rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
When I returned from the field, [personal profile] scrottie reported that the freezer was FULL. I have been stockpiling a lot of berries in there. Whoops. So it was time to roll up my sleeves and start canning.

For now, just some brief notes:

-The strawberry-rhubarb jam recipe from the Ball canning book is WAY TOO SWEET. But that could be because I was working with perfectly ripe strawberries, which are already quite sweet. For my second batch, I increased the rhubarb and cut the sugar. But I should also just try to find a better recipe.
-Meanwhile, the blackberry liquor syrup recipe is HEAVENLY. [personal profile] sytharin will be pleased.
-I tried out a raspberry cocoa jam recipe, and cut the sugar for it as well, and it's also delicious, even if S's first remark was, "I prefer fruit that isn't doctored with other stuff." Harumph. I am pretty sure that any and all recipients of raspberry cocoa jam won't complain.

We also whipped up a batch of dandelion pesto, and basil pesto.

So many jars.


Jul. 28th, 2017 09:27 am
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
So, I may or may not have a slight obsession with chocolate sprinkles. I love the texture.

While we were out doing fieldwork, I managed to find not one but TWO kinds of chocolate sprinkles. One of the varieties is from a Seattle-based company that specializes in fancy, expensive forms of sugar, India Tree. The Sur la Table in the open-air shopping mall near the BAP has the India Tree sprinkles, but they are so expensive I balked at the price. But for some reason, the grocery store in Santa Ynez also had them, and had large containers for the same price as the small containers. Okay, fine, sold.

On the second trip to Solvang to do laundry, we stumbled into a fancy imported foods store, and I found that they had authentic Dutch sprinkles, so logically, I bought some of those, too.

When I finally got home Wednesday evening, [personal profile] scrottie said he had some presents for me. Not only did he find me a Rock the Bike t-shirt (!!!!), he also found some amazing gourmet sprinkles online!

Oh, and we had also picked some up while we were in the Midwest in June.

So, um, yeah.

Chocolate sprinkle selection

So there may be a sprinkle tasting sometime in the near future. We ate a bunch of the India Tree sprinkles on ice cream while out at Sedgwick, and they were fantastic. No big surprise there. On Thursday morning, S and I ate some of the Callebaut sprinkles on our oatmeal, and I have to say that, hands down, they are the best and most chocolatey out of the bunch. They also melted quickly, though.

Having too many sprinkles seems like a good problem to have, altogether.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Our Friday morning bicycle coffeeshop destination was to Highwire Coffee. They definitely subscribe to the "Reclaimed wood. Edison bulbs. Exposed brick." aesthetic. But they have nice seating. We enjoyed the cool morning out on their back patio.

Coffeeshop bike ride to Highwire Coffee

Coffeeshop bike ride to Highwire

Coffeeshop bike ride to Highwire

Coffeeshop bike ride to Highwire

Friday after work, I set off in search of a place called Ras Dashen Enterprises, which is an Ethiopian grocery store. I was not disappointed. Not only did they sell big bags of berbere, they also had freshly prepared injera, and it was made from 100% teff. I'm glad to finally have had the chance to try 100% teff injera.

The berbere did not disappoint, either. I fed the household some giant vats of homemade Ethiopian goodness on Saturday night - misir wat (red lentils with the berbere and onions) and atakilt wat. It's hard to go wrong with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots.

I also used the very last of the sour cherries from Nebraska to make one last Black Forest Cake, for [personal profile] scrottie's birthday [but everyone knows I just use the occasion as an excuse to bake a ridiculous cake]. Boozy. I miss those cherries.

Then today I made another batch of a green bean recipe from The Healthy Cuisine of India that I think is a fantastic way to showcase green beans. The recipe goes by a name something like "green beans in mustard-poppyseed sauce," but it uses white poppyseeds, which I'd never heard of but managed to find at a nearby Indian grocery. [Yes, this is a perk of having to deal with life in the Bay Area]. You're supposed to toast the poppyseeds and then grind them with a mortar and pestle, but the previous time I made this dish I found the grinding to be rather ineffectual and very labor-intensive. So after reading further online, I decided to instead clean out the Porlex coffee grinder and try it. WAY easier. The coffee grinder was easy to clean, and everything ground together wonderfully.

I will try to post the recipe for these green beans sometime soon. The white poppyseeds release an incredible aroma after they have been toasted, and they do pair well with green beans.
rebeccmeister: (cricket)
I'm only about halfway through this book at the moment, but it's one of those things I wish I'd read back while working on my Ph.D. If only I'd been surrounded by other people who studied insect nutrition at the time, heh. Oh well.

Regardless - one of the best parts of reading this book about insect diets is that it provides a lot of insights into the whole realm of "food science." For instance, the chapter I just finished was all about the various factors that affect diet stability (heat, light, moisture) and nutrient accessibility (diet matrix).

I can't stop thinking about this one table that illustrates how dramatically different forms of food-processing can affect nutrient accessibility. The table compares regular soy flour to roasted soy, using data from the amazing USDA database on nutrient contents of all sorts of different foods.

It's kind of like this NYT blog comparing whole-grain hot cereal to dry, prepackaged cereal, except I never buy or eat prepackaged cereal because it's all way too "pre-digested" (and overpriced) for my tastes.

I'm particularly curious about steel-cut oats versus rolled oats. From what I understand, all types of rolled oats, including "old fashioned" ones, are steam-processed. So I expect that the carbohydrates are more readily available in rolled oats than steel-cut. But I could be wrong. I'm also wondering what it would be like to mix up a slow-cook grain blend for a breakfast cereal - something that could be put into the fuzzy logic rice cooker overnight.

What other grains would you mix in with steel-cut oats?
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
Processing the passionfruit reminded me of something that I remember periodically: it sure would be useful to own a good food mill. I have casually kept an eye out for food mills at thrift stores because I keep balking at the price tag for new ones.

But it would probably be worth it, right?

And I do wonder if the main reason people get rid of old food mills is because they are crappy and breaking.

I tend to think long and hard before adding more implements to my kitchen.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Some of the Black Prince tomatoes have been growing in a lewd fashion:


...but the plants have been generating plenty of tomatoes to work with, so we aren't complaining. The fruits aren't as delicious as when I've grown this variety in Arizona, because the Bay Area doesn't get warm enough in the summer. Still - it's good to have homegrown tomatoes to work with.

There's this Roasted Chipotle Salsa recipe in the Ball canning book that has been a great starting point for improvised salsa recipes with whatever peppers and tomatoes are on hand. Hopefully today's batch came out well. I used a miscellaneous set of peppers that [ profile] sytharin brought home from a coworker, red onions that she grew in the garden, a head and a half of garlic, and five or six hot Hatch chilies. Plus maybe 5 or 6 pounds of tomatoes. Everything went under the broiler to roast until skins browned and burst open (this is about 2 sheet pans' worth of stuff in total). I also pan-toasted some dried puya chilies and then soaked them in warm water. After broiling, I threw most of the various peppers into the food processor and blended them into a paste. Then I used the food processor to chop up the skinned garlic and onions and Hatch chilies - just two pulses or so. The tomatoes were watery, so I drained off the water and simmered it down separately. Meanwhile, I cored the roasted tomatoes and gave them a whirl in the food processor.

Everything went into the giant Dutch oven cauldron, along with 2 C of white vinegar, 2 tsp of salt, and a couple teaspoons of sugar. I brought it all to a boil for a couple of minutes, then ladled it into canning jars and processed the jars in the water bath canner for 20 minutes.

In the past, I have tried hand-chopping everything after roasting, and it's a pain, but feasible if you don't have a food processor. That will just make for more chunky salsa.

We have lost 2 cucumbers to mold so far.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
The eleventy-bajillion tomato plants that [ profile] sytharin planted are beginning to produce a lot of tomatoes. We have all been discussing various plans for them: marinara, salsa, eating them, canning them.

I will probably make at least one more batch of dilly beans, too. Those were pretty straightforward.

We are doing a good job of catching the zucchinis before they get too big. The corn could also stand to be harvested, and fairly soon we'll have a couple of eggplants ready to go.

It's challenging to work up enthusiasm for these projects right now, after a busy trip and in the context of a lot of work stuff demanding attention.

I'd really like to be able to just throw a bunch of stuff into the freezer, but we just don't have a whole lot of freezer space, and it then becomes one more thing to try and manage and remember.

Maybe what I should do is just designate a couple hours each week for food-processing.

It makes me think back to Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, where she talks about the stacks and stacks of tomatoes on the kitchen windowsill.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
On Saturday, I laundered most everything except for the fuzzy cat blanket.

My purse is one of these Eagle Creek dealies. At some point, the main buckle broke, so I took apart the stitching and sewed in a replacement. On Saturday, I put it in a bucket with some Oxy-Clean and the water turned interesting colors, then I rinsed it and hung it out to dry with the rest of the laundry. It's almost like having a new purse.

I took the three largest cucumbers that [ profile] sytharin had harvested from the garden and turned them into a cucumber-feta salad. I took a bunch of carrots and made some French carrot salad, too, using lemon juice from the tree in the backyard. Then I went over to the other house for dinner, where we also ate a bunch of the green beans from the garden. Some of the tomatoes from the garden went into a big vat of macaroni and cheese.

This morning, I made rhubarb coffeecake from the latest grip of rhubarb. Then [ profile] scrottie and I worked on a fancy polenta dish from the Cafe Flora cookbook. After finishing those preparations, I turned the rest of the current green bean harvest into dilly beans. I also baked a loaf of bread.

The house is quiet this evening - just me and the cat. I'm back at it with the feeding experiment again already. While I was out of town, it was basically a full-time project for L, so I think she was relieved to have help again today, finally. She heads out of town on August 15 for fieldwork, so soon I will have to assume the mantle.

Hopefully that's most of the cooking for the week.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
People in the lab here all seem to appreciate a good beverage. A while back, we had some conversations about different kinds of hot chocolate, and I learned that in New Zealand, most people drink Milo instead. Apparently, if one is accustomed to Milo, hot chocolate tastes too thick and sweet. This intrigued me, so I went and bought a tin of the stuff to try out. But then I couldn't remember C's instructions for how to prepare it. At a lab event towards the end of the spring, I finally just brought it along and had her mix it up for us. I guess the way she learned to prepare it is to mix some heaping spoonsful into a bit of milk, and then pour in boiling water, stirring all the while.

I did an approximation of that technique and enjoyed the Milo as a mid-morning beverage in the lab up until the tin ran out. Then I tried replacing it with a canister of organic hot chocolate and found that, as predicted, it tasted too thick and sweet.

The problem is, I'm still trying to avoid palm oil, and there's palm oil and derivatives in Milo.

It turns out that the malted variety of chocolate Ovaltine tastes very similar to Milo, and doesn't have any palm oil products in it.

I need to wean myself off of the dark chocolate McVittie's digestive biscuits. They, too, contain palm oil. Graham crackers are too sweet. And really, I should probably just stop eating this category of snack food altogether.

Food notes

May. 10th, 2016 09:17 am
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
So, the spanakopita we made on Sunday. It was a good way to use up beet greens and some phyllo dough that A had left lingering in the freezer for months, if not years. However, it brought up something that's been missing on my grocery-getting agenda so far: good feta cheese. [ profile] scrottie and I both miss the Bulgarian sheep's milk feta from the Farm Patch in Texas. We glanced at the offerings at the Lucky and were less than enthusiastic about any of them.

However, the cheese shop came through for us. The last time I'd looked, I'd observed multiple different kinds of feta, so I just grabbed one - a French feta. I mostly remembered it as being really mild in flavor, and wasn't sure that a mild cheese was ideal for this application. This time, there were five varieties to choose from: Greek feta, Bulgarian sheep's milk feta, French sheep's milk feta, "domestic" feta, and French goat's milk feta. I wound up getting the first three varieties so we could have a feta cheese taste-off. The Greek feta was sharper and a bit more dry, with good salt notes. The French sheep feta was creamy and mild, whereas the Bulgarian was creamy, but more salty and tangy. All three were good, really, and the differences between them were mild.


The other fun food note regards the bread pudding. I had failed on a loaf of bread at the end of last week, and we'd accumulated various scraps of bread, so it was time. S scrounged around for a recipe, but only came up with this horrific Krispy Kreme bread pudding recipe. So I referred him to the Joy of Cooking, which had a recipe for a bread pudding served up with a meringue on top. That sounded a bit odd, so he decided to riff on things. The riffing got more extreme when he realized he had way more bread than he'd reckoned for, and needed more liquids. The trouble was, we were running low on milk. So first he decided to take up the Joy of Cooking on its suggestion of adding some juice, and then he decided to follow its suggestion to add some pineapple chunks. I'd already asked him to throw in some frozen blueberries that had been in the freezer for who knows how long. Shortly after that, he rummaged around in the pantry and emerged with a can of coconut milk as well.

Between that and the rum sauce, we realized we had a pina colada bread pudding on our hands.

And you know what? It's delicious.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
One of the sweetest things about living here is that my sister grows food plants, which we then harvest and I prepare and feed to her.

She has counted that we have a total of 17 tomato plants going this year, between this house and her house.

Over breakfast this morning, we decided to start a Bean of the Month Club. There are all kinds of crazy and interesting legumes for sale at Monterey Market, so each month we'll get a new variety to cook and try out.

Things cooked this weekend: black beans times infinity, yogurt, artichokes, honey mustard vinaigrette, lemon-ricotta pancakes with lemon curd, buttermilk ranch dressing, lavender-lemon muffins. Side note: many of the lemons on the lemon tree are mostly pith with little actual juice.

Oh, and two very old hamburger patties that were in the freezer. My housemate A isn't likely to be around very much in upcoming months because he's pouring all of his spare time into working on completely overhauling a house up in Seattle. There are several different things of ground beef in various preparations in the freezer that aren't going to improve with age. So I am going to try cooking them to feed them to animals who like meat.

I guess I've been a vegetarian for around 17 years now? Well, I have to tell you, I found cooking the ground beef burger patties utterly disgusting. What is up with all of the fat that came oozing out of it? I am also terrible at it. If I decide to continue this project, I should use a lower cooking temperature. Bleaugh.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
[ profile] annikusrex came to town for a mini-conference on Friday, which meant that I got to kidnap her for Friday night and the better part of Saturday, hurrah! An amusing amount of cooking and eating ensued:

-Butternut squash pizza with goat cheese, romano, walnuts, apples, mushrooms, onions, and crispy sage (fried in butter). For the sauce, I roasted up a butternut squash and pureed it in the Cuisinart along with a bit more sage. In case that wasn't enough, it's also artichoke season, and they're actually available for an affordable price around here ($1/each for organic ones). Yum.

-For breakfast, another feast. [ profile] sytharin has been wanting to have some of our dad's Swedish pancakes, but at some point in her travels her Herman culture perished, and they just don't taste the same without that special little bit of twang from the Herman. I've managed to keep my own Herman going, so on Saturday morning, it was time. Here's our dad's Swedish pancake recipe. Swedish pancakes are like crepes, except slightly thicker:

1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 C soy flour (you can substitute more pastry flour but the soy protein makes these more filling)
4 egs
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C melted butter
2 C milk
1 C Herman (omit if you don't have any, or you can probably use a regular sourdough culture to achieve a similar effect)

Put everything in the blender or whip it together with a whisk or egg beater. Heat your griddle to ~425 degrees F. Use around 1/2 C of batter to make plate-sized Swedish pancakes. Fill with your favorite fruit filling and top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. In our case, rhubarb compote made from rhubarb freshly harvested from the backyard.

-Then, Scrabble. RAC played a strong game, including a bingo, but then AKW played a bingo which wasn't a real word (MILKINGS) and we failed to challenge it, so she won. RAC hadn't known about the googly eyes on the J until she drew the J.

-After that, AKW and I tried to go to the newly renovated Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, except there was a "Medical Emergency" on BART (I believe that's code for somebody died?), so we hopped on the 72 bus and took the long route there. Fortunately, the weather was pleasantly warm, and the extended walk up University was scenic. We went past this place, which looked intriguing:

Intriguing Berkeley store

The museum itself was fine. A number of the individual pieces on display were striking, such as the artist who created sculptures out of spider silk by alternately giving solitary and social spiders access to a frame for web-building. When I first saw the pieces, I figured they were synthetically made. I liked how the artist was playing around with the solitary/social concept. The social spiders build interestingly engineered webs. Also striking was Portrait of my Father by Stephen Kaltenbach. There was some incredible colorwork in that piece that can really only be appreciated in person, appreciated even further when you realize it was painted in 1978. It has a holographic feel and shifts and moves as you look at it, plus it deals with some complex subjects.

As an exhibition, however, I felt like the curators were trying a little too hard to put in as many different kinds of things as they could to showcase the museum's collections and ties to other strengths of the university. The University of Nebraska's art museum, in contrast, did a better job of reverential presentation of works from its holdings.

Still, I love going to museums with AKW and it was wonderful to have her out for a visit!


While she and I were larking about, RAC was otherwise engaged. After Scrabble, she ran off to rent a pickup truck, and proceeded to drive all over hither and yon picking up all of the kinds of things one needs a pickup truck to acquire: two bales of straw, a bunch of bags of mulch, sand, pavers, three 50-pound bags of clay, a bag of pottery plaster, and probably a couple of other things I'm forgetting. I'm highly amused by a similarity in our temperaments - like me, RAC is inclined to charge around working on projects until she drops from exhaustion. There's something comforting and nice about being around this kind of work mode, though. There's something similarly comforting about cooking and sharing food with the household network out here, too. Saturday night, for example, after AKW had left for the airport, I joined RAC and M&M for some tasty stuffed onions and roasted cauliflower. Yum.


Sunday morning, I'd promised RAC that I would help with some aspects of the ongoing household projects. In particular, it was time to give the workshop a thorough cleaning and round of organizing.

I feel so much better now that things are better organized in there. I mostly had to shuffle around various accumulated piles of abandoned projects to move the table saw back into a corner that would give us all better access to some storage shelves we moved in there when we were renovating the bike garage to accommodate more bicycles. RAC installed plastic sheeting over half of the shelf to ready it for storing ceramics-in-progress:

Tidied workshop I

We also cleared off the worktable and cleared floor space. You can't really tell either of these things from this photo, but before the photo it was getting pretty hard to walk around in the workshop.

Tidied workshop II

RAC was generally on a roll. She managed to apply some copper paint to the kick wheel to protect it from further rust, and she built the last planter box for the front driveway. She also filled it with soil and got tomato plants transplanted, and set the paving stones for the path here:

Front yard tomato beds

We are now tomato-ready.

I did manage a couple of other small projects, like painting more trim for my door-window (to tack down the fiberglass screen along the sides):

Backyard projects

And transplanting a lavender plant and strawberry plant into pots (both plants are being hugged by a kale plant that's going to seed):


The local plant shop (Berkeley Horticulture) carries five or six different kinds of strawberry plants. I got a Mara des bois because highly flavorful French strawberries sound fantastic. But I might have to get even more varieties in the overall search for strawberry perfection. We shall see. I'm still skeptical about whether it's possible to achieve strawberry perfection outside of Washington, but it seems worth a try.

Other than all that, RAC built up a frame for making a plaster wedging table, did a bunch of weeding, and figured out what was wrong with the irrigation system. We've been enjoying the colors of all the different California irises she's planted in the front yard:

Front yard color riots

And with that, it's time for the beginning of another full work week.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
This morning, [ profile] sytharin and I visited Fournee Bakery, which is basically at the base of the historic Claremont Hotel and Spa on the border between Berkeley and Oakland. So, a posh neighborhood.

The croissants did not disappoint. My smart-o-phone camera, however, disappointed mightily:

Inside Fournee bakery

RAC had two savory treats, a savory croissant and cheese puff. I tried their almond croissant and also had a Meyer lemon croissant with little almondy bits mixed in. Everything was buttery and flaky and on the crisp side.

Also, here's a thing that I prefer about west coast bakeries over actual French bakeries: way more whole-wheat and sourdough available. This place wasn't selling whole-wheat croissants (I haven't looked for or found any out here), but they had beautiful loaves of whole-wheat bread. Scrumptious.

They were next door to a Pete's Coffee, which presented RAC with a dilemma. She'd forgotten her mug (oh the shame!), but wanted a caffeinated beverage. Pete's had ceramic mugs, but they're owned by Starbucks*. Fournee had this amusing sign posted in the window that says "coffee is available":

Coffee is available

but they did not have any "for here" containers whatsoever.

I didn't ask the bakers whether the drip coffee that they were selling was shade-grown, organic, or fair-trade, but I did think that the bakery wouldn't score high on our father's scale.

Still, 'twas a nice Friday morning treat.

*Edit, based on updated information: Peet's is NOT owned by Starbucks. However, they are still a large chain business.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
After my third Bay Area "Bike-Friendly Friday" coffeeshop bike ride, I feel as though it may just be that this area doesn't quite hit my sweet spot in terms of what I'm looking for in a coffeeshop. Meadowlark, in Lincoln, was just too good. They had a reasonable selection of food offerings (mmm, good pie), plus great espresso (including affogatos), and they had great hours for both the morning people and the night owls. They were also within easy biking or walking distance of my apartment and had ample seating for those looking for a place to sit and work for extended periods. Plus they were next door to the grocery co-op.

There are places in Seattle that fit this category, too. Cafe Allegro, for example. Also the erstwhile Someday Cafe in Davis Square in Medford, MA. If Lux in Phoenix hadn't started to spray for pesticides, I'd be even more highly enthusiastic about them, too.

Out here, there isn't anything within easy biking distance (~1 mile), although there are things within moderate biking distance (2-3 miles). Places that could be good seem to keep really limited hours, catering towards the morning crowd, perhaps because there's no business advantage to staying open late.

One place that stands out to some extent is the People's Cafe, which strongly reminds me of the Oxfam Cafe on the Tufts campus where I used to volunteer on Sunday nights. Ahh, the Oxfam Cafe. Usually there were only a couple of people who would visit, so mostly it was a chance to hang out and listen to various jazz CDs in the collection while learning to use a little home-use espresso machine that would regurgitate a reasonable beverage (according to my as-yet-unsophisticated college student palate).

We'll keep trying, though. One place a week. Maybe once we start venturing further into Berkeley I'll find something more to my liking.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Cakes on the agenda:

1. Marmalade cake, to use up a jar of oxidized grapefruit marmalade that [ profile] scrottie has been hoarding since 2008 (recipe modified from Nigella Lawson's recipe).

2. A rhubarb buckle. I am still playing around with recipes, but the goal is to replicate that amazing gateau from the Paris-Brest-Paris. I need to accumulate more rhubarb before this can happen. The rhubarb plants in the backyard got zapped in the December freeze, so it may be a little while yet.

3. So, my sister-in-law gave me some Scrabble-themed cupcake wrappers. I am pretty sure this means I should bake some cupcakes and get [ profile] sytharin to help me design some Scrabble tiles out of white chocolate. If you image-search for this, you'll see a lot of incredible things that people have made.

4. Was there a fourth? I don't remember anymore, but maybe S does.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Foods that I am not especially good at making (but I'm okay with that!):


...and probably some others that aren't occurring to me at the moment. For lasagne, I am more than happy to leave that up to [ profile] scrottie, who makes some delicious lasagne. The thing with sushi is, if you don't eat fish, there isn't nearly the same sort of incentive to eat it, and thus, not nearly the same sort of incentive to figure out how to make it.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Step 1: Slice and press your tofu for a spell.

Step 2: Gently coat the tofu in a light layer of olive oil.

Step 3: Then sprinkle on / apply a mixture composed of the following: 1 Tbsp cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp salt

Step 4: Broil for a while, turning occasionally

Step 5: Put in a sandwich with your favorite condiments, including some tasty barbecue sauce. Enjoy.
rebeccmeister: (cricket)
The level of excitement in the lab reached new decibels today, when L brought in her just-received Cricket Bug Racer:

cut for oodles of pictures )

Today has been a day of looking at insect diet ingredients. In the spring, I'll prepare some batches of cricket diet with different amounts and concentrations of protein and carbohydrate - standard stuff. However, we're also working on developing a lab diet for willow leaf beetles, based off of a diet published in 1990. This has led to much pondering of the composition of linseed oil, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of Bacto-agar and deactivated Brewer's yeast. If possible, I'd like to acquire overlapping ingredients, and I also want to use stuff that's relatively inexpensive. I suspect that a day will someday arrive where I engross myself in the minutae of different vitamin and salt mixes.

I am bringing up the insect diets because I have also continued doing slightly too much cooking at home. Last weekend's cooking project (not previously described) resulted in a bunch of extra egg whites, so then I turned around and made the egg whites into a batch of soggy macaron-like cookies (perfectly delicious, if not aesthetically pleasing). [ profile] sytharin also came home with an enormous bounty of very ripe tomatoes and avocados, so I started in on a batch of homemade salsa, which I'll finish and can this weekend. I'm so happy to have a salsa stockpile again!

Tonight's dinner will involve minimal cooking - simply reheating some barbecue tofu, for bbq-tofu sandwiches.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
On Saturday, [ profile] sytharin encouraged me, once again, to stop by another food-getting place called Monterey Market. She also dropped another useful hint: it's essentially along my commute to work, and best visited in the morning (probably gets to be like Berkeley Bowl in the afternoons and on weekends, I suspect). Okay, sis, I can take a hint (eventually, heh).

I feel better about life after stopping in this morning. It reminded me of the Farm Patch in Bryan, except it's like an organic Farm Patch on steroids - about four times as large, with many more organic options for everything. While it's mostly focused on produce, it looks to have a reasonable cheese and dairy section, plus many of the staples I like, for somewhat better prices than the natural foods store down the hill.

People who grow up in places like this, with access to really good artisanal fresh-baked bread all of the time, have a hard time transitioning to life in other parts of the country. Italian white-flour cookie bakeries just aren't even remotely the same thing. I would rank West coast* artisanal breads and baked goods just as highly as the stuff one can find in France.

*The stuff in CA is similar to what's available in Seattle.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
While riding to the lab this evening with [ profile] scrottie, I got to thinking that it looks like trying to stay alive here is going to be somewhat more along the lines of Texas as compared to Nebraska. In Nebraska, I could basically go to one grocery store (the co-op) for reasonably priced, organic everything. It was next door to a comfortable coffeeshop, which made for a useful second office, and was just a mile from home. That made it possible to accomplish grocery shopping in just a little over an hour's time. The lack of friends also simplified things in a lot of ways - I could just plan my weekends around my own agenda items instead of weighing various social/antisocial options.

Grocery-getting here is more complicated in that food is one of those categories of things that's much more expensive. S and I went back to the farmer's market on Saturday morning, and managed to pick up a selection of reasonably-priced items that were a mixture of organic and conventionally-grown. All the booths had signs declaring themselves to be "certified," which appears to basically mean that the goods being sold were in fact produced by the seller somewhere in California (i.e. not resold - a cheating problem in CA). Only around two of the twelve or so booths appear to sell organic goods. No eggs or cheese; [ profile] sytharin informs me that the egg situation is carryover from the avian influenza cases discovered in the Midwest this year. I guess eggs in the Midwest are still comparatively cheap because the producers who haven't had to kill their flocks have an easier time getting those eggs to other destinations in the Midwest.

I still don't have a full mental map of the layout for the conventional grocery store nearby, but that's where I'm going to wind up doing the bulk of my shopping. In contrast to the last couple of places I've lived, around here Tillamook products are generic grocery store items, not fancy gourmet products. There's even Tillamook ice cream, which may eventually become problematic. There are other strange things to sort out about the dairy industry in this state, and I can't entirely put my finger on what's so strange - I can only note that dairy products are expensive and I don't recognize many of the brands.

The aisles in the non-co-op natural foods store are narrow, but easier to navigate with one of those shopping carts that holds shopping baskets, as opposed to a full-size shopping cart. Their bulk section is reasonable, but they lack bulk spices, and the cheese department feels lacking, too.

I feel as though S and I have been trying to cook decently large batches of things, and yet it still seems like we're running out of leftovers quickly.

I also just generally need to remind myself that the only hobby I'm allowed right now is the Holiday Challenge.


rebeccmeister: (Default)

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