Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Clam city baby

So, here's the thing about clams. They're alive. That can be intimidating. But clams are also delicious and kind of hard to mess up.

I had a conversation with The Boyfriend about eating clams raw on the half shell (which I haven't been able to bring myself to do). He said that it was gross because they're still alive. I mentioned to The Boyfriend (who has a degree in Japanese and lived in Japan for almost a year) that the fanciest of Japanese cuisine has living and moving dishes. Like, a carp that still has the muscles moving, or the tiny fish you drain then dump into a vinaigrette and swallow whole. They say you can feel them wriggling all the way down. He said that was gross.

Anyways, because I am a timid American cook, I took my baby clams, half shucked them (I removed half the shell), covered them in a breading compost of panko, aged white cheddar, flour, and salt then fried them in a generous portion of bacon fat (rendered from that morning's bacon). It kind of creeped me out that after I'd taken half of it's exoskeleton the clams still recoiled from the panko mix that I sprinkled onto them. That being said, I have had few things as delicious as that. Like, it was totally worth scraping my little finger in the cheese grater.

Apparently clams are really high in iron. Like, the same portion of clam meat has as much iron as the same portion of beef liver. And if I remember correctly, the liver of any creature is pretty irony.

Another nice thing about clams is that it's still easy and affordable to find wild clams at the market. More and more fish are being bred in captivity for the fish market. I don't view this as a bad thing because I believe that fish should swim free so much as they don't get to eat all the delicious things they would in the wild. Though clams eat... never mind.

In any case, I think I'll still wait a while before I sink my dainty teeth into living muscle, and enjoy this treat all fried up in bacon.

The Almost Daily Sarah

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tri Color'd Pasta and cold asparagus

Tri colored pasta is pasta that has dried spinach and tomato and stuff in it. I bought some that the red kind was actually beet flavored, which was not delicious by itself. However, in my super tasty "Clean out the fridge again!" recipe, it was quite good.

I personally don't like vinaigrette dressed pasta salad. It always seems too sharp with too many cold, squidgy bits. I'm also the kind of person who likes to chew, and find over cooked pasta pretty unappealing. I mean, it's to the tooth, not to the gum, right?

Anyway, I made a pasta salad with grilled, then cubed chicken breast, steamed asparagus, fresh cabbage (so sweet and crunchy!) good old mayo. I think maybe there was some garlic mashed in there somewhere. Probably.

Another reason for dressing my salad in mayonnaise is that homemade mayo is only good for a week, and I kind of freaked out about using it up. I actually ended up using the cup and a half I had left in this, but it was a fair amount of salad, so it was simultaneously quickly used up and spread out in portions.

I like making food on the fly. There's a satisfaction in me knowing that given a few basic ingredients I can have all sorts of stuff. It's a delicious satisfaction.

See, given half a chance I'll go all sorts of preachy on the sanctity of food. The meal is the gathering place. The food is prepared for you to go inside of you. It becomes what you are and you become what it was. Hell, do you know that nutritionists don't even say that U.S. citizens have meals anymore? There are "eating encounters". or some phrase like that, I already lent my book away so I can't reference it. But it's still true! Meal time is when you should be with other humans, communing in the most basic parts of life, not shoving burgers in your face at 60 mph.

Anyways, I'm trying to take back what's mine. I'm becoming priestess in my own temple and conducting my own delicious rites.

Well, another basic human feature (sleep) is calling, so I'm signing off. Do you have regular meals with other people? What is your take on American food fads and the lack of a traditional food culture?

The Almost Daily Sarah

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Two posts in one day! It must be delicious days for Sarah and The Boyfriend.

So, that picture is from one of my favorite cooking sites . My mayo looked pretty much the same though.

So, making mayonnaise is one of those simple but not easy feats that life likes to throw your way. I followed the "Good Eats" (Alton samaaaaaaa!) recipe for this, paying extra close attention because I've heard the horror stories of broken sauces and pools of oil lying on top of strings of yolk and vinegar.

The recipe involved:
one egg yolk (large)
1/8th tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 ground mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1 TBsp white wine vinegar
1 cup safflower (or corn) oil

bowl (glass or ceramic)
measuring spoons
measuring cup
egg yolk separator (I think it's easier just using your hands)

I've had it up to here with corn being in everything so I went with safflower oil.

Anyway, you beat the dry ingredients (and sugar) with the yolk, and mix the vinegar and lemon juice together and put half of it in the yolk mess. Then you add half the oil a drop at a time while beating vigorously. Then you add the other half of the lemon vinegar, and continue to beat the oil in, again one drop at a time.

Now, I have ADD, a symptom of which is when you can focus, you're super focused. I beat and whipped that mass of liquids into a semi solid for at least half an hour without wavering. I can't even watch a show I like for that long without playing solitaire in the middle of it. It's good to know that mayonnaise is healthy for me in one regard, even if it's mental.

Anyway, you leave the mayo out for an hour or two at room temperature so the vinegar and lemon juice can do their thing and ensure that your sauce is safe to eat the next day. Home made mayo is only good to eat for about a week, so keep that in mind.

I was kind of nervous at the prospect of eating raw egg in any form, especially since I've been made aware that the majority of eggs in the supermarket are what I now refer to as "madness eggs". See, egg laying chickens have it the worse of any industrial chicken because they don't have to look pretty at any point. So, they get shoved in the tiniest of cages where they go crazy and start self mutilating. Now, that's a lot of hate going into a fertility symbol and potentially potent source of nutrition. I just feel bad about the whole thing.

I have, however, found that my local health food store has locally and happily produced eggs from chickens who get to walk around chasing bugs and stuff. The yolk was especially pretty too. They should get a brighter color as the weather gets better.

Anyway, I have happy eggs and home made mayo that needs to be used up. I foresee some deviled eggs coming up in my future.

Please share your thoughts with us!

The Almost Daily Sarah


So, I made miso soup for breakfast/lunch (no work = sleeping in). I didn't actually use an instant mix, though I've had that particular kind before. The instant kind is okay, but I can't imagine it's terribly healthy for you. I read the other day that eating three bowls of miso soup a day "significantly reduces" the risk of breast cancer. Here's the thing though, that's a lot of miso soup. I don't ingest anything three times a day. Like, not even the same liquids.

Also, my goal in cooking is flavor, and then health. The idea is that if I can train myself to crave only healthy things I will ruin my mouth for industrial foods (Micky D's and so on).

Anyway, my soup's broth was made out of konbu, a "sea vegetable" that you find dried into strips. I think the strips are supposed to be universally the same dimensions, like butter sticks. I used four cups of water with the strip of konbu, and added two tsps of wakame which is another "sea vegetable" but this comes in little shreds that really expand when cooked. I added some of those dried fish flakes (bonito) again on the other side of a mesh strainer. After about five minutes of boiling these things, I removed the bonito flakes. Then I dissolved about two tsp of red miso in the soup. I like my miso salty, so you might use less and taste.

At the last second I added silken tofu chunks (which jiggles in an initially discomforting way. The jiggling grew on me.), and chopped green onions were the garnish. I had already cooked some salmon the night before, so I heated that up while cooking some rice.

Really, there should have been more veggies in the meal, but there were five natural colors (white rice, brown broth, red fish, dark green wakame, bright green onions). So, it should've been pretty healthy, right?

If you've tried making miso before, let me know!

The Almost Daily Sarah

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lamen (ka naaaaa?)

So, the other night, I made faux ramen. (The title is kind of a play on that 'cause the Japanese r/l relationship...anyway)

When I close my department down, I'm usually too tired to cook, but I managed to muster up the courage to face the stove.

I made broth from red miso (fun fact, Sarah cannot stand the brand of white miso available to her, but loves the red miso), chicken broth, and I had some bonito flakes, so I threw those in too. Since the Japanese instructions had handy drawings on the back, I knew I was supposed to strain them out. Being lazy as I am, I just put a wire strainer in the pot, then added the bonito flakes inside of it. I fished it out later. To season the broth, I added just a little soy sauce ('cause the chicken broth was already quite salty), grated ginger, and some oyster sauce. I left that to simmer and mingle.

For the "goodies" portion of the ramen, I large diced some chicken thighs (which were thankfully already boned), with some onion and asparagus, both of which also met my knife. I sauteed these until they were mostly done, then threw them in the broth.

Next I cranked up the heat on the broth until it was really boiling, and opened up two of those ten cent packets of instant noodles, and put the noodles proper into the soup until they were done.

I used a pasta claw to put all the noodles and goodies into the bowls, and then ladled the broth in afterwards.

If I hadn't been already very tired, I probably would have boiled and peeled a couple eggs to add at the end, or broken out the freezer gyoza. These are good things to eat with ramen.

Also, ramen is generally made with pork broth, and has all sorts of other goodies in it, but this was "refrigerator ramen", not "special shopping trip ramen".

If you've got any ramen recipes of your own, post a comment on it!

The Almost Daily Sarah

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Easter (from the land of yesterday)

So, Easter Sunday was kind of a day of ups and downs for me. I had a hobo explain to me for five minutes why I was going to hell for telling him to have a happy Easter. Then I made tori katsu curry (from scratch!) for the people with whom I watch anime. I'm having a real hard time getting the flavor I want without using boxed roux. It was still good and one random friend said "It is a delicious try and thank you for bringing it". It made me happy when one of the guys went back for seconds, and everybody finished their bowl.

See, the thing is that curry bricks (packaged roux) cost around seven dollars where I live, and are filled with questionable ingredients. I also have an obsession with being able to make things from scratch.

Now that I think about it, the latter half of my day was very fitting for Easter, because we had tori (chicken) curry, watched "Tenchi Muyo" which features a cabbit (half cat, half rabbit), and then ate a chocolate cake. Chocolate is firmly associated with two holidays in my mind. Easter and Valentines' Day.

Anyway, to make a roux, you take equal portions of fat (I used butter) and flour and cook it slowly over medium heat until it becomes the "desired" color, while stirring constantly. I was supposed to wait until my roux became brick red, but I was running out of time, so it was more of a dark blond.

I do a Japanese style curry with carrots, potatoes, and onions (along with tomato).
The frustrating thing about searching online for Japanese curry recipes is that it appears that the entire nation makes it from a box. Every Japanese person I know hasn't even heard of making it from scratch.

If you've heard of a from scratch Japanese curry recipe, let me know!

The Almost Daily Sarah

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My oh my it's some stirfry

My shifts at work have been fluctuating, not in the amount of them so much as in the times they occur. After closing down the place on Friday, today (Saturday) I opened it at six this morning. As it's about ten now, I am a very sleepy Sarah.

At the store, they had 15% snow crab 85% white fish crab sticks. They're no real crab leg, but they're pretty tasty. I tend to think of them more like a fish sausage (naruto maki anyone?) than as a substitute crab.

I stir fried some red pepper strips (eating a few raw as cook's treat) with onion and garlic in some butter. I also steamed a few stalks of asparagus and boiled some more black rice to get enough colors in the meal. Interesting note, The Boyfriend has trouble eating a full length asparagus spear, but no trouble eating many half pieces of asparagus spears. I guess it's all in how you perceive.

Now, I was tricked by a delicious sample into buying a three chocolate mousse cake. I halved and hulled some strawberries and cut some very small pieces of the cake for dessert. It was especially good if used a larger chunk of strawberry to wipe up the chocolate from your plate at the end. I wonder if I would have to run less if I had less delicious cakes. I also wonder if I would be less happy with less delicious cakes.

The Boyfriend came with me for my run to encourage me. He decided to run way faster than me at one point, which really sparked my competitive streak. Since the urge to not throw up such a luxurious meal out weighed my desire to catch up and pass my darling The Boyfriend I had to comfort myself with the knowledge that I could always trip him up if he actually lapped me.

I think I might invest in a jump rope. That way I could just bounce around the yard when the local track might be in use by the people who actually own it. I think I was fairly good at it too, once upon a time.

The Almost Daily Sarah

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pizza and Posting Comments, and Kyuupi Inuyasha

I figured I'd just get the weirdest part out of the way. I came back home to find this bizarre cell phone strap on top of my laptop. The Boyfriend bought for me while buying something else from one of those "We ship from Japan!" sites that have really expensive shipping rates. I already have an awesome cellphone strap, so it's sitting on top of the CD player, with all the other miniature novelties.

I've changed the settings on the comments, so everyone should be able to comment now. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Now, to the pizza.

Pizza Rita is part of a local chain (of pizzerias) that make their dough and sauce in house. Since I worked fairly late tonight and get to jump back in at six tomorrow morning, The beloved Boyfriend is treating me to pizza.

We ordered the "Rita's Real Pizza" which includes pepperoni, beef, sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and olives. I really like this particular pizza place because everything tastes fresh and the cheese is nice and stringy. In essence, I don't feel like everything's been frozen in a complete pizza shape and trucked from across the country.

I really recommend trying their pizza if you get the chance.

The Almost Daily Sarah

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Forbidden Dover Sole (for reals this time)

So, I read in a book that farm raised fish have less of the omegas that wild fish do because wild fish eat bugs and other fish (like they're supposed to do) and farm raised fish eat corn. I previously made it my habit not to eat top level predators, but in light of needing to support not feeding grain to animals not meant for that, I will now make it my hobby.

I could probably (make that definitely) go on a rant about my problems with corn as not corn, but it's a little early in the blog for that.

Instead, let me regale you with tales of more exotic and forbidden grains: Forbidden Rice.

Basically, it's more delicious than brown rice, but healthier than white rice. I contemplated serving it with white asparagus for a "what's wrong with all the colors?" kind of meal, but decided against it. White fish (baked then smeared with butter and parsley) and steamed green asparagus.

The Boyfriend's comments on such a rare delicacy were "It makes my mouth tired". These are often the complaints that accompany any whole grain rice. I felt that the
black rice (that looked pretty black after cooking) was much easier to chew than brown rice in general. one of the features that was mentioned frequently on all the online information about it was on how it cooks in "just" half an hour. I usually use calrose rice (short grained and sticky) which is reliably done in half an hour on the stove top. After watching Alton Browns "speed rice technique" I'm starting to wonder if most rice takes longer. It could be that it's amazingly fast for a whole grain rice to cook in half an hour, but for white rice? Have I just not ventured far enough into the world of grains? Ah well, there's always the future for more adventuring.

This meal was enjoyed while watching "The Warriors", a movie that was based on a novel, with vague nods towards ancient Greek warriors in general. In the movie, nine unarmed emissaries from each gang go to a big gathering where an influential man named "Cyrus" is attempting to get them to unite to take down the police and the mafia. It was at this point, five minutes into the movie that I stopped being able to take this movie seriously. It wasn't the variously themed and costumed gangs with names like "The Turnable ACs", "The Riffs", "The Baseball Furies", "The Lizzies" or "The Tall Hats". It's like this brilliant new leader of this New York gangs doesn't realize how the police work. If the police get over run, they'll just send in the National Guard. And taking on the mob and the police at the same time? It'd probably be wiser to take on the police and get sent to jail than take on the mob and find your mom's hands in your mail box.

Anyway, this Cyrus guy gets shot, and the Warriors get blamed and they're on a night long escape back to Coney Island. All in all, for all the flack I just gave it, it's a fun movie to watch, and the kind of movie I enjoy watching and picking apart. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes cheesy gang movies.

on a side note, I don't know what I did to my neck, but it is super sore. Like, if I move it the wrong way, it feels too tight and just generally achey. Maybe I slept on it wrong, but I have one of those "I'm super good for your neck!" pillows, so it seems less likely. I've been massaging it myself, but it doesn't seem to be doing much good. Any thoughts?

The Almost Daily Sarah