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Aug. 20th, 2016


I unwittingly caused a life and death drama in my fridge's vegetable drawer: I just found a giant, dead caterpillar (well about four centimeters long) in the bowl of plums I had also stored in the drawer. It definitely wasn't in the plums when I put them there, considering that I transfered them to said bowl from a bag and it was too big to have been inside any of the plums without doing obvious damage (and not the type of critter you commonly find in plums either). I think it must have come hidden in the cauliflower I also stored in the drawer (though that wasn't sitting directly next to the plums), somehow tried to desperately escape the cold or something, and then expired in my plums.

Well, I guess it's good to know that despite not being organic or anything, my cauliflower was wildlife supporting. I kind of feel bad for it, trying to escape and then slowly dying of cold. It was still unpleasant when I found that thing as I just wanted to grab some plums to snack on, though.

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Aug. 10th, 2016

what a gross development

I've just seen US-style processed "cheese" in a spray can sold for the first time in a supermarket here. Granted it was part of some special display dedicated to American foods and not their normal range of products but still.

The most bizarre thing was that it apparently was produced by a Wisconsin company that calls itself "Old Fashioned Foods Inc." which is just-- though maybe it's meant to be ironic.

ETA: Also now that I'm thinking about spray can cheese (and calling that an "old fashioned" food), I don't think I've ever read a fic where Steve Rogers when adjusting to the future/present isn't going the Farmer's Market route, but instead (or additionally) is totally thrilled with all the modern convenience food developments, because "scientific"/"hygienic"/"modern" food is awesome to him. I mean, I think he is of the generation that initially brought us the stuff like TV dinners and spray can cheese and food technology in general in the post war period, that only then in the backlash got its current bad reputation, because now "natural" is fetishized as the best and healthiest food.

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Jun. 26th, 2016

progress update on project "blueberry pancake"

Keeping the comments and advice on my last post on this topic in mind, I tried to make blueberry pancakes again this morning. (Pancakes tend to be my Sunday morning breakfast treat.)

So I floured my frozen blueberries and only dropped them into the pancakes once the first side had firmed up but the top was still liquid. Additionally, because my usual buttermilk pancake batter turned out to be a bit too liquid to rise to cover them entirely, I dribbled a bit of liquid batter over them to protect the blueberries from burning. This method worked out for about half of my pancakes, which were somewhat fluffy (not peak fluffiness, but no dense or soggy areas), nicely browned, with blueberries on the inside (and those not turned green either).

Unfortunately I failed with about half my pancakes, which still suffered from burned blueberry bits and/or soggy areas around the berries. This mostly happened when the blueberries still came into direct contact with the pan, then usually burst open and released juice into the pan and the batter. Though partly that was because in my second batch I didn't leave quite enough batter to properly cover them from above. The earlier ones turned out much better.

So it's progress.

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Jun. 19th, 2016

is there some trick to making blueberry pancakes?

When I make thicker, fluffy pancakes, instead of the thin crepe-style ones, I rather like adding stuff to the batter. Some chopped nuts work well, as does mashed banana, but I always fail when I try adding blueberries. Either the blueberries burst open and the surrounding area gets soggy, or the pancakes brown unevenly due to either blueberry juice getting out and caramelizing faster than the rest of the batter or intact blueberries sticking out making for an uneven surface, but I never get nice texture with blueberries in a fluffy pancake that is evenly browned. The online recipes I've found seem to imply that adding blueberries to pancake batter ought to work like regular pancakes in a straightforward way, yet it doesn't for me.

This morning I considered trying for blueberry pancakes again, but ultimately shied away from it, because my previous attempts never worked, and I'm not sure what I can do differently to make them not fail. I mean, the banana-pecan pancakes I made this morning were tasty too, but it would be nice to be able to make blueberry ones, so I wondered whether anyone has mastered this and could give advice?

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Apr. 17th, 2016

wtf, fruitfly?

I was making myself some banana-oatmeal pancakes for breakfast when a tiny fruitfly decided to commit suicide by flinging itself into the hot butter. So I had to fish a tiny fried insect out of my pan. I guess it was lucky it didn't try to land on the then still soft topside of my pancakes.

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Mar. 2nd, 2016

poaching eggs

So how many tries does it typically take to get the knack of this technique? After consulting online instructions I just tried it for the first time, and the result was not encouraging. I mean, it was edible and had the characteristics of poached egg in that the yolk was warm but still runny and the egg white was cooked, so not a total fail, but I didn't manage to make the egg white adhere to the egg yolk, and instead had to fish out most of it in bits from the water.

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May. 7th, 2015

so gross

Why do rotting potatoes smell so much worse than any other rotting fruit or vegetable?! And how can it get so bad so quickly? I swear a few days ago there was no sign of a potato liquifying in my storage box. Ew, ew, ew.

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Oct. 15th, 2014

sometimes my experiments in combining stuff end up actually tasty

My dinner tonight was a sweet and sour butternut squash, lentils, and apple combination that I served with baked sweet potato (regular potato would have worked as well), and I found the mix of sweet pumpkin and apples with the lentils quite pleasing.

recipe )

It didn't look that attractive because it is more or less a mush, but I liked the taste combination.

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Sep. 20th, 2014

sweet potato recipes?

I've never had sweet potatoes (they're somewhat exotic here), but today my supermarket had some on offer so I got a couple.

Do you have any favorite recipes highlighting their taste that would be good to try them?

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Oct. 20th, 2013

today's moment of ick

Discovering that the unopened bag of mung beans in my storage drawer was crawling with tiny black beetles when I wanted to use some. On the bright side, as far as I could see in my quick check of the rest of the drawer they hadn't yet managed to gnaw through the plastic and infested the rest of my food stores. I guess it can always happen that some egg or beetle slips through in the processing and the bag had been in my drawer for two months or so, so they had time to multiply, but still, gross!

Since I only noticed after I opened the bag, I also had to rewrap the thing in a new plastic bag I could tie closed before throwing it away to lessen the likelihood of beetles venturing outside the trash bag before I can take it out. I still think I'm going to take that thrash bag out even though it is not yet full to get rid of the crawling cohort that turned my kilo of mung beans into their habitat. Obviously the beetles have been there for quite some time, and not in the trash even, so it's kind of irrational to feel so grossed out now, but vermin always feels worse once you become aware, I guess.

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Sep. 12th, 2012

squash/pumpkin help needed...

Feeling slightly adventurous I bought this squash? pumpkin? of a kind that I've never eaten before. I don't know what it's called, because they were just labeled "miscellaneous squashes/pumpkins" (in German both are the same word) and there were a variety of them in the same bin, all for the same price. The one I got is quite small and white, and now I wonder what the best way to prepare it is. (I'm sure I could browse wikipedia for squash/pumpkin to identify it, and then google the name for recipes, but I'm lazy...)

a picture of the squash? pumpkin? )

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Feb. 17th, 2012

are we having a sugar shortage or something?

Seriously, neither of the two supermarkets nearest to me had any plain white sugar when I tried to buy some this week. Last year before they raised the sugar price there were signs in the supermarkets that they wouldn't sell more than five kilo to a customer, because some people were apparently hoarding sugar, either in anticipation of a price increase or to resell it in neighboring countries where sugar prices were already higher, but at least it was still available. And of course now it's been selling at the higher price of 85¢/kg for some time. When it's available, that is, which apparently it is not right now as far as my nearest supermarkets are concerned. I ought to have hoarded some too. (Or I guess I could walk around to other supermarkets further away, looking for a place that has sugar, but I'm lazy.) >:(

It's a good thing I didn't throw out the sugar that got a little wet and clumped in its package when I accidentally spilled water on it some weeks ago, but rather dried it out, so at least I still have some clumpy sugar, even if I almost used up the rest.

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Feb. 11th, 2012

US cake recipes, why are they always too sweet?

I made some this upside down apple cake, and I already reduced the sugar by a third in the cake (and put no sugar in the whipped cream), yet in combination it was still so sweet as to be almost inedible. This always happens to me with US cake recipes. Are other people having this problem? In principle I like sweet things, and the cake recipes that came with my mixer for example I make without reducing the sugar, so it's not like I'm against a sugary taste, but whenever I try a recipe from an US blog, things turn out too sweet. I guess I should bake more often to get a better feel for tolerable sugar amounts so I don't have to depend on the recipes.

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Dec. 24th, 2011


I baked a lot of cookies yesterday and today. A whole bunch are just plain butter cookies made from shortpastry, but I also made two kinds of lebkuchen. (I realize that ideally those ought to have sat a few days at least for best taste before the intended eating date, in particular the first recipe, but whatever. I tried some right after they were cool and they tasted quite nice already, and I apparently suck at Christmas bakery planning.)

picture and recipe for the first kind of lebkuchen, the classic kind without any flour, just nuts, candied and dried fruit, sugar, eggs and spices )
picture and recipe for the second kind, this one with flour )
finally a picture of the boring but tasty butter cookies, no recipe for those )

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Dec. 1st, 2011

food decisions

My meals recently have been somewhat odd because one of the major considerations has been that my food should also result in something tasty and fattening for sickly rats. So my lunch today has been cream of wheat pudding made with half milk and half cream and sugar (instead of just milk and no sugar like I normally make it) so Leo would get more calories with his lacking appetite. On the bright side, at least Leo was eager to eat some of it.
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Sep. 25th, 2011

a pumpkin related question

Can you freeze pureed pumpkin okay? Because buying a whole pumpkin is much cheaper than buying pumpkin segments per kilo, I now have to deal with something of a pumpkin surplus, and it would be convenient if it was possible to freeze it in manageable portions once I pureed it. Last year when I bought a whole pumpkin I just had two very much pumpkin-themed weeks, but this year I'm wondering whether I couldn't freeze some. (I don't use my freezer much beyond storing vegetables I bought frozen, so I have no experience with freezing fresh vegetables.) I like pumpkin pie, and also soup and such, but not necessarily all pumpkin all week, and you can't buy pureed pumpkin in cans here (at least I have yet to see it offered anywhere), so if it froze well, that would solve two problems.

Also, I need to dust more diligently (or at all really *embarrassed look*). I'm working on a painting and dust motes keep sticking to my wet paint. Yikes.

Jul. 3rd, 2011

baking success!

A few days ago I asked for advice how to fix the texture of my yeast plait, and got many helpful comments. I took the advice, got the more expensive bread flour higher in gluten, only softened not melted the butter, and kneaded a good deal longer, and it worked! The texture of the one I just baked is like it's supposed to turn out.

Jun. 29th, 2011

a baking question

When I make Hefezopf (yeast plait? basically a braided, slightly sweet yeast bread with eggs, butter and milk) it turns out fairly tasty, but the dough texture is just not as nice as that of the bought kind. Mine is soft and overall decently fluffy, i.e. the dough rises more or less to the volume it should, but the holes are smaller and more uniform than the ideal, also the texture isn't quite right. It's hard to explain, but what I expect is that for example if I tore it, it ought to tear a bit in chewier strands rather than just crumbs, which I assume is a side effect of mine just having a small-hole texture?

I'm not sure what I need to do to correct the dough texture. The recipe I use is to mix 500g white flour with dry yeast, two tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt, then warm 250ml of milk, melt the butter (about 70g) in it, so both are lukewarm, mix that and two eggs (also taken out of the fridge for a little while) under the dry ingredients until a ball forms, then add maybe either a little flour or a little milk until the dough is fairly soft, but not sticky. Then I let it rise until the volume doubled, then I braid the dough and let it rise again for a short time in braid form (maybe 15 minutes or so), and then bake it with medium heat (about 175°C) for about 40 minutes. So, experienced bakers and food chemists, what do I need to do differently to make the dough texture more like it should be for this type of sweet bread?

Jun. 24th, 2011

White Collar inspired question

In the recent ep Diana claims that Neal's raw milk Pecorino cheese was illegal (Neal counters that it was a gift, not sold), which I found very strange. I know that there is more concern about risks of raw milk products in the US than elsewhere, but surely the US wouldn't outlaw all kinds of cheeses? What on earth would be sold as Parmesan cheese in the US for example (I mean if you want the non-ersatz kind, i.e. proper Parmigiano-Reggiano), if raw milk cheese was really illegal? Or Gruyère? Or any of the other common cheeses that need raw milk? It's not like raw milk is only used in obscure specialty cheeses foodie snobs seek out.

May. 5th, 2011

harder than expected

I tried to make croissants from scratch, but the result didn't turn out like a proper croissant at all. I think I have not been patient and diligent enough with the rising, then multiple folding, and resting periods to get the dough and butter layers right. So instead of delicious fluffy-layered croissants, I ended up with, well, something rather too dense and very, very buttery. :( Well, it is still edible at least.

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