The food part of this blog has moved to I'll see all you foodies over there!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - June Challenge "Danish Braid"

Sometimes I kick myself for procrastinating. One month seems like plenty of time to bake one item, but this month I almost ran out of time. This month's challenge was Danish Braid. A danish dough with apple cinnamon filling. I've never made danishes before, although I've attempted croissants once. It was a similar process, roll out the dough with a butter layer, fold, chill and repeat several times. I was very interested in this month's challenge because I dream of one day making that really good cheese danish. My first job was at a cafe and we had the best pastries. There are some that I haven't had that even comes close, even to this day, 10+ years later. Today I had a job I'm working on, but I didn't want to pass this one up so I squeezed it in! Came out of the oven at 10 pm and posting minutes before midnight!

Rolling the dough, I noticed it was a little dry. I added some water to get it to a workable consistency, but I think it was still a little on the dry side. I was hoping the bread would come out soft and fluffy, but rather it was crisp, like a croissant, and not as sweet as I had imagined. So in a way it was more like an apple strudel. But it was still very good. I still have half the dough left, so I'm thinking blueberry danishes with the blueberries we just picked. Boy, that sounds good. Take a look at my fellow bakers creations as well. It will inspire you to bake!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Creep-a-zoid Shirts

Emi's friend Wesley draws cool little monsters. He just had a birthday so I made him some shirts with his drawing on them. Pretty cool looking, aren't they?

Cherry Picking Some Cherries

I met up with my parents and my brother at the Mile High Cherry Orchard in Cherry Valley for some cherry picking. Both my kids and parents really enjoy u-pick places. We've been to this same orchard 3 years ago with my other brother and liked it. It's nice to go picking cuz the kids get to see how their food grows. Even I didn't know cherries grew on trees (always thought they grew on bushes), till I saw them in person (despite the famous George Washington story...) it's just something you really don't think about.

And two days later we went to the Temecula Berry Company to pick some blueberries. Blueberry picking was a first for us. Abby has been asking if we could go blueberry picking but I didn't know of one. I stumbled upon this one by accident, at a good time too since they were only open for two more weeks. The berries were really good, and the prices were reasonable too, $5 a pint.

Sage pretty much ate more than he picked but Emi really got into it. She'd find a good bush and just sat there picking away.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Salmon Rice

Made some mixed rice with salted salmon, minced ginger, and green onions. The rice was seasoned with sake and salt when it was cooked. And sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Simple & Homemade

I like recipes that allow me to make things homemade, yet are simple and don't require lots of time to make, but still taste good too. ^_^

Like... Simples Scones and Microwave Lemon Curd. I made the lemon curd last night so it can cool and thicken overnight, and made the scones this morning for a nice fresh baked breakfast. I was a little skeptical about the lemon curd (can something made in the microwave be just as good?) so I cut the recipe in third. But it turned out very good and tart. I had never made lemon curd before and for some reason thought it would be difficult or it wouldn't turn out. So glad I found this recipe. And the scones, the butter is frozen and grated, which was nice since I don't like cutting butter with my pastry cutter "to resemble crumbs" part of the usual scone recipe. The scones were delish!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Knocked One Off My Bucket List

Today I made my first pine needle basket. Took a class with Denise, Abby's former preschool teacher. I love baskets and have wanted to learn how to make one. This one is the coiled method, using pine needles and raffia. What better basket to learn, since there are pine trees everywhere around here. This small basket took about six hours to make.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Simple Summer Food

It's been so hot, we've been eating big salads for dinner. Here's our dinner from a couple days ago: homemade french rolls, and a chicken casesar salad with homemade croutons (you can't go back to eating store-bought croutons once you've made them at home. So much better, BELIEVE ME!) And since we go through a lot of caesar dressing I tried making that too. Found a recipe at Recipezaar, that had no anchovies (except what's in the worcestershire sauce), and although it called for eggs and olive oil, I subbed mayo, and it came out pretty good. A good basic recipe, not fancy at all, but works for us. And the nice part was that you throw everything in the blender!
Another great summer food, Hiyashi-Chuka (Jap. Cold Ramen noodles). For more info, check out my past post. So this was tonight's dinner, paired with some inari sushi. Looks so pretty, doesn't it?

Can't Believe...

... Abby let me draw on her tummy!

Forced to Making at Home?

I went to the store to get some ice cream. Dreyer's had changed to a smaller tub, but kept the same price. It was 1.5 quarts and cost $5.99! I remember ice cream coming in half gallon containers. Inflation sucks. The same goes with coffee... remember when the package was actually a pound (16oz)? Now it's 12 oz! Holy beegeezes! I am seriously considering getting an ice cream maker now. Anyone out there have one? It is cheaper to make at home? (I see recipes using lots of heavy cream and eggs, which can be pricey on its own.) I'm not ready to give up ice cream!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Glass Magnet Art

One of Abby's b-day presents was this OptiArt Glass Magnet kit. They are half glass marbles, flat on one side, round on the other. It came with some paint so you can paint your own design, and the roundedness of the glass makes it looks bigger, like it's underwater. A glass craft book I checked out had this same craft but they took pictures and pasted it on the back for a similar effect. The kids liked this idea better so they went searching for some pics.

Abby made a couple with some chickens on it (hmmm, wonder why...), Emi found an alien drawing, and Sage, of course, chose a basketball player, Pau Gasau, of the Lakers (couldn't find a good pic of Kobe). We really liked how these turned out. Maybe we can sell these on Etsy... so I looked and there are a TON OF PEOPLE selling these. Since the craftmanship on these aren't too good yet, I think we'll make these as gifts. And when we get better, we'll think about selling them with our unique themes... like bike parts? (or chickens?)
It came with a magnetic sheet we cut to make rounds. The girls got goofy with the scrap pieces.

Soy Moo Again & Okara Muesli

Made an another attempt at soy milk. This is one (of many) things I'd like to get right (or pretty close), so that I can make it regularly and my family will consume it. This time I used a recipe from Just Hungry, and used a little more water so the taste wouldn't be so strong and grassy. And I made a small bottle with some vanilla syrup, for the kids. This batch was much better than the last, and the kids said they can drink this and I don't have to buy them anymore (yeay!)
And with the okara (the leftover solids from making soy milk), I tried making Okara Muesli by Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen. This was different from any granola I've made, this one has yogurt in it. Very interesting. I assumed it will cause it to be more clustery, and not so loose. And it was. The flavor was ok, it could use some improvements, but it was very crunchy. It would be a great topping for some yogurt.

Turns out okara is a nutritional powerhouse, containing soluble and non-soluble fiber, protein, calcium and other minerals. It's even more nutritious (because of the high fiber content) than soy milk or tofu. The last time I made soymilk, I dried it and fed it to my chickens (they loved it), but further internet research led to numerous uses for this thing. One blog in particular, Okara Mountain, had dedicated her blog to okara recipes. She has even make okara pasta! The possibilites are endless...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Triple Dog Dare - June Challenge

This month's Triple Dog Dare challenge: FRUIT. This was a hard one, since the stores around here and Hemet only care the usual apples and bananas and I couldn't find anything. But at a party, there was tamarindo juice. I think this counts, well, I hope so. I think this juice is sold at Mexican shops and restaurants, but I've always picked the jamaica instead. To my surprise, the flavor wasn't strong. Rather, really sweet. It tasted like sugar water with some plum-like taste to it. I think I'll stick with the jamaica.


I made warabi-mochi the other day for the first time. It's kinda like a Japanese jello-like sweets, made out of warabi-starch (arrowroot starch) instead of rice, which mochi is usually made out of. Warabi mochi is a specialty of the Kansai region and usually is a summer food, often served chilled or frozen.

It is served with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and kuro-mitsu (brown sugar syrup.) It is a very Japanese-tasting treat.

Vermont Doughnut Holes

Donuts are a rare treat for my kids. There really isn't a donut shop in town, so unless I make them, they can't have fresh donuts. Donut are something I've wanted to try, but didn't want to deal with the yeast dough nor the rolling out part, since that meant I had to wake up EARLY to make them (not worth it...). Then I found a recipe for doughnut holes that was simple and quick, from the King Arthur website. Check out the recipe here. The kids thought they were good. They were nice and crunchy on the outside. As strange as this may sound, the donuts weren't sweet enough, so I rolled them in sugar. Next time I'll add more sugar so it can be eaten plain. But if you read the recipe, it does say it can be dipped in syrup as well as it being rolled in sugar, so maybe it wasn't sweet on purpose. ^_^

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wish Granted

Abby's b-day wish was to go camping. So we went up Thomas Mtn. to a yellow post site (meaning primitive, no bathrooms, but free and no neighbors. What's camping if you're surrounded by the bunch of people?) Most of them were already taken, but luckily we found one and had a short overniter.

Mmmm... marshmallows. My kids are a little weird, they like them burnt.
Emi learning how to make pancakes...
And of course Abby wanted to do it too. But since cooks eat last, I don't think she can ever become a cook!

I try to get a family pic when we have our outings. Usually I only have one shot since David hates pictures.

Friday, June 13, 2008

11 Years and Counting...

It's been eleven years since we've been married, so we had a lunch date at a local restaurant. I bet it's been at least 5 years since we've gone out to eat just the two of us. It was really nice. It's been so (too) long since we've spent time alone.
I had a nice salad, smoke turkey with dried cranberries and roasted pumpkin seeds, on a bed of baby greens, with honey mustard garlic dressing which was VERY good.

David has a Shrimp Louie which looked good too.

I also had a creme brulee for dessert. The last time I had one of these was when we were dating. These things are sooo good, I can't believe I've never tried making one.

He also picked me up an owl feather on the trails as an anniversary gift.

And... She's Off!

Siren Mary has started racing her Tour Divde race today. You can follow here placing here, or her personal times here. (Also available via side links.) She will be the first woman EVER to complete this thing. Very cool. See her in a month with some great stories and pics.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Made the 3-mile uphill trek up Devil's Slide again, looking for some ferns. I was really glad to see some growing. Looks like I had just gone up at the right time.

Came across some skunk cabbage. I noticed some trash towards the middle of the field, and when I went to go get it, it was a popped balloon and string. It had flown over this way and popped. Imagine all those escaped balloons, becoming trash somewhere. It was a strange sight.
I got a nice backpack full. Boy, were my legs and shoulders killing me on the hike down. I tried dehydrating some to see I can store it dry instead of taking up space in my freezer.
I gave half to my mom, I had her drive out to David's work (a good halfway point for us), and she gave us some Japanese food goodies: pickles, furikake (rice seasoning), QP mayo, ochazuke (rice soup seasoning), memma (seasoned bamboo shoots), rice crackers, dried daikon, curry, umeboshi (pickled plum), green tea yokan, and ready-made rice in a package with rice from Hokkaido, Japan... just to name a few. The nearest Japanese market is 2 hrs away in San Diego (where she lives), and it's been months since I've been there, so it's always nice getting some goodies from her. Better than x-mas...

Easy Cinnamon Bread

Here's a recipe (and pictured tutorial) from the King Arthur blog... a nice, easy cinnamon bread that bakes like a quick bread, but has yeast in it. And what caught my interest was the cinnamon chips in the bread, so I didn't have to roll it out. I liked how simple this was to make.
The recipe calls for cinnamon chips that they sell off their website. But it's about $6 plus shipping. So I did some searching and found out that Hershey's makes cinnamon chips. The Hershey site can tell you where to find them near you. In my case, Albertson's had them for $2.50 on sale. The strange thing is that cinnamon is not listed on the ingredients list, but has "natural and artificial flavors". How can you make cinnamon chips without cinnamon? But it was bettter than spending $10 to buy King Arthur chips, and not liking the recipe, so I bought the Hershey chips instead.
This bread was very good. Kinda tastes like a cinnamon roll in a bread, but denser. The cinnamon chips has a similar texture to chocolate chips, so there's some bite to it. The chips looks like they melted a little, and it looks different than the King Arthur kind. I think I'll try their chips the next time I order something from them.
The hardest part is waiting for it to COMPLETELY cool, which the recipe highly recommends for better slicing. We couldn't wait, so we dove into one. Good thing I made two loaves!