Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chanko nabe!

So, after watching this video by Runnyrunny999 I decided to try my hand at chanko nabe.

Chanko nabe basically means "sumo wrestler stew" (according to Raani-san), but this recipe isn't loaded with fat or anything. Sumo wrestler fat is actually very interesting, because of the amount they exercise, the fat doesn't penetrate the muscle or anything. The amount of rice they eat is what loads on the calories.

This is most of the ingredients here. I already had some dashi soup stock in the pot. Dashi is made from konbu (a kind of pressed kelp sheet thing, I think) and bonito flakes. You let it all rest in cold water for about twenty minutes and then you simmered it for a couple minutes, and then you strain out all the little fish flakes and such. It's used in a good portion of Japanese soups and dipping sauces.

Here we have tofu, aburage (which is deep fried tofu), enokidake (the white, thin mushrooms), shitaki (you're probably familiar), carrots and cabbage.

This is a small package of ground chicken with grated garlic and ginger, and a shot of soy sauce and sake. You mix this together really well, and make into small balls to drop into the soup.

I put the ingredients that would take a little longer to cook into the pot first. That includes the cabbage, carrots and the chicken balls.

I think I may have put too much into the pot already. I ended up putting most of the super firm tofu into a tupperware container with clean (filtered in my case), cold water. I only made a couple chicken balls, the rest also went into the refrigerator. The mushrooms basically covered everything up.

And here's the money shot. Don't you want to eat this up? We had white rice with this.

Friday, October 29, 2010


So, as I mentioned before, there are a few ethnic grocery stores about my (extended) neighborhood. At "JD's Vegetables" there were goat chops. I had to try them

I used what I like to call "the steak method" on the chops (sear on both sides, then finish in the oven).

While that was happening I also used my rice cooker's steam basket to steam some couscous. This required wrapping it up in a clean kitchen towel, then stopping midway through to rub olive oil all over the tiny noodles, trying to coat and separate each one. I think the point of stopping midway through is to avoid a chewy and unpleasant texture. This I seasoned with lime juice and black pepper and just a smidge of salt.

There was also a vegetable stirfry, which I believe I also seasoned with salt, black pepper and lime. I was kind of trying to get a semi Middle Eastern flavor going on, but I'll be honest and admit I have no knowledge of that food and was winging it. I believe that I put a couple pinches of garam masala into the vegetables.

I ate it mostly with my fingers, which I find makes most bone-in chops more delicious. Probably not a dinner I would serve to guests (along with any other messy foods), but very tasty.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The return of the camera!

So, as it turns out, my computer has a slot for ...macro(?) sd memory cards, so a lack of cords isn't going to keep me down anymore.

Basically, I've moved to the land of eternal rain. It has rained (off and on) for the past five days. This has kicked in a need for soup. Tomato, specifically, and that's not happening without some kind of grilled cheese.

The soup is just a can of something semi-organic (any soup that doesn't have corn syrup in it immediately gets two more points). I think it's Campbell's "Harvest Select" or something. It's not bad with some generous pepper grinds and a little rosemary sprinkled into the pot.

The sandwich is Monterrey Jack (cheese melted in the microwave for speed and not burning bread) with pastrami and baby spinach. I also rubbed the inside slices (the ones not covered in cheese) with a apple cider vinaigrette that has garlicky overtones. I think it might've over powered the pastrami's flavor, but it didn't make any overt clashes.

I think next time I'll grill the sandwich, then open it and press the baby spinach into it. It wilted much more quickly than I had anticipated.

The problem I have with the George Foremen grill is that it doesn't have an adjustable thermostat. You could do some very fun things with it if you could control the temperature.

I would expect more soups from me in the future.

If you have a good tomato soup recipe, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just like Mama used to make

These camera less days are just as hard on me as they are on you. I think I'm going to use The Boyfriend's camera here shortly.

But for now, another wild tale with no photographic evidence.

When I was little, sometimes my mom would make been burritos. All they were was composed of refried beans, salsa and a tortilla. So simple, so easy! Mix, fill, bake, good. They also freeze well, making them a great fall back meal.

I didn't quite go the burrito route this time. The tortillas we have are too small to easily fill and fold. No, I mixed beans and salsa, covered the surface with shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, and microwaved until the cheese melted. Then it was corn chip city. It was kind of like nachos, only without at least half the ingredients.

Sometimes you just need something easy and filling, and let's face it: beans are healthy and super cheap. Plus, I use chunky style salsa, so I'm sure there was at least one serving of vegetables in there... I'm sure of it...

In any event, it was delicious and right now that's all that I'm after.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I only know to call it delicious

Sometimes the Boyfriend cooks, usually to take mercy on an exhausted Sarah. It's always good, healthy stuff (a standard being "broc's 'n' potats" which are broccoli and red potatoes boiled together then drained and tossed with shredded cheddar cheese and black pepper). Last night he made something utterly delicious.

First, he sauteed some onion slices and some green bell pepper strips in a little butter. Then he set that off to the side (I think, I was playing "Animal Crossing" while this was going on. Those weeds aren't going to pull themselves). Then he fried two eggs sunny side up, and set those aside. Then he took a small tortilla and smeared it with refried beans and put an egg and half the veggies on top and put it back in the pan to toast. Then he put another tortilla on top and flipped it to toast the second tortilla (making a tortilla sandwich perhaps). Of course he repeated with the rest of the ingredients. Served with some chunky salsa (sour cream would have been nice too, get some microbial action going on).

Maybe it was the three hour walk that proceeded it, maybe is was the combination of egg and beans and butter, but it was really... really good. It's definitely going into the "keeper" list.

If it had been made with oil instead of butter, it would been proper "country" food: cheap, unrefined (read "honest"), healthy and quick.

The moral of the story is that even if you are the self proclaimed "Foodie" of the house, letting others cook can be quite the welcomed treat.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brussels Sprouts, my favorite green child

Okay, so maybe it's creepy to call a food your favorite child. I just liked the way it sounded.

But I do love Brussels sprouts. It seems that no matter what I do to them, they are delicious. I've steamed, boiled, fried, broiled, baked and am considering raw (shredded in a slaw), and it's all delicious. And I know what you're thinking. "Sarah, you just like things coated in hot fat". Wrong! Well, I mean that that's a separate matter. They're just so good.

I made a pretty good dinner tonight of kippered herring, sweet potato, and steamed Brussels sprouts. I must've eaten ten of those tiny cabbages. I ate them as though they were going to be taken away from me.

Anyway, if you're not a Brussels freak like myself, here's a thing I've been known to do with them that might swing you closer to my persuasion.

After cleaning a good number of sprouts (remember to buy the smallest ones you can, they are sold by weight and the smallest ones are the sweetest) cleave them in half and pan fry them in a cast iron skillet in regular olive oil until they have a nice bit of brown on them and a fork will go through them with minimal force. Then sprinkle with salt, and grate Parmesan cheese on them. Put this under your broiler (I mentioned the broiler, right?) until the cheese starts to brown. Pull from oven. Remove from pan (cast iron holds a lot of heat) and eat as soon as you can avoid burning yourself.

That "recipe" also works with a variety of vegetables.

In short, there is not a sprout that I will not welcome. Is it so wrong to call it my favorite child?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back in the Library

My friends, I have seen things. I have seen the meaty offerings of a Korean market, and let me tell you that I was startled by things! There were things I thought were mainly eaten by the French (frogs' legs and the ilk), and things I knew not the purpose of (pig jowls). There was a bounty of rice, in sacks fifty pounds in weight and the size of a small child.

I went to a Super H-Mart, which is a place I'll most likely go back to, especially considering it's just across the way from the Alderwood Mall. I was intimidated by some of my finds, and by the fact that all the over head broadcasts were in what I assumed to be Korean (I base this on my ability to recognize written Korean, if I cannot actually pretend to read it, like Japanese).

You see, all I know about Korean culture I have learned from J and K dorama. And in fact, the only K dorama (Korean soap opera) that I've watched was the show Coffee Prince This means I know exactly nothing, except that you can find good coffee shops in Korea.

In any event, I've found a reputable, but cheap source of quail eggs, so be prepared for their appearance.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Did you miss me, gentle readers?

Because I've missed you.

Unfortunately, this dalliance must be short. I, while basically unpacked, cannot find my camera cord. This means less than satisfying posts. Coupled with my lack of internet (I am in a library) means irregularly updated, unsatisfying posts.

Now, here's a picture of a panda.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

La comida filipina

That is (aside from being another example of my terrible outdoor photography) was "the combo" from a farmers' market stand selling Filipino barbecue and noodles.

The noodles were nice, with bits of bell pepper, onion, and cabbage. Aside from a lack of soy sauce, it tasted like chow mien.

My Latino/Asian confusion was only enhanced by the presence of an egg roll. It was a good egg roll, standard cabbage-carrot combination with a crispy skin.

The barbecued pork was amazing. I've always loved the taste of a slight singe on grilled meats. Makes a nice contrast with the... well meatiness of the meat.


A quick search has revealed to me how ignorant of the Philippines I am. Apparently Chinese cuisine was a large influence on their own. My confusion is dispersed!

Anyway, the moral of the story is that barbecue is always delicious.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Liquids of Various Stimulating Properties

Remember that post I did waaaaaaay back about infusing liquors with fruit? Well here's the fruit (or rather, the liquor) of that experiment.

It strangely has kind of a smokey flavor for such a refreshing spirit as gin. I suspect that it would be much better very cold. I say "suspect" because the plastic bottle I stored the berries in has frozen shut and I don't drink liquors at ten in the morning. I still love its color, especially in the little jar I bought for it. I have two other bottles made by the same company as the first. You can't quite see the details, but there are little flowers with stems etched into the glass.

I'm thinking of doing a vodka blue berry and perhaps a vodka kiwi for the other two colors. I'd love to get a yellow colored liquor (primary colors), but I can't really think of a yellow fruit (banana skins are not delicious) that would work. Perhaps lemons?

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the coffee pot that I want. Available at Amazon.

It's a vacuum coffee maker, you put hot water in the bottom, and coffee grounds on top. Then, you light the butane burner underneath, which causes the water to boil. The boiling water is forced through the tube to the top bowl, passing through a filter and into the grounds. You kill off the burner, the water cools slightly, creating a vacuum in the second bowl and sucking the water back through the filter, giving you coffee.

I dabble in steampunk and the aesthetics of this are almost captivating to me. The next time I have an extra $60 (who has "extra" money these days?) I will be picking this little beauty up.

Also, I (my physical self and not the blog) will be moving shortly! Wish me luck and be patient with updates.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Not quite a frittata...

...neither quite a quiche. I like to call it "baked omelet". I recently picked up MFK Fisher's "How to Cook a Wolf", which is a fantastic book. It was written during the height of WWII rationing. The introduction made me laugh really hard (Miss Fisher has a dry but sharp wit). There's a section dealing with the manifold forms of the omelet. My "baked omelet" isn't a quiche because it lacks a crust (which would tempt me to call it "egg pie") and the eggs were never fried, so it can't be truly called a frittata (my hodgepodge language skills lead me to believe that frittata is related to frita and fritters and thus must be a fried thing).

I did fry the veggies (carrots, zucchini, onion), sans cherry tomatoes and mushrooms, in a pan slicked with rendered bacon, and a bay leaf and probably some thyme and sweet marjoram. I felt that the bacon added enough salt to not require additional sprinklings. Then I let the mess cool down, and tossed them with the remaining vegetables into a baking dish that had been buttered generously. I beat six eggs with about half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese (I say about because I just stopped grating when I got tired of it). Popped it into a moderate oven (350 F) and let it cook for half an hour.

I paired it with some buttered (man, I've been using that a lot) tri-color rotini with lots of black pepper.

I felt it was a great dish and I will be making it again.