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Momofuku Milk Bar – Compost Cookies

Compost Cookies

Compost cookie dough waiting to be baked. I swapped light brown sugar for dark brown sugar. Swapped butterscotch chocolate chips for peanut butter cups. Used Grandma Utz potato chips, and Snyder’s pretzel sticks.

Kitchen Resolutions 2012

I didn’t get around to many of my kitchen resolutions for 2012 (basically 3.5), so I am going to limit myself to 10. I’ll recap my 2011 efforts soon.
  1. Make buttermints. Apparently this is quite difficult because you can’t use corn syrup to maintain the crystal structure of the sugar.
  2. Make my own kimchee, and non-fermented pickles.
  3. Try my hand at making a souffle.
  4. Make macarons.
  5. Make at least one recipe from every cookbook I own that I haven’t used. Amongst them crazy recipes from The French Laundry cookbook, the Alinea cookbook, and Jacques Pepin techniques. Also notable in the collection: Jose Andres’ Made in Spain, Richard Sandoval’s Modern Mexican Flavors, a few years worth of Saveur issues, and (sigh) Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals get-togethers cookbook.
  6. Deep fry something on my stove.
  7. Make a really old school French dish.
  8. Make a good pie crust.
  9. Make chicken rendang and roti from scratch. A dish I’ve loved since trying it from Champor Champor in London.
  10. Make a Thai curry from scratch. I realize it’s much easier to just stick to the paste, but I want to know where it all comes from.

Kitchen Resolutions – 6 months

Make my own sriracha. I’d love to expand outside of the chilies they’ve listed for a variety of flavors.
I attempted this. I think the peppers I used were too old as even after long cooking they were too fibrous and ended up yielding a very chunky sauce. Even after straining I did not get the desired texture. However, the key is aging it slightly to increase the heat.

Korean peppers for sriracha

Add 5 classic Chinese recipes to my repertoire. Most of my cooking is some sort of weird fusion-y blend, and stir-frying is a little too straightforward.
I made Hainanese chicken rice. I didn’t take any pictures. My favorite part was how long this recipe lasted. Between the chicken itself and the stock I made after adding some additional chicken parts this yielded about two weeks worth of food.

Transition away from some of my non-stick cookware into stainless steel.
I purchased an eight-piece Tramontina 18/10 stainless steel set. I’m still adjusting to the differences between this and non-stick. But I love the added browning I am getting on my meats. If you want to get a good deal, you can bid on a set from eBay for less than it sells for from Walmart. (I got mine for around $105.) Many of the sellers who are selling new sets are actually selling FOR Walmart. My shipment came from Walmart. Cook’s Illustrated and others have rated this brand as on part with All Clad for a third of the price. Costco also sell a set of two saute pans for $20.

Make at least one recipe from every cookbook I own that I haven’t used. Amongst them crazy recipes from The French Laundry cookbook, the Alinea cookbook, and Jacques Pepin techniques. Also notable in the collection: Jose Andres’ Made in Spain, Richard Sandoval’s Modern Mexican Flavors, a few years worth of Saveur issues, and (sigh) Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals get-togethers cookbook.
My first loaf of bread came from the olive bread recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. My biggest issue with this recipe is that it requires a food processor. My frustration stems from the fact that I don’t own a ton of kitchen equipment and no one seems to account for that situation. I ended up going to my sister’s house to use hers. All in all, the friend I made the bread for loved it. But it would have benefitted from a pizza stone to cook it on though I imagine I could have substituted a cast iron pan.
Olive bread

Make more soups.
Lots of chicken stock from my Hainanese chicken experiments. I have also made pho twice in the last four months. The fascinating part of the pho was that it remains nearly flavorless until I add the fish sauce. So I am curious what impact other fish sauces will have on the flavor.

Kitchen Resolutions

Butternut squash soup with red kale chip
Butternut squash soup with red kale chip

Inspired by Missy Frederick’s 11 Kitchen Goals for 2011, I decided I wanted to write my own kitchen resolutions for this year. All of them are either conquering things that are considered to be challenging or adding new skills. It’s also likely to test the limits of my tiny kitchen, and irritate the dickens out of my smoke alarm.

  1. Make my own sriracha. I’d love to expand outside of the chilies they’ve listed for a variety of flavors. – CHECK
  2. Add 5 classic Chinese recipes to my repertoire. Most of my cooking is some sort of weird fusion-y blend, and stir-frying is a little too straightforward.
  3. Play with making different types of candy: truffles, lollipops, buttermints. I’ve mastered fleur de sel caramels covered in chocolate.
  4. Transition away from some of my non-stick cookware into stainless steel. – CHECK
  5. Make my own kimchee, and non-fermented pickles.
  6. Try my hand at making a souffle.
  7. Make macarons.
  8. Make at least one recipe from every cookbook I own that I haven’t used. Amongst them crazy recipes from The French Laundry cookbook, the Alinea cookbook, and Jacques Pepin techniques. Also notable in the collection: Jose Andres’ Made in Spain, Richard Sandoval’s Modern Mexican Flavors, a few years worth of Saveur issues, and (sigh) Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals get-togethers cookbook.
  9. Deep fry something on my stove.
  10. Make more soups. – CHECK
  11. Make a really old school French dish.

Happy Songs

I’m waiting for my iPod to charge, so I figured I’d write a happy song post as a foil to the sad song post. I’m starting to make this list and realizing happy bands make happy songs and lots of them. =D
  1. The Pixies – Here Comes Your Man: As if it weren’t enough in 500 Days of Summer… this song screams sunshine.
  2. The Cure – Just Like Heaven: A lot of The Cure songs are absolutely infectious with their high-speed sliding barre I-IV-V chord progressions and fast rhythms. This song takes the cake, especially with a particularly joyous cover on mandolin and guitar. The guy is off-his-seat happy. 
  3. Hoots and Hellmouth – The Good I Know You Know: Good ol’ joyful country rock with a whole pile of affirmations and positivity.
  4. Jukebox the Ghost – Hold it In: JtG is another band where it’s hard to pick the happiest song of the bunch. Super happy pop. On the surface just lyrically cute, has double claps (because double claps make any song better), but shows some complexity with quick time signature changes.
  5. Bellman Barker – In their Defense: A D.C. band with a lot of great little Beatles harmonies, and sunshine-y jangly guitar. They’ve moved on stylistically, but their old stuff really shines for being different and uncynical.
  6. The Specials – Hey Little Rich Girl: Old-school ska. It doesn’t really get better or more fun than this. It is impossible to not dance to this song.
  7. Jack Johnson – Banana Pancakes: Every one of his songs makes me think of nice weather. I just like the idea of banana pancakes.
  8. Yuki Hsu and Yoo Seung Jun – Can’t Wait: A song about the anticipation and euphoria of seeing your love again. Really cheesy pop (synth harpsichord!) with a Korean guy rapping in English and cloying female Chinese singer. I like to put this song on repeat sometimes and sing along. This song always reminds me of my freshman year of college when it was very popular. (Also at 1:24 in the video is she playing with a tampon?) 
  9. Usher – Yeah: Club anthem, yeah. But I can’t think of many songs that can get people revved up for dancing or in general. I don’t know if Jock Jams still exists, but this is the perfect candidate.
  10. Sam Roberts – Them Kids: Great Canadian artist. Another highly danceable song, and was in fact my cousin’s first dance at her wedding. It is a rally call against cynicism to some degree. Watch out you non-dancing hipsters. 

A List of Sad Songs

First post in a long time, but was compelled by a conversation with my friend J. We were discussing some of the saddest songs we’ve heard, so I’m listing a few off the top of my head. There are definitely plenty more that take on all sorts of heart break. These are amongst the ones that hit me hardest.

  1. Jason Isbell – Dress Blues: Describing the unexpected losses of war and the impact on an entire community.
  2. The Bee Gees – I Started a Joke: A song often sung by some soldiers in Vietnam, this song takes on a whole new meaning
  3. Al Green – How Do You Mend a Broken Heart: another song written by the Gibbs, a lot of it is just the way this song is sung by Green that makes it intensely emotional.
  4. Death Cab for Cutie – Tiny Vessels: I could have listed about five songs for DCFC that are sad. This is the one that has been the most relevant to me. If you’ve ever been on the end of a breakup that you don’t understand, this song is for you.
  5. Ra Ra Riot – Dying is Fine: When thought of in the context of the death of their drummer, John Pike, this song takes on a whole new meaning.
  6. Jars of Clay – Fly: A song written for a woman who had cancer, and her husband who promised never to let go of her hand until she passed away.
  7. Rachael Yamagata – What if I Leave: A song about a relationship in its death spiral, and having the strength to walk away.
  8. Vic Chestnutt – Flirted with You All My Life: At first you think the song is about the inability to gain the affections of a woman, but then you realize he’s flirting with death and suicide. Particularly sad in the context of his eventual suicide. This song will make you shiver.
  9. Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’: This is more to do with the song’s potential to be sad. If you slowed this song down substantially, it can become a very depressing song. It goes to show that how a song is played makes a huge difference on how it’s interpreted.
  10. Ben Folds Five – Brick: Ben Folds’s experience of assisting his girlfriend with getting an abortion. Non-political, and just reaffirms that an abortion is never an easy decision.

100 cocktails you must try

Bloody Mary Amazingness w/ Natty Boh chaserFrom a post on Waxeater… “Some bar in Houston named Anvil that I’ve never been to (mostly because I’ve never been to Houston) has drawn up a list of one hundred cocktails that everyone needs to try before they die.” Interesting list, but fascinated that absinthe figures in a large percentage of them. I’ve gotten around to 43. Missing essentials like a Dark and Stormy, and Bloody Mary. Still… lots of work to do this year…

  1. Absinthe Drip – absinthe, water, sugar
  2. Air Mail – rhum, lime, honey, champagne
  3. Alexander – spirit, creme de cacao, cream
  4. Algonquin – rye, french vermouth, pineapple
  5. Americano – campari, italian vermouth, soda
  6. Aperol Spritz – aperol, sparkling wine
  7. Aviation – gin, lemon, maraschino, creme de violette
  8. Bijou – gin, italian vermouth, green chartreuse, orange bitters
  9. Blackthorn – irish whiskey, french vermouth, absinthe, angostura bitters
  10. Blinker – rye, grapefruit, raspberry syrup
  11. Blood & Sand – scotch, orange juice, italian vermouth, cherry heering
  12. Bramble – gin, lemon, creme de mure
  13. Brandy Crusta – cognac, cointreau, lemon, maraschino, peychaud’s bitters
  14. Caipirinha – cachaca, sugar, lime
  15. Champagne Cocktail – brut, sugar, angostura bitters
  16. Champs Elysees – cognac, lemon, sugar, yellow chartreuse, angostura bitters
  17. Chrysanthemum – french vermouth, absinthe, benedictine
  18. Cocktail a la Louisiane – rye, benedictine, italian vermouth, absinthe, peychaud’s bitters
  19. Coffee Cocktail – cognac, ruby port, egg
  20. Collins – spirit, lemon, sugar, soda
  21. Corn ‘N Oil – blackstrap rum, falernum, angostura bitters
  22. Corpse Reviver #2 – gin, lemon, cointreau, lillet blanc, absinthe
  23. Cuba Libre – rum, coca cola, lime
  24. Daiquiri – rum, lime, sugar
  25. Daisy – bourbon, yellow chartreuse, lemon, lime
  26. the Darb – gin, french vermouth, lemon, apricot brandy
  27. Death in the Afternoon – champagne, absinthe
  28. Dulchin – pisco, apricot brandy, curacao, lime, grenadine
  29. East India Cocktail – cognac, curacao, pineapple gomme, maraschino, angostura bitters
  30. El Diablo – tequila, creme de cassis, lime, ginger beer
  31. Fernet-Branca – it’s a shot of fernet-branca
  32. Fourth Degree – gin, french & italian vermouth, absinthe
  33. French 75 – gin, lemon, sugar, brut champagne
  34. Gimlet – gin, lime, turbinado
  35. Gin & Tonic – gin, tonic water, lime
  36. Gin Gin Mule – gin, lime, ginger beer, mint
  37. Gin Rickey – gin, lime, soda
  38. Hemingway Daiquiri – rum, lime, grapefruit, maraschino
  39. Hot Buttered Rum – rum, butter, sugar, water
  40. Improved Cocktail – spirit, maraschino, peychaud’s & angostura bitters
  41. Jack Rose – applejack, lemon, grenadine
  42. Japanese – brandy, orgeat, angostura bitters
  43. Jasmine – gin, cointreau, campari, lemon
  44. Knickerbocker – rum, raspberry syrup, curacao, lime
  45. Last Word – gin, lime, green chartreuse, maraschino
  46. Mai Tai – rum, curacao, lime, orgeat
  47. Maiden’s Prayer – gin, cointreau, orange, lemon
  48. Manhattan – rye, italian vermouth, angostura
  49. Maple Leaf – bourbon, lemon, maple syrup
  50. Margarita – tequila, lime, cointreau Continue reading