A friend of mine just blogged about his experiments with textured vegetable protein (TVP), which brought back memories.
My mother's father was in the Air Force, and at some point in his life, either during his career or after, he acquired cans and cans and cans of various survival food items. When he died, we inherited somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 gallon-sized cans of whole wheat, and a much smaller number of more sensibly-sized cans of other things: dried apples (tasty), vanilla protein powder to be added to milk (vile), and some TVP. My mom tried cooking with it precisely once, if I recall; it just didn't work very well in whatever she was trying to make. It and the vanilla powder got discarded quickly.
The wheat was a different matter. My mother inherited, at approximately the same time as all this canned stuff, a hand grinder which was probably her grandmother's. We tried to use it to grind some of the wheat, but I think it was probably meant for meat more than anything else, as it was just really hard work to grind the grain. My parents also had a little electrical coffee grinder, colored beige and that shade of orange peculiar to the '70s. It ground somewhere between a quarter and half a cup of stuff at a go, and my dad used it occasionally to grind up batches of the wheat. He then added the wheat flour to muffins, pancakes, waffles, etc, and quickly learned to use some white flour as well as wheat, as the baked goods would come out uncomfortably heavy and dense if he used 100% wheat flour.
After storing the twenty-some gallon cans of wheat for something over twenty years (including taking them with us when we bought a house), my parents finally decided to get rid of the wheat. I think they gave the wheat to a local food pantry. I hope the food pantry was equipped to deal with the donation!
The stuff seemed to freeze pretty well, perhaps unsurprisingly; chocolate likes to solidify when it's cold, after all. (Note to self: if the opening of the container you plan to store the ice cream or sorbet in isn't all that big, knock the sorbet off of the paddle while holding the paddle over the freezing cylinder, not the final storage container. Otherwise you have a mess to contend with!) A small taste indicates that the final chocolate sorbet product is of reasonable smoothness and very chocolatey - what's not to like in the list of ingredients?
We'll do this again at Christmas for my husband's family, using a brand like theo or Scharffenberger that doesn't have any milkfat in it.
( Lemon-Basil sorbet: recipe and notes )
If you add it to your seltzer expecting ginger ale, you're going to be disappointed... but only in that it's so concentrated, you get a great deal of ginger without a lot of attendant sweetness. But it *is* pretty tasty. (If you taste it straight, take just a fingertip's worth. Really!)
My mom would have LOVED this. She was a huge seltzer drinker for a sizable chunk of her life (guess who got me started?) and, as I've mentioned once or twice before, she really enjoyed cooking. She would have thought the SodaStream was the best thing since sliced bread, and would probably have made three different syrups already. :)
( An exploration in recipe interpretation )
It tastes quite pleasant, though it's somewhat different from what Mom did. Presumably everyone will enjoy it anyway.
Instead, I will post the recipe for the Spanish rice that we made last weekend! It was pleasant and easy, and I'd certainly consider making it again, with reduced amounts if it's just for the two of us, or similar amounts if we have guaranteed people to help us eat it. This recipe comes from here, and the modifications come from the reviews.
- 1 1/2 cups white rice (we used jasmine 'cuz that's what we have)
- 1 small can chicken broth (about 2 cups)
- 1 can plain tomato sauce (about 1.5 cups)
- 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1/4 of a medium onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- some oregano (somewhere between 1 and 3 tsp)
- splash of ketchup (about a tablespoon)
Quite tasty while not being overly exciting; I imagine it's pretty kid-friendly. Makes a bunch - if you have only two people eating, it lasts as a side dish for chili for several nights.
1 lb ground beef (can easily be lowered to 1/2 lb)
32 oz red spaghetti sauce (I don't think it's possible to get a 32-oz jar anymore. Just get a standard size and increase the water a bit. Play with the variety of the sauce!)
1.5 cups water
2 C (15 oz container) ricotta cheese (we always use the lowfat kind)
3 cups (12 oz) shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese (reserve some for the top, if desired)
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 C parsley
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
8 oz uncooked regular lasagna noodles
(optional: 1 package frozen spinach)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Brown the beef and drain grease. Add spaghetti sauce and water, and simmer till hot. (Tip: use the water to rinse out the jar of spaghetti sauce.) Optional: add 1 package frozen spinach. This helps lighten the final product somewhat.
In a large bowl, mix ricotta, mozzarella (~2 cups if you want some on top of the lasagna), parmesan, eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Layer the ingredients in a 9x13" pan as follows:
• enough sauce to cover the bottom (~2 cups)
• lasagna noodles
• sauce to cover noodles (~1.5 cups)
• 1/2 of the cheese mixture
• more noodles
• more sauce
• the rest of the cheese mixture
• remaining noodles
• cover with the remaining sauce
• top with remaining mozzarella, if desired
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350° for an hour. Remove the aluminum foil and bake an additional 15 min to brown the top. Remove from oven and allow to cool and set for at least 15 minutes before eating. Makes a LOT, but keeps pretty well in the fridge.
• Huz is on the last section of Metroid Prime, having defeated Meta Ridley with the help of a walkthrough. I am nowhere near done, being just about ready to get the Heat Visor.
• Tried out the demo for Miles Edgeworth last night. Walking around to examine things feels kind of klunky - at least using the interface they had in the demo. But the story and characters look to be their usual crazy, marvelous selves. (Who knew Edgeworth was a fanboy of the Steel Samurai?) Will keep my eyes open for a used copy.
• Speaking of which, someone thought it would be a good idea to write a musical using the characters and concepts of the Phoenix Wright games. Youtube of the first segment of the musical is here. Weirdness: all the characters seem to be played by females -- eh, whatever. From the little bit that I've seen (the equivalent of the 'intro' section of one of the cases), I can't tell whether it's any good or not.
• Our New Zealand trip is coming right up! I went and got new sneakers today. At least I have that concern out of my mind now.
• We have a bunch of Meyer lemons, thanks to a labmate of mine. Meyer lemon bars for D&D tomorrow!
– No skating class this AM, but we went skating during public session and got Very Tired. Reverse Killian position feels *really* weird. But then again, so did standard Killian at first. Practice practice practice.
- Speaking of practicing, there were about three different kids all working on their routines for ISI Worlds, which happens in about two weeks. They took it in turns out on the ice: the "Ease On Down the Road" girl would go, then the girl with the vaguely recognizable music, then the James Bond boy. Then they'd do it again. And again. That's quite something, in kids none of whom is over the age of about 11, if that.
- Speaking of ISI Worlds, why is it that I can't find ticket information anywhere??? Grmph.
- Having fun with Tactics A2. Everyone's about level 14, and I clearly need to buy some more spiffy weapons so folks can learn more skillz. (No, it's not really spelled that way.) It's a slightly odd system, if like me you never played Tactics Advance but loved the original FFTactics: equipment teaches you how to do stuff. And everyone gets ability points, even if they didn't participate in a given battle. Huh???
I Like Weekends. :)
• Had a lovely (and productive!) day with nezumiko yesterday. Acquired new sneakers, new jeans, and new tea and adorable teacup. Then we went back to her place, watched the last four episodes of Fruits Basket, and made Tea Drinks! We need to name them though. The recipes are below.
Brew a cup of Teavana's Rooibos Key Lime tea. Add a dollop of Bacardi Limon and enjoy! If you wish, you can also add a small amount of honey, further smoothing out any edge that the alcohol might have. But mostly it doesn't have any in the first place. It's a quite refreshing drink, and I bet it would be simply lovely over ice.
Brew a cup of Teavana's Earl Grey Creme. (Straight Earl Grey would probably work too; if you do it that way, add a little vanilla extract to the mix.) Add a jigger of Tuaca (it's an Italian liquer) and enjoy. It's quite good just like that; add a spoonful of honey to turn it into liquid candy, and some half-and-half on top of that to turn it into a drink you could seduce someone with. (This is the drink that really needs the name.)
We're now hanging about waiting for Super Shuttle to turn up, which they should do in another hour or two. We'll be in Boston tomorrow through early Friday, then down to the Ancestral Homeland for Huz's reunion. See you!
• Note to self: Next time the sewer cleanout shows signs of backing up onto the lawn, call the town to get it snaked for free BEFORE you discover on a Sunday afternoon (when the town doesn't answer phone calls) that there's a high level of standing water in the thing and you have to pay someone to come snake it.
• Huz is home safe! He had a good and productive time at the NCBI workshop he went to.
• Worky work. Worky work occasionally kind of frustrating. Why oh why don't my cells want to express syg-2??
• Singy sing. I'd forgotten that having voice lesson on the same day as symphonic chorus rehearsal leaves my voice reeeeeeeallly tired after rehearsal.
• Game-game. Finished Zack and Wiki; will happily lend. What to play together next? Thinking about New Play Control! Pikmin, Fire Emblem, and Broken Sword Director's Cut.
• For those planning on descending on the Ancestral Homeland in late May for Reunion, call the Duncan Hotel - they started taking reservations about a week ago. And man, they are CHEAP!!!!! We're paying only about $90/night, and that's with tax. (Shampoo not included.)
• Invented okay peanut sauce at lunch today. Into a small frypan, put:
- probably around 3/4 cup water
- about 3 T peanut butter
- maybe 1/2 tsp roasted garlic stuff
- a shake of red pepper flakes
Smush peanut butter around till it's kind of dissolved in the water. Boil awhile till it thickens.
Add a shake of sesame oil. Serve over noodles that had been sitting around long enough that we were worried about the integrity of the peanut sauce that came in the accompanying packet (best by sometime in 2006).
Add salt, which improves it a lot. Next time, have some onions or scallions or something along those lines on hand, and add some soy sauce at the end of cooking.
• Got first place in 100cc Leaf Cup on my first attempt (though not first place in all races). Must be getting better at this racing thing.
• There was something else, but durned if I can remember now.
EDIT: Oh yah, now I remember. Damned ankle acting up again. Time for new orthotics, methinks?
I want a snack that's warm, but preferably reasonably healthy.
We have bananas; what can I do with bananas that's not too much work and should be tasty?
Amethyst's Spur-of-the-Moment Orange Sauce
1/3 - 1/2 cup orange juice
cautious sprinkle of cloves
somewhat more generous sprinkle of ginger
scant 1/2 tsp cornstarch
scant teaspoonful of honey (I just squeezed what seemed like a good amount out of the jar)
Pour into small saucepan or skillet. Cook, stirring on low-mediumish heat. Allow to bubble 5-10 minutes till thick. Cool a little, and pour over substrate of choice. Sliced bananas are fine (you can then add leftover finely chopped almonds, which adds some nice texture); this would also work well over ice cream or cake - chocolate would be preferable, but a good pound cake would also work well.
This is, no doubt, what comes of having the cover of Ratatouille staring at me for the last couple of days. :)
• Bishop Marc Andrus visited our parish today! Very active, engaging speaker, I liked him a lot. And we had a really good trumpeter for the service, and excellent cake during coffee hour afterwards.
• After suffering TOTAL FAIL in our attempts to acquire copies of Mario Kart Wii online for standard retail price (all the big shippers are sold out, so those hawking used copies are getting around $70 for them), we found two copies of it locally. And - extra score - the huz found a copy of Zelda: Wind Waker, for which we've been searching for as long as we've had our Wii. [big grin]
• Late afternoon tea and cookies. Delightfully civilized and pleasantly yummy.
• Caldo verde soup for dinner tonight!
I cooked another winner of a recipe from the 30-Minute Meals cookbook. It's a super-easy kung pao style shrimp with ramen noodles. It took only about 45 minutes, including me noodling around trying to decide when to start the actual cooking part (as with many of the recipes in the book, once you start cooking, there's not really a stopping point, and I knew that the huz would be some late getting home) and being a little tentative cooking raw shrimp for the first time ever. Any recipe where most of the prep time involves rinsing shrimp, cutting up a bell pepper, and peeling some garlic and ginger which is then thrown in the mini-food processor is probably going to be a winner timewise. And it was tasty too! Definitely will do again.
We watched the first episode ("Hans My Hedgehog") of Jim Henson's The Storyteller, a program that lasted all of one season. John Hurt in a set of gnomish prosthetics is The Storyteller, providing narration of classic fairy tales which are acted out onscreen (with dialogue) by human and puppet actors. The narration is usually wonderfully poetic: there was a lovely description of a melancholy bagpipe air "that began with what sounded like hello, and ended with what sounded like goodbye." The visual style is strongly reminiscent of Labyrinth - one neat bit saw a king having dinner with the hedgehog in a castle in front of what looks like a tremendous fireplace... except there's a waterfall rather than flames. Like a good so-called children's book, this was TV for adults that kids could also enjoy.
Finally, we played a stage of Zack & Wiki that (1) didn't have the threat of death every 10-30 seconds like the last two stages had, and (2) was an interesting - though hardly impossible - puzzle. We could have made it unsolvable early on, but didn't. Lots of fun.
Have a good Leap Day and weekend, everyone!
And on the suggestion of a chorus friend, I then microwaved the cup for a short while to heat it up. OMG OMG YUM. Heightened lemon flavor, slightly syrupy consistency to the drink. Really really really nice. I could drink a lot of this stuff. And hey, surely I am (1) getting a lot more vitamin C and other good stuff than I would with just the tea, and (2) not getting that many more calories with 2 T of sugar than 1 tsp of honey.... err, well, maybe not. But worth it. And if it makes me feel better, darn it I'm going to do it.
Still home sick because I'm still stuffy and sneezy, and because I didn't sleep nearly well enough last night. I may try doing it without Sudafed PE 12 hour tonight and see what happens. We do have generic Nyquil if I get desperate.
In other realms: WTF is Square/Enix thinking, charging fifty smackers for an eight-hour RPG quest???!? Fifteen or twenty, I could see. Thirty, maybe. But fifty? You've got to be kidding me. A definite 'wait a year and see what the used price is.' Maybe.