Tag Archives: recipe

Strawberry basil lemonade

Perth seems like another lifetime by now.  I think I’ll save my report on Margaret River for later this week, since I have yet to upload the photos from that trip.  At the moment, I want to talk about strawberry basil lemonade, and the three weeks I spent in nuclear camp.

Yes, you read that right.  I am a nuclear physicist, and in an effort to try to figure out important life questions like what the hell I want to do with my life, I occasionally try new things. This was a summer school on nuclear nonproliferation, which covered everything from cold war nuclear hysteria* to what it would be like to be a UN weapons inspector.  It was awesome. So were my fellow students.  Maybe it was the return to dorm life, or the fact that we spent way too much time in the same classroom together, but I haven’t actually had so much fun since I was an undergrad. Perhaps that’s telling.  But I digress.

My point is that I realized I essentially want to save the world, to put it bluntly, and that I’m not the only one with that ambition.  It’s kind of cool to find out there are other people out there who feel this way, and that they’re talented, motivated, and fun to hang out with to boot.

Don’t worry. I won’t get totally serious on you all of a sudden. I plan on finding a job — any job — that gets us to Europe for a couple of years, before we have too many responsibilities.  The world can wait a little while.

So… Where was I? Oh, right. Lemonade.  It has absolutely nothing to do with this post, except that I was making it while I was thinking about career options today, and it sort of got tangled up with all of this in my head.  That and it’s a delicious accompaniment to a day full of making jam and putzing about in the garden.

*30,000 weapons, US / Soviet Union? Really? You could destroy thousands of worlds with that kind of stockpile…

Strawberry basil lemonade

I’m obsessed with lemon + basil at the moment, because I bought this tiny globe basil plant (with mini leaves) and can’t resist using it whenever and wherever I can.  We went strawberry picking on Sunday at a nearby orchard, and I happened to be making jam when I started craving lemonade, so that’s what this particular combination came from.  I sort of mashed up the strawberries and basil and threw it into the lemonade, chunks and all. You can blend it a little more thoroughly, or strain out the pulp, but try it first as is.  I sort of liked the texture.  Make sure your strawberries are ripe and flavorful.

  • 1/2 c. strawberry mash (This consists of ~6 medium-sized strawberries, pressed into a pulp.)
  • Juice from 6 small, juicy lemons
  • ~1 c. simple syrup (Heat about 3/4 c. sugar in 3/4 cup of water until the sugar dissolves, and let cool). Add this to taste — the amount of sugar you need depends on how sweet your strawberries are and what your personal preference is. Make extra simple syrup if you like things on the sweet side.
  • handful of basil, crushed
  • 3-4 cups of water.  This is also to taste, as the amount of juice your lemons produce will vary, and you may prefer a stronger or weaker drink.

Mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust as required. Strain if you want a smooth drink; otherwise, don’t bother. Enjoy cold, preferrably somewhere sunny and warm.

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Filed under drink, lemon, local, strawberry, Uncategorized

A first attempt at Ethiopian food

As much as I dread winter, I tend to do my best cooking then, when the warmth of the oven is welcoming, and work keeps my fingers warm and occupied in the long months before spring arrives and frees me from the cold.  When a snowstorm hits, and all the town is back from scavenging like madmen for food to sustain them through the long hours before the streets are cleared, I tend to choose something warm and spicy and new to spend an afternoon making.  On such days, I don’t mind grinding a thousand spices by hand, or trying out something that just might work, if only I give it a try.

These afternoons are more fun when I don’t have everything I think I need.  When I’m missing a few ingredients, I’m forced to improvise, to think about what each ingredient does to the dish, and to figure out how to achieve the same effect with what I have at hand.  I get to have taste tests, and run around the kitchen, searching for some forgotten spice or obscure ingredient that all of a sudden seems essential to the finished dish.  These eureka moments are quick and satisfying, unlike science, and that, perhaps, is why such experiments are so frequent in our household.  James and I both come home after a long struggle with some obscure problem or another, and create new ones: ones we can discard or change as we see fit, with only the judgement of our tastebuds to concern ourselves with.

This meal is the outcome of one such experiment, and was my first attempt at cooking Ethiopian food at home.  An impending snowstorm cut my shopping trip short, so I made do with the ingredients I had at hand, and was mostly happy with the results.  My mock injera was a semi-disaster (though edible enough), so I won’t share the recipe here, but the chicken stew (doro wett) was spicy and complex, without being overwhelming, and the cabbage dish was sweet and subtle.  The pair complemented each other surprisingly well, balancing sweet and spicy, rich and wholesome.  Both are worth trying out, especially if you’re craving hearty winter fare like I am.  And yes, you can skip the berbere. It won’t be quite the same, but I think the stew and cabbage will be satisfying nonetheless.

Recipes after the jump.

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Filed under cabbage, chicken, chili, comfort, Ethiopian, lentils, main, onions, soup, squash, stew, Uncategorized

Cinnamon raisin spice rolls

I have been craving cinnamon rolls for years. YEARS. And I resisted up until now. Why, I have no idea — I’m just silly like that sometimes.  I finally made them over the holidays, in one of my, “Damn it, James, I’m not going to work this morning” moods.  They were our Christmas morning breakfast, post-hike lunch, pre-dinner snack, and …

Hey, don’t judge me.

This recipe (or formula, if you’re as pretentious as Peter Reinhart occasionally is, which I fully forgive every time I make another one of his recipes) makes light, warm, and not-too-sweet cinnamon rolls, with a little bit inspirational filling from their slightly stickier relation and a slight nod toward the warm spiciness of hot cross buns.  If there’s one thing I’d change, it’s probably the glaze. I really wanted cream cheese frosting on these, but I’m indulgent like that, so you might disagree.  The icing isn’t bad — after all, we scraped it off the plate once the cinnamon rolls were gone, like rabid, sugar-crazed fiends — but it wasn’t oh-my-god-I-need-MORE good.  Next time, I intend to do better.

Recipe after the jump.

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Filed under baking, breakfast, holiday, raisins

A bit of crunch

Jicama Salad

I wasn’t even going to post today. It’s been one of those weeks, yet again, where we have no bread in the house, a random assortment of groceries we’re unlikely to get to, and a few too many takeout bills. But the lure of blog-related procrastination is a bit too much for me, it seems. Especially when I have a research proposal to write (due tomorrow!) for an experiment I’m not sure I’ll have time to do.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this isn’t a real post. It’s just a place to share a few thoughts, and a recipe I wasn’t really sure I was going to share (notice the lack of prep photos?).  If you only have time to read one thing, check out Nathaniel Johnson’s article on raw milk in Harper’s Magazine (which I found via Bitten). It touches upon the history of pasteurization, what kind of farmers pasteurization regulations are actually trying to protect us from, and all in all, presents a pretty scary picture of the industrial dairy industry in this country. For the record, I’ll take my grass-fed raw milk from the friendly local farmer at the farmer’s market, thanks. Luckily, I have that choice here in Connecticut.

Otherwise, today was one of those days where it rains and rains until you think it’s never going to stop, and then transforms itself into a glorious, crisp evening, with streaming sunlight, chirping birds, and all sorts of other gorgeous signs of spring. The tulips even opened up, after a two-day hiatus. So what did I do? I went for a run, in my new, very funny looking shoes. I think they’re kind of hilarious, and I’m certain I look like a bit of a circus act running in them, but normal shoes seem to cause me trouble, so I thought I’d give them a try. They’re comfortable, and kind of awesome — provided you don’t spend too much time on concrete.

All this faux-barefoot running takes me back to about 18 years ago now, when I’d run around my grandmother’s neighborhood like a hoodlum, without shoes or fear of anything but the boy down the street that I sort of had a crush on (but only because I’d kissed his cheek when we were playing house one day, and it seemed appropriate somehow).  I’d run and run, playing pirates or princesses or some other nonsense, until it was time to go home for dinner, and I had to be coaxed into the car for the trip home. If I had been cooking back then, I think this jicama salad would have been the perfect antidote to a long day of playing pretend in the burning San Joaquin valley sun.

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Filed under cilantro, limes, local farms, milk, quick meals, running, stories, vegan, vegetarian

Buttery biscuits for Anzac Day

Buttery golden deliciousness

I’m a little bit tardy with this post, but I’ve been a bit lazy in the kitchen of late. Yesterday was Anzac Day, which is kind of like the Australian version of Veteran’s Day here, and since I will take any excuse I can get to make Anzac biscuits, I figured I’d share them with all of you, as well.

Mmm, golden

Anzac biscuits are kind of funny. They have a little bit of a mad scientist quirk, they’re “healthy” (because they’re made of oats, of course), and don’t call for eggs at all, which makes them a cinch to modify for vegans. During World War I, when these biscuits were first made, eggs were difficult to come by, so people had to find something else to bind their baked goods. It turns out that golden syrup does the trick. Golden syrup, for those of you who haven’t tried it, is sweet, buttery, golden (duh), and delicious cane syrup, and really should be in your kitchen if it isn’t already. It’s finally available in the international section of most supermarkets, so it really isn’t hard to find. I use it in a lot of my cookie recipes, just because the flavor is that much better.

Dough

The thing I can’t quite figure out about this (or any) Anzac biscuit recipe is the mad scientist bit I mentioned before. One key step involves dumping the baking soda in a bit of boiling water. When you do this, you get a tame little explosion of carbon dioxide, resulting from the interaction between the sodium bicarbonate and the hot water. As I understand it, this leaves you with sodium carbonate, which will once again break down into carbon dioxide and water provided you have sufficient heat (~1000°C, according to Wikipedia!). It seems like any further leavening really won’t happen in the oven. So what exactly is the point? Anyone have an idea? It seems to be fairly standard in any Anzac biscuit recipe I’ve come across…

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Filed under Australia, baking, butter, coconut, cookies, dessert, golden syrup, oatmeal

Prickly pasta, take two

Prickles galore

I had to continue on this prickly pasta theme, because I’m still a little bit shocked that this dish worked. I didn’t even take prep pictures, thinking that this could just be my little secret. Not that I should have been surprised — I’m not exactly the first one to roast an eggplant whole, skin and all, only to scoop the flesh out, doctor it with a bit of olive oil, and discover exactly what I had been missing for all these years. I think my faith in eggplant was lacking a bit, after the million spongy and, frankly, kind of gross eggplant dishes I’ve managed to assemble in recent years. And yet, I kept on buying them. Good thing, don’t you think?

Nettles

This dish is my last recipe’s less virtuous cousin. It’s inexact and utterly malleable, depending on your tastes. But I do think you should try it, with or without the nettles. Again, a bit of arugula, thrown in at the last minute, provides the green counterpoint the silky eggplant flesh needs.

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Filed under cheese, local, main, pasta, quick meals, vegetarian

Prickly pasta

Nettle pasta

The local farmer’s market is always full of pleasant surprises, but I think early Springtime, when everyone wants something — anything — fresh and local to eat, is when I find the most unusual ingredients offered up. It’s funny, because sometimes those running the stands are almost apologetic about their wares. I always try and make a point to go and find something new on these occasions, searching for signs advertising strange, exotic (but somehow local?) ingredients. This week, I came across a bag of incredibly fresh nettles, picked just that morning. See how pretty they are?

Nettles

Nettles don’t exactly sound appetizing. When they get older, they remind you not to go near them if you happen to brush their skin. As I found, the little ones still manage to do the same; pulling them out of their careful wrapping sent little tingles of pain across my fingers, like a thousand tiny splinters. I suppose I’ve done worse when cooking before (and after the aloe vera leaf we brought back with us from the store today, these little prickles were child’s play). I had no idea what to do with them. The girl at the stand just said they tasted incredibly green, like springtime, and so I figured I’d just do something simple. A little lemon, and crushed coriander would make for a subtle and delicious flavor, coupled with paprika, garlic, shallots, and olive oil. Add a bit of pasta, and you have the kind of meal you should be eating after cracking open an amazing triple creme brie in the afternoon, after planting still more vegetables in the garden.

Spices

The pairing was quite good, in fact, and as for the nettles? They cook down into fresh, slightly firm, soft greens, which go nicely with the tang and slightly spicy aftertaste of the lemon and coriander pairing. The girl who sold them to me? She was right on. They taste of spring, just around the corner. And for the skeptics out there, James says they’re better than Brussels sprouts.

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Filed under firsts, flax seeds, lemon, local, main, olive oil, pasta, quick meals, vegan, vegetarian