So here I am, using someone else's code. Seems pretty cool though, this Blogger thing. Easier, anyway :)
Many years ago, my mate Martin introduced me to a Japanese tea style called Hojicha. It's made by roasting the leaves and twigs of the tea plant. The roasting gives it a distinctly nutty flavour, and removes most of the caffeine.
My friend Yasuyo from Tokyo stayed with us last week. She brought over a big bag of Hojicha for me. Yum! According to her, it's one of the cheaper teas and it's rude to serve it to a guest due to its cheapness. This one, apparently, is the most expensive one in her local tea shop. It's delicious!
If you know me, you probably know I like my coffee. These days, I drink one cup of coffee at home in the mornings (stove-top espresso using fairly traded beans
I've long harboured an interest in breadmaking. I eat a lot of the stuff and really appreciate the good stuff. When an old flatmate had a bread maker, I was very very happy. I'd always vaguely considered baking my own, but it always seemed like it would be really hard.
Well last week, thanks to the Nigella book Julie gave me (yes, the Domestic Goddess one -- that must be me), I made my first loaf. It was surprisingly easy and the results were delicious! I've since made a couple of more batches and it's really fun.
Mabye I'm a bit weird, but I do enjoy cooking and bread seems much less difficult to make and experiment with than I initially thought. The kneading by hand part isn't anywhere near as taxing as I thought. Ten minutes of actually quite therapeutic kneading and that's pretty much it. The only hard part is waiting for the dough to rise, which limits the times I can make it.
So now, as soon as I get hold of the ingredients, I'm going to try making some multigrain breads and the like. I think I might need a book just on bread making, particularly with regard to shaping.
One thing I'd like to try to make is sourdough. However I'd be a bit worried having lactic acid-generating bacteria in the house. Could end up contaminating my beer brewing, and I could do without a lactic acid sour beer...
Oh, and Julie, I guess I owe you a loaf of bread. I did say I'd make you something out of the book when you gave it to me.
Recently I've noticed a few guides to the fish you can sustainably eat coming out. There was one for the East coast of Australia recently, though I can't remember the link. This one covers the West coast of the US (via Boing Boing Blog).
Does anyone know of one for those of us eating fish in Europe? Probably be hard to pull together since nearly all fish here is frozen and comes from all over. There seems to be loads of Carribean fish, even. Obviously we must avoid cod, though it may be too late already for them.
One thing I have sworn off recently is scallops. The process of dredging for wild scallops completely destroys the sea floor environment. The farmed variety, like most seafood farming, has major problems with pollution, not to mention the nasty contaminants in the finished product.
It's a tough time to be someone who wants to eat more fish. But there are some things you can do.
Update: Just found this article from The Guardian which seems to supply the info I'm after.
What is it about recipes that the moment I link to them, they disappear off the web? Well fortunately Google kept hold of this one, so I bring you the recipe, with my variations included.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/4 cups digestive biscuits, crushed
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 punnets of strawberries
- Seedless strawberry or raspberry jam
- Lemon juice
- For the pastry crust: Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Combine the crushed digestive biscuits, sugar and butter in medium-sized bowl. Stir until thoroughly blended.
- Press the crust mixture into a 10-inch tart pan.
- Bake for 8 minutes. Allow the crust to cool completely.
- For the filling: In a saucepan combine the sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture begins to boil.
- Continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes after it begins to boil. Remove from heat.
- Stir heaping tablespoon of hot mixture into the yolks, whipping mixture constantly. Repeat until 5 additional heaping spoons of the hot mixture have been added to the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Immediately return yolk mixture to hot mixture, cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter, vanilla and almond extracts.
- Pour pastry cream into a bowl. Place a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap over the surface of the cream (so it does not form a skin) and refrigerate until completely cooled (can refrigerate for up to 3 days).
- Assembling tart: Wash and cut the strawberrys in half. Pour the custard into the tart crust and spread around evenly. Arrange the strawberries with the cut side down in the tart in a nice spiral.
- Heat a couple of teaspoons of jam with lemon juice until the jam is dissolved. Brush over the strawberries to give a glazed surface.
- Serve immediately.
This chocolate pudding makes it's own sauce and is delicious with cream or ice cream. The preparation time is about five minutes and the results are awesome. Perfect for a chilly evening when you couldn't be bothered making anything but have the munchies.
The only ingredient that might be a problem to find is self-raising flour. I had a lot of trouble getting the stuff in France and don't know the situation in other countries. Certainly you can get it in Australia, the UK and Ireland. This link is to a recipe to mix your own: it's basically flour and baking soda.
- 1 metric cup self raising flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 1/2 metric cup brown sugar
- 1/4 metric cup butter
- 3/4 metric cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 tablespoon cocoa
- 1 metric cup brown sugar
- 1 3/4 metric cups boiling water
- Place all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Pour into a large greased casserole dish.
- Mix cocoa with sugar and sprinkle evenly over the pudding mixture. Pour boiling water over evenly and gently.
- Bake at 180 degrees C for 45 mins or until cooked. A delicious sauce will form at the bottom of the pudding.
- Serve hot with cream or ice cream.
If you want to get tricky with this recipe after a few goes, you can easily add fresh or tinned raspberries, blueberries, or other fruit, or try choc chips. Keep the other ingredients and sprinkle on top after the sauce just before you put it all in the oven.
I made a delicious strawberry tart on Saturday, pictured here. The recipe I used was this one with the refinement of turning the strawberries the other way and glazing them with a mixture of hot lemon juice and seedless raspberry jam. This recipe specifies "Graham Crackers" for the crust, which are some yankie thing. I used digestive biscuits which worked fine.
The verdict was very much positive. Which is more than can be said for the UK's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest we were watching...
Well it seems that the US Sci-Fi Channel have remade Battlestar Galactica, the classic 80s sci-fi miniseries. Hopefully they haven't revived the floppy-haired kid and his annoying monkey creature thing.
Apparently in this new version, the Cylons are back but in human form to infiltrate and destroy humanity.
Lost in Translation has had that big an impact on me that Holly and I are still discussing the finer points now, over a month after we first saw it. What an amazing film. Subtle, beautiful, dreamy and thought-provoking. I'm still amazed at how good such a simple plot has been made.
So this one was pretty damn good! Nothing to blow you away but I quite enjoyed it. I don't think it grabbed me as much as Idoru, but it was definitely an interesting story and explored some good ideas. It's also a very timely book, exploring themes around September 11 and ideas stemming from new online movements.
All in all, an interesting read and worth the wait. My copy will be going to the library shortly unless I hear from someone who wants to borrow it directly from me.