Thursday, August 30, 2012

Churros, People! CHURROS!

 My mom recently came for a visit, and not only did she watch the little ones (thankyouthankyouthankyou!), she made CHURROS!  (thankyouthankyouthankyou!)

For me, one of the main attractions of theme parks is that I can get churros.  Crisply fried dough rolled in cinnamon sugar?  Why yes, I will gladly hand over $5!

I even planned to have churros at my wedding reception, but the caterer's machine didn't work.  

Well, it turns out churros are super easy to make.  The recipe comes from the latest, Mexico-focused issue of Saveur (anyone else think Saveur's been on a roll lately?  Their issues have been lovely!).

All you do is mix up the dough, put into one of those frosting squeezy cake decorating things with a tip, squeeze into hot oil, then roll in cinnamon sugar.   I didn't have the right size decorating tip, so she just squeezed it out of the hole in the bag, and it came out just fine.  As in, just as tasty. 


Sweet, fried goodness.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watermelon Rind Gummy Candy

Oh, watermelon.  What am I going to do with you?


For the third week in a row we got watermelon in our CSA.  Watermelon appears to be Foodgoat's least favorite fruit so he hasn't even touched any of it.  Princess Goat and the Goatling will eat it so that takes care of, oh, half a cup.  

As if I didn't already have enough to do trying to figure out what do with all this red watermelon inside part, I also had to think about what to do with the rind.  Not the green outer rind, but the white to slightly green part.  Because that's edible too. And that report about how Americans waste 40% of their food came just in time to make me feel guilty about just throwing that rind away like I always do. 

Fortunately, I actually found something I like to do with the watermelon rinds ... watermelon rind gummy candy!

The candy recipe came from a great Gilt Taste post on what to do with watermelon rinds (the other suggestions sound interesting too, so I'll be trying those out soon).  It's remarkabley simple, easy, and quick, and these sweet soft chewy candies that have a light watermelon taste.  I really liked them.  Here's what I did:

Cut off the green parts of the rind and threw them away.  Cut the rind into bite-size pieces, leaving some red on because, well, it's pretty.  I used about 2 cups of pieces (that's less than a full watermelon of course, but I imagine you could scale up if you want). 
Stir together 1½ cups of sugar, 1 cup of water, and a strip of lemon zest in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the rind and simmer until the strips are translucent, about 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Lift the pieces individually out of the syrup with a fork, letting the syrup drip away. (I did try just draining them with strainer, and it didn't work out).  Toss the pieces in granulated sugar until coated. Lay them out in a single layer on a tray lined with parchment paper.

Dry for a few hours until they are no longer tacky.

They come out softer than typical gummy candy, and the sugar coating can be a bit crunchy, but look at that!  I made candy out of something I would usually throw away! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Death Star Tea Infuser & Doughnuts

Think Geek continues to make great things, don't they?

And the Tumblr blog I wish I wrote: As I Lay Frying, pairing photos of donuts with literary quotes.  Lovely.  My personal favorite thus far:

“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” -Joseph Conrad
“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” 
-Joseph Conrad

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chicken Marsala

Foodgoat makes a very nice chicken marsala, although in this particular case, he didn't use marsala wine, a Sicilian fortified wine.  Instead he use port, and a white port at that, and it was quite delicious.

I think there are not enough mushrooms in my life.  Or maybe there have been not enough port.  Either way, this was a welcome dish.

Now that I think about it, I'm just going to go with the not-enough-port theory.  Because there's a half full bottle of port at home that can easily remedy that. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Substituting Fruit & Double Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

That leftover strawberry mush/pulp from the strawberry syrup?  I knew it could be used for something, and here it is:  baking.

While in the midst of a massive cantaloupe bounty (two) last week, I was trying to find creative ways to use up the melon, and I read somewhere that grated cantaloupe could be substituted for banana in banana bread recipes.


This kind of blew my mind, because now I had this idea that ANY mashed up fruit could be baked into bread, muffins, cakes, whatever bananas could be used for.

And so began several days of literally baking every single night to try this concept out.   You'd think Foodgoat would have liked this, but he just got tired of muffins.

But the idea of substituting fruits for bananas in baking totally worked!  Sometimes I had to strain out the juices and add more flour to make up for some fruits' higher water content, but I didn't get any straight up failures, which is saying something, since my kitchen failure rate can be pretty high.

My particular favorite was the Double Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes.  This was based on King Arthur Flour's recipe for banana bread, but I made made mini muffins and the result was lighter and fluffier and more like cupcakes, so I'm calling it cupcakes, and if you have a problem with that, well then call it what you want, because I really don't care.  These cupcakes were chocolate-y and had that nice taste of strawberry, which is a lovely combination. 

About the strawberries: they had been used in making the strawberry syrup, and the juices had been somewhat squished out of them in the process, so if you're dealing fresh strawberries, you probably want to strain the puree a bit.  You want the fruit mash to approximate the texture of mashed bananas.

Double Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes
adapted from King Arthur

  • 1 cup flour (more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed strawberries (strained somewhat so it's not too juicy)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk/sour cream
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a muffin or mini-muffin tin.  
2) Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa.
3) In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy.
4) Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla, strawberries, and milk.
5) Gently mix in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips until well incorporated.  Add more flour if the batter seems too thin and runny
6) Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7) Remove from the oven, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Making Strawberry Syrup

Back in the spring I bought a flat of strawberries for a great price.  I have it say, it's lot of fun to buy a LOT of strawberries.  We ate some, jammed some, and the rest I put in a big bag in the freezer.  I had visions of canning strawberry jam in the middle of the bleak Ohio winter.

Well, it's only summer but my freezer is packed and the tomato sauce season has barely even started.  And you know what?  Jamming wasn't all that much fun.  So I decided I might as well just use up the strawberries. 

I went for the super simple and made strawberry syrup.  I loosely followed this recipe but I didn't  measure anything. 
Boil the (hulled) berries in water.  How much?  I don't know.  Enough to make all the strawberries float?  Enough to fill about 2/3 of the pot? 

I simmered until the liquid was bright red, and the strawberries looked like they had given up a lot of their color and juices. 
Now that I look at it, I suppose I could have simmered it longer, since it still has some color.  Oh well.

Strain out the berries.  Don't squish out more juice if you want the syrup to be clear.  If you don't mind it cloudy with strawberry particles, squish away.

And don't throw away the pulp!  The recipe said to do it, but DON'T.  Puree it.  Use it in something, I'm sure you can think of something.  I made double chocolate strawberry cupcakes. Oh, you want that recipe?  Well, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow, when I post it.  Because I don't have the photo right now.

Add sugar.  How much?  I don't know, how sweet to you want it?  I think I added about 3 cups.  Taste it and decide for yourself!

Simmer until the sugar dissolves and until it's as thick and syrupy as you want it.  Cool it off, pour into a jar, and keep in the fridge.

What to do with strawberry syrup?   I add a bit to plain water to jazz it up.  I added it to club soda for a bubbly strawberry soda, which was lots of fun. You could pour it on ice cream or yogurt or pancakes.  I'm sure there are lots of other things to do with it, because it's delicious.  I mean, it's sweet and it's strawberry, so what's not to like?

In fact, I've found it so nice to have around that I may just make this again.   Of course, now I have no strawberries, so if the dead of winter I will have to buy frozen strawberries. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Doctor Who, Coming Soon!

Ooooh, the countdown to new Doctor Who begins!

The season officially starts on September 1, but starting on August 27 (next Monday, wheee!) BBC will post five short webisodes of a mini-adventure prequel called Pond Life about our outgoing companions.

I don't really want to say goodbye to the Ponds, especially the Last Centurion.  Maybe Rory could have a food show spinoff.  Here's Arthur Darvill reviewing New York pizza and hot dogs on his first trip to the city:

Peach Cobbler

Oh peaches, sometimes I just don't know what to do with you.  I could take you to lunch but you bruise easily.  And all that juice, it can be a little messy.  I could eat you fresh at home, but if there's a mango present, well, I'd rather take the mango.  I could grill you, and that's nice, but one doesn't go through the trouble of firing up the chargoal grill just for peaches.

Ahhh, wait ... homemade peach cobbler.  Perfect.
I think I made peach cobbler once before, but I don't remember it being this easy.  The hardest part was peeling the peaches, and I think the whole blanching them in boiling water wasn't really worth it, especially on a hot day, when a little paring knife does a pretty adequate job, but that's my only complaint. 

I used this recipe from King Arthur and I think it turned out mighty delicious.  Even just the biscuit part was really good by itself.   

But peaches and biscuits?  Yummy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

3 Miscast Ingredients & 3 Miscast Actors

I've had casting on the mind since I heard Bilbo was going to be played by Martin Freeman (Watson on Sherlock) in the upcoming Hobbit movie.  Perfect, right?  Truly a match made in hobbit heaven. 

Seeking a babysitter for December 14, 2012
 Sometimes things are not always cast right, though:

  1. Chicken on pizza:  Chicken never works well on pizza.  It doesn't even sound good, really.  Don't try to make it work.  Just let it go. 
  2. Cinnamon in coffee:  I can have cinnamon rolls all day long, but please, please, keep cinnamon out of the coffee. If you have good coffee, it ruins it; if you have bad coffee, it's not going to help.
  3. Rosemary in mac & cheese:  Foodgoat does not dislike rosemary, but he does dislike the implication that if you just throw in some rosemary, your mac & cheese is now a fancy, gourmet, delicious mac & cheese.  IT'S NOT. 

  1. Jack Nicholson in "The Shining":  Story:  Normal Guy goes to scary hotel, turns into Very Scary Guy. Nicholson is definitely Very Scary.  But is he Very Normal?  Kind of Normal?  Tiny Bit Normal?  No. So you kind of lose the element of surprise there. 
  2. Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's":  The obvious miscasting here is Mickey Rooney, but it's so horrific it makes me kind of hyperventilate, so I'll just focus on Hepburn, who is lovely and stylish but so, so wrong as a Texas hillbilly child bride turned high-end paid escort.  Named Lulamae.
  3. Elijah Wood in "Lord of the Rings":   Sigh.  I have tried to like Wood as Frodo.  Really, I have.  And I like him in lots of other things (lately, Wilfred).  But for Frodo, humble, ordinary, world-weary hobbit at the center of the most epic of stories, he's too youthful and way, way too emo. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Favorite Drink

Dow's Fine White Port + Fever-Tree's Bitter Lemon  = Ahhhhhhhhh!

The port is the youngest of all the Dow’s wood-aged Ports, aged just 3 years in oak casks, and by itself, it's a nice, light, and smooth. 

The Bitter Lemon now goes by the name Lemon Tonic and is basically lemon juice with quinine and a bit of sugar.  It's a bit too bitter for me to drink by itself, but with the port, it's PERFECT. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Maybe All Girls Look Good in Cleveland Browns Gear

Former Secretary of State Condi Rice modeling a Josh Cribbs jersey for the NFL

These rabid devoted Cleveland Browns fans ... I can't get away from them.  

Smile now, girls, while it's still pre-season. 

White House Beer

It's an election year, and I live in a battleground state, which means I really just want to crawl under a rock so I can stop being inundated with the overheated blah blah blah of opinion pieces, TV ads, fundraising calls, and news headlines.  I've reached my saturation point of partisanship, thanks!

So the only election news I've really wanted to read was about how Obama has been bringing his home brewed White House beers with him on his Iowa campaign bus tour.  Not so much about how it's an attempt to connect with those darn middle America independents, but about the BEER.

He bought a beer-making kit (with personal funds) last year, and there are three varieties (so far): White House Honey Ale, White House Honey Blonde Ale and White House Honey Porter, all with honey from Michelle Obama’s White House garden beehive.  The beer has been served to White House guests at events celebrating St. Patrick's Day and the Super Bowl (the beer brewing came after the beer summit).

This may be the first time that beer has been brewed at the White House, although George Washington (who never lived at the White House) was an avid home brewer (here's his rather vague recipe). 

Obviously, I don't think Obama's the one hovering over the giant pot stirring the wort down. It's the White House kitchen staff.  The White House Press Secretary couldn't say exactly who the brewmaster was, saying,  "I have exhausted my knowledge about this subject.  (Laughter.)  Usually, when somebody hands me a beer I don’t ask how it was made.  I just drink it."

Foodgoat asks how it was made, and so do lots of other home brewers, so go find out, Mr. Carney!  Also find out where the recipes came from, whether they had brewed before, where the other ingredients came from, what they do with the spent grain, what they are brewing now, their preferred methods of sanitizing bottles, and whether there is a stout coming up. I am a taxpayer and I want to KNOW.  Please.  If you have time. No hurry though. 

Although, alas, Foodgoat has not brewed beer, which he was doing frequently for a time, in a while.  I'm not sure why, but I'll presume it's the same reason we don't do lots of things anymore.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fructose Malabsorption: When Your Bowl of Cherries Is Too Big

Cherries AND the Game of Thrones book!  Win win!
Nothing, really compares to fresh cherries.  Sweet, succulent, and bursting with summer.  You can preserve it all you want, but, but jammed, jellied, frozen, it's just not the same.  So when cherries are in season, I rationalize the price and buy up big bags of it.

Well, turns out I'm really the only one in the house who really cares.  The pit turns off the young 'uns, and Foodgoat just doesn't seem to be a fruit person in general.  So it was left to me to eat several pounds of cherries.  Not that I mind.  Bursts with summer, remember?
This is not the bowl I ate.  I ate a much bigger bowl.
So one day at work, I had a bowl of cherries.  A big bowl.  A much bigger bowl of cherries than one might normally eat.

And two hours later I had the worst stomachache ever.  The WORST.  Just in time for a work meeting too!

Of course I had to google my symptoms, because nothing's more fun that self-diagnosing with the Internet!  Even though the obvious explanation is that nobody should eat so many cherries.

I discovered fructose malabsorption, a digestive disorder (formerly known as dietary fructose intolerance) where the small intestine has a limited ability to absorb fructose, less than 25g per sitting.  When they eat too much, the unabsorbed fructose goes on to the large intestine, gets fermented by bacteria, and causes a range of gastrointestinal symptoms.

Fructose malabsorption has been estimated to affect from 30% to 80% of the adult American population  and may affect children as well.  Seems awfully common, doesn't it?

How do you treat it?  Avoid fructose, foods with a high fructose-to-glucose ratio (glucose helps you digest fructose, did you know that?), high fructose corn syrup, and sorbital (some sugar-free sweeteners are converted to fructose during digestion, did you know that?). 

It sounds a lot like lactose intolerance, just with fruit.

Do I have fructose malabsorption?  Maybe not.  Okay, probably not.  Even healthy people have a limited ability absorb fructose, between 25-50g of fructose per sitting.  I'm going to say I had a pound of cherries.  One pound has about 28 g of fructose.  Right in the range of the limit of what normal people can handle. And clearly too much for me.

So maybe I don't have a disease.  Maybe I'm just a cherry glutton. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thoughts on Plan of Work for a Small Servantless House

Apparently, if I was a postwar British wife who suddenly found herself unable to afford servants for the first time (horrors!), this is how I should spend my time.  

My thoughts as I read this:
  • First of all, where's all the child care?  Is it really limited to walking them to school, minding them (if necessary) beween 3 and 4:30, and then putting them to bed?  Where's the hours (yes, hours) for bathtime?  The drop off, the pick up from gymnastics class?  The Mega Blok tower building?  The morning toy cleanup?  The afternoon toy cleanup?  The evening toy cleanup? 
  • Lunchtime at 1 pm?  I'd never make it. 
  • Tea at 4:40 pm sounds lovely.  I always get peckish at that time. 
  • When do the kids eat dinner? 
  • Parents ate after the kids went to bed?  And here Foodgoat and I been doing everything we can to make sure we all eat at the same table, at the same time.  And dinner at 7:40?  So late!

Oriental Melon: Not That Impressed

The CSA has been heavy on fruits in the past few weeks:  cantaloupe, peaches, nectarine, watermelon.  This one, new to me, is an Oriental melon.

It's much like honeydew: crisp, crunchy, and mildly sweet. 

It's nice, but I'm feeling a little McKayla Maroney about it. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shelling Peas, and a Case for More Inconvenient Food

Sometimes having kids help in the kitchen is very stressful to me.  I'm the world's least confident cook anyway, and having little ones there with me while trying to follow a recipe, trying not to burn the house down, trying not get hurt, trying not to have them get hurt, trying to make something edible, trying not to make a total mess ... well, it doesn't make for great teaching moments.

But shelling peas with the kids was the most relaxing cooking task ever.  I totally get the nostalgic image of sitting on porches with your grandmother shelling peas. 

It also gave me another reason to appreciate fresh, whole, unprocessed food.  Peas are something we always buy frozen - already shelled, already ready to go. 

It's convenient, and it's nice.  But in this case the prep work hardly seemed like work at all.  It felt more like play, except instead of using something plastic or pre-made it was plucking peas out of their shells early one afternoon with my kids.  They practiced picking up the small peas, we figured out the best way to get them out, observed how really well they could roll, pointed out how the shells looked like boats, counted how many peas were in a pod. We put the peas in a little bowl for later, when we could cook them, and then it was nap time.

Fresh peas aren't in season for very long, but it did make me appreciate that the inconvenience of food can actually an opportunity for play. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Things I Learned Today

    a rainbow of carrot colors
  • Carrots from our farm share have come in wide variety of colors, just as carrots do in the wild and as they have during most of its domestic history.  So how did orange carrots become standard?  Political reasons: William of Orange led the Dutch, who were carrot farmers, in revolt against the Spanish rule in the late 1500s.  Later the Dutch farmers began growing orange carrots in tribute, and it stuck.  Princess Goat, though, believes the orange ones just taste better.
  • Olympic athletes apparently believe beet juice can give them an edge!  Too bad it doesn't taste good
  • I think popcorn made on the stove (this is the method I use) using just oil and a bit of salt tastes better anyway, but if you want another reason to skip the microwave popcorn, diacetyl, a flavoring often used to make microwave popcorn smell and test buttery, is linked to Alzheimer's
  • I really could use these conversion tea towels from West Elm.  I'm always looking how many tablespoons are in a quarter cup, or whatever.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Should I share links on Twitter?  Facebook?  Pinterest?   Email them?  Just keep them to myself on Evernote?  I never know. 

What To Do with an Overripe Melon: Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

I know, I know, the best thing to drink is tap water.  It costs basically nothing and it has no calories.  I try to get enthusiastic about it but I really can't.  I like my drinks to have a little flavor and sweetness.

There's a Filipino melon drink that's called ... melon drink.  That's what I've always called it, anyway.  It's just grated cantaloupe mixed with water or milk and sugar to taste.

I made it the other day with one very overripe melon whose texture was starting to get mushy, and then realized if I strain out the less than appetizing solids, I end up with perfectly yummy cantaloupe aqua fresca. Agua fresca is just a cold drink made of water and sugar mixed with some kind of fruit, herb, cereal, or seeds.  And because the melon was so ripe, it didn't even need all that much sugar to sweeten it up. 

The result was sweet and delicious and refreshing, and I couldn't even tell that the cantaloupe had been right on the edge of edibleness.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Doctor Who Trailer!

Daleks!  Amy!  Even better ... Rory!  Weeping angels!  Lots of Daleks!  River! Dinosaurs! On a space ship!!


We've got BBC America in HD now, so we are all set to watch the new season.  BBC, feel free to start Series 7a of Doctor Who any time now.  I'll get those fish sticks and custards started, because I AM READY.

Ladygoat Covets Toast Racks

Yesterday, Unclutter mocked the toast rack - a product whose only purpose is to hold toast.  Which a simple plate could do just as well. 

Except that a simple plate can't. 

A toast rack is one of those things that I don't have, don't exactly need, but do kind of want.  Because when you put warm toast (or warm French toast, or warm cheesy toast, or warm waffles) on a plate, you know what happens?  It gets soggy.

Enter the toast rack!  It allows air circulation around all your toast pieces, thereby preventing condensation and sogginess in your breakfast.  Your toast/waffle stays crisp. 

I would totally get this, but no one here eats toast or breakfast for that matter except for me.  It's apparently quite common in Britain, though.  And hey, you could use it to sort your mail too, when it's off toast duty. 

Here are a couple versions that make a statement:

A silver 1930's one from Germany shaped like dachshund dog.  Also works as a grissini (breadsticks) holder!  Only $3800 on ebay!

A 1960s ceramic one shaped like women's legs.  Creepy, if you ask me, but hey, it's not for me to judge you on how you like your toast presented.  About $88 on etsy.   

Can't tell what this is for?  Let me spell it out for you.  In silver.  $65 on etsy
Cute!  A toast to the crown!  From Plum & Ivory.

Choo choo!  All aboard the Breakfast train!  This not only has a toast rack but an egg holder and salt and pepper cellar, AND it doubles as a toy.  Designed by Reiko Kaneko and made of wood and bone china, I actually don't think this is sold anywhere, but it should, because it's adorable.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Disneyland Mint Julep, At Home

Despite the daily pleas from Princess Goat and the Goatling, no, we can't go to Disneyland every day.

But we can have the Disneyland mint julep, or a pretty close approximation of it, courtesy of a slightly revised recipe from the Disney Food Blog:

1 cup sugar
3 tsp lime juice concentrate
3 cups water or club soda
1/2 can of thawed lemonade concentrate
6 Tbsp creme de menthe syrup (not the liqueur! this is usually found in the coffee aisle)
Optional garnishes: mint leaves, pineapple slices, maraschino cherries

Warm the sugar, lime juice, lemonade and water/club soda on the stove until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and add creme de menthe. Chill.

To serve, combine about 3 parts syrup to 5 parts cold water/club soda. If you're feeling fancy, add mint, and skewer two pineapple slices and a cherry.

Someone Has Been Eating Foodgoat's Donut

I was browsing through some recent photos when I came across this, and I thought:  What exactly am I looking at here?  What did I take a picture of this?

And then I remembered:  this is what the Princess Goat left behind after she started eating Foodgoat's Boston Cream donut.  She ate the chocolate glaze topping, and left everything else behind.