Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hale's Ales Wee Heavy Winter Ale

Hale's Ales, Wee Heavy Winter Ale
Seattle, WA
6.8% Alcohol
Rating: 4/5

Hale's Ales is a brewery that makes beer that doesn't stand out in any way, but is solid and tasty and pleasant to drink. At least, it seems that way based on this and the one other beer of theirs I've had. This one is strong, but it's lighter than the name would make you think.

Ninkasi Oatmeal Stout

Ninkasi Brewing Company, Oatis Oatmeal Stout
Eugene, OR
7.5% Alcohol
Rating: 4/5

A beer with a powerful malty flavor. Pretty good if you're looking for something strong.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Worst Commutative Diagram Ever

Okay, mathematical hotshots! This commutative diagram appears in a legitimate math book, despite its appearance. What fact is it proving? Leave your answers in the comments. Second-year UW math students may not respond.

Revision: nobody who was in spring quarter of last year's algebra class can answer. Other second year math students, feel free.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Deschutes Porter

Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter
Bend, OR
5% Alcohol
Rating: 4/5

A smooth porter with a caramel flavor that's not too sweet. It achieves the trick of lingering in your mouth for the shortest amount of time without being unsatisfying, which makes it a relaxing, light beer. Comment on this to your friends and they'll look at you funny as you drink a jet black beer. I had it with sweet potatoes--good combination.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Soba Noodles and Squash

Soba noodles are great. Compared to normal pasta, they cook faster, have more taste, and cost about the same. You should be alert when you cook them. They're done more quickly than you'd think, and they're nicest when they're still chewy. This recipe takes 30 or 40 minutes, but it's incredibly simple. It serves 3 or 4 people.

  • 1/2 pound soba noodles
  • 1 large or 2 small delicata squash, chopped into 1-inch pieces and seeds removed (don't peel it, though)
  • 5 large collard leaves, chopped
  • 3 chilies of a level of spiciness that you like, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 tbs. mirin
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 tbs. grated ginger
  • pepper

Put a pot of salted water on. While it comes to a boil, mix together in a large bowl all the ingredients but the noodles, squash, and collards. When the water boils, cook the soba noodles till they're done, about four or five minutes. Drain them and put them in the bowl, and stir them up.

Meanwhile, start steaming the squash. About 10 minutes later, start steaming the collards as well. When they're both tender, add them to the bowl. Mix and adjust the seasoning.

Duchesse de Bourgogne

Brouwerij Verhaeghe, Duchesse de Bourgogne
Belgian reddish-brown ale
Vichte, Belgium
6% Alcohol
Rating: 4/5

Bizarre! It's first sour, then sweet, and it has more in common with soda than with most beers. Don't take this as criticism; it's great, even if it doesn't taste like beer.

Alaskan Smoked Porter

Alaskan Brewing Co., 2009 Smoked Porter
Juneau, AK
6.5% Alcohol
Rating: 3/5

It's not bad, but I would never really choose it. The smoke flavor is just overwhelming.

Hale's Ales Mongoose IPA

Hale's Ales, Mongoose IPA
Seattle, WA
7% Alcohol
Rating: 4/5

If you had to reduce beer in the Northwest to one style, it would be the IPA, and if you had to reduce Northwest IPAs to one beer, it might as well be this one. Don't expect anything unusual from this beer, but drink it if you want a well-made IPA. It's incredibly hoppy, but it's not over the top and it makes fine drinking.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Dogfish Head, 90 Minute Imperial IPA
Milton, Delaware
9% Alcohol
Rating: 5/5

It's simultaneously more flavorful and mellower than the usual IPA. Whatever "balanced" means, this beer is balanced.

By the way, I've added in the percent alcohol not out of love for statistics but because it seems like something I might want to know if I were choosing a beer.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Kale or Collards with Peanuts and Garlic

As promised, here's another recipe for greens. Lindsay and I adapted the recipe from Simply in Season, a Mennonite cookbook, and we spiffed it up by adding chili-garlic sauce, soy sauce, and vinegar. Two people could eat this as meal, along with some rice. It could serve twice as many people as a side dish. It takes about thirty minutes to cook.

  • 1 bunch kale or collards (about 10 giant leaves)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
  • 1 tbs. peanut oil
  • 2 tsps. whole cumin seeds (or a smaller amount of ground cumin)
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tbs. chili-garlic sauce, such as Huy Fong's (or just use fresh or dried chilies)
  • a bit less than 1/4 cup peanut butter, possibly more
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • salt, pepper

Cut the stems out of the greens and chop them roughly. Heat the peanut oil over medium heat in a big skillet than can be covered, and add the stems, the chopped onion, and some salt. Let this cook while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, stirring occasionally to keep things from burning. Chop the rest of the greens roughly. Mix up the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar, along with about two tablespoons of water to thin it out (but don't worry if it's still thick--when it gets hot, it will unclump).

When the onions have browned a little, turn down the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, cumin, cardamom, and coriander. Cook this for about a minute, stirring, and add the greens, the chili-garlic sauce, and a bit more salt. Add about 1/4 cup of water, turn up the heat and stir this up. Once the water boils, turn the heat to low and cover, maintaining a simmer. Cook until the greens are tender, about 5-10 minutes for kale and 10-15 minutes for collards. Uncover and add the peanut sauce. Stir it until it heats up and coats the leaves. Add a little bit more water if it's stubborn. Taste it; add some more peanut butter, depending on what you think. Grind some pepper over the whole thing, and add some salt if it needs it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel

Weihenstephan Brewery, Hefeweissbier Dunkel
Dark Wheat Beer
Freising, Germany
Rating: 5/5

This beer was a present from Lindsay for my birthday! But my love for it goes beyond sentiment. It's deliciously smooth and toasty.

Barely Cooked Chard with Lemon and Parmesan

This year my CSA has loaded up my box with greens. Few can match me in my love for spinach, chard, kale, and collards, so it means something that I had so much of them that eating them was a burden. I've picked up some new tricks for greens, now. This was one of my favorites. Its basic outline--greens with olive oil and lemon juice--is unremarkable, but as always, adding a ton of Parmesan cheese makes it great. This also straddles the line nicely between cooked and raw. It's more substantial than a salad, but it's still as refreshing as one. It serves two and is really quick.

  • 5 large chard leaves
  • 1 or 2 large cloves garlic, julienned
  • 2 tbs. pine nuts (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil, salt, pepper

Cut out the stems from the chard and cut them into inch-long pieces. Start this cooking in a bit of olive oil (use as little as possible--you'll be adding more) in a big pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, pine nuts, and a bit of salt, and give this a stir from time to time as you prepare the rest of the dish.

In a jar (or a bowl), combine the lemon juice with equally much olive oil. Grind in some pepper and add in lots of Parmesan cheese. Shake this up.

Cut up the chard and add it to the pan, along with some salt (greens need a lot of salt!). Stir for about thirty seconds. The goal is to stop cooking the chard at the first sign of wilting; remember that it will keep on cooking after you remove it, so err on the side of taking it out too soon. Remove everything into a large bowl, pour the dressing over, and toss.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Deschutes Jubelale

Deschutes Brewery, Jubelale
Spiced Ale
Bend, OR
Rating: 3/5

This was a strong, dark beer. It was flavorful, nutty, and not really that enjoyable to me. Maybe it would have been good if I were eating some meaty stew or something like that.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Deschutes Hop Trip

Deschutes Brewery, Hop Trip
Fresh Hop Pale Ale
Bend, OR
Rating: 4/5

Maybe it's just because it's autumn, and this is a beer only available in autumn, but I think this beer tasted autumnal. The spiel on the bottle suggested that it tasted citrusy and piney. I disagree with citrusy, but piney is dead on. The aftertaste isn't powerful like an IPA, but it lasts in a pleasant, refreshing way.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Port Townsend Golden Ale

The northwest has a lot of beer. So, please don't interpret my notes on beer as a snobby, critical thing (though I do don a monocle before drinking). It's just that I don't have a very good memory, and I can't remember what I liked. Take my numerical rating in the same spirit. It demeans beer to reduce it to a number. But without the number, I'll look back at my by beer description and have no idea if I enjoyed it.

Port Townsend Brewing Company, Golden Ale
Port Townsend, WA
Rating: 3/5

This beer is a little bit tart and cidery, though it doesn't really have a very strong taste. Unlike other golden ales I have enjoyed, it has no citrus taste. It reminds me of what I thought beer tasted like as a child.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Black Beans in the Style of a Mojito

I have a fridge full of limes and a garden full of mint. Actually, I don't really know if I can really say that the mint is in the garden. Most of it is growing in the cracks in the walk up to our house.

Go easy on the mint. I used about ten leaves and it really took over. Cook the black beans however you want, and feel free to do it ahead of time. Soak them before you cook them if you like doing that. I'm a reluctant believer that salting beans from the start of their cooking makes them tougher, so I guess salt them after they've begun to soften, but definitely do add a fair amount of salt to them. Also, try to end up with only a little bit of bean-cooking water at the end. If the beans are still floating around freely, boil it away or dump some out.

  • 1 cup of dried black beans
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 and 1/2 limes, zested (you can zest the whole second lime)
  • 5 mint leaves, chopped finely
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine (you could leave this out)
  • salt, pepper

Cook the black beans. Fry the onions in the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes (turn the heat down for the longer time, turn it up for the shorter time). Salt them a bit while they cook, and add the lime zest. When the onions are nice and brown, start cooking the rice. Add cooked beans with their liquid to the onions. Add the wine, turn up the heat, and let this bubble away while the rice cooks. When the rice is ready, turn the heat off under the beans, and add the juice from the limes and the chopped mint. Add pepper, taste, and add more salt or lime juice if it seems wise. Serves four.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Asparagus with Rice

I was embarrassed to post this recipe because there's so little too it. But what's wrong with that if it tastes good? I used lime juice when you'd expect lemon because I had a large bag of limes in the fridge, and I thought it worked well.

  • 1 pound of asparagus, trimmed of woody stalks and cut into one inch pieces
  • 2 large onions, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 of a lime
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Cook the onions in a large skillet with the oil over medium heat, stirring often. Add salt. Cook for about twenty minutes, until the onions are nicely browned (but feel free to cut this short if you're in a hurry). Add about 2 tablespoons of water to the pan. Stir this around quickly, scraping the pan to free any nice, brown oniony bits. Shake a bit of salt in, add the asparagus, cover, and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for a few minutes, until the asparagus is nearly cooked to the point you like. Uncover, turn the heat up a bit, and try to get some brown on the asparagus. Add lots of pepper, salt if necessary. Squeeze the lime over this, mix, and remove from the heat. Serve with rice; about 1/2 cup dry rice makes a good amount to go with this. Serves 2-4, depending on what else you're eating.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mathless Days

It's been a full two days since my last final. Two entire days without any mathematical obligations! In another week I'll start studying for my three preliminary exams in real analysis, algebra, and topology/differential geometry, and I'll start doing some reading about Coxeter groups (I can't tell you what those are until I've read about them).

This week, I'll explore Seattle and its surroundings and eat the best food I can find. I started by crossing N. 145th St., leaving the friendly confines of Seattle for the strikingly similar confines of Shoreline. Shoreline isn't known for much yet, but everyone should go there to enjoy the delicious Korean food at Haenam Kalbi & Calamari. Their logo is a smiling pig and squid. Based on this, we ordered a dish of pork and calamari in a chili sauce, which came with a gas burner and was cooked on our table. I spooned some onto my plate as soon as we got it, and as I took my first bite the waitress scurried over. She grabbed my plate, slid the food back onto the burner, and said, "Not ready yet." My bite of squid tasted fine--it wasn't quite raw--but the dish was better when it was nicely charred and the waitress gave us permission to eat it. We also got a bowl of buckwheat noodles with a sauce made from peanuts and chilis and other mysterious things and a boiled egg on top; the waitress came back with a pair of scissors to cut the noodles to a more manageable length. Our third dish was strips of beef atop a layer of onions on a sizzling cast iron plate. The onions were raw when they arrived and sweet and crunchy by the time we finished. Before any of this had even arrived, we were given about ten bowls of pickles, ranging from kimchi to miniature dried fish. It took the entire meal to even try everything. Most of the dishes cost eight to twelve dollars, and as you can tell you get plenty of food. I can't wait to go back.

Haenam Kalbi & Calamari
15001 Aurora Ave N
Shoreline, WA 98133

Friday, January 02, 2009

Pumpkin Lasagna

Ever since I started cooking I've eaten a lot of squash, which confuses my parents since they never cooked them when I was growing up. (Squash is my form of rebellion.) In Seattle I've met lots of new squashes, like the delicata, which is my favorite for its creamy, dense, sweet flesh. But this post is about the pumpkin, and the lasagna that Lindsay and I made from one. I used Mark Bittman recipes for the pasta and the Béchamel sauce.

The pasta:
  • 1/2 pound spinach
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs

Put the spinach in boiling water and cook it till it wilts (about a minute and half). Run cold water over it to cool it down. Pick it up and try to squeeze all the water out of it. Then chop very finely, or put it in a food-processor and puree it.

Mix up the flour and salt in a large bowl. Crack an egg and mix it in. Add some spinach. Repeat with the other eggs, incorporating the spinach as you go. Once you've added all the eggs and spinach, try to form a ball of dough, adding a little bit of water if necessary (it almost certainly will be, but you'll probably only need a tablespoon or two). Once you've gotten the dough together, roll it out as thinly as possible, and cut into appropriate strips for lasagna.

The Béchamel sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tbs. butter
  • 1 1/2 tbs. flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk

Heat the butter in a small pot. When it's done foaming up, add the flour and cook over low heat, whisking. When the flour is light-brown, start adding the milk gradually. Whenever the sauce looks thick, add some more milk, stirring with a wooden spoon the whole time and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. You can turn the heat up a little bit while you do this. After 15-30 minutes, you should have a thick sauce, and you're done.

Everything else:

  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin
  • 1 pound of mushrooms (we used hedgehogs and black trumpets)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs. butter, plus a bit more for greasing the pan
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg

Cut the pumpkin in half, take out the seeds, and roast at 375 degrees till it's very soft, about 1 1/2 hours. Scoop out the flesh and season it with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Cook the mushrooms in the butter and olive oil over medium heat with some salt and pepper. Cook until all of the exuded mushroom water has evaporated, and then let the mushrooms brown a little bit.

Boil water and cook your pasta for a minute or two.

At this point, everything is prepared and you just need to assemble the lasagna. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a pan with butter and put strips of pasta on the bottom of the pan. It's okay if they overlap a bit (or if they don't). Put down a layer of pumpkin, a layer of mushrooms, a layer of Béchamel, and a layer of cheese. Put down another layer of noodles and repeat the whole thing two or three times. End with a layer of pasta, Béchamel, and Parmesan. Bake this for thirty minutes (or until it starts to bubble). Let it rest for at least 10 minutes, and serve.

Here's the first layer of the lasagna:

And this is what it looked like after it was cooked:

Thanks to Lindsay for the pictures.