Tuesday, August 02, 2011

L'École d'été de Probabilités de Saint-Flour III

Every lunch and dinner in Saint-Flour lasted about an hour and a half. Every single one included a first course, main course, vegetable dish, cheese course, dessert, and wine. The cheeses were always the same four. Nobody was ever completely sure what they were, but the most knowledgeable people told me they were Cantal, Saint-Nectaire, Fourme d'Ambert, and tomme de montagne. All of them were excellent. The soft cheeses had an amazing, gooey texture that I've never seen in American cheese. I attribute it to raw milk aged fewer than 60 days, or to non-refrigeration. We always had the same pretty good red table wine, even when we had white fish.

I tried to keep track of all of our meals and will record them for posterity here. I probably made a mistake or two, especially at the end.

Lunchham and egg in aspic; braised beef, mashed potatoes; crème caramel
Dinnermelon; stewed Romano beans and other vegetables; breaded chicken cutlets; packaged coffee ice cream sundae
Lunchquiche with Cantal cheese; stewed chicken with mushrooms, onions, and cauliflower; cooked peaches
Dinnerbeets and tomatoes in vinaigrette; salad, cod cakes (from yesterday's mashed potatoes); chocolate mousse
Lunchprosciutto with bread and butter; pork chops with buttered pasta, roasted tomatoes; plum, apricot, and raspberry tart
Dinnersalad; chicken kebabs, string beans; fruit
Lunchtuna with mayonnaise; veal stew, scalloped potatoes; ice cream
Dinnergrapefruit; baked crepes with ham and béchamel sauce, endives, hash browns; baked apple with caramel
Lunchsalad; a white fish called colin, which might be hake, in a very buttery sauce, rice with vegetables; meringue in vanilla sauce with caramel
Dinnercelery root remoulade; tomatoes stuffed with sausage; chopped vegetables; fruit
Lunchham/corned beef in aspic; steak, aligot (cheesy mashed potatoes); pastry with pears
Dinnersurimi (i.e., fake crab--seriously!); salad, lasagna; flan
Lunchassorted seafood (fish, mussels) baked in scallop shells with cheese on top; brussels sprouts with fried potato balls, chicken legs; tiramisu cake
Dinnermelon; croque monsieurs, salad; cooked peaches, lady fingers
Lunchcarrots with vinaigrette; roast pork with prunes, french fries; packaged sundae with weird pear flavor
Dinnercured sausage with bread and butter; buckwheat crepes with cheese and mushrooms, stewed zucchini; banana, nuts, and chocolate with vanilla sauce
Lunchmushrooms in sweet tomato sauce; rabbit stew with a cream sauce, egg noodles; tarte tatin
Dinnertomatoes with corn, crumbled boiled egg, and vinaigrette; spinach, potato croquettes, omelets with herbs; fruit
Lunchbaloney-like meat; sausages, lentils; creme caramel
Dinnerbeans and vegetables in mayonnaise; quiche, salad; cake
Lunchbeets and cucumbers in vinaigrette; paella; strawberry cake
Dinnermelon; cold chicken, herbed potatoes; apricot Chantilly
Lunchmixed vegetables; cheese and ham in pastry
Dinnerpaté de campagne; peas and carrots, breaded balls of ham and veal; chocolate pots de creme with ladyfingers

Me in front of the Viaduc de Garabit, bilt by Gustave Eiffel

Friday, July 22, 2011

L'École d'été de Probabilités de Saint-Flour II

The next day in Saint-Flour, the summer school started. The routine for the next two weeks was to get up, eat breakfast, go to a one and a half hour lecture, take a break, go to another lecture, and then eat lunch. After lunch, there were usually two shorter talks by students about their research. Nothing was scheduled until dinner, after which was another student talk. This was usually the worst-attended talk.

After the lectures were over on my first day, I took a walk to look around and buy some postcards.

The upper town, from outside the train station.

Saint-Flour has an upper and a lower town. The upper town is the older part, and it's where I was walking. It has narrow streets that cars drive through at ridiculous speeds.

A street in the upper town.

Walking around that first day, I managed to get lost. The upper town is so small that this is a real feat. I blame it on the jetlag--I woke up at 5am that morning and was really confused about what time it was. I ended up wandering through the main square:

The main square.

Eventually, I found my way back to the abbey, establishing that a random walk in Saint-Flour is recurrent (parents and grandparents: this is an extremely bad math joke).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

L'École d'été de Probabilités de Saint-Flour I

I spent the last two weeks in Saint-Flour, France. We're not talking about Paris: I was in the Massif Central of France, the massive middle.

Sunflowers from a train window.

I left my apartment at 6am for a flight to Dallas-Fort Worth. From there I flew to Paris. I arrived at 9am and took the commuter rail to the Gare de Lyon, where I got on a train to Clermont-Ferrand. Four hours later, I discovered that my next train was actually a bus, and after a lot of miming and attempts at communication (my one year of high school French was not that helpful), I got on one of the six buses that was waiting. When the bus sat around and didn't leave when it was scheduled, I started to worry. When about twenty young children got on the bus, I really didn't know what was going on. We left, and we did seem to be going towards Saint-Flour, according to the highway signs. The person sitting behind me spoke some English to me, and then two people sitting nearby told me that I must be a probabilist, and that I was going in the right direction. This was not to last: our bus kept going down the highway right past the exit for Saint-Flour, and we all watched the town at the top of a hill, receding into the distance. This was because the bus route involved going 40 kilometers south of Saint-Flour, stopping for fifteen minutes, and then turning around and going back to Saint-Flour. And so I arrived around 7pm, after 26 hours of constant travel. The director of the summer school, Jean Picard, picked up the three of us who were on the bus and drove us to the hotel where the summer school is held. It's an old abbey. The doors are all shorter than I am.

Then was dinner: potato salad with olives, pickles, ham, and lots of mayonnaise, cucumber and tomato salad, couscous, cold meat with pickles and mustard, baguettes and four kinds of cheese with which I would soon become very familiar, and pastries with layers of cake and cream. This was all washed down with carafes of very drinkable red wine. I ate, climbed up to my room, and fell asleep.

My room.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


This is how we used to look:

And this is how we look as of a few weeks ago:

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Lindsay and I have been trying to grow things. Let's start with the tomatoes:

From left to right, the varieties are Green Grape, Silvery Fir Tree, and Peacevine. The first and third are cherry tomatoes; the first and the second are heirloom. Here are some burgeoning tomatoes:

Tomatoes on our Peacevine plant.

Green grape tomatoes: how do we know when they're ripe?

We have really pampered these tomatoes. The first month we had them, we took them inside every night. When Seattle was more reliably warm, we put them in bigger containers, along with some compost from our friend Stephen. For a while, we covered them at night to keep them warm. Now we're forcing them to fend for themselves, but on nice days I do move them to a new spot in the late afternoon to catch some evening sun.

Here are the rest of our plants:

We bought a mystery bulb last fall, and it grew into this gigantic lily.

Arugula and thyme, with a few nasturtiums amongst them.

Our tarragon has been less prolific than our thyme, but it's doing okay.


We also have some more nasturtiums and some sorrel growing in the same pots as the tomatoes, but they've only just started to sprout. There are some older pictures from our garden on Lindsay's blog, so you can see how much everything has grown.

I saw this when I was walking the other day. It was one block away from my apartment, sitting in somebody's front yard:

A rabbit.

Dick's Brewing Company, Bavarian Style Hefeweizen
Centralia, WA
4% Alcohol
Rating: 4/5

This beer is notable for being American and tasting like a German wheat beer. It's not as good as the best of those, but it's not bad.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sourdough II: The loaf lives

So, you've cultivated some yeast and now you want to make some sourdough? Well, be careful. Lots of people seem to hate bread called sourdough, so call it naturally leavened bread or something like that. Your bread will be very sour if you let it rise very slowly at a low temperature, but barely sour otherwise, and your deceit will surely go unnoticed. (For example, I have no idea which of my local bakery's breads are sourdough and which aren't. You have to look on the ingredient list and check if yeast is listed to know.)

I've cobbled this bread recipe together from a few sources, including Sandor Ellix Katz, Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking, and a bread seminar I took one weekend in college. (Yes, I took a bread seminar. It was during passover, too.) I use about 75% white bread flour, 20% whole wheat bread flour, and 5% rye. In the recipe, I've just written flour.

This recipe is for two large loaves. After step 2, I take half the dough and put it in the refrigerator. Then I take it out a few days later, let it come to room temperature for a few hours, and bake it.

There are three basic steps. Here's quick summary:

  1. Mix up a preferment of starter, flour, and water, and let it sit overnight. This is supposed to give the yeast a chance to multiply and to give a deeper, fermented taste.
  2. The next day, combine the preferment with more flour and water and some salt. Knead and let rise.
  3. Form a loaf and bake.

Step 1

  • 1 cup starter
  • 240g (1 1/2 cups) flour
  • 40g (scant 3 tbs) water

Mix up the starter, flour, and water. Cover and leave overnight, or however long is convenient. This is your preferment.

Step 2

  • 840g (5 1/4 cups) flour
  • 445g (scant 2 cups) water
  • 1 tbs salt

Mix up the flour and water in a separate bowl. It might be a bit too dry to quite come together. Let this sit for thirty minutes. This supposedly helps break down some of the gluten, which makes it easier for it to reform itself in a grid.

Mix in the preferment and the salt. With your hands, combine everything and start kneading. It will be really sticky at first, but don't give up and don't add any flour. After a few minutes of kneading it should start to feel a lot less wet. Knead it for maybe ten or fifteen minutes, after which the dough should be pretty and smooth. (I might even try to make the dough a little bit wetter next time.) Form a ball, put it down, and cover.

Now you want to let the dough rise. Instead of punching down the dough at any point, which the experts seem to frown upon, do something called turning: pick up the dough, gently stretch it out a little bit, then make a ball by folding the four sides up towards the center. Then flip the dough over and put it back down. After you've done this, the dough will magically seem smoother and more dough-like, more capable of stretching without tearing. I think it's ideal to do this a three or four times as the dough rises, but I'm always away when this is happening, so instead I usually just do it once at the beginning, 15-30 minutes after I stopped kneading and started to let the dough rise. You could also try doing it at the end, thirty minutes before you want to shape the dough.

Dough that has risen.

Step 3

How long you let the dough rise probably depends on the temperature. My best loaf happened when I kneaded in the morning, let the dough rise during the day, and baked it in the evening. So, try something like eight hours of rising, maybe more if your apartment is colder than 68 degrees and less if it's warmer. But you should probably just do whatever is convenient for you, since that's what I did, and it seems to work okay.

When you're done with the rise, cut the ball of dough in half. Put half in the fridge, unless you want to bake a huge amount of bread, and form the other half into a ball. Let this sit for an hour, and while your dough is resting, turn your oven to 450 degrees and put a dutch oven in to heat up for 20 or 30 minutes. When you're ready to bake the bread, take the dutch oven out and sprinkle it with coarse corn meal. Form the loaf into a ball and put it in. Sprinkle flour on top, and slash very shallowly with a knife in whatever pattern you'd like. Bake with the lid on for 35 minutes, and then off for 15-20 minutes. Remove the bread and let cool.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sourdough I: Starting your starter

If making your own bread isn't enough anymore and you want to make your own yeast, continue reading. I used to make no-knead bread. It's great, but I needed to put something extra in it---rosemary, caraway seeds, walnuts---to give it some flavor. My sourdough doesn't need this.

Sourdough starter with bubbles from yeast.

The first step is to catch some yeast. I followed Sandor Ellix Katz's instructions.

  • 2 cups flour (I used a mix of white, whole wheat, and rye)
  • 2 cups water

In a jar, mix the flour and water. Stir vigorously, cover with cheesecloth or a cloth napkin or other porous material. Stir at least once a day. After two or three days there should be bubbles produced by the yeast (there will always be bubbles when you stir up the starter, but these are irrelevant). Add 1-2 tbsp. of flour to the starter every day for 3 or 4 days and keep stirring. The starter should get thick, but if it becomes so thick that it's not really liquid any more, add a bit more water.

After these days of feeding, you'll need a bread recipe (coming soon!). When you use the starter, leave a little bit behind and replenish with equal parts water and flour. If you're using the starter a lot (say, every week), you can leave it out and feed it a spoonful of flour every day or so. If you're using it less, put it in the fridge. Let it warm up and feed it a day before you want to use it. In the fridge, you should still feed it once a week or so.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Egg Salad Sandwich

My mayonnaise batting average is all the way up from .333 to .500. I followed these instructions. I whirred my immersion blender inside a jar as Lindsay dripped oil in. Nothing happened until the oil was mostly gone, and then all at once the egg yolk and oil turned solid, or at least, very thick. I added some extra olive oil to thin it out a bit, and then we ate some with asparagus. Today we made egg salad. If only we had some brioche or challah; think how much egg we could have consumed in a sitting!

The egg salad had hard-boiled eggs, red onions, carrots, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and our mayonnaise. The bread is my third (and best so far!) attempt at sourdough.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Almond Rhubarb Cake

I took a plum cake from David Tanis's A Platter of Figs, which I have out from the library, and replaced the plums with rhubarb. I also added some extra sugar to compensate for the rhubarb, which was a good thing, because it still came out pretty sour. The cake was nutty and wholesome, more like a breakfast pastry than a dessert (but good for dessert too!). I'll give a very abbreviated version to encourage you to check out the original cookbook.

  • 1 cup unblanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup for topping
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • dash of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tbs. melted butter
  • 2 pounds rhubarb

Grind the almonds and 1/2 cup sugar in a food processor, and combine with the flour and salt. Beat the eggs, milk, and butter together. Combine with the dry ingredients and put in a buttered, 10-inch cake pan. Top with thickly sliced rhubarb (more than one layer is okay if they won't fit) and the extra sugar and bake at 350 degrees. The recipe says to cook for 40-45 minutes, but the rhubarb adds a lot of liquid, and I had to mine took longer.

A halved recipe, cooked in a cast iron pan.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chana Masala

A few weeks ago my friend Sweta picked up some authentic Indian spices for me, and today I cooked some authentic Indian food, mostly following the recipe on the back of the box. It was a good recipe--not the Indian equivalent of Ritz Cracker Apple Pie--and I'll tell you what I did.

  • 1 and 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp. Punjabi chhole masala (Sweta got Badshah brand for me)
  • dried chile to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • half of a 28 oz. can of tomatoes, crushed
  • chopped cilantro
  • salt, vegetable or peanut oil

Cook the chickpeas until soft with the garlic, and optionally with half the onion, chopped. The box says, "Pressure cook for three whistles," but I don't know how to convert a whistle to different units, so you're on your own. The box also says to cook the chickpeas with a small cloth containing tea leaves, which I didn't do but am interested to try.

Chop the onions as finely as you can, or turn them to mush in a food processor. In a large pot, sautée the onion puree in oil over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts to color. Add the spices and sautee for a few more minutes. Add the chickpeas with some of their cooking water, and scrape everything off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, and some salt. Cover and simmer for fifteen minutes. Serve with rice, garnished with cilantro.

Odin Freya's Gold

Odin Brewing Company, Freya's Gold
Kolsch Style Ale
Seattle, WA
4.5% Alcohol
Rating: 4/5

An excellent summer beer. Every light beer aspires to this. It's sweet and a little bit wheaty.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Burnt Greens

Last Thursday, I went to Revel with my cousin Amelia and ate what amounted to a broiled salad. It was a mixture of lettuces and other greens, blackened on top and raw on the bottom, and it was very good. I don't think I can reproduce it, but yesterday I made something similar. I used kale raab (kale that had started to flower). I think any tough green like kale, chard, or collards would work fine.

  • 1/2 pound bunch of kale raab
  • 1 tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 tbs. garlic-chili paste
  • 1 tbs. fermented plum paste, or fermented soy paste, or soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tbs. water

Mix together all the ingredients besides the greens and the peanut oil. Blanche the greens for about five minutes (less if they're young and tender) in boiling water. Drain and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Lightly squeeze the greens to remove water and lay them out in an inch-thick layer on a baking sheet. Dry the top of this with a cloth or paper towel as best you can, and drizzle the peanut oil on it. Put the greens right under a preheated broiler. Take them out after about five minutes, when they've just started to burn at the tips. Put in a bowl and toss with the sauce.

Burnt greens.

A bulb growing in our planter.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Hummus Variant

Tonight for dinner I made hummus, and it only took me about an hour. I took my favorite hummus recipe, replaced the slowest cooking beans (chickpeas) with the quickest (black-eyed peas), and also threw in some leeks, because I've always wanted to put leeks in hummus. The results were pretty good. Nobody who ate it would bat an eye, but once you know it's not made with chickpeas, you'll notice the slight vegetal flavor of the peas. Or maybe that was just the leeks. Either way, I liked it.

  • 1 cup black-eyed peas
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 1/2 lemons, or more
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • olive oil, salt

Cook the black-eyed peas in water to cover with about 1/2 tsp. of salt. You want to get them completely tender. Mine took about 45 minutes, but beans vary. While they cook, sauté the leeks in oil slowly with a bit of salt, stirring occasionally, until they've browned a bit. When the back-eyed peas are almost done, add the leeks to the pot with them.

Leeks and black-eyed peas cooking. Despite the picture, cover the pot of black-eyed peas.

In a food processor (or with an immersion blender, which is what I used), puree the garlic with the lemon juice, tahini, and 1/4 cup of water (use extra water from the beans if there's any). Add the black-eyed peas and the leeks and puree some more. Add olive oil to taste (I like about 1 tbs.), and puree some more. Add salt and more lemon juice if necessary.

More Home Improvement

When I was in New York a few weeks ago, I packed up 45 pounds of CDs and books of mine that were cluttering up my parents' house and mailed them to Seattle. Soon, they were cluttering up my apartment, and Lindsay and I set out to do something about it.

We went to the hardware store, bought some standard shelves and supports, found studs in our wall, and put everything up. The shelves look nice, and they feel sturdy. Success!

Me and Lindsay looking unusually glamorous in New York.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Fine Wallingford Day

New York next week! Here are some Wallingford photos in case I miss it while I'm there. These discs remind me of grape-flavored children's tylenol.

Weird stone discs

Somersaulter in Gasworks Park


Last week I racked my honey wine from one carboy to another, thereby achieving my goal of combining common words like rack, car, and boy into an incoherent jumble. A carboy is a jug, and racking is the process of siphoning a fermented liquid from one jug to another, leaving the yeasty sediments behind.

The original carboy.

The happy racker.

I made the honey wine as instructed by Sandor Ellix Katz in Wild Fermentation, which means it's as simple as possible: mix honey and water, let it sit around for a few days until yeast colonize it, and put it in a carboy capped with an airlock, which lets gas escape but not enter. I started it in September, and I flavored it with a little bit of mint from the patch on our sidewalk.

Racking is fun; a few pumps on the Auto Siphon (or L'auto-Siphon--the instructions were in English and French) and you're enjoying the alchemy of liquid flowing through tubes.

A glass of honey wine, with the new carboy behind it.

The honey wine is still a little sweet, though in a pleasant way. It's developed a slightly rubbery flavor; it's not terrible, but I'm still hoping it goes away. Maybe in another six months?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Long Weekend

This weekend Lindsay and I had our advisors and their spouses over for dinner.

A striking squash.

Spinach pasta.

The main course.

We made squash lasagna, roasted cauliflower with hazelnuts, sauerkraut, and brownies. Our guests brought wonderful wine. A good time was had by all. Also, it was my brother's birthday! Happy birthday, Seth.

On Sunday Lindsay and I biked to Capitol Hill, making use of these new buffered bike lanes, and I got a haircut. I went to the Elliott Bay Bookstore and bought Canning for a New Generation. It's a beautiful, encouraging book. Here it is on typical canning books:

[I] found that the common thread running through them all, from the classic Ball Blue Book to the newer, prettier books on jam and jellies, is the notion that Canning Is Hard: tedious work, complicated, deadly. I somehow got the impression that I would die if I tried this without three thermometers calibrated monthly, a hundred-foot roll of litmus paper, and a topographical map that pinpointed my location and its exact elevation.

I once read a book on canning that advised its readers to boil their canned food for ten minutes immediately before eating it, in case it had developed botulism. This sounded impractical if I just wanted some jam in the morning.

Then we got completely lost trying to get to the arboretum and went home, where I discovered that pages 148-161 were torn out of my new book. But still, it was a very nice day.

Those pages must have had some good recipes.

On Monday, I ate dutch babies, did math, and ate fresh pasta with tomato sauce. (When you borrow a pasta maker, you should use it! Thanks to Chris and Nathalie for lending it to us.) I also ate some apple-walnut cake, the subject of a future post. If every weekend was like this I would be very happy.

Dutch Babies

Dutch babies are massive pancakes that puff up in the oven and deflate when you take them out. They're eggy like clafoutis or kaiserschmarrn. I halved this recipe (another fine product of Paprika), and the batter fit in an 8-inch cast iron pan. Here's the dutch baby about to enter the oven:

And here it is when we took it out 25 minutes later:

I wasn't quick enough to take a picture of it still puffed up, so just try to imagine me pulling it out of the oven with the center even higher than the edges. This lasts a few seconds; then the center trembles and falls in. The edges end up crunchy, and the middle is soft and custardy. We ate it with lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Beautiful Brussels Sprouts

This dish combines brussels sprouts and red onions to beautiful effect. You'll have to trust me since I didn't take a picture. Its clean, bright flavors make a nice change from beer braised brussels sprouts.

  • 1/2 pound brussels sprouts, halved if they're big
  • a small red onion, or half a large one
  • 1 tsp. whole coriander seeds, crushed (instructions below!)
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • olive oil, salt, pepper

Crush the coriander seeds by putting them in a line on a cutting board, pressing the side of a knife against them, and slamming it down with your fist (it's fun!). Slice the onion very thin, making long pieces. Put a large pan over medium high heat with some oil. When it's hot, cook the onion for two minutes, stirring the whole time. Put the onions aside in a bowl and salt them. Put the pan back on the heat, turn it down to medium, and cook the brussels sprouts, coriander, and lemon zest in it, stirring occasionally and adding some salt and pepper. When the sprouts have a nice brown color, add a few tablespoons of water, turn the heat down, and cook for a few minutes until the brussels sprouts are cooked but on the crunchy side. Add the lemon juice and some extra olive oil and serve.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dick's Danger Ale

Dick's Brewing Company, Danger Ale
Centralia, WA
4.5% Alcohol
Rating: 3/5

This is an extraordinarily unobjectionable beer. It's on the sweet side for a beer; in fact, it's one of the least bitter beers I can remember drinking. Its flavor doesn't stay in your mouth very long, but while it's there it's pleasant.

Lately the sky has been pretty as the sun sets. I've been enjoying it.

In front of Padelford Hall.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dick's Cream Stout

Dick's Brewing Company, Cream Stout
Centralia, WA
5.5% Alcohol
Rating: 4/5

It's an excellent stout with a rich flavor that could even be described, dare I say it, as creamy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Beet Cobbler

Beets in a pan

Here's the idea: take some of the most standard accompaniments to beets--hazelnuts, goat cheese--and put biscuits on top. The biscuits are taken from a peach cobbler recipe of my mother's, minus some sugar. I put in a leek, but an onion would work fine too. This is at least four or five portions.

  • 4 beets, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbs. malt vinegar
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • a few ounces soft goat cheese
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • olive oil, salt, pepper
  • butter for greasing

For the topping:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 tbs. melted butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, or 1/2 cup yogurt plus a bit of water

Grease an 8-inch square pan (or something of a similar size) and put in the sliced beets mixed up with the malt vinegar and some salt. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, cook the leeks in a skillet over medium-low heat in olive oil with some salt and pepper until they're soft. Make the biscuit dough by mixing up the dry ingredients and then adding the liquid ingredients and stirring with a spoon or spatula. The dough should be like a very sticky bread dough, not a batter.

When the beets have cooked for 25 minutes, uncover the pan. Give the beets a stir, and put the leeks and hazelnuts on top. Drop handfuls of the dough on top of this, and scatter some blobs of goat cheese around. (When I did this I buried the cheese under biscuits because I was worried it would burn, but I don't think it was necessary.) Put back into the oven until the biscuits are done, 25-30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and serve.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Iron Horse Cozy Sweater

Iron Horse Brewery, Cozy Sweater
Vanilla Milk Stout
Ellensburg, WA
4.5% Alcohol
Rating: 3/5

This is the kind of beer that I wouldn't buy if I didn't trust Iron Horse. I really didn't like it at first: the vanilla flavor was jarring, and it all seemed too sweet. By the end I appreciated the rich malty flavor and found it more tolerable, if not my favorite.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

More Apartment Improvement

Since we got back from Minnesota, Lindsay and I have made two big improvements to the apartment. Here are our new bedroom curtains:

These took a few months to make. We bought fabric and curtain rods back in August or September, but then we had to wait for December so that Lindsay could use her mother's sewing machine. Off to the side, you can see Lindsay sewing a different set of curtains, which we'll put up when we get bored of these bright pink ones. I should also mention that even though I keep saying that "we" did various things, Lindsay did all the work, from hemming the curtains to putting up the rod. Really the only thing I did was choose the pattern.

The other new thing is this wire rack:

We moved our bag of rice and jug of peanut oil off the floor and onto the first rack. We emptied out a cabinet onto the second rack. The third rack got our bucket of granola and a few other containers of food, most of which had been crowded on top of our refrigerator.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Three Skulls Pilsner

Three Skulls Ales, Yellow Beard Pilsner
Seattle, WA
~5% Alcohol (just a guess)
Rating: 2/5

It tastes like grape soda. It is possibly the first domestic beer I've had that tastes like this. Is beer supposed to taste this way? I don't like it.

Some internet investigating has taught me that Three Skulls Ales is basically just Baron Brewery.

Minnesota Before and After

South Seattle Sunrise

Our trip began a few weeks ago with an early morning ride on the light rail to the airport. And look what a nice job our new camera did in the dim light! Thanks, parents.

I took this next picture on the way back from the airport 11 days later. Look for the walruses.

The Arctic Building

You can find some more recent photos on this post and this post of Lindsay's. Also, check out my new slippers, a Christmas present from Lindsay's mother:

My new slippers and Lindsay's old slippers.