Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Good News Everyone!

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

A friend, my sister, and I have started a new blog about our various adventures in food, crafting, and hanging out at our local comic shop. While waiting for me to start bento making again, take a gander at the Ladies of Comicazi blog.

As for the bento making front, I have plans tomorrow afternoon to start working on a stash again. Poor advance planning has been my downfall many times, so let’s hope that I can turn over a new leaf. I still plan to focus on the more healthy side of bento making with the occasion trip to various recipes I have tried out and would like to share.

To keep you all interested, here is a bunny bento I did eons ago:

Shy Bunny detail

The bunny is ham and cheese mostly while the bulk of the bento is swiss chard cooked with some fennel sausage. I made the bunny using a set of cutter I bought, so getting the right look was fast and easy. And really, if it isn’t easy, chances are that I’m going to skip the character bento for something more in the generally pretty category.

Exciting News

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

It looks like it is quite possible that I might be joining forces with some other bloggers in order to create a broader geekier blog. Keep an eye here for updates. Since I am expecting to get back into bento making come September, I am hoping that I will find time to post over here as well.

My New Find

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Perhaps you remember my love of vintage recipes?  If not, please refer to this lovely post. Ok, so knowing (cause you are up to speed at this point now, right?) how much I love vintage recipes, I made the most remarkable, wonderful, bestest EVER last month while I was staying with my mother. I was digging around in an attempt to find a few recipe cards for some family favorites when I stumbled upon this:

P9040288

In between my squeals of delight, Mom managed to tell me that her mother bought this for her right before her wedding. Well then, good thing an entire section of this called “Men’s Favorites.” There is no “Women’s Favorites” section because I figure they assumed we lady-types would be spending all out time eating recipes from the “Calorie Counters” sections while we make our men things like Pot Roast and Buttermilk Donuts. Remind me to thank The Boy for validating my existence. Boy Howdy! *eyeroll

Well prepare yourself to be seeing these recipes scattered into my blog posts, including the recipe cards themselves. Things this good are no fun if you don’t share!

A Side Trip – Medfield State Hospital

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

One of my favorite factoids that I like to share about my junior high and high school experience is that our campus was walking distance away from a mental health facility.  I’m not talking just any sort of psychiatric program, I am referring to Medfield State Hospital, a location that housed up to 2,000 patients during its peak.  Self sufficient and covering about 900 acres of land, Medfield State also had the unfortunate reputation of housing patients who were so ill that they had to be in a lock-down facility. In other words, they weren’t safe to have mixing among the rest of the population.

P9030280

The reason I am writing about all this today is because after its closing in 2003, the grounds of Medfield State Hospital are open to the public daily from 6am-6pm.  Why this is the case, I am not sure, but it sure does make for an interesting side trip.  Recently, scenes from Shutter Island were filmed there and rumor has it that there are still some set pieces left behind in the hospital’s chapel.  Sadly, all the buildings have been condemned, so you really just get to walk around outside.  Also, with hurricane/tropical storm Irene, there seems to be a bit more damage than can be seen in some earlier pics posted by some of those “urban adventurer” sites out there.  If you ask me, it’s still a pretty creepy place and there are a lot worse ways to spend an afternoon.  I highly suggest stopping by, taking some pics, maybe peeking into a few windows.  With renewal plans being discussed by the town of Medfield, who knows how much longer you’ll get a chance to see something like this.

P9030277

Pea Tendrils: Regular Peas’ Sexy Mom

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

There are a lot of bloggers out there waxing poetic about their local farmers markets. And you know what? They are right. Your local farmers market is magic and supports your local growers and smaller businesses. Yes, yes, local is good and important. But rather than wasting time on an issue that countless others have written about far better than I could, let’s take a different spin and focus on the yummy.

There are several farmers markets in my area, but the one I frequent the most is right on the campus of my workplace. They have a rotating list of vendors, but when Flats Mentor Farm is there, I always make it a priority to stop by their stall. Not only do they have a wonderful mission (you can read about them at their website) but they have a really wonderful variety of produce. Yes, they have the regular seasonal stuff, but they also grow and sell things that other stands don’t. I’m talking about things like squash flowers, pumpkin vines, and the ultimate in yummy-osity: pea tendrils.

Oh baby… Seriously, check out how sexy these little babies are:

pea sprigs

And yes, they are exactly what you think they are, tendrils and newer growth from the pea plant. Usually they are only available in the early spring, but Flats Mentor Farm has them quite regulatory throughout the market’s season. My guess is that they grow them in a green house. Regardless, I am so very glad they have them because they are now one of my favorite veggies.

Pea tendrils are very easy to cook and require very little to really bring out their sweetness. Imagine if you will a tender green that tastes like a pea only with a slight bitterness you can sometimes find in leafy greens. I know this is a terrible way to describe it, but they taste very green and fresh.

Pea tendrils can be eaten raw (like in a salad or sandwich) but I prefer to saute them with a bunch of chopped garlic. In fact, this is how you can sometimes find them at Chinese restaurants. But seriously, keep an eye out for these. You’ll thank me. And if not, well…there’s always tater-tots. Everyone likes tater-tots, right?

Big Disaster

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Just because I haven’t been blogging all that much, it doesn’t mean that I haven’s been out in the world facing certain culinary failures and disasters. Most notably of these recipes gone wrong was my attempt to make candy corn. Now, I can be pretty adventurous when it comes to cooking, and I certainly love a challenge… but I cannot do sugar work for the life of me. Place me in front of a candy thermometer and you’ve got one of those sudden melt down situations that ends with ruined pots and pans, me in tears, and possibly a rip in the time-space continuum. Seriously, that hadron collider’s got nothing on a woman who has to spend four hours scraping burnt sugar off the walls. I’m just saying…

Attempt number one to create delicious vanilla-y candy corn:

Things seem to go well until it’s time to add the powdered milk. As the mixture begins to cool, it also gets harder. Really hard. So hard in fact that the top comes off my spatula as I try to stir. No big deal, I just need something a bit tougher is all. The wooden spoon is taken out and proceeds to snap in half right in my little enraged hands. This shit just got personal!

At this point my blind rage causes me to make a rather poor decision. Rather than calling it quits, my desire to literally strangle the sugary snark out of my would-be-candy-corn causes me to use my hands. It burned as all get out, but I still tried to mix everything together as it continued to cool and harden more and more. Eventually the pain was just too much as not only was it burning me, but the mixture had become sharp and tough. I had to stop and all I had to show for my efforts was this:

Fail

Yup, not only did it weigh a ton, but when I dropped some of it on the floor it made a sound as if Satan himself had taken a dump on my linoleum. Nothing was damaged mind you, but I bet if I took a hammer to that stuff, there would have been glass-sharp shards, not unlike sugary throwing knives, everywhere.

I had to call back-up for round two, a friend with more sugar work and candy making experience than myself. This time we erred on the side of caution and didn’t cook the sugar long enough. We waited and waited for the mixture to harden, but instead we got play-dough. I’ll save you the gory details this time, but rather than continue to attempt to make super soft corn shapes that would lose that shape as soon as they came into contact with absolutely anything, we called it a day and created this:

Candy corn

The world’s largest and softest candy corn (that’s a quarter next to it for reference).

Sigh…

Pimpin’ A Project

Monday, June 14th, 2010

While I am hoping to post something food/bento related this week, I wanted to take a minute to let you all know about a project a friend of mine is doing.

Please please donate if you are either a Troma fan or just a fan of indie films. In this final days of pledging, the goal is in reach and I’m hoping that letting the word out a bit more might help. Geoff is a stand-up guy and a true foodie, so you can give yourself a strong pat on the back for donating or even forwarding the message along.

Assuming I still have any readers out there, feel free to spread the word and let me know in the comments with a link or something. I might even reward your efforts with a little bento something if you are in the first few people to notify me. You gotta do your part before he reaches the goal to be eligible.

Canadian Cuisine

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

I am the first person to admit that I never really thought much about traditional Canadian cusine.  It’s not that I didn’t think it was any good, I just never stopped to think about what foods they might eat in Canada.  I just assumed they put mayo on their fries and pretty much called it a day.

Luckily for me, I have a friend who is not only Canadian, but she also revels in “setting me straight.”  Horrified by my lack of interest in the food enjoyed by our neighbors to the North, we took a trip up to Manchester to a little place called Chez Vachon.

Chez Vachon

See that?  Little, right?

Famous for their Poutine (more on that later) we managed to get there before their closing closing time of 2pm and had some lunch.

Pork Pie

I had their pork pie, which was pretty much your basic meat pie with a few things of note.  Firstly, the slice was drenched in thick gravy.  Secondly the meat itself was seasoned with what seemed like allspice and cinnamon.  This turned out to be a nice contrast to the gravy.  And thirdly, the meat itself was so soft that you barely had to chew it.  My guess that is that pork is blended with mashed potatoes or something because it was almost like a pate in texture.

Poutine

Poutine (which sounds more like putsin when you say it) is a very popular Canadian comfort food. So popular in fact, that in addition to an Ice Cream Truck, my friend claims that a french fry truck used to drive down the roads of her youth selling its delightful gravy-covered spudsy wares. Poutine itself consists of three things: french fries, gravy, and fresh cheese curds. While it isn’t uncommon for people to add additional ingredients, it’s not poutine without the cheese curds. The cheese curds must be fresh and almost squeaky as you chew them. To me, they tasted like a mild cheddar which in addition to gravy, pretty much goes well with almost anything. I will say this though, we barely made a dent in that plate. However, next time I find myself drinking in Canada, this is going to be the only thing I am going to want.

Maple Butter Crepe

We finished up the meal by sharing this crepe which came swimming in maple butter. Before you ask what maple butter is, allow me to spare you the smack on the head from my crazy Canadian friend. There is no butter in maple butter. Like apple butter and other such things, it is only butter in that it is smooth and spreadable like butter. Maple butter is made by heating and cooling maple syrup while stirring it. After some time it becomes lighter in color and takes on a consistency closer to frosting. I was worried that this crepe would just taste like it was doused in syrup, but the taste was much lighter than that. Since I’m not normally all that into sweets, I must admit that this was a pleasant surprise.

Overall, it was worth the hour trip from Boston for a really reasonably priced meal. It’s certainly not something I can eat very often, but if you are looking for comfort food, this kind of thing really hits the spot. Now, I just wonder what their salmon pie is like…

Turkey in the Snow

Friday, February 19th, 2010

A few weekends ago I went to the house of some friends to try my first fried turkey.  I suspect that our chef that day was annoyed that he made it through the holidays either without getting his fill of turkey or he just didn’t get to have his turkey made the way he wanted.  Regardless of the reason, he set up his propane burner in the snow and we were off.

Before we even got there, my friend had seasoned the turkey with cajun spices both inside and out with the use of one of those flavor injectors. Then after a decent amount of measuring (so the oil wouldn’t spill over when you add the turkey) and keeping a close eye on the temperature, the turkey was lowered into the vat of boiling hot oil.

P1181892

Three to four minutes a pound later, we got this:

P1181899

And let me tell you people, yes…fried turkey is just as good as people claim it is. The skin is crispy while the meat inside is nice and moist. I blissfully chewed on a wing and some dark meat while completely forgetting about the snow falling outside. Seriously, if you are careful and know what you are doing, this can be an extremely enjoyable meal…especially with good beer and good friends.

A New Japanese Grocery Store

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Some of you out there may remember my sadness over the closing of Kotobukiya in Porter Square. No really, the loss of that store really did change the look of my bentos and though I know there is another shop in Union Square…well, things haven’t been the same.

Then today, my sister sent me a link to Ebisuya. Rumor has it this store is owned by some past employees of Kotobukiya! Could this mean that I will be able to find my usual products with no problems? And what is this about free parking? Be still my little heart. There is hope for my poor lonely bento boxes yet.

I hope to get to the store myself within the next few weeks, but if anyone has been there yet, please feel free to write a comment below to let us know how things are looking.