Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Apron(s)

Remember the "sort of a garment" I mentioned sewing in a recent entry? Well here it is. A half apron I made as a wedding gift for the bride.

I used this free on-line pattern and overall the execution went pretty smoothly. I made a few tiny changes, such as leaving the ruffle off the pocket, and there were a few times when I just couldn't wrap my brain around what the pattern was saying so I just did what seemed to make sense, not really knowing if I was deviating from the pattern or not, and it all worked out well enough in the end. This is actually the second apron I've made, but I don't think the first really counts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Note to self: Do this more often.

Walk around Town Lake (aka "Lady Bird Lake"), that is. My days of jogging around the track are long gone; it was just not flying with the baby anymore. But she was all about this. Must be the better view.






Friday, October 23, 2009

Last Year's Costumes

Halloween is looming and I finally got costume inspiration and am now working on the gathering and making stage. Here we are last year.

A carrot, eggplant, and baby summer squash.

This year we won't be going as anything edible, but that's the only hint I'm giving. I also acquired a nice pumpkin, now just waiting to get carved up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pad Thai! (and other Asian fare)

You can't really make out the noodles under all that garnish, but they're there (well, were there, anyway). And really good! I'd thought about making Pad Thai a number of times but it always seemed intimidating and I doubted my ability to make something resembling what might be served in a Thai restaurant (even though I'm usually disappointed in the Thai restaurants I go to). Boy was I wrong. To toot my own horn a bit, this pad thai was the best I've had in Austin, and I think as good as any I've ever had. It tasted like it was supposed to, but better. I used this recipe and this recipe as references, and mostly followed the former (a vegetarian recipe, but mine wasn't vegetarian--it contained fish sauce, shrimp, and shrimp stock). Along with the traditional garnishes, I also added some choice sides: broccoli, green beans, and baby corn. DEE-licious! And earlier that very same day, a few friends and I made spring rolls and sushi. I actually didn't end up rolling any sushi myself, but I did do a couple of spring rolls, including this lumper here.

The sushi was eaten with soy sauce, and the spring rolls with a peanut sauce like this one here, and the chile sauce here, a perfect combo. I also made an asian slaw (found here), which was pretty good. I don't know what is with the asian food craze around here lately--there was the bibimbop, then Uchi, and now all this--but I'm not complaining!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mo' Pumpkins, Mo' Rain

And I don't think this will be the last of them (the pumpkins). Hopefully I'll get around to carving up a Jack o' lantern for Halloween. I think I was uninspired and skipped it last year, but this time around I'm really looking forward to it.




And word is: there's water in the (Barton) creek, clear and flowing! It has been over two years I think, so this is a pretty long awaited happening in these here parts.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ricotta and Whey

Following instructions given in a recent issue of Cook's Illustrated, last weekend I made ricotta cheese. (I can't find the magazine right now so can't say specifically which issue, possibly Aug/Sept.)

Well, per the instructions, what I made is actually a "ricotta fascimile." I have no idea the difference between this and the real deal, but I was happy with what I got and it was easy peasy to do. I was not, however, so happy with what I ended up making with the ricotta (a lasagna-like casserole but with no noodles) but the ricotta was not to blame. One gallon of whole milk yielded 3 1/2 cups of ricotta, and what I was left with once the cheese curds were removed was a whole lot of whey. So, following recipes in this book, I made a few different kinds of lacto-fermented foods.

So far I've made raisin chutney, pineapple chutney, and ketchup. I took pictures of them but they're not too pretty (think: jar of vomit), so I think I'll refrain from showing them. I am pretty into this book, although I've tried very few of the recipes (one of the authors, Sally Fallon, is the one who wrote the broth article I linked to in this post). I can vouch for the crispy nuts, they are REALLY GOOD (especially the almonds, in my opinion), but I think that's the only thing I've made up until now, with these fermented foods, but the jury is still out on them. To use up more of the whey, I also plan on making lacto-fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, ginger carrots, pear chutney, apple chutney, and orange marmalade. I need to do this all very soon, like tomorrow, because I don't know how long the whey is good for and it's already been a week.

Update (6.26.10)
Ha! No, I didn't make six more batches, yeah right. Didn't even make one. And unfortunately, the ones I did make were not so successfull in the end. They barely got eaten and all got thrown out at some point, with the exception of the ketchup, which was/is okay, but very tomato-pasty. I think we've used it for meatloaf a few times. I ate just a little bit of the raisin chutney, and it actually seemed okay, but not particularly memorable. And the pineapple chutney pretty much bombed, although it likely had to do with the fact that it wasn't a very good pineapple to begin with—not really sweet at all. I still really like the idea of these foods, and would maybe re-visit them again at a later time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Uchi

A bachelorette dinner at Uchi last week Thursday marked the beginning of what has felt like a really long, whirlwind weekend. There was this dinner, then a little party afterwards, then the wedding the next morning, and also much additional socializing with all the old friends in town for the festivities. Plus Enrique's bro's birthday was Friday, and him and his lady were in town for the weekend. All really fun, but whew! This little homebody isn't used to all that. But back to Uchi!


Which, wow, was really good. Expensive, yes (it came out to $78 per person total, which included drinks), but well worth it. I'm already plotting my return. I've decided occasional outings to nice restaurants need to become a more regular part of my life. Instead of pretty frequent mediocre meals out, we could be saving that money and putting it towards the occasional really good meal instead. Our whole table shared almost everything we ordered, so I tried so many things some of it is kind of a blur, but it was all really good.

Pictured below is (as described on the menu):
uchiviche salmon, striped bass, vine-ripened tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, garlic and cilantro

And I have no idea what this next one is, but it was definitely delicious!

And this one I ordered myself, but I can't recall the type of fish. I do know it had kind of charred skin, and the things around it are asian pears, tomatillos, onion, and huckleberry, and I think some kind of special salt was somewhere in there too.



And this one was (as described on the menu):
scallop hot rock with orange oil and san baizu

(you cook the scallop yourself on a hot rock!)

There were many other delicious dishes as well, these were just the few I got photos of. And here are a few of the girls in attendance, including the bride-to-be at the head of the table, who looked amazing in this Anthropologie dress, also pictured below.


(Photo from Anthropologie's website)

It was actually somehow even way cuter in person, and really made me want to go shopping there. But right now I really need to be economizing and working more on sewing my own things, which I actually am making a tiny bit of progress on now (it's sort of a garment--will show soon!).