· comments  · 07-9-2015 · categories:links · the home ·
My daughter and I almost escaped from a sealed cavern before running out of air – Boing Boing. I’ve done one of these real life room escape games and it was super fun. See also: Let Me Out of Here! Inside Seattle’s Real-Life-Room-Escape Boom.
I’m wondering if anyone knows where the title for “The Breakfast Club” film came from. | Ask MetaFilter.
Seven Of The Most Beautiful Botanical Mazes On Earth at io9.
Flexible, Fluid ‘Revision’ Bounces From Rom-Com To Sci-Fi : NPR. Huge congratulations to Andrea on the great reviews in her first book, I cannot wait to read it!
The Price of Nice Nails – NYTimes.com. I recently found a nail place whose owner is the sole employee as well. It’s popular and can be hard to get a same day appointment there but it makes me feel good knowing that I’m not unknowingly participating in any unfair trade.
7 Pre-Vacation Life Hacks, and The One Thing You Should Never Do | The Everywhereist.
Popular Exercises To Avoid At All Costs—Unless You Do Them Right at io9.
Volunteer work for loners | Ask MetaFilter. Lots and lots of options for making the world a better place while not, you know, dealing with other humans. I will say that I worked as a page in my local library system when I was in high school and it was both a decently paying job and one with minimal social contact. I find myself cringing at the idea that somebody who can work for free could have taken away that job from me, while at the same time my high school self was a listed volunteer with the local parks department. I’m kind of conflicted right now – ?
WIRED Binge-Watching Guide: Scrubs | WIRED. Last winter I watched all eight seasons of Scrubs (I fear that season 9 will throw all my happy fuzzy memories off so I avoided it). It was the perfect comfort watching for when you feel nostalgic for not that long ago.
The Frisky Recommends: Podcasts For Everyone! – The Frisky.
How to Make an Awesome Death Star Piñata | Make:.
Watch these plants explode – Boing Boing. Touch me nots grew along my daily route to school and getting to make them pop open was one of my favorite things.
In Space, Even A Single Grain Can Lead To Catastrophe, at io9. I just finished reading Seveneves which deals a lot with collisions like this in space.
The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor: Tiara Thursday: The Ocean Tiara. This video briefly (around 2:35) shows how tiaras can be detached from their frames to become necklaces. Thanks go to phix for finding the video after I wondered out loud!
Game of Thrones Finale Recap: Death Is a Gift | WIRED. This is all spoilers, you’ve been warned. This is a great summary of what happens at the end of Season Five of the Game of Thrones television show compared with the where the story lines are at the end of the fifth book. It’s great if you consume one but not the other and are curious about how they are diverging.
Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves: five thousand years of apocalypse and rebirth – Boing Boing. I absolutely loved this book and spent a few very late nights reading because I couldn’t not know the fate of, well, all of humanity. A lot of reviewers don’t like the amount of technical explanations but I like those here as I liked those in Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon and in Andy Weir’s The Martian. Of all the reviews of Seveneves that I’ve read Cory Doctorow’s here sums up a lot of what I think. Added I also love the perspective of Laura Miller at Salon who wrote of one aspect of surviving in space: “I enjoyed it as the aerospace version of all those how-to passages about maple sugar boiling in “The Little House on the Prairie” books.”
The Internet is looking for who designed this cup. What does Springfield have to do with it?. Tracking down the designer of the Jazz pattern shown on disposable Solo cups and plates and the fanbase around the design.
· comments  · 06-25-2015 · categories:links · misc ·
#1: Sexy tumblers. There is a restaurant near us, Bar del Corso, that serves wine in low, wide tumblers. I’ve always found them very pleasing so I was happy to find similarly shaped glasses at Ikea recently and they’ve become my default vessel for sipping rose wine out of. Two things: at $3 for a set of six glasses they are ridiculously affordable, and if you buy them pay attention to how the packaging they come in unfolds into a single rectangle of cardboard, it’s a remarkable feat of engineering.
We’ve also been using these for cocktails but they aren’t necessarily ideal as lowball/Old Fashioned glasses, especially if you’re really into your ice and are using ice spheres. The average ice ball is taller than these glasses which makes for some awkward sipping. We’ve been using the ice sphere molds from Tovolo recently which are 2.5″ in diameter and they are definitely too large in this particular glass, but the ice from the King Ice Cube Tray fit nicely.
These also work great as little serving dishes and are shown here with a few of my current favorite snacks from Trader Joe’s: Crunchy Curls and Dark Chocolate Almonds with sea salt which aren’t pretty but they are unstoppably delicious. I can’t stop eating them send help. Back to the tumblers, I recently spotted the same size/shape of glasses at West Elm that had thinner walls, they were definitely finer glassware. Looks like CB2 carries some of the same style as well.
#2: Big bowls. We live in a part of town with lots of pho restaurants, it’s far easier to find great pho than a burger. Pho is best eaten out of nice big bowls but we didn’t have those so we were using two different sized glass mixing bowls, it looked kinda silly. I somehow convinced myself that the healing powers of this soup were diminished by lack of proper bowls so I set out to find ones that would work. It’s summer now but hey look, I finally found the perfect bowls! They are also great for nights when you need a Really Big Salad for dinner. Or a Really Big Bowl Of Pasta. You know.
These are 9″ serving bowls that are almost half spheres, a very pleasing size and shape. According to the description these are made from a porcelain that is lightweight, strong and will hopefully stand up to my clumsy handling. If the price on these seems a little high to you the Skack serving bowl at Ikea is the exact same size and shape but it’s made from stoneware that is a little thicker and heavier.
I’ve shown the bowls here filled with popcorn because it was 84 degrees the day I took this photo and hot soup just didn’t seem that appealing. I added the chopsticks for scale and also because I’m really terrible at using chopsticks and I’ve been using popcorn to train myself. Someday I will be able to get through an entire meal without needing to ask for a fork.
· comments  · 06-17-2015 · categories:shopping ·
· comments  · 06-2-2015 · categories:links · technology ·
· comments  · 05-13-2015 · categories:food · links ·
· comments  · 04-24-2015 · categories:links · misc ·
· comments  · 04-13-2015 · categories:food · links ·
The Jezebel Staff, Perfected. A demonstration of photo editing software that makes people look extra pretty. Its a send up of our overly perfected Instagram age but it kinda sold me on getting one of these apps.
Meet the Man Behind ‘Solarized,’ the Most Important Color Scheme in Computer History | Observer. Via The Wirecutter.
Explorable Explanations. Via Waxy.
A word on the iPhone 6/6 Plus and third-party headphones | The Wirecutter. What to look for to be sure your headphones will fit, and if not a few DIY solutions.
Something Has to Change in Videogames: Everything & Everyone | Unwinnable.
Replacing an inkjet printer with a laser printer | Ask MetaFilter. I recently noticed that my current inkjet printer is nearly a decade old, which means that despite zero signs of something going wrong it’s going to brick itself due to the extra attention. So, laser is what I’m looking at next as well.
Next iPhone game for a Monument Valley lover | Ask MetaFilter.
Weekend Getaway: Telltale Games’ Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent | The Mary Sue. I love this game and it’s sequel.
· comments  · 04-6-2015 · categories:links · technology ·
Remember last year when I went a little manic over dyeing eggs in an effort to get juuust the right colors? Yeah, me to. All the instructions and tips are over here.
· comments  · 04-2-2015 · categories:holidays ·
· comments  · 03-20-2015 · categories:links · misc ·
The title of this post is mostly a lie. You see, I love Liege style waffles so much that I basically dedicated an entire weekend to eating them in Belgium but I had to figure out a way to make my own at home that ultimately involved as little work as possible on a weekend morning.
Spoiler: we froze them.
The shiny bits are sugar that has melted and covered the outside. It’s a crunchy, candy coated waffle. It’s excellent.
I tested a few ways to get the waffle from the freezer to my mouth quickly while still keeping as many of the desirable features as possible intact. Those desirable features are: delightfully crackly sugar coated exterior, steamy yeasted layers inside, and overwhelming sense of all being right with the universe.
Between the carefully nurtured yeast and the pockets of melted sugar the inside of the waffle has some delightful layers.
The recipe from a site conveniently located at liegewaffle.wordpress.com is outstanding, it is perfection for the home waffle maker really, and got thumbs up from friends who also have fond location-specific waffle memories. The recipe takes a number of hours spread over two days and while it’s definitely A Project it’s a project I’ll happily take on.
The trouble is that it calls for a last 90-minute rise before putting the dough on the waffle iron which, to be honest, isn’t how I want to find myself eating the waffles. Which ideally is about ten minutes after I’ve woken up on a Saturday morning. And so, here is what we tested, including a few deliveries to willing friends who reported back with great information:
Freeze the dough directly after the last rise and later waffle it right out of the freezer. Downside: still a little bit of work to do upon waking up, waffle iron to wash. Upside: makes the kitchen smell amazing. Result: while the exterior of our waffles were very satisfying the interiors showed signs of not quite being cooked all the way through, the dough was a little mushier than it should have been. Not unpleasantly so, mind you, just not the best.
The Winner. Fully cook the waffle and freeze it. Downside: it’s just not as magical to simply defrost something. Upside: no waffle iron to wash later that day and makes frozen waffles giftable. Result: this is my pick for the way to go. The waffles were a bit chewier than just-cooked and never-frozen Liege waffles but an acceptable alternative which retained all the crunchy candy shell, yeasty goodness and feelings of universal ok-ness that were required. Heat in the oven at 275 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes (more on this below). I was honestly surprised that this worked out better than cooking frozen dough in the morning, pleased though because you can take a batch of ready-to-go frozen waffles to a friend with the reheating instructions.
Do some parbaking, or parwaffling if you will, and cook the waffles just to the golden stage, then freeze. In the morning take the formed waffles and put them back on the waffle iron and finish cooking them. Downside: you’ll end up washing the waffle iron twice. Upside: as it turns out, nothing. The texture of the waffle was the worst of the three trials. Result: it was a fun experiment but skip it.
I don’t want to take away from my aforementioned opinion of perfection for the Liege Waffle recipe that I used but considering my impatience-based needs I did make a few changes. Since all of the early tests produced overly chewy and too dense waffles I switched from bread flour to all-purpose flour. Since I was intending to freeze them I doubled the recipe and I also adjusted the amount of dough allowed to each waffle (basically from ten waffles to twelve waffles).
A note on pearl sugar: If you only have the energy to fuss over one thing with this recipe I suggest you fuss over getting the right sort of sugar. The Lars’ Own brand Belgian Pearl Sugar shown here can be found in grocery stores or ordered online (you’ll need two boxes, or just over 10 ounces total). (Also note: affiliate links.) If you’re in Seattle I’ve found Lars’ brand Belgian pearl sugar for sale in Metropolitan Markets and Red Apple Markets and it’s sold in bulk at Big John’s PFI. (Thanks for that tip, Gastrognome!)
A note on the time you’ll need to allow: This recipe includes some long stretches of letting the dough rise so I’ve called out the waiting times in the recipe below. The first day of work will need at least 6 and a half hours (most of this is waiting time) before you get the dough tucked into the fridge for an overnight rest so plan accordingly and don’t start this recipe in the evening.
Four hours later.
A note on protein content in the flour I used: I made my first three test batches with the King Arthur Bread Flour called for in the original recipe and found that our freshly made waffles were a bit more dense than the waffles we ate in Belgium, but our frozen waffles were very chewy. Too chewy. I switched to King Arthur All-Purpose Flour and while the frozen waffles were still a bit chewier than are ideal it was far closer to the waffles we remembered. King Arthur flours have a less than .2% protein difference between batches, their bread flour is 12.7% and their all-purpose flour is 11.7%, which is pretty high. Most brands of all-purpose flour fall near 10.5% so if you’re using a different brand you might consider subbing in a small amount of bread flour to boost the gluten amount.
A note on the waffle iron: I bought myself a stovetop waffle iron specifically because I wanted something that would be easy to clean. (Conveniently it also takes up less storage space in my tiny kitchen.) Friends who have made Liege style waffles report back that cleaning up after making them in an electric iron isn’t too much work, any sugar that melts out will harden when it’s cool and your waffle iron won’t be much harder to clean than usual. I bought the NordicWare stovetop waffle iron that is nonstick and made of cast aluminum but I’ve also had my eye on a cast iron stovetop waffle maker sold by Waffleburger (scroll down). I’ll report back if I get my hands on the cast iron one.
A note on the thermometer: Since I am, as you might have noticed, a little bit obsessed with getting these waffles right I found that an infrared thermometer was essential in getting the temperature of the waffle iron to the correct range. I bought a midpriced one (it’s nicely sturdy) at a hardware store and it’s worked great. It’s also really handy when you temperature of things around you house to try to figure out why your bedroom always seems ten degrees colder than the rest of the house.
This is step #3, its pretty dramatic.
Liege Waffles for Freezing
Recipe adapted from the Gaufre de Liège Recette Blog, which is excellent.
Makes 12 waffles.
- 3 tsp. (8 g) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup (120 g) whole milk at 110-115 degrees F (43-46 C)
- 5 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. (80 g) water at 110-115 degrees F (43-46 C)
- 4 cups (480 g) King Arthur all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. (40 g) light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. (9 g) salt
- 17 Tbsp. (240 g) room temperature butter (just over two sticks)
- 2 Tbsp. (30 g) honey
- 4 tsp. (20 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup (300 g) Belgian Pearl Sugar
1. Put heated milk and water in the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle yeast over the top and stir to moisten.
2. Add the eggs and about 1/3rd (160 g) of the flour, mix to blend.
3. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the top of the mixture but don’t stir it in. Cover the bowl and let it stand for 75 to 90 minutes at room temperature. You’ll see the yeast mixture bubble up through the flour.
after 90 minutes
4. Add the brown sugar and salt, mix on slow to combine everything in the bowl. (I just go ahead and use the dough hook.)
5. With your mixer on low speed add the honey and the vanilla. Add 2 Tbsp. (60 g) of butter at a time. Mix everything for 4 minutes at medium-low speed, scrape down sides a few times. Let the dough rest for 1 minute and mix again for 2 minutes. Do this again a few times until the dough starts to want to stick mostly to the dough hook.
6. Transfer the dough into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let this rise at room temperature for 4 hours.
after 4 hours
7. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. This step is for yeast respiration, it will slow it down which you’ll need to do before the next step.
after 30 minutes
8. Using a silicone spatula press down on the dough to deflate it. Scrap this onto a piece of plastic wrap, stretch into a long rectangle and then fold into thirds. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and weight it down with dinner plates. Refrigerate overnight.
after an overnight rest
9. Divide your pearl sugar in 12 equal piles, about 2 Tbsp. (25 g) each. Divide the dough into 12 pieces (about 88 g each). Mix the pearl sugar into each part of dough, I usually flatten the dough, sprinkle sugar on top and fold it over a few times.
10. Shape each waffle into an oval lump, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 90 minutes.
after 90 minutes
11. Spray your waffle iron with cooking spray. Heat until it registers at 365-370 degrees F (185 – 187 C). (Hotter than this and it will burn the sugar.) Cook until the waffle is dark golden brown and you can see the sugar melting and coating the outside. If you’re using a stovetop waffle iron I recommend turning it over every 90 seconds or so to keep the temperature on both sides up and allow for as much sugar to coat the exterior as possible. Carefully transfer the waffles to a wire rack to cool — be aware that the hot sugar will drip and can burn your fingers (ask me how I know) so use tongs and a flat spatula or small plate to help you move them. When cool tuck each waffle into some parchment paper and freeze in an airtight container. When you are ready to cook them preheat an oven to 275 degrees F and place the waffle directly onto the wire rack. Heat for 5 to 7 minutes, carefully transfer to a plate, maybe line the plate with that strip of parchment paper.
I recommend the oven over a reheating in a toaster because I don’t want hot sugar to drip into your toaster. A friend reported that even at the lowest heat setting the waffles burned in her toaster oven. So, regular oven it is.
12. If you are freezing the dough to cook later: Transfer the sheet with your dough directly into the freezer and let the dough chill for at least half an hour until set. Wrap each lump of dough in plastic wrap and place together in an airtight container in the freezer. When you are ready to cook follow the directions above for cooking. I remove as many ovals of dough as I want to make and place them onto the hot waffle iron, pressing the iron down slowly to flatten them out as they thaw. If you freeze the dough on parchment you can cut around them and use that parchment when you wrap them up, it will peel off cleanly before putting them in the waffle iron.
· comments  · 03-13-2015 · categories:food · freezerpantry ·
Mandarinquat, Limequat, and Centennialquat | Go Mighty. I have recently become enamored of the mandarinquats being sold at a local market.
Hack Together a DIY Cold Smoker Gun for Less than $20 at Science Fare. I feel like I’ve linked to this before and if so please forgive me.
Melissa Clark’s Braised Beans with Bacon and Wine – The Wednesday Chef. Via Orangette.
A bottle of wine, a pot of ragu « Tea & Cookies. I have had this experience with the annual block party that Tea talks about here. Seattle can be weird and isolating if you let it so bravo to Tea for disrupting the norm.
Biang Biang Noodles – The GastroGnome. I had the pleasure of learning how to make dumplings at the dining room table in this video. These noodles look like a project but a very worthy project. And Naomi? That girl knows her noodles. I’m going to try these very soon.
Lifesaver Noodles – With Cabbage & Carrots » delicious:days. I’ve already made this three times and it’s become a recipe I’ll keep around, and it makes very yummy cold leftovers. If I buy cabbage and an onion I can manage to make it with a bunch of those Dorot frozen herbs I’ve talked about before. Napa cabbage is a good substitute for the pointed cabbage in the recipe if you, like me, cannot find pointed cabbage in your usual grocery store.
Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuanese Chopped Celery with Beef – The Wednesday Chef. I chose this as a simple option when my cookbook club did a Fuchisia Dunlop book and it very quickly became a go to weeknight dinner in my house. After I had the fancy vinegar and the Sichuan chili bean paste in my pantry (so so good) and some cooked rice in my freezer it turns out that a very tasty dinner is as easy as picking up fresh ground beef and celery at the market. It’s like magic.
Giant Creamy White Beans with Kale – at Food 52. This recipe is from Heidi Swanson’s first cookbook Supernatural Cooking and it remains my favorite recipe worthy of seeking out and soaking gigante beans. Yum.
· comments  · 02-25-2015 · categories:food · links ·
Friends of mine have created a new game called Bring Your Own Book, the game of borrowed phrases. They debuted the game at PAX South this past weekend and currently have a Kickstarter up (and they’ve already made the goal, yaaaay!). I was lucky enough to get to play the game in a beta version and it was really fun. Go have a look!
· comments  · 01-27-2015 · categories:misc ·
· comments  · 01-22-2015 · categories:food · links ·
The other day I found myself caught between being hungry and lazy. (You know how to know when you’ve become an adult? When you no longer have foodstuffs that don’t require thirty minutes of cooking and other ingredients to make them edible. That’s how.) We had almost nothing to eat in our house but I just couldn’t get myself to put on pants that were respectable enough to go to the grocery store. And then (!), accompanied by rays of sunlight and angelic music, I found a jar of homemade tomato sauce in the back of my freezer. Suddenly (or with ten-ish minutes of effort) I’d gone from So Hungry to eating delicious tomato sauce on polenta (always stock corn grits for times like this) topped with an egg. I ate this again for lunch since new food hadn’t magically appeared in my fridge. Having this tomato sauce in my freezer made me feel like a genius. Or at least somebody who is occasionally able to feed myself with dignity.
This sauce I refer to is Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with onion and butter. Its an amazingly simple and delicious recipe so if you’re already familiar with it then high five, and if you’re not already familiar with it then you’re in for a treat. This is how it goes:
– a 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, with the juice
– one onion peeled and cut in half
– 5 tablespoons of butter
– a pinch of salt if needed
Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Done.
Ok, there is a little more than that. You let the whole thing simmer slowly for about 45 minutes and near the end crush the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Discard the onion before serving. Done and done.
For a more detailed version of this see Orangette, or Amateur Gourmet, or Smitten Kitchen.
For this recipe I make a double batch. Doubled it fits in a 4-quart dutch oven nicely and I freeze the leftovers in portions for later. I’ve been using small canning jars (note: affiliate links) with the very handy plastic screw caps lately for freezing foods, it’s easy to take of the lid and thaw the whole thing in a microwave. Or at least I find the jars less fuss than I anticipated them to be. I bought a bunch of jars a few years back expecting they’d eventually be cycled out of my house when giving food gifts to friends and I’ve honestly been surprised at how much I enjoy using them for dry food storage and freezer storage. The caps, though, make all the difference. They are easier to remove and clean and keep track of and won’t rust.
This is a little tip I learned somewhere that I cannot recall. (I think Cook’s Illustrated?) If you want to break up whole canned tomatoes with as little mess as possible use kitchen scissors to cut them up while they are still in the can. This recipe doesn’t require you break up the tomatoes first but I do it anyway because I can get a little obsessive over smashing the tomatoes later on and I like to give myself a head start. I’ve read that when deciding whether to buy whole or diced or crushed canned tomatoes it’s better to buy whole because there is less processing time before the tomatoes hit the can so they are fresher. I’m not sure if this is true but it’s good to keep in mind. Maybe a taste test is in order?
While I’m here let me just say that I’m totally in love with my no-sharp-edges can opener. I know there are not exactly breaking news but every time I open a can I find myself being gushingly appreciative of not being able to cut my fingers on anything sharp. (Because I did, every time.) I own the Zyliss and have no complaints. Sweethome recommends the OXO Good Grips version. In conclusion: not having the culinary equivalent of a throwing star weapon in your trash is good.
Ok, go, make the easy sauce and feel like a genius.
This post is part of an occasional series that I consider my Freezer Pantry. Here is the link to the category: Freezer Pantry, and here is a list of all the previous posts:
· comments  · 01-12-2015 · categories:food · freezerpantry ·