose the Lemon Macadamia-Nut Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT), and I chose to adapt it to a layer cake. I frosted it with vegan lemon "butter"-cream frosting, lightly sprinkled it with chopped toasted macadamia nuts, and somehow got it safely to work the next morning, no thanks to the MBTA. I work in a room where I can't keep food, the cake needed to get to room temperature, and I wanted him to see it when he got in, so I put it in the lunchroom with a napkin on top saying "Name's Cake."

During my morning appointment (which mind you I can't just up and leave the room in the middle of my appointments!) he popped online. "You should go see what's waiting for you in the lunchroom!" "Yaay! But I'm going to the dentist - my appointment is at 11, but I'll be in around 1." "Alright, see you then! Happy Birthday!"

I figured the cake was still safe, right? A cake with a name on it? Sure, no worries. He'll be here in less'n an hour, I said. My lunchtime (12ish) arrives. I finish my stuff and go into the lunchroom. Where there are three people. Eating his cake.


"Oh well he came by and saw the cake and said we could eat it."

I looked the guy who lied to me in the eye and said, "He did not come by. He is at the dentist. You are lying to me. Don't lie to me about eating his cake." They gave stupid excuses. I stormed off, told them they get no more cake, they should be ashamed, and went off to my wedding. The end.

I tried to figure out who to make this month's daring bakers challenge for and kept coming up with fails. My parents and the boy's parents are all dieting and stuff, so their visit wasn't a good time. We had a wedding to go to the weekend after that. I was running out of ideas. But then I logged into Facebook (alright - I never log OUT, but I at least refreshed the page) and saw someone's birthday was coming up! Hurrah! I immediately checked the schedule and saw he'd scheduled a sort appointment... on his birthday. Whoohoo - Success!
I emailed him: "Do you like raspberries? and lemon?"
And he responded: "haha. I know what you gonna do :) I love both!"

I made the cake and frosting on a Tuesday night. I was completely paranoid about the cake recipe - people on the blogroll posted so many problems! The cake didn't rise. It was pale and soggy. I made certain I had the right flour (Swan's Down for the win - exactly what Dorie recommended!) and measured it by weight, not volume (which I'm starting to do more and more. Weighing flour is the way to go. Seriously - go to Linens and Things RIGHT NOW and buy a scale. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.). I followed the directions WORD FOR WORD. And I came out with the most beautiful, tight-crumb, light-gold, perfectly-cooked (except for the bits of chunk sugar which the kitchenaid didn't beat up, bad laura) cake EVAR.

The frosting wasn't that hard either - I threw it together and set it in the fridge. "I'll just frost the cake tomorrow night when I get home, no problem!" Except it didn't soften after I'd left it out of the fridge for an hour. "I'll just beat it up again in the KitchenAid - it'll be nice and fluffy, right?"

Three minutes later I have a pound of lemon-meringue-scented butter and NO MORE LEMONS.

"Sweetie?" I called into the living room.
"What do you need?" he replied. (I love my boy. :)
"Could you please run to the store and buy me two lemons? Pleeeeeeeeeeease???"
::Grumble grumble::
Ten minutes later he returns home with four of the most beautiful lemons ever. I AM SO SPOILED.

I made the second batch, frosted the cake (and the few cupcakes I made with extra batter!) and had it ready for work the next day!

Here's the birthday boy with his cake! Huzzah for Sorapop! Happy Birthday!

Recipe Customizations:
* I obviously made the frosting 2x, and can tell you lemon meringue butter scented scones are 'ait
* The cake was made in 8" pans, not 9", because I don't own 9". I had enough batter for about six cupcakes.
* The preserves were organic low-sugar raspbperry preserves from trader joe's.
* The frosting and jam didn't stay very separate when I frosted between the layers, but it tasted amazing even with the two blended together.
* I didn't have any sweetened coconut, so I instead covered it with unsweetened. The general consensus of everyone who tasted the cake was it was better unsweetened - sweetened would have been probably TOO sweet.

I had someone hide the cake near their desk all day, and only brought it out when the birthday boy came. The vultures saw the cake after and came begging. "Please? Can we have some? You're not letting (names of people who ate Jeff's cake) have any of it - is that why it was hiding?" "Yes, that's why it was hiding," I said. "And no, they get nothing. NOTHING. They have LOST ALL CAKE PRIVILEGES. FOREVER."

Don't mess with the flow-lab, or you will lose cake privileges. The end.

Thanks to Morven ( for her Daring Bakers' Challenge - Dorie's Perfect Party Cake. This cake recipe will definitely stick around! YUM! I also feel like I should look more into Dorie Greenspan (the original author of the cake recipe.) I love cake. :)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

February 2008 Daring Bakers - Julia Child's French Bread

My Jared and I were talking.
"So, what's this month's challenge?"
"Oh - Julia Child's 18 page french bread recipe from 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 2'."
"EIGHTEEN PAGES?!? What the hell is she doing? How can you write 18 pages about bread?!?"

Easy - she spelled out every step so even I could figure out what was going on. :)

I made the recipe twice. Each time took nine hours of my life, even with the help of my trusty kitchen-aid mixer. It was so worth it. The flavor, the crumb, the smell that filled the house...

The first time the loaves weren't so pretty. I had the space heater keeping the dough at 70º, or as close as I could get. I baked three batards - one on the pizza stone, two on the pan, and didn't steam but simply brushed with water - my pizza stone came with specific "DO NOT STEAM" instructions! They came out pale, but still amazingly delicious - crisp and chewy. I gave one away to a friend over visiting during the entire baking. The rest VANISHED before I could remember where I put my camera! Boom! Into bellies!

The second time I used a pan for baking, an old cast iron for steam, and lego-shaped ice cubes. Once again they VANISHED before I could take pictures. Wow! The smell made me dizzy with hunger and a craving for soup.

I gave one loaf to a friend (we traded arugula for bread) and she couldn't wait to get home and eat it, so she took out several bites. "Oh crap! I need to take pictures!" so she put it on the table and I grabbed my camera. So this is all the pictures y'all get, because the recipe was so amazing, so delicious, that the bread never made it to the camera stage.

Now to adapt things for whole wheat - the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book has an entire chapter on whole wheat french bread, though it's definitely less than 18 pages. I will admit I had it open as well during the entire baking procedure. Its pictures on shaping and slicing were invaluable.

Lessons learned and things to try:
* Get a real razor for slicing. My kitchen knives just aren't good enough.
* Steaming is INVALUABLE. (I'll try this "no-knead" style - baking in my corningware to help trap the steam in! It makes a beautiful crispy crust.)
* Keep the camera nearby.
* Turn the recipe to something whole wheat... it will be worth it. :)

Breachick, i love you and your challenge. Thank you for pushing my breadmaking further!

Friday, February 29, 2008

db feb 08 is coming!

i have the pictures on the camera - will post this weekend! this has been the week from hell. 46 emails in one day - and that was just Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

LMP*2 (and why I waited to post this)

Just to clarify the FAIL piecrust picture - the boy saw it and said "Did laura submit her piecrust to 'I Can Has Cheesburger?'" and then looked and saw it was my blog. ^_^ Visit them for hours of stupid LOL cat pictures.

"Yesterday" became "One week" very rapidly due to the following:

  • Work
  • Stress
  • Carrying pies to work cuz the boy was on another trip
  • Going out Friday, all day Saturday, and Sunday for MY BIRTHDAY! YAAY!

Both my families are so thoughtful - my parents took us shopping and gave me a beautiful pair of silpada earrings; his mother took me shopping and gave me muffin-top pans (which would have been Perfect for tartlettes >_<) a puzzle (nearly done!) and a Very Nice Leather Jacket. My inner vegetarian cried, but it fits so well... and she found it on an incredible discount... (It's a several hundred dollar jacket... found at Marshalls for $30. WOW. she is a BARGAIN HUNTER.)

But anyways. Back to lemon meringue pies.

I made the first pie with my own piecrust recipe - an old standby with shortening, vinegar, and an egg. I knew it wouldn't fail and could be prepped in no time, and it saved the day on the first pie. I gave it to someone for his birthday and he seemed to like it - weeping meringue and wet curd and all (it sat around for several hours while we went out and watched the game, then all went back to his place and watched the drunks eat pie and play beer pong. Don't ask.) Despite the EPIC FAIL crust it got rav reviews. One girl said it looked exactly like her mother's; a boy said it was better than his GF's. I forgot to take pictures beforehand, but here is one taken with my crappy blackberry-cam.

Pie #2 I vowed to follow the recipe and make tartelettes. I had a Williams-Sonoma gift card and bought some tart pans. I bought fresh ingredients, juiced lemons, made crust, formed tartelettes in a muffin tin and the tartelette pans, and had plenty left over for an 8" piecrust. I made sure to divide the crust into three parts as I worked it - kept two in the fridge, worked the first and cut out parts, shaped it back into a ball and put it back in the fridge, took out the next chilled piece, and continued.

Baking piecrust just isn't my thing, I suppose - I need more practice! This time they sank a bit in the muffin tins and tart pans. The large piecrust did alright - only a bit fell off the end. I'm wondering if I still just didn't keep things cold enough.

I should have made extra meringue, and wasn't able to make pretty peaks for the "leftover" pie. The tartlettes had theirs piped on with a large star tip and baked up nicely.

Boy and I culled off some of the mini tarts - they just sank too much, or were too brown, or too big... He doesn't like the curd since it is so sour, but in chibi-tart form there's enough meringue and pie crust to counter it.

I then packed everyone up for work the following day. SOMEHOW I fit everyone into my backpack! The pie's meringue (which was leftover from the tartelettes, and therefore wasn't pretty nor swirled) was mooshed a bit, but the tartelettes survived and were devoured. The researchers swarmed when they heard there was lemon meringue pie and begged for more baked goods (I used to bake test wedding cupcakes and bring them in. I think they miss those days.)

I know they greatly appreciated the pie because someone actually washed the pan.

Recipe "modification": Since I was bringing these to work I had to make sure they wouldn't kill anybody. I tested the meringue and baked it a little longer (at ~325ºF) until my thermometer said it was at 160ºF.

I doubt I'll make this piecrust again, nor will I make this meringue recipe again (it was too weepy, and difficult to ensure it gets hot enough to pasteurize. I will find a recipe that uses a stovetop-stabilized meringue). I will need to work on my blind piecrust baking as well. However I now have a love of lemon meringue pie - I don't think I'd ever eaten it before! Huzzah! So thank you for this month's challenge, Jen (of The Canadian Baker)! It was a challenge, that's for certain... Now to prep for February's....

Monday, January 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008 - Lemon Meringue Pie

Look ma - it's LOLBakers.

I had to make this 2x - I had the most horrible time with the piecrust.

More to come - I brought pie x2 to work, and will take pictures today and post it tonight. But here's at least evidence that I did TRY, and FAIL, and therefore had to TRY AGAIN.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

"Yule Log" take two (aka PORTAL CAKE)

The cake is not a lie... the strawberries, however, are.

For new year's I made another of the December Challenge's cakes, but this time in a springform pan. I sliced it into two layers and brushed both with large doses of Frangelico (Hazelnut Liquor). I filled and frosted it with the coffee buttercream, covered it with toasted hazelnuts, and dusted it with cocoa powder. I sent everyone to stores for strawberries but no one brought me any home (because they all looked horrible ;_;). So I raided the kitchen and found... marzipan! I love edible almond play-dough.

The real cake from Portal (wikipedia link; official site)is much taller. Oh well - maybe next time I will make a double batch of genoise. In ALL MY SPARE TIME. Or instead I'll just do this month's challenge. We'll see... ^_^

I also need to learn how to take better pictures. >_< Practice practice practice.