Quit your job

It’s articles like these that make me rethink my career aspirations.

I want to work in a lab that is making umami from scratch. What.

 

Fractals on EARTH

WHOA.

Fractals on Earth.

Political Shiz

Oh, hey, are you still here? So I’ve been reading these essays:

http://www.90days90reasons.com/

They are awesome. I particularly like the ones from John Hodgman and Patton Oswalt.

I have been listening to some of NPR’s coverage of the RNC and 90 days, 90 reasons really helps to stop me from breaking my material possessions.

Knit Kit

From what I gather from the internets, I am a slow knitter. One reason for this is that I knit English style, as opposed to Continental which is much faster. Perhaps because of this I’ve been putting more effort into cooking than knitting and sewing. And by cooking, I mean playing a lot of Scramble with Friends.

I’ve tried to teach/make myself Continental knitting. I can actually kind of do it, but because I am such a noob, it’s actually SLOWER than my English style, so it makes me fall back on English style. Vicious circle! I should knit a  scarf that is 100% stockinette so that I can practice. Anyone out there want a scarf that is probably going to have uneven stitches??

It’s not that I don’t want to knit. It’s just lost it’s magic or something. Like knitting and I fell into a comfortable groove, but then it got harder and harder to spend time with it and knitting started to take me for granted and bought a red sports car without asking me. Or, more likely, I just got turned off by how slow it is. It takes me forever to finish a project now. I guess I’m hitting some kind of knitter’s block or  maybe I’m just bad at knitting or something.

Anyway, like most couples in dire straits, I turned to the internet and specifically shopping to try to reactivate my lust for knitting. I follow a lot of knitting blogs and I saw these hat kits turn up one day in my Google Reader so I bought one. This kit is from one of the kitting world’s most beloved designers so I hope it will do the trick and get me back into the knitting fold. I’ve never used a knitting kit for anything so it’s kind of exciting.

Right now are you wondering why these pictures are so shitty? Well, let me tell you! I took these with my new (used) iPhone (3GS)! Super crappy but soooo convenient.

More on my new (old) phone later. For now, YARN! And not only yarn, but Brooklyn Tweed yarn! If you are a knitter, you should be squeeing right now with me. This is my first tactile experience with his yarn (this is Loft yarn, not Shelter).

And yes, that is an Ikea pillowcase.

Root Veggies: Ikea/Jewish style?

If you’ve ever had a latke (potato pancake), you know that as far as potato products go it is tops. So deliciously crunchy, soft and tasty. Although it is not strictly Jewish, it is famously and traditionally eaten at Hanukkah because of the symbolism with the oil used to cook them. A culinary relative to the latke is the rösti (or sometimes spelled roesti). It has an umlaut and everything! You can buy frozen bags of rösti at Ikea (although it is more typically a Swiss food, rather than a Swedish food) and I always assumed it was just a latke, but there are some distinct differences. One major difference is that latkes use egg as a binding agent and rösti do not. Also, latkes are usually potato, whereas there are rösti that can be made with potato and beet or just beets. I love my root vegetables so I made a huge potato and beet rösti. It was SO easy! And unbelievably delicious. I think this can be filed under “delicious stuff to make when you’re lazy and/or pressed for time.”

First you have to grate a couple raw potatoes and few medium sized beets. The first time I made this I did it by hand. This part is NOT fast and easy. But the second time I used the grating function on a new tiny Cuisine Art and that was MUCH easier. Let them sit and then drain them very very well. Squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Then toss them with some chives, salt and pepper. Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan.

Dump the entire contents of the bowl into the pan on top of the hot melted butter. Press it all down with a spatula and cook without moving for 10-15 minutes. While cooking, I use the spatula to press the huge pancake down all over. Once the edges start to brown, start to try to move the entire pancake as a whole by releasing the edges and pushing the whole thing around the bottom of the non-stick frying pan. Once it moves around freely, put a dish on top, flip it over, slide the pancake back in and cook the other side for another 10 minutes. I guess technically you could learn how to flip it over in the air, but the whole thing is pretty heavy (pan + potatoes + beets) so I think it’d be quite a challenge.

Flip it out and serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce! Mmmmm. So good when it’s cold and wintry out. Which is when I made these. Unlike this 85 degree April weather we’ve been having in New England. So. Weird.

It may look huge in the pan, but seriously, the entire pancake was GONE in less than 15 minutes. Make a big one, you won’t be sorry.

Apocalypse Occupations

Scene: today at work.

BOSS

We should probably just replace this broken computer with a used one from eBay.

PHD C

I can try to fix the power supply myself.

BOSS, ME, MDPHD K (ALL)

Whaaaaa? Really?!

ME

Oh yeah, he knows that stuff because he builds model planes for his hobby.

MDPHD K

What? Really? I want to see.

(Boss goes back to his office, everyone watches the video.)

MDPHD K

Wow, I can’t do that kind of stuff.

ME

Yeah, me neither. I know how to install batteries and plug things in to the wall, but that’s about it.

MDPHD K

(laughs)

Me too.

ME

I think if the world ends, you really need someone like that, a person who knows electronics and stuff.

MD/PHD K

Yeah. At the end of the world, I’ll be totally useless.

ME

Yeah, me too. Oh wait, except I know how to garden and plant things for food.

MDPHD K

Oh, that’s good. You’ll won’t be useless. The only thing I can do is tell which direction is north or south from the position of the sun.

ME

Yeah, a lot of people know how to do that, but that is very useful.

MDPHD K

Yeah, that’s it, I’m totally useless.

ME

(realizing something is amiss)

Wait a minute, what? But you’re a doctor!

MDPHD K

Oh yeah! I forgot!

I’m pretty sure being a doctor is pretty important during the apocalypse. Although he is a cardiologist, so not an orthopedic or a cardiothoracic surgeon, but it’s better than a slap in the face.

Brew Master

As of late last year, I became a paying member to Cook’s Illustrated online, one of the three big online (and print) cooking magazines from the America’s Test Kitchen family (the third one is called Cook’s Country). This allows me access to all kinds of recipes, of which you have already seen some examples (i.e. almost all of my holiday cooking). Don’t you love how I’m talking about my holiday cooking from Thanksgiving and Christmas when Easter is this weekend?

I follow their blog that updates daily with recipes and one of them that caught my attention was brewing ginger beer. And by caught my attention I mean, I was so excited I was hyperventilating. I LOVE ginger beer. Now, I don’t love raw ginger. I know this is kind of strange for someone with a Chinese food heritage, but it’s just a little unpleasant to the palate when it is naked strong and all up in your grill. I prefer ginger to be tempered with sugar or other spices, vegetables or fruit. And when fresh ginger is in gingerbread cookies and ginger beer? It’s tasty to the max. Ginger beer is a delicious ginger treat of which my palate fully approves.

I was introduced to the Dark ‘n’ Stormy by my prep school friend with a background in sailing with her family (mainly from the East Coast to Bermuda). It’s a drink that’s really popular in port cities, the islands and probably most of New England. The cocktail ingredients: ginger beer, rum and lime. It’s so good on a hot Summer day–super refreshing. Ever since I took the British boyfriend down the slippery slope of Dark ‘n’ Stormy drinking, he’s been obsessed. By chance, we happened upon a ginger beer tasting at the local liquor store and we discovered that our favorite ginger beer is Fentiman’s. Sadly, good ginger beer is hard to come by–Fentimans isn’t available everywhere. And when you can find it, it’s expensive since it’s imported from Ye Olde Land. Additionally, if you happen to be British, i.e. a high functioning alcoholic, you will consume lots of drinks meaning you need lots of pricey ginger beer. Lack of good ginger beer availability resulted in his poor man’s Dark ‘n’ Stormy which is comprised of rum and ginger ale.  Does that sound gross to you? Totally makes sense because it’s completely disgusting.

Thus the stage was set for my adventure into the land of flash fermentation beer brewing. I made this round of ginger beer back in November 2011. (I’m so top of my blogging.)

I don’t know if I’ve outed myself on my blog about this but…I am a hoarder. A hoarder of bottles and containers. Anyone in my family can tell you that. I have lots and lots of empty containers stored in every place imaginable. I’m vaguely certain that this tendency is genetic because my dad also hoards well designed and possibly useful containers. It just seems very wasteful to throw them away. Knowing this you can imagine my glee when I realized that I had in my house a handful of perfect containers to brew ginger beer in–namely, used but clean Lorina lemonade bottles. I love Lorina lemonades but they are super expensive and I only buy them for parties where I know there will be some teetotalers. I had a couple of clean bottles which I washed again and kind of sanitized/sterilized them with boiling water. (PEDANTIC NERD ALERT: usually in your kitchen you are sanitizing stuff. You area almost never sterilizing anything unless you’re baking something for 8 hours in a homemade autoclave. Sterilization is for manufacturing processes, hospitals and scientific research. Sanitizing glass bottles and jars is what you do when you brew your own beer and can your own tomatoes.) After sanitizing everything, I made up a triple batch of the recipe. Enough to fill three bottles.

Oh, totally easy, right? Follow the recipe but just multiply times 3? Well for those of you in the readership who are indeed the sharpest knives in the drawers you will realize that recipe on the website is for enough ginger beer to fill a 16 oz bottle and those glass mother fuckers that I have are 25.4 oz. I didn’t realize this until after I made and filled them. Luckily, I was both supremely stupid and genius.

Like I mentioned earlier, I like the sharp bite of Fentimans. And because I didn’t know what this recipe would taste like, I decided to make a science experiment out of it and tested out varying amounts of ginger. You can kind of see the ginger concentration in this next picture. The lowest concentration is on the left with a more clear opacity, while the 3x concentration is on the right and it is much more yellow. I only changed the amount of ginger, everything else remained constant and was made from a master mix of lemon juice and sugar water. (Gotta be a responsible kitchen scientist.) It should be mentioned here that you need a lot of elbow grease to grate that ginger root. Whew. What a workout.

I filled them up and because each bottle receives a pinch of champagne yeast for carbonation and a tiny bit of fermentation, I made sure to secure each rubber stopper as much as possible with string. I didn’t want any eyeballs to be damaged in the making or drinking of ginger beer. Then they went up into the spare room (my sister’s old room) for 48 hours because that room is the warmest room in the house, aka incubation chamber.

After 48 hours of fermentation and a chill down in the refrigerator, it was time to taste test the varying amounts of ginger.

Lo and behold what did we find? The recipe that contained the CORRECT amount of ginger for 25.4 oz (aka, 1.5x recipe) tasted the best! So score one for the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated! The next time I made this, which was for a Super Bowl party that I had in February, I made 1.5x recipes in two bottles. It was delicious even though the water I used was too hot and I killed the yeast. The drink was not appropriately carbonated, but it tasted great. Note to self next time: stop being so impatient and let the boiled water cool down! Sorry for killing you, yeast.

Is that a whale measuring cup? Yes. Yes it is.

So there you have it. Delicious homemade ginger beer. Just add rum and lime. I can’t wait to make this in the summer!

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