23 February, 2008

Some Chinese Recipes

A friend of mine works at a local racetrack/casino in the kitchen. We were talking about cooking over xmas break, and I was lamenting on the fact that whenever enLethe and I attempt General Tso's Chicken, it just... doesn't turn out well. So, a month or two later, I get an email with these recipes in them.

We haven't tried them out yet, but I hope. I Hope.

Beef with Broccoli
Saute 1 tsp ginger and 1 tsp garlic
add 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce, 3tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp sugar
boil and thinkin with corn starch with water
cook beef and brocc
pour sauce over beef


G. Tso chicken
saute 1 tsp garlic, 1tsp ginger
1 tbsp sesame oil
1tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sugar
crushed red pepper to taste
boil and thinkin with corn starch and water
pour over cooked chicken

Here goes nothing!

16 February, 2008

Wheat Bread

As of right now, this is the current wheat bread recipe my mom and Banik have produced. It will change.

2 eggs
1 stick of butter
1/4 c. honey
2 c. warm water
1 T. yeast
3 c. wheat flour
3-1/2 c. bread flour
1/2 c. dry milk
2 t. salt
3 T. gluten
1/2 c. ruffage (ie. wheat bran, flax seeds, or steel-cut oats)

I have no mixing instructions. Recipes at my house often are ingredients, baking temperatures, and baking times. Ask Banik.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

My Mixer!

It's a big day for me, today. I've been waiting a long time for this, and the day's finally come.

My mixer arrived today.

I finally decided to get a KitchenAid mixer. The penultimate kitchen tool. Or at least the penultimate kitchen mixing tool...

Anyway, I'm excited, and here's my baby. I believe enLethe and I (read: enLethe, since she's the more artistic one) will be painting blue or green or blue/green flames along the sides of this mixer. I may even have to name it.

What impact does this have on you, the non-existant blog readers, you ask? More recipes that involve bread, or other mixed items.


"The Absolute Best Cinnamon Rolls in the World"

That was the title of one of the cinnamon roll recipes that I ran across on the interweb. How could I not choose that one?

So, I've made this recipe a number of times, with a couple variations. I will begin with the base recipe, which is pretty good.

1 Packet Dry Yeast
1c. Warm Milk
1/2c. Sugar
1/3c. Melted Butter
1t. Salt
2 Eggs
4c. AP or Bread Flour
1c. Brown Sugar
3T. Cinnamon
1/3c. Softened Butter
1/2c. Softened Butter
3oz. Creme Cheese
1.5c. XXX Sugar
1/2t. Vanilla
Pinch Salt

So, as you can see, the recipe has 3 parts. The dough, the filling, and the frosting. Here's the basic method.

1. Bloom yeast in warm milk, sugar, butter, eggs
2. Mix remaining dry together
3. After yeast is bloomed, combine with Dry. Mix well, knead for a couple minutes.
4. Rise to 2x size.
5. Roll out dough to ~1/4"
6. Preheat oven to 400 F.
7. Spread butter onto dough
8. Spread the Brown sugar and cinamon (mixed together) over the butter
9. Roll this monstrosity up, cut it into ~12 rolls and place into greased pan. I like either a cake dish, glass. Or round cake pans. So 3x4 or a 2xcircles of 5 with one in the center.
10. I havent' decided if I like letting them proof for a bit in the pan. I Think I do, but only for 15-20m.
11. Bake for ~20m.
12. Mix all this stuff together to get your cream cheese frosting. Mix until smooooooth.
13. Once your rolls are finished baking, spoon the frosting over them, then allow them to cool so you won't burn yourself.

Now, there are a number of acceptable variation. First, a better cream cheese frosting. I like mine cheesier, and a little less frosting than what you get with the above recipe.

3oz. Cream Cheese
2T. Softened Butter
1c. XXX Sugar
1/2t. Vanilla
Pinch Salt
(1oz. Ammaretto)

Something that I do like doing is, after putting the sugar-cinnamon mixture down, but before rolling, sprinkling about a cup of crushed nuts in the roll. I like doing this in the roll, not on top, so you get nuts with every bite.

Substituting Whole Wheat flour for the white flour is fine too. It gives a wheat-y taste (obviously) and makes the texture a bit heavier, but it's tasty. It requires a bit more kneading to encourage a fine texture, and I would definitely allow the rolls to proof in the pan. I generally sub in:

3.5c Whole Wheat Flour
1/2c. Wheat Gluten

Last but not least, I'll randomly sub in molasses for some of the white sugar, just because. Try:

1/4c. Molasses
1/3c. Sugar

Anyway, there ya go.

Countertops and pretty stone

So, I'm taking Geology this term. It's interesting. the first day of class involved a "I am X, I'm studying Y, and I'm taking this class because Z." Well, my Z is "because this is a restrictive elective that I need to graduate, and I like shiny rocks.

Now, segue into another area of my, our, life. enLethe and I are very fond of stone, especially the idea of stone countertops in our kitched. It's pretty, durable, etc. Now, there are a lot of cool stones that can be used for this purpose, most of it isn't actually granite, I've found out. Anyway, what is below is a bit of a summary of a conversation we had regarding this.

First, a single type of stone is not necessary in the kitchen. Countertops and island top can be different. Having more than 2-4 major types of stone may be an issue, due to clashing colours.

What if, instead of large slabs of stone for counter tops, we instead bought a number of small boulders, 1-3 cubic feet at a time, cut and polished them ourselves, then set them into some sort of matrix to act as our counter tops? The matrix itself would have to fit a couple prereqs. It would need to be pretty in and of itself. It would need to be durable. We would also have to be able do this ourselves. This fits nicely. That's right, concrete counter tops. A lot more beautiful than you thought, eh? I'm not sure what else would work as a matrix, though. Resin would be too soft, I think. I can't readily think of any other materials.

The next idea we can up with was two part. First, we posit that we are using slab stone for our countertops, though this is not necessary, we could just as well be using the idea described above. Now, this idea is focusing on the area between the backsplash of the countertops, and the bottom of the cabinets. I'll term this area the "extended backsplash." Anyway, if we decided that, for some reason, the above-method was unfeasable for countertops, we could do something similar for the extended backsplash. A lot of the area I'm speaking of is either tiled or made of painted cement board. In this case, we have three options. Either use the above option of larger pices of polished, pretty stone, though this has the issue of large spaces between them, or we could get the 4"x4" countertop samples, cut, polish, and bevel them, and use them as tiles, insead of plain old ceramic. Finally, the third option could be a combination of the two- using large pieces of stone embedded in the stone sample tile work, in a mosaic-esque fashion.

So, the main problems that I see are as follows. First, these projects will involve a significant outlay of funds for the proper tools for the job. That's ok, because both enLethe and I feel that it's much better to get our own tools, and build/make most of what we want, rather than buying a finished, possibly shabby and/or exorbitant product. Second, and a much greater issue, involves technical issues with the matrix that the stone would be set in. Shrinkage and sealing at the stone-matrix boundary could cause quite a headache. Additionally, making sure that none of the matrix material ends up obscuring the pretty stone that's being embedded may be a challenge as well. Then there's the variable hardnesses that maybe cause unequal erosion of the surface over time, or the ability of the finished product to stand up to a regriding/polishing while in place.


13 February, 2008

Voting and the CAP

Howdy folks.

I should be doing homework right now, so I'm going to make a quick post.

First, CAP = Collective Action Problem. This is a phenomena where a single person's incentive to take some sort of action is so small, they don't do it.

Voting is a prime example of this. Any single person's vote is, basically, irrelevant. The problem is, if no one votes, things break.

I know this, but I still don't feel the need to vote, even though I know I should.