Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Chewy Experiment

Today, I decided to try to make chocolate chip cookies. I wanted to make them for Boyfriend Bird, because he has finals around now and he is stressed. And cookies are good for that. So after a long decision process (mainly realizing that I had no oatmeal and couldn't make oatmeal cookies), I decided on just simple chocolate chip cookies.

And then I realized I should make Alton Brown's The Chewy, since so many people have said it is amazing. So I made the batter at my nest, and then flew on over to Jujyfruits Bird and Dot Hack Bird's apartment, where I actually baked it. And the first batch came out burned.

I was quite upset, as I hadn't burned cookies in quite some time. I turned the oven down and watched the other batches, which all came out much better. Boyfriend Bird, Jujyfruits Bird, Dot Hack Bird, and Fleur Bird all happily snacked on them. And then I packaged them up and sent them with Boyfriend Bird, who ate them sadly while studying.

Ah, college.

You are not a Carnivore!

One thing that has always driven me crazy has been when people refer to someone as a 'carnivore.' It's normally vegetarians who do it, in my experience, although I know other people do it as well. It drives me crazy because no one is a carnivore, no one. No one eats only meat. So why say something so inaccurate?

Of course, the reason this mostly irritates me is that 90% of the time it comes up, it's a vegetarian describing a dish, saying 'this dish is so good it'll trick even carnivores!' No, it won't trick carnivores, I don't care how good your veggie burger is. That doesn't mean they won't like it. If I eat a veggie burger or something, I know it's not meat, but that doesn't mean I'm going to spit it out and hate it.

I guess what really bothers me is just people who refer to others as carnivores. They're not. They're omnivores, even if they like meat more.

But, in case I annoyed anyone with my rant, here is a vegetarian recipe! In fact, I would say it's almost vegan, but I top it with cheese. The other day I made a black bean soup from A Year of Slow Cooking, which is obviously my favorite cooking site. I made it because I wanted to have something healthy after having a few days of rough dieting, and I was tired of eating boring lunches. So I made this for just Mama Bird and I, as well as some cornbread, and it was my lunch for more than a week.

I was nervous about it at first because the texture took a little getting used to, and it really looks like chocolate pudding. But it tastes delicious. With hot Rotel and just normal taco sauce, it had enough of a kick to satisfy me. I put a little in the freezer, but I feel like defrosting it watered it down a bit, which was a little disappointing. I really liked it, overall, and am definitely going to be making it again, maybe in a month or so.

And now my family migrates north to visit more birds. We'll see how much I end up eating. (Hint: it will be a lot.)

Black Bean Soup from A Year of Slow Cooking
(Serves ~6, approximately $1.43 per serving)
  • 46.5oz black beans
  • 10oz diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of broth, vegetable or chicken
  • 2 tablespoons taco sauce
  • 1.5 cups frozen vegetables

    1. Blend vegetables together in blender.
    2. Empty all ingredients into crockpot, without rinsing, and stir.
    3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
    4. Blend everything to a smooth texture.
    5. Serve with some cheese and cornbread.

    Today's lessons learned:
    • If you try to puree the vegetables directly from the freezer, be prepared to wake the whole house.
  • Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Spinach Stuffed Chicken

    Last week, I went above and beyond the call of duty and planned a whole week of menus for my family, which was mostly just Mama Bird and I. I also went above and beyond the Call of Duty to fight Nazi Zombies, but that's hardly related. (We only survived to round twelve. I am not very good at fighting Nazi Zombies, apparently.)

    One of the things I had planned on making last week was Broccoli Stuffed Chicken, not that I had any particular recipe picked out for it. It just sounded cool, and I wanted to try it. But Mama Bird pointed out we didn't have broccoli, just spinach, and both of us were too lazy to go to Giant to buy any. So we decided to make spinach stuffed chicken. It's got more alliteration to it, anyhow. And because I am brave and bold, I opted to not use a recipe. (Mama Bird advised me a lot. A lot.)

    And it turned out pretty good! You can't tell from these pictures, as I'm a terrible photographer, but... use your imagination. They honestly weren't complicated: pound some chicken breasts so they're sort of flat, put cheese on them, and then put spinach on the cheese. Fold it, toothpick it, put bread crumbs on them if you do desire, and put em in the oven until they're done! Then eat. I'd advise you let them cool, but hey, what do I know.

    I put pepper jack in mine, and Mama Bird got swiss, since she tells me I make things too spicy sometimes. I thought it was awesome with pepper jack, it gave it a little kick that it totally needed.

    A not so artsy picture of them coming out of the oven. Notice the pool of melted cheese, breadcrumbs, and chicken juice in the middle. Poor planning on my part.

    And this highlights the other problem I had with it: the folded end was just entirely chicken, no spinach. So I think next time I might mess around with cutting the chicken and trying to make a chicken sandwich. Yes, I know, not quite the idea, but it'd be interesting, wouldn't it? We'll see what happens.

    Spinach Stuffed Chicken from the Bird
    (Serves 2, approximately $4.93 per serving)
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion flakes
  • 2 slices Pepperjack, or desired cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

    1. Boil or steam spinach.
    2. While spinach is cooking, flatten chicken breasts as much as possible.
    3. Place a piece of cheese on each breast.
    4. Remove spinach from pot or steamer, and mix with Italian seasoning and onion flakes.
    5. Spoon spinach onto cheese, and fold chicken breast over.
    6. Secure with toothpick.
    7. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top.
    8. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until done.

    Today's lessons learned:
    • 'Flatten chicken' does not mean do it until you're bored, it means flatten the chicken.
  • Friday, December 3, 2010

    Rainbow Cake: my lesson in baking cakes

    A few months ago, a good friend of mine moved. It wasn't a cross-country move, just an hour or so away, but far enough that seeing him for a quick lunch wasn't an option anymore. We will name him Darth Bird. He'll probably never read this, but I think he'd appreciate that name. I was worried about him moving; he's been one of my closest friends since high school, and after recently losing another close friend, I was concerned about not seeing him as often.

    Luckily, Darth Bird thought ahead, and got me as well as four other birds involved in a game with him before he moved. The game is still on-going, and we aim to play every other weekend. So once a month we drive down to his apartment, and he generally cooks us something.

    The first time we did, he made an amazing homemade lasagna. The only part of it that was store bought was the noodles, and it was quite awesome.

    If you read the title of this post, you are probably wondering what on earth this has to do with rainbow cakes. Well, I decided to make a rainbow cake for his apartment, figuring that a cake was a perfect thing to bring to a dinner gathering, and that the directions that I found over at Omnomicon were so simple it'd be hard to mess up.

    Well, I was mostly right about that. I have a lot of learning about baking to do.

    I opted out of the diet version, despite being on one, because I figured no one else was. The whole 'double the batter' thing was also rather confusing, but I got it all sorted out. And dirtied a lot of bowls in the process.

    Mama Bird helped, and did a lot of the color mixing. 'That's nowhere near blue enough! You need more blue! Here, let me do it!' That sounds like a pretty accurate transcript, and we had a lot of fun. We're very sarcastic to each other, but it's okay because we like each other. She is the best Mama Bird.

    I took a lot of pictures of the process, because it was fun, and amusing. This was the batter before it went in the oven, but right after this is where everything went wrong.

    You see, I was impatient with the cake. I needed to get it iced and ready to go. I did not give myself adequate time to prepare it. So it came out of the oven, and I tried to pull it from its little pans. One split in half, and the other just lost some off the top. Then I tried to ice it while it was still warm, and we lost more. Beyond 'we lost more,' it started completely falling apart. I got so upset I almost didn't bring the cake, until Mama Bird told me I was being an idiot and made me. It had many toothpicks stuck in it, holding it together. As I pulled the lid off the container, I was actually embarrassed, and all over again wished I hadn't brought it. The sight that greeted me was the cake, split wide open, hardly sticking on its tray. I (almost) tearfully presented it to my friends.

    And did my friends care that it was falling apart?

    No. They still ate most of it. Our tongues were purple for the rest of the evening. And I learned a few crucial things about baking: wait to remove your cake, wait to ice your cake, and just really, be patient. My friends also taught me that "If it tastes like cake, we are going to eat it."

    It's been a few months since Darth Bird moved, and we still see each other frequently. In fact, I'm going to go see him in about twenty minutes, so I should really stop typing and go brush my hair. But it's nice to know that some friendships aren't so easily ended.

    Today's lessons learned:
    • My friends will probably eat anything.
    • Food coloring definitely has a flavor.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    The Thanksgiving Feast from the Bird's Nest

    I'm a few days late on this one, but Thanksgiving was great! I tried to have two Thanksgiving dinners, one with Boyfriend Bird's mother, and one with my family. This was a mistake. No one should try to eat that much food in one day, that is for sure.

    As expected, there was a lot of food. I offered to make something for dinner one, but I asked much too late, so there was nothing that needed to be made. We had green bean casserole, awesome stuffing, turkey and gravy, homemade cranberry sauce by boyfriend's grandmother, asparagus, mashed potatoes, and... oh, there was more, but I can't even remember. I had another serving of the stuffing, despite knowing about the second dinner that was awaiting me.

    Oh, and then like an hour after gorging myself on food, they brought out pies. I was practically falling asleep on couch while his family played Boggle. I would have not played with them even if I had been awake, as Boyfriend Bird can get stupidly high scores. His little sister is now quite a monster at it as well, so I am afraid to try to play with them. But back to the pies.

    I don't know about you, but when I think of Thanksgiving pies, I think of only two: pumpkin pie and pecan pie. I have two confessions to make about Thanksgiving pies.

    I have never liked pumpkin pie, ever.

    Until last year, I had never had pecan pie.

    (Mama Bird always made me an apple or cherry pie for Thanksgiving. I was a spoiled little bird.)

    So this year, when the pies came out, I looked at them, and had to think for a while. I knew I didn't need those pies, given that I was going to be eating in maybe another two hours. And given the whole 'on a diet' thing, too. Thanksgiving is probably the worst time to diet, isn't it? So the pumpkin pie wasn't even tempting, even with a scoop of vanilla ice cream next to it. The pecan, however, was tempting me. I had only had it once, and it had been insanely sweet. Was it always that sweet? With that weird texture? I had to test this theory.

    So I had a half of a piece, and it was delicious and totally worth the calories.

    Then we migrated over to my family's house, where more food awaited us. One of my aunts came over, and she made us fried.... sausage bread balls. I want the recipe, although I know I should never make those again, because they were surely terrible for me.

    The first thing I did when I got home was set up my mother's slow cooker. To make mulled wine. I did not take any pictures, since the kitchen was full of work, and I didn't really want to try to explain to my aunt why I was taking pictures of a slow cooker. It was also really dark in there.

    So yes, I made up a batch of Stephanie from A Year of Slow Cooking's Mulled Wine.
    Sadly, I am really not a red wine fan. I go to a wine tasting after work every Friday, so I should have seen this coming. But I wanted to like it so badly I ignored that I hated the little taste of the wine I took when I was pouring it in. I even tried to have a glass with dinner, and got scolded for putting such hot liquid in a wine glass. That probably was a little foolish, I'll admit that.

    But Mama Bird liked the wine, and so did Boyfriend Bird's father. He and his fiancée had a most of it, I would say. So while I was disappointed, I guess it wasn't a failure.

    Second dinner did not go nearly as well for me. I had like four sausage balls before, so any hunger that had been thinking of returning to me stayed far away instead. Mama Bird made many things, that all smelled wonderful, but I just could not eat. I had a tiny amount of turkey, of mashed potatoes, a pittance of stuffing, and a dinner roll with homemade jelly. I think that was it. I just sat there and moaned about how I wanted to eat. Boyfriend Bird managed to eat, and I was proud of his efforts.

    Immediately after dinner, my mother brewed some coffee. And I remembered I had promised Boyfriend Bird I would make pumpkin spiced lattes for him. Also from A Year of Slow Cooking. Only this time I didn't have 2 hours to prepare it, and I started panicking a little, until I remembered we had a stove.

    And I felt rightly silly.

    We didn't have espresso, either. I did not make myself any, because I dislike coffee, so although I tried it I had no real opinion. It was very well received, though. Except for the bottom fourth of Boyfriend Bird's, which was nothing but spices. I felt bad for not stirring his enough.

    Then after we sat around for a few hours, Mama Bird decided it was time for dessert. I was no longer completely stuffed, so I agreed. We had two pumpkin pies- Sister Bird wanted a lot of leftovers. She was feeling well enough by then to have a small bite, but she was completely better the next day. We also had a pumpkin parfait that I made, and a cheesecake that hailed from my great-grandfather.

    The cheesecake was a bit of a joke through the whole day, actually. Mama Bird had to beg the recipe from him, after he had made it every year. He very begrudgingly wrote it down for her, and when he handed it to her, he looked her in the eye and said 'You'll never make this correctly. I'm the only one who can.'

    I spent most of the day reminding her of that, but in a loving way. But I will say that he was very wrong; her cheesecake was delicious. Someday I will attempt to make it as well and maybe even share the recipe.

    My favorite Thanksgiving dessert is decidedly the pumpkin parfait. I used to find out where my mother had put it after making it, and then move it to a different freezer and bury it deep, so I was the only one who could find it. And I would eat the whole thing. No regrets. This year was no different, except that now I encourage others to eat it so I don't. Oh, how things change.

    Pumpkin Parfait, from Mama Bird's recipe box
    (Serves 9, approximately $1.12 per serving)
  • 1.5 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1.5 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 quart softened vanilla ice cream

    1. Combine sugar, graham crackers, and butter.
    2. Press into 9" pan.
    3. Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in mixing bowl.
    4. Fold into ice cream.
    5. Pour into pan.
    6. Freeze until firm, and keep covered.

    I could eat this every day of the holidays. It's not a pronounced pumpkin flavor, which I think is a big part of why I like it. I advise against trying to resist its charms.

    Today's lessons learned:
    • Even if pumpkin pie is gross, you probably don't hate pumpkin flavor as much as you think.
  • Sunday, November 28, 2010

    I won NaNoWriMo!

    For those of you who aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, it is an interesting idea. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Not just random words, but a story, and one that you think could go places.

    I have tried to do NaNoWriMo many times in the past years, and never managed. My first year, I was in a national field hockey tournament during November, and although we won the tournament, my word count only made it to maybe 20,000. And in the years following, I always had to do a lot of school work in November, and I could never justify putting off homework to write.

    Now that I work 9-5 and have a set schedule, I had a much easier time finding time to write, although it was still pretty stressful some days. I actually did about the recommended 1667 words every day, and just did extra some days. Today I had to write less than 500 words to finish my 50k goal for the month.

    However, I realized from writing my story this way, that I need to rewrite my story. The story isn't told in chronological order, there are several flashback chapters that help clear things up. Trying to write the story in the order that it's read meant I made a lot of little mistakes that got very hard to fix. So what did I end up with, from this month? A story I'm going to throw away?

    Not exactly. I learned a lot from it. I learned a writing style that doesn't work for me, I learned a lot about the way my characters feel and how they need to feel for the story to be successful. I learned that some scenes I had planned were just boring and not really necessary, no matter what I thought when I was outlining. Most of all, I learned that my story is going to be really, really long, if I only made it to chapter three in seventy eight pages.

    Thank you, NaNoWriMo, for getting me off my lazy bum and working.

    And now, in celebration, I am going to make muffins and BBQ chicken pizza. Sounds like a good day to me.

    I decorated a cake!

    I have tried to decorate a cake before, and it has never turned out well. And I tried to write 'happy birthday!' across cupcakes for a friend once.

    They were strawberry cupcakes. From a box, because I am not a great baker. But although trying to ice them nicely was not very successful, they tasted fine. I want to try to make real strawberry cupcakes sometime, but I need an excuse. Otherwise I will eat all of them.

    We were visiting some Bird family this weekend, and part of the trip was a joint baby shower. Mama Bird told one of my many Aunt Birds that I was now a cook, since I certainly cook a lot more than I did when I last came home from college.

    She immediately responded with "Oh, good! She can decorate the cake!"

    I am a computer programmer. I cannot decorate anything. I cannot draw, I cannot do patterns, and my horrid handwriting has been a thing of legend for some years. So I was sort of stressed by this, although it's not like anyone was really too hung up on it.

    Aunt Bird actually had an icing pipe. If I am ever going to be good at decorating cakes, I may have to invest in one.

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    Smoked Salmon!

    A whole jar of smoked salmon! And it's mine!

    I haven't decided what to do with it yet, but I am more than receptive to suggestions. It has smoke peppers in with it, so hopefully it's a little bit spicy. I'm currently thinking of a smoked salmon burger with some nice sauce, but I haven't really decided. It was a gift from someone Papa Bird works with, who says it is Alaska Red Salmon, caught, cured, and smoked by his family. I will admit I don't know how to fish, or do much with it, but it sounds absolutely amazing. But the bird family is migrating to PA for the weekend for a baby shower, so I won't have time til next week.

    I also didn't take many pictures during Thanksgiving because I didn't want to explain it to my family, but I'll share with you what I made and how well received it was. Sadly Sister Bird was sick and only got to enjoy a bit of pumpkin pie.

    I won't go into what I have to be thankful for, but rest assured, it is a lot. Mostly my wonderful family and friends, as well as my job. But enough about me. What I have to be un-thankful for?

    Apparently when our dog gets turkey, she also gets terrifying gas. Despite how cold it is (37 degrees!) outside, I'm sitting next to an open window because it's the only way the air is breathable. Pity us.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    On sleeping in and muffins

    I have a dog. Doggie Bird, I suppose I will call her. Boyfriend Bird hates her because despite being adorable, she is very poorly trained, and snaps at anything that moves if it's within an arbitrary radius and disturbs her while she's sleeping. We all know this and make sure to wake her up when we wish to move.

    Yes, it's a little ridiculous.

    She's still adorable.

    Last night, she came in to sleep on my floor, which is her favorite place to sleep from about midnight to six or so, when she goes to sleep other places, meaning I have to always have my door open so she can escape. I normally keep a mess of blankets on the ground for her to nest in, which is adorable. They were all cleaned over the weekend, and I had no blankets to give her.

    So I found a shower curtain.

    She slept fine.

    She continued sleeping when I was going to work, and will sleep until someone comes home. I am jealous of her, although perhaps I would be tired of sleeping in every day eventually. Certainly not any time soon.

    What I would really do if I had her life would be make muffins all the times. I love having a muffin for breakfast, as it's something you can just grab out of the freezer if you've frozen them, they're low-calorie if you don't make super sugary ones, and they're quite good. My last muffin experiments were raspberry and cinnamon. I actually made two batches of raspberry, because I messed the first up.

    See the middle of the muffin? That is the lone raspberry in the muffin. Instead of chopping the raspberries up so they were well-distributed through the muffins I just threw in a cup of non-chopped raspberries. It made the muffins dry, and although they weren't bad they were certainly disappointing. So what did I do? I made more muffins. To make up for my sadness.

    The second batch of raspberry muffins looked promising, and I had made sure to chop the berries this time, so I had high hopes. But since these were my 'breakfast work muffin,' I was concerned that three weeks of nothing but raspberry muffins would get old fast, so I made cinnamon as well.

    While I have no problem with cinnamon muffins (I made the darn things, didn't I?), I was so much more expected for the raspberry that I had one as soon as it came out of the oven. And had cooked enough for me to grab it. Maybe a little sooner. It smelled so good.

    I had to try a cinnamon one too, for... fairness.

    The raspberry ones turned out perfectly this time. The chopped raspberries distributed through the muffin, keeping it from being dry, and giving a much more uniform raspberry flavor. I devoured those muffins, and wish I had made more. I am going to, eventually, but the raspberry muffins are approximately 250 calories apiece, which is a little much for me for breakfast. They'd probably be much less without the crumb topping, so I may try that someday to see how much flavor/texture they lose.

    As for the cinnamon, I will not make them again. I am a fan of cinnamon, but when it is worked in to the whole muffin, not just on the outside. I also probably did not make them 'correctly,' as they weren't exactly light and fluffy. Either way, I will most likely not make them again. Which is okay, because the Hillbilly Housewife has a large collection of freezer muffins for me to pick from. The two I made here were the raspberry muffins, which I highly recommend, and the cinnamon muffins, which I'd recommend if you really like cinnamon and are better at baking than I am. Which is not hard to be.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    Apple dumplings, aka how I'm giving myself diabetes as quickly as possible

    I made the apple dumplings from Pioneer Woman today. I and a group of friends went to a local Pho place for dinner, and apparently I ordered the worst thing on the menu because it was disgusting. I ate maybe a fourth of my meal before giving up and moping. So when we got back to our friend's apartment, I decided to make the apple dumplings to make up for the dinner.

    I had planned on making them the previous night, when there were eight people in this apartment. But we got back from game night late, no one was really that hungry, I wasn't in the mood to cook, and it didn't happen. Tonight, there were five of us there: Boyfriend Bird, Jujyfruits Bird, .Hack Bird, and Challah Bird. I knew we had enough to make more than one serving of the dumplings, but I decided to just make them all, thinking that maybe we'd have leftovers. I was really hoping this would mean I would get to eat five of these.

    I should not have wished for this.

    So we made them. They smelled wonderful, Challah Bird and I kept opening the oven to sniff them. And then they were done, and we did some quick math. There were 24 dumplings, and five of us. That was almost five per person! But we decided to do four apiece, and let people fight for the extra.

    I knew how rich they were. I had eaten them last weekend. And I knew I had been on a diet for a few months, and hadn't eaten anything nearly that sugary since I had started. In retrospect, there were plenty of warnings that I shouldn't eat as many of these as I did.

    I ate all four of mine. Most of my friends proved they weren't as foolish as I and only ate three. As soon as I put my spoon down, I realized I felt slightly queasy. And for the rest of the night I hugged my stomach, being torn between wishing I hadn't eaten them all, and knowing that there were more sitting in the kitchen and remembering how delicious they were.

    As delicious as they are, maybe I'll wait a few months before I make more.

    Apple Dumplings from Pioneer Woman, modified slightly
    (Serves 6, approximately $4.93 per serving)
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 2 cans crescent rolls
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 1.5 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup mountain dew

    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. Peel and core apples. Cut into 8 slices each.
    3. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll, and place in pan.
    4. Melt butter, and add sugar. Barely stir.
    5. Add vanilla, stir in slightly.
    6. Pour mixture over apple rolls. Pour Mountain Dew around edges of pan.
    7. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
    8. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
    Today's lesson learned:
    • Only ever eat two apple dumplings.
  • Mongolian Beef, a love affair

    This picture was taken with my phone, so it's really not a great picture. It is Mongolian Beef from A Year of Slow Cooking, one of my favorite cooking blogs. The modifications I made are down at the bottom of this. Her blog is the only cooking blog I really follow, aside from TasteSpotting, which I don't consider a blog. I made the sauce and cut the flank steak at home, and then took it to Statt Bird's apartment, where I cornstarch'd the meat and then plopped in all in the slow cooker for about six hours. I stirred it far too often.

    But my friend's apartment smelt like delicious slow cooking flank steak, garlic, onion, along with soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, and more.  This was my third time making it, and it has never failed to amaze.  I also made a bed of white rice and steamed broccoli to go along with it, although I didn't make enough broccoli or rice. We didn't have a big enough pot for more than three cups of rice, and I had six heads of broccoli. A bird friend I wasn't expecting also came, and although we had more than enough meat (which I did not expect at all), we did not have enough sides for everyone to get as much as they wanted.

    Overall, the Mongolian Beef was a success. One of my bird friends (who I believe I will dub Jujyfruits Bird. He'd understand.) had me send his girlfriend the recipe, and she assured me 'if he says that it's really good twice, then he really likes it.'

    After dinner we were going to just play games and then I was going to make apple dumplings around 10 or so. We ended up going to a local game night and playing Killer Bunnies. The game made no sense, largely because the directions were far too complicated, and I didn't really enjoy it much at all. It also meant we didn't get home until 11, and I was in no mood to eat the dumplings at midnight or later, so we didn't do them. We may tonight.

    Today, aside from going to Statt Bird's again, Boyfriend Bird and I are going to make pizza bagels (again), and do who knows what for dinner. My only goals for the day are to finish my writing for NaNoWriMo, make the dumplings, and take a shower when I am home. I'd like to also play some Fable, or do some reading, but. I know how my life gets out of control.

    Thanksgiving this week! I am in charge of making appetizers for Mama Bird, although I will be at Boyfriend Bird's house before our Thanksgiving dinner. I will probably get her to try to slow cook things. I am becoming a slow cooking monster.

    Mongolian Beef from A Year of Slow Cooking
    (Serves 4+, approximately $12.25 per serving)

  • 1.5 pounds flank steak
  • 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 3 sliced green onions, and an extra you'll never remember to put as garnish that will eventually be thrown away in frustration when you find it a month later.
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar, or red wine or whatever random 'flavor' of vinegar you have
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or however many grinds you want until you get bored.
  • 1.5 teaspoons red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

    1. Add all ingredients except the meat and cornstarch to slow cooker.
    2. Slice meat into thin strips, or little chunks.
    3. Toss meat in bag with cornstarch, coating as best you can.
    4. Put meat in slow cooker, stirring slightly to coat in sauce.
    5. Cover and cook on low for about 5 hours.
    6. Serve over rice with broccoli, or whatever veggies you're after.
    7. If you remember, garnish with extra green onion on top. You will never remember this step.

    Today's lessons learned:
    • Sometimes you don't need or want dessert. This happens rarely.
    • It is okay to walk away from a bad board game.
    • I need to learn to better judge how much food I'm making.
  • Friday, November 19, 2010

    Food is for sharing, until it's on my plate. Then it is MINE.

    Almost time for Thanksgiving, which I am taking a slightly more active role in than I normally do. Normally I do nothing. This year Mama Bird has asked me to help pick out recipes, since I seem to take such a joy in doing that. So far I have been pushing the use of a slow cooker. Mama Bird has mostly rolled her eyes, but she will see things my way.

    This isn't a real post, it was a test to see if I could really post an entry from my phone. so Sorry about that. I can send pictures that way! No idea what the bandwidth on them is, but I don't really see that becoming much of an issue.

    I need to actually get that picture of a bird changed. Cause that was the laziest photoshop-ing I have done in a really long time. It's not even done. That's how lazy I got. You don't even know.

    This weekend I am planning on cooking up to 6 people Mongolian Beef and Apple Dumplings, based on their success with my CthulhuTech play group. Boyfriend Bird said the beef was one of the best things I've ever made, and the group liked the dumplings, although I don't think we finished them. From being full, the dumplings being too sweet, or what I am not sure. But I liked them, and that's enough of a motivation to cook them for me. I still don't know if I'm cooking on Saturday or Sunday, which is admittedly frustrating. I also don't know if 4.5 pounds of flank steak will fit in a slow cooker. Boyfriend Bird's is a six quart, so I think we'll be fine.

    Time to return to work, fare thee well short foray into food. Tonight I dine on pizza bagels.

    Sunday, July 11, 2010

    What's ruffling my feathers?

    I've had many blogs in my lifetime.

    Geocities, LiveJournal, Vox, a FaceBook app for a while, a FreeMind map, and so on. Many, many blogs. I would go as far as to say I am a blogging master. The past blogs never really had a theme, either. Just my life. Which, as a high schooler, was not nearly as interesting as I had imagined it to be.

    Am I implying that I am going to make this a themed blog? The games I've been playing? The food I've been cooking? The stories I've been writing? The crafts I've been... putting off for far too long?

    No, not really.

    I'm just going to blog. Not about the tiny details of my life, because they don't need to be public, but maybe what I'm up to, things I want to remember. Things that are interesting to me. Yes, I probably will post pictures of food I've made, of crafts I've messed with, comments about games I've played, and that sort of thing. I already have a blog of just recipes I maintain, just for myself, and I'm not experienced nor dedicated enough to make a full cooking blog. I don't have enough time to dedicate myself to playing and reviewing a bunch of games. So... this blog won't really have an audience, I suppose. But I'm okay with that.

    If you stumbled here somehow, hopefully I have something to interest you. If not, it's not going to ruffle my feathers.