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Pop-up restaurant experiences are stressful as fuck.

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How to make Rose Hip Soup:

1) Go to Chicago

2) Buy a bag of dried rosehips from a Slavic market in Ukrainian Village because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

3) Keep them in the breadbox for two years while your spouse is increasingly annoyed with you

4) Look up about ten different recipes for rose hip soup and finally settle on one that makes it clear it's a summer dish

5) Soak rosehips overnight in 8 cups water

6) Boil for 30 minutes the following day

7) Strain cooled juice into bowl.

8) Attempt to press the cooked fruits in a ricer. Give up on that and break out the food mill inherited from Ukrainian Grandma. Enlist the spouse for extra muscle.

9) Reserve the resulting dollop of fruit-pulp paste. Dump the seed-ridden contents of the food mill back in the juice and cook it again.

10) Strain the seeds and junk out of the juice a second time. Put the seeds in the discarded ricer and wring every last drop of juice out of them. Throw seed mixture OUT.

11) Mix the fruit-pulp paste back into the twice-cooked juice.

12) Add sugar because it's sour as FUCK

13) Add a tablespoon of cornstarch because it's still not thick enough to pass as "soup" after all the work you put into it. Simmer for fifteen minutes or until you say "God dammit I'm hungry."

14) Serve topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt, slivered almonds, and maybe some crackers topped with Gjetost cheese or almond cookies or... whatever, really.

15) Enjoy the soup because you @#$%ing earned it.


Dec. 15th, 2015 07:54 pm
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I love fall.

I didn't really get to enjoy it this year what with bouncing around the country like a Ping-Pong ball and when I was living out of a hotel room for 50% of October and November I didn't get to enjoy home-cooked fall foods, either. No persimmon pudding or sweet potato pie, no chestnut stuffing or pomegranate cream.

Well, I guess since fall hasn't taken its leave yet, I'm making up for it. Last night I shelled a pound of fresh Italian chestnuts and cooked them up with a mess of brussels sprouts, then threw a prize of a small Blue Hubbard squash into the oven so I could make my own squashy sauce to dress gnocchi tonight.

The kitchen's a mess, my ricer will be hell to clean thanks to squash pulp, and I have fragments of chestnut shell under my fingernails but I feel a hell of a lot better for doing all that.

Oh yeah and it was pretty tasty too. Washed it down with a chocolate porter milkshake, even. Hey, we had old beer and older ice cream to use up.
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 It was a Yes Detroit kind of night; we were on our way back from setting up a new astronomy event at Mt. Elliot Park by the current northern terminus of the Riverwalk.  We'd thought about getting something to eat down there by the river, but the Tigers were playing a home game tonight and we didn't want to deal with that kind of mess.  I suggested we try one of the new hipster spots in Corktown, but my husband had a different idea.

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Tonight, my most excellent spouse mentioned that he was thrilled I made my own frozen desserts, because he felt most people were intimidated by them.  

Not that they always turn out well.  The prickly pear frozen thing we were enjoying tonight was supposed to be an ice cream, but it ended up more like a two-layer frozen... thing.  I used this recipe from Frieda's because it used six prickly pears and actual cream, but I think it was missing a few steps.  Maybe the heavy cream should've been whipped.  The whole thing really should've been allowed to cool before mixing in egg whites.  And the custard didn't properly thicken after half an hour of stirring.  Anyway, despite all the dairy the stuff ended up with a gritty-flakey texture... which my husband liked, but it wasn't the sort of thing I could serve guests.  It was pretty-- an intense deep pink with a ribbon of very pale pink-- and tasted good, but wasn't ice cream.

I then redeemed myself by making a cobbler using fresh rhubarb from my yard and intense little Michigan strawberries.  Yum.
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So, when I was in Palm Springs, walking up and down the main drag, I noticed several shops offering "date shakes." One gift shop even sold packages of Medjool dates stuffed with nuts and coconut.

Well. Living in the US epicenter of Arabic cuisine, I've come to take Medjool dates for granted over the last decade. Even as a kid in California, I knew Medjool dates were the best, and a whole different experience from the sugar-crusted desiccated date bits that came out of the Dromedary box, but they weren't a regular treat. Here in Dearborn they're pretty much a staple of my grocery expeditions.

[If you ever see the incredibly rare and luscious Black Sphinx Date, buy them. They are actually better than Medjool dates.]

But it turns out Palm Springs is right in the key date-distribution region that sends yummy Medjools and such around the US, and date milkshakes are a tradition going back to the 1930s. And I didn't have time to fit one in my trip. Oh well, I thought, there are recipes galore to use, and I'm pretty sure I can access Medjool dates easier than most people outside of the Palm Springs/Indio region.

Yeah, there are recipes. Some call for frozen yogurt to break up the intense sweetness of dates and vanilla. Some call for vanilla gelato.

I used this recipe, with some modifications to my own milkshake tastes. I don't really like milkshakes from a blender, as I like a certain level of heterogeneity as the milkshake settles out. I want to have to eat the last lump with a spoon. Also, my food processor up and died a couple of years ago and I still haven't shelled out for a new one.

Low-Tech Date Shake


1/2 cup Medjool dates (other dates will be harder to work with)
1/2 cup cold milk
1 cup good-quality vanilla ice cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg (optional)


Pit the dates, removing any attached stems, and chop coarsely.  Put in a small bowl with the milk and let sit for about 10 minutes, mashing every few minutes with a potato masher.  The milk will start to turn a light honey-brown and the dates will begin to break down into a thick paste.  Break it all up with a spoon so you have date particles floating in the date-infused milk. Add the grated nutmeg, which helps temper the sweetness.  Then incorporate the ice cream, 1/2 cup at a time, until it reaches your desired milkshake consistency.

Pour into a serving glasses and consume.  I wouldn't recommend using a straw-- just bottoms up, with a spoon for the end.

Makes 1 serving unless you want to be nice to somebody.
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I've been mixing up trouble again.  I've named it "Jade Rabbit" in honor of the Chinese Lunar Rover.

1 oz Suntory Zen Green Tea liqueur
1/2 oz Domaine de Canton ginger cognac
Lemon twist
Fresh lemon juice.

Mix up liqueurs in a glass with ice. Strain over a lemon twist into chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top and enjoy?

I've been looking for something to do with a big bottle of Zen, but I'm not sure this is it.  Without the lemon juice it would be too sweet, but even so it's kind of sickly and viscous.  It's also a lovely poisonous shade of green.  I suppose this would turn heads at a party.

Maybe the best thing to do with Zen is to just keep throwing it into cake batter.

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So, last year I bought my husband a cocktail shaker so he could make nice drinks like our friend Dave.

He never touched it.  I got bored and this year, I started... mixing up trouble.  I've been working my way through some pretty good books on how to mix classic/vintage cocktails, but along the way I invented a couple of things.  My husband says I've ruined going out to drink for him because unless we drive out to actual hipster cocktail bars, he's not going to find anything as good.  That's what happens when Cosmos and Vodkatinis take over the landscape.  :(

Yo, lua. Dig these. )
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So this "cronut" trend wouldn't honestly have gotten my attention were it not for the flavors I'd read about in reviews of various places offering croissant/donut hybrids.  Blackberry vanilla, lemon rose, pistachio cream, Nutella-- these are the kind of flavors I gravitate toward anyway.  If people made an ordinary lemon and rose-flavored donut for a buck, I'd buy that.  Since they don't, and there's a "kronut" bakery down the street from our current digs in Chicago, I went to scout it out for my breakfast.

Now, I'd been to this exact same bakery on a macaron run last year, so clearly it's my go-to place in Chicago for trendy nibbles.  We did buy a couple of macarons (lemon poppyseed and pumpkin, oh my) and we picked up a nice oldschool Kouign-Amann to add a respectable gloss to our kronut run, but there were a tray of vanilla-rose kronuts waiting and we did buy one to split.  It cost five dollars, same as the actual trademarked Cronuts in New York. 

The kronut was about the size of an ordinary glazed donut, maybe a little flatter.  Roughly the dimensions of an old-fashioned, I guess.  After the first bite it split into three layers and we had to be careful eating the rest.  The vanilla custard started oozing out all over the place.  The rosewater flavor was delicious but, as I said above, if someone offered rose-flavored croissants or rosewater donuts on an everyday basis, I would be perfectly happy to nosh on those and ignore this wacky edible portmanteau.  I see no need to wait in line or engage in other debasing behavior for this particular sweet.

After eating the salted caramel macaron ice cream sandwich at Ginger Elizabeth in Sacramento last year I told my husband I was satisfied with the macarons of the world and would no longer go out of my way to acquire them (today did not count, as we were already in the shop for reasons unrelated to the macaron).  I can safely say the same of cronuts after this sole encounter.
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So last year when I was in Chicago and my most excellent spouse booked us a room above a new age spa in Wicker Park, we noticed the picturesque remains of some hallowed Russian-Turkish bathhouse down the street, which at the time claimed to be "under renovation."

Yeah, I'm from Detroit and I've heard that one before. Surprise, surprise-- the place he booked us for this weekend turns out to be luxury hipster lofts located directly above the newly renovated and actually open Russian-Turkish baths, which now boasts a Russian-chow restaurant and a bar with craft cocktails.  So I'm sitting in a spacious converted-industrial something turned sleek two-bedroom apartment; the luxe aspect is undercut by things like track lighting that doesn't work yet and a "3" in magic marker lurking beneath the brass numeral on the apartment door.  Yeah, it's all very new and rough around the edges and the valet here is arguably the most terrifying parking valet I've ever seen.  He gave us our keys back after he parked my car, which was good 'cause we found out later some other cars in the lot were left unlocked.  Yeah.

We're in town for a funeral instead of rock concerts or astronomy (our usual reasons to travel), but while we're here there's no reason we can't enjoy some Russian bathhouse spa fun, right?  And cherry varenyky that might be like what Grandma used to make. 
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There are many different kinds and classes of beer. Craft beer, lawnmower beer, "fucking close to water" beer, dark velvety stouts, golden Belgian ales, and overhopped American IPAs.  And then there's Shock Top.

See, I like Blue Moon, or at least I did.  But Blue Moon, while quite drinkable and just the thing to enjoy with a slice of orange and a slice of pizza out in the patio at the Green Mill in Albert Lea, MN... has a nasty underbelly.  It's MillerCoors pretending to be a craft beer (OK) and then there's all the other bad stuff that goes along with being MillerCoors.  But Shock Top, Anheuser-Busch's answer to Blue Moon, manages to be even worse-- a vulgar imitation as a rival.  If it were an FE character it'd be, like, Samto.  It's also simply not that good.  The Belgian White isn't poison, but the first bottle of Raspberry Wheat I tasted got poured down the sink to sweeten the drain.

But thanks to a relative with lousy taste in beer we were gifted a pile of various Shock Tops.  The only reason they didn't all go down the drain so we could get the recycling money was that I figured this stuff might be good for beer bread.  After sitting on the stockpile for a year, I finally put this recipe-- the numero uno beer bread recipe via Google-- to the test.  I made the first loaf with the last bottle of Belgian White and the second with Raspberry Wheat, which has such an artificial and vile scent I feared it might ruin the bread.

Fear not.  This is a damn good recipe and withstood the power of bad beer.  My only recommendations are to sift the flour twice and to reduce the butter to 1/4 cup, which is plenty.  The first loaf came out more biscuity than bready when I sifted the flour once (prior to measuring), but when I sifted, measured out three cups, added the other dry ingredients, and sifted the full dry-ingredient mass again, I got a proper loaf of dense, yeasty bread.  I also recommend that you do not overmix-- a few streaks of flour in the dough will not harm the loaf.  Quite the reverse.

Anyway, with those tips in mind this recipe is a phenomenal way to use up unwanted beer, though I doubt it would work with Bud Light or some other "fucking close to water" beer.  For a beer with pretensions to craft, gone wrong, this recipe is perfect.
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So where I live, the redcurrants hit the market a few weeks after the blackcurrants.  In both cases, you snap them up quick or they're gone.

Redcurrants are probably the prettiest fruit in existence; they look like polished gems.  It almost hurts to crush them.  They're also super-high in pectin, the thing that makes jellies gel, which is likely why so many of the currant ice cream recipes get away with being composed of cream, fruit, and sugar-- without churning.  

I used this recipe, which was about as simple as can be.  I did let the currant/sugar mixture chill for a couple of days, and it was a lump of gelatine when I took it out of the fridge.  Fortunately it beat down into a smoother gel that incorporated nicely with the cream.  Plop it in the freezer overnight and you do end up with a pretty credible creamy dessert that makes a lovely parfait when layered with shortbread crumbs.  It's not as divine as that blackcurrant ripple ice cream, which is A-1 fucking amazing, but it's good.  Very good.

(About 1/5 the redcurrants went moldy in the basket and so I ended up with 4/5 of a batch of ice cream and no garnish.  Oh well.)

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So, I finally made the blackcurrant ice cream I'd been pondering for weeks.

On blackcurrants and breaking glass )
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A lot of good booze isn't available in Michigan because Reasons, so you can't find the right ingredients for hip craft cocktails on the shelves around here.  On the four-day jaunt to California's state capital from which I just returned, I decided to correct these holes in my liquor cabinet.

Grocery List:

#1: Root, by Art in the Age, last acquired in April of '12 in Las Vegas.

#2: Creme de Violette, any.

#3: Anything else by Art in the Age.

#4: Creme Yvette if #2 was unavailable.

Things got off to a promising start as I found a creme de violette-laced Aviation cocktail on the menu of the place we went for lunch on Thursday.  Washing down delicious heirloom tomato salad with an Aviation and a Detroit-inspired The Last Word was a great way to start things, but alas-- the only place around Sac that had Art in the Age products only carried Root and was flat out of Creme de Violette with the next shipment due in Tuesday. So I scored on #1, but had to make do with #4, which is kind of like Chambord with spicy and floral elements.  I can kind of taste the violet character but mostly I'm tasting berries.  It's still a big improvement over Parfait Amour, which promised violets but tasted like orange and vanilla. 

But overall I'm mostly pleased.

Yo, Lua-- I know you'll be reading this one.  I saw a California Thrasher down by the Sacramento River and two white-tailed kites hovering by the freeway at the edge of town.
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OK.  So there was another food truck rally in town tonight and we weren't very hungry so the most excellent spouse and I went with the sole goal of scoring some ice cream from the wacky people at Treat Dreams.  So we get there and for once they still have all the featured flavors available.  My husband wanted the Orange Clove sorbet, which is nice enough but I wanted some ice cream.  He pointed out that they had Lavender Ginger.  I pointed out that it was vegan Lavender Ginger, and at that point I'd half-decided to go with the blue-tinted cookie dough, but when we got to the counter I asked what was in the vegan stuff.  The ice cream dude said it was made with rice milk, and since I've had rice-based ice cream before that was perfectly tasty I was willing to give it a shot.

Big mistake.  This "ice cream" was more like a fluffy sherbet or even a fine-grained Hawaiian shaved ice.  It tasted very faintly of lavender and ginger.  I can handle some pretty intense levels of both lavender and ginger so this experience was underwhelming in the extreme.  I ended up swapping with my husband, and let me say that after trying the vegan Lavender Ginger that Orange Clove sorbet was delicious- and, despite being completely non-dairy and not pretending to be otherwise, far more creamy and pleasing in texture than the rice cream.

Normally I'd retaliate against such an experience by whipping up my own batch of lavender goodness, but my trusty Donvier failed me last Friday.  I made a salted caramel ice cream from a starter mix (one that had given me weird results last year) and when I put the ice cream into the freezer canister no magic whatsoever occurred.  It remained soup.  I put the entire canister back in the deep freeze and it remained caramel soup.  I poured some of it into oatmeal stout, where it made truly delectable beer floats, but there was still a bloody quart of this stuff to contend with so at my husband's suggested I bought an angel food cake, poked holes in it, and poured the caramel soup into the cake.  This was more difficult than it sounds but the end results were pretty tasty.

But now I don't trust my ice cream maker not to fail me.  :(
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Why not?  The more I write the more I have to think about it.

Jugdral, like most FE worlds, appears to be strictly Northern Hemisphere, possibly at the latitude of Europe considering the snow-covered state of Silesse. Silesse could, however simply be at a very high elevation which allows for the whole continent to be closer to the equator. It really does look like Fake Europe tipped at an angle the way that Archanea/Valentia[*] look like Fake Eurasia and Fake Americas.  Orgahill would be Great Britain, Agustria is France and Verdane Spain, Grannvale is Germany and Miletos Italy, Northern Thracia is the Balkans and Southern Thracia Greece, while the Yied is Poland, Isaac is Ukraine/European Russia, and Silesse is Scandinavia.

But my headcanon doesn't entirely play that way.  My headcanon also says that a warm ocean current akin to the Gulf Stream keeps Western Jugdral much warmer than eastern nations at the same latitude-- so, Northern Thracia and Southern Agustria aren't in the same climate zone, and Souther Thracia is far less warm than the south of Verdane.  Silesse meanwhile takes the full brunt of a cold airstream that glances off Isaach.

My headcanon also doesn't bother mandating a distinction between Old World Food and New World Food like I do with Archanea/Valentia.

* I refuse to call them Ylisse and Valm.

fooooooooood )

So, where does the coffee grow?  We have to have coffee.  Originally I thought coffee might grow in Isaach because hey, "exotic" peoples at the edge of the desert, but the latitude looks aaaaaall wrong. 
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Some months back, I was doing my radio show (which is still a thing btw) and my husband came up to me, gestured me to hit the mute button on my mic, and handed me what I thought was the best wheat-flour tortilla I'd had in years.  It was thick and warm and puffy and just lightly touched with butter and was basically perfect.

Turns out Costco has a damn good line of frozen "roti-chapatis", which along with Greek yogurt have basically become the staple of our diet.  You can do anything with these-- they're great for leftover Indian food, of course, but they also work with Lebanese leftovers, Moroccan leftovers, Mexican leftovers, you name it.  

Things to do with roti-chapati!

Nutella and sliced bananas
Clotted cream, sliced strawberries, balsamic vinegar (the real deal), cracked pepper
Sour cream or Greek yogurt, blackberries, brown or demerara sugar

Greek yogurt, sliced cucumbers, sliced radishes, fresh mint
Spreadable soft cheese, avocado, salsa

Hummus, pine nuts, lebneh or Greek yogurt, sprinkling of paprika
Chicken mole
Any sort of curry
Basically anything good and tasty that's too highly flavored/scented for the workplace

In other words, get a pack of these, and with a good supply of dairy, nut butter, and fresh fruit on hand, you're all set.

This past week we got a little more extreme with the flatbread consumption and picked up some fresh injera from a local restaurant.  Injera is on a totally different spot on the flatbread continuum from tortillas or "roti-chapati"-- it's spongy and soft and deliciously sour.  We had it topped with a fluffy sunflower/pepita spread and sliced bananas and wrapped it around chunks of American-made "lomo" pork and "manchengo" cheese.  The latter is one of the weirdest things I've eaten in a while but it sure was tasty. 
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
So, remember that salted caramel bourbon stout milkshake?

I spent a while trying to replicate that, and thanks to a lucky find of fresh salted caramel ice cream at a local food truck rally, I pulled it off today.


1 big scoop (so, about a cup?) salted caramel ice cream
2 T bourbon (I used Four Roses)
1/2 cup stout (I used a brand of called Moo Juice)

Whomp together.  If all the ingredients are cold and you have a chilled bowl and a frosty glass waiting, there's your milkshake.  If you end up with spiked MILK instead, pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes.  Enjoy.  Whipped cream on top is optional but very nice.  

[Technically, this contains no milk and is not a milkshake.  Call it a "happy shake" if you must.  It made me pretty happy!]
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So last night, I came in from trimming the lawn to find the house oddly quiet.  My most excellent spouse was sprawled on the bed in Grandma's room downstairs, earbuds in place, staring at the screen of his phone. I asked him what he was enjoying and he said, with a grin, "Amy's Baking Company."

You should watch this. No, really. )

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Let's be clear about this: I feel I already have the ultimate Rhubarb and Custard recipe, which I have shared repeatedly.  But this recipe from has two things that enticed me.

1) It serves two people.  Not a bad thing to see when you live in a two-person household. 
2) The trifle was topped with crumbled ginger biscuits.

I found this recipe while on a hunt for something even more weird-- either the Rubik's Cube Battenburg Cake or some other freakish thing going around tumblr.  But I'm a sucker for the rhubarb-custard combination, so I went with this.

It's easy. Really easy.  The portions are tiny-- I used two stalks of rhubarb.  The 200mL of heavy cream doesn't amount to much.  It only needs two eggs.  I assembled it in stages prior to making the main event for dinner tonight (fiddlehead ferns with garlic and red pepper flakes).  The rhubarb took a couple of minutes to wash and chop and ten minutes to cook.  The cream reached near to boiling in no time at all and it only took a few minutes of stirring to finish off the custard.  The whipped cream topping would've taken seconds except 50mL of cream is such a tiny amount I whipped it by hand.  And then I assembled the "trifle" (which contains no ladyfingers or biscuit-type things, so it's really more of a fool than a trifle) in two glasses and popped it in fridge.  Done.

[Seriously, though, the very simplicity of this hinges on knowing how to both poach rhubarb and make a cooked custard.  To hell with that "coats the back of a spoon" business-- at a certain point, you're flying by intuition, especially when the portions are this tiny.]

So, how was it?  Well, it contained rhubarb and custard, so I'm biased, but it was really quite good and well-composed.  It didn't reach the mind-blowing lusciousness of my usual custard recipe (which is super-rich, super-sweet, and needs something like rhubarb or blackcurrants to balance it out) but I'm pretty sure this was more health-conscious and economical and hey, it came with built-in portion control. 

So, yeah.  Four stars out of five, would make again, etc.  Suitable for entertaining.  And so on.  The Most Excellent Spouse agreed my normal custard recipe is tastier but noted that hey, this is a rhubarb and custard dessert.  We're sold on it from that angle alone.

PS: I expect poisoned rhubarb pies as a plot device in someone's FE13 'fic.  Get at it.


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