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Archive for June, 2011

Day 2…

… stir well.

Herman is still a baby, he was quite bubbly when I got home to stir him. He’s feeling quite at home sleeping in our microwave, covered with a tea towel.

Shh! Herman in sleeping!

Shh! Herman is Sleeping!

I’ve discovered that I actually received Herman on the traditional Day 1, so for me this will be a 9 day process instead of 10.

~

Before

After

Today I tried Overnight Oats for the first time. I mixed equal parts oats, hazelnut almond rice milk, and peach provamel soy yogurt, with a dash of cinnamon then let it sit in the fridge all night. I must say I was very skeptical when the oats went into the fridge looking like a pile of goo and, well, came out not looking much different…

But I cut up some peaches and strawberries and threw on a dollop of almond butter and it tasted pretty good. I still think I’ve got the liquid to oats ratio is a bit high, but it was good enough that I’ll keep trying. I did enjoy the fact that the oats were cold, I’ve never been a fan of hot oatmeal in the morning.

Tonight I finally got to try Indian food in England. Indian food has to be one of my favorite types of food. All those curries, and it has to be super spicy! My flat mate came with me, she had never tried Indian food before (it’s sometimes hard to come by in little American farming towns) so I decided a sampling of all the typical foods was a good idea.

First we had a starter that our waiter recommended, I forget what he called it but it was basically a sampling of many different chutneys on cracker like bread. My favorite was the curried pickles and my flat mate liked the sweet honey colored on the far left:

We then each got a vegetable samosa, very traditional but very tasty.

 

I then introduced my flat mate to the lassi, a traditional indian yogurt drink. They work wonders for cutting the spice of a main dish. We got the mango flavor.

Then finally the main course. I got Karahi Mash Daal & Chana, a lentil and chickpea dish, “very spicy” and my flat mate got Karahi Prawn and Spinach, “less spicy”.

Karahi Mash Daal & Chana

Karahi Prawns & Spincah

I absolutely loved mine (I’m a huge chick pea fan) and it was extremely spicy in the best possible way. My flat mate liked hers, but I’m afraid it was a bit too spicy for her, she had to drink a lot of lassi.

We also ordered some Naan, an indian flat bread, to go with our meal, and boy did we get Naan.

This is the largest piece of Naan I have ever seen, and they serve it to you hanging on a metal rack, quite interesting.

What’s your favorite Indian dish?

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Meet Herman!

Today we added a new member to our flat. Herman, the German Friendship Cake!

Day 1: I get Herman!

“Put me in a large bowl and cover with a tea towel.”

Herman is a sourdough cake that you work for 10 days, then slit into four equal parts, continuing to bake one and pass the other three on to friends. A woman from work gave me my iteration of Herman and I plan to ask about the story previous to my involvement.

I’m quite amused by the fact that they have named him Herman; when I was young I used to name EVERYTHING Herman. My favorite was my imaginary pet rock, Herman. Now I get a pet cake, Herman too!

Tonight my goal was to cook something my flat mate would eat, or at least try. So I tried a Tofu Pad Thai, I mean everyone likes pad thai. The only problem was I had never made it before. I threw together a sauce of tamarind paste, soy sauce, agave (to cancel the bitter aftertaste of the tamarind), and red chili pepper. I took a large skillet, sauteed some green onion and garlic, scrambled two eggs then threw on some partially cooked rice noodles with the sauce and a bit of vegetable broth. Towards the end I added some marinated tofu. The result was not the best presentation, but she liked it (apart from the tofu) though I think she got a bit too many chili peppers in her scoop…

I also decided to do a bit of simple baking today. I tried a slight variation on Leanne’s Itty Bitty Strawberry Coconut Tarts. Instead of filling mine with coconut cream I decided to make a Coconut Yogurt Cup. I followed her recipe for the cup, though I used a full sized muffin pan. Then I simply filled them with organic strawberry yogurt. Delicious!

The entire time I was making these Harry Belafonte’s Coconut Woman song was stuck in my head!

Make sure you keep checking in over the next couple days to hear how Herman’s doing! Also, if you happen to be in the Manchester Area and are interested in taking a portion of Herman that needs to be passed on please let me know!

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Monday, Monday

It’s Monday, the weekend is over and it’s back to work. I have been jonesing for an avocado for about a week now, and the ones I buy here take forever to get ripe. But today I got to come home to this beautifully ripe, and long awaited avocado.

Since I’ve been waiting for this avocado I decided I wanted something that truly tasted like the fruit. I decided to make a Dill Avocado Spread. I just mushed together some finely chopped dill, crushed garlic, and a splash of lemon juice with the avocado, then spread over toasted whole wheat pita.

Simple, but exactly what I needed.

 

It occurs to me that I really have no idea what to make with avocados other than salad, guacamole and a few spreads. Anybody have any recipes?

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Lake Country

Here in England I have the weekends off work, so my flat mate and I take this opportunity to travel. Today was quite sunny (you heard me right, sun, in England)! So it was perfect weather for a trip to the lake country. Now my flat mate tends to choose where we go on the weekends and when I first stepped off the train I was severely afraid she was off her rocker. I had just sat on a train for two hours and all I could see was field. No lake. No town. Not even sheep. Nothing. Fortunately once we turned around and walked down the road a bit we came to this adorable little town:

Windermere

We sat down for breakfast and I got a cup of coffee. Not just any cup of coffee, but one good enough to erase the last of my misgivings about the trip.

Now, my coworkers have been recommending I try some typically British foods, one of which is a Full English Breakfast. Being that this is includes sausage, bacon and blood pudding (a type of sausage made from cooking blood until is thick enough to congeal) I thought I’d pass on that one. This place, however, offered a Full Vegetarian English Breakfast:

Eggs, mushrooms, beans, hash browns,

vegetarian sausage (or vegetarian junkfood as a friend of mine would call it)

and half tomatoes

Knowing I probably wouldn’t find this option anywhere else, and that I had a long day of hiking up and down the hills surrounding the (still illusive) lake, I decided to go ahead and try it. It was fantastic, but far too much to finish, I wish I could have take a to-go box.

So after that completely and utterly unhealthy breakfast we headed out to explore. We were winging it, but figured if we headed downhill we would probably find the lake. We followed a winding road encountering so many beautiful gardens (after years in Manhattan I think I’m finally hitting nature withdrawal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After about a few kilometers our logic proved fruitful. We found the lake:

Lake Windermere (the largest natural lake in England)

On our way back up a hill we decided to stop for a late lunch. They had very few vegetarian options so I ended up with more carbs, though a very delicious herb and tomato bruschetta:

I also got to try a fizzy dandelion and burdock drink, it was slightly peculiar but refreshing:

After lunch we discovered we were in the town where Beatrix Potter lived when she wrote most of her stories. If you don’t know who Beatrix Potter is, I’m sorry but you’ve had a severely deprived childhood. She wrote Peter Rabbit, and all those adorable little animal stories, as well as painting the illustrations in watercolor (a medium I have never mastered)

Jemima Puddleduck (one of my personal favorites)

So after buying a small gift for my baby sister (well kinda sister) at the Peter Rabbit & Friends shop, we set out to find Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s cottage. We found hill top on the map and started up a beautiful (but steep) road that seemed to go on up forever. At the top we reached a Hill Top road and learned from a kind old woman that we were actually on the wrong side of the lake to find the cottage! I suppose this is the sort of thing that happens to tourists who jump on a train without looking where they’re going first, but it’s all more of an adventure that way. We were rewarded for the climb when we started down and got an amazing view of the rolling hills of the Lake Country.

It was quite a rewarding trip, even though we never did make it to Hill Top. I think a day out in nature was exactly what I needed.

~ What’s best place you’ve traveled?

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Artistic Cooking

Sometimes my artistic side likes to sneak into my cooking, today was one of those days.  Now this is a recipe loosely based on one I read on taste spotting (one of my favorite distractions, thank you Rachel) during a recitation a few months ago. I’ve been itching to try it but convinced myself to wait until the vegetables actually came into season. Unfortunately when I tried to go back and find the aforementioned recipe I couldn’t remember what it was called or where the link came from. So part memory, part improv here’s my version:

Personal Vegetable Terrines: 

What you’ll need:

Eggplant

Zucchini

(or Courgettes as the British call them)

Baby Spinach

Garlic

Basil

A few large tomatoes

 

Oh! And also a few ramekins

(or as I used, a muffin pan, one of my favorite cooking accessories)

Start by heating a bit of olive oil and a clove of crushed garlic in a saucepan. Add the spinach and cook until all the water has evaporated from the leaves. Next time I try this I think I’ll add a few roasted pine nuts in towards the end. This will be the top layer of your terrine, so line you ramekin with about a centimeter of it once the spinach is done.

Next slice your zucchini very thinly and cook in a skillet with some olive oil, just long enough for it them to get soft. Then let them drain on a paper towel before lining the sides of you dish with overlapping disks.

Go ahead and chop the large tomatoes and place them in a shallow pan or skillet. Heat them slowly to evaporate the water and let them get to a thick consistency (this actually takes quite awhile so you may want to start this step first). Thinly chop the basil and add to the mixture. This is going to be the filling so you my want to add a bit of salt and/or pepper. Actually you could add that to any of these steps, but I prefer the natural tastes of the veggies, though I may experiment with adding different herbs to the tomatoes or zucchini.

Fill the cups with the tomatoes pressing firmly.

Next slice the eggplant into rounds. I fried them in a skillet until browned then baked them for 10-15 min until they were soft, then these acted as the base of my sculptures.

Then cover with saran wrap and poke holes in the top. Cover a baking tray with paper towels and place on top of the muffin pan. Turn the entire contraption upside down so the extra juices drain. Chill overnight.

The result is a personal sized terrine perfect if you’re hosting a small summer get together.

And I even have one left for tomorrow

(doesn’t it look so cute in its tupperwear!)

Do you ever get artsy while cooking? What did you make?

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Got (rice) Milk?

Discovery of the week: Hazelnut Almond Rice Milk.

If you are a vegetarian living in Manchester (or just visiting) you must go to 8th Day. It’s this lovely vegetarian grocery on the corner of Oxford and Sidney. They have all sorts of vegetarian and vegan goodies including (as my vegan research advisor pointed out to me) this amazing rice milk.

Now this stuff is sooo good that I decided to face a childhood fear of mine: soy milk. I have had a stigma against soy milk (specifically chocolate soy milk) since I was 9 years old. Growing up in a farming community I always drank milk. Dairy milk. Whole milk. When I was in 5th grade I made a friend whose family had what I considered then to be …peculiar… eating habits. They drank soy milk, which lets face it, can be rather an acquired taste. But what really got to me was the day their father bought them chocolate soy milk. It was like christmas in July! I couldn’t stand the stuff, but this was like a rare delicacy to them.

Since then I have tried soy milk, and although I still don’t care for it plain, I do use it as a milk substitute. Chocolate soy milk, on the other hand, has not passed my lips in the last 10 years. Until this week. The rice milk I found was sooo delicious that I began to wonder if this whole flavored milk alternative was worth another shot. So the other day while grocery shopping when I found myself wanting something sugary (I’m not normally a dessert person but occasionally I’ll get the urge) I decided to face my fears and go for it. And it turns out this little personal sized soy was exactly what I was looking for.

It’s nice to know my tastes have expanded over the last decade, but I can’t help thinking that I’ve been missing out! It just goes to show that we should be more opened minded about food (and this is coming from a vegetarian whose flat mate consistently thinks I’m nuts due to the food I make).

At least now I get to enjoy my cup of tea with a dash of my rice milk.

(I’m in England tea is mandatory)


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Midsummer’s Night Feast

I’ve wanted to start a blog for awhile now. Not that I think anyone should care about my ramblings, what I do, what I cook, what I learn, but for my own benefit. Improve my writing. Maybe help people who are far away feel like they’re still a part of my life. But it’s always been one thing or another keeping me back.

enemy # 1 : TIME

But when do I have more time than on the solstice? The longest day of the year. So today I have no excuses, I will write.

When I was a kid I would have spent the solstice celebrating. Dancing around a bonfire, sleeping outdoors, skinny-dipping in the middle of the night. Sadly the time to be a little heathen is past, and this year I worked. Not that I dislike work, in fact I love it. I have a better job than I could have hoped for this summer. I’m spending my summer doing what I love (physics)  in an amazing new place (england).

This summer I am fortunate enough to be doing research at the University of Manchester and the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. This is by far the most coolest place I’ve ever worked (my apologies to Victoria’s Secret).

Lovell Radio Telescope

That’s the world’s third largest steerable radio telescope. Fantastic. My “office” is in an old library in this paragon of 60’s architecture. Well, that’s my workplace on tuesdays. Every other day I’m stationed at the actual University.

You ask me: What exciting bit of cutting edge science are you doing there? Well, mostly I swear at my excuse for a python program.

So what about that feast I mentioned? Yesterday was the solstice, and since I am in a metropolitan setting I can’t get as much nature as I’d normally hope for, so I decided to create a celebratory dinner to commemorate the summer.

Summer Quinoa Salad:

When I think of summer I think of fruit. Growing up on a farm makes you take fresh fruits and veggies for granted, but after a few years of searching the cities for good produce you come to appreciate the greens.

This salad was my attempt to combine the good tastes of summer to make a yummy vegetarian meal. It was a very easy combination of mango, cherries, cucumber mixed into quinoa with a lemon-basil dressing. In the future I’d like to substitute dried cranberries for the cherries just to save the trouble of pitting them.

That’s all I have today but lets hope I’m more faithful to this blog than anything else in my pile of forgotten projects.

~Abi

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