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March 15th, 2012 at 04:59 am

We are still planning the Argentina trip in September with 3 other couples - including lawyer friend and his partner. The eight of us are having a potluck at lawyer friend's house on Friday to talk and plan.

The most Argentinian dish that I know of is matambre - stuffed rolled flank steak. Tonight I butterflied the flank steak, pounded it thin, and am marinating it with red wine vinegar and garlic. I've also cooked a couple of sausages (hard boiled egg is classic, but the host is allergic, so sausage will sub for egg), and steamed long strips of carrot.

Tomorrow I layer sausage, carrot, red onion, minced garlic, and spinach onto the flank steak, tightly jelly roll it, tie up the roll with string and roast it for an hour. Thinking of making some chimichurri sauce while it roasts.

Friday I bring it to work and thence to the party.

Friday will be nice, these last few weeks have been h-e-double toothpicks. Must be going 'round.

pulled the trigger

December 9th, 2011 at 05:03 am

I've just started a Drp - Target, aka Tarzhay, stock ticker TGT.I had an interest, and since I have two other stocks with the same transfer agent, it was now a cinch to start it up directly from the transfer agent. Much, much easier and cheaper than using Temper of the Times. The only thing about this Drp is the $5 fee - I'll have save up and put in $500/ a pop to keep the fee at 1%. That's the thing that gets me with Sharebuilder - $4/trade seems like a good deal, but not if you are trading a few shares.

Made a wild Christmas candy bark recipe - base of chocolate, layer of crispy bits of bacon, chopped nuts (the original recipe called for peanuts, but I substituted walnuts and pecans), topped with caramel and on top of that, a little bit of salt. Tasty, but if you have bridge work, dangerous.

We are going with some friends to Korean barbeque and to them, for the Christmas season, goes the candy bark.

cheesemaking part 2

May 6th, 2011 at 03:13 am

So part 1 was yogurt, which was pretty easy once you figure out how to get the right temperature to hold the milk and yogurt culture.

Part 2 - I've expanded to include queso blanca, a white cheese made with milk and vinegar. Easiest recipe ever! I got the milk for $1.89/half gallon + a few pennies of apple cider vinegar and it made at least 1/2 lb of cheese.

Queso blanca

1/2 gallon of whole pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) milk
2 tbsp vinegar. I followed the recipe and used apple cider vinegar, so I don't know how well other vinegars work.

Heat milk in a saucepan to 185 - 195F. Direct heat, right on the burner. Stir often so the bottom doesn't scorch.

Take milk off heat. Add vinegar a bit at a time until milk curdles - forms a white precipitate/curd and a slightly yellowish whey. I halved the recipe I referred to (1 gallon milk/ 1/4 c vinegar), which worked. The recipe also stated that if it doesn't curdle, you can add a bit more vinegar.

I let it cool for about 20 minutes - not sure whether curds increase as you leave it, but I figured that it wouldn't hurt much.

Pour curds and whey into jelly bag, let the whey drain off. Leave the curds in the bag for a couple of hours to firm up the cheese. Can twist the jelly bag to really get the whey out. This cheese needs a bit of salt.

So far, the cheese spreads okay on bread and crackers, great crumbled into a salad, and heats up very well - I'll bet it will be great as a ricotta in a lasagna.

homemade yogurt

April 20th, 2011 at 04:28 am

Various bloggers' forays into homemade items encouraged me to tell you about my foray into a homemade item: yogurt! Specifically, I love the plain Greek style yogurt - plain because you can always add honey, fruit or jam but you can't take the flavor away if you want a lassi, dip or marinade. At its loss leader cheapest, I used to buy Greek yogurt 24 oz for $3.99. With a little bit of equipment, my latest batches have come from a gallon of free milk along with 1 $0.99 container of Greek yogurt. This is what I do:

1. Measure out 1 2/3 c of whole milk, put into saucepan.
2. Heat the milk to 180C. I measure it with a clean probe thermometer. If you don't have one, if its boiling, its heated.
3. Let cool to 116C. This is where you really need the thermometer - I've failed if its above 120C.
4. Pour warm milk into a clean food thermos.
5. Stir into the milk, one tablespoon or so of Greek yogurt. That $0.99 yogurt can inoculate at least six batches.
6. Seal, and leave the food thermos alone for at least overnight. I've left it alone for a full day without an issue.
7. Open the thermos - it should be coagulated like yogurt.

Now this yogurt is pretty loose and runny. Its not bad, but its not the Greek yogurt that I know and love. To get that, I have to strain it, and I do that using a jelly bag.

8. Set up the jelly bag. Since you're straining out the liquid and keeping the solid, the yogurt pulls away from the bag a whole lot easier if the seam side of the bag is out, smooth side is in.
9. Pour the yogurt into the bag and strain it for at least 2 hrs. You know you have a good batch if the liquid is clear, a weak batch if the liquid looks like milk.
10. Invert the bag and enjoy.

I often strain the yogurt for much longer, until it gets to be a cream cheese, and the cream cheese version is smashing also.

jelly bag and rant

December 13th, 2010 at 05:25 am

First the jelly bag with a tripod to hang over the sink. (I was jelly bag-less so I spent 12$ at the hardware store.) I was given a quart of apple butter, homemade by lawyer friend. It was delicious but runny. The solution is: the jelly bag. Pour the quart of apple butter into the jelly bag and wait for 1-2 hours as the liquid drained into the sink. A quart of runny apple butter turned into about a half pint of perfect apple butter.

It got me thinking about my second project. Making yogurt turned into a bit of a bust two weeks ago, but I still have an urge for a dairy project, so how about yogurt cheese, made with supermarket yogurt? I didn't have the butter muslin called for (a finer mesh more-clothy cheesecloth), but I did have the jelly bag. Turned out perfectly, and dead easy, so easy that it really doesn't call for a recipe. Dump supermarket yogurt into a jelly bag, let drip for 12-24 hours. Press a little - I twisted the bag to create a more compact 'cheese'. Its the consistency of cream cheese. I made eight little yogurt balls and rolled them in dried mint and a bit of kosher salt.

Now for the rant. Its been awhile for this one, but today it was just horrible. Our usual Sunday coffeeshop closed a couple of weeks ago due to fire damage next door so we went to a different one. We set down our wrapped newspapers to get coffee and discovered people reading 'em when we got back. I'm happy that people still want to read paper newspapers, yay, but dammit, if you are too damn cheap to buy your newspaper, you ask "may I?" and accept a no if we are not done. We share when we are done. Done means unwrapped from the baggie, paper in sections in a stack on the table. It costs some to get the paper, we buy it so we get first dibs.

Nuts, man.

all quiet

December 3rd, 2010 at 05:47 am

Been about a week since I last posted. Mostly because not much has been happening. Waiting for my passport with the visa to come back from the visa service, and I plan to hit my medical center to get the shots I'll need for my February trip. Hep A, typhus shots, along with a blister pack of anti-malarials just in case. With that, the heavy duty buying is done, the rest is just collecting for the packing list.

Sister is a bit funny - she's asking me whether I'm reading what's on the book list. I think she means the professor who is leading the tour. If that's the case, probably not. There isn't going to be a formal test, at least not one that couldn't be passed by buying two slots on the tour. Smile

Sister sent a TON of turnips in her latest box. I was at a bit of loss on how to use them - DH hates turnips so too much hiding is out of the question - until I remembered how much I liked turnip pickles at the Indian/Middle Eastern restaurants. Turns out making them is very easy:

Turnip pickles
6-7 medium turnips
2-3 tiny beets
2 1/4 tsp kosher salt
red pepper flakes
1 c warm water
1 1/2 c white vinegar
clean glass jars

Peel turnips and beets, slice into 1/4 - 1/8 in slices. Put in large bowl, sprinkle red pepper flakes and salt over slices. Toss to get everything well mixed. Cover, let sit for 12-24 hrs.

Pack slices into the glass jars. You should have a bit of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Add the warm water and vinegar to the bowl, mix well, pour the liquid over the slices in the jars.

Cover, let sit for at least 2 days. And this is what they look like...

snowpoclapyse, 2010

November 24th, 2010 at 02:11 am

Seattle is in the throes of its every other year snowstorm. Actually the snow occurred yesterday, but the ice occurred today. I was extremely lucky yesterday - it only took me 1.5 hrs to get to work, and 1.75 hrs to get home. Today - with the threat of the virtually-assured-nightmare ice bowl commute both ways, the fact that I got caught up with all my work yesterday, I had the PTO, I needed to get cracking on my part for the Thanksgiving festivities, - I refused to participate so I called in for a PTO day.

All the transit systems and the Seattle Dept of Transportation all tweet. Yesterday, while it wasn't a pleasure, at least I could figure out why we were stalled and could make a better decision. It does make for hundreds of text messages per day. I had the minutes saved for just this purpose.

And when I put on my Yaktraxs for the fourth year, I got the "great idea!" comment.

Got caught up on a number of fiscal fronts - my second CD matured Sunday so I called and put the proceeds into checking, and got my ING account to pull it in. 1.2% is unheard of for checking, but you have to maintain a large balance.

BECU solved a mystery. I got the temporary card, put a bit of money into savings. A few weeks later I wanted to put my this month's tip box squeezings into savings, but couldn't because it rejected my PIN. (I cancel and get everything back) Turns out that the first time you put the PIN in it will accept anything set of digits. Its at the end that it then gets down to the business of verifying your account. I'd rather be rejected early. I can take it. Anyway, got that mystery solved.

Also began making cranberry trifle try two. Try one was delicious, but I added a tad too much Cointreau. I'll fix that this time. All I've been doing is making three things: pound cake from a box mix, roasted cranberry sauce, cornstarch vanilla pudding. Cube the pound cake, layer it, add a bit of Cointreau, add a bit of cranberry sauce, a bit of warm pudding, more cubes of pound cake, Cointreau, pudding this time, cranberry sauce, etc. Keep layering until you run out of ingredients. Chill overnight, add whipped cream when you are about to serve.

quince marmalade

November 5th, 2010 at 03:45 am

Last night I canned 11 1/2 pints of quince marmalade. I used this recipe:

Quince Marmalade

3 1/2 lb quinces (after de-peeling and coring you'll get about 3 lbs)
5 3/4 c granulated sugar
10 c water
1 whole lemon, thinly sliced.

Peel, quarter, and core quinces. This was the tough part - especially around the very woody core, those quinces cut like squash. Collect the peels and cores, wrap them in cheesecloth. The quinces will turn a bit brown, don't worry about it.

Combine all ingredients (including quince trimmings in the cheesecloth) into large stockpot.

Simmer under low/low medium heat for several hours. Quince will begin to turn rosy, the sugar syrup will turn red. Pierce a quince piece, when it softens, remove and discard the bag of cheesecloth.

Mash your quince and keep cooking until the quince jam is of the color you like and the mixture passes the sheet test. The longer you cook, the redder it gets. 5 hours was my limit, and turned my yellow quinces into a glorious red marmalade...

Process by boiling waterbath (quince ph range is about 3.8 - 4.0, plus the lemon adds a bit more acid). Fill jars with 1/4 inch headspace, put on lids and rings, process for 25 minutes.

food doings

September 6th, 2010 at 06:23 am

Dj friend came by yesterday and bought 4 lbs @ $7/lb. 2 steak cuts which are each packaged paired, so either package will make a nice special meal, plus one pack of hamburger.

As we were talking, he reminded us that we told him about Lenny's ... and I have been complaining about produce prices, how nothing is under $1/lb. Okay, $.99/lb, but that's only for loss leader items. Not that I don't take advantage of them, but it would be nice to turn back the clock to, say, 2004 or so.

So we went back to Lenny's. $.99 for blueberries, .69$/lb for carrots, $.89/lb apples. Ah, back to where it takes a fair amount of weight to get to $5. I also picked up a bunch of swiss chard that looked good - $1.19/lb.

I sauteed the chard leaves in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. However, I found a great recipe for the chard stalks:

Creamed chard over pasta

1 bunch chard stalks - about 3/4 lb, or 2 cups
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 stick butter
1 cup heavy cream
dash nutmeg (my twist from the recipe I found)
pasta - I used penne
salt, pepper

Clean chard stalks if you haven't already, chop into 1/2 inch pieces.

Melt butter at low/med low heat, add garlic, saute for 1-2 min. (watch the butter, I burned my first batch. Frown )

Add chard, saute until chard is soft. (5-8 minutes)
Add the heavy cream to the chard, stir, keep at low heat and reduce to half the volume. Add nutmeg after about 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta al dente if you haven't already.

Dress the pasta with the cream sauce, serve warm.

happy 4th

July 4th, 2010 at 05:27 am

Not much fiscal going on...
Tomatoes are finally relatively cheap - $1.28/lb, so I made a Jamie Oliver version of tomato salad with a couple of edits of my own...

2 lbs or so of good fresh tomatoes
kosher salt
2 garlic cloves
1 jalepeno, minced
olive oil
red wine/ balsamic vinegar

Chop your tomatoes roughly, put them in a colander, salt them and let them sit to express some juice. (15-30 minutes). In the meantime, make a dressing with 3:1 olive oil to vinegar.

Combine tomatoes, garlic, jalepeno. Dress with the oil and vinegar.

$49.33: 1018 pennies, 43 nickels, 185 dimes, 43 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

using the new fangled ATM, along with a recipe

April 29th, 2010 at 03:48 am

Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $3 tomatoes, red onion
Found money - $0.42 (gym bench, bus stop, Safeway floor)

Saving log - $14.53 dividend
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0 Frown

I have got to stop mentioning days in a row of finding money. As soon as I do - nada. Yesterday was a total bust, but today dimes appeared to be raining from the heavens. $39.60: 865 pennies, 33 nickels, 144 dimes, 31 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

Deposited my tip box squeezings for the month today. $45. Normally I would have done it last week, but I was on vacation. I used the newfangled put-your-money -directly-into-ATM, which worked well, except for the fact that it went directly into my checking account rather than my savings account. It meant that using the ATM was a two step process: 1 - ATM, 2 - Online to transfer tip box deposit into savings. Kind of defeats my purpose, but strengthens the bank's purpose. These days, no one makes money on a saver, least of all the saver.

DH bought 5 lbs of strawberries a couple of days ago, and we clearly were not going to eat them fast enough. Here's my recipe to use 'em quick!

Strawberry Rhubarb Orange Compote

3 stalks rhubarb, sliced in 1/2 pieces
1 large orange, peeled, sectioned, sliced, zested
ripe strawberries
granulated sugar - maybe 1/3 c, but to taste

Put rhubarb bits and orange sections into a saucepan, add sugar. (Reserve the zest.)

Turn heat to low and simmer, allowing the rhubarb and orange to release the juice necessary. Stir occasionally - make sure the sugar does not burn.

Clean strawberries. Reserve the nice looking strawberries for later - Use the ones closest to the edge first, trimming bruises, etc. Chop and add these strawberries to the rhubarb in the saucepan. These are sacrificial - they will dissolve and form more sauce. Cook until everything is softened, but the rhubarb still keeps its shape.

Add the orange zest. Cut heat to very low - just keep the sauce warm. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.

Clean and slice any nice looking strawberries. Fold these gently into the sauce to give you strawberry pieces.

Serve over: dessert cup, short cake, angel food cake, scone, pound cake, plain yogurt ... if it turns out thick and jammy, toast. If it turns out a bit less than candy sweet, its fine as a side along with ham.