evilhippo: hippo (70 [hmph])
( Jan. 5th, 2011 08:35 pm)
To the three heathens that made me watch Luther:

... )

As for the rest of you... you should probably watch Luther if you haven't already (I was a bit behind with this). Just saying. Everyone's life needs more British crime drama.

For those of you who are interested in nothing of the sort: I also made 16 pieces of spaghetti tonight that were each at least four feet long. It was awesome. But not at all in the same way Luther is.
I think this is an appropriate night for me to sit here and post a picture of my dinner.

Like so: )

I now return you to the part of my journal where I don't post pictures of food.
It's not uncommon that I'll come across little warnings in my recipes as to the insurmountable odds of finding exactly what they call for. My gumbo recipe has paragraphs about the impossibility of finding andouille sausage. The key lime pie recipe I need for tomorrow warns me that "The bad news is [key limes are] impossible to find fresh at your local supermarkets."

I remember the days when I used to hate Hyde Park, when I swore that it was awful and boring and there was no point to it. But, if there is a point to Hyde Park, part of it has to be that I can walk across the street to the grocery store and find fresh key limes and andouille sausage. Or squid, or out-of-season obscure fruits, or imported candies, or jerk catfish, or organic cage-free quinoa... without going to a Whole Foods. I can, in fact, accomplish all my shopping, without any gaping recipe holes, without even shopping in any chains that exist outside of Chicago (it used to be that I could do this without hitting any chains that existed outside of Hyde Park, but the Co-op died a few years ago due to its poor management, nonsensical pricing, and lack of a reliable credit card system. Also it rained inside the 55th street store, but that's a problem the Treasure Island hasn't fixed, either). And our produce store has the same supplier as Whole Foods but charges half as much (seriously, I have been in love with Hyde Park Produce since before it even crossed my mind that Hyde Park itself might have some redeeming value).

So, moral of the story: I have a bag of key limes and it turns out my grocery store also carries Hobnobs, so I'm sitting here with a cup of tea, eating biscuits and wondering how I'm going to juice a million tiny limes. And I love my neighborhood for its grocery stores. Is that even proper?

Alternate moral: Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving, everyone! ♥ (Even if you're not engaging in culinary exploits tomorrow.) ♥

Chicago and I still have some things to work out, though, especially in re: it raining on me every time I'm outside for more than three minutes.
I think 2009 will go down in my personal history at least partially as The Year of Appliances. My awesome rice cooker, my indoor grill, and now my awesome new friend the KitchenAid Artisan mixer (in Imperial Grey).

My mom got me a regular classic one for Christmas, but I couldn't get it into my luggage and I knew they weren't going to let me on my bus with it, so I said I'd just get one in Chicago. So I waffled, and went "Oh, maybe I should get one of the more powerful ones, I do make a lot of dough." And I shopped around. And tonight I wandered up to the Bloomingdale's home store (which has been torture for me all year, since it houses the copper All-Clad pans I will no doubt be drooling over until... whenever I have a spare $800-some dollars lying around). And lo and behold they had the classic mixers for what my mom had paid for them, and so after a bit of waiting I summoned the nearest clerk and instead of just getting one of the classics I got into a long conversation with him about their durability and my recent penchant for making bread, and he started telling me about how he was from Denmark, where they apparently make really great bread, and I waffled a bit and apologized for being so indecisive and he told me he'd give me the sale price a day late if I couldn't decide tonight, so I wandered off and foolishly did grocery shopping while my mom whittled away my reserves against throwing some of my own money into the deal and getting the fancier mixer. (Because, in the end, I'm not very likely to want a Pro one but I was pretty likely to get a classic one and then want one of the Artisans for the extra push. And the pretty colors.)

And so, in the end, I found myself traipsing down Michigan Ave with a 25-pound beautiful mixer in my arms and groceries. Of course the only logical solution to this problem was to phone up Skirtpants and bribe him to drive me home. Technically I suppose the bribe of two pizzas wasn't really necessary, but otherwise I wouldn't have gotten to play with The Mixer (soon to be properly named) tonight. And... I mean, the pizza dough was real, actual dough in like, five minutes, and watching the bread hook flap the dough around is pretty entertaining. That stuff takes me ten to fifteen minutes to knead on my own. And it was good. I'm in love with this machine already. (And I just made two whole pizzas for other people and wasn't terrified of them eating them. Guys, at some point in the last few months I officially passed the point where I was no longer afraid of letting people eat food I made! I let other people taste things first, even if it's something I've never made before! Leaps and bounds guys, leaps and bounds! It wasn't long ago that I wouldn't even let people catch me with proper utensils in the kitchen!)
evilhippo: hippo (111 [danger])
( Nov. 17th, 2009 10:56 pm)
1) Holy crap it's 10:30 already and I've only written 400 words today.

2) The Waters of Mars? Actually good. I mean, not great, and I could still argue with it for hours on end, but as far as RTD swan-songs go, at least it looks like it'll actually be in the context of the rest of the show. And the stupid conceit I'd normally argue with is actually valid if he's doing what I think he's doing with this arc. I think I have a fair inkling of where this is going to end, but since I actually like where I think RTD is going with this, I'm pretty sure I'm wrong. But I'm actually looking forward to finding out.

3) I wholeheartedly endorse cornish game hen for dinner. My apartment smells awesome like Thanksgiving, I had an excuse to make chestnut stuffing, I have lunch for tomorrow, and tomorrow after work I'm going to boil the remains into stock and make soup. One tiny hen and I am set for the rest of the week. It's kind of awesome. The only drawback is that number 1 is a direct result of this venture (I even made gravy).
I got home this afternoon and it still had a cake setting. )

True story!

Considering how fussy cheesecake can be, and how much I just completely winged it with the recipe (cream cheese? I'm using brie! I don't have cream, but I have some left-over half and half! Vanilla extract? How about vanilla and coconut! Wooden spoon? Rice paddle!) it's pretty delicious. And it's a perfect size for one person.

I'm pretty certain at this point that I'm basically just living out my mad scientist fantasies in my kitchen. And now I have a robot rice-cooking assistant that can also make cakes. (Did I mention that my rice cooker has fuzzy logic? I am so doomed when the robot uprising comes.) I should also point out that my robot assistant made me brown rice and woke me up this morning, just in case anyone has the impression that I've used it only for cake.
So, I made bagels tonight, while bouncing around my kitchen singing along with Akron/Family, because I was out of breakfast food. They actually turned out orders of magnitude better than my last batch. I think it's because I actually kneaded them for the full 10 minutes (usually I get a few minutes in, go "I don't remember when I started, and this... looks like dough to me" and then move on). My only problem with them is that I'm here all alone and no one in Hyde Park wants to come over and my roommate won't get back until after I go to bed, so I have no one to share them with. There are just six bagels sitting alone on my stovetop, being cheddar or furikkake or plain and kind of lonely.

Somehow, this has spurred me along the following line of thought: Maybe I should go to culinary school, and then open up a café. I don't mind getting up in the morning these days, and baking seems to be my default way of passing free time. This overlooks the whole I'm Not A Great Cook thing, but that's what culinary school is for, right? (Do they have remedial culinary school, that works up from whatever the class after Macaroni and Cheese from a Box would be?) I think Hyde Park is well set for a proper indie café that isn't on campus. One that... isn't one of the other three I've suddenly remembered. Okay... Kenwood is well set for a proper indie café (and none of that c-a-f-e-apostrophe crap I see on signs. I want a real accent on that e).

But anyway... the point. Is going to culinary school really such a bad idea? I'd be studying something again. Even if I don't become a chef, knowing how to cook is freaking useful, which is far over and above the utility I'd get from having my MFA (unless Artistic Credibility Dollars become legal tender. I'll have to drop by Obama's house and see what I can negotiate), without the risk of killing my writing motivation all over again. I could pretend that I was a mad scientist while I measured things out in the kitchen. And I bet culinary students are fun to watch. I wonder if there are any non-BS, inexpensive culinary schools to be found...
First of all, I promise I'm going to stop posting pictures of food I've made very soon. One, because I've run out of experiments for now, and Two, because I don't want people to get the impression that I know what I'm doing in the kitchen. BUT!

Bagels! I thought for a bit that I'd invented the furikake bagel, but it looks like someone else on the internet beat me to it. That doesn't make it any less tasty, though, especially with cream cheese. The ones closest to the camera are actually lavender-lemon bagels that I made for my roommate, and at this point I don't even care how they taste because the entire apartment smells like lavender, lemon, and bread, and it's wonderful (for future reference: more lemon, less lavender).

The conclusion? Bagels are really fun to make! There's less waiting involved than with bread, and you get to throw things in water and watch them boil. (However, if you do as I did and use the first google search result, you need at least the cup and a half of water for the dough. A cup and a quarter won't take in all the flour, and it gets super-dry while it sits out to rise. I'm not sure how much it matters that it's dry, since you throw them in water anyway, but I'm pretty sure they'll live if they're a little bit more moist.)

P.S. Anyone planning on moving to Chicago? I need a roommate in September because I don't want to move again, and because it'd cost too much to live on my own. I mean, look, the building next door to mine is going for $1,300,000.00. If everyone just got up and moved to Chicago with me, we could split the mortgage, say, 25 ways (assuming there will be some people who don't want to move). That's only $52,000.00 each. And judging by the defaults on mortgages that were made as early as last November, I'd say it'd probably still be easy to get that kind of mortgage on no income. What are we waiting for, guys?
evilhippo: hippo (58 [yip yip])
( May. 19th, 2009 10:24 pm)
The bread project is now a continuing success! I have created bread that looks, smells, and tastes like bread, and I believe that I will be able to duplicate my results. The next step will be figuring out how to make a chewier crust. It's good for a fifth try, but for french bread, it's still a long way off. Someday, I hope to get as good at this as I am with pancakes and mashed potatoes. By the time I hit retirement age, I should be good and ready to cook for other people. (I also managed to cook fish correctly today, though I don't think I can duplicate those results yet. Fish and I have a rocky relationship sometimes.)
evilhippo: hippo (74 [closer look])
( May. 13th, 2009 09:35 pm)
Tonight, on Cooking With Evilhippo, I bring you yet another installment of First Google Result Recipes.

Tonight's special: French Bread Rolls.

Things to remember for next time: When it says "Add until the dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl" it actually means "Add the full 4 cups of flour no matter what." I always seem to end up with super-sticky dough, and while it's fun to be all aliengoohands when my roommate is around, when it's just me it's significantly more annoying. I also think this would've fixed them being too flat (I handled them way too much, too, trying to get them off of my fingers). Also, I need to be more careful with the flour. I somehow managed to even get some on the back of my shirt, under my hair. I have no idea how I did that, but it should be easy to imagine the state my kitchen was in by the time the rolls got into the oven.

On the plus side! Though the bottoms are a little hard, the actual bread part is thoroughly acceptable. It's missing something, but that shouldn't be too hard to figure out. I made a few with parmesan cheese and some other seasonings (part of my spice store haul) on top, and they're much better.

In other news, today was an utterly ridiculous day at work. I got about half a dozen phone calls, which is almost half a dozen more than usual. (These being phone calls specifically for me, rather than the status calls that get transferred to me.) One of them was from Citi asking me if an assignment had been recorded. I'd told them exactly 363 days ago that it had. Then I got another call from a frantic Citi person here in the US, who claimed I'd never sent her the original copy of her assignment back. Naturally, I'd already tossed the copy of it that I'd kept, since she'd sent it a good four months ago. I mobilized the troops (meaning me, basically, and a lot of old paperwork) only to have her call back almost an hour later to tell me someone must've gotten it, since it had been put in her system, but she had no idea who it was that got it. Typical Citi. Someone probably scanned it and threw it out. Then I got another call from India, from a guy trying to get me to explain whether we were charging for the new Grace Period Notices. I tried very hard to explain to him that THEY were supposed to do that, but it didn't really work out. I am dreading next week so much. So very much.
evilhippo: hippo (27 [help])
( Feb. 9th, 2009 07:43 pm)
So, in my various cooking adventures so far this year, I have learned to make (from scratch) bread, cakes, cookies, fishes, squid, various and sundry improv sushi, some pretty fantastic improv oven crisps, curry, lots of various "I don't feel like cooking" things like potato/cornchip/Dorito-breaded chicken fingers, pasta caseroles, roasts, mashed potatoes, kale soup, sweet potato soup... I'm pretty good with a grill, I managed to make pretentious cornish game hens for Thanksgiving, I rock at pumpkin pie... But tonight I was defeated. Tonight... I was defeated by hamburgers.

I cannot make hamburgers.

I cannot describe the shame of being defeated by hamburgers. I am sitting here, eating what is now kind of like hamburger helper over alphabet noodles. Because I could not get hamburgers to stay hamburgers. It's not bad, but... how can I not make hamburgers?! I mean, inept/lazy bachelors whose subsistence comes almost entirely from bags and cans can make hamburgers. Where did I go wrong?

... I think maybe I'll just sit here and be proud that I've been cooking for myself for well over six months and this is the first time I've resorted to hamburgers.

Omg I can't make hamburgers what is wrong with me?!

Er... hey guys look! The president hit his head on his helicopter! I'll just be over here... reevaluating my entire culinary existence.
Still recovering from injuries sustained to the hands, arms, and face while making bacon in our noontime edition, tonight our intrepid Chef Hippo faces the deadly kebabs. Chopping onions and cubing meat with a storm looming on the horizon not half an hour after being trapped in the local Barnes and Noble due to a torrential downpour and slight flooding, she must face her greatest foe yet: the innocent-looking banana pepper. Brought in from the garden by her woefully inobservant mother, these fiends are in fact not banana peppers at all, but a super breed of demonic heathen-peppers designed for time-delayed vengeance on whoever spills their seedy innards upon the chopping block.

Will Chef Hippo survive the storm? The chemical-burn revenge of the stealth-peppers and their water-intensified sting? The fiery tongue of the grill? Will she, in an entertainment-geared epiphany, put on a pair of googles to keep the smoke out of her onion-irritated eyes, then have to find an umbrella to keep the rain from putting out the grill, inspiring her father to take blackmail-worthy pictures?

Find out next time on: Cooking With Evilhippo )


evilhippo: hippo (Default)


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