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February 13, 2015

I need to stay awake (, )

by fluffy at 12:57 AM

Last November I got a wake-up call regarding my health. I was pretty good at following a low-sugar diet for a while, but lately I've been backsliding and ingesting more sugar again. And now I'm getting some of the same symptoms as back then: crawling skin, dry mouth, frequent urination, water retention, and so on.

I've mostly been good about things, usually opting for low- or no-sugar options when available, but today I drank a soda and ate some jellybeans and had way-too-sweet Teriyaki for lunch and I'm back to feeling crappy.

Wake-up calls are all well and good, but I need to figure out how not to just hang up the phone and go back to bed.

January 15, 2015

Ice cream experiments ()

by fluffy at 3:40 PM

A while ago I tried making ice cream using the salad-spinner approach. This did not work well, so I ended up buying an ice cream maker. I've made plenty of experiments with it so far; here's some of what I've done.

November 21, 2014

Need to make some lifestyle changes (, )

by fluffy at 6:40 PM

Lately I've been having a lot of issues with fatigue, dizziness, muscle soreness, and feelings of crawling skin as well as occasional hot flushes and so on. I thought it might be a hormonal imbalance (what with my hormones always being fairly precarious) but I got some bloodwork done, and in reality, the problem is that I get too much sugar and too little exercise and I'm at a point where I need to make some pretty major changes before things go completely haywire.

August 4, 2014

Rise from the grave (with yeast) (, )

by fluffy at 7:05 PM

I've brought Schadenfood back to life. This time around I'm just running it with Octopress and a managed phpBB installation, so hopefully this new site won't meet the same fate as the old one.

July 28, 2014

All-purpose simple bread dough ()

by fluffy at 7:07 PM

Here's the bread dough recipe I've been using for a while. I mostly use it for pizza crusts but it's also great for loaves and rolls and a bunch of other stuff. It's adapted from the simplest recipes and techniques in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. There is also a newer edition of the book although I haven't seen what's different in it.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1.5 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1.5 tbsp coarse salt (sea salt, kosher salt, etc.)
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup rye flour

Directions

In a large container (I use one of these food storage boxes — don't forget the lid) combine the water, yeast, and salt. Wisk until consistent.

Then add the flours and stir until of consistent hydration.

That's it! Now you just let it rise for a while, and then tear off a hunk of the dough and use it for whatever you want. Keep it in the refrigerator; cover it tightly if you like it to get a beer-like aroma, otherwise leave it cracked open a bit and just make sure you keep on adding enough moisture every few days.

July 19, 2013

Please stop being dumb about gluten (, , )

by fluffy at 12:39 PM

So, I went to Whole Foods for lunch today, because their by-the-weight food bar isn't terrible.

I got some panko-breaded cod, and decided I'd like some lemon. They didn't have any lemon slices, though, just lemon juice at the salad bar dressing station, so I went directly to it. A person who was a few slots away got annoyed at me and said, "Sorry, but you're going the wrong way!" probably thinking that I was intending to make a circuit of the whole salad bar or something. But, whatever; I ignored her and just took the lemon juice while she glared at me. Then she grabbed some poor random Whole Foods worker and started asking about whether any of the salad dressings were gluten-free.

"What are my gluten-free options for salad dressing? Is this lemon juice gluten-free? I don't see an ingredients list on the vinegar. How can I be sure there isn't any gluten in it?"

I wanted to, but didn't, say, "Lady, do you know where gluten even comes from? It's a product of wheat flour. As in, the only thing that's even in the salad bar that has gluten at all are the croutons." I don't like assuming things about people, but I can't help but think that this is yet another example of how people hear about things being "gluten-free" and then assuming that gluten is somehow bad for you and that you need to stay gluten-free because of some nebulous Health Issues, and it's this stupid faddish trend that does nothing but make it even harder for people who actually do have a gluten intolerance to find things that are legitimately gluten-free. (Relatedly, people avoiding "glutinous rice" because of the gluten. Sorry, but no, that's a completely different thing.)

On the way back, the hair salon next door was advertising "vegan, gluten-free hair care."

June 8, 2013

Ginger ale syrup ()

by fluffy at 6:44 PM

I just made some ginger ale syrup for making home-made gingerale. It's pretty easy! Just peel some ginger (use a spoon to remove the skin so you don't waste the tasty flesh) and chop it up into thin-ish chunks, and put it into a saucepan with some water, some sugar, and other flavorings as you see fit (I used some pomegranate molasses, some coriander seed, and the peel and juice of a lemon). Then heat the water up and let the ginger steep for a while, then slowly bring it to a low boil.

Occasionally test the flavor, both to adjust the sugar level and to know when it's gingery enough (don't worry about extracting EVERY LAST BIT of ginger flavor, as that's impossible and the point is to make something that tastes good, right?), and when it has a good flavor, use a wire strainer or the like to fish out as much solid stuff as you can. Then raise it to a moderate boil, and let it boil down until it's 225-230F (don't let it go any higher than that though, since at that point it starts to turn into candy).

Let it cool, and while it's still warm and runny, strain it through a mesh strainer into a storage bottle of some sort.

To make the ginger ale, just mix some of the syrup with some soda water.

For bonus points, the chunks of ginger can be rolled in sugar and then put into an oven at 250F or so to dry them out a bit. And this is how you make candied ginger.

November 23, 2012

Cranberry sauce ()

by fluffy at 7:13 PM
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries, washed
  • 5-6 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 navel orange
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 pod star anise
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup Cognac

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil until clear. Add the cranberries and apricots and stir, reducing the heat to a low simmer. Zest and juice the orange into the saucepan. Add the cloves, anise, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg and reduce until thick. Add the Cognac and LIGHT IT ON FIRE!!!. When it goes out, stir some more, and reduce to your desired consistency. Serve warm, or allow to cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

September 15, 2012

What happened to Food Network? (, )

by fluffy at 8:32 PM

I used to love watching Food Network, because there were a bunch of cooking shows in which you could learn techniques and how to use ingredients and just plain simple/fast/easy/whatever recipes. Then I didn't have cable for a while, and now I have it again (provided by the temporary apartment I'm in), and good golly it's changed a lot.

Now it's nothing but terrible reality shows where cooks have to make food out of ridiculous ingredients, reality shows where failing restaurants are being refurbished on a shoestring budget, reality shows where failing restaurants' clueless owners are shown how terrible their employees are, and gross food-related travel shows where we get to see all the terrible bad-for-you food that you can buy from truck stops and deep-fryer-heavy diners and whatever. Oh, and there's still Iron Chef America which is at least halfway decent.

But still. Whatever happened to Food Networks shows being about food? Did they just decide that nobody actually cares about cooking, or did all of their actual cooks get sick of things and quit?

From what I can find online, all of their classic cooking shows are still available on the Cooking channel, which is a premium-rate channel (i.e. you're going to pay $100/month for the privilege of watching it).

Oh well. The cooking shows on PBS have always been way better, anyway.

August 2, 2012

I can't believe it's not bacon quiche ()

by fluffy at 10:42 PM

I accidentally discovered how to make something that tastes like bacon quiche without involving any bacon (or any other meat).

  • Crust: Quick n Easy Quiche Crust
  • Filling: layer shredded smoked gruyere, chopped fresh tarragon, and sliced mushrooms sauteed in olive oil, fresh tarragon, and balsamic vinegar
  • Pour in a mixture of 1 cup milk and four beaten eggs, and sprinkle more smoked gruyere and grated parmesean on top
  • Bake at 400F for 50 minutes or until set

The smoked gruyere, tarragon, and balsamic mushrooms combine to taste amazingly like bacon, with no bacon involvement.

June 10, 2012

Drink: Plaid Mittens ()

by fluffy at 8:33 PM

(Thanks to BunnyHugger for the name!)

In a cocktail glass:

  • Ice
  • 1.5 ounces rum
  • 1.5 ounces Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
  • 1.5 ounces lime juice
  • 1-2 Maraschino cherries (pref. also Luxardo; Marasca cherries steeped in their own liqueur are way better than Bing in sodium benzoate)
  • A splash of grenadine
  • Top off with ginger beer

(Measures are all approximate after a progression of lots and lots of back-and-forthing with things.)

April 23, 2012

Cold-brewed tea soda ()

by fluffy at 2:48 PM

A while ago I got a SodaStream water carbonator to replace my slowly-failing iSi siphon. While I haven't used any of SodaStream's own flavor syrups (as I have heard they are generally nasty, and all of them use sucralose which tastes bad and whose health "benefits" are questionable at best), I have of course made several bottles of soda flavored using Torani syrups. However, I found those to be a bit sickeningly-sweet, not to mention overpriced, but after a bit of experimenting I discovered a very simple means of making soda which is quite delicious and also much healthier: herbal tea!

Basically, after carbonating a 1L bottle as best as you can, put two herbal teabags in (I usually remove the tags and use chopsticks to remove them) and let it brew overnight. If the tea you selected isn't sweet enough, you can add a couple tablespoons of simple syrup or honey or the like afterwards.

I find that Tazo's herbal teas work very well; their orange blossom and passionfruit teas are way too fruity and sweet for use as a hot tea, but as a soda flavoring they're perfect, and zero-calorie, too.

Stash's lemon-ginger tea is also pretty good as a ginger ale surrogate, although that needs quite a lot of sweetener. (I've also found that it doesn't hold its carbonation very well.) Of course, for ginger ale there are better ways to brew it (which involve actual fermentation)

November 20, 2011

Accumulated travel achievements (, )

by fluffy at 2:35 PM

If you follow me on Twitter you probably saw some of these get posted when I "earned" them:

There's a lot of other stuff I should have granted myself achievements for, such as going to the cow-mooing meadow (drink a bottle of Skal) and having a temporary Groundhog Day loop, and perhaps one for being an intense shutterbug.

Oh, and after this week I'm a lot better at reading kana. I'm maybe at a two-year-old level now.

November 19, 2011

Breakfast (, , )

by fluffy at 11:21 AM

Very few things demonstrate the gap between any two given cultures so well as how one prepares the breakfast of another. Tastes can vary so much that in some cases it seems that aliens from outer space who had never even heard of "break fast" are likely to do a more accurate job.

The Japanese take on an American breakfast is a prime example. What do Americans eat? Sausage, eggs, fruit, potatoes, that sort of thing. What kind of sausage? Well, the most popularly-eaten sausage in America is hot dogs. Oh, and those are often served on a bun with chili and onions. Fruit? How about some nice berries... like tomatoes and bell peppers? Potatoes are easy to cook; here's a nice recipe for roasted potatoes, served with carrots and green beans. And how better to scramble eggs than by making an emulsion?

This isn't to say that any of this is BAD, of course, but if you happen to be in Japan and happen to be homesick for America, ordering a nice American breakfast probably isn't the best way to alleviate this.

Of course, it's hard to fault them for trying. Ask any given American to prepare a Japanese style breakfast and you'll probably end up with wasabi corn flakes.

November 17, 2011

Self-service restaurants (, )

by fluffy at 3:31 AM

I just had a rather interesting dining experience at the Shinagawa Prince Annex Tower mall food court.

When you enter, there is a sign saying "this is a self-service facility." There is nothing else to direct you. Looking around, there are a number of stations, next to which there are what look like touchscreen vending machines. You put your money into the vending machine, and make your selections; then it gives you your change and several tickets that you run to the stations. They give you a little call box to let you know when your order is ready, and you get it from the pass yourself. Then when you're finished with your meal, you take your tray to the bussing station yourself.

It all seems very Japanese, and once you figure it out it's especially easy because you don't have to deal with language barriers or whatever (the touchscreen ordering systems have menus in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, although it took me a while to figure out that's what the buttons along the bottom of the screen did - and the English text was pretty minimal, and even the button to complete your order is in Japanese the whole time).

Anyway, I got a Margherita Pizza, which was about the only thing I thought I could stomach (most of the menus were full of greasy fried stuff and rich seafood udon, and even the pizza menu was primarily made of, well, typically Japanese takes on pizza), as well a melon soda, which was very, very green.

おいしいでした。

October 21, 2011

Ibuprofen liqui-gels ()

by fluffy at 10:20 AM

This morning I dropped an ibuprofen liqui-gel capsule on the floor, so after taking a second one I decided to use the first one to finally answer some burning questions.

  1. It is a (very thick) liquid surrounded by a (surprisingly hard to cut) gelatin capsule
  2. The liquid itself is transparent and uncolored, not blue
  3. It tastes terrible

April 3, 2011

Living in the future ()

by fluffy at 4:42 PM

I just subscribed to recurring deliveries of tasty Indian food on Amazon. Because this is the main reason I ever go to Target anymore and it's a lot cheaper and more convenient this way, and I know I'm going to keep on buying it.

For now I've just ordered 18 packets (one box of each) every 2 months. Because I know I'm not going to want to eat this every day. Too bad Amazon doesn't directly carry my favorites (Bombay Potatoes and Madras Lentils); that seems to only be stocked by third-party merchants with higher prices and exorbitant shipping fees. Fortunately, for those varieties I can just buy direct. (So I ordered a 12-pack each of those two. Which turns out to be a bit more than on Amazon, but it's still a bit cheaper than Target. Go figure.)

Man, modern life, am I right?

August 13, 2010

The following has no basis in fact whatsoever ()

by fluffy at 11:58 PM
In the UK, Smarties (what we call M&Ms over here) used to come in a number of colors, including red, yellow, purple, green, blue, tan, orange, mauve, and fuchsia. it turns out that a few years ago, because artificial pigments are evil and toxic, the Smarties company changed the pigments to be "all-natural," but in the blue one they switched to a pigment made from a CHEMICAL derived from a BACTERIA called "cyanobacteria." So they are feeding our children CYANIDE (cyanobacteria are called that because they are natural producers of cyanide) and expecting you to just accept this! This is an outrage, and another example of BIG BUSINESS trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

We must stop supporting M&M Mars until the day that they remove the blue M&Ms from ALL versions of them around the world.

June 20, 2010

Piña Colada, reconstructed ()

by fluffy at 9:29 AM
Once upon a time, cocktails were very simple, elegant things with only a couple of key flavors combined in a balanced manner. For example, the classic martini (gin, vermouth, and an olive) and the classic daíquiri (rum, lime, simple syrup) are favorites that will last forever.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, mixed drinks started to become these ridiculously cumbersome things which involved blending and puréeing and so on, and from the 60s to the 80s we started to even see classic cocktails be ruined by this trend (now "martini" seems to mean "any horrible concoction in a martini glass," and a daíquiri might as well be a strawberry smoothie).

With that in mind, I looked at the mixed drink which probably started it all — the piña colada — and sought to reinvent it as if it were a classic cocktail. I served several of these at a small party last night, and they were a success.

May 21, 2010

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium: My heroes! (, )

by fluffy at 7:59 AM
I used to eat a lot of active-culture yogurt, but I fell out of the habit a few months ago. But it turns out that it may have been doing more for me than I thought.

So I bought a whole bunch of active-culture yogurt on Tuesday and have been eating two servings a day (one for breakfast, one after dinner) and my ulcer symptoms have already all but disappeared.

So three cheers for this critter and its partner (who, sadly, does not come in a plushie, but looks similarly nondescript).

I think I might start culturing my own yogurt, too. It's fairly easy to do and somewhat cheaper than buying the active-culture stuff at the store.

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