Friday, May 28, 2010

It's Just Nachos

I don't eat fancy things all the time. I don't eat fancy things very often in fact. Sometimes, it's just nachos. Probably, these aren't technically nachos, they're just toasted chips and cheese because I didn't have any beans or meat to go with 'em. I do think that the popularity of nachos has got something to do with the fact that they look tasty, besides being a no-brainer to fix. And cheese, of course.

Here's my borage plant. The pictures make them look very blue, but they're more violet colored in reality. Still, they're awfully pretty. Also, I was informed that the flowers would taste like cucumber- they do not, although the leaves do. But the leaves are uncommonly bristly, and I don't recommend it, unless you just want to give yourself a cold grue. Some marine worms are very bristly-looking, I imagine eating one of them would be like that. Just look at the flowers and leave 'em alone.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Second Breakfast

My momma is a hobbit and my daddy was a Romulan Jedi master. And you all thought I was just a grumpy asian chick who eats breakfast at least twice a day.

Ham & Cheese & Peas eggs. Sounds great, right? I thought so too. I grew the peas, made the bread, and the yogurt. It's actually better with swiss, but the havarti I have does pretty well.

Also, I put up some pictures of my yogurt-making apparatus, if anybody cares.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

poppy bloom!

poppy bloom!, originally uploaded by Chinkypin.

In January or so, I took a handfull of cooking seed from fred meyer and threw it in a pot. Today I got home and it had bloomed. I was so excited I hopped up and down for a bit. For which I got teased and was called "giddy". Well, I've been waiting 5 months to see what color they would be, so yes, I'm pleased to be a little giddy.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The wind storm blew all my plants to a frazzle. It's a mess. I was so irritated when I came home yesterday and one of my poppy canes was lying down. At this rate, I'll never find out what color they'll bloom out to be. On the up side, my chard is starting to look attractive, even if it is a bit flattened at the moment.

Likewise, it's just as well that I never staked my peas, or they would probably have suffered horribly in this stormy weather. As it is, they can't get any more sprawly. I cut down all the spinach, which had begin to bolt; it went into a very good curried lentil soup.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spicy Chicken and Basil (with Spinach)

My fella took me to this Thai restaurant on Alberta and now I can't remember what its name was. I got a beef noodle soup which was pretty good, he got a fried catfish which was A. Mazing. It had this dark red chili sauce on it, and some bell peppers, and sauteed basil as a vegetable. I reminded me of some of the few positive experiences I had when I was living in Taiwan. I don't think I had any Thai food there, but some of the stuff I ate there was similar in retrospect. Basil used as a vegetable rather than a seasoning is one of those things.

This makes 2 dinner- sized servings for me.

Prep about 1/2 lb of chicken tenders with salt, pepper & oil. Leave them to sit in the fridge a few days. The day of, you need:

1 T oyster sauce
1 T fish sauce
1 T sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced lemongrass- I use a chunk of pre-minced lemongrass that came in a little vacuum sealed packet out of the frozen section at Fubonn.
3 or 4 green onions, tops & bottoms minced. This is optional because the 2nd time I made this dish, I forgot to put them in and it didn't really matter. Up to you.
1 large bunch of basil, leaves only
a double handful of fresh spinach leaves

If you want to eat it with noodles like the picture, put on a pot of salted water. The chicken takes maybe about as long to cook as the noodles do. Start the chicken at the same time the noodles go in the pot. That's if you like your noodles pretty firm.

Chop up the chicken and stir in the sesame oil, oyster sauce & fish sauce.  Heat 2 T cooking oil in a frying pan, and when it's hot enough to almost smoke, put in the pepper flakes, garlic, ginger and lemongrass, plus the onions if you've got 'em. Stir a bit until the seasonings brown and get just a tad crispy then dump in the chicken and stir really fast for about 2 more minutes. When the chicken is looking maybe half done, put the greens in the pan and keep stirring until everything is cooked through and the liquid that comes out of the greens has pretty much evaporated.

On a totally unrelated note, the hummingbirds like my sage plant.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Caramelized Pear Omelette w/ Havarti & Basil

I'm trying to remember to eat more fruits and veggies, that's why there are tomatoes in the picture. It wasn't a bad choice, as it turns out. The tomatoes are a bit sweet, so are the pears, the basil enhances both. Not bad for a seat of the pants breakfast. I cut my pear open and discovered that it was still rock hard, so I needed to think of some way to eat it. There's a lot going on here for minimal ingredients: sweet, salty, fruity, nutty (it's the cheese), but it's all pretty low key.

1 rather under ripe pear. I used green
2 eggs, well beaten
2 slices havarti
2 leaves basil, shredded

This is a real fast recipe.

Slice the pear. Heat a frying pan to medium, put in a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt. Arrange the pear slices in a single layer and leave them alone to brown up. Then flip each slice over once. Leave them alone until the other sides have browned, then pour the 2 beaten eggs over them, lay on the cheese and sprinkle the basil on. You may have to poke the eggs around in the pan a little to get them cooking well. If you use an electric stove and a good heavy pan like I do, turn off the heat now. In a second, you can try to fold it over on itself and make it look kinda messy like the picture, or just leave it. Either way, put a lid on the pan until the eggs set up.

Don't forget to make toast! And tea!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Beet Top Pie

Here's the pie I said I was going to make. I thought about making it like a real pie, in a pie pan and everything, and then I decided that just folding it up in the crust would make it easier to eat.

You need a recipe of pie crust. I like a mix of whole wheat and AP flour; it's crunchier. Also:

One bunch of beet tops, a big one
about 8 mushrooms, chopped
a big clove of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons of fresh minced oregano
3 minced green onions
salt, pepper, olive oil
4 oz havarti, grated, or cut into little pieces
3 eggs

Mix up your crust as usual. I do the dry ingredients and the butter up and then leave it in the fridge until about an hour before I want to use it. This allows me to be more disorganized on the day-of.

Pre-heat your oven to 450.

Wash the beet tops; separate the stems from the leaves. Cut the stems into 1" pieces and coarsely chop the leaves. Saute the stems in a medium-hot pan with a little oil and a pinch of salt. When they start to sweat well, add the chopped leaves. Sprinkle on a little more salt, and some oil if it's sticking. They will cook down quite a lot, surprisingly so. Once they loose at least half their volume, throw in the mushrooms, onions, garlic and oregano, along with a good shake of pepper. Let it cook down until the leaves are quite soft, and there is only a little bit of liquid left in the pan. Remove from heat and let the mix cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, add the eggs and cheese, and maybe a bit more salt and pepper if needed.

Roll out the crust, dump in the filling, fold it up and bake it for about 35 -40 minutes.

Some pointers: let it cool before eating it. Yes, very difficult, but worthwhile. This thing is a bit sloshy, the middle will run out if you cut it hot.

Havarti is very gummy. I cut thin-ish slices, then cut them into little matchsticks rather than smearing cheese all over my grater which is frustrating and inaesthetic.

Because there is quite a bit of liquid in the raw pie mix, I used my springform pan ring to help fold the piecrust. I put the ring down on the baking pan, gently eased the crust into the ring and let the excess crust drape over the outside while I poured in the filling. Then I folded in the edges, released the ring , and ta-da! A neatly folded pie with no leaking.

If you have a convection oven, it may only need too cook for half as long, at about 400. All you need is for the eggs to set up.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Last spring I started making my own yogurt. Then by fall, I got tired of it. It took too much time, I eat a ton of it, and I was always having to make another batch at some inconvenient time. So I started buying it again. That's when it occurred to me that the solution was not to stop making yogurt, but to make bigger batches. Duh. The cost/benefit ratio only gets more favorable, besides not having a zillion little pint-sized plastic things around to throw away. Like 2 or 3 a week!

I posted a very similar set of instuction on facebook a while ago, but my procedure has evolved slightly since then. At any rate, here it is. Keep in mind, I make greek-style strained yogurt.

Buy an 8oz thing of Fage brand plain yogurt.
Buy 1 gallon of milk. I get a half each of whole and 2%. More fat = good. Low fat foods just do not satisfy you, and what's worse, will encourage you to overeat cus hey, it's low fat! Full fat foods make you happy, and more happy = good. Nuff said.

Here is my equipment list:

1, 2-gallon stockpot, with a lid 
a whisk- you will need these 2 things the first day.

the next day ( or possibly later the same day) you will need:

A big pot with a lid to boil the heck out of anything that is going to touch your yogurt OR a dishwasher. I boil things.
A couple clean spoons or spatulas
A pair of tongs is useful for grabbing hot things out of boiling water.
A large wire colander. Mine is about 14" across and almost 9" deep.
A circle of muslin big enough to line the colander and have a little extra wiggle room
A small glass jar with a lid to keep a bit of yogurt as starter for your next batch. That way you don't have to buy more brand-name yogurt, which effectively doubles the cost of making your own.

The third (or maybe second) day you will need storage containers to hold a half gallon of greek yogurt.


Leave the milk and yogurt on the counter to start warming up. You can put the yogurt container in a little dish of warm water to get it woken up, it seems to speed up the process.
Put about 3 cups of water and the whisk into the stockpot, put on the lid and boil it for about 5 minutes. This sterilizes it. Set the whisk aside somewhere clean, dump out all the water and put in the milk. Gently heat the milk to somewhere between 90 and 100 degrees. You don't want to burn it or shock the starter when you add it. Once the milk is up to temp, whisk in the bought yogurt, put on the lid and leave it alone.

The important thing is to keep it warm for the next 8 to 12 hours. I turn on my oven light, boil a kettle of water, then put the yogurt pot and the kettle together into the oven. Between the bulb being on and the hot kettle, this works beautifully. It will not do anything at all for a good 8 hours! Do not keep fiddling with it, it will get germy and fail to keep well.

After about 8 hours, peek at it. If it smells yogurty and appears to have curdled, it's done. If it doesn't, stir it well ONCE with a clean spoon, put the lid back on and go away for a few more hours. Don't worry if it seems to be taking a long time, I've had batches that took almost 24 hours, and some as few as 8. Depending on how much time you have, once it curdles, you can either stick it in the fridge and wait till the next day, or go right on to the next step:

Put the small glass jar, its lid, and the cloth circle into a big pot with a couple cups of water. Boil/steam the heck out of them for 5-10 minutes, then dump out the water. Fill the little jar with some of your starter. If you have any left (I always forget to save some), add a bit of fresh milk so the starter will have some food. Put that in the back of the fridge til next time. Then line the colander with the cloth, put the whole business over the big pot, and pour the yogurt into it. The more curdled bits will have settled to the bottom, scoop them out too. Cover the colander and put the whole thing in the fridge for 24 hours. By that time enough whey will have drained out that it will be about as thick as sour cream. You can leave it longer and it will get almost as thick as cream cheese, but that's up to you. Put it in storage containers and that's it!

Now, what if you don't want greek yogurt? What if you want little lunch-sized things of regular yogurt? Well, that's where a dishwasher would be real handy. Here's what I suggest. Use a different starter- stonyfield, brown cow, whatever, as long as it has active bacterial cultures in it. Do the first step, and while you're gently heating the milk to add the starter, run the dishwasher with enough little jars and lids to hold your whole batch. That's like, 16. Put the yogurt mix straight into the clean jars, put on the lids, and incubate them the same way as above. Don't be tempted to shake them around though, you'll wreck the texture. You'll be able to see when they've set, and then you're done!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Just a cup of tea. I grew it. I pinched back the tips of my plant to get it to grow less sparse and leggy-looking, which gave me enough leaves for one cup. It isn't the best tea I've ever had (like I'd know anyway) but it was actually quite tasty.

Anybody else notice the hailstorm today? Wowie. I was afraid it would poke holes in all my plants. Thank goodness for not being on the top floor of my building.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tasty Noodles & a Side Dish

I fixed these noodles once about 8 years ago and then for whatever reason, I never did it again. They were definitely good enough that the recipe stuck with me, but somehow I never had all the correct things at the same time, or it never crossed my mind. I can't remember if I put chicken in it last time, but I had some I needed to use up. For this, a slightly under-ripe avocado is best because the firmness will stand up to a bit of frying better.

Chicken- I used 5 tenders
1/3 red bell pepper, in small dice
4 green onions, both tops & bottoms chopped fine
1/2 avocado, diced
Olive oil, salt & pepper

I usually take some frozen chicken parts, salt and pepper them, and dash on some olive oil before leaving them in the fridge until I remember to eat them. It's a good generic prep for anything I can think of, and it makes the meat tender and flavorful without much thinking. So I had some of those.

Use some type of wide noodles- papardelle, linguini, etc. Farfale would be ok, but I don't like those.  Have those cooking (about 3 servings worth, 2 if you have big appetites) in salted water while you do the other things.

Brown the chicken bits in a medium-high skillet. Heat some oil in the pan, then put in the chicken in a single layer. Let it brown without moving it, then flip once and let it sit for a couple seconds. If you use tenders the way I do, they'll already be done when you flip 'em, cooking the other side is just for looks. Take out the chicken and set it aside, and if the pan is pretty dry, add some more oil, about a tablespoon. Then brown the peppers and onions. Remember to add a sprinkle of salt to encourage them to brown. Add the avocados toward the end so they get cooked, but don't have time to turn into mush. When it's looking pretty good, but before the stuff stuck to the pan goes black, tear up the chicken and put it back in along with any juices that have accumulated, and throw the cooked noodles on top. Add a good shake of pepper and another pinch of salt if it needs it, turn off the heat and stir it around until the brown stuff has come off the pan.

You know what I forgot? Pine nuts. There should have been pine nuts in it. Dang. Oh well. If you use those, put them in the pan at the end of the part where you brown the peppers and onions.

I had beets & basil with it. No secrets there, just beets, fresh basil,  and a pinch of the white parts from those green onions I was using. Dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. But I do want to add that cooking beets in the microwave is super convenient and I don't know why I never did it before. Just stab some holes in them so they don't blow up, and put them in a covered container with a half inch of water. 4 smallish beets took 3 rounds of 3 minutes at full power. Brilliant!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy May Day!

Today was the first day of the Hollywood farmer's market, and here's my loot. I had 'em take the tops off the carrots, which makes them look less amazing, but I swear those are the best carrots I've ever eaten. Theyare sweet. They are crunchy. They are tender. They taste floral, and earthy, and herbal and almost like licorice. And they are juicy. HaHA! I bet you never thought of carrots as juicy either. I'm sure their total deliciousness is a fleeting thing, but I had to tell you all about it right away. Yes, I am growing some carrots on my balcony, but I wanted carrots today, not in June.

I got basil, because I miss warm weather. I'll probably make a bit of pesto with it. And I got the beets because the greens look so good. My plan is to braise the greens a bit then make a pie with them.

And here are my plants: the forest of spinach, the enormousness of the poppies and a pea flower.

I should have staked the peas this year, but I was feeling lazy and didn't get around to it. They will just have to sprawl over the railing, I guess.

Edit: "they are taste floral" Christ on a crutch.  I think not, oriental-syntax-man.