darchildre: graffiti of a crow saying, "listen" (listen)
So, this weekend is Lammas/Lughnasadh/Freyfaxi (delete as appropriate) and is thus the first harvest holiday! Traditionally, I celebrate by baking bread, but I am going out of town later this week and won't have time to eat all the bread before it goes bad. Which would feel unfortunate. So I am celebrating by harvesting something else.

There's actually a surprising amount that's harvestable around my house right now. We have blackberries growing everywhere, of course, and there's a few apple trees in the neighborhood that don't appear to actually belong to anyone and are currently full of apples. But I am a weirdo, so I went out and harvested a bunch of Queen Anne's Lace.

Did you know you can make jelly from Queen Anne's Lace? Because I did not until a few days ago, but I am totally going to do it. Though it's going to have to wait until the tea jelly is eaten, so I'm going to dry the flowers and use the dried version to make the jelly. Since you essentially make a tea with them and then make jelly from that, I don't anticipate this being a problem.

And now I know two new exciting facts: 1) you can make jelly from Queen Anne's Lace, and 2) Queen Anne's Lace looks a lot like Poison Hemlock. So now I know how to very carefully tell those two plants apart.*

I'll let you know how the jelly comes out once I make it.






*The easiest way is to bruise the leaves. Queen Anne's Lace smells carroty (being a plant in the wild carrot family), while hemlock evidently smells nasty. Also, Queen Anne's Lace has hairy stems and doesn't get as big. The More You Know!
darchildre: a mad scientist lady doing mad science (malita is doing SCIENCE)
I have successfully made tea jelly!

Here is a picture for proof. )

I used this recipe, but halved it, because I cannot personally eat two and a half pints of jelly in anything like a timely manner. Halved, the recipe made almost exactly one pint, which is just what I wanted. I used my rose flavored tea, and I'm hoping the rose flavor comes through nicely. I tried a little bit - you have to test the jelly on a frozen plate to make sure it's cooked enough, so after testing I ate it - but it wasn't enough to really be able to tell. If not, I might try making the tea a little stronger next time, or use a more strongly-flavored tea. (Ooh, like my lapsang souchong!)

From start to finish, making the jelly took maybe 15 minutes, which is really ideal. Plus, easy - the hardest thing about making it for me was figuring out how to halve "one package" of powdered pectin, since I'd bought a jar of the stuff. I hate doing food math.

And now I have jelly! And since I only made one pint, I don't have to do any actual canning! Triumph, Galatea!
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
Yesterday, I was thinking about jelly. As you do. And it occurred to me that one could probably make jelly from tea, so I did some research and yes, you can.

Friends, I now want to make jelly from all the varieties of tea I own. And also a variety of herbs that I like to make tea out of, that it would not have previously occurred to me to make jelly from.

The trouble with this is that I don't actually eat all that much jelly on a regular basis. So I'll have to find an tweak a recipe until it only makes about a pint each time.
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
Today, no one's home but me and I have no obligations except laundry. It is lovely. I am spending the day knitting and listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell* and having a wonderful lunch.

Two food things that are making me very happy:
- I buy most of my tea from adagio.com - I tend to buy four to five 3 oz bags at a time, as I like to have a variety, and I find that generally lasts me about three months. Of course, that means that I have to choose fairly carefully or I won't have something I want (or worse, be stuck with a tea I don't enjoy) for a quarter of a year. The last time I bought tea, I neglected to get a lapsang souchong** and found that I missed it a lot. Last week was my most recent tea order and I did get one this time and oh, it is so wonderful.

- Today for lunch, I made sauteed radishes. If you have never sauteed radishes and you like radishes, you should get on that, because they are delicious. I just did them with butter and salt, which was great, but next time I might add a little honey at the end. So good!






*Mom and I are watching the show, so I thought it was time to revisit the book. This was an excellent decision. The show is a lot of fun and not at all curbing my affection for Mr Norrell. I spend a lot of time watching it (or listening to the book) and saying things like, "Oh god, you are the worst, you are the most terrible person ever, I love you." He is so awful, I want to hug him all the time.

**I have a general rule of thumb when making my tea purchases which is: one fruity tea, one floral (usually their Summer Rose, which is so good, OMG), one warm (something spicy/nutty/apple-flavored), and one dark. The dark is usually a lapsang souchong but last time I had a pu ehr blend, which was the wrong choice. I mean, it was fine and I drank it, but I like smoky teas better.
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
Exciting fact I learned tonight:

You can totally toast marshmallows in a toaster oven.

I learned this in the process of making this, which wanted me to do them in the oven, but preheating the oven just to broil some marshmallows for two minutes seems like overkill. Hence, the toaster!

This is an amazing fact that I'm sure I will in no way use for evil.


ETA - Also, the milkshake is pretty fabulous. Highly recommended.
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
A story about food hoarding:

A couple years ago, I made a bunch of pies in jars and stuck them in the back of the freezer. "Someday," I thought, "I will want a pie, but not want to have to make a pie or go buy a pie, and these pies will just be ready, in the freezer."

It is now literally years later, and today I get to have a delicious homemade pie, with no effort beyond heating the pie in the oven.

And that, friends, is the benefit of having the kind of brain that constantly thinks, "I'm not going to eat this now because I might need it later."*





*Note: this only works with things that are not highly perishable. Do not hoard fresh fruit, for example - you will end up being sad about it.
darchildre: a cup of tea.  text: "tea break" (tea break)
This post is about food and my weird feelings about food. If that sounds like something you don't want to read (which is cool), please scroll on by.

So, food. Is kinda the worst. I mean, I'm fine with eating and whatever, but it's all so tedious all the time - human beings have to pretty much be constantly thinking about acquiring food and preparing food and consuming food and cleaning up after food, and then you have to do it again. It's terrible. (Plus I have my added bonus problems of not enjoying a lot of foods because I'm a weirdo who doesn't like a lot of things - mushy things are terrible and most fruits don't taste good and I honestly don't understand most sauces, why would you do that to yourself? Food is already unpleasantly juicy a lot of the time - why would you make that problem worse?)

Basically, right now, I'm going through one of my exciting periods of "food is terrible, why do I have to do this?" where nothing is at all appealing and I sort of eat mechanically because I'm aware that my body needs fuel, but it's really not enjoyable. And we have not invented reliable food pills yet. I swear to god, when the cyborg revolution comes, I'm going to have my digestive system replaced with something I can just plug in overnight like a cell phone.*

The one time during the day I don't have these problems is breakfast. And that is because I have eaten the same breakfast nearly everyday (barring breakfasts eaten away from from home) since I was 13: a toasted bagel with cheese and a cup of tea. It's enjoyable when I'm okay with eating and inoffensive when I'm not, the process of making it is pleasingly ritualized at this point, and I don't have to think about it. So today I thought, how can I extend that method out to other meals? Dinner can't be the same thing every night, because I eat it with other people, but I stress a lot about lunch, which I eat alone, and I'd rather not.

So today, I am beginning an experiment. It involves smoothies. Today, I am going to start making some kind of vanilla-almond** green smoothie and, by continued experimentation, I will eventually develop a smoothie that a) tastes inoffensive, b) is reasonably healthy, c) is filling enough to serve as a meal, and d) I can make without thinking about it. And then I will have that for days when food sounds like a terrible idea.

It's not a food pill, but I suppose it will do.





*I will also have my eyes upgraded and my reproductive system entirely removed.

**Vanilla and almond are among the least offensive flavors of things for me. Also, it's easy to get vanilla yogurt and I have almond butter already.
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
Mom: So, I'm going over to Seattle today to hang with my sister, and we're going to meet up with Dad and Granny and Megan and Katie for dinner. Do you want to come over on the ferry and meet us?

Me: Y'know, as long as no one will be hurt, I really think I'd rather stay here and have a quiet day.

Mom: Oh, that's fine. You should do something fun for dinner yourself - order a pizza or Chinese or something.

Me: ...oooh, I could roast vegetables! I have a recipe I've been meaning to try.



And then I realized that I actually am an adult. Yup.
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
So, I've started making fermented sodas. (IE, sodas where you add yeast to get carbonation, rather than making a syrup and adding sparkling water.) Last week, I made a ginger ale that turned out pretty well, despite the fact that I used cider yeast, rather than the champagne yeast suggested.

Now I have champagne yeast and am making blackberry soda, since we have bags and bags of frozen blackberries left over from the summer. I'm pretty excited about it.
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
I'm trying to get back into the habit of making bread on the weekends, so that I can have it throughout the week. I eat a lot of sandwiches, and it's nicer if I've made the bread myself. So today I'm making sourdough with apples and raisins in it, as that feel sufficiently autumnal.

Sourdough is like the most low-key version of having a pet/animal husbandry ever. I captured wild yeasts and tamed them and now they help me out in the kitchen in return for being fed once a week! It's pretty neat. Plus, it is potentially a lifelong companion, assuming I keep up my side of the bargain.

I have named my sourdough starter Jerome, because I am that kind of person.
darchildre: moody black-and-white crow looking thoughtful (crow is thoughtful)
Things:

- I have felt really kinda blah all week. No real reason for it - just feel bored and tired. However, I actually slept well last night, so maybe things will improve.

- Also, it is Friday and I have nowhere to go tomorrow and thus can just relax. And on Sunday, we are going to Seattle to see my sisters and have brunch and possibly (weather permitting) go to the zoo. So that's cool.

- Also also, Friday is now Family Movie Night. Tonight is my movie, so I have to provide snacks and a western. (I am doing westerns, Mom is doing mysteries/thrillers, and Dad is doing WWII movies. So far, we have watched The Third Man, which was great, and The Thin Red Line, which was so. very. long.) So we are watching Stagecoach and I am making salty honey pie. Which is a terrible name, but I think the pie will be good. ETA - I think I will call it a honey chess pie from now on. That name is accurate and I feel much better about it.

- So, the other day I read a semi-recommendation for a scifi book series* (semi in that it pointed out things that were really cool about it and also things that were really awful and I decided that I could deal with the awful because of the cool) and I got the first one from the library. And I am really enjoying it and am about halfway through, so I thought I'd put the next one on hold. But the library doesn't have it - it has books one and five, which is terrible. So now I am trying to decide what to do. I can submit a purchase request, which could take a couple of months and there's not guarantee they'd buy it, or I can buy the book myself, even though I just want to read them and don't have any sort of burning fire to own them. It is a conundrum.

- Speaking of which, what are your favorite books that you can't in good conscience recommend to people? Y'know, the books that absolutely do something for you and you love them but are maybe terribly written or are about things that you don't want people to judge you on. And while you read them, you find yourself constantly saying, "Why the hell am I reading this book?" but you can't put it down. I love those kinds of things. Mine are the Jurisdiction series by Susan R Matthews. They are kind of terrible and also written really weirdly in places but I got the first one from the library, read half of it, and immediately bought the rest of the series. Fortunately, the covers look like respectable space opera so you can read them in public. Unlike my other favorite terrible books, the Black Jewels series. I love these books and would never actually recommend them to anyone ever, because you can't without a page of caveats that make you look like a creeper. Tell me about your favorite books like that.





*It is The Myriad by R M Meluch. It is a fun space adventure with neat aliens and space romans and weird wormholes things and I am really enjoying it but oh god, the female characters make me twitch.
darchildre: a crow being held in one hand.  text:  "bird in hand" (bird in the hand)
Things:

- Yesterday's seed cake turned out to be delicious. It's very much a tea cake - not sweet enough to make me want to eat it as a proper dessert, but very tasty and a nice accompaniment to lunch. (Next time, I think I'd put more of the candied lemon peel. As it stands right now, I don't much taste it in the cake.)

- Today's culinary experiment is pickled apples. I love making pickles, because I love eating pickles, but I am particular about them. (As I am about all foods, really.) I like sweet pickles, and I find that I tend to like pickled fruit better than I like pickled cucumbers. Not that cucumber pickles are bad - my nana used to make delicious sweet cucumber pickles - but if I'm going to pickle something, why not have it be something I really enjoy anyway? Thus, pickled apples. They won't be ready to eat for a couple of days, alas.

- On Friday night, there was an in-concert version of Sweeney Todd on PBS starring Emma Thompson and...some other people, so I taped it. And I watched it last night. The great thing about watching musicals when I'm on my own is that no one minds if I sing along. (If there are other people in the room, or if I'm in a movie theater, I just mouth the words. Yes, I did that throughout the entirety of the Les Miz movie.) I was not super-thrilled with the guy playing Sweeney, but Emma Thompson's Mrs Lovett was pretty awesome.

- The other day, I found a book at the library on making friendship bracelets and took it home on a whim, since I've never known how to make those. (The ones you make with embroidery floss. When I was little, the ones make with gimp were a big deal.) And then I found this website And voila, I have a new craft obsession. They are absurdly fun to make and I'm going to make dozens of them.

- I had originally planned to do laundry today. I don't think that's going to happen.
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
Well, the parentals are gone for the next week and I am off work till Wednesday. You know what that means - time to cook things that might be terrible! Because if they're great, I can make them again when the parental are here, and if they're awful, no one will know.

Today's experimental cooking project is seed cake. I am a fan of caraway - I love pumpernickel bread - so I'm excited to see how it works in a sweet-rather-than-savory environment.

(I'm also planning to begin the process of making a sourdough starter today, but that won't produce exciting results for a while. But! Capturing wild yeast! Pretty cool, right?)
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
On the plus side:

- It is kinda sorta autumn! A bit! The sky is overcast, the weather is cool, and I saw my first pomegranate at the grocery store.

- I am wearing a totally cute skirt with robots all over it. And it has pockets! It makes me very happy. I hadn't worn it in a while because it had a small rip in one of the seams, but I mended it this morning and it is wearable again, hurrah.

- This weekend, I made excellent food things. I made a coconut custard pie on Saturday that was amazing and is now gone, and yesterday I made these pickled grapes, which are completely delicious and really easy to make. Mine have only been pickling for about a day, so they don't have a whole lot of tang yet, but they're already great and should only get better as the flavors meld.

- Also, I bought a new coloring book and markers and spent several hours this weekend coloring and listening to my backlog of Thrilling Adventure Hour. It was pretty great. I may continue coloring this evening - I find it very calming.
darchildre: a very sad t-rex (i do not know why i am so terrible)
Today, I made failure cake.

Tonight, we're having guests for dinner. Some weeks ago, my dad decided he was going to try his hand at making beer, and it should be ready by now. Tonight is the Beer Sampling Ceremony, and my sisters and my aunt are coming, and dad's making steak, and it should be lovely. And I said I'd make dessert.

So I went into my recipe bookmarks and found a cake recipe that sounded nice but that I had never tried before: a spicy mocha poundcake. Because poundcake is delicious and who doesn't like spicy baked goods? So I made it.

Oh man, you guys, it is the worst cake I've ever made. First of all, way too much cayenne. Secondly, even once you adjust to the spice, the chocolate and the coffee flavors are almost entirely absent. And it's not even sweet! (Also, it's not properly a pound cake - the dense solidity of the poundcake is totally missing. Just because you made it in a loaf pan does not make it poundcake.) It is a complete failure as a dessert, which is very sad.

So, with a heavy heart, I threw it away. And now I am making these instead. This time, I tasted the batter before I baked them, so I know they will not also be failure cakes.
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
It is the weekend and the parentals have gone on a mini-vacation, so I have the house to myself. Which is awesome, because the last few weeks have been a little over-full of people. Not having to talk to anyone for a couple days is really pleasant.

To celebrate my solitude, I am making grape pie. Grape pie is delicious and I am totally looking forward to eating it, but cutting 4 cups of grapes individually in half is a pain in the ass. Alas, I cannot figure out a way to speed up that step. (Though at least my grape pie doesn't call for the grapes to be peeled. Because I would never make that.)
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
Literally the only thing I like about St Patrick's Day is the fact that my dad has a tradition of making his own corned beef. He doesn't actually like corned beef that much - he just likes doing things like that. (He also makes his own bacon and prosciutto sometimes, and is moving into making sausage. We are looking forward to homemade linguiƧa.) I, on the other hand, love corned beef. So much.

Since I won't be home tomorrow night, due to choir, we had the corned beef tonight.

It was so delicious, OMG.
darchildre: a cup of tea.  text: "tea break" (tea break)
This past weekend, I bought a box of these honey ginger crystal things. Which are pretty delicious, but if you actually follow the directions on the packet (empty packet into mug, add 6 to 8 ounces of water, stir, drink) are so spicy as to be almost undrinkable.

So I emptied all of the packets into a tupperware and put it in my tea cabinet. This morning, I made lemon tea in my travel bottle, which is 16 ounces, and replaced one of my normal spoonfuls of sugar with the ginger crystals.

Oh man, it is super delicious.
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
First of all, Auntie Moe made it safely to Auntie Lamb's house and they seem to have reconciled somewhat. Or, at least, they went thrifting together, and thrifting with Auntie Lamb is not an activity for the faint of heart. So that's good.

I am having a baking day! I have made peppermint cherry cookies, because those are my contribution to the panoply of Christmas cookies, and bread dough. The bread dough is for the tradition Christmas-Eve-morning cinnamon rolls, but since the dough can be refrigerated after the first rise until I need it, I decided to make it ahead of time. (Actually, I made about double the amount of dough I need, so I'm planning to freeze the other half. Then I will have bread dough/potential cinnamon rolls at some as-yet-unforeseen future time. Hurrah!)

I was planning to also make pie crust for a thing I'm doing later in the week, but I think that may wait till tomorrow.

And now, I am taking a break.
darchildre: text only:  "unlimited rice pudding!" (daleks are silly)
Adventures in cheesemaking!

So, I enjoyed the leipajuusto I bought last week so much that I decided it would be fun to make my own.* And now I have a huge pot of various kinds of milk slowly heating on my stove.

It's always exciting when you go to a grocery store and ask if they carry something and the person you asked looks at you like you're speaking Sebacean. I mean, I realize that rennet is not exactly the most popular item on most people's grocery lists but it's not that weird, right? The lady I asked had to call two other people for help and advice, and we finally found the rennet right next to the gelatin.

So far, cheese is slow and mostly hands-off, with temperature checking. I've never really done any cooking that required me to know the exact temperatures of things. I suppose that is why it's an adventure.





*This is not quite economical, nor practical, so unless it's amazing, it probably won't become a regular thing. Though, now that I have rennet and reusable cheesecloth, the cost is basically just the milk, so you never know. I will have to make it at least one more time, if it's good, as the site I got the recipe from calls for a quart of heavy cream but mentions in passing that you can substitute eggnog. That is, of course, amazing and must be tried.
darchildre: a cup of tea.  text: "tea break" (tea break)
Went to the grocery store to buy a tiny pie pumpkin, and somehow ended up also buying leipajuusto. This is why I should not be allowed to go to the store by myself.

The tiny pie pumpkin has been dismantled and is in the process of becoming a pumpkin spice shrub. Every year, I decide to make something with pumpkin that requires me to use the whole vegetable and not the canned kind. Every year, I swear to myself that I will never do it again because, good gods, pumpkins are annoying as hell to cut into manageable bits. And every year, I manage to forget this. Still, pumpkin spice shrub! That's exciting, right?

I pan-fried the leipajuusto and drizzled honey over it and it was amazing. And apparently, it's not that hard to make (though it does require rennet), so that is totally a thing I'm going to do. But not today, because I don't want to go back to the store to buy milk.
darchildre: a mad scientist lady doing mad science (malita is doing SCIENCE)
I am making cheese!

Because a) I have always wanted to learn to make cheese, b) this adds an item to my list of skills that will be useful after the apocalypse*, and c) I feel kinda nebulously grumpy and that means that I should distract myself by doing something productive. Thus, cheese. Hopefully, it will be delicious, because it is easy enough that I could do it often. And then I could progress to more difficult cheeses!

Someday, I will make my own cotija. That is my eventual goal.





*Currently, the list is "I can knit my own socks, bake bread, make a variety of variations on 'crust-stuffed-with-meat', and I know a lot of stories and songs. Also, I own a drop spindle, though I don't have any skill with it, but I imagine I could master it given enough practice." Cheese-making will be a valuable addition.
darchildre: a cup of tea.  text: "tea break" (tea break)
Today is cooking day!

This week has not really been a good food week. I haven't been home for dinner much, which means that la familia tends to cook things that I don't like. This is awesome for them, since I have an absurdly restricted diet and they like a lot of things that I don't, but it means that there aren't a lot of edible-to-Sara leftovers in the fridge for lunches or days when we don't cook for dinner. Thus, I am taking matters into my own hands and making little honeyed chicken pies to have for the week. I made these once before and they were fantastically delicious, so I'm looking forward to them.

Technically, they are going to be tiny honeyed chicken empanadas, rather than pies, as I don't feel like messing with muffin tins today. Also, I'm going to sub in dried cranberries for half the raisins, because I like them better. 8)

Also! Our big everyone-in-the-library-all-day-meeting is coming up, and the branches always donate baskets to raffle off. This year, Kingston's basket is going to be full of various homemade goodies, so I am making a shrub to put in it. I started it this morning - it is asian pears, basil, and black pepper, with white sugar and white balsamic vinegar. I think it's going to be pretty awesome and I'm a little bit jealous of whoever is going to eventually win it.

Yay, food!
darchildre: text only:  "unlimited rice pudding!" (daleks are silly)
So, today, on a whim, I bought squid-flavored peanuts from the Japanese snackfood aisle of my grocery store.

(I would here like to note how much I love my local grocery store.)

You guys, they are amazing. Like, seriously-deliciously-addictive, I-am-going-to-eat-these-all-the-time amazing. I am now a little sad that I only bought one bag.

Squid-flavored peanuts. Who knew?
darchildre: clark kent drinking cocoa with his mom (cocoa with the kents)
PSA - If any of you do decide to make the cantaloupe pickles I mentioned a couple posts back, they are absolutely delicious chopped up over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

I know it sounds like a bad pregnancy joke but, really, OMG so good.

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darchildre: a candle in the dark.  text:  "a light in dark places". (Default)
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August 2015

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