ru: (food)
The verdict on the cheese:

It's DEFINITELY cheese, so that's at least a starting place! The texture seems like it works, but the taste is...not quite mozzarella. It's extremely mild, and I realized after a few nibbles that it tasted amazingly like Babybel cheese.

I'm not entirely sure what to do to make it more mozzarella-tasting. I'm thinking a fattier milk, definitely, like 2% or whole. I think adding more salt will help too. I used a coarse sea salt, and using a finer sea salt might up the salt content. I also think I need to give the cheese one more drain before sprinkling the salt on and beginning the stretching.

Hopefully next week I'll be able to initiate cheese mark II. <3
ru: (food)
So. I made cheese. I think.

Thanks to a certain Sage, I was pointed in the direction of a website on how to make mozzarella. Now, I am a bona fide cheese lover, and mozzarella is my favorite. I quickly realized that at least ATTEMPTING this recipe was in my near future.

First was gathering all the things. I needed a proper pot, which required going to the local not-quite-kitcshy-but-kinda-is housewares store, where they had oodles of graniteware (including a 32qt pot!), and I was able to find a suitable nonreactive pot. Also tricksy was finding a candy thermometer (really harder than it should have been. I should have just gone to the grocery store in the first place instead of running all over the place) and rennet. I found Junket rennet tablets at the local Whole Foods, and only after consulting the recipe again did I realize that it's actually subprime for making cheese. However, that can be compensated by adding 1-2 tablets (I added 2 in the end, just to be safe).

And after getting some citric acid and a GALLON of milk, I was ready to make me some cheese!

Cut! )
ru: (Default)
I'm probably going to regret it in my thighs tomorrow, but for now I'm going to be AWFULLY proud of myself. A couple weeks ago I attended the local arboretum's annual plant giveaway. This event is an exercise in controlled chaos--a mass of plant lovers and a mess of plants, all essentially free, minus what you pay in arboretum membership of course. They've got it to the point where it's fairly well controlled, but it's still a frantic sight to behold.

In the end I came out with ten happy fun plants, including something called a bronze loquat, which I think produces fruit after a fashion, some new butterfly bushes, an unusual lavender, an elderberry (not sure if it's edible or not, though.), and some Cotoneasters, which supposedly produce red berries and will hopefully attract the waxwings we supposedly have in the area. And today, with the exception of the lavender, which I planted last week, I got them all in the ground, with a little help from Dad to dig the big holes, and a lot of non-help from Arnold, digging dachshund extraordinaire, who was more apt to get in the way of my trowel, attempt to garrote the plant I had just planted with his rope, or, in his enthusiasm for dirt, dig in the pile of dirt next to the freshly excavated hole, dumping it back in in the process. I also managed to plant some tulip bulbs, including some nearly black Queen of Nights. I'm hoping they'll do well in the spring. <3

On a different note, the cooking bug is starting to gnaw on me again. I got some new cookbooks with some really interesting recipes that I want to try, including some ice cream recipes that look like they don't need an ice cream maker. There's also some neat looking desserts and breads I want to try my hand at (including naan bread and pita bread. Mmmm). I just need to get the time and ingredients. I'm not sure I'll have the time this week, though, as the upcoming week is going to be hectic and insane. But we'll see, I guess. <3

I'm also getting the urge to work on soapy goodness again. I still really want to work on the Gesma soap idea, and I learned of a couple new ideas for soapmaking that I want to give a try, thanks to things like this blog. Oh, so many things so many things.

Darn it, somebody invent that 36 hour day already!
ru: (book and flower)
Okay, I've got a serious jones to make some cupcakes. Luckily, there's a family get together coming up, which will give me the opportunity to finally try out a recipe from this list. The question, of course, is what to choose.

While I would love to try making one of the chocolate recipes, we've already got two chocolate desserts in the making, so I should probably try to go for something that doesn't have chocolate in it. I've narrowed it down to the orange cupcakes, the cider cupcakes with marshmallow frosting, the snickerdoodle cupcakes, or the margarita cupcakes. The margarita cupcakes require coconut flour, which may be a challenge to get, unless our local Whole Foods Market happens to have some. I think the others would be fairly simple to get the ingredients for.

Of course the hard part is picking one. Any particular opinions? I'll probably post the results here, so if there's a particular cupcake you're interested in hearing the results of, lemme know!
ru: (Default)
I'm partially posting this as a reminder to myself, and partially because I have to share.

Top 20 Unique Cupcake Finds of 2010

I don't know that I would call them the top 20, particularly since we're not quite halfway through the year, but DAMN I want to try just about all of these. The cherry Coke cupcakes, the cider cupcakes, and the margarita cupcakes look especially intriguing. I think trying them will have to be spread out pretty widely, though, else I turn into the Goodru Blimp.

In other news, I have a drop spindle now! I'm excited about this, as I've been interested in learning how to spin, but I didn't want to invest in a wheel, at least not right now. Not to mention there'd be no room for one. This promises to be hilarious, frustrating, satisfying, or all of the above. The instructions look pretty simple, but there's NO way it's as easy as it looks, I just know it. But I also have some silk roving that I'd looove to get spun into yarn. I figure I'll need to start with some wool roving first, though.

On the gardening front, stuff continues to grow! I'm very pleased with just about everything (and was pleasantly surprised to discover that a passionflower I had planted last year is still hanging on, and even thriving despite being bullied by some wild honeysuckle), although I'm starting to think the cucumbers I planted are Mongol cucumbers. They're trying VERY hard to take down all the other vegetables, particularly the corn and the tomatoes. I may need to teach them some manners if they don't behave. Alternatively, I think maybe next year we should consider a box just for Cucurbits, so I can plant pumpkins and cucumbers, and let them have epic battles for supremacy on their own without molesting the other plants.

The herb box, however, is thriving. I'm thinking at some point I need to make sauce and use some of the herbs, particularly the oregano. Actually, I could make it thesis sauce! i.e. Sauce that is monumental in the time it takes to make, but allows for time for other things, like working on the thesis. Hmm, I'm liking this idea!

On the RP front, Sushi and I have been poking at the idea of resurrecting Cosmic Windjammers. It wriggled its way into my heart, and I'd really love to see it reopen. If anyone's interested, I've started a brainstorming doc here. I've compiled a fair bit of things that were present before, but I'm also trying to add some new things in as well. If anyone has any suggestions, do toss them my way! <3

Pie! Mk II

Jul. 4th, 2009 10:44 am
ru: (food)
Since we're having people over for dinner, I decided to try making schadenfreude pie again, with modifications.

1.) Bigger pie crust. That seems to help with the whole "what the heck am I going to do with this extra batter?" factor.

2.) Modified baking scheme. I reduced the temp to 350, and watched it like a hawk. Right around the 20 minute mark Mum suggested we employ a technique we use for fruit pies, where we cover the edge with tin foil to prevent it from burning. It seems to have helped, as the edge doesn't look burnt this time, and the pie looks like it's more evenly cooked. It kinda has a nice brownie look to it now. About the only disadvantage of this technique is that the foil got into the pie batter, and took a bit of the pie with it when we removed it, but it doesn't look too bad.

3.) Less kahula. I think it was way too strong last time, and masked the chocolatey taste instead of amplifying it, the way coffee usually does.

4.) And following [livejournal.com profile] she_who_is_soc's lead, I threw some chocolate chips into the batter after it was poured, for an extra delicious chocolatey kick.

I also realized that the recipe calls for only half a cup of chocolate chips. Apparently I wasn't paying attention, as both this time and last time I used a whole bag's worth. Oh well. Not that I'm complaining a whole lot. XD

Hee hee hee. PIE! :D

Pie Update

Jun. 27th, 2009 09:41 pm
ru: (food)
OKAY. I had a slice of the pie after it had chilled nice and proper (I tried having some last night, but apparently got too impatient and tried to eat it when it was still kinda liquidy), and oh my god you guys. It's like a chess pie that's being brought up on allegations for steroid use. It is HOLY COW RICH. What really makes it soar is a scoop of cool whip on top, which tempers the intensity of the flavor down to a manageable level and turns it into ooey gooey deliciousness. I do wonder, however, what it would be like with other liquors, though. Like creme de menthe. I wonder how that would hold up against the molasses. Hmmm.

I think the baking time needs to be fooled with, though, as it appears the edges started to burn before the timer dinged. So I'm thinking it needs to be baked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. It also makes more batter than a standard pie crust can hold. When I do this again, I'm going to try using a larger pie crust. It means I'll have to use a plain graham cracker crust, but I think it can stand up to it.
ru: (food)
After the fiasco in SC, what with governors skipping off without leaving somebody in charge and saying they went hiking, only to reveal they were actually having an affair with women in Argentine, I realized this would be a really good week to try making schadenfreude pie. It's baking as we speak, and all I gotta say is that it smells REALLY good. It also produces a ton of batter, too. There was so much after pouring the pie that we're also making schadenfreude cupcakes. XD It promises to be delicious!
ru: (Default)
Mmmm, I like today. Today I got stuff DONE.

My funding proposal is IN. Good gods I'm glad that thing is out of here. One less thing.

I made SAUCE. It was delicious and full of herby and tomatoey goodness.

I also planted SEEDS! I'm trying something my grandmother apparently does, which is start them inside in egg cartons. They certainly have handy partitions. I suspect I'm going to need to transfer them at least once before I put them outside, though. There isn't much room in the egg cups.

But I'm planning to plant some lovely things this year! Multiple types of tomatoes, onions, sage, pumpkins, watermelons (one which isn't striped but SPOTTED. It looks so cute), green beans, and poppy seeds. I hope they work well! I'd love to get some decent produce this year. I'll also need to keep a better eye on the pumpkins, I think. Last time they tried to take over the whole yard. They were MUTANT vines.

I'm so looking forward to planting season. <3
ru: (EEEEK)
Aaaagh agh agh agh. This week beat me black and blue. I have a funding proposal due Sunday at 5PM, which will require me to go down to school and spend a good couple of hours banging my head against the herbarium computer trying to make a statistical program work and not commit technicide. I'm tired and discouraged and will be spending most of spring break just trying to catch up on things.

You know what? This weekend really needs it. When I'm at home this weekend, I will be MAKING SAUCE, DAMNIT. XD
ru: (strange)
I now officially am certified to get liquid nitrogen from the Microscopy Center's stores. This is both cool (ha) and a little scary. After all, it is insanely cold liquid that could give you frostbite if it splashes on you. Or it could freeze you solid if you happen to be standing behind a ton of canisters when they rupture, if you believe Golden Eye. That still wigs me out a little. XD

I would love to be able to use it to make nano ice cream, either way. Nano ice cream is ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. It quick-freezes the ice cream, so the resulting ice crystals that form are extremely small. I bet it's uber-creamy. <3

I tried collard coleslaw today--basically coleslaw with collard strips in it. It would have been deliciously tasty if it wasn't practically SWIMMING in mayonnaise. Ah well. I wonder if I could try making some on my own. Hmmm...

Oh yeah, and also.

DOCTOR WHO TONIGHT! SEASON FINALE! OH EM GEEEEEEEEE!

I have been waiting for this all damn week. It's gonna air less than an hour from now! So excited! I think in some sort of celebratory fashion, my brain has been off-and-on playing Doctorin' the TARDIS in my head. It has got me STOKED.

DOCTOR WHOOOOOOO (YEAH!) DOCTOR WHO DOCTOR WHOOOOOOOO (YEAH!) THE TARDIS! <3 <3 <3
ru: (Default)
I am making The Sauce.

Being a member of the family who cooks, my dad declared that it is therefore my sacred task to learn how to make my grandmother's spaghetti sauce. Although I think the 'sacred task' part is just an excuse for me to learn so he can ask me to make it once in a while. I figured I'd humor him this weekend, being that it was Father's Day and all. ^_^; It's somewhat legendary in our family, particularly since my grandmother only really makes it around Christmastime.

Mind you, this is not your average sauce recipe. It's the kind of sauce that takes not one, but *two* days to make, with the cook typically needing to hang in the vicinity of the kitchen all day to keep watch over it. It's the kind of sauce an Italian housewife might make, particularly since it's a very Italian recipe. See, my family lived for eons on the Italian side of New Hartford/Utica, NY, not really migrating south until I was about 4. The population percentage of the area can break down to basically: 49% Italian, 49% Polish, 2% Everything Else. We happened to fall into the Everything Else category, but being on the Italian side, we were very heavily influenced. Heck, my mother still occasionally swears in Italian, something which I've picked up in recent years. ^_^;

In any case, I suspect, therefore, that my grandmother got the recipe from an Italian friend or something. Either way, making it makes me feel like I should be shaking my wooden spoon and yelling at the kids to get down off that smokestack and come and eat their The Chekt.

A couple of things I have learned whilst making The Sauce:
--Damn that stuff's red. It also makes massive quantities. We halved the recipe, and it's still enough that we'll have enough for later in the week.
--Sauce retains a ton of heat. Seriously, you get the temperature anywhere towards 'medium', and soon you've become the caretaker of a pot of genuine lava, complete with bubbles that pop and spray scalding sauce everywhere--on the walls, on the stove, on the spices, on YOU. It got my arm at one point, though it didn't really even burn me. Still, I yelped in surprise and alarm enough to cause Arnold to come running, certain that Hottentots were coming out of the stove to kill us all. Apparently the best way to alleviate the bubbling is stirring it almost constantly. Thankfully, once it gets rocking and rolling, you can reduce the temperature to simmer, therefore avoiding Bubbles of Doom.
--The recipe itself is surprisingly simple; it calls for only a few ingredients. It does, however, call for a ton of spices. I'm thinking about maybe adding a can of chopped tomoatoes next time, because I love tomato chunks in sauce, but Dad has hinted that I will be Upsetting the Fabric of the Universe if I screw with the recipe. ^_^;;
--It does, however, smell way good whilst cooking.
--Apparently, if I burn the sauce, that'll be enough reason to sacrifice me to the Culinary Gods. Or at least a couple of toes.

And also for my own benefit, things to do today aside from watch the sauce:

--Update on Avobaby
--Email my aunt
--Email that other person
--Water the Horde
--Take care of other housey things

--Maybe find some time to knit
ru: (strange)
I made vegetable soup today. It was tasty, with all sorts of yummy things like pasta and beans and potatoes and mushrooms and leeks and whatnot. I have decided, however, that making it is a two-person job. It involves a *lot* of peeling and chopping. Luckily, however, I managed to accomplish it all without losing any digits. I also learned that rutabegas are very hard to chop. Peeling them's fine, but damn it's hard to get a knife into them. They're incredibly dense.

Rutabegas are interesting, taste-wise. My parents think they taste like a cross between a carrot and a squash. I think they have more of a broccoli-like flavor.

Also, note to self: JULY 6. 8PM. SCI-FI CHANNEL. DOCTOR WHO. THIRD SEASON. SQUEEEEEE.
ru: (love)
I would just like to say that I had an awesome afternoon yesterday. It involved spending it with [livejournal.com profile] aneles, whom I haven't seen in months, during which we were catching up on things, drinking tea and eating cookies, exchanging presents (I now have a pomegranate bonsai kit that I'm just itching to try), and baking sushi cookies--as in, cookies colored and shaped to look like sushi, not cookies with rice and raw fish. We had a fair amount of colored dough left afterwards, though, so we mixed up some other colors and also made other randomly colored cookies, such as polka dot ones and earth ones and face ones and marbleized ones and other sorts of interesting and unusual cookies. I had an absolute blast, and was really happy to get a chance to see her during winter break. Love. <3 <3 <3 <3

And today, Mom baked half moon cookies, and they are glorious in their deliciousness. You should all be JEALOUS. JEALOUS, I say!
ru: (love)
Considering how it was actually almost warm out today, I decided to take the plunge and put Avobaby into a bigger pot. It's not much bigger than the previous one, but it has a bit more space. I think it was a good idea to do it now--I was somewhat surprised to discover when I got it out of the previous pot that it was actually starting to get a little potbound. So, I tried to tease the roots out a bit before it went into the new pot. I dunno how much help it was, but hopefully it'll realize that it has more space and extend out a bit. I also hope it's not going to be mad and sulky at me for pulling out of its previous pot and into a new one.

I have to admit, I was rather anxious while extracting Avobaby--it did NOT want to come out. I eventually had to fish a spatula that had been trashed due to it being no longer food-worthy out of the garbage and use that to loosen it out. I was terrified that it would snap in two, at which point I would be a very sad Ru. I'm very glad, therefore, that that did not happen.

Speaking of spatulas and food, the Great Bake Off ended today. Mom managed to get by with using the garage as an auxillary fridge by keeping the door closed and keeping as much coldness from the previous night in it. That seemed to work pretty well. The final inventory of things made was: truffles (4 kinds--peppermint, mocha, orange, and Crown Royal whiskey), chocolate peanut butter balls, cookies (M&M, chocolate chip, and oatmeal), chocolate nutty bars, haystacks (which are fairly simple conocotions of chow mein noodles and peanuts coated in a chocolate/butterscotch mix--trust me, they're tasty. She also made a version that uses white chocolate and cheerios), false toffee, peanut butter fudge, chocolate-almond fudge, and three kinds of bark--chocolate-almond, chocolate-peppermint, and cranberry-white chocolate. Needless to say, the kitchen and both of us were all covered in chocolate by the end of it. Thank goodness most of it is going to other people, as I think we'd all be Violet Beauregarde-shaped by the end of the holidays otherwise. XD
ru: (Default)
I think Avobaby is having some inner emotional turmoil, or perhaps it's simply longing for warmer days. Either way, I think Avobaby has decided it wants to be a palm tree.

See for yourself )

In related news, the fact that it's been so warm lately has my mother a bit distraught. See, one weekend a couple of weeks before Christmas, she gets the urge to cover everything in chocolate. It's at this point that the annual Great Bake-Off occurs, where (with me generally in tow) she makes trays and trays of sweet things, from truffles (of various flavors) to haystacks to cookies to chocolate nutty bars to anything else she can think of. The majority of these things are given to coworkers, friends, neighbors, etc as gifts, while some are used as dessert-type things on Christmas Eve/Day.

The problem, however, is that the amount of things made is so immense that it makes fitting all the things that need chilling into the fridge a near-impossible challenge. So, normally, she utilizes the cold weather to turn the garage into an auxillary fridge. However, with 75-degree temperature, the garage isn't exactly frosty. This is going to pose a problem. Methinks a massive fridge clean-out effort is on the horizon.
ru: (Default)
So, we've all been abuzz on the news and in the stores, seeing as the Hurricanes have won the Stanley Cup. It's certainly nice and all, particularly since I believe this is the state's first major league award. I don't generally follow sports, but I can appreciate the significance of this accomplishment. I think it was a bit of a surprise to some people, seeing as this is a state that isn't particularly connected with winter sports. The snow thing happens only sporadically around these parts.

It's been fun hearing all the news reports about people celebrating and whatnot, in any case. I think I enjoy it for the same reason I enjoyed listening/seeing the joyous chaos that gripped my uni every time we won something big. Apparently the Canes' fanbase is pretty good, and loyal to their team. I heard one story about how when the Canes won the Cup, a not insignificant number of bars observed their places of business completely empty out as the fans took to the streets to celebrate.

What I find particularly interesting, though, is that the Canes won the Cup yesterday, and today there was already merchandise and cardboard displays in the stores shouting the fact that we've got us a giant award. That means either the stores were betting on that we would win, or somebody spent an all nighter at the print shop. XD

In other news, I've started playing FF8 again. <3 that game so much. Chocobo World holds my attention with more glee than it should.

In other other news, I'm getting the itch to do some more cooking experimentation. I picked up a vegetarian cookbook at the local used bookstore a few weeks ago, and there's some tasty looking things in there I want to try, like mixed root veggies with orange sauce, and stuffed mushrooms, and curry, and all that good stuff. <3
ru: (Default)
So I ventured forth and baked a pie today. A key lime pie, to be exact. Things I've learned during this little culinary escapade are that I need more practice separating eggs, that making lime zest is hard work, and that juicing limes is even harder. Thank goodness I didn't go with my original plan to use actual key limes. I'd be ripping my hair out by the end. Furthermore, the recipe said that you could get a half a cup of juice out of four limes, but I came up short. I guess if I decide to try this recipe again, I'll use five limes. It's finished, topped with cool whip, and is chilling in the fridge now, and I'm wondering how it's going to turn out. I used a bit more zest than the recipe called for to try and compensate for the juice shortage, so I don't know how that affected the texture. Perhaps my dad (a key lime pie lover) can give me more feedback when he tries it.

If this recipe doesn't work, I'll go looking for another. I'd like to find a good key lime pie recipe to experiment with. I got a wild idea the other day to try making a key lime pie with a dark chocolate layer. I have no idea if it'll work or not, but I think it could be tasty. I had a key lime truffle the other day that was totally delicious, so I've been wondering if it would be possible to replicate the effect in full pie form. Either way though, I'm very proud of the fact that I managed to make the pie all by myself, from start to finish without any help, save for second opinions from Mum about whether or not the pie was ready to come out of the oven. And my hands now really smell of limes.

I also made a pitcher of iced tea and got some more books, so I've been a busy Ru today. ^_^

On the subject of books, I'm debating whether or not to try doing the 50 book challenge or not. It might be a little late to try, seeing as mid-year is coming upon us, and I dunno if I could get 50 books read by the end of the year. Or maybe it's just reading 50 books over a one-year period. Either way, I'm debating whether to try it or not. I have more time for reading now, and I have a huge backlog of books waiting to be read, so maybe that would help motivate me even more to read. I guess I'll have to ponder that.
ru: (Default)
So apparently, if you take a soft flour taco tortilla, melt motzarella cheese on top of it, and then add sliced hard-boiled egg, avocado, and tomato, then wrap it all up, you get something rather tasty. I'm pleasantly surprised at this turn of events, as I wasn't really expecting it to turn out. I think this recipe needs to be worked on, though. I was considering adding rice, or maybe some tuna to it. I also think it needs a crunch of some sort. Raw carrots, maybe? Hmm.

I've decided that avocados have definitely grown on me, though. They are tasty sandwich additives, and I think I'm getting better about picking and dissecting them, so I don't get avocado mush all over my hands. I just need to be careful tho, since they are slightly fatty and all, that I don't go eating, say, one a day, or something like that. Still though. Mmmm, tasty dinner. <3 <3

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