Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fast Food: Tofu Broccoli Saute

Fortunes have changed for me, but all good things must come to an end. Over the past year, I've come to appreciate the bad that comes with good, but even moreso, the good that comes with the bad. I've grown a fair degree over the past year and I'll welcome the lack of stability and consistency as a way of keeping things interesting.

Anyway, given that at some point in my life, I was a poor college student I have this natural switch I can move to when I feel the need to save more money:

more cooking - less eating out
more tofu - less meat

more vegetables
more rice
more oatmeal

Following this example after realizing that I was spending a lot of money eating out, planning out my meals and cooking at home more opened up funds to allow me move into the percentage of Americans who don't have credit card debt. Yay!

Anyway, here is the base:

1/2 block medium firm tofu
1.5 cups broccoli florets
3 tbsp soy sauce mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 tsp mustard


Cube the block of tofu and toss into a pan of hot canola oil. Toss occasionally until the tofu is a light yellow.

Add all the broccoli florets, soy sauce water mix and cover. Steam until the broccoli is tender.

Add the mustard. Mix. remove heat. Enjoy with rice and a small side of kimchi.     

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Success: Homemade Ajitama

I ate at Tatsu Ya Ramen not too long ago. One of my favorite aspects of the ramen is always the ajitama, the soaked soft boiled eggs. I love that those eggs pack a decent amount of flavor and, overall, really enhance the ramen. I found a recipe online here at the Ramen Walker's blog. I really just used the recipe for the sauce bath minus the ginger and the leeks because I didn't feel like going out to buy them. I always have garlic on reserve though.

Soft boiled eggs were going to be the tricky demon here. It sometimes doesn't occur to me that the difference between a soft boiled and hard boiled egg is more a matter of a minute and not half a second. Scrolling through the comments, "anonymous" commented on a good procedure for the soft boiled eggs:

AnonymousSeptember 28, 2010 9:10 AM
you should put in the eggs when the water is boiling for 6 minutes. then, dump them in the cold water bath (mixed with a bit of white vinegar). proven and tested so i'm sure will work for you 100%

I wanted to give myself the best shot at not messing this up so I defaulted on that procedure. I also learned that when it comes to the art of peeling soft boiled eggs, it's best to peel the narrow end first. It seems that as more peel comes off, a vacuum  is created and the odds of peeling more of the egg off is higher, there's usually a dip in the egg at the wider end, so that alleviates the suction created. Fewer casualties.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cheese Diary: Dancing Fern

Nutty and Buttery, and that's all you need to know. The Dancing Fern is definitely one of those cheeses that meets my palate's default. It goes great with fruit too. I generally let my cheese sit out for a good while before I indulge as it really intensifies the flavor. I remember liking everything about this cheese, the rind was excellent. It was a pretty calm cheese too. If anything, it's like a...slightly more intense Camembert. When I had been going to Antoinelli's previously I was thinking that I just might have gotten to the point where I could have a regular order of the Caveman with the ColoRouge, but no, Kendall insisted that there were some cheeses I absolutely had to try before placing my order and the concept of my having a "regular order" at Antoinelli's was destroyed. If you have a chance to try the Dancing Fern, do it, it's on limited availability, but most of all, you'll be happy you did.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

How to Eat

I'm a retired teacher. I can now assess the difficulties of teaching a certain topic or idea from a new perspective. Teaching chemistry was always more than just teaching chemistry, there's a math background needed, a degree of critical thinking skills that need to be developed, and then, of course, the chemistry. There are a number of zones that need to be covered before hitting the bull's eye. Oddly enough, sometimes the most efficient approach is going for the bull's eye and then moving outwards. Regardless, a subject needs a more holistic view.

Above is my niece with the Gunther. One thing that kind of gets to me is that she bird picks at her food. My grandma and mom built a culture around me that I always need to finish my food (and then, of course they'll tell you to lose weight) so bird picking is a natural pet peeve for me. She doesn't always finish what she's given and I can only give myself a headache over what it is she will choose to eat. My brother in law relates to me that she knows a lot of the food out there is crap. Fair enough.

One day when niece was bored and I happened to be making soup, I enlisted her help in making my crack fish soup. I explained what each vegetable was to her and she saw me chopping bok choy, cabbage, and fish. She learned of the importance of tasting and adjusting your food as you cook. You don't have to stir all the time, fish does not take that long to cook, and hon dashi makes a stock fast.

I think my biggest accomplishment was that SHE ATE AN ENTIRE BOWL!! I did have to remind her to eat her vegetables, but overall, I was happy.

I don't know if it's because she helped make the soup, or if it was because she learned about everything in it, either way, it was a nice learning experience for both of us and I wish that she could have stayed longer so that I could teach her how to pick produce, meat, and fish. I got her to eat well. I think this might be a reiteration that if kids know what is being placed before them they'll be more likely to eat it.

Niece likes:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mushroom Update

While I generally go on mushroom crazes, I'm finding now that there are some mushrooms that are not my favorite.

Eat List: 
Wood Ear (I guess it's not a mushroom really)

No Thank You list:
enoki (maybe I just haven't had them in the right way)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hon Dashi


I've been in San Antonio the past two weekends. It's been tiring.

San Antonio can be hard sometimes because I can only transport so much. When I cook over there, I can say that I'm minimally stocked. My sister has started cooking, which is a good thing and I can introduce her to new ingredients. It is very nice to have someone I can bounce cooking ideas off of. While my parents were in New York, I had to fend for myself in terms of breakfast:

Breakfast of champions right here: Plantains, Purple Yams. Lava eggs

I was relieved to get back to my kitchen. As of late, I've been on a miso soup craze just because I found out the secret ingredient: Hon Dashi. 

For the longest time I would dump miso paste til kingdom come trying to achieve the saltiness of regular restaurant miso soup. Having grown up in a time before "google it" was the answer for everything, looking on the internet was not my first inclination. I actually found this out while trying to find another way to use miso paste. My miso soup is no longer saturated with miso to the point of it being powdery. I'm a happy camper. 

I've been going a little miso soup crazy lately. Here's my general routine. 

Boil water
Add a teaspoon of Hon Dashi
Dump tofu, mushrooms, bok choy into boiling broth
Add a tablespoon of miso paste

I can even make it more hearty and eat it with rice. Life is nice. I feel like I'm gaining more survival skills. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cheese Diary: Époisses

It's really not that often that I come across a cheese of the washrind (smelly) variety that I can't take. And then I came across Epoisses.

I don't mind cheese that smells like feet, but the peppery aftertaste of Epoisses almost brought me to my knees. As an initial taste...peppery? Fine. It really should not be the ending taste. I think I liked the initial taste, but the ending note was unfortunate.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cheese Diary: Chevre d'Or

This was nice. I had it as a snack today for work. The day goes by faster when you have short term treats to look forward to.

When I had this at the cheese shop, it had a very rich and nutty center. A few days later (today) when I have it, it had been sitting out on my desk all day. Flavor was still awesome, there was a slight tang at the end of the nuttiness that wasn't too surprising  - that's generally what I expect from goat cheese though, even washrinds. There was a bit of an inky, spicy after taste that was quite tolerable and even enjoyable when followed by tea.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

my hungriest hour...

You know, while a lot of people "don't have the time to cook..." if you just sit at a computer or at the TV more time passes than you think. Now, my primary cooking philosophy is that food should not be cooked for so long that there's nothing left of it's original character. That's not what nature intended or else tofu would grow on trees (p.s. I love tofu and I would love if that happened) Asian cooking lends itself well to speed cooking.

Get a rice cooker. While the rice is cooking you can balance your budget, go on Facebook, play a chess game, play fetch with the dog, and watch an episode of Hey Arnold! OR you can cook a main course for yourself. In the front and center bowl is what I call my "Oval Stew" primarily because prior to cooking, almost everything that went into it was oval, or at least to some degree had a shape that could be mathematically described using Pi. It has eggplant, mushrooms: shitake and button, and quail eggs. I shall post a recipe later, but for now, the agak-agak story version:

Generally I just sauteed the (chopped, salted, rinsed) eggplant in a small amount of sesame oil. When they were partially cooked but not fully translucent, I added chopped shitake and button mushrooms. I left it and went to make some rice. While waiting I made the sauce which was a small variation of the sauce made by bunnyfoot for their Eggplant Misoyaki (which is fab BTW). After I dump the sauce in, I add a can of quail eggs. Let it simmer and do some dishes.

I always have to keep a can of these around for some fast protein. I love quail eggs, they are the most perfect food in the world.

Rice is done. Process takes about 20 minutes total and you don't have to wait as long if you make the rice from the beginning.

Keys to a Fast Meal:
Make Rice
Vegetables - they cook fast
Fish works too

Key to a Faster Meal:
Warm up already made rice + Left overs

Welcome to my tomorrow.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Howdy! I've done it again!

I've started another blog. Chances are, I'm going to discontinue the Gunther blog and just randomly insert pictures of him in one of my other blogs.

Lately, I've been paying bills. I've been making rather good progress on paying them too but as a result I haven't been eating out as much. I've been cooking, cooking A LOT. It actually is not that much of a chore after work since I can switch gears to another thinking game. (I'd normally play a game of chess, but it's hard when I'm starving).

I don't mean to flatter myself, but I'm a pretty decent cook. I've come a long way from slaving over recipes. My first boyfriend was a cook and at 18, not knowing how to cook, I was impressed by chopped zucchinni sauteed in butter with a little bit of salt added. Lame. I know. 8 years later, I'm not a kitchen master, but I'm getting there. 

The focus for this blog is food: 

- funky recipes, usually with an Asian basis (soy sauce, rice vinegar, gochujjang, miso, know, the good stuff) 
- ingredients
- cheese (I gotta keep track you know.) 
- cooking tips and tricks

and most importantly - relating the sentiment that cooking should not be intimidating. It's perfectly ok to mess up and burn things, just don't serve those things to guests...or the dog.