solarbird: (cake)
I made a rock candy geode!

Notes: It took about three times longer for the sugar to crystallise than in the video. I don't know why, but I suspect that the flour between the bowls is actually an absorbicant and I didn't realise that so didn't use as much. Crystallisation picked up markedly once I pulled off half the outer layer of aluminium foil and just covered with a towel instead.

Also, I used microwave tempering for the chocolate instead of the traditional method. The resulting tempering wasn’t bad! But I could’ve used more heat with the dark layer. I got the white chocolate up higher, and it set really well, so. I also severely underestimated the amount of white chocolate needed, which is why both layers (dark and white) are uneven thickness - I just didn't have enough to properly pour over all areas.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it nonetheless.

Recipe can be found online in this YouTube video.

eta: It breaks up well! Popping from the chocolate side with a knife shatters it nicely. I expected that to be more difficult. The texture is really nice. Too sweet for sustained eating, of course, but for a bite or two there's just enough strength in the cocoa powder that combined with the surprising degree of crunch makes for a really nice experience.

solarbird: (Default)
The sugar didn't crystallise for my edible geodes. There's a thin layer on the surface of the fluid, and nothing at all on the form. What the hell?

I thought this would be the easier part, to be honest.
solarbird: (Default)
I have two edible geodes hopefully crystallising as I type this. I'm doing the chocolate version as I'm not fond of fondant, which means also that I had to learn how to temper chocolate. (See videos here and here.) Wish me luck!
solarbird: (Default)
So it's way more than we need, but our credit union rewards points have kind of added up again, and our nonstick cookware is pretty old and have some scrapes here and there. And my favourite two pans (a wok and a small saucepan) are stainless steel.

So. Anybody know if Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel actually good or is it just shiny?
solarbird: (shego-cosplay)

It may surprise you to know that Thanksgiving (both First and Second) are big holidays here at the lair. That’s because food is yummy. No, wait. That’s because supervillainy is awesome. And because food is yummy. You didn’t know there was a connection? What, don’t you remember Cooking with Shego and Baking with GlaDOS?

No? Well, here, I’ll scan a couple of old programme guide listings. That’ll jog your memory, I bet.

Ah, nostalgia

Nothing? Really? No CBC12 or CBC 8 for you, then. That does suck. Ah, well.

Anyway, no update on the missing instruments and electronics; we’re kind of presuming them gone at this point. No time like Black Friday to terrorise some malls and steal some merch, tho’! At least there’ll be some fun out of it.

Happy Second Thanksgiving, and, as always, try not to die!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (Default)
Nobody there knew what Portal was - seriously, nobody - but they certainly liked the cake. People even asked for the recipe and took extra pieces home with them. ^_^ Here, have the photo they'd have shot for the 1956 recipe/magazine article:

"Baking with GLaDOS," Ladies' Home Journal, November 1956.

After )


Dec. 9th, 2010 02:29 pm
solarbird: (Default)

Lies and Deceit
solarbird: (Default)
Last weekend after my stage gig in Magnolia, I received a lot - by which I mean damn - of produce from people at the market, and I've been trying to get through all of it before it goes bad. This has involved new foods! Today's was eggplant parmesan, made with this recipe. I made one mistake in that apparently the intent was that I should cut the eggplants transversely (resulting in medallion-shaped slices) rather than longitudinally and latitudinally (resulting in french-fry-shaped slices).

Anyway, it took forever - the recipe says and hour and a half, it took me a little longer because I've never made it before - and it came out well, if a bit saltier than I expected. Everybody liked it. If I make it again, it'll definitely be without the salt. Hopefully that won't explode anything.

Oh, talking of, [ profile] tereshkova2001 gave me a recipe that includes making your own pesto, but it has pine nuts and I hate nuts of all kinds, so I was thinking sunflower seeds instead. They have similar texture, have oil like nuts, and I don't hate them. Is this crazytalk or viable?
solarbird: (Default)
Here're some things I found interesting this week that aren't economic in nature:

From [ profile] ysabel, have Susie Bright on the many problems of "NSFW" and self-censorship.

If you're interested in photography at all - or just want to see some cool photos of an Dubai falconer and his bird - this photographer's blog entry is of real interest.

The Obama administration's desperately-needed high-speed rail proposal. You have a lot of various usual suspects going around doing the CARS CARS CARS chant, but, well, you know what I think of the energy situation.

How to make Totoro cream puffs! Yum!

Boston College Campus Police are insane, decreeing that using command-line interfaces can be taken as a sign of criminal activity. Yay? Oh wait, no.
solarbird: (molly-spacerabbit)


[ profile] solarbird okay so
[ profile] solarbird says, "when i freeze things using the... um... foo. vacuum-sealing system. Um. FOODSAVER! That's it. I squish the food flat if that's applicable."
[ profile] solarbird says, "one of these things is soup"
[ profile] solarbird says, "I've been defrosting these things still in plastic because the plastic is specifically safe to microwave food in"
[ profile] solarbird says, "but that's been annoying with the tomato soup for reasons unintersting."
[ profile] solarbird says, "so today I figured out that I can take the soup out, break it in half, and put it in a bowl before microwaving it"
[ profile] solarbird says, "and i'm sitting here looking at wedges of soup"
[ profile] solarbird says, "and giggling a lot because SOUP WEDGES"
[ profile] solarbird says, "they're like doorstops!"
[ profile] vixyish giggles.
[ profile] solarbird says, "made of SOUP"
[ profile] vixyish says, "I was thinking you were going to ask for advice, and was going to say 'sorry... our foodsaver only ever got used for fiberglassing rocket fins.'"
[ profile] eeyorerin giggles.
[ profile] vixyish points at [ profile] gfish.
[ profile] gfish says, "S'true"
[ profile] vixyish . o O ( I love my life. )
solarbird: (shoots kills seasons)
Here, for no reason really at all, please have this tomato soup recipe I saw on [ profile] seattle in the comments section a few months ago. Original recipe, then my minor modifications underneath:
Tomato Soup

2 large cans diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 cup heavy cream

Put tomatoes into a large pot, juice included. Chiffonade fresh basil (about 1/2 c) and add to pot.

Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes begin to break down, add the heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste. Let the cream reduce a bit with the tomatoes. Simmmer on medium low, stirring to keep from burning, for about 15 min.
I add powdered garlic (about 1t, but really, to taste), add no salt (it doesn't need it), use a lot of mixed-peppercorn fresh-ground pepper (I have a white/black/red mix I put together myself), and whole milk instead of heavy cream. And I think I use a bit more basil than they do, but nothing crazy.

It freezes pretty well. It's not as good as immediately off the stovetop once frozen and microwaved, but you wouldn't expect that, and it's still quite good, and better (I think) than the canned soups. As described, the recipe doesn't reduce the tomato to nothing, so it has more of a feeling of substance to it than the usual canned tomato soup.
solarbird: (Default)
Things making me happier today, Wednesday 24 December (day 6):
  1. Making fudge was fun, even if it failed
  2. A Christmas Story, the only Christmas movie I actually like
  3. Rain, even if brief
(I kind of forgot a couple of days, oops.)
solarbird: (shoots kills seasons)

Huge Success


Mar. 15th, 2008 12:47 pm
solarbird: (molly-content)
Ramune strawberry is the best kind of ramune so far. I'm amused by the gimmick (which is why I bought any kind at all) but didn't care for the first flavour I tried. This one is tastier, very much like strawberry Italian soda, and much less sweet than most sodas, which I generally find too sweet.

The other surprise of the week was that ito en tea in the steel container tastes much better to me than the same drink (supposedly) in the clear plastic container. I don't understand this.
solarbird: (molly-braceforimpact)
Courtesy a person on a MUSH, I'm on, I bring you The Mid-Century Supper Club photo pool on Flickr. They recreate dishes from sources like James Lilek's Gallery of Regrettable Food. A Weiner in Every Slice! is a good example.

Worksafe. Terrifying.
solarbird: (Default)
So we saw Sweeny Todd on National Jews and Pagans Go to the Movies Day, and while the musical was only so-so, it did give me a serious bit of hunger for a good meat pie. (No cat, please.) So I found this recipe for Australian Meat Pie, checked with some Aussies I know who confirmed that it was a reasonable basic recipe, and made it up! It looked like this after I took it out of the oven:

mmmmmmm, tasty

As always, I made a few changes to taste. My larger-scale mods included one medium onion rather than two small; I added one large potato, diced; and I used 1.5 lbs beef instead of 2. The recipe doesn't specify any particular kind of stock, so I used the vegetable soup stock, of the "Better than Bouillon" brand. (This stock also makes a good udon broth base, by the way. And if there are any vegans out there, it is apparently vegan-compatible.) For crust, I used the basic Krusteaz mix; they're a regional brand that I like quite a bit. I don't know how available it is elsewhere, but any light, flaky crust mix should do well.

I also added seasonings to taste, as I'm told is normal. In my case, these were: a splash of red pepper, a little mirin, a little sake, a dollop of seasoned rice vinegar, a tiny dollop of soy sauce (for no real reason, honestly), six or eight shakes of chili oil, a decent bit of savoury, a little rosemary. I also like quite a bit of pepper, and some salt, which is unusual - I don't tend to salt things very much, but it seemed appropriate here.

Result: surprisingly good. Much better than I'd expected, even after finishing the stovetop portion of the cooking. Clearly, the baking is a bigger factor than I had expected, as the meat filling tasted good going into the oven, but noticeably better after. Everyone came back for seconds (including me) and the second serving did not have that "oh it's not as good the second time now that I'm not as hungry" feeling - it was still surprisingly good.

So! Meat pies are a win. They're a bit of work, but worth it.
solarbird: (Default) which I mean, you who are seriously into baking. I know there's one professional and a few talented amateurs here. [ profile] ursulav needs your help here for a potentially major writing project.
solarbird: (Default)
Okay, so, a very quick note on cooking (preparing, really) the goyza in the yellow bag (Ling Ling, I think?) at Costco, to produce a better result:

I boil for the eight minutes directed (traditional method), but in browning i use only seasoned wok oil in the same pot instead of in a frying pan (different heat characteristics) over somewhat lower heat (takes longer). This produces a better (and more correct to my mind) browning/finishing of the wrapping.

Conveniently, it also requires cleaning one less dish. ^_^

Then instead of my previous method of pre-coating with sauce (with some heat, to get it to adhease) - which, btw, is not traditional - I got a different sauce at Uwajimaya to use as a dipping sauce, which is better than the included sauce in packets.
solarbird: (sb-worldcon-cascadia)
[ profile] spazzkat pointed out that I did in fact have a vending machine picture, so I'm posting it as an addendum here!

Even the Coke machine
solarbird: (sb-worldcon-cascadia)
One of the things I'm still missing pretty severely is the food - really everywhere, not just Yokohama and Tokyo. I expected all the Japanese food to be better, of course, and it was - for example, the cluster of restaurants at the train station had a sushi-train restaurant which served sushi of quality much better than that of cheap-but-good sushi here. It wasn't I ♥, but it was within range given the limited palette, and, of course, that was cheap sushi. Meanwhile, the cooked fish lacked some taste that I really dislike in cooked fish throughout North America, and while it still wasn't my favourite thing in the world, it was something I was perfectly happy to eat.

I didn't really expect the western food also to be better, as a rule. The sandwich and fries I had at Anna Miller? Really good. Good cold cuts, good bread, an unexpected but very good mayonnaise relish that I've no idea how to duplicate that was tasty without being heavy like I usually find mayonnaise to be. It came with french fries. They were solid but light and tasty, despite being deep-fried.

That became a recurring theme, really; a lot of American foods, particularly cheaper American foods, are heavy with fats and grease. While actual meats served in Japan tended to be very fatty cuts - particularly the night I tried 牛どて鍋, which is, hum, a country beef single-pot pie-like dish - you never found much of anything heavy with oil or grease (or, I suppose butter), like all fast foods, most sandwiches, french fries, and so on. I liked that a lot.

Actually, let me just me come out and say it: food was all but uniformly better than here. In a lot of cases, dramatically. Quality of ingredients showed. Everywhere but the first stop when we joined up with the Thundering Hoarde tour already in progress was at least really good. That first lunch with the group was a very western lunch aimed at reassuring a very western group of tourists, and it was mediocre, but even the tour food improved quickly. And more specifically, even the western-oriented tour food - which shrank in proportion as time went on - improved just as quickly.

I don't quite know how to drive this home with clarity. How about this: we stopped at a rest station - a combination rest stop and truck stop - on the highway between tour visits one day. I got a curry from the short-order counter, and it was good. Rest stop curry - actively good.

(Oh, there was another exception: one night we needed Food Now, and Paul and Anna dove in to an egg, italian sausage, rocket, and anchovy pizza, which I avoided for the spaghetti. I chose poorly. Amusingly, I was able to recreate what I think they were going for last night. It came out nice.)

Even things like candy-bar chocolates are better. Counter chocolates are generically of better quality than you get here without going to specialty shops. One of the reasons for the Pocky phenomenon, I rather suspect, is that the chocolate is simply much better than you get in, say, a Snickers bar, and people are reacting to that. Apparently some people think it's dark chocolate - it's not, at least, not in the standard box. But it's got a lot more flavour per volume than people expect, so they think it must be dark. iirc, "Men's Pocky" actually is dark chocolate, if you're curious.

Similarly, soft-serve ice cream - you know, the swirly kind you think of as fun in the summer but not really a good example of the art? It's just good ice cream in Japan. Very good, in fact. I particularly liked the sesame that Mariko introduced to me (so tasty!), but plain vanilla? Also very good. I was pleased to discover today that Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream bars are, in fact, of reasonably comparable quality to the soft serve vanilla - not quite as good, frankly, there's a bit of a hollowness to the taste that I can't figure out, and the chocolate shell isn't everything I'd like it to be, but it's still good. This means I'll have at least some ice creams that I can buy at a counter which aren't a big letdown. Of course, the selection is far less than I had in Japan in, say, in an ordinary ice cream vending machine, but what can you do? At least there's something.

I'm going to have to get serious about learning the art of bento. I can usually stomach airline food, but I seriously and honestly could not eat what United put in front of me on the flight home. It was appalling. But I don't think it was any worse than what I scarfed down on the way there.

Fundamentally, the way that American culture prefers "more" over "good" shows up exquisitely in food. Despite the fact that American food has improved dramatically over the last 50 years, it's still kinda crap. Fatty, sloppy, oversweetened crap, made as cheaply as possible and served by the bucketload, as though to pigs.

This quality emphasis doesn't mean limited choices, by the way. I ran into far more variety there than here. Some of it was scary variety, like HELLO JELLYFISH but! Variety.

Japan is already famous for its vending machines, of course. I don't need to go on about that too much. But in case you're not aware: they are, of course, AWESOME. (Sorry, return of t3h c4pz.) Even in a single smallish drink machine in an alley, you're looking at 20 options - soda, teas, lemon drinks, waters, coffee, vitamin waters, juices, electrolyte waters (like the well-known Pocari Sweat, which I was drinking already before I went over on vacation - it's like Gatorade, sweet, but not sickly sweet, I really like it) - often in two sizes, and the cans have lids you can put back on so you can save some for later. Also, the machines generally seem to come in clusters of three or so, without a lot of repeats.

This is as opposed to a US soda machine, with its four slots filled with Coke or Pepsi, and four other options. Maybe.

Pleasantly, I've found I can get C.C. Lemon at Uwajimaya. I got hooked on that stuff in Yokohama, and it's everywhere. Also, mmmm, tasty. This is particularly good because I tried a lemon drink at QFC a couple of days ago - an all-organic "alternative" kind of drink - and like all kinds of other things now, it mostly tasted like sugar water. I could taste lemon in it, but it was kind of drowned out by the sugar rush. So I poured it out. (They didn't have any Limonata or I'd have tried that. I still plan to try it again. Hopefully that's still good.)

So anyway. Food in Japan: overwhelmingly better. Not universally, but overwhelmingly; Japanese food, western foods, whatever. Better.

But then, on the other hand, they do also have things like this:

Admiral Cheesehead's Orange Fleet Opens Namjatown
([ profile] spazzkat's picture)

Nobody's perfect. -_^

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