Oranges Everywhere!

13 Dec

Image courtesy of http://2bianchi.com

Following up on my interest in my new discovery of Orange Wines.  I recently found this very interesting article on… well Yahoo (if you follow the link it will take you to the article).  Anyways, it had a lot more of the information I was looking for when first hearing about the wine.  (which on another note, I have just noticed that every article I have come across has said that “Hipster sommeliers” are the ones recommending these wines)

They run on the more expensive side (which considering how hard they are to find, I am not surprised) and are apparently the “white wine for red wine lovers”.  I liked the article and just thought to share it.

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Turkey time

23 Nov

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and of course you are doing what every good host is, worrying about the meal for the next day.  And what is the most important dish for this festive holiday (well for every non-vegitarian household)

The Turkey!

(if you didn’t guess from the giant picture that I have at the top of this, and well common knowledge of Thanksgiving foods)

Now it is common knowledge that all you really have to do is pop it in the oven until that little red thing pops up.  But No!  This is misinformation that must be stopped.  If the turkey is still frozen on the inside, then the outside will crisp up, the little done thing pops up and you think you have a finished bird.  Instead please

  1. Defrost that bird the night before
  2. Use a meat thermometer

If you’ve stuffed the bird then it should get to an internal temperature of at leat 165 degrees F

Anyways, now that my turkey safety rant is over with (once you have turkey where people are guessing if it is done you have a pretty strong opinion on food safety).  Now on with the food talk.

The second most common food for this holiday is the all important  pumpkin pie.  What probably is my favorite dish has become so underappreciated that you can buy the filling in a can, dump it in a pre-made pie crust, pop it in the oven and call it home-made. 

It is such a simple, wonderful recipe that can have so much done with it.  Now I always go the extra mile and use a pie pumpkin, but those who are intimidated by that can keep on using the canned pumpkin (which in a pinch is pretty good stuff and I still can’t convince my mother to use anything else).  But there are many variations that can keep your pumpkin pie from sitting with only a few small slivers taken by the few who try to stick to tradition.

The first and my most recent favorite I must admit I got from the wonderful Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbum.  I have tried many of her recipes but this addition that I was a bit hesitant about added a whole new level to the pie.

  1. Take about 1/2 cups pecans and around 4 gingersnap cookies and grind them up in a food processor (they need to be totally processes, no big chunks)
  2. Add more to this mixture depending on how much that makes (this is all from memory right now so bear with me)
  3. Put this on top of your pie crust (before you put the mixture in) and press in an even layer on the bottom and halfway up the sides of the crust.
  4. Pour in filling and bake 🙂

It is quite easy and adds some spice to the crust.  I went further and roasted some cinnamon spiced pecans and added them to the top of the pie after it had finished baking.  It has been a huge hit so far.

pst recipe here 😉

But as for changing things up, I tried something I haven’t before with the leftover filling.  Everyone who has made a pumpkin pie knows that even though you may measure it out exactly, there is always quite a bit that just won’t fit in the pie shell.  What to do with that?

Just going on whim I grabbed a some small individual glass dishes (that are oven safe) and melting some butter, pressed some of the remaining pecan-gingersnap mixture into a crust on the bottom of the bowls.  Next was the remaining pumpkin pie mixture, and I topped each with a pecan (gently dropped on top so it wouldn’t sink in).  Take a cake pan, place the dishes in it and fill around them with water until it reaches over halfway up sides of the dishes.  Now place this in the oven at the usual 350 degrees F, but cook for about half the time you usually would a pie, so around 30 minutes but I would check on them occasionally.  Of course figure out if it is done or not by sticking a toothpick in the middle and if it comes out clean then they are done.  Let cool if you want, but I found I enjoy this one still a little warm.

The new fad in town, Orange Wines

29 Oct

I consider that I know at least a little bit about wine.  Growing up in a family that drinks it I early on developed an interest in the ruby-red drink that they were raving about.  Then going to school I immediately signed up for a club that was dedicated solely to the study of wine.  But this is something I had not heard of before, Orange Wines.  One of my friends “discovered” them (I put it this way because neither of us had even known they existed before this) when Food & Wine  did a very brief article about them.  And I mean brief, it barely took up a paragraph, giving the bare minimum of details.  Not finding that satisfying, I went in search for more information about them.  I found an interesting (abet long) NYTimes article from a couple of years ago talking about them.

Apparently they are a white wine that is left in contact with the skin of the grape for a longer period of time than usual.  That imparts the almost burnt orange color to the wine.  The wine itself can be as different as regular reds or whites can be from each other, having a different flavor or texture depending on the method that it was made.  But a common theme is their increased resistance to oxygen, letting the remain fresh when opened for a longer time period.

As I am still underage I will have to take other’s opinions when learning about this cool wine, but will find out as much as I can in the meantime.

Tips for Tea

20 Aug

Earlier this summer I thought it would be fun to throw a semi formal summer tea to bring my friends together.  What originally was planned as a garden party, where we would sit on one of my friends patios surrounded by blooming flowers and eating summer inspired food.  However, things had to be changed quite drastically by a few unexpected changes.  The first being that due to the large amount of rain we received, conditions were ideal for one of the most dreaded creatures of all… mosquitoes.  The little buggers would attack as soon as you left the house, and where my friends garden once was a perfect place for a cool shaded tea, it had no become a feasting ground for the biters.  So after making the decision that the party would take place at my house (which while nice, we would have to be indoors.  Destroying my vision of a garden party)

Tea Table

What I thought would look like a table just thrown together ended up looking pretty great.

The second snag in the plan was my budget.  Where once I thought there was plenty of money, after paying my most recent bill, there was a dramatic depletion in my account (which probably could be accredited to a trip to the bookstore where I got a little to into Border’s going out-of-business sales) I found that I was stretching a bit to cover a tea for eight. 

In the end everything turned out wonderful despite all of my worrying.  An unexpected cold front the day before made it at least possible to move the tea out to my back deck, which while not in the middle of a garden has a nice atmosphere.  My great grandmother’s old noritake china and a floral tablecloth added the flowers to the party.  And unexpected contribution to the budget by my friends had me breathing easier.

My tips from this experience are this:  Don’t stress out too much about the details of your event.  What you originally plan may not work out but what you end up with may be even better.  My friends were more than happy with everything. 

While a budget is a good thing to have (and it’s even better to stick to it) don’t feel ashamed to sometimes ask for help.  I myself am a poor college student and carrying the cost of a party can be a lot.

So back to the tea.  Not knowing if my friends were tea drinkers (I would highly recommend knowing this before throwing a tea party) I planned on having two choices for drinks, iced sun tea and strawberry lemonade.  If you don’t know what sun tea is then listen up, it is the perfect way to make delicious iced tea for those like me who are too lazy to brew tea to the right strength, maybe flavor and then let cool down. 

The steps for sun tea are simple:

  1. Find a large clear jug of some sort (I’ve also used clear Tupperware in a pinch) and fill with water.
  2. Put at least two bags of your favorite tea in it or the equivalent in loose tea (you can strain it out later).  I used a nice Youthberry blend that is a flavored White tea which has a nice orange and raspberry flavor.  But really anything can work.  My usual blend is a bag of raspberry black tea and a bag of green tea.
  3. Leave this outside (though my grandmother says that a windowsill works just as well) on a very sunny day.  The sun needs to warm the water to let the tea seep properly. 
  4. Leave this out for a couple of hours, or until the tea is seeped to your preference.
  5. Remove the tea bags (or strain out the loose tea), chill and enjoy.

The official menu was the following:

Cream Scones served with Lemon Curd and Preserves

Smoked Salmon and Dill Finger Sandwiches

Cucumber Mint Finger Sandwiches

Ham Parmigiano Finger Sandwiches

Mini Fruit topped Vanilla Custard Tartlets

Having fresh local produce can make the menu more than any fancy recipe.  The freshness of the berries on the tarts paired perfectly with the cool drinks and made a wonderful end to a great summer tea.

The beginning

21 Apr
Mini Daffodils

Here are some flowers that my mom gave me midway through winter term. I was so excited to finally have something living to add some color to the room.

Well here I am writing my first blog.

So first a bit about myself.  Though I posted that I am a sophomore (which due to a lot of complicated stuff I actually am) right now I am a freshman wrapping up my first official year at public university.

So far my year has been full of trying to figure out how to live in the dorms.  Thing that I had never though I would have to do like washing dishes in the community bathroom sink; where everyone could see that I had left it until just about the last moment judging by the mountainous pile balanced in my arms. 

Other things that would have seemed taboo to me in high school were now quite common.  Sleeping through class becomes normal, but I always make sure I am awake for my daily fix of Looney Toons followed by Tom and Jerry (the first usually beginning at noon).  Currently watching The Abominable Snowman with Buggs and Daffy, one of the classics.

Anyways, back to the whole purpose of this blog. 

One of the worst things for me being here in community living is that we don’t have kitchens, and as someone going into restaurants with a love of cooking it is horrible.  Through this I hope to impart what makes me love food.  Be it a recipe, activity, or random factoid.

So if anyone does decide to read this… hope you enjoy!