Monday, February 25, 2008

Almond paste, Santa Cruz, Sardines

We had Lindsay, Nathan, Ivona and Justin over for dinner! We've enjoyed great hospitality from them this year, so it was fun to get to reciprocate.

We served Baked Goat Cheese and Roasted Winter Squash over Garlicky Fettuccine and Mark Bittman's terrific recipe for roasted chickpeas. (Toss chickpeas in oil, garlic and whatever spices you want, and bake in a single layer at 400°F for 20 minutes.)

Dessert was a bit of an experiment... I had a whole bunch of almond paste on my hands (from a foiled attempt to make almond butter), so Scott and I rolled it into little bite-sized balls and coated each one with chocolate (melted chocolate chips). We let them chill on the back patio while we ate dinner, and voila! Almond truffles! The recipe needs some work, to be sure, but it served us in a pinch and got rid of some of our almond paste. (I think I'm going to try to make some kind of energy bar with the rest of it...)

Road trip to Santa Cruz!
I started the day with a training session with a trainer at the CrossFit Santa Cruz gym. I've been doing CrossFit workouts for a few years now, and Santa Cruz is the HQ gym. Working out there felt like completing a pilgrimage. The session was good - I got a lot of expert feedback on my technique, which I'm excited to put to use.

From there, I went to Sibley and Nina's for a little house party. It started raining pretty hard soon after I arrived, so we couldn't visit the treehouse as planned. We did have a very cozy afternoon indoors, complete with homemade, deep-fried apple fritters and a fire in the fireplace.

I spent the night there and slept very soundly for 10 hours. It was wonderful.

I took off around 9 am for Monterey, to visit the famous aquarium. The most beautiful thing I saw was a school of sardines swimming in a circle. There was a lot of other great stuff too - otters, jellies, sharks - but those sardines are what really stunned me.

Two Other Things
First, my favorite cookbook author, Mark Bittman, has started a blog! It's great, and I highly recommend subscribing.

Second, I discovered this morning that I can do a pull-up! I've been trying and failing for a few years now, so I'm really excited that I can finally do one.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Science Fiction Dreamin'

I dreamt that I was in NYC, battling zombies with the CSI team and Anthony Zuiker.

Scott beat me though - he dreamt that Earth was being attacked by quadrupedal yetis from space. And a naked lady in a wheelchair was the only one who could save us.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mie's Yummy Lentils

We made Mie's Yummy Lentils for dinner tonight and thoroughly enjoyed them. I added a diced eggplant to the onion mixture, as well as some reconstituted dried seaweed. I only used about a tablespoon of oil, and added water to the onion mixture to keep it from sticking too much. Tasty stuff!
2c lentils
28oz. canned tomatoes
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/3c cilantro
1/6c parsley
1/2c veg oil, 1/4c olive oil (i usually use a lot less)
2tsp cumin
1/4tsp red pepper
1tsp paprika
1/16tsp turmeric

add lentils to 5c boiling water. cover, simmer for 6 min. turn off and let sit.
in separate pot, combine all non-lentil ingredients except tomatoes. cook and stir until onions are browned. add tomatoes. Add tomato mixture to lentils. cover and simmer for .. uh... like 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The bread turned out well today!

I made bread today, and it turned out well, so I figured I'd post the recipe - as much for my own memory as for the benefit of all of you out there. (If you have a food processor, making bread is *really* *REALLY* easy.)

1 cup + 2 tbsp warm water
2 tsp yeast
1.5 tsp salt
3 cups flour
The flour is where you can get creative. I used 1 cup of bread flour, 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds (ground in my coffee grinder) and about 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour (so that the flaxseed and w.w. flour together equal 2 cups). I threw in 2 teaspoons of wheat gluten, since it's supposed to make whole wheat breads rise better. I also added a bunch of fresh rosemary.

1. Mix everything up in the food processor.

2. Take it out, pat it into a ball, and throw it in a bowl you've greased with olive oil. Let it rise in a warm place for a few hours. One hour might even be enough - the dough should double in volume. (My dough likes Scott's desk best, which gets lots of afternoon sun.) Don't forget to put saran wrap over the bowl.

3. When it's doubled in size, AWESOME. Punch it down, and shape it into a round loaf. Put it on whatever you're going to bake it on. (Scott gave me a baking stone for Christmas.) Sprinkle it with cornmeal, put the dough on, and cover it with saran wrap.

4. Let it rise for another hour, or longer if you can stand it. The dough should double in size again, ideally.

5. Heat the oven to 450, stick a pan with a little water in it on the bottom rack of your oven, and put your bread in. It should be done (i.e. golden brown) in 20 minutes.

Here's where I got the recipe. It has pictures and is generally more instructive than my instructions.

I actually baked only half of the dough today. After the first rising, I divided the dough and put half of it in the freezer. Apparently, this recipe is good for pizza crusts as well as regular loaves, so maybe after I thaw it, I'll shape it into a crust rather than a ball.

Off to bed now, looking forward to toasted rosemary bread for breakfast!

Two beautiful outings

A hike and a ballet - not a bad way to spend Saturday!

Kelly and I hiked the Blue Ridge Trail to Fiske Peak, which is in the Cache Creek Canyon Regional Park. It was wonderful to be outside all day long. I'm still learning to appreciate the dry California landscape, but it's definitely growing on me. (I think Boundary Waters landscapes - green trees, blue sky and water, grey rocks - will always be my favorites.)

I got home around 4:30, spent some time rejuvenating, and then Scott and I went to see the St. Petersburg Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet.

It was more modern than I expected (They used Prokofiev's score; I assumed it would be Tchaikovsky.), but once I got warmed up to it, I loved it. Juliet was incredible, as were her nurse and Tybalt (even though his costume reminded me of Spiderman). And I loved the choreography for the corps. A wonderful night.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cooking news

Thanks, everyone, for sending in your vegetarian recipes! I slipped up today and opened up a can of chicken noodle soup for lunch - I was three bites in before I realized I shouldn't be eating it. And last weekend, I ate plenty of non-vegetarian dim sum... but it was a special occasion, so I excused myself.

Besides that, we're eating as yummily as ever. Yesterday, I bought some amaranth grain from the Davis Food Co-Op. We first learned about amaranth in December, when we toured ECHO with Scott's family in Florida. Amaranth is good for you because it's a whole grain, and it has a lot of protein. I just cooked a pot of it, in preparation for dinner tonight, and it looks a LOT like quinoa. (This makes sense; I just discovered they're both in the Amaranthaceae family.) It tastes pretty good (probably needs some oil and salt), and it's kind of fun to be eating a grain with a good backstory. It has been cultivated for the past 8,000 years, was banned by the conquistadors, and was rediscovered in the 1970's.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I finally matted and framed this series of color compositions! I made them for a class in college, and liked them, so I've been intending to get them up on a wall ever since then. My mat-cutting skills still have a ways to go, but this turned out really well - four windows with no visible mistakes!

In other news, I had a lovely weekend. Scott and I went climbing on Friday evening, and I got to play pickup Ultimate on both Saturday and Sunday - in sunny, 60° weather! I hadn't played since before Thanksgiving, and I was pleased to find that I am in pretty good shape and that my throws aren't too rusty.

Sunday also included a delicious dim sum brunch, and a pretty fun belly dancing class - it was the last one of the session, so we did a little improv at the end. Scary, but fun!

On top of all of that, I rented some DVDs. We watched Ratatouille on Friday (fun movie, incredible animation) and Devil's Playground last night (really good documentary on Amish teenagers). On deck for tonight is Brick, a high school murder mystery in the film noir style. I'll let you know how it is.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Odds and ends...

Congratulations to my brother, who won an honorable mention for a photograph he submitted to National Geographic Adventure!

I started taking poi classes last month. I'm not good yet, but it's addictive so I've been practicing my moves in the living room. Here's a terrific poi video:

(I use tennis balls rather than fire balls.)

I made a loaf of bread this afternoon - our first using the new food processor - and it turned out beautifully! Here's a link to the recipe I used: baking french bread is easier than you think.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What's your favorite vegetarian recipe?

I'm giving up meat for Lent. What's your favorite vegetarian recipe? Last night I made this lasagna for dinner - it is tasty!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

San Fran Sunday

I missed the Giants' big victory because I spent the day doing girly things in San Francisco instead.

I started off at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I got to see some Joseph Albers (my favorite artist ever), and a Rothko, and this incredible, enormous curtain made of fake flowers. Absolutely gorgeous. I went up a floor and enjoyed the photography section very much, but the top floor was the best - an exhibit called "Take Your Time" by Olafur Eliasson.
Widely heralded as one of the most important artists of his generation, Olafur Eliasson nimbly merges art, science, and natural phenomena to create extraordinary multisensory experiences.

Commerce followed culture. I bought a set of "Hula" wine glasses at the museum store, which bobble around on your table but never spill a drop. They're very fun, and they fit in our dishwasher better than our current stemmed glasses.

A little more casual shopping along Market St., and then I arrived at Mavis and Maya's house! (Remember them from the MN party photos?) I was greeted by hugs and the aroma of fresh-out-of-the-oven vegan coconut cupcakes. As soon as they were frosted, the Valentines-making began! Three plastic boxes, stuffed with craft supplies appeared, and we (about 8 of us altogether) sat around on the floor - cutting, pasting & chatting.

The train ride home was no good - it's supposed to be a quick, hour and ten minute trip. Instead, it was three and a half. I got home after 9:30 instead of 7, starving hungry after my cupcake "lunch."

Fortunately, Scott had dinner waiting on the table for me. This was possibly even more beautiful than Olafur's works. It was a wonderful day out, and a wonderful homecoming.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Catching up on photos

I finished my t-shirt quilt this morning! It's far from perfect and has lots of sloppy places, but it's far better than having a drawer full of t-shirts I don't wear. Now I only have half a drawer full of such shirts...

(Click here to go to my Flickr set, where there are more photos and notes.)

Next, here are a few photos from the 4th Annual Minnesota Party that I've been meaning to post.

Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Betty Crocker, and Paul Bunyan!

Here's Maya and Mavis, with Scott in the background, dressed up as me.

And what's a Minnesota Party without Minnesotan food?
Hotdish, Jell-O salad, fried spam, etc.