Silly poll

I saw this “getting to know you” poll over at Brownie Points, and figured I’d answer it and pass it along.

metal or non-stick?
I assume this is about pans and not utensils. Non-stick for eggs, metal for things that need a good fond. Otherwise, whatever happens to be clean.

cast iron or stainless?
cast iron, unless my arms are sore and I can’t lift it out of the cabinet.

cutting board: silicon or wood?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cutting board made out of silicon, or silicone for that matter.  Polycarbonate (AKA “plastic”) for me, unless it’s exclusively for non-staining veggies.

knife: carbon steel or stainless?
carbon steel

Kitchen Aide or hand mixer?
Kitchenaid, unless I’m making Chocolate Lava Muffins or too lazy to carry the mixer into the kitchen.

cooktop: gas, electric, induction?
is this a preference, or what I actually have?  I love gas, but am stuck with electric at good ol’ PLV. I’ve never used an induction range.

side-by-side, freezer on top, fridge on top?
again, if this is preference, fridge on top. Currently, freezer on top.

apron or whoops?
whoops, unless I’m deep-frying or wearing black pants; in that case, half-apron. Never full-apron.  If I had a chef’s coat, I’d wear it.

mashed potatoes: by hand, ricer, or mixer?
My order goes “by hand”, then “ricer”, then “break out the potato flakes”.  Mixer turns potatoes into glue, not food.

sandwich or wrap?
sandwich, unless “mission style” burritos from Freebirds or Chipotle count as wraps.

pb & _________ ?
the rest of the ingredients that go into peanut butter cookies.  Oh, you meant on a sandwich? Molasses. Or bananas and honey. Or strawberry jelly. Or “more peanut butter”.

pancakes: syrup or applesauce?
I’d forgotten about putting applesauce on pancakes until I saw this question.  It was really good when I was a kid.
Tends to be lite syrup these days.

cake: scratch or mix?
The cake is a lie. I mean, from scratch if I can get it, but any cake is better than no cake. Except for Red Velvet cake; “no cake” is better in that case.

chili: beans or no?
I’m from Texas. No beans means it’s not chili.

napkin: cloth or paper?
Napkins? Hah.  Paper towels (or “kitchen paper” if any Europeans are reading this).

BBQ: takes the whole weekend to make or take out?
As long as I get barbecue, I don’t care. I’ve never made BBQ myself though, so I guess I’ll have to go with “take out”.

chicken: white or dark?
Depends on what it’s in.  Dark meat for fajitas or in braises like my chicken pepperonata, white meat for other things (including sandwiches).

ice cream: cone or dish?
I waver on this one. I really like waffle cones, but can’t stand having sticky hands from the run-off, so I usually eat it from a dish (or straight from the carton).

My Omnivore’s 100

There’s a blog called Very Good Taste, and from said blog, a food-eater’s meme has exploded onto the blogosphere (and that’s hopefully the last time I use that particular term in a non-ironic sense).  The meme is called “The Omnivore’s Hundred”, and it’s simply a list of 100 different foods that “[Andrew thinks] every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life.”  Instructions and results are below the fold.

Continue reading My Omnivore’s 100




I made some biscuits this morning, partly because I’d posted a comment over at my friend Katelyn’s blog little woman, but mostly because I just wanted some biscuits with breakfast.  They turned out OK, although I’d have liked for ’em to be a little more brown on the tops.  Ah, well.  “Read More” for the recipe.

Continue reading Biscuits!

Mmm, bread

Well, bread and soup.  For dinner the other night, Heather and I made some tasty vittles, a roasted garlic soup (which was actually more of a tomato and onion bisque than a garlic soup) and some Blitz Bread.  And I have to say, it’s the tastiest meal that we’ve thrown together in a long time.

A pointer about the bread (which you could also get by reading the comments on the post to which I’ve linked): if you use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast (because that’s what you buy), you’ll need to soak 1.5 Tablespoons of yeast in all of the called-for water (which should be at “blood temperature”) for about 5 minutes before mixing everything together.  This is called “blooming” the yeast, and it’s necessary because of the high temperatures at which active dry yeast is, um, dried.  When the yeast dries at those temperatures, lots of them die, and the ones that survive are encased in a shell of dead yeast.  Blooming allows the dead yeast to separate away from the live ones, making the rise much more effective.  Instant yeast is dried at a relatively lower temperature, resulting in fewer dead yeast cells, meaning you can add it directly to the dry ingredients without blooming.  Ah, the things you learn by watching Good Eats.

In lieu of the optional ingredients listed in the bread recipe, I opted to simply sprinkle some “Italian Seasoning” and black pepper over the dough before baking.  You get a 9×13 loaf of bread that’s very similar to foccacia; Heather and I ate at least 2/3 of that bread the evening that we baked it.  And it really was done in less than 2 hours.

Now, the soup:

two 14.5-oz cans of stewed tomatoes, undrained
one 15-oz can of garbanzo beans, undrained
1 medium-sized squash, sliced into rounds, half-moons, or chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper/capsicum, diced
1/2 cup white wine (we used a Chardonnay)
6 large garlic cloves, diced
1 small bay leaf
1/2 tsp paprika
3 Tbsp butter
1 1/4 C heavy cream
1/2 C Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
1 C Romano cheese, grated

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Layer all of the vegetables in a “baking pan” (we used an enameled cast-iron dutch oven; as long as it has a lid, you should be good).  Pour the wine over the vegetables, and add the herbs and spices.  Dot the top with small pats of butter.  Cover and bake for 1 hour, then remove the pan and set the oven to 325 degrees F.  Uncover, stir well, then add in the cream and cheese.  Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered.

No pictures, unfortunately, but it’s hands-down one of the best soups I’ve had the opportunity to eat in a long time.  I’m not exactly sure where the recipe came from, but my thanks to whoever came up with it.

Post more often, eh? Well, here’s a three-fer.

I decided yesterday that I needed more delineation between work and home, so I set up an additional user on my iBook. Now, when I’m at work, I can log in as “pleonard”, and when I’m at home, I can log in as “devlogic”.

The trouble is, there’s a lot of files that I think I need access to in both accounts. And sorting through everything is kind of a pain in the neck.

It’s only been a day or so (and I’ve got a cold, so I’m actually moving more slowly than usual), but I think that by and large I’ve got most of it sorted out. I still have to wade through the “Documents” folder, as well as my local source code repository (I should really set up a SVN repository for that).

I found out how to share an iTunes library between both accounts (because I do listen to music at work, and don’t want to limit myself to only what fits on my new iPod touch). I took those directions one step further, though, and chgrp’d the whole directory to “staff” (since both accounts are administrator accounts, that should work), and chmod’d the whole mess g+w as well, so that I can update tags and add new stuff from both accounts.

All of the old iPhoto library moved across to the new username, and I copied all of the ssh settings, because I don’t want to keep track of two separate private keys. My old terminal custom settings decided not to agree with what I wanted, but I decided that the “Pro” profile looked better anyway, so that was a pretty easy adaptation to make.

Ecto moved entirely over to the “home” account, since I shouldn’t be blogging while I’m at work anyway, and since NetNewsWire syncs with NewsGator online, it was really easy to get that working on both accounts as well.

Adium was a bit of a decision to make, because having it in two places means I’ll have two different accounts to sort through if I ever want to search through my message logs. I went ahead & copied everything I had as of Friday into both the “home” and “work” accounts, and I think I’ll just deal with the disparity. That, and the fact that I don’t really chat that much when I’m at home (at least, I haven’t for a good long while). I did delete my work-related IM accounts from the “home” Adium’s settings, though; no sense in tempting myself.

I’m not, however, looking forward to getting my calendar working properly. I think I’ll start by looking for a caldav solution; that way I can just sync both accounts (and the multiple calendars on each) via the calendar server, so updates from either end should show up on both calendars.

Hopefully, when I finally have enough to buy a new MacBook, I’ll have gotten used to this, and will be able to transition well enough without too much hassle. So far, I’m really liking it. I don’t use my bluetooth devices at home (they’re locked in my desk at work when I’m not there), and SynergyKM, while cool, isn’t much use when I don’t actually sit at my workstation. That, and switching between its profiles was tedious, because I’d frequently forget and then start wondering why it wasn’t working.

In other news, I have a beard again. It’s not out of some desire to have one, just more that I’ve been too lazy (or otherwise occupied) to shave. I’m trying to decide if I want to keep it around. I’m pretty sure Heather doesn’t like it, but I remember liking the way the beard made my face look back before I shaved it off a few years ago. Plus there’s the fact that I’m (still) overweight, and the beard draws attention away from my developing double-chin. Oh, well.

I made Pad Thai on Thursday evening. It turned out very good, although the soup that I made to go with it ended up nigh-inedible. Saltier than those liquorices that are on my desk at the office, and not really what I was going for at all. I’ll have to keep looking, because I know I can find a good recipe for a coconut curry soup that doesn’t taste like ass. Anyway, the Pad Thai was very good, although I think next time I’ll just take a few extra minutes to make each portion separately, rather than both at once. It took a little too long to make two servings at once, and the noodles turned out mushier than I like. They were also clumping together pretty badly. But with some (i.e., a lot) extra paprika, it was pretty close to some of the restaurant pad thais that I’ve had in the past. Definitely more flavorful than what I get at Java Noodles, but a lot of work. I think the more often I make it, the more seasoned my wok will get, though, so that’s a big argument in its favor. But fish sauce is both expensive and pretty horrid-smelling, so I may try to find another ingredient to take its place. I’ve got enough tamarind paste to last me until next year, though; one block of tamarind pulp makes a LOT of paste; I filled up a full quart mason jar, and that’s after I pulled half of a cup out to make the pad thai sauce. No pictures of anything, unfortunately. But that’s a good thing; I neglected to clean the kitchen before I started cooking, so it looked like a restaurant supply store had collided with a compost heap by the time I was done. It took 2 loads in the dishwasher plus about an hour of hand-washing before things looked reasonable again.

Don’t Point That Menu at My Child, Please – New York Times

Don’t Point That Menu at My Child, Please – New York Times:
I really enjoyed this article, which (if the NYT has expired it from public view, is about the growing movement against the concept of a special kid’s menu which seems to be frequently filled with chicken fingers and fries). It makes a lot of sense to me. Not from a parent’s perspective (because I’ve still got a decent bit of time before I’ll be a parent, unless fate intervenes), but from the perspective of someone who’s just tired of the dumbing-down of culture in general. Kids have taste buds that work just as well as adults; why not give ’em stuff that will be tasty, but not “taste like chicken” (to steal an overly-clichéd phrase)?

It’s my sincere hope that when I have children in the not-so-distant future, they’ll be encouraged (nay, required) to eat what the rest of the family is eating, or if at a restaurant, at least to eat something that fits with the cuisine. Heck, it’s what I did when I was growing up (mostly), and aside from an irrational dislike of salads which I finally overcame when I hit college, I turned out just fine.

A little too fine, if the scales have anything to say, but at least I’m comfortable trying any food at least once (and lots of ’em more than once). I probably won’t eat sea urchin again any time soon, but at least I tried it in the first place. It was an experience more satisfying (to the culinary soul, if I may be poetic) than a box of Chicken McNuggets® could ever be.