Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday: why did I bother going to target?

Things purchased at Target:

  • Toothpaste
  • Ziploc bags
  • Lunch/sandwich box things that also work for leftovers
Ways I would have rewritten this episode of Tales from the Darkside so it wasn't terrible:
  • Have teddy bear be a gift found when the daughter was born, but with no "from"
  • Proceed with odd happenings daughter blames on Teddy
  • Write out the useless father character, or at least make him less of a useless douche
  • Drop the weird "teddy bear is child of bearskin rug" plot point/denouement.
  • Have mother come in at the end to see teddy stalking daughter with glowing eyes as presented, follow with scissor stabbing as written.  However, after she's done stabbing the bear, pan over to daughter, who has matching set of wounds.
  • End on that, instead of the bearskin rug breaking down the bedroom door.
I kind of wish I had ice cream, because even though I did the crab cake/salad thing again, I think something sweet would be good.  I probably should have made cookies or something, but didn't feel like bothering today.

Saturday: Cake!

Since I've been increasingly disappointed by the KCC farmer's market, I decided to try to try the Hawaii Kai one.  It's much more of a drive, and it's a smaller market, but it has a number of advantages:
  1. Fewer people.
  2. Tighter focus on farm ingredients, and less so on prepared food.
  3. The prepared that they do have is clustered, and they had a seating area.
  4. The hours are 9-1, compared with the 7:30-11 of the KCC.  Guess which one is more conducive to my sleep schedule?
Of course, being smaller means the selection isn't as good.  I ended up with some lettuce (nice and green, but the leaves weren't as tight as the KCC place, making me suspect it wasn't as freshly picked), herbs (are herbs.  There's really only two states for herbs. Good and rotten.), and a bag of plum/Roma/about that size tomatoes.  $10 for the lot, which is a decent enough deal.  There was a guy with a box of lilikoi, but since the lady in front of me in line picked out two clearly rotten fruit, and the ones I could see were smooshed and nasty looking, I didn't buy any.  I'm not sure which one I'll go back to.  I think KCC if I wake up early, and HK if I don't.  

WF was next, for the remaining ingredients and a lunch burrito.  I need to start remembering that I don't really like WF burritos.  I miss Qdoba.

Next, came five hours of watching Thundercats.  I'll have to comment about that later (probably tomorrow).  Important point: there is significantly more genocide in Thundercats than I remember from my childhood.

Today's culinary adventure was Crab Cake Salad.  I started simple, and made the salad dressing first.
This was my base recipe for the dressing, which I changed around a bit since cilantro tastes like soap.  I ignored the rest of their ideas, as that cake is going to have a lot more unnecessary filler. You can see my herbs on the front tray.  The monkeys have the dill, the elephant has Italian parsley, the gator has some thyme.  I hadn't yet minced the green onion (background).  All of those were 1 tbs each.  I don't have grapeseed oil, so I simply used a 1/2c of olive oil.  You can see the 1/4c lemon juice, which I was able to extract from a single lemon (using my favorite lime juicer).  Mince mince dump dump, and a 1/2tsp Dijon, and then a quick blitz with the stick blender, and I had this:
I gave it a quick taste to make sure that it wasn't terrible, and then put it in the fridge to wait.

Next up was to get the crab cakes organized.  Again, back to the monkey plate:
That's a pound of crab meat (this was all WF had available. It wasn't as good as other crab I've had before, but it was fairly lumpy, which is a good thing, but had lots of tiny flakes, which I think is part of the reason I had some trouble later.  Still, this pound was something like $15, which is a deal compared to the $40? I think I paid in Austin), one egg, 1/4c mayo, elephant: 1tbs minced herbs (a leaf of basil, a couple of parsley, a sprig or two of dill), crocodile: 2tbs bread crumbs, monkeys: 1/2c minced green onion greens, walrus: 1.5-2tsp old bay.  Dump everything but the egg into a bowl:
fold it gently to try to keep the crab as lumpy as possible. I then quick beat the egg with my spatula, and then added that in, and mixed it together again.  I had to add a tablespoon more bread crumbs to get it to what I thought was sufficient for cohesion, and in hindsight I probably should have added a fourth.
At this point, I put the mix into the fridge to rest for a half hour.  Unfortunately, I was supposed to shape the cakes first, and then put them in the fridge.  Not a show stopper, but a bit annoying.  I think this also explains why I had more moisture than I wanted.  After resting, I shaped, getting this:
The recipe suggests making quarter pound cakes, but since I was doing this with a salad, I wanted smaller cakes, so I went with ~2oz ones instead.  These seemed fine now, but I only let them rest again in the fridge for about ten minutes.  I should have noticed that I had too much moisture.  I blame the following things for that:
  • Smaller crab bits hold more moisture
  • I should have added a bit more bread crumbs
  • They didn't evaporate as much during the resting
  • The humidity today was about 70% while I was making these. I've only made them in the winter before, so I've not had that problem before.
During the second rest, I organized the salad bit.  Pile of romaine, one of those plum tomatoes, two shiitake mushrooms.  Next, it was time to fry.  I dumped out a pile of flour, and cursed at the cakes as they refused to be cleanly picked up as I tried to dredge them.  I eventually sorted it out, as well as a wonderful double spatula method for turning them (lift with slotted spatula, put solid spatula on uncooked side after redusting with a bit more flour, flip, use slotted spatula to slide the cake back into the oil). If you want to be picky, you can s/spatula/turner/g that last sentence. Ok, frying:
The holding area:
And the final plating:
I added a few slices of baguette, and a sliver of Gouda, and paired it with a viognier I had in my pantry, as I remembered that it had a Riesling like sweetness that I was looking for.  

The crab cakes worked out wonderfully, despite the structural issues I had during the cooking.  Strong crab flavor, although, as usual, I think I should have put in more old bay.  Maybe a quick dash of cayenne or something would help as well. Oh. Yeah. Salt and pepper.  They're in there. I ground up both in the pestle, because I didn't want big chunky sea salt crystals surprising me. Double-"oh yeah": don't forget to sort the crab looking for shell bits.  That wouldn't be fun to bite into either.

The salad was good, particularly due to the dressing.  The lemon flavor cuts through nicely, and the herbs work well with the crab cake.  I think the dressing is my new default crab cake sauce for the future.  I don't like the mayo based ones in general, due to mayo being gross.

The last minute additions helped a bit as well.  The Gouda added a sour note that was both good and bad.  It didn't really mix with the sweet lemon and crabby...crab flavors.  However, it did work nicely to reset all the flavors, so that I didn't get burned out on the lemon sauce.  The wine had the sweet notes I was looking for, but it wasn't really that great. 

I put the leftover cakes into the freezer, since I don't really trust refrigerated anything-that-lives-in-the-sea.  They reheat nicely in the oven, so there shouldn't be any problems.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday: meh-gain

I'm pretty much done with leftovers.  I have some more stromboli, but I think I'm going to toss it and move on.

My thought is to do a crab cake thing.  I found this recipe (sans cilantro), so I might take the vinaigrette from there, my own crab cake recipe, and then make a salad with whatever I come up with at the farmer's market tomorrow.  I'm going to try a different one, and see if I like their stuff better.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday: leftovers

Read yesterday's post for details. One thing I forgot to mention is that due to the oil I put in the pan before I baked the stromboli, the bottom crust was all fried and crispy and tasty.  It's less so the second day due to getting soggy, but most of the flavor is still there.

The main point of today's post is a commentary on this news story Julie sent me. It's depressing, because that place had what I think was the best bbq I've ever had.  It had a bit of a shady feeling to it, being in a kind of run-down feeling residential neighborhood, but all of that vanished when you started eating the deliciousness.

Still, the deliciousness is also not the point.

The point is this: "Undercover officers posing as meat thieves approached the proprietors and, police allege, sold the restaurants what the officers claimed was stolen meat."


Now, I'm not a criminal mastermind or anything, and I certainly don't know where the diamonds are.  But, hypothetically, if someone approached me, and told me that they had brought me a great deal on some stolen something, I'm not interested.  It doesn't matter what the something is, if you come to me, and tell me that you have stolen product for sale, I don't want it. There is a very simple reason behind this: you're a cop.  Proper criminals don't advertise that they have stolen merchandise, they suggest that they have suddenly become overstocked on something, and were wondering if you might be interested in some bargains.  See how that works? No one says anything about a crime being committed, and everyone walks away happy.

In any case, if you're already buying stolen meat (or whatever), why would you not stick with your current stolen meat vendor?  You have an established relationship, and have developed some level of trust.  If your SMV tells you he's out of town for a while, and his cousin Timmy is going to be taking over deliveries, you should meet Timmy along with your SMV.  This establishes Timmy as being vouched for by the SMV, so you know if Timmy starts selling you bad products, you know that you can take this matter up with the SMV.  Then it's not your problem, it's his problem.

This same principle applies to lots of other things.  Random guy offers you a great deal on some sweet drugs? Cop. Random girl in ugly plastic platform shoes asking if you're looking for some company? Vice cop.  If you're looking to break a law, you are in a market, and it's your obligation to go searching for a vendor.  When you want pizza, do you sit at home hoping that the Pizza Hut people will knock on your door and offer you some fresh pizza they just happened to bring by?  No, you go to them, and ask them for the pizza.  Similarly, if you want to get something in a less-than-legal manner, you go to where that kind of deal is happening, and identify a potential retailer.  They shouldn't be that hard to find.  Then, you be as vague as possible, because as far as the PR knows, you're probably a cop.

Also, all of this is invalid for the case of the Ice Cream Truck.  Obviously it's always acceptable to buy ice cream whenever it's available.  I mean, duh.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday: Strombolarama!

Today's plan was to make stromboli.  Unfortunately, I didn't plan things out beforehand, and so the end result came out kind of ugly.  That's my own fault, and I'll know better next time.  Anyway, here's the photoshoot:

I picked up some ingredients at WF, including a bag of pizza dough.  I could have made my own, but that would have moved this plan into the weekend. Whole foods clearly uses magic to ensure that the dough weighs exactly as much as the side you're looking at says it is.

I wanted to put mushrooms in the stromboli, to add a plausible claim of it being healthy.  I sauteed them in butter to get as much of the moisture out as possible.

I let the dough rise for about an hour, and then "declared 'fuck you' on the pizza dough." I didn't notice until I was looking through the pictures that I had accidentally made an Italian flag.  If you notice the thin spot towards the bottom of the image, you can see the problem that came later.

First layer: provolone, pepperoni, prosciutto.

Second layer: the mushrooms (I forgot to take a picture, apparently).

Third layer: meatballs.  I thought I could squeeze those three in, but ended up just chopping them up and sneaking them in among the others.

Hrm...I apparently didn't take a picture of the final version before cooking. I had originally wanted to cook it in my cast iron pan, but it wasn't going to fit.  Instead, I poured some olive oil in my roasting pan, added the stromboli, rubbed more oil over the top, and then sprinkled some of my chunky sea salt on top.  I baked it at 400 for 20-25 minutes, and it came out like this:

The thin spot in the dough had ruptured, spilling out the meatballs. :(

I wasn't sure how to get it out of the pan, but it turns out that just cramming the cutting board under the stromboli is a valid way to remove things from a roasting pan. A little bit of work with the electric knife, and:

The cross section clearly shows the mistakes.  I should have put the meatballs in first, so they'd be in the center of the stromboli, then a wrapping of dough, then the cheese and other meats would have formed a full ring, then a layer of dough again, and the layer of mushrooms on the top.  Instead, it kind of segregated more than I'd thought.  That's the problem with working down through the stack of ingredients instead of planning it out.

I heated some of the leftover sauce for dipping, as I'd not put much sauce inside the stromboli.  Had I made it the sane way, I could have put in a decent amount of sauce, as it would have been centered and even if it made the inner dough layer soggy, it wouldn't have compromised the structural integrity as much as it did on this one.

Still, even though it's ugly, it was still delicious.  I also now have a good idea what I'm eating for the rest of the week. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday: maybe I will keep using days

partially because I couldn't come up with anything good to put there instead. :-/

I forgot I was going to pick up stromboli-ngredients until I was already home. I guess it's not that big of a deal, and I didn't pack any of my grocery bags either.  Instead, I decided to just throw something together reasonably fast.  

Since I have the stick blender, I figured I'd try making a salad dressing that would be properly blended.  I didn't measure anything, but the ingredients were:
  • clove of garlic
  • glob of dijon (like a teaspoon?)
  • some balsamic vinegar (like a tablespoon?)
  • olive oil (enough to make it look about right)
  • salt pepper parsley (since I have a bush of it still in the fridge)
After blending it together, I dumped it over my lettuce, and immediately realized that I had about twice as much dressing as I needed.  It tasted fine, but was just a bit too strong since there was so much of it.  You can see the tomato and parmesan I topped the salad with.

I then just made a quick meatball sandwich:

Regular bread is too wimpy for meatballs. :(

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday: Not going to use day names anymore

I didn't take a picture because I was hungry, and didn't want to take the time to wipe the rim of the plate.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the gimp has a convenient spaghetti brush.

I think I'm going to try to do the stromboli tomorrow, but I want to get mushrooms and pepperoni as well.  I already bought some provolone, so I should be good on the cheese front.  I think the plan is to do a layer of pepperoni/mushrooms/cheese, roll, sauce and meatballs, roll, repeat, and finish with some oil on top and sauce on the side.

I'll make sure to take a picture tomorrow, though.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday: meatball subs

Plural because I misjudged my bread cuts.  I also would not use a day old baguette were I to do this again.  It's too hard, and the meatballs are too squishy.  I'd hoped that the sauce would soak in and fix this, but that didn't seem to happen.

I think that means it's back to sketti-style tomorrow.

no bowling

After waiting for a lane to open up for 45 minutes, I decided that if I wanted to sit alone and read my RSS feeds, it's far more comfortable to do it at home using my laptop.  Once again they had a stupid televised tournament going on, which ate up a third of the lanes.  It also didn't help that there were a bunch of people who had spent the money to buy their own balls/shoes/professional bowling bag, but preferred to spend their time talking instead of bowling.  I watched the computer give up on one group twice and reset the lane, after it'd decided that they weren't bowling anymore.

I guess this means that I'll need to find something new to do on sundays in the future.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday: I probably need a better plan

I took this week off for the KCC farmer's market, since I've been a bit disappointed with it.  My major complaint is that it's mostly prepared food, with only a few booths selling fruits/veggies/meats/ingredient stuffs. Because of this, it has less of a farmer's market feel, and more of a food court feel.  I'm going to see if I can make it to the Haleiwa farmer's market, since I believe it's run by a different group.

I still needed to get groceries, so I went out to Whole Foods, with the goal of getting a late lunch as well.  A new Kuru-Kuru Sushi opened up at the mall, and I wanted to try it out.  I've been to the one in Aiea, but the line there is always out the door, and they have crap parking.  I assumed that showing up at 2pm would decrease the likelihood of a line, but I still had to wait about fifteen minutes to be seated, and there was a line for the entire time I was there.  

I always think that I'm going to like the concept of conveyor belt sushi, but it always seems to fall apart in practice.  Kuru-Kuru has good dishes, with nice fresh fish and big slices.  However, it has the same problem that other similar restaurant styles: crapfloods. I don't think it's intentional, but imagine the following scenario:
  1. Sushi chef makes a pile of one dish. Let's say, hypothetically, veggie croquette.
  2. Those croquettes are put out on the line. A few people snap them up immediately.
  3. The remainder continue to circulate, making the belt look full.
  4. People start to recognize the croquettes, giving them the taint of being "old."
  5. Repeat with other dishes (say, kabucha tempura or spicy tuna roll).
This produces a situation where the belt is filled with lots of crap, and customers ignore the belt in favor of directly ordering.  The girl with the iphone on my right, and the old couple on my left didn't take anything from the belt the entire time they were there, but ordered everything they ate.  If I'm just going to order my sushi, then what's the point of going to a conveyor belt sushi place?  

My solution to this problem is probably not ideal, but I can't figure out anything better.  This also probably only works when the counter is busy, as it requires a constant stream of hungry sushi-eaters (this was definitely the case at Kuru-Kuru today, and I believe, is largely their permanent state).  The simple solution would be to ensure that there is always one version of each dish available on the belt.  However, since people are unlikely to equally want each dish (ahi is almost certainly more popular than natto roll), this isn't a great method.  Of course, once you've run your conveyor belt sushi place for a while, you should have appropriate statistics on the relative popularity of each dish.  Therefore, you should be able to construct a belt that contains each dish in the appropriate proportions.  Another way to improve selection would be to fold in the placed orders.  The old couple, the iphone girl, and I each ordered unagi, as it never appeared (and is super delicious). If someone orders a dish, a second copy should be made at the same time, and placed on the belt.  This should help keep the selection up.  Finally, if that veggie croquette has been floating around for thirty minutes, take it off and chuck it.  Everybody's seen it by now, and no one's taking it.

After sushi, I did a bit of other shopping at the mall: a stick blender (since mine went walkabout when I moved here), and the game of set (because it's a fun game), and then went to whole foods for groceries.  The main goal was to get the ingredients necessary to make this:

I used this recipe, which I was initially suspicious of, as the sauce seems woefully underseasoned.  I was then reminded that I'd had it before, liked it, and then I remembered that I think I helped make it too.  Yay for memory!

Without the meatballs, the sauce wouldn't really work, I don't think.  It has a wonderful tomato flavor, but eating it alone with pasta would be a bit bland.  It could probably work as a pizza sauce, assuming you topped the pizza with other things.  In any case, I now have a giant tub filled with wonderful delicious meatballs and sauce, so I need to come up with a plan for them.  I think the plan is:

  • Sunday: Meatball sub.
  • Monday: Sketti and meatballs.
  • Tuesday: One of the previous two, probably?
  • Wednesday: Or, how about this: let's get a grocery store pizza dough, and make a stromboli! Om nom nom!
  • Thursday: That was a great idea, so it'll be leftover stromboli night!
  • Friday: I never have a friday plan.
I made 30 meatballs, and the above picture suggests I ate 7 tonight.  That was probably too many, so I think after pairing the rest of the meals with a salad of some sort, I should have enough meatballs for the week.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday: meh

I didn't feel like trying to come up with something for dinner, so I just went and got TBell. I'll see what I come up with for tomorrow.

I think it's naptime now, anyway.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday: I continue to be tired of leftovers

I finished them all off, though, so that problem is solved for good.  I think tomorrow will be something lazy, and then Saturday will be meatball day. I'm also thinking about skipping the usual farmer's market and catching the one on Sunday in Haleiwa. It's farther away, but I figure it's worth checking it out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday: I got tired of leftovers

I read too many rss feeds that focus on sandwiches, and I blame that for the sudden craving I got today for cheese fries.  Most places here seem to do the "melt some shredded cheese" style cheese fries, but that's not really what I want. If it's not the fake gooey yellow cheese, then I don't think that counts.

Teddy's Bigger Burgers (beware, they have autoplay music) does do cheese fries correctly.  They also have garlic fries, but that tends to be a bit overpowering.  I went with the western burger, which allows me to get some onion rings in as well (nice and crispy, with a sweet oniony taste).  The BBQ sauce was a bit odd, as I wasn't expecting a Carolina style.  It was also a bit overcooked, as I expect medium to have a bit of pink left behind.

I'll probably be back to the leftovers tomorrow. Woo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday: leftovers


  1. Putting things into taco form apparently increases the apparent size by a factor of about two.
  2. Spicy garlic chile sauce turns into tame garlic chile sauce if you wait 24 hours.
  3. Reheated cooked garlic tends to just be a mushy mess.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday: my mouth is slightly less on fire

Tonight (and tomorrow, and wednesday most likely) was this recipe (via Julie) for chili and garlic pork belly beef flap steak.  My steak was perfectly the right size, so I didn't have to change the recipe much.  I had to add a bit more oil to cook it, since pork belly has a lot more fat than this.  It came out well, although the steak is also less tender than thin sliced pork, so I had the issue that my lettuce leaves weren't really up to the task of holding the wrap together.  They're definitely weaker than the cabbage that we used in Austin. I might just cheat and get some tortillas tomorrow, and eat it that way.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday: my mouth is on fire

No picture, because I forgot to take one.

I figured I'd do a quick shrimp dish with the chilis I bought yesterday at the farmer's market.  I put rice on to boil, and then made up a recipe mostly on the fly, based on some of the recipes I looked at before dinner. My ingredients:

  • Six decent sized shrimp
  • Three cloves garlic, sliced
  • Three of the tiny Hawaiian chilis (in hindsight, this was my mistake)
  • The white bit of four green onions chopped into inch long slices
  • An anchovy (a lot of recipes called for nam pla, which I don't have. I figured this would add some umami)
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Dash of tomato paste
  • Fresh basil
  • The greens of the green onions, similarly chopped
  • Half a lime
I started by frying the garlic, chilis and onions in some oil, and once they looked like they were cooked through, I added the shrimp and let them cook on the first side.  When it was time to flip, I added everything for the sauce (ingredients down to the basil), mixed it around, and then covered to let the shrimp steam in the sauce. A few minutes later, I uncovered, shook the pan to flip the shrimp in the sauce, and then added the basil and onion greens to warm without cooking down into mushiness.  I dumped everything over my rice, and then added the lime so I could add some juice as desired.

Clearly, three of those tiny little peppers was a mistake.  The flavor of the sauce was reasonably good, but the heat level was just way too high.  I think if I try this again, it'll only be one pepper.  I also think some fresh ginger sliced into sticks and added to the pan with the garlic would be a good addition.  I added a bit of ginger powder (since I have that all the time), but it didn't really add anything to the taste, I don't think.

I finished dinner with the remaining slice of mozzarella.  It was the only thing I could think of that could help take the fire away from my mouth and lips.  It was largely effective, as I no longer feel like my face is going to burst into flames.


Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

I just gave up after that terrible third game.  It was super busy, plus the tournament people were back.  I got stuck next to the tournament warm up lane, and they'd asked me to avoid getting in their way.  I think having to watch out for other people was part of the reason that this week was so bad.

At least I broke my "game two is always the worst" streak.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday: Actual planning

I ate a late lunch today, so I really don't feel like cooking a proper dinner, so instead I'm just having some peach slices. Yay fruit!  This of course means that the shrimp I bought for dinner tonight will instead be dinner tomorrow. Ok, so that means the plan is:

  • Sunday: Shrimp, I think just pan fried with some mashed potatoes. I bought some tiny Hawaiian chilis at the farmer's market, so maybe some quick chili sauce or something?
  • Monday: I got a decent piece of beef flap steak, as a replacement for pork belly so I could make this. I think I'll substitute out the cabbage with some farmer's market lettuce, so when I'm done, it won't really be exactly the same at all, I guess. The sauce will make up for it probably.
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday: It's a fairly big piece of steak.
  • Thursday: This is where the plan falls apart. I'm pretty sure that I'll be out of stuff garlic chili beef at this point, or too tired of it to keep going.  Maybe use some of the chicken I have hiding in my freezer to make a quick stir fry?
  • Friday: Let's say that's what we did, and then we'll finish up those leftovers.
Complaints about the farmer's market from today:
  • Who brings a bag of McDonald's breakfast food to a farmer's market? They have like a million booths selling prepared food that's certainly going to be better than an egg mcmuffin.
  • I saw people leaving who had purchased a lemonade. Unless they had secretly hidden produce in their pockets, I just don't see the point of going to a farmer's market.
  • When you're dragging a big plastic box through a crowd, and you clip an old lady's leg, giggling to yourself as you walk away probably isn't the socially acceptable answer.
  • Dear Ron Paul supporter, I'm sorry I ignored you when you held up your mailing list/petition/clipboard of crazy scribbles. What I meant to say was, "Die in a fire."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday: planning

Today was panzanella again, because that has quickly become one of my favorite "I'm lazy and want food" dishes.  I picked up a couple of mushrooms and added that in today, but other than that, pretty much the same as yesterday.

Since dairy is out for this next week, I think my strategy is going to be either curry or stir fry.  Think it'll depend on what I can find at the market tomorrow.

I also got a new grocery bag today:

Why would I ever peel any part of that off and adhere it to my windshield?  Especially since it looks like only the "bring your bags when you shop" part comes off.  My problem is never that I left the bags in the car (and if I can't see the 18"x18" bag sitting on the floor, how is a 0.5"x1.5" sticker going to catch my attention?), it's that I've left the bags at home instead of putting them back in the car.

Oh crap

That means I can't make fondue this weekend either!

Of all the weeks for me to apparently plan a dairy-centric meal schedule. :-/

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday: panzanella is basically just uncooked pizza

I finally went to the doctor today to attempt to get this perma-cough to go away.  They gave me some antibiotics after a pile of tests, and as I picked them up, the pharmacist let me know that I should avoid dairy.  That kind of shot down the idea of making a pot pie with a thick rich dairy sauce.

Therefore, I went with my next (totally not stolen at all) idea: panzanella.  I've never made it before, but I did have all the necessary ingredients from yesterday's bruschetta.  My synthesis recipe based on some google results:

  • Six slices of baguette, sliced into six cubes
  • A giant local tomato (it was about three inches in diameter), sliced into wedges and then halves.
  • A clove of garlic, minced
  • A few chunks of mozzarella.
  • Olive oil/balsamic/pepper/salt/red onion (minced)
  • A bunch of basil
  • A bit of salami
Toss the bread with the salt, pepper, garlic, and enough oil to coat (I didn't use enough, because my bread was particularly thirsty), and then throw them into the oven at 400 to roast for about 8 minutes.  Yes, basically "make some croutons."  I just used the same bowl, made the dressing, and then dumped everything else in, using the measurement system of "that looks about right."  Shake-y, shake-y, shake-y to coat, and then take a few minutes for the tomato/vinegar liquids to soak into the bread.

As I was pulling into my apartment, I saw the pizza hut guy getting into his car.  Then, due to my luck, I got the elevator that the pizza had ridden up in.  The smell was so obvious, that the other person that got on on the fourth floor immediately said, "oh, wow, pizza."

Panzanella isn't really pizza. But it is made out of pretty much the exact same ingredients, but put together in a way that you can argue that it's totally a healthy choice.  It does have pretty much the same level of deliciousness.  

I'm not sure what tomorrows plan will be for dinner.  I'm tempted to make this again, but I think I want to add a bit more to it.  I'd have to get a new tomato anyway, so getting a few more ingredients wouldn't hurt.  I think some mushrooms would work well, and I suspect a tiny dash of tomato paste in the dressing would boost the flavor nicely.  I'm also thinking that trying to puree the garlic (with a bit of shallot or onion) into the oil would help, as my minced garlic was largely left behind when the bread soaked up the olive oil.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday: bruschetta

I had planned on making a pot pie today, but I also wanted to do something with my tomatoes. I then came up with bruschetta, but decided that those two didn't really go together very well. Over the course of the day, the bruschetta sounded better and better, so that eventually won out.  I made a few accompaniments:

  • Mushrooms from the farmer's market.  I just sauteed it quickly in a bit of butter with some pepper and rosemary.
  • Leftover chicken. I sliced it, and warmed it in the pan after the mushrooms were finished.
  • That's just one of the giant farmer's market tomatoes. Diced up, with some shallot, garlic, and basil.  Finished with some balsamic vinegar and a bit of pepper.  I should have roasted the garlic, as it came through a bit harsh.
  • Mozzarella, pink sea salt, fresh pepper to top.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday: meh


I also discovered that my tomatoes are like twice as large as I thought they were.  I think I'll do some sort of a bruschetta thing with them tomorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday: My kitchen is covered in a fine layer of schmaltz

Since I wimped out of making my roast chicken last night, I had to make it tonight to get back on schedule.  I wanted to see how the "pasture raised" chicken they sell at whole foods would work without brining or any elaborate presentation, since this is supposed to be how chickens are supposed to be (although apparently they still have some detractors).  My recipe was as simple as I could think of:
  • The chicken
  • A few tablespoons of melted butter
  • Half a Meyer lemon/some onion slices, two sprigs of rosemary
Wash and dry the chicken, cram everything inside the empty chicken tummy, and then douse in the butter.  Top with a bit more rosemary and some pepper.  Throw the whole thing in a roasting pan and roast at 375 until the chicken is done (160/165 breast/thigh temperatures).

I added an extra step in the middle by slicing up two potatoes into "fries," tossing with a bit of olive oil (maybe a tablespoon at the very most), then sprinkling some sea salt and pepper.  I put the fries into the pan first, and put the chicken on top.  This caused the bottom to not cook as quickly, so I flipped the chicken once (an hour-ish the first side, 20 minutes-ish the second).

Although it slowed down cooking, the end result was worth the wait.  The potatoes sucked up all the rosemary flavored schmaltz that dripped out of the chicken, turning into tender little  They were a bit too greasy, so next time I might just skip the olive oil step.

Despite the "vegetables cooked with pork counts as pork" rule, I made my veggie side by taking my conveniently preheated cast iron skillet out of the oven, adding a teaspoon of bacon grease from the fridge, and then frying sliced romaine hearts for a minute or two (until browned and half wilted).  I topped with some parmesan.  Very good, and had a nice bacon-y flavor. I'd probably try to get the pan hotter next time, as I think it was just a bit wiltier than I wanted.  A higher temperature should get the fried side done before the other side wilts too much.

Now to plan out leftovers.  I'm thinking that I'll do a pot pie one day, although I'll need to get puff pastry and some suitable veggies to go inside.  I still have lots of the fries, so tomorrow will probably just be a repeat of today.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday: too much pain to roast a chicken

Since I didn't roast a chicken, I cheated and made another salad like yesterday (local lettuce/mushroom/heirloom tomato/salami slices/parmesan).  Pretty much identical ingredients, although I went with roasted garlic on the (way too over-toasted) bread.  I went with a slightly more complicated dressing tonight. I didn't measure anything, so I've just kind of guessed at how much I put in:
  • 1.5 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (halfway through I thought maybe I should have used balsamic, but this added an extra fruity kick that I think helped a lot)
  • 1 tsp tomato paste from a tube
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic, smooshed up with any solid bits removed
  • 1/2 loop slice of red onion, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes to add a spicy kick
  • salt/pepper 

The idea was to use the tomato paste as an emulsifier to get the oil and vinegar to mix up somewhat.  That was reasonably effective, and adding the garlic paste did the same thing.  It probably would have been better to let it sit for a bit to mix, but I was hungry.  It had a nice balance between the sweetness of the tomato paste, the tartness of the vinegar, and the spicy of the pepper flakes on top of a nice base of roasty garlic.

bowling: week holy crap pain

Game 1
x7 0
Game 2
Game 3
7/ 6 

I slept weird, and somehow pulled the entire right side of my chest.  It turns out that when you're right handed, those are the same muscles you use to do pretty much everything involved in bowling.  Because of that, I stopped after three games, in the hope that sitting quietly at home with some aleve will fix everything.  The star in game two denotes a score that the machine miscounted.  I definitely hit two pins, but it only counted one.  Since I don't post the original score photos, it probably isn't a big deal, but it's still annoying.

Because picking up anything heavier than my phone is currently causing me to make involuntary unhappy sounds, I think my roast chicken plan will have to wait another day.  I'll stick together something later when I get hungry.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Chocolate croissant. I got it at the bakery. It was a bit deceptive, as the inside was kind of 80% air. The chocolate stripe didn't exactly fill the entire width, either. Still, a tasty snack.

Saturday: Operation Crusty Bread

Another successful week of getting up and going to the farmer's market. I didn't take any pictures this week, mostly because I simply forgot.  This week was baby romaine ($4.50), two local tomatoes ($3), rosemary ($2.50), and a bag of local mushrooms ($6).  I then picked up a couple heirloom tomatoes at WF (the local heirlooms at the farmer's market were only being sold in bags of six or eight.), as well as a chicken to roast tomorrow for dinner.  I did get tricked by the girl at the deli who got me to buy some salami by offering me a sample and having it be super delicious.  I had planned on getting prosciutto, but salami fills pretty much the same segment of the cured meats world.

When it came time for dinner, I decided that I needed some crusty bread to go with the salad for dinner. I've walked past the bakery near work a number of times, but have never stopped in.  I picked up a nice sourdough loaf, and figure I can use it to make french toast tomorrow morning.

So the salad was basically what I bought today: I shook the romaine and a bit of my never-ending red onion in a quick apple cider vinaigrette, then sliced one of the heirloom tomatoes, one of the baby portabellas, and some of the salami, and then topped with parmesan.  I toasted the crusty bread in the oven while I was making the salad, then topped with softened butter, pepper, a bit of rosemary, and some pink sea salt. Certainly the best idea of the day.

So the updated plan is:

  • Sunday: roast chicken 
  • Monday: leftover roast chicken
  • Tuesday: double leftover roast chicken
  • Wednesday: depending on how big the chicken is, maybe more leftovers
  • Thursday: some sort of seafood. I saw that they do have calamari at WF, so that's the leading contender.
  • Friday: No idea. I'll wing that one.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Did you mean: goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle

I got so involved randomly linking things in the last post that I forgot to mention how stupid it is that pictures uploaded to Google+ can't be used in blogger, despite the fact that I can go to picasa and see them all right next to each other.  Isn't there a way to super-share pictures in Google+ so that other Google Googles can Google them with their Googles?

Ok, so that last sentence made me think of the word Google. That led me to thinking about power laws. That led to:

Yes. Yes it is. A lot of the higher number searches fall into two categories: the worst typo-squatters ever and youtube video comments/forum posts where someone is being a dick about suggesting someone search the internet to answer a question.  My original plan was to stop searching at 100-o's, since that seemed to be the appropriate number. However, since I was still getting O(log10(R)) ~ 2, I figured I would keep going until it reached zero results.  That happened, but it turns out to be a special case. When you have a search that includes a 125-character word, Google assumes you're just fucking with it and refuses to do the search.

Friday: A Brilliant Idea

I came up with this idea a couple days ago, based on a burger I remember having at the BW3 in East Lansing.   Conveniently, I picked up a package of paniolo ground beef at the farmer's market last week:

I had planned on portioning it myself, but I felt lazy, and they'd already packaged it in convenient patty form. Let's look at the cross section:

So the layers are:
  1. Top bun
  2. Two slices of that super lean bacon I got last weekend. It was so lean, that after frying four slices, I had to get more bacon grease from the bowl in the fridge to have enough oil to cook:
  3. Some nicely grilled red onions. I believe the original BW3 sammich had fried onion straws, but I'm not going to bother breading and frying my onions.
  4. Tillamook cheddar as a break
  5. The last of my Fourth of July pulled pork.
  6. The North Shore Cattle Company burger.
  7. Some BBQ sauce
  8. A sorely overmatched bottom bun that really had no chance to survive against the juicy meat.  It was soggy even before I cut the burger in half.
Delicious is an understatement, although there's not really anyway a burger with this much tasty stuff on it could possibly go wrong.  I don't quite believe that this was really 90% lean, since the burger put out way more fat than the bacon. Still, juicy fat is where the flavor monkeys live, so it's not really a big problem.

I'm a bit disappointed that the NSCC people don't have a wider selection of meat available, but I think they sell most of the not-ground beef to restaurants. And now, looking at their webpage to get the link above shows me that I can order what I want from them, and have them bring it with them to the farmer's market for no delivery cost. That's wonderful.

The plan is to hit the farmer's market again tomorrow, possibly getting there a bit earlier to avoid the rush.  They will apparently have mushrooms, so I'll have to think of things to do with those.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday: saladables are hard to find

I thought that I'd be able to pick up some spinach at target this evening (Operation Hand Soap was a complete success). Unfortunately, the saladables section of the grocery section had been picked completely clean by the time I got there.  The only thing left was a terrible looking bag of "caesar salad kit" with the palest lettuce ever.  I had to stop at Foodland to get spinach (and has it always been $5 a bag? WTF?).

Tonight's pulled pork sammich accompaniment was the spinach in a quick honey mustard sauce, with red onion, pecans, and feta.  The dressing was a bit meh, but the rest was good. I'm looking forward to getting more stuff at the farmer's market this weekend. WF is having a sale on cherries tomorrow, but I've learned my lesson about attempting to go there on a friday.  I'd rather pay the extra $6 a pound to avoid the aggravation of trying to find parking.

Wednesday: I still hate detrends. Also: colds

Apparently having a cough for two weeks isn't normal. Even people at work are starting to comment.  I'm beginning to think maybe this isn't a regular cold, and not even the immortal self-replicating franken-cold. If I'm not significantly better by tomorrow, I probably should try out this "urgent care" thing I keep hearing about.

The food front has been boringly the same.  Big salad plus pulled pork sammich (and some chips to add variety).  I did get feta at Safeway, and I think that did help the salad significantly.  It's a different kind of salty compared to the parmesan, and mixes well with the red onion. Unfortunately, I've now consumed my local lettuce and tomatoes.  I've also discovered that my corn has started to mold on the ends where they were cut off by the farmer's market people. So I guess tomorrow will have to have some sort of improvised veggie or something.  I have a pile of blueberries, so I could just eat a bunch of them and claim it's the same thing.

Another thing that seems obvious when you say it, but is always a bit of a surprise: eating a big salad each day with dinner means that I don't get late night hungry cravings. I actually had to struggle to get the pulled pork sammich down, and I was starting from "grumbly tumbly" status.  I guess it turns out that eating more veggies (and not things like cookies and doughnuts) is a healthy thing to do.

I think I'm going to ignore the next two days of my dinner planning (I think tomorrow was supposed to be calamari), and finish off the pulled pork.  It's holding up well, and even though I'll need to find a salad replacement (easy option: more salad stuff, but that requires a weekday trip to the WF), it seems like the best option.  I do have a thought for friday, which some might call "insane" and "a terrible idea," but I think it should work quite well.



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday: No

Dinner was the same as yesterday, so I'm keeping with the plan. Yay! It also seems that I have enough salad stuff for another day, so tomorrow is likely to be the same as well.  The dressing wasn't as good as it was yesterday, most likely due to the proportions being different.  I guess not measuring anything is sometimes not good.

Now to more serious issues: those two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Data pretends to be Sherlock Holmes.  The main concept is that Geordi asks the computer to come up with a Sherlock Holmes puzzle to defeat Data.  The computer then creates a sentient Moriarty to be the villain, and trouble hits the entire ship.

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July part 2

It looks the same as the other salads I've been eating this weekend, but just a quick switch around dramatically changed the flavor. I'd sliced up some red onion for my pulled pork sandwich (not shown, since I already posted a picture of the one I had for lunch. This one was the same, just with red onion and a better toast job), so I put a bit in to the salad with the lettuce.  Then a bit more oil than I've been using and a bit less balsamic. Then a bit of salt, pepper, and some garlic powder.  I then covered the bowl and shook it all up to coat.  This worked much better than my previous attempts, and the garlic powder and onion juice really helped the flavor.  I think if I had some of that umami paste, a tiny drop of that would have worked as well.  I thought about making something similar by frying some crushed garlic and anchovy filets and then mixing in a bit of tomato paste, but that seemed a bit more work than I really wanted to put into it. Once the lettuce, onion, and dressing stuff was done, I sliced up one of the tomatoes from yesterday and then added sea salt and parmesan.  I think I might try to get some feta cheese tomorrow, since I think that might work a bit better with the onion than the parmesan.

Also: pulled pork sammich. Om nom nom nom nom.

So I think the menu plan for this week is going to be:

  • Tuesday: Same thing as today, probably.
  • Wednesday: I'm going to be out of salad stuff by then, so more like today's lunch, I think.
  • Thursday: I'll be tired of pulled pork by then, so I'll probably freeze any leftovers, and so I'll have to come up with something else. Maybe I'll try to find that calamari hood and do a seafood night?
  • Friday: No clue.  I'm just going to wing this one, I think.
  • Saturday: Whatever tasty stuff I get at the farmer's market, plus roast chicken from WF
  • Sunday: Leftover roast chicken after bowling.
  • Monday: Double leftover chicken in sammich form.
Let's see how well I can stick with the plan this week.

4th of July

I made my regular pulled pork again this year. WF only sells small sliced pork butts, so instead of the regular 5-6 pound full butt I'd get in Michigan, I ended up with a 2-3 inch thick, 1.7 pound cut. Since I'm only cooking it for me, and don't really need to have the extra pounds, I guess. It didn't have the thick layer of fatty skin either, so I was somewhat concerned about how it'd turn out.  

I put on the rub last night, and had it in the oven around 11:30. I let it cook overnight at 195, and then when I woke up this morning around 8ish, I cranked it all the way up to 210. I figured it was certainly done by the time I was ready for lunch at 12:30.  It shredded nicely with just a quick squeeze of my tongs, and I added a couple splashes of the barbeque sauces in my fridge. I clearly over-toasted the bun, but it wasn't a big deal.  I bought a jar of lilikoi/pepper jam at the farmer's market just for the pulled pork sandwiches, but didn't want to put it directly on, so I put it in a dish for dipping.  It was a nice addition, as the sweetness counters the salty pork, and it has a different kind of pepper spice than the rub.

I threw one of the cobs of corn I also got on Saturday in the oven for the last hour or two, after giving it a quick wash.  I probably should have soaked it longer, since the husk was almost paper dry when I pulled it out.  Having it be local has an obvious difference, since the sugars haven't had a chance to turn into starches.  I'm tempted to roast another one, and just call that dessert.

Pulled pork (largely based on Alton Brown's recipe)

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp regular paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • ~1 tbs kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
I don't bother brining, as when I did that in the past, it came out way too salty.  After coating with the rub (I didn't use all of it for this small of a butt), I wrap it in 5-10 layers of foil, and then put it in a baking dish in the oven. I'd probably smoke it if I could, but without the proper apparatus (and due to living in an apartment), the oven is the next best thing.  I set the oven low (~200ish), and let it go for 10-18 hours.  Once it's done, unwrap, pull it apart and remove any chunky fatty bits, and then add a bit of bbq sauce.  I've made my own in the past, but my usual strategy is to mix open pit and cattleman's in equal amounts. OP doesn't exist here in Hawaii, so I've been using Stubb's, which has a similar flavor profile.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday: Sometimes I forget I'm a grownup

I was about to make a salad for dinner, when I remembered that I had no more regular tomatoes.  I considered it a bit more, and thought that maybe I could chop up some sundried tomatoes instead.  I then discovered I was out of those as well.  My next realization was that I had bacon, so I could make a BL...


WF was not my first choice for last minute tomatoes, but the other grocery that sells local produce had terrible stuff. Also, when you reach over to test a tomato, you don't want to see a cloud of bugs take flight.  That's when you mumble loudly about "shitty produce," wing the basket back into the pile, and leave without buying anything.

I decided upon returning home to do both of my dinner ideas together:

The salad is basically the same as I made yesterday, just without the prosciutto (since it's gone now). The BLT turned into a BLTTC, since I added a bit of turkey and cheddar to the mix.  The bacon was also remarkably lean, so much so that after frying up the two slices for the sandwich, I didn't have enough grease in the pan to pour out into my bacon grease bowl. I guess that makes it healthier, huh?

bowling: week four

Game 1
x8 / 
Game 2
Game 3
Game 4

First month statistics: = 124.6 +/- 14.22. min/max = 102/149
By week:
  1. 127.75 +/- 9.21, 121/141
  2. 120.33 +/- 20.84, 102/143
  3. 124.50 +/- 16.78, 111/149
  4. 124.75 +/- 16.00, 107/145
By game:
  1. 130.25 +/- 16.52, 111/145
  2. 118.5 +/- 2.08, 116 / 121
  3. 121.25 +/- 21.42, 102/149
  4. 129.67 +/- 10.60, 120/141
P-value of unimodal distribution: 0.093. Proposed bimodal groupings: 73.5%: 117.4+/-7.7, 26.4%: 144.5+/-2.9.

So, from this, we can conclude that I pretty much always suck up game two of the sets, and that I always seem to get one good game in 140s each week, and then the other three games that week will be in the high 110s.  The good game doesn't seem to always fall in game one, so it can't just be that I'm refreshed when I arrive, and then tire out.  We'll see if this continues in the second month of bowling.

hand soap

Things I went to Target randomly to buy:

  • hand soap
  • bath soap
  • lightbulb for bathroom
Things I actually bought at Target:
  • bath soap
  • lightbulb for bathroom
  • new brita pitcher
  • new t-shirt
  • doughnuts
  • tiny cans of sierra mist

I really need to start making lists, and attempting to stick to them.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday: farmer's market

I finally got up early enough on a Saturday to head to the KCC farmer's market, with only moderate prompting via the internet.  It's a nice big market, although it doesn't really have a good flow, so it kind of gets jammed up with all the strollers and dogs (despite the no pets allowed signs).  There are a lot of tents selling prepared food, which tends to hurt the flow as well.  Food doesn't magically make itself, so there are lots of people queuing up to order and get what they ordered. They don't seem to bother to get out of the way of other people though.  I think this is a good reason for me to try to wake up earlier.  Another reason would be to get lilikoi from the lilikoi girl. She was sold out by the time I got there.

My eventual purchases were: corn on the cob ($2.50 /6. all corn is sold with the ends cut off here. I don't like that.), baby romaine ($4.50/2 heads), Oahu grown ground beef ($6.50/lb), passion fruit hot pepper jam ($8/jar), and Meyer lemons ($1.50/2). I plan on eating the corn with the pulled pork I'm going to make tomorrow.  The jam is for the pork as well, as I wanted a sweet and spicy jam to put on the sandwiches.  I was hoping the Oahu beef would be in cuts, but ground beef is good as well.  I will admit that I bought the lemons solely so I could ask about the lilikoi.  I have no plan for them at all.

The romaine looked amazing, so I used it to make a big salad for dinner.  I'm not sure it comes through in the photo, but this lettuce goes from normal lettuce green at the root end to nearly christmas tree dark green at the tips. I had a local tomato in the fridge from last weekend (it's a whole foods tomato. I probably should have picked up some market tomatoes too, but I didn't like the handful I saw today.), so I sliced that up as well.  I topped it with a quick drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a quicker drizzle of olive oil, then added some fresh pepper and some sea salt to bring out the tomato flavor a bit more.  Finally was the Parmesan, and what was basically a chiffonade of prosciutto to add some balance.

I think next time, I might skip the prosciutto, and add something else instead.  The thought I just had was that a bit of quickly pan fried calamari hood might be a good addition. I assume that's easy to find around here somewhere.

friday: frozen pizza

I didn't take a picture. You can probably imagine what it looks like. Pizza, that was once parbaked and then frozen, and then baked once more to completion. It seemed a reasonably fast way to put a dinner together with a minimum of effort.  For some reason, nothing's really tasted good today. I don't know if it's just a side-effect of this cursed cold or what.  I kind of hope something strikes me tomorrow at either WF or the farmer's market (if I can get up for it) that makes me really want to cook something delicious.

I'm kind of meh about the fact that there's a long weekend this week.  I've been planning a big Star Wars marathon, but that kind of feels meh too. I'm definitely bowling on Sunday, because I'm pretty sure that's the only thing keeping me sane now-a-days.  I keep seeing that lighthouse on the way back from Waimanalo, so maybe I'll go there and do the mile-ish hike.  Woo, exercise. :-|

I am planning on doing pulled pork for the fourth, so I'll have to pick a pork butt up tomorrow. That will by default include the disappointment I feel every time I buy pork butt, since Hawaii can't seem to be bothered to sell a whole pork butt, but only ones that have been sliced.  Pork. Butt.