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Archive for January, 2010

Brown Rice (Pudding)

I have a mild obsession with brown rice.

Brown rice is like the whole grain/whole wheat bread of rice in terms of health. My sister L would argue that I only like brown rice better than white rice becuase it’s healthier. My dad thinks it’s like undercooked white rice. I disagree with both. It has a toastier flavor and is a bit more chewy (which I’ve been told can be fixed by soaking it for several hours and then cooking it).

So imagine my delight when I found on Joy the baker’s website a recipe for brown rice pudding!

Brown Rice Pudding
adapted from
Joy the Baker

2 cups water
1/2 cup brown rice
pinch of salt
2 cups milk (I used low fat)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or to preference. I like a lot)
dried fruit like raisins or cherries (optional)

Bring the water to a boil. Stir in brown rice and salt. Turn flame down to medium and simmer rice, uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 30 minutes, drain rice and water. Let rice sit in strainer for 10 seconds and then return to the pot you cooked it in (not over a flame) and immediately put a tight fitting lid on the pot. Let rice rest and steam for 10 minutes.

Once rice is cooked, place it in a bowl and set aside. Add milk, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick, pinch of cardamom and vanilla bean to the pan. Bring to a very low boil, stirring often so the milk doesn’t burn. Add the cooked rice and cherries to the hot milk. Stir often. Don’t ignore the milk or it might boil to furiously and curdle. Simmer until the milk cooks down and the rice is creamy, about 30 minutes. Place in a large bowl or serving dishes to cool. Serve cold or at room temperature.

*note. If you want extra creaminess, use whole milk instead of fat free. You can also add a tbsp of butter when you add the rice to the milk mixture. But it’s fine without it too.

It’s slightly reminiscent of oatmeal in scent and in flavor, but it has that extra texture of brown rice. It’s best warm and fresh, when it’s still creamy and cozy.

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Dressed Up

I went to my school’s winter formal with my best friends. We got ready at K’s house. I did my makeup before I left my house, because it takes me forever and I’m incapable of doing makeup. Everyone else, who was capable, lay their cases and mirrors and brushes and shadows and liners and straighteners and curlers all across her counter. We sat in her bathroom for about an hour, listening to Taylor Swift (every girl’s getting ready music…or anytime music for that matter).

I was bored the morning of the dance, so naturally I made cupcakes. I used “Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes” They’re very light-texturally and in terms of flavor. It may be too light for some, but it definately emphasizes whatever frosting you put on it. It’s a little crumbly too. Dad thought the flavor was too light. Oh well, I still like it.

Because I was getting dressed up, I decided to dress up the cupcakes a little too.

I used this frosting recipe from Milk and Honey Cafe (reproduced here for portion)
It lightly frosts 10 cupcakes (and works really well with the cupcakes above)

FROSTING
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/32 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
smidge of heavy cream or milk (if you don’t the frosting will have a bit of powderyness at the end)
1 tbps meringue powder

directions
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add half the confectioners’ sugar salt, and meringue powder; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds. Add the rest of the sugar and mix again. Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

The chocolate on top is super simple. You can use a double boiler or boil water in a pot and put a heat proof bowl on top of it. Put chopped up chocolate in the bowl and let it melt, stirring occasionally. It should be glossy and liquidy. Take it off the boiler and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then put it in a piping bag fitted with a tip or in a plastic bag with a tip snipped off. Pipe onto parchment paper or wax paper and let dry, about 30 minutes (15 minutes if you put it in the freezer). Carefully remove and place on top of cupcakes (or pipe directly onto cookies)

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Exam Week

I’m almost done with my semester exams-one more to go and then I’m done tomorrow!
There’s nothing I hate more than exam week. All of this “could have/would have/should have studied” type of thing. And then the stress. It’s just awful. And unproductive.

BUT anyway. I dreaded Monday morning. I had a huge AP history test that I had been studying for all weekend. I trudged up the stairs to the main part of my school, and there, sitting on one of the tables, was moving box filled with fortune cookies with a handmade poster that sade “good luck on your exams! please take one!” So of course, I took one. Inside, the fortune read “good luck on your exams!” Yesterday, there were granola bars and pencils. Today, oranges and peppermints (sidenote: I’ve been smelling whifs of orange all over school). How cute is that?

Sometimes I say my school is crazy. But then this happens and I remember that I made the right choice.

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Summer in Winter


So it’s the middle of winter and I start craving lemon.
shoot.
And then I start craving lemon bars.
shoot again.
So what do I do?
That’s right…make lemon bars.
…”But lemons aren’t in season”
But I really wanted lemon bars so I tried an experiment. They don’t really replace the lemony tanginess of a real lemon, nor do they have the extra layer of flavor from the zest, but they taste like lemon bars for the most part. I don’t really have a recipe, so the lemon part was too sugary (like crunchy sugary-is that supposed to happen?). I think another egg or egg yolk would help emulsify the lemon batter.

Instead of using the juice of a lemon, I replaced over 1/4 of the sugar with lemonade powder. I’m probably breaking some culinary law-either that or a famous chef has just passed out on the floor. But that’s the beauty of baking-it can be as scientific or artistic as you want it to be.

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Smells

Most students eat lunch on the top floor of our main building. It is a large hallway/living room type setup, with lots of long tables and chairs. The library and other classrooms branch off to the sides and the grand staircase leads up to it.

I was sitting at the “senior table” when the putrid smell of sewage hit the top floor like a wave. We all thought the sewage had backed up again, like it did earlier in the year. I was annoyed that we would have to move because the stench was too awful to bear. We found an old room that is used for receptions, but rarely used by students. We pulled up chairs and sat at an intricately carved table in the middle of the room. The room looked like an old living room-there was a fireplace and various artifacts in cabinets. We told war (camp) stories and our laughs carried up to the coffered ceilings. For some reason our conversations were different in that room, like we were closer. We will probably return to the senior table tomorrow, but I hope that we can all find those close little moments a little more often.

(By the way, the smell was juice from before Christmas that spilled on the second floor)

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Return to Routine

After having been out for two weeks, this day was especially long. The holiday break is now over, and we have jumped head first into the cold waters of the school cycle again. Finals are in a week (ugh, I know it’s awful having them after break) and teachers are not letting any time go to waste.

8:15 started bleary eyed with four poems by Emily Dickinson.
12:15 welcomed a much-needed free period.
By about 1:45 I was ready for a nap. Pathetic.

In the midst of my wallowing and my seeming dread for school to start, I do appreciate the schedule and activity involved in the school day. I feel productive , where before I felt sluggish. I feel active where I previously did nothing. There’s nothing like getting things done, something that just doesn’t happen as often during the holidays. Speaking of getting things done…need to go finish my English homework.

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I hate getting up early on the weekend. I also hate sleeping in too much on the weekend (because then I feel unproductive-1/3 of my day is gone! And then I can’t sleep, and then I oversleep the next day and it’s just awful).

But I honestly don’t mind having to wake up at 7:30 on Sunday mornings (okay, maybe just a little bit). But I have my horseback riding lessons then, and it’s always been the highlight of my week. It takes over an hour to get to the barn, a small privately owned farm. I sleep on the way there, and my willing father drives. We pass through the quiet streets of the city and the tourist destinations, which make way for the more open roads. Then we get to the farmland, with the rolling hills and the cows and the wells. And old barns that are falling apart. And the only sounds are the wind and the birds and the car rolling up and down the hills. And then 7:30 doesn’t seem so bad.

(More on the horses later)

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