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Real Food

My dad makes dinner every night. There are very few occasions where he’s out and my sister L and I are left home alone. A lot of times he makes extras of dinner the night before so we just have to reheat it. But I love it when he leaves the meal decisions up to L and me. L likes to stick to her Kraft mac and cheese, but I always jump at the opportunity to make something that I know my family won’t like. (Translation: vegetarian). In general, I don’t make things with meat because I hate touching raw meat and I’m afraid of food poisoning. But these are my chances to experiment making some real food (shocking, isn’t it?) I’m not out to make something sous vide or tuna tartare. My food ideas generally fit these categories: vegetarian and homey. My first idea was something  with beans, like lentil burgers, but I was not in the mood to watch a pot of beans boil (that, and I’m in the middle of quarter exams right now…details). So I decided to make an alfredo sauce. Except, I didn’t know how to make an alfredo sauce. Then I found out that it’s basically melted cream, cheese, and butter. Sounds delicious, right? No. I’m not a fan of those meals where I feel insanely guilty after eating it (does that change my eating habits? not really). So I opted for a cream sauce. After reading about 10 different recipes, I came up with this one. I poured it over some Japanese soba noodles (they’re a dark colored buckwheat noodle that cooks in about 6 min.) I don’t have pictures because my dad took the camera out with him, and the pile of noodles did not look apetizing and no amount of light could have fixed it. I may have put too much chicken bullion, and it was a little too salty because of it so next time I’ll cut it down. Other than that, I liked it. It was creamy and held up well with the soba. So watch the saltiness carefully.

Yogurt-Cream Sauce
adapted from
Self

Ingredients:
1 tsp oil
some veggies, thinly sliced (as much as you want, really. I had 1 shredded carrot and about 2 in of an onion)
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup nonfat chicken broth (I used water and some bullion, but I didn’t read the proportions so I added too much)
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup fresh basil, or 2 dashes of dried
2 tbsp reduced fat parmesean cheese (
I didn’t add any, didn’t need to)
1 tbsp light cream
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Cook pasta as directed. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil, add veggies. Reduce heat to low and cook until almost tender.
Add broth and cook until tender, 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat and mix in rest of ingredients.
Toss and serve.

 

Tonight, dad went out to dinner with some friends. L broke out the Kraft and I made..

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Fizzy Saver

So I’m not really into that whole buying useless kitchen gadgets. For example, I don’t need a marshmallow shooter. I have no use for the GT Express 101. What would I do with a grapefruit segmenter?
Except this weekend. We are making ecotainers in my environmental science class, and I needed to bring in 2 2L sized soda bottles (that’s 8 cups per bottle). The problem is, I don’t drink soda (at least not in that quantity). So I planned to buy seltzer water instead, because there was no way I was going to drink 16 cups of Coke, strawberry soda, or even ginger ale. The other problem was, I hate the taste after the fizziness goes away. It’s a little bit salty. Ew. So I wailed to my dad about how they should make things that keep the fizz in, or better yet, make water that doesn’t fizz.
Dad: We have one of those.
Me: REALLY?!?!?!?
Him: Umm yeah, it’s in the kitchen somewhere.
Me: Oh….really….

See this is where I explain to you that my kitchen is a jungle of everything since 1972. Okay not really. But there’s a lot of stuff piled up in various places. It also ate one of my piping tips that I’ve been looking for since September of last year. I still can’t find it. But now I have 2 so it’s okay. But that’s beside the point. It’s the principle, isn’t it?

So anyway, I present to you, the fizzy saver! Or at least, that’s what I call it.

You put the little hat on the bottle instead of the cap, and it actually preserves the fizz! yay! I had the I ended up drinking one bottle over 2 days, so I didn’t need it long. But I definately appreciate having it. I am currently almost done with bottle #2. For the record, I bought the bottles on Friday afternoon.

 

I was sitting at lunch with my best friend S, who had gotten a sandwich from the deli/corner store. She pulled out the sandwich, took off the bread, and began hollowing out her sourdough in an attempt to be “healthier.” I knew people did that with bagels, but with bread? I didn’t know it at the time, but I subconsiously do it too. I reach for the whole wheat bread when I can, even though it’s just a slightly less processed version of white bread. Whatever. I love bread too much to give it up. I had planned on making a whole wheat yeast bread that seemed really simple to make. But then, a) I couldn’t find the right sized pan and I didn’t want ugly bread and b) there was molasses on my packet of yeast so I didn’t feel like using it (because I’m a princess). Then I stumbled along this New York Times article/ (gotta love the NY Times) for a quick bread version of whole wheat bread. I loveloveLOVE quick breads. They can be a little dense, as dad thought this bread turned out, but it has a light molasses-ey flavor at the end. It’s denser than your average whole wheat bread, but also a little sweeter and chewier and moister (hah M, because that’s a word).  Recipe, adapted from NY Times (link above)
        Ingredients:
             oil or butter for greasing pan
             1 2/3 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt, or 1 1/2 cups milk and 2 tbsp white vinegar
             2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
             1/2 cup cornmeal (I used regular flour since I didn’t have cornmeal)
             
1 tsp salt
             1 tsp baking soda
             1/2 cup molasses (I used 1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup honey for a sweeter flavor)
  

  • 1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-by-4-inch or 9-by 5-inch loaf pan, preferably nonstick.
  • 2. If you’re using buttermilk or yogurt, ignore this step. Make soured milk by warming the milk gently — 1 minute in the microwave is sufficient, just enough to take the chill off — and add the vinegar. Set aside.
  • 3. Mix together the dry ingredients. Stir the molasses into the buttermilk, yogurt or soured milk. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients (just enough to combine) then pour into the pan. Bake until firm and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.
  •  

    It’s amazing with yogurt and preserves.
    It’s good for lunch.
    It’s good with peanut butter too, in case you’re wondering (actually, there are better pairings. The thick pb and dense bread didn’t work out as well as I had hoped)  

    Not a Writer

    I’m not a writer.
    I think four English teachers just fainted. (Sorry!)
    Each day I open wordpress and I think to myself, Meg, you should write something today. So I stare at this blank box that stares back at me. And maybe I start writing something. And then I usually hit the “move to trash” button that is so red and glaring and I hate to click it but I do anyway because I don’t think whatever I had to say was worthy of being on the blog or on the internet in general.

    Today is one of those days. About an hour ago, I signed into wordpress. And then I signed out because I felt like I had nothing to say. And now it’s an hour later and I’m writing about it. And then I realized, I don’t want this blog to necessarily be about the next big thing. I want to remember what I baked in February, how I got excited by seeing whale-shaped crackers (like goldfish but whales) and what I was thinking when I was seventeen. I don’t have to come up with some elaborate story or a grand philosophical topic. I.just.need.to.start.writing.

    Being a Leader

    I’ve been writing a lot of essays lately that want to know how I was a leader or how I will be a leader in the future. Every college says that they produce the next leaders. Maybe that’s true. Leaders come from all places, all backgrounds, and all kinds of schools from the tiny liberal arts to the big state colleges.

    But if there are so many leaders, who is going to follow? We’d need a leader to lead all the leaders, wouldn’t we? It’s been a long day, hasn’t it…

    Fast Cinnamon Rolls

    My favorite spice is cinnamon. I put it on everything, from my morning oatmeal to whatever baked good I can fit it in. Not only is the flavor amazing, there are health benefits too. It can lower cholesterol, maintain sugar levels (and therefore weight loss?), and a whole bunch of other things that I won’t bore you with.

    So I made cinnamon rolls. The process to make cinnamon rolls is kind of ridiculous. It is a yeast bread, so it requires kneading, proofing, rising, and a whole lot of waiting.

    Who wants to wait for these? My other problem was that I didn’t want anything too heavy. A cinnamon roll can often leave one feeling like, well, a big, round, buttery cinnamon roll, so I was looking for a lighter version. I adapted a recipe to make it lighter, and while it does compromise some flavor, it is an acceptable substitute. The dough turned out to be more biscuit-like and doughy on the inside with a light crunch on the outside. I didn’t use the glaze, but I’m sure it would only make them better.

    Fast Cinnamon Rolls
    adapted from http://www.recipezaar.com/Quick-Cinnamon-Rolls-No-Yeast-293243
    Makes 12 2-inch rolls
    Dough:
            2 cups flour
            2 tbps sugar
            4 tsp baking powder
            1 tsp salt (optional)
            2 tbps butter, softened
            ¾ cup + possibly more

    Filling
            4 tbsp butter, melted
            ½ cup + 1 tbsp brown sugar
            3 tsp cinnamon

    Glaze
           ½ cup powdered sugar
           ¼ milk

    Directions
    1. Mix 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp brown sugar and spread over bottom of 9×9 pan
                 (note: This made a nice light bottom coating. If you want more, just mix more butter and sugar together)
    2. In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt
    3. Cut in the 3 tbsp butter. Allow lumps
    4. Stir in milk to form a soft dough
    5. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface into a rectangle about ¼ in thick
                    (note: I didn’t need to flour it because the dough was pretty dry. I actually had to add more milk because it was SO dry)
    6. Mix the rest of the filling and spread it over the dough, covering all of it
                    (note: I used less butter and ½ the sugar than the original recipe to make it healthier.)
    7. Roll up the dough long-wise so it’s like a big log. With a sharp knife slice into even sized rolls
    8. Bake for 20-25 min at 400 F (I usually err on the side of overdone, but they were perfect at 20)
    9. Once finished, drizzle glaze and serve warm

    Driving with Cats

    On Sunday we were driving in a suburb/farmland/rural sort of town. Think small town with lots of farms. I offered to drive because, well, I’m nowhere near where I should be in terms of driving ability and amount of time I’ve had my license. We had to turn off the main road, but this consisted of a  very narrow country road. The speed limit was 40mph, but I was afraid to go over 30. I honestly thought I was going to turn off the road and land us in a ditch. Fortunately,  we made it to our destination. My dad jumped out to open the gate, and I rolled in to park. Unfortunately, the barn cat decided to saunter in front of the car and I panicked (like I hadn’t done that enough yet driving down those roads). So I stopped the car. And then my dad starting laughing. I was so afraid of running over the cat that I didn’t know it had left.  

    I’m a very cautious driver. I was so afraid of doing something that the problem itself passed over altogether.