V and Co.: tutorial: flower corsage for celebrating mom. This is lovely, and uses satin ribbons to form the flower.
Cocktail Party! « The Crafts Dept.. I really like this clever cocktail party invitation.
V and Co.: tutorial: flower corsage for celebrating mom. This is lovely, and uses satin ribbons to form the flower.
Cocktail Party! « The Crafts Dept.. I really like this clever cocktail party invitation.
The cool people at PRX have offered me a This American Life iPhone app to give away to one lucky person! Yay!
The app gives you access to all of the streaming This American Life episodes, all the way back to 1995. That simple. The downside is that you have to have a signal in order to listen. So you’re out of luck on, say, an airplane. The upside is that it’s easy to sort through them to find what you want to listen to.
I’ve been listening to This American Life for a very long time. It kept me entertained when I got my first job coding websites and discovered just how uninspiring cubicle life could be, so I have extra warm fuzzy feelings. I even have a TAL poster hanging in my house, it goes very nicely with my orange wall.
So, if you’d like to win a code for a free This American Life iPhone app please leave a comment with this post. The fine print applies. This ends at noon Pacific Time on Monday, May 31st when the Random Number Generator will chose the winner.
[Since I love the show so much I’d just like to point out that This American Life is currently engaged in that ever present struggle to raise enough money to stay alive. You can donate right there, they even take Paypal. You can also text “TAL” to 25383 ($10 will be added to your phone bill). See? Painless. Just for the record, nobody asked me to mention this, I just really really like the show.]
update: Thanks so much to everybody for entering! Because of the response PRX sent me two additional codes to give out, thanks PRX. The Random Number Generator chose 37, 78 and 92, and the winners have been contacted.
Orangette: You deserve a waffle. Molly picks winners for both yeasted and regular waffles, I love that one is named “The Waffle of Insane Greatness”.
Bacon Fruit Cups, at Instructables.
10 Good Cheap Liquors : Tips from the experts on the best values in booze – CHOW. Booze is expensive here in Washington, we can use all the help possible seeking out inexpensive and good oens.
Harmful Drinks in America | World Of Mysteries. Sodas, beer, energy drinks, milkshakes and iced coffee drinks next to their sugar equivalent in food. All shocking and will have you sipping plain green tea in no time. My favorite though was the McDonald’s vs. McDonald’s comparison: one large Triple Thick Chocolate Shake has the equivalent amount of sugar to 13 Baked Hot Apple Pies. And it’s not even the worst in terms of calories. Yikes.
What do Marion and Belloq drink at Tanis in Raiders of the Lost Ark? | Ask MetaFilter. At the time I’m typing this there are only five answers, but I adore how very geeky and sincere they all are. Viva la nerd.
make grow gather – eat your heart out, gilligan. An underwater restaurant in a private house boat owned by Forbes Thor Kiddoo floating just off a small island that holds a lighthouse near San Francisco accessible only by ferry? I must get myself here. (How did I not know about this already?)
Is sleeping overnight in the Hamburg Airport a Good Idea? | Ask MetaFilter. Logistics of sleeping in an airport.
I made gin! Well, sort of. I infused vodka in the hopes of making gin. I used the recipe I found at Newcity Restro by way of Cinnamon. I think this recipe was originally from the book The Modern Mixologist by Tony Abou-Ganim. I made a few changes based on what I suspected would be orange zest heavy and, well, it still turned out orange zest heavy. (One should note, however, that I seem to be unusually sensitive to the presence of orange zest. I don’t know why, but I find it utterly overwhelms everything it comes in contact with, ruing many a nice pastry, cranberry relish, or chocolate for me.)
The infused recipe calls for running some vodka through a Brita filter a few times. I just happened to have an unused Brita pitcher around (courtesy of last year’s BlogHer Food swag bag) so I did that, though I suspect the step could be skipped.
I took a quick side trip to World Spice down by Pike Place Market where you can buy by the ounce and procured the list of spices (listed below). World Spice, by the way, is awfully fun. They have samples of one ounce examples (surprisingly helpful!) of each offering that you can sniff and examine as you shop, and you write you order on a little clipboard. They also offer a breathtaking number of mixes and rubs and salts.
The recipe has you put juniper berries in first for a 12-hour soak. We were curious and each ate a dried juniper berry. I found it to be very much like men’s cologne, which Scott summed up nicely by declaring it was like chewing on Grey Flannel. Most people declare Christmas tree, we are here to say cologne.
After 12 hours you add more botanicals and let soak for another 12 hours. Here is a before and after:
It came out smelling vegetal, and while Scott reports that it tastes nice I still find it the orange zest a bit strong, adding a too-sweet note. I don’t dislike it, but I prefer my gin clean and crisp and, yes, pine-y. I realize that this might not be possible to create by infusing spirits. Still, the experiment fun and I might try it again. But first we’ll have to have a cocktail party or two to use this up. Punch anybody?
First let me just say that due to arcane liquor laws in the state of Washington a 1.75 liter bottle of Smirnoff is closer to $30 than $17. I wish I’d halved the recipe as this turned out to be an expensive experiment, and should you live in an area with similar conditions I encourage you to do so.
The final mixture was colored a ginger ale yellow. Not ugly, but not the crystal clear-to-blueish gin I’m used to. I’m sure this had an effect on my perception.
Of all the dried botanicals added the grains of paradise were the only ones that didn’t float. Perhaps it was a bad addition on my part but it is listed as one of the things that goes into Bombay Sapphire. This Wikipedia article on gin doesn’t mention it. Should I try this again I’ll leave those out.
So far my diligent research tells me that this gin in better served with a slice of cucumber than an olive. I will perform more diligent research in subsequent evenings where I don’t require sobriety.
Should I try it again I’ll leave out orange zest altogether, and probably only use half a sprig or rosemary. I will leave out the grains of paradise as well, for the sake of research.
There are, of course, a lot of recipes for infusing your own gin that you can find with a simple Google search. It’ll take a while to test them all but we’re up for it. I think next will be this one from Gourmet magazine.
update: I did indeed try the Gourmet recipe and liked it a lot better, go see try #2 here.
We’re getting ready to declare a media blackout in our house so we can avoid any spoilers about the ending of Lost. We’ve even planned a themed meal for the event at the last moment, in our case we’re going to buy some pulled pork from our favorite BBQ place, seek out a mango and drink beer decorated with Dharma Initiative food labels. They have a huge amount of labels there, even an Oceanic Air customizable boarding pass. Neat.
Strawberries have been good this year, have you noticed? Apparently growing conditions have produced a wealth of them but they won’t be available for long (something I overheard at my local market but didn’t get a chance to learn about in more detail, so take it as you will). Some of the nice spring days here in Seattle recently have been very, very nice, so when we found ourselves both home for dinner I made hot dogs, the Magic Juice from Design*Sponge, and we had our first picnic dinner on the porch. The Magic Juice is refreshing, subtle, not too sweet, and really delicious. If you have not tried it yet I hereby recommend you find the intersection of a warm evening, free time and good company and try it out. I hope all three find you this weekend!
How to Shop for a Vacuum Cleaner | Apartment Therapy Marketplace. I will need this as soon as
I manage to break my current vacuum wears out.
swissmiss | ID Guard Stamp. Thirding the great idea declaration, this is a stamp that obscures your private information before you throw that mail into the recycling bin or shredder. You can never be too careful, etc.
Our last Cookbook Club selection was Tessa Kiros’s Falling Cloudberries. It’s a beautiful book full of vivid and emotive photographs. It’s also huge and packed full of recipes, more than one would expect. The full title is Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes and the recipes are divided by region, Tessa Kiros grew up with a Finnish mother, a Greek-Cypriot father and she grew up in South Africa before traveling the world and settling in Tuscany. The recipes are interspersed with memories of family members and the food they would make, and we are told which family member each recipe comes from.
The club’s consensus? Gorgeous and inspiring book but we would have liked a bit more detail with the recipes. The desire for numbered steps was voiced, and I myself needed a whole lot more explanation as to why I was doing certain things, as well as a bit more detail. At one point the instruction to “add the remaining sugar” stalled me while I read back to the ingredients list, then down through the recipe to find out how much sugar I had already used. Most people admitted to making some changes to recipes, especially if it was the second time they’d made it. That said, all the food was amazingly good.
The Youvetsi was warm and delicious. Maggi gives us the recipe with some changes she made over at her site, Whatever Lola Cooks, Lola Eats.
The chickpea salad was delicious, with a good amount of feta.
The carrot salad was refreshing with mint and some ginger added warmth.
This cous cous was also yummy, I’m not normally a fan.
The dolmades were good but I think the consensus was that they could have used more salt.
The ribs were outright amazing. I was wearing a white dress and I’m shocked I didn’t get any sauce on it.
This semolina cake was a good texture and had a delicate flavor going on. Maggi reports the flavor was better the next day.
I had no more room to try one of these kourapiedes, but I overheard that they melted in your mouth in a delightful way.
The milk tart was thin but tasty. The cook reported that she used a pate sucre crust as the curst the book called for bubbled up beyond control despite using pie weights.
I really liked the carrot cake, it was delicately spiced and not too sweet. It was drier and more dense than carrot cake I’m used to but it was balanced well by the fluffy, buttery icing. The baker reported she didn’t use all the frosting as it seemed like an awful lot, but after seeing how it worked she would have added the rest.
And the creme caramel was mine. I added a vanilla bean which dotted the top. It wasn’t as pretty as the non-vanilla bean one (recipe here) but I liked the additional flavor.
They’re making a Dark Crystal sequel. At Kottke.
smug archive. At Kottke. This is way more important to me than I’m making it out to be right here as I’m all calm and nonchalant. See? Nonchalant.
What’s the middle ground between “F.U!” and “Welcome!”? | Ask MetaFilter. I stumbled upon this response to an etiquette question (from 2007!) recently. Read the comment linked to first, then scroll to the top, read the question and skim your way down through the comments. It’s the best lesson in etiquette and behavior I’ve found in years. And I’m a person who openly admits I find subtext, subtlety and body language completely incomprehensible until I’ve had a few years to mull it over. Also note the number of people who have favorited that particular comment, it makes me feel less alone.
Fallen Princess. This is the weblog of Christina Kelly. Yes, that Christina Kelly, the one from Sassy magazine. Note my nonchalance (see above), it will indicate how very excited I am right now.
Curio Confection – rosette apple pie. This is gorgeous.
A hash convert, at Hogwash.
Sugar Cookies Save the Day! | Apartment Therapy The Kitchn. Keeping this for next Christmas.
Orangette: Her recipe box. I will be making this simple recipe for Cinnamon Toasts soon, I bet it’s amazing.
A wine geek’s guide to some great bourbons – Cocktails and Spirits – Salon.com. Bookmarking this one for Scott.
The Pancake Project: The Search for Breakfast Perfection continues:. Pancakes shaped like other breakfast items, cute.
Bullshit, revisited « Kathleen Flinn. I have to admit that I cannot truthfully say “I don’t have time to cook.” So instead I’ll outright admit that I simply hate (hate hate) prepping, washing, chopping and cleaning up on weeknights. So far I’ve started making lots of things from scratch that we freeze in dinner-sized portions. I cannot tell you how much better we’ve been eating since I’ve been doing that. Also, I get a lot of pleasure from taking the time to make a gigantic batch of bolognese or curry on a lazy Sunday.
the decorated cookie: tea and cookies (over the rim treats for mom). My gingerbread houses for the edge of a mug came from the idea for cookies like these that are meant to perch on a mug. My cookies would all flip off because I was using dough that was too thin, I bet these with the thicker dough would work out great.
Like playing video games? Here are a few things you might be interested in.
Thing #1: I’m sure you’ve already heard this but just in case I’m going to let you know that right now Portal is free, gloriously free, for Mac and PC through May 24th. This is a promotion by Steam to help announce that they can now deliver games to Macs. If you’ve never played Portal I encourage you to do so. Go on. (Portal 2 is coming this winter, I’m so very excited.)
Thing #2: Puzzle Bots by Erin Ryan, aka Lively Ivy is out and available to buy. This is a retro style adventure game where you control a set of tiny robots. It’s terribly fun (I’ll post more once I’ve played further), but you can read more about it here and there is a review at Jay Is Games.
Thing #3: Consider buying the Humble Indie Bundle. It is six games – World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugara, Penumbra Overture and Samorost 2 – all from indie developers offered without DRM and at whichever price you’d like to pay. You even get to decide where your payment goes, charity, developers, or a combination of both. All games are offered for Mac and PC. I bought the bundle specifically for Samorost 2 and Aquaria. (p.s. If you find the combat bits of Aquaria frustrating email me, I have a simple fix for you.)
Here is an update on what apps I’ve been using lately, books I’ve been reading, and my absolute favorite iPhone case.
applications I use all the time
applications I’m looking forward to getting to know better
games I’ve been playing
sites I read to learn about apps
Kindle books (I still think the Stanza reader is far more pleasurable to use, but Amazon has the ease of purchase and delivery that has grudgingly won me over, at least when the book is significantly less expensive.)
the quest for my favorite case
My quest ended with me going back to get new version of the very first one I bought. The case I love (pictured above) is the Incase Protective Cover, simply a rubber sleeve that hugs the phone all the way around. I love it because it’s grippy. When I drop my phone (which is rare, see: grippy) it simply bounces. The only downside is that the rubber makes it a bit harder to slide in and out of a pocket. Of most importance, though, is that the Incase rubber cover is the most comfortable for playing games. What can I say, I fully embrace my inner ten year old boy. They make a similar one for the iPod Touch called a gaming cover which I covet.
After I wore down my first Incase protective cover I tried a few hardshell cases and one other rubberized case, all of which I found too slippery to hold on to (admittedly, I’m a clutz). One hardshell case failed me when I dropped my phone and it cracked, luckily not the screen. (Wave Case I’m looking harshly at you here.) One final note, the Crystal Film made by Power Support has saved my screen from countless scratches, I like it very very much.
Looking for a reliable toaster | Ask MetaFilter. I too have given up on toasters, but continuously am looking for a good one.
Whole-grain bread: healthy for us, death for appliances | Ask MetaFilter. Asking for a mixer that can stand up to the challenge of being used mostly to knead whole grain bread dough.
This is my test Creme Caramel, I’ll be making another for an upcoming Cookbook Club. You wish you were here for lunch today.
From Falling Cloudberries, slight change and notes by Megan Reardon (www.notmartha.org).
You’ll want enough time to let this cool in the fridge overnight, or at least a few hours.
You’ll also need a roasting pan large enough to hold your cake pan and tall enough to allow for a water bath. I keep a large disposable aluminum roasting pan in my house for this purpose since I have no place to keep a serious roasting pan, the aluminum one can be shoved on it’s side in the back of a lesser used cupboard.
You can also divide this among ramekins for individual desserts, but in this case I think the whole custard is a glorious sight. I would not use jars for this, I think they would crack when you pour in the caramel.
Preheat the oven to 310 degrees.
Make the caramel
Get a large bowl of ice water and set it on the counter. Hot sugar burns, if you get some on your hands plunge them into this water. Put one cup of the sugar into a large (I used a 4-quart) saucepan, add about 1/4 cup water and turn the heat on medium-high. Don’t leave, watch this pot. Mix just so that the sugar is dissolved then let it bubble. When it starts to brown swirl the pan to distribute the heat. It will brown very quickly at this point, once it’s a a nice golden brown pour it directly into an angel food cake pan. Swirl the pan, you might need potholders as my cake pan heated up quickly from the sugar, so that the caramel coats the bottom and a little way up the sides.
At this point my caramel cooled, and actually turned hard, then cracked! I was certain I’d heated it too long and I would end up with a custard topped by hard candy, but when the whole thing was turned out I did indeed have a lovely caramel sauce. So, don’t worry if you have ended up making hard candy, apparently it softens.
Make the custard
Start some water boiling, you’ll want enough to create a water bath (this is one of those moments I love my electric kettle). Mix together the eggs, vanilla extract and the remaining one cup of sugar in a large bowl. Heat the milk and the vanilla bean insides in a saucepan until it almost boils, then take it off the heat. Add a ladle of the hot milk to the sugar and egg mixture and stir it in to temper the eggs and make sure they don’t cook. Add a few more ladlefuls, whisking lightly between each addition, and slowly add the rest of the milk. You don’t want the mixture to get frothy though. Strain the custard into a pitcher or large pour-able bowl. I used a regular gauge strainer and it caught some blobs of egg yolk, I think that’s all you want to catch. Pour this mixture into your cake pan.
Place your roasting pan (or whatever you’re using for your water bath) in the center of the oven, put down the cake pan, then pour just boiled water into the roasting pan, enough so that it is half way up the side of the cake pan. I’ve also seen Martha Stewart also place a folded kitchen towel beneath the cake pan to keep it from sliding around in the water bath.
Bake for 50 or 60 minutes. Falling Cloudberries says “until the top is golden in parts, quite set but still a little wobbly”. Mine didn’t turn golden in spots, it was an even color, but it was both set and wobbly and turned out great. Cover with plastic and put it in the fridge, preferably overnight but at least a few hours.
Loosen the edges, either with a knife (I have a nylon spreader I use for this) or by tugging the top with your fingers or a spoon. Turn it onto a large serving dish that will contain the caramel sauce, and there will be lots of it. In my experience, as shown above, you’ll need something larger than a dinner plate. Your best bet here is to put the plate on top of the cake pan, get a firm hold and flip them both at the same time. Spoon the caramel over the slices you’ll serve. Mmm.
See also/instead: Julia Child’s recipe for Creme Caramel at Whisk.