rachelmanija: (Princess Bride: Let me sum up)
( Jul. 24th, 2012 11:21 am)
1. I am on Goodreads here, and am happily procrastinating by importing reviews originally written here, and writing 2-3 line reviews of books I didn't review here. Also uploaded a more flattering (I hope) photo.

2. Yesterday I made home-made chicharrones (pork rinds) despite not having a deep fryer, and they came out perfect. I cut pork belly into small slices and chunks, salted and peppered it, then laid it on a tin foil-lined baking sheet and roasted it in the oven at 450 until it smelled delicious and the skin got bubbly. If you've never had the real thing, is it so much more delicious than the packaged stuff. If I hadn't been hitting the gym regularly, I might feel vaguely guilty or concerned about eating about a quarter pound of the least healthy food ever, but I have been, so I don't.

3. [personal profile] staranise has created Clinical Documentation, an A03 collection of fanfic in the form of psychological reports on fictional characters. If you have one, put it up!
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Jun. 5th, 2012 10:00 am)
I normally dislike icing. It's too sweet and tastes like nothing but sugar. However, I recently made honey spice cakes and iced them with Martha Stewart's lavender icing, and it was delicious and easy to make. I think I could adapt the same recipe to make any sort of herb/spice/floral icing.

Suggest to me tasty combinations of cake and herb/spice/floral icing. What other flavors go well with lavender? What goes well with basil? What about something like tarragon?

Note: I hate anise and bananas.

ETA: Honey cakes (modern) Definitely do the "soak in honey." I took them to a party, and people fell on them like starving direwolves. They were taking thirds and fourths.
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I am right now preparing Crispy Pork Belly (Siu Yuk), to be eaten with rice and sauteed ha choi. While I'm doing the parboiling, I am watching Nyesha kick ass on Last Chance Kitchen.

Also, I have pretty Parisian shoes. )
A cookbook/food memoir, emphasis on the former, about the cuisine and associated folkways and traditions of the Syrian Christians of Kerala.

George’s family lived in Mumbai (then Bombay), but visited Kerala often, and her mother made an effort to cook in the Syrian Christian style. This gives George an unusual insider/outsider perspective. The short essays which bookend the recipe sections are evocative, well-written, and atmospheric, sometimes explaining traditions like the baths and oil massages given to new mothers by means of an account of her own pampering after the birth of her daughter, sometimes telling stories about her childhood and family.

If you like Madhur Jaffrey, you will probably like this, though George comes from a completely different food tradition. If you’re already familiar with non-Christian Kerala cuisine, the Syrian Christian version has a lot of overlap; if you’re only familiar with other Indian traditions, the food and culture depicted will be nearly completely unfamiliar. I’ve been to Kerala once, and was bowled over by the beauty of the landscape and the deliciousness of the food. Reading this book, I longed to return.

The book was published in the USA, and the recipes suggest where to find ingredients there, as well as local substitutions for ingredients that can’t be found. I didn’t try any of the recipes, but some of them look fairly easy and many of them look absolutely delicious. It’s also very enjoyable to read for pure food porn.

The Kerala Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections from the Syrian Christians of South India (Hippocrene Cookbooks)
rachelmanija: (Fruit: berries)
( Nov. 28th, 2010 12:48 pm)
Snow falls in utter silence. Today the sun is shining, and all the melting snow makes a sound like rain.

One of the guests brought Trader Joe's raw puff pastry sheets for a dessert she ended up not making, and I repurposed them. The resulting turnovers were so delicious that I and my parents fell upon them and devoured three each in a mad fit, and had more for breakfast today.

Peel and chop cooking apples. I used Granny Smiths and some from the apple trees on the property. Mix in a bowl with brown sugar, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and optionally cinnamon and/or vanilla.

I also made some with fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and various mixtures of berries and apples. For the berries alone, I used less or no sugar, and no cinnamon.

Cut each sheet of puff pastry into fourths. Pile the fruit on the pastry squares, top with a small chunk of butter, and seal the pastry. Bake at 400 F until the bottoms (not just the tops) are browned. It took me over 30 minutes, but this is high altitude, so play it by ear. The package suggested 15.
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Entertaining and mouthwatering accounts of road food, genre Americana. The Sterns criss-cross America, eating at obscure cafes, lobster shacks, Pennsylvania Dutch places, rodeos, delis, taco joints, and barbecue pits hidden deep within the southern woods. This isn't great food writing, but it's good food writing. (Maybe later I'll do a post rounding up some great food writing.)

Roadfood is more of a guide book and Two for the Road is more of a narrative, but both books have elements of each, though surprisingly little content overlap. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Roadfood.

The Sterns spend most of their time in the south and east coast, followed by the Midwest. The great plains are lightly covered, and the west is only touched upon. Their entries for California, while completely valid and worthy, would not be on my top fifty list. They’d probably appear on my top 100. For instance, La Super Rica, a very good Mexican street food place in Santa Barbara. It does the best queso fundido (a clay pot of oily molten cheese studded with hunks of chorizo, to be scooped up with warm tortillas) I've ever found, but I wouldn't drive for an hour and a half just for that. They also mention Cassell's, a burger joint in Koreatown. Again, quite good and I like the mustard-spiked potato salad, but if I've hauled ass all the way to Koreatown, I'm having Korean food.

The Sterns are almost exclusively interested in Americana: soul food, jello salads, barbecue, burgers, milk shakes, sandwiches, Tex-Mex, and so forth. When they touch upon Chinese food, for instance, it’s explicitly the old-fashioned sort of Americanized Chinese you’d have to specifically look for to find in some cities nowadays. I’m fine with this focus – they don’t pretend to be comprehensive – but be aware that if you want to find suggestions for pho, idli sambar, or kimchi fried rice, these are not the books to consult.

Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 700 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More

Two for the Road: Our Love Affair With American Food

Please comment with a luscious or revolting description of some old-fashioned food and/or local specialty you love or hate, perhaps, if you're feeling generous, with a recipe. It doesn't have to be Americana - by local, I mean local to you, whether you're in New Mexico or New Delhi.
rachelmanija: (Challah)
( Mar. 30th, 2010 02:24 pm)
Here, have a totally inappropriate icon.

This morning the cable guy arrived to turn on my internet (long story), saying, "This will take 20 minutes!"

It took him two and a half hours. Including crawling around in my basement AND my closet. Poor guy.

I now have to buy charoset ingredients. Anyone have a favorite recipe? (Ashkenazi tradition, probably - I don't like raisins, figs, or dates.)
rachelmanija: (Savor)
( Dec. 7th, 2009 03:48 pm)
Yeah, yeah, I realize that 50 F and rainy is not "cold weather" for much of the world. Guys, I have only ever lived in Maharashtra and California, and mostly in hot parts of both! I am thin-blooded!

Currently in oven: chopped baking potatoes, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, and garlic. (What I had minus onions; I'm extremely sensitive to onion fumes and couldn't face them when I can't open a window.)

Awaiting oven: Chicken parts rubbed with brown sugar, cumin, salt, and pepper.

In refrigerator marinating: more chicken parts soaking in soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and chopped garlic.

Contemplating: cake. Though that would require leaving house to buy milk.

Tell me of your favorite cold weather food, either ones you make or ones you just eat. (Recipes are great if you actually make them yourself.)
While house-sitting, I attempted a brine recipe for pork chops from the Lucques cookbook. It calls for dissolving 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/3 cup sugar in 2 cups hot water, then adding three quarts cold water and various spices, then soaking the chops overnight.

I just broiled a sample chop. It is nearly inedibly salty.

1. What happened? The only alteration I made, other than omitting some spices I didn't have, was to use powdered rather than granulated sugar as the house didn't have granulated.

2. How can I salvage the remaining chops soaking in the brine? I don't want to throw them out. Should I rinse, then soak them in cold water? Or rinse, then soak in water with just granulated sugar added to try to make up for the part that didn't work?
rachelmanija: (Fruit: berries)
( May. 2nd, 2009 12:34 pm)
Yesterday I baked a berry pudding cake from this recipe. Crisp top, juicy bottom, fluffy cake in the middle: OM NOM NOM. It's also very pretty when you pour on the boiling water - why is that done, does anyone know?

I used only half the amount for the sugar topping, and it was still very sweet. I might use 1/4 in the future. I also substituted a thawed frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries for just blueberries. I might try adding some cornstarch to the berries to try to thicken the juice, which in my version was very liquid.
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rachelmanija: (Default)
( Feb. 27th, 2009 11:14 am)
1. I am doing some teaching, which involves teaching some elements of grammar. I do have coursebooks and don't need that.

What I would like are sentences which are funny because they are ungrammatical, and cease to be funny when the modifiers are put in their proper places or whatever.

These sentences need to be comprehensible and funny to teenagers who may not have excellent vocabularies. Books like The Transitive Vampire don't work because the vocabulary is too hard and the humor is too adult.

Types of errors that I'm looking for (only one per sentence) include faulty modification, misplaced commas, illogical comparisons, tense errors, subject-verb errors, redundancy, singular and plural, and pronoun confusion. I am not looking for advanced or controversial stuff like split infinitives. For instance:

"Running leashless through the park, Jason finally caught his dog."

"This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God."

"The snow in Colorado is fluffier than California."

"Emily put the bowl of water on the floor for her dog Julie, and she slurped it up."

2. I dreamed last night that I was eating a very moist (but not soggy) yet fluffy sweet cornmeal cake. The texture was halfway between pudding and cake. I can make a cornmeal cake, but it has a normal cake texture. Does anyone know how to make my dream cake? If so, please point me toward a recipe.
rachelmanija: (Fruit: berries)
( Dec. 20th, 2008 03:14 pm)
In further tales of last-minuteness, I just finished the last batch of cookies for the cookie party which starts in 45 minutes, and which I should leave for in 15. They should cool off just in time to pack and go.

I made candy cookies: Pillsbury packaged sugar cookie dough with the addition of one of the following (only one per cookie): crushed peppermint stick, Reeses Pieces, M&Ms, and crushed Butterfinger candy bar. I just ate one of the peppermint cookies. Not bad!
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I use this on chicken and lamb before grilling, broiling, baking, or roasting, though it's probably good on other meat as well. It's also excellent on roast vegetables. Most recent use: a mixture of chopped roasted turnips, sweet potatoes, and onions, tossed with the spice mixture and olive oil. Spice-rubbed chicken on top of that. Truly fantastic.

To use: Rub liberally on to meat or toss with vegetables before roasting. I like to pull the skin off chicken thighs, apply the rub to the meat, then replace the skins and apply it to the skin. Roast skin-up for spicy crisp skin.

Ingredients:

Brown sugar.

Powdered ginger. Slightly less ginger than sugar.

Cumin. Maybe a fourth or fifth as much cumin as the sugar. (ie, much less cumin.)

Salt and pepper. About as much or less than the amount of cumin.

Mix thoroughly. Taste. Adjust seasonings accordingly.

If you have your own super-delicious spice mixture, please share in comments!
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rachelmanija: (Savor)
( Sep. 24th, 2008 01:18 pm)
I have just bought a four quart crock pot/slow cooker.

Can you please share any favorite crock pot recipes, tips, or sources of recipes? I especially like East Asian and Americana.

I don't eat eggplant, cilantro, liver, broccoli, or zucchini. I dislike cream sauces and traditional gravy, but other forms of soups, sauces, stews, and meat juices are fine.
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Yoon and I have now made this twice, once with apples and once with apples and pears; both are fantastic. It's very easy, too.

INGREDIENTS

Four to six apples (I used Granny Smith) and/or pears (I used Bartlett)

Minimum 1 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel and chop apples and/or pears, removing cores. Scatter in buttered baking dish. Optionally, toss with lemon juice (I really liked this.) Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter (softened or melted) with fingers or pastry cutter until it resembles crumbs rather than dough. Keep adding flour until the texture is right. Scatter crumbs over fruit. Bake for about 35 minutes. Serve warm, optionally with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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1. Thanks to flipping through a Nigella Lawson cookbook (too expensive to actually buy) I discovered a delicious combination: eggs and asparagus. Yes! I believe she suggested poaching the eggs, but I prefer fried.

Take a bunch of young, slim asparagus. If you're in a hurry, steam them. Otherwise, they may be drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with pepper and salt, and roasted in the oven.

Poach or fry two eggs. Make sure the yolks stay liquid. Time this so you can arrange the asparagus on a plate, then put the eggs on top or on the side while the asparagus is still hot. No need for toast, as you will dip the asparagus in the yolks. Seriously, this is fantastic.

2. Trader Joe's grass-fed Angus beef patties have excellent flavor, and are a pretty decent bargain considering the price of a non-evil-chain burger.

3. I finally got around to steaming an artichoke. It takes 45 minutes. Oyce, when you called last night, the reason I put you off was that I was devouring it with Kraft mayonnaise and orgiastic glee.

4. I see that tiny baby artichokes are available. What do you do with them? I know that there's an old Jewish/Italian recipe where you fry (and eat, presumably) them whole, but would I need a deep-fat fryer? (A phrase I can never again type without recalling a certain episode of Spooks.) (Please do not spoil in comments.)
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1. Is Bookmooch not working for anyone else? It's refusing to accept my password.

2. Yesterday it occurred to me that I need a pair of tennis shoes, my old ones having fallen apart, as I'm going to be wandering about in the muddy ruggedness of my parents' place near Yosemite this weekend. (Yes, hiking boots would also do, but I really don't have enough need for those to buy a pair. I detest buying shoes-- trying them on is tiresome, they are expensive, and it's hard to tell if they really fit or not in the store.

While walking to the neighborhood cafe, two small girls shrieked from across the street, "LEMONADE!" I went over to buy their homemade lemonade, and they directed my attention to their teeny-tiny garage sale. "We have shoes," one proudly announced.

"A bit small for me," I said.

"Try these!" insisted a girl. "They're Mom's."

They were a nice pair of white Nikes, barely worn, and they did look like my size. Mom emerged with some sugar for the lemonade, and said, "I've hardly worn those. I thought they fit in the store, but they didn't."

I tried them on. They fit perfectly. So I got a cup of tart lemonade and a pair of perfectly good Nike sneakers for three dollars and sixty cents.

3. If you want to send good wishes, light a candle, or whatever you do to send good luck to someone's way... I have several projects awaiting decisions right now. They are all collaborative, so good wishes should be directed to me and anyone working with me. Thanks!

4. What are some good, simple winter dishes that can be made with ingredients found in a very small market that is unlikely to have anything that anyone in America might ever consider unusual, exotic, or yuppie? (I could bring non-perishable spices with me, but it's a five-hour drive.) I plan to cook while I'm in the boonies near Yosemite, and I know what sort of supplies they have. I already know about thirty-garlic chicken, and am already planning to make potato salad and apples stuffed with sausage meat (if they have sausage meat.)

ETA. 5. Oh, and I had a lucid dream last night: I knew I was dreaming, so I took advantage of it to try to influence the dream and have fun. Pretty cool, that only happens a couple times a year (unless it's more but I don't remember.) I tried to fly, but could only manage weightless leaping. And I had sex with Logan Echolls. Because he was there. It seemed like a good idea in the dream. No, it wasn't very good. He kept looking at me like, "Who is this woman and why is she molesting me?"
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