Wednesday, November 25, 2009

THANKSGIVING: The Prequel--Part II

Hey all! My good friend John has posted the Thanksgiving prequel pictures! Yay! He did a great job with the photos, as always. I hope you enjoy!

Mimi, with a bowl of cranberries

My friend Yane's dish.She made a dish from her home, Brazil!

Theresa's turkey. So very good!

The whole spread(some dishes not pictured above):
Theresa's Turkey
Mimi's stuffed mushrooms and cheese and honey crostatini
Yane's Brazilian Chicken Bake
Jeff's salad and juice
Lexi's fruit salad
John's cranberries
Jean's mashed potatoes and stuffing
Jake's bread rolls
Hess's apple pie
Jenny's palmiers, stollen, and spinach filo tart

Sunday, November 22, 2009

THANKSGIVING: The Prequel--Part I

Yesterday, my friend and volleyball team captain, Theresa hosted our team's end-of-season dinner. And, because it is so close to Thanksgiving, she decided she would make turkey and the rest of the team would bring all the trimmings. It was a great idea! Now you understand the Thanksgiving prequel part of the title. It is only the first part of the prequel, because I am going to post about what I contributed to the dinner--ranch dressing mashed potatoes and rustic bread and mustard greens stuffing. The reason for this is simple: I forgot to take photos during the actual dinner because I was too busy gorging. Oops. However, my friend John, who is a much better and more dedicated photographer than myself, took plenty of photos. As soon as I can get those from him, I shall post them here. Until then, here's a play-by-play of the beginning of the holiday eating season!

1:00am--Arrive home after a night of watching Warren Miller ski film. It was excellent!
1:30am--Adrenaline from Warren Miller film has me dreaming of slopes, and not sleeping.
7:30am--Alarm goes off.
7:31am--I hit snooze button.
7:40am--Alarm goes off. I consider buying Stovetop and instant mashed potato flakes.
7:41am--I hit snooze button.
7:50am--Alarm goes off. I consider repercussions of Stovetop and potato flakes.
7:51am--I'm up. But just barely.
9:30am--I'm showered, dressed decently enough for public viewing, and caffeinated. Review recipes that I will be using and draw up a quick list.
10:00am--Leave home to buy supplies. Two stop shopping: Target and QFC.
12:00pm--Get home and start making ranch dressing:

12:30pm--Taste ranch, and it has such a bite to it. Yikes! Stick the sauce in the fridge and hope for the best. If worse comes to worst, I will rely on my good ol' friend, Paul Newman.
12:40pm--Pull together ingredients for stuffing and start prepping:

1:00pm--Discover that rustic bread is very hard to cube. Either that, or my arms are not as strong as I thought. I am going to guess the latter. So much for getting better at rock climbing. Finish cubing. Combined olive oil and pressed garlic and tossed these on bread. Baked bread to make it even crunchier. Throw on some pan-friend pine nuts.
1:40pm--Finally done with bread. Move on to sauteing onions. Threw in mustard greens, garlic, and fresh thyme after this shot.

2:00pm--Reduced 2 cups of mushroom stock to 1 cup. Threw everything I made so far into a big bowl:
2:05pm--Add salt and pepper to taste. Then put this entire mixture into a glass pan. I'm going to bake it for 30mins before bringing it to Theresa's.

2:30pm--Discover that I do not have a potato masher. Clean up the kitchen and run to Safeway on a potato masher mission.
2:45pm--Checking out at Safeway with potato masher in hand, when one of my professors smacks me in the back with his basket as a form of a greeting. I freak out. Not because it's unusual for professors to eat, but I had been cooking for the past 2 1/2 hours. And I look like it.
3:00pm--Arrive home and start peeling 6lbs of russet potatoes. It will all be worth it. Really.
3:30pm--Throw the now peeled potatoes in a pot with some salted water:

4:00pm--Drain potatoes and begin mashing away. Note that the potatoes are rather clumpy. Not smooth and creamy like I would like. I throw in the ringers (aka, the figure-ruiners):

4:20pm--Yes! Potatoes are just the right texture! Take ranch sauce out of fridge, and the flavor has mellowed perfectly. Refrigeration does wonders. Add some sauce to the potatoes as well.
5:00pm--Clean up kitchen a bit, and begin to heat up stuffing.
6:00pm--Head to Theresa's!

...and now, the "blooper reel," or, what the cooking shows never show:

Recipes used from Bon Appetit:
Mashed Potatoes with Ranch Dressing
Rustic Bread Stuffing with Red Mustard Greens, Currants, and Pine Nuts

Changes with Mashed Potatoes: I did not use a potato ricer, because I made the potatoes right before we ate them. A potato ricer probably would have helped in the fluffiness though. I also substituted green onions for chives.
Changes with Stuffing: I used mushroom broth, instead of chicken or turkey.

More to come...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

KNITS: Quick Projects for the Holiday

Winter is coming, I can feel it in my bones. Actually, let me rephrase that: I felt winter dig through my skin and settle into the marrow of my bones. A couple of days ago, I got completely drenched while waiting for my bus. (Oh, Metro, Metro, why hast thou forsaken me so??). I arrived home to a very cold apartment, because, being the good energy conserver that I am, I shut off every electrical entity before leaving home. As I sat huddled next to my heater vent, shivering like a little wet chihuahua, I really wished that sometimes I were not so habitual. Winter is definitely coming. But, there are some definite perks to the new stormy chill that is descending upon Seattle. For one thing, playing soccer gets even more fun(if that's possible). The slick turfs are ideal for slide-tackling, and you can run as much as you want without overheating. Winter is also perfect for knitting. I find that in these cold months, looping yarn through my fingers and my needles is even more comforting. Throw in a cup of hot apple cider, and that is a good evening. And, as the holidays are just around the corner, knitting now may even be more timely. Listed below are projects that I have completed and enjoyed working on. They are the easy-peasy sort, one that you can easily do at the end of a long day of work, or when you've finally escaped the weather by jumping on the bus.

Pattern found at The Purl Bee here.

The Eleventh Hour Scarf, also from The Purl Bee found here.

This pattern, Calorimetry, is from, found here.

Get knitting and get warm! Happy winter!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

EATS: How to Flip Food in a Pan

Last night I made fried rice from chicken leftovers of a community event and I'm bringing to feed the staff of one of my fave local orgs. The secret to my fried rice is making an egg omelet, then cutting it into squares, instead of scrambling it into the rice. It keeps the egg pieces whole and in bite size delicious morsels once it's incorporated into the rest of the ingredients.

The secret to an omelet? How to flip the pan. One of my best friends rooted me on as I attempted to flip the omelet pre-maturely, to no avail. Patience is a virtue when it comes to cooking as well, and we might as well learn from the pros. See tips below on how to perfect your food flip. Have fun!

  1. Step 1

    Choose the right pan. You'll want to use a pan that has curved, sloping sides to it. This will give the food a slope to slide up on as you flip it. Try to use a non-stick pan if possible.

  2. Step 2

    Make sure the items in the pan are moving freely when you shake the pan back and forth. Use a gentle swirling motion with your arm to slide the food around. There should be very little or no oil moving around with the food. Sauteed vegetables or grilled bread works well for this.

  3. Step 3

    Tilt the pan away from you, and let the food slide down to that side. Give the food a little help by gently shaking the pan if you need to.

  4. Step 4

    Push the pan and food away so that the food pushes into the curved side and into the air. Catch the food by pulling the pan back in one fluid motion. The movement is a circular motion, first forward and then back as you lift your arm slightly.

  5. Step 5

    Shake the pan gently forward and backward to settle the food into the middle of the pan again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CUTE: minifrenchie

Weddings have been on my mind lately. My good friend and labmate, Brianne, recently got married. One of my best friends, Karen, has two sisters (Katie and Laura) who got engaged within about of year of each other. Laura just got married this summer, and Katie is getting married next summer. On top of that, my friends, Richard and Ellen recently got engaged. So you can see, the wedding bells have been figuratively ringing in my ear. And, it's a perfect time to introduce minifrenchie. The illustrations are so sweet, perfect for save-the-dates, prints for the hubby-and-wifey-to-be, etc. Anne Le Guern is a Brooklyn-based artist. Her style is whimsical, happy, and elegant. Sort of how an ideal wedding should be! So very sweet! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

JOY: A plateful of cookies

Sorry that I have been away for so long. I've been preparing (and practicing, and stressing) for a seminar about metabolomics. But here's the thing: I don't study metabolomics. Not at all. But, as a part of my program, the second year students give a literature talk. The talk can be about their research, or just related to the field of your department, and mine happens to be medicinal chemistry. My boss suggested that I branch out and do research about something that I was not famiIiar with. I may have been a bit over my head with the topic choice, but in the end, it's over, and I wasn't reduced to tears at the podium. Nor did I throw up. And I consider that a plus. Man, oh man, I do not like public speaking. Helping me throughout my prepartions for this seminar have been some very wonderful people. I cannot say it enough. I am a lucky girl to have the people that I do in my life. One particular evening, as I was trying to teach myself some statistics algorithms (I gave up, by the way, and just asked someone smarter than myself), my friend Choi brought over a plateful of cookies. Only two days previously, I had loaned him this:

And, in the middle of my principle component analysis despair, I got these Cashew-Caramel Cookies:

Though Martha has the official rights to name these cookies, to me these will be Choi's Cashew Crunch Time Cookies. Okay, maybe that it is a bit verbose. Thank goodness I didn't have to give a seminar on how best to name food! But I was completely touched by his thoughtfulness. I gave the seminar last Thursday. I don't remember anything about it. I couldn't tell you if I sounded nervous, idiotic, or just plain scared. But those cookies? Unforgettable.

Cashew-Caramel Cookies (aka Choi's Cashew Crunch Time Cookies)

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups roasted salted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 24 cubes soft caramel candy (7 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour and salt together. Coarsely chop 1 cup cashews; set aside. Process remaining 1 1/2 cups cashews in a food processor until finely chopped. Pour in oil. Process until mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Put cashew mixture, butter, and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; gradually add flour mixture. Mix in reserved chopped cashews.
  3. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; space 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 6 minutes; gently flatten with a spatula. Bake until bottoms are just golden, 6 to 7 minutes more. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
  4. Melt caramels with cream in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring. Let cool. Using a spoon, drizzle caramel over cookies; let set. Store airtight in single layers.

Images and recipe from {}