Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ana to dinner

Ana came to my house after work yesterday to help me figure out nålbinding. I might have jury duty in a couple of months (I'm hoping to get out of it as the summons was addressed to Violet D. Blood, who no longer exists, but they might insist), and knitting needles and crochet hooks are banned. Nålbinding uses a short, very dull needle, so seems like it should be allowed. I've tried for years to figure it out, though, and have never managed. We looked at many websites, and the brochure I bought five years ago, but we failed. We liked this video, though, and thought the young man was most charming.

We had a good dinner, at least. There was salad of roasted beet with onions and nectarines cooked on my stripey pan,
beet and nectarine salad

soba with microgreens (I couldn't find radish sprouts anywhere) and wakame;

and stripey-pan-cooked tofu and pickles.
soba dinner

Maybe if I really devote myself to it, after I finish the hat I'm knitting, I'll figure out how to nålbind--I have till 22 September.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008



Here are the dishrags I've made lately--I think after a couple more I'd better stop, as I only have a couple of people to give them to. The one made with Peaches & Cream is so soft, though, that it would probably be a nice human washrag. Almost everyone uses washrags, so maybe I'll start branching out with Peaches & Cream.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

corny noodles

Yesterday I went to Annie's house to fix dinner for Rachael and Tom Stratman, and I decided to make this nice, summery noodle dish. Unfortunately the garlic smell nauseated Tom, so Rachael, Dakki and I had to eat it all ourselves. I'd made some Rote Grütz for pud, which he liked better.

Corn and Tomato Noodles

8oz pappardelle or other wide noodles
2T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 spring onion, sliced, the white separated from the green
2 ears of corn, cut from the cob, or a small bag of frozen corn
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
salt, pepper
a bunch of compatible herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, mint, marjoram...), stemmed and coarsely chopped

Make the sauce while your waiting for the noodle water to come to the boil. First, fry the garlic and the white of the onion in a big frying pan till the onion's getting translucent, then turn the heat up to medium-high and add the corn, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then turn off the heat and add the herbs and the green from the onion. When the noodles are done, drain them and stir them into the sauce.

Monday, July 28, 2008


There are two neighbor kitties just down the hall from me--this one's name is Sunny (Sonny? I'm not sure, as I've never seen it written out). When I first met him he had a lion cut--I'd never seen this before so assumed he'd had it done for medical reasons (mange or something), but later found out it was all for fashion. His fur's grown back now, and he's much cuter. He's a friendly guy, and always runs up to me and rolls around to be petted. When I showed this picture to Rachael she said "Oh, he must be gay! I can tell by his eyes!" I don't know what gay kitties look like, but Rachael's gaydar must be more fine-tuned than mine.

My other neighbor is an aloof scaredy-cat: I don't even know his name! After knowing me for nine months he finally sat still long enough for me to take his picture, but he's never let me pet him.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

cherry bread

There were some nice cherries at the farmer's market for only $2/lb, so I bought some to make this bread:

Cherry Focaccia

150g flour
75g water
tiny pinch of yeast

Knead everything together--it'll be stiff--and let rest in a covered bowl for 12-24 hours.

450g flour
350ml water
50ml walnut oil
1t salt
1T sugar
1t salt

Break the biga into several pieces, then mix it with the remaining dough ingredients. It should be a pretty wet dough. Give it a 20-second knead every 10-20 minutes, for a total of 4 kneads. Let rise till doubled, then deflate and move to fridge till you're ready to shape the loaf.

400g cherries, pitted
1-2T walnut oil
1T lemon zest
Big pinch coarse salt

Heat oven with baking stone to 425ºF. Stretch dough out on a piece of parchment paper into a big rectangle, maybe 11"x15". Arrange the cherries over the dough, then artfully scatter the rosemary leaves and lemon zest strips inbetween. Sprinkle with salt, drizzle with oil, and lest rise for 20 minutes or so while the oven heats. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


tsukemono pot
A couple of days ago, I was inspired by an article in the Los Angeles Times to go to Uwajimaya's and get a Japanese pickle-pressing pot. Its instructions are all in Japanese, and it looks like it has several recipes for things like eggplant pickles--I'll have to try to get Rachael to translate it for me. It seems pretty easy to work--just snap the lid on and tighten the big screw--but there might be important subtleties explicated in the directions.

I made radish pickles from a recipe in the LA Times article, and super-quick cabbage-cucumber pickles from Washoku. The radish pickles are really good (and pretty!), and seem like they'll keep for a while. The cucumber-cabbage pickle was good too, though less exciting. I'll finish it off in my work lunch tomorrow. Here's how I ate them for dinner:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

peach jam

Peaches were $1 a pound at Safeway, so on Tuesday I bought some (1.6kg!) for jam. I decided to make Honey Lavender Peach from Mes Confitures, using some nice French lavender from the yard. One trouble with recipes from that book is that they often take a couple of days: you get everything cut up and mixed and brought to a boil, then transfer it to a bowl and refrigerate overnight (covered with a parchment disk, but I don't ever bother with that!). The next day you put it all back in the pan and boil it till it's jam, then bottle it. I guess that's only a trouble if you're really eager for jam for your toast, and I have plenty of jam so shouldn't complain.

peach jam
A more serious problem is that the recipes often don't set--maybe French peaches have more pectin than American ones? Anyway, I cooked this till it was 222ºF, and it ended up pretty syrupy. I decided not to reboil it like I did my cherry jam, and last night I had a nice peanut butter and peach syrup sandwich.

Monday, July 21, 2008

pea vines

Yesterday I finally cooked the pea vines I'd bought from the Hmong lady a whole week before. They still seemed nice and fresh after all that time, with only a couple of wilted leaves to pick off. I just fried them with some garlic, salt, pepper, and chile flakes, added a little water when they got brightly-colored and limpish, and let them steam for a little bit. That, along with some brown rice with Trader Joe's Soycutash, gave me a couple of days of work lunches.

Friday, July 18, 2008

nectarine tofu

nectarine tofu

There were good nectarines at Safeway on sale for $1.50 a pound, so I bought a few and used a big one to make three day's worth of work lunches. Besides the nectarine and tofu, there's tomato, a young Walla Walla Sweet from the cute Hmong lady on Sunday, some fancy endive-like stuff, and lime juice and apricot jam. I'd intended to eat it with quinoa, but didn't have enough to put in your eye so made brown rice instead.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

jam tart

I made this tart yesterday, following this recipe. I used half vanilla apricot jam and half French apricot (flavored with apricot kernels), and added some minced rosemary to the crust. I didn't have any turbinado or demerara sugar, so substituted praline crumbs left over from my Xmas baking. Unfortunately, I ignored the recipe's advice to use my nose to determine doneness--I set the timer for half an hour, then got engrossed in my knitting. I noticed smells, but decided that it couldn't possibly be ready before the timer went off: then I realized that I'd forgotten to hit 'start,' and it had been baking who-knows-how-long and was well on the way to being burnt.

I had to eat it all by myself, as Annie was at work and Rachael had to do homework, so I was pleased to find that the dark brown crust tasted fine.

Monday, July 14, 2008

aunties to dinner

I had my aunties Pauline and Dakki to my house for dinner for the first time yesterday, along with Annie. Again, it was very hot (only up to 86 instead of the mid-nineties, but still!), so I planned a dinner of mainly room-temp food.

I got up at 4:30 to make my Cocodrillo (crocodile bread) so that the heat of the oven would have plenty of time to dissipate.

Then I made beet and eggplant salads (Rachael and I got several of the ingredients for these from a cute Hmong lady at the farmer's market).

The main dish was Israeli couscous with feta, olives, tomatoes, and things. Everyone was impressed with the couscous, and wondered how they made it into such neat little balls.

We had bul to drink. I think it's a Cuban drink, and is very nice on a hot day and very easy to make: a can of cheap lager, a bottle of ginger beer, and the juice of a big lime.

Finally, we had rhubarb soup with coconut strawberry sorbet.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

new fan

new fan
I got this cute new fan in the mail yesterday, and I hope it makes today's cooking pleasanter--it's supposed to be in the mid-eighties, and I'm having Annie, Dakki, and Pauline for dinner!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I used to hate avocados (their horrible, unctuous sliminess!), but have grown to like them in my old age, as long as they're not mushed up too thoroughly--there must be lumps to mitigate the slime. Anyway, I got some nice bargain avocados at Annie's favorite store, so decided to make guacamole out of them.


2 shallots, 1 coarsely chopped and 1 finely diced
2 serranos, stemmed and coarsely chopped
3 tomatillos
4 radishes, 2 finely diced and 2 thinly sliced
handful of coriander
pinch of salt
3 avocados
juice of a lime

Toast the unhusked tomatillos on a hot griddle till the husks are covered with charred spots, then peel and coarsely chop them. Put them in your molcajete or mortar, along with the coarsely chopped shallot, serranos, tomatillos, about 2/3 of the coriander, and the salt. Grind it all up till you get tired of grinding, then add the avocado. I scoop the flesh from the shell then mush it through my fingers, leaving plenty of lumps. Add the finely diced radish and shallot, the remaining coriander leaves very coarsely chopped, and the lime juice, mix it all together, and decorate with the radish slices.


I ate it for my breakfast with tortillas and fried duck eggs, along with some really good watermelon (with seeds!) that I got at Annie's favorite store.

Friday, July 11, 2008


eggylunch Here's the nice lunch I had yesterday--fried duck eggs on a toasted demi-baguette with lettuce and HP, and a broiled peach. The peach was under-ripe and I thought cooking might improve it, but it only warmed it up. My HP brown sauce's label says it's a 'NEW improved recipe,' but I think the only improvement is that now high fructose corn syrup is a top ingredient.

Café Presse

cafepresse Rachael, Jake, and I went to Café Presse on Wednesday--poor Rachael was sick, so ended up eating only a couple of asparagi from her salad, but Jake and I liked our Croques Monsieur et Madame and the French fries with mayonaise. We ate Rachael's salad, too--it had goat cheese vinaigrette that was mysteriously tasty. Even though Rachael couldn't eat her food, she seemed to have a good time and said she liked it better than Le Pichet, as it seemed less hip and more approachable.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

cherry jam

cherries Way last Wednesday Annie and I picked pie cherries for jam, but by the time I got home I was too tired and hot and achy to do anything with them but stick them in the refrigerator and hope for the best. I worked for the next five days, so jam-making was on hold till Tuesday.

gardeners2 I went to our cherry spot (a formerly abandoned building which now seems to be a school), and to my dismay the yard was filled with aged Japanese gardeners (it sounded like they were speaking Japanese, though the only word I recognised was 'hai'). I was limited to picking from the tree that hung out over the sidewalk, but still managed to get another quart-and-a-half. I supplemented this with some nice raspberries from an alley on my way home.

cherrypitter2 My cherries from Wednesday were about 95% good, so I pitted them along with the new ones with my Cherrymat. The Cherrymat works better for large cherries like Bings--smaller ones require individual attention to ensure that they don't roll through unpitted--but it's still quicker than doing them with a bobbypin, plus the juice is contained.

jamandpectin I ended up with 1162g of fruit, including 180g of raspberries. I cooked this, along with a few cherry kernels and the juice of a small lime, with 870g sugar till it was 221F, then added a few mint leaves and bottled it. The next morning it was still really runny, so I opened up the jars and boiled everything up with a jar of apple pectin till it got to 222F.

cherryjam2 I ended up with seven half-pints, and this time it set up nicely.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


posoleii I didn't have enough leftovers for 6 1/2 days of work, so one night I came home and made myself posole with mole verde. The mole had pepitas; tomatillos; poblanos and serranos; and parsley, coriander, and radish leaves. I'd roasted the peppers and pressure-cooked the posole and runner cannellinis in the morning, so it didn't take too long, and then I had enough for three more days of work lunches. I ate it with cabbage, radish, avocado, dried Mexican oregano, and lime juice.

Friday, July 4, 2008

work lunches

I'm in the midst of a six-day stretch of work, so have been mainly been eating nice leftovers, like fried rice (with Trader Joe's Soycutash)friedrice

and Indian food in my Cookjoy.worklunch

There was a 4th of July potluck today, though, so I brought limey coleslaw, adapted from this recipe. I forgot to get tomatoes so used bell pepper and radishes instead, and added some agave nectar because my lime was particularly sour.coleslaw

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Japanese food

papercutiiI made a nice dinner for myself from Washoku, a new-to-me book of Japanese home cooking. Before I even opened the book I somehow gave myself a terrible papercut, I think with its very sharp cover.

dashiI started out by making kombu-jiru, vegetarian dashi using only kombu and shiitake (I used Chinese black mushrooms instead), as it was an ingredient in my two main dishes. I used the kombu and mushroom to make Kelp and Mushroom Relish.

carrotkonyakuWhen I opened the konyaku packet for Carrots and Konnyaku Tossed in Creamy Tofu Sauce I was momentarily overwhelmed with its fishy smell, and had to check the ingredients on the label to be sure that I hadn't accidentally gotten some sort of fish cake. It was all down to the seaweed flecks, so I continued on to cutting the carrots and konyaku into batonnet (the recipe said matchsticks, but I was lazy). I fried them briefly, braised them with a little dashi and sake, them tossed them with the tofu sauce (tofu whizzed with dashi, miso, and mirin).

dinnerFinally, I made Miso Soup with Fried Tofu, Leafy Greens, and Scallions. I couldn't find daikon tops, so I used teenage turnip greens. I ate it all with brown rice from Chico cooked in my wonderful rice cooker, which makes brown rice better than I've managed with any other method (the trouble is, it takes 1.5 hours).