lundi 21 décembre 2009

cultural differences in food packaging

i've learned that even simple inane things like food packaging can be cultural.

my first experience with a specificity to french food packaging was ...

#1. rice in a bag

instant rice comes in a box with four individual packages. naturally, i would heat up the water. cut open a bag. pour the rice in. and cook.

until one day, i was making rice for a french friend and as i was cutting open the bag, he was like... "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?! -- don't cut the bag! just throw the entire bag with the rice into the water!"

i didn't believe him. how could you throw a plastic bag into boiling water?

lo and behold, he was right. and let me tell you.

rice in a bag. is GENIUS.

(we don't have that in the US, do we? cause we should)

#2 sugar in a box

this one's for pilar.

ok, american and french have different food packaging concepts. understandable. but this is a spanish - french difference. you would think the countries being so close together, they would have a common base of food packaging. but no.

sugar in france often comes in a box. so pilar would open the sugar box from the top - like you open a cereal box. makes sense, right?

the french however, are quite clever when it comes to packaging. pilar did not notice the handy side opening - allowing for a clean and efficient pouring of sugar (rather than spooning out clumsily from the top).

and finally,

#3 oven-resistant pie dough wax paper

this packaging was definitely the biggest revelation for me...

in france, they sell pie dough wrapped in a wax paper.

sidenote: i never used to make apple pie in the US, but due to the combination of a) apple pie being the embodiment of american culture, and b) pie dough being so readily available, i started making it for potlucks and dinner parties -- and after three years of living in france and baking apple pies, it's become sorta my trademark (i was even graced with an apple peeler for my birthday last year to ease the process ... )

anyway. i also make quiches. so i use pie dough a lot.

and naturally - when making a pie/quiche, i used to pull out the wrapped pie dough, cut open the packaging, separate the dough from the wax paper and do my best not to massacre the dough as i transferred it to the pie mold. but--- it got messy every time.

until one day....

i was at a friend's house watching him make quiche. he cut open the pie dough packaging, unraveled the dough with the wax and put the wax paper directly into the pie mold!

i was. flabbergasted.

it changed my life.

not only do you have a neat crust, but you cut down on time. and you don't have to grease your mold.

i'm telling you, i was blown away.

that's it for now ....

have you misunderstood any quirky food packaging lately?

samedi 24 octobre 2009

garden update

so it turns out that gardens - well, at least "balcony herb gardens" - are not so difficult to maintain. they're like babies. they just need food (water + sun), lots of it, and some lovin' care.

my last garden update dates from june at the end of this post. since that post, my chives/tomatoes/basil pot evolved incredibly! (see below)

but then, something tragic happened...

summer ended.

and gone were the days of glory. for us. and for mr ciboulette, mlle tomate, et baby basilique:

pretty dramatic huh? that's how evil winter is.

well, to be honest, what really happened was - my window frames are made of wood and therefore full of moisture. when it's hot, it's ok, b/c the moisture dries and the windows can open and close no problem. but when it's cold, the moisture stays, the frames expand, and I CAN'T OPEN MY WINDOWS (to feed my babies). and so, i just watch day after day. hopelessly. as they whither away. **

** right right, i should get this window problem fixed. that takes effort though. and i'm a bit lazy.

dimanche 11 octobre 2009

queso de cabra con miel

one very cool thing about europe is that you can decide to go to another country ya know, for dinner.

while riding the epics waves in biarritz this past weekend, we decided to cross the border to st. sebastien for some yummy tapas (also known as "pintxos" in the land of basque).

forty minutes later, we found ourselves (somewhat clueless) on the streets of spain, asking people "donde esta la bahia?" -- the "bay" - as in, the epicenter around which the city is based. (les boulets)

we eventually managed to find the "old town" where the streets are lined with pintxos bar after pintxos bar (bringing back a recollection of a st. sebastien visit with dad three years, where we spent an evening eating lots of jamon and getting drunk off of sangria... good times)

at our first pitxos stop, all seven of us ordered sangria. we were pumped and ready to go.

however ... i'm not sure if it was because we were foreigners or because it was the bartender's "specialty"-- but the version of "sangria" that we were served, consisted of wine mixed not with bits of fruits, but ...with a shot of every single liquor the bartender could find behind the counter!

despite the unpleasant concoction, we washed down our little tapas, and continued on our way.

we eventually ended up at a pretty good place called manto (or munto?). it was PACKED and we quickly realized that you had to be aggressive, methodical, and know what you're doing in order to access those finger-sized treats.

soon enough, our palettes were met with a melange of jamon iberica, croquettas, spicy squid, stuffed peppers... and the best of all (a semi-unanimous decision) was the chevre-miel. or shall we say, queso de cabra con miel.

let me repeat. from top to bottom:

a piece of goat cheese lathered in honey. sitting on...

a bed of onions sauteed with olive oil and a touch of sugar. atop...

a delicious wedge of baguette.

all heated just the right amount so that the cheese has a soft sweet texture that melts in your mouth.

yup. divine.

and well-deserved after a full day of getting "brassé" (beaten) by the gnarly waves......

dimanche 4 octobre 2009

mozzarella di bufala

real quick one.

the italian goddess letizia dazzled us with one of her "light" salads the other night- -

- grilled eggplant
- roquette
- jambon cru
- fresh basil
- cherry tomatoes and....
- mozzarella di bufala

(and just a very generous drizzle of olive oil)

when we were at the supermarket buying the ingredients for the salad, i was all ready to go with the cheap mozzarella, ya know the one i usually get.. and she was like, no! bufala is much much tastier. and i was a little skeptic that this buffalo mozzarella that was about 3 times the price of the other was going to be better than the normal one. so we got both. to test.

and ya know what ?? the mozzarella di bufala was not 3 times better than the normal one.

it was 10 times better!!!!!!!

and apparently it really does come from the milk of a water buffalo.

i'm not sure how i feel about that. i'm just not going to think about it.

and i'm just super excited about the salad i'm going to eat tomorrow (yup, i already bought me some buffalo mozzarella and roquette to replicate the salad. hehehe).

sign off.

lundi 15 juin 2009

le fromage qui pue

at last.  

the most appropriate post has arrived to this blog.  

i can not take credit however, because the experience and the following recount belong to the lovely Amy Caren Mednick **:

**Amy and the cute curly-haired hubby Aron, took the "Harmony of Wine and Cheese" course at Murray's Cheese

First of all, they told us some rules for pairing wine and cheese. Here are the basic ones i took away: 
1.anything with bubbles (beer or sparkling wine) goes great with very soft creamy cheese. can and should usually eat the rind unless it's really hard.
3.goat cheese loves white wine.
4.cheese goes best with white wine, so if you have a red, it's good with really strong cheese (the acidity balances the strong flavor, such as garlic)

most importantly, THE CHEESES.
best cheese EVER EVER EVER: Ossau Iraty. It's made in the Basque Pyrenees of southwestern France-- that's right by you right Alki? You should stop reading this immediately and go get some. It's a sheep's milk cheese and is magically creamy and delicious.
Our other favorite was Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, which was cheddar but was crumbly like parm. And there was a pretty good goat cheese called st maure.

thanks amy for your extremely insightful (and savory) report!!! :-)  mmm...cheese.  i am all over st. maure but i don't know ossau iraty (i bet ingrid, remi, or vincent are probably laughing at me now).  i'm so so so excited to try it next time i'm at le fromagerie.  

two years ago, when i finished my business program and was deciding whether or not to stay in france, i said to myself "if i find a job at areva, i'll stay in france.  otherwise, i'll take two months and do a bike-cheese tour around france and then go back to the US".   i ended up getting a job with areva.  

and so i never did that tour.  

but-   i'd still really like to.  

jeudi 11 juin 2009

le relieur

ok two things.  

i just made a wicked sandwich :

first, i mixed some minced garlic with olive oil and salt and pepper, spread it onto my baguette, and stuck it in the oven for 10 minutes (also known as garlic bread).  

once i took the warm, garlic-y baguette out of the oven, i filled it with :

fresh chives (from the garden)
fresh basil (from the garden)
and balsamic vinaigrette.

yea, it was even more delicious than it sounds or looks. 

ok, so 2nd thing :

i live on the coolest street ever.  i'm embarrassed to say that i've lived here for almost a year, and never walked into the stores on my street.  first of all, there's this crazy bookstore, un regard moderne.  i really have no idea how to describe so instead, i will copy-paste a description i found with that amazing google thing, that i think does a pretty good job of capturing the essence of the place. 

Graphic Art, Sado Masochist, Snoopy, American Satanism, Freak Designers, Japanese Bondage, Pop art, Extreme Performances, everything you may like or dislike is available at "Un regard Moderne" a tiny bookseller situated near Saint Michel boulevard. The first time you come into the shop you feel scared by the silence and the huge piles of book that create kind of temple columns. Then you quickly learn how to find the different thematic piles: A pile of books stands for Erotic fetishist photographies, another one for eccentric cartoons (Pierre Lapolice, Stéphane Blanquet), experimental movies, beatnik literature. If you're lucky enough you'll discover original William Burroughs recordings declaiming his "cut up poems".

"Un Regard Moderne" owns a modest gallery and organize previews and exihibitions to support the launch of limited edition books. Pierre Molinier and Gilles Berquet two famous erotic french photographers has elected this amazing bookseller whenever they need to present their new creations. Be aware of the price because most of the books sold there are unique and cost sometimes a lot.

oooh, i found some pretty good pictures of the place.

 awesome, huh?

the second place i discovered was "le relieur"  what is a relieur ?  yea, i had no clue either.  a relieur constructs, assembles, and/or restores books -- a "bookbinder".  there isn't a wiki page in english.  probably because it doesn't exist as a profession in culture-less anglophone countries!  hehe. 

anyway, andre MINOS is .. amazing !  (and his father is greek !)  i spent about 1/2 hour talking with him about what he does.  he literally uses a sewing machine to bind pages together !! (ok, maybe this doesn't seem shocking for some of you, but to me, it was completely foreign !)

he also told me about his surprisingly many japanese apprentices (the french and the japanese are quite similar when it comes to.. what is the word i'm looking for?  taste ? meticulous ?  refined ?  detail ?), his international clients, our neighbhorhood.... anyway, he lives right next to his workshop so he invited me over for lunch on his terrasse sometime.  i'm stoked.  

yup, that's all.  tasty sandwiches and the coolest street ever.  

i'm waiting to hear back from amy and aron about their wine and cheese class (sue's and my wedding present!) for my next post........ :-)

samedi 6 juin 2009

flavored coffee

i was lying in bed this morning, thinking about my impending supermarket trip and creating a mental shopping list.  flavored coffee.  mmm.  

unfortunately... FLAVORED COFFEE DOESN'T EXIST IN PARIS.  isn't that sad ?  so then, i started making a mental list of all the culinary delights i miss from my beloved united states : 

(and then proceeded to cry) 

- flavored coffee.
- bagels bagels bagels.  i have never eaten a bagel in paris.  NEVER.  i know i could go to bagels and brownies, this cute little shop near st. placide or a jewish bakery in the marais, but it hasn't happened.  there's just not the same bagel reflex here as there is in the US.  someone at work asked me once, "if you have something to celebrate, what is the 'croissant' equivalent in the US of treats to bring everyone at work?"... good question, huh.  i was hesitating between donuts and bagels.  personally, i would go with bagels.  mmm.  with chives cream cheese.  and sprouts and cucumbers. ohhh ok, alki stop.  
- anna's taqueria.  i will enlarge that to quick, cheap, and tasty mexican food.  don't get me wrong, i've searched and there's some decent mexican options (el sol y la luna , la perla , anahuacalli <-- awesome expensive mexican food option by the way !!  oh the margaritas .... shoutout to penny and james.) but let's just say that there is a huge business opportunity for taquerias in paris.  
- interesting sandwiches. the french concept of a sandwich ("jambon beurre", for example) is a baguette smeared with a bit of butter and 3 pieces of ham in it.  maybe a little pickle too.  that's it.  disappointing, right ?  i know.  where is the surprise ??

the avocado spread??  the sprouts ??  the honey-roasted turkey??  the pesto spread ?? the tapenade??  ohh, how i long for a turkey sub from bruno's right now.  there's cosi (different from the new york one) that is pretty awesome and has killer crumble, and in searching for the address of bagels and brownies, i found this blog article :

i'm totally going to check out all those places, especially LA FERME.

but in any case, let's just say that the frenchies are pretty oblivious to the magical possibilities of a sandwich. 

what else....

- trader joe's.
new york style pizza.
cheetos.  and cheezits for that matter.  
- kashi cereal. 

that's all i can think of right now.  i'm sure there's more.  i did miss greasy american breakfasts for a while but that longing is easily satisfied by breakfast in america (beth, how many times did you go there in a span of 2 weeks?  was it four ? haha).  

share you cravings!!  we can get through this ... together!  maybe we can open a diner that serves mexican food, huge pizzas, cheetos, awesome sandwiches, and flavored coffee.  oooh.  i like it.  we're on to something here.  

and finally, just a small update on my garden.  it's been approximately one week.  and the chives/tomatoes/basil/mint are in good shape.  and as for the radish/roquette batch, there's these cute little flowers (ok, maybe otherwise known as weeds, that are sprouting !).  all in all, things are looking a-ok.  and my morning eggs have been incredibly tasty lately.   

lundi 1 juin 2009

eggplant : a meat substitute?

this will be a short one, i promise.  

so.  i went to melik's house yesterday and he was making thai red curry - i was first astounded to see a french person add hot chili peppers to a paste that was already quite spicy (the french are generally quite wimpy when it comes to spicy food!).  spicy for me, is obviously a-ok. mmm....

then, melik apologized that it would be a meatless curry, which again for me, was perfectly fine. 

what i didn't know however, was that he had soaked his eggplant(aubergine) in salt water for 24 hours in order to "degager" the water in the eggplant and make it cook better. 

when i sunk my teeth into the pieces of eggplant in the curry, it had an incredible fleshy texture that i almost felt like i was eating meat.  it was so succulent and delicious.  

i'm still incredulous that the eggplant's meaty texture was due it being stored in water with some salt in it.  

moral of the story - if you want to cook eggplant, soak it in salt water.  at least for an hour before you cook.  

eggplant is definitely one of my favorite vegetables.  and it's so pretty !!

speaking of pretty food, check out my groceries.  

and while i'm at it, i did a bit of "gardening" this weekend.  ok, i cheated and bought the basil, chives, cherry tomatoes, and mint, already sprouted... but i'm gonna keep 'em alive !  (can you sense the hesitation in my writing?)  i also got seeds to grow radishes and rocket lettuce which i'm pretty sure are both doomed already.  i'll keep you posted on the progress of the window ledge garden.

sign off.

mercredi 13 mai 2009

l'aventure culinaire à new york


mainly due to the most beautiful, loving, sincere, and just ridiculously fun wedding ever (i decided that even if i don't marry a jewish man, i want klezmer music and dancing at my wedding).  

i heart the mednicks.  

it's also just been a whirlwind of hilarious experiences- from karaoke to nail spas (yea, i went twice in one week - they are surprisingly very affordable in nyc), from the bolt bus to dc to one of matty's shows in a yoga studio, from skeeball at the crocodile lounge to brent the bartender at welcome to the johnsons shotgunning $2 PBRs in less than 3 seconds, from the impressively efficient checkout system at whole foods to sexy shops in the west village, from hanging out in the mount sinai hospital library with beth to being blown away by heather christian at the rockwood.  

only in new york.  and all that is nothing compared to what i'm about to talk about next: the food. 

my nyc culinary adventure kicked off with a 3-hour food tour in the west village (part of amy's bachelorette party).  the gastronomic personality of the west village, mainly due to its immigrant history, is predominantly italian, sprinkled with spices from other latin cultures including france, cuba, and mexico (they're all considered latin, right?).  some highlights were the fresh rice balls from Faicco's, the fusion mushroom and rice dish from Centro Vinoteca (where we met Leah from Top Chef, yoohoo!), the chorizo from Little Havana, and the warm cookies from Milk and Cookies.  i was in food heaven.  we also got to visit this amazing authentic barnhouse in the back of the restaurant Palma (and though we didn't do a tasting there, the food looked incredible).  if you want to do a fun activity in nyc and you love food, go here.  

the food tour was rich and euphoric but l'aventure culinaire did not end there.  something i crave a lot in paris is good, affordable mexican food.  so nothing could beat Burrito Loco at 1am on cinco de mayo where we feasted on scrumptious nachos and margaritas.  and then one night, in search of "salads" to appease our guilt of gluttony, sue and i along with with josh, stumbled upon at Galanga for some delicious mango and sticky rice (shall we say, the opposite of salads?).  

the free pizza with beer at Crocodile Lounge deserves a mention, because they do in fact make the pizza fresh on-site, creating a delicious complement to my magic hat, and ya know, it's free.  

we went to Bistro Jules (i was having a bit of paris nostalgia), where i got to speak french with the waiter and listen to fantastic music by this hot asian chick with hair down to her bum rocking it out on the violin- we only drank wine but the food looked pretty good too.  

i had a delicious lunch with shin-jung at Penelope's for a simple but incredibly tasty and healthy sandwich- brie, apple, honey, and fakin' bakin' on multigrain bread (though i recommend staying away from the "fakin' bacon" - just go for the real deal).  

and finally, upon a sudden burrito craving, erica and i found the Rocking Horse Cafe whose theme seemed to be 'conscious mexican eating' (ya know, brown rice, free-range chicken, ....) where not only was my burrito absolutely succulent (i'm running out of adjectives here...), but i also felt like i was doing something good to my body (and the food was really pretty too - see below!).  

the list goes on and on, but i can honestly say that i did not have one single culinary disappointment this past week. 

how is your palate doing?  wipe that drool off your shirt!!  are ready for more?

so in reverse order of my top 5 favorite food experiences of the past week (apart from the massive kick-off food tour).......

5. Bruno's - for anyone living in new york, this sandwich and salad joint will probably seem extremely mundane, but for me, it was so .. comforting?  one thing i've realized i've missed in paris is a good turkey sub, like the ones i used to eat at laverde's.  ok, now imagine laverde's, but with extremely fresh ingredients and twice the amount of scrumptious turkey cold-cut slices compressed into the sub.  i went to bruno's twice and my only regret is that the second time, i only got a half-sandwich instead of a whole one.  ** if you get a sandwich or sub, make sure to have it made fresh, instead of just asking for one that is pre-made.  

4. Vanessa's Dumplings - so this was a complete happenstance visit.  i admit it.  i was instantly drawn to the recession price sign (see below).  and man, that steamed bun way surpassed my expectations.  and it seems that if ever you are in new york and are experiencing the dumpling effect, vanessa's is the solution (confirmed by sue).  

3. The Kati Roll Company - i was pretty exhausted after the pbr shotgun challenges at welcome to the johnsons, but sue and thomas insisted that we make a kati roll run before heading home.  and boy am i glad that we did!  we got the unda aloo roll (spicy mix of egg and potato rolled into a flatbread) which was absolutely divine.  even better than pruthvi's cooking in india. hehe.  and ya know what?  the place ... HAD A BOUNCER!  yea, that's how intensely delicious it was.  if you are in new york, you definitely have to stop and have a kati roll.  

2. 16 Handles - after a somewhat disappointing frozen yogurt experience in the mount sinai hospital cafeteria, beth wanted to make it up to me and take me to one of the new generation frozen yogurt spots where they put together two enticing-looking words together (redberry, plumplime, purplejuicy, iwantyourmama....).  so we went to 16 handles (whose sign looks like 16 hindles - so yea, we didn't get it at first either).  which was possibly quite literally... A DREAM COME TRUE.  16 handles of different flavors of frozen yogurt (including "tart"- that sort of sour actimel flavor).  and then an extremely diverse and unlimited selection of toppings.  and basically, you pay by the pound so you can load on as many different toppings as you want.  

my advice to you: stay light on the yogurt so you can have more liberty with the toppings.  in the words of beth, "ice cream is just an excuse to eat oreos with a spoon".  

drumroll please..... and in first place for my top food experience in nyc over the past week........

1. the cocktail hour at amy and aron's wedding **

** technically New Jersey but ya know, i bet the caterer was from New York.  ;-)  just kidding i love new jersey

hands down no question whatsoever.  

the room was DECORATED with cocktails.  pretty red, green, and pink ones.  cocktails with apples in them.  cocktails with gummy bears in them.  cocktails ready at the bar. cocktails being passed around by servers.  and then there were the FOOD cocktails.  the mashed potato cocktails.  the steak-tinis.  there was a meat grill.  and a fish grill.  sushi boats.  a variety dumpling bar.  a middle eastern buffet section.  bellinis.  a fancy veggie buffet section.  people walking around with sweet potato pancakes.  and fancy and delicious hotdogs.  duck cigars.  chicken teriyaki.  i was blown. a. way. 

photos courtesy of Sue Young

oh yeah.  and then there was dinner.  which was delicious.  and beautiful.  but i was in a food coma at that point and didn't appreciate it as much as i should have.

so.  if we go back to the new york versus paris culinary challenge, there is no question that (for me), new york comes out on top.  and on top of new york is amy and aron's cocktail hour.  which is going to be damn hard to beat.  

now that i'm back in paris, it's back to soup and veggies.  ya know, so that my jeans can fit again. 

bon appetit.......

dimanche 8 mars 2009

move over soup, it's time for sushi

if the culinary theme of january pervading alki's existence was soup, then there's no doubt that february was all about SUSHI ** .

** ok, for the purists, i never actually made SUSHI.  just maki.   clarification:

maki = rolls with seaweed, rice and whatever else you chose to put in
sushi = raw fish with rice
sashimi = raw fish toute seule

the first time i made sushi was back at jas' house in september with jas and laura.  

we made california rolls and were shocked to realize how incredibly simple and quick it was to make the equivalent of (or even better than) what you find at the japanese restaurant (ok, it might be important to note that jas had prepared everything -- including the RICE  which is probably the trickiest part of sushi -- ahead of time).  

and then more recently, celia and i took pilar to "atelier des chefs" for her birthday (we get sometimes a bit behind on birthday presents considering that pilar's birthday was in ... june... ).  ateliers des chefs is a fantastic cooking school which allows you to take a stand alone cooking course (1-3 hours in length) and learn how to make as much as a full-course meal (which is what we did).  see my post atelier des chefs - grey goose cocktail night about a cocktail course i did there last year with my crazy coworkers.

anyway, our meal consisted of :

entrée - maki de daurade royale, chèvre frais à la tomate confite et citron vert
plat - Subuta, wok de porc à l'asiatique, épis de maïs et pousses de bambou
dessert - soufflé au chocolat blanc et thé vert

everything was DELICIOUSSS, but my favorite was by far the maki with chevre and sun-dried tomatoes: 

i was so inspired by our sushi-making experience, that i decided to share what we learned at my sushi and karaoke birthday party !!!  

and then again, with my family at our belfast reunion!!

despite the sushi saturation in my life, i still maintain the same appreciation and enthusiasm about it so if you're interested in learning, i still have about 80 sheets of seaweed at my house!

i'll try to explain as simply as possible how to make maki (and i've also pasted below the official recipe from atelier des chefs -- if you want a translation or the recipe of the other dishes, just let me know). 

key ingredients:

- seaweed
- short-grained rice
- rice vinegar with salt and sugar (you can either buy the ingredients separately, or you can find a mix already made, in liquid or in dry form)

other necessities:
- soy sauce
- ginger
- wasabe
- sesame seeds
- maki roller

variables -- WHAT YOU WANT TO PUT IN YOUR MAKI (up until now, i've stuck with vegetarian maki)!

- avocado
- crab
- cucumber
- mayo

euro-japanese fusion
- goat cheese
- sundried tomatoes
- red bell peppers

and it's really just an opportunity to be as creative as you want.  at sushi planet, they have "nutella maki" !  mmmmmm....

the instructions are as follows:

1. cook your short-grain rice, but be careful not to over or undercook it.  
2. add the vinegar mix to give your rice to add that extra flavor
3. slice your ingredients in long, thin, shapes (see photos for example)
4. lay out your seaweed sheet on top of your maki roller, and spread a thin layer of rice on it, leaving about an inch on the bottom and an 1-2 inches on the top to be able to close your roll
** if your hands are getting sticky, just dip them into a bowl of water.  it keeps the rice from sticking to your hands

5. spread your mayo and/or chevre, and add your ingredients (make sure not to put TOO much into your rolls, otherwise it will not look very pretty when you try to roll)
6. once you've loaded all the ingredients, it's time to ROLL!!  using the roller, fold the bottom part of the seaweed over until it kisses the top part and press down to SEAL the roll.  roll roll roll. 
7. using a knife, carefully cut off any extra seaweed, and continue to ROLL. 
8. once you have achieved a nice, tight, compact shape, you're ready to cut your roll!  cut in 8 or 6 pieces, as you please.  
9. top and serve with sesame seeds, soy sauce, ginger, and wasabe. 


jas taught me how to do in the inside-out roll, so that the rice is on the outside (SO COOL!!!)

1. lay a sheet of saran (clear plastic) wrap on your maki roller. 
2. spread layer of rice directly onto plastic wrap.
3. place a piece of seaweed (3 inches in length) on your rice
4. load up your veggies on the seaweed
5. carefully, roll the rice until both sides touch. 
6. roll roll roll into a tight, compact form.
7. carefully pull off the plastic wrap
8. roll the roll in sesame seeds.
9. carefully cut!


ich, ni, san, GO !!!

dimanche 11 janvier 2009

soup craze

this will be a short one.  i just wanted to say that i think i'm somewhat of a genius (and extremely modest).  

in the midst of my on-going soup craze (last week, it was every day lunch and dinner!), i tried things a bit differently today.  having gone to freres tang, the awesome chinese super market in place d'italie yesterday with jas, i had some unusual ingredients that i wanted to make use of.  

so this is what went into the soup:
1 block of chicken bouillon
1/2 onion 
1 carrot 
1 garlic clove 
2 big mushrooms 

and then ...
those awesome black mushrooms that you buy dried in a package, and then when you put them in water, they expand like woah
4 vegetable dumplings

since i noticed that my soup was heading in the asian direction, i decided to live on the edge and throw in some soy sauce and garlic chili sauce (i apologize to purists who are appalled at what i may have done wrong).  

and ya know what?  it was DELICIOUS.  i haven't looked at the real recipe for a soup like this (i have no idea what i would look up in fact), but i think i can't be too far off.  i would've added an egg too which is SO GOOD, but i decided the soup was already a bit crowded.  

anyway, moral of the story: soup is extremely easy to make.  and delicious.  and a great way to fight the mean winter (see previous post).  

(i'm going to go try to find a recipe close to what i've done)

mardi 6 janvier 2009

the "things i pretend to like but if i actually listen a bit more closely to my mind, spirit, and/or body, HATE" phenomenon

i am going to break the rules of the blog and instead of writing about food, i want to write about something that's been on my mind for a while.  a new epiphany i had.  well, two in fact.  which i think gives me a case for the declaration of a new phenomenon (i really like effects/phenomenons/pattern, see "the dumping effect"). 

basically, everybody knows that they have things that they pretend to hate, but in reality, really like.  like country music.  and the hills.  and starbucks coffee.

people are usually conscious of this sort of contradiction.  what i want to talk about is the reverse denial.   which, i think people are less aware of.  well, at least i was.  

what i'm talking about is: things that you THINK you like or even love maybe, ... but actually hate.

for me, this concept first occurred to me in september when i realized that i was getting my annual "autumn blues".  yeahhhh, it's beautiful when the leaves change color, and you can go apple picking, and you can pull out that sweater that you love.... 

NO NO NO!!  i've been fooling myself for the past 24 years that "ooh i love seasons".  i've repeated this statement time and time again, probably to convince myself that it was true in order to make it through 8 months of the year in boston. 

but you know what, I HATE SEASONS!  i said it.  and boy, does it feel good to get it out!

spring's ok, obviously, and i probably only hate fall because it brings ominous spirits of winter, but there's pretty much only one season that i really really enjoy.  and that's summer.

just to understand where i'm coming from, i will make a list of things i don't like about winter.  and if you tend to disagree and really genuinely like seasons, i am happy for you. 

  •  it's cold.  really cold.
  •  it's dark.  when you wake up.  when you leave the office.
  •  snow.  yea, it's pretty when you look out the window and it's fun to have snowball fights and build snowmen, but it stops about there.  you can drive to a ski station to do that.  living in an urban area, snow just sucks.  you can't go places.  it gets slushy and gross.  it ruins plans.  you have to shovel.  (fine, snow days counteract one of those many negative points about snow).
  • you can't wear "summer dresses" in the winter.  i love bright colorful and barely there dresses and it's just annoying that you're "not allowed" to wear those on days when the sun sets before 7pm. grr. (ok, your counter argument would be to say, "alki just wear them anyway".  but i don't feel right doing it!  it's ingrained in me!)
  • people are lazy, so you don't see them as much.
  • also, due to the lazy factor, you usually gain a lot of weight and feel bad about it. 
  • the holiday season.  ok, i adore thanksgiving.  i'll give you that.  but the whole month of december just kind of depresses me.  yes, there's always chocolates and lots of good food around, but then, i overeat and feel bad about it.  and i always have a weird sensation about the changing of one year to the next, because it feels out of place and forced (september should be the new january, thank you northern hemisphere school systems).
  • not being able to hang out outside.  to picnic.  take long walks.  exercise.  i like working out in a gym but sometimes, the feeling of working out indoors... is just depressing.  
  • the beer garden is closed.  ok, i've only been there once and i live nowhere near the astoria beer garden, but it just makes me sad thinking that it is closed.
  • your electricity bill is multiplied by about 10!  (you could argue that air-conditioning is more costly, but living in france, most apartments don't have aircon.  they don't really know what that is.  re. 2003). 
geez, when did alki turn into nancy?  ya know, negative nancy.  hopefully if you're reading this, it means you probably know me and know that i generally have a positive disposition (maybe the french "complaining trait" has finally rubbed off me, full effect).  

the second thing i realized that i thought i liked but actually hate is ... HOT YOGA!

i've been fooling myself for so long.  yea, it feels so good in the heat and your limbs can do things that they can't normally do and you sweat out all the toxins...

NO NO NO!  i hate hot yoga.  mainly because ...
  • i always get dizzy and feel like i'm about to pass out 
  • the next day, i am in so much pain, not the good kind of soreness -- because when you're in the class, you're like, yea woohoo, i'm so flexible but then you end up doing things that you really shouldn't do and definitely can not do at a normal temperature (unless you're doing hot yoga on a very regular basis)
sorry sue and ange and helen.  don't worry, i still like regular yoga.

so there you have it: the "things i pretend to like but if i actually listen a bit more closely to my mind, spirit, and/or body, HATE" phenomenon.  think about it for a while.  can you thinkg of anything in your life that the phenomenon applies to?

oh, just as a final ending, i just made soup! like, from scratch (bouillon counts as scratch, right?) and it was so easy.  and so good!  i came home with that tinge of sore throat in the back of my neck, and all i wanted was soup.  and i ran out of my ramen-style thai noodle soup that i get at my favorite asian supermarket in the 13th.  so i experimented.  a little block of bouillon.  half an onion.  and a carrot.  AND (i think this was the ringer) some spicy little green peppers.  i might have put too many green peppers in, b/c my nose was running quite profusely, but ya know, i liked it.  and beth packer would definitely be able to handle it.  

sign off.