Monday, August 12, 2013

Pomegranate Soda

Still working on the picture situation. I'm considering switching to Word Press or another blogging platform, mostly because I've found some irritations about Blogger and particularly, the limitations on photos. I'm also considering Flicker or other photo-sharing platforms. It's especially unfortunate today, because today's item (it's not a recipe; it has three ingredients and involves mixing) is really beautiful.

The really exciting thing, though, is its flavor, enough to get me back behind the keyboard of this blog! I'm home from Brookhaven National Lab, and recently visited our to-be new house in Southern California. This fall, I will be a graduate student at University of California, Riverside. My parents have decided that it's worth it to buy and later sell a house rather than rent apartments for my brother (who will be entering UCR as an undergrad, yay!) and me for the few years we'll be there. The house is nice enough, needs a little work, but the best thing about it is the "hedge." Some amazing person decided that instead of jasmine or rosemary, they would plant pomegranate trees! They're in season now, and I brought one home for testing.

I pulled out all the arils (the little, tart red things around the seeds) using a bowl of water, then whirled them in a blender for a few minutes. After straining out all the seeds, I was left with a lovely, very tart, ruby juice. With some sugar and sparkling water, it's probably the best soda I've ever had and actually reminded me a bit of blackberries. Here's to more pomegranate fun in the future!

Pomegranate Soda
2 tbsp. pomegranate juice
1 tbsp. simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar + hot water, mix until dissolves)
Sparkling water

Mix the juice and syrup, then top off  with the sparkling water. I like to add about 3 oz. or so to this amount of juice and syrup. Enjoy! Easily scaled up. Hurray, summer! :D

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer at Brookhaven National Laboratory

This summer, my access to an oven will be limited, at best. I will be living at Brookhaven National Laboratory from June through August, working full-time as a research intern at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials. The kitchen in my building has a nice electric stove, a toaster and an interesting microwave that functions as an oven some of the time, but alas, my pans were all packed up and sent home. My plans for the fall have taken a 45-degree turn, and I will be attending graduate school in a different school than I originally intended, but it will still be within driving distance of home (9 hours...?). Unfortunately, this means that BNL, being about 30 minutes from my undergraduate institution, will need to fly me home. One of my goals this summer is to plan my food such that none of it is left when I fly home, carrying all that I own in two suitcases. As a result, there will be limited baking. However, there will be some cooking, which I might mention if it's actually any good. We'll see. 

In lieu of a sad food blog detailing vegetables with garlic and various starches, I have decided to start yet another blog, similar to the concept behind There and Back Again (which I never completed, ahem. I do intend to do that some day, or at least, put up the pictures). This summer, I am required to write a weekly report for the Department of Energy, who happens to be funding my work (thank you, U.S. government!). I will be posting the contents of my weekly report. The motivation behind this report is also, I do not receive my weekly stipend check if it's not turned in. Very motivating, indeed. Let's see if I can keep up a blog for the full duration of my intent :) Without further blathering on my part (see the irony there?), I present, Summer at BNL

Edit: This blog has, for all intents and purposes, fallen off the face of the internet. While my summer was great, there were too many issues for me to successfully keep up the blog. I'm sorry!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quick Indulgences - Macaroni and Cheese

Did you know it is possible to have macaroni and cheese in under 20 minutes?  Made from scratch?  This is very important to a college student who has just come home at 4:00pm, having eaten a total of a small roll, an apple muffin and half a lemon bar since 8:30am that day.  I found the recipe at the delightful blog White on Rice Couple, and kept it as an active tab for the two weeks it took me to find spare time and buy groceries.  Diane writes about the speed and simplicity of her macaroni and cheese, and the techniques she used to develop her recipe.  I followed hers...mostly.  

You see, I have a portion control problem, where, essentially, I have none whatsoever.  I cut the recipe in half (devouring the entire batch, of course), and it cooked in about half the time that Diane lists.  The rate of energy transfer (temperature rise) is directly proportional to mass, yes?  I also removed most of the mustard (not fond of it), used whole milk instead of low fat (I only have the refrigerator space for one half-gallon of milk at a time...), skipped the butter (well, she said you didn't need it...) skipped the black pepper and (here's why) used only about 1/4 cup of a nice, spicy, pepper jack cheese.  Still, thick, rich, creamy, flavorful, all those lovely adjectives that typically describe a good macaroni and cheese.  Also, I used a brown rice fusilli (gluten-free!), because my friend graduated, moved out of the apartment and kindly left me a 6-month supply* of rice.  Fusilli and cheese?

Simple Macaroni and Cheese from White on Rice Couple
Makes enough to serve one
1 cup dry macaroni/pasta pieces
1 cup whole, low-fat or skim milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch nutmeg (optional)
Pinch ground dry mustard (optional)
1 oz. or 1/4 cup shredded cheese 
Black pepper to taste (optional)

1. Pour the milk and macaroni/pasta into a pot (mine is about 3 quarts or so and has survived my shenanigans since freshman year).  Turn on the fire to medium and add the salt, nutmeg and mustard, if using.  Stir, and keep gently stirring while the milk comes to a simmer.  Don't let the milk boil over!  You might need to add more milk or water if the milk evaporates too quickly, before the macaroni/pasta has cooked.

2. Once the macaroni/pasta is cooked and the milk has been reduced to a pleasant, creamy sauce, add the cheese.  Stir the cheese into the sauce, then cover the pot, turn off the fire, and let it sit for a few minutes.  This lets the cheese melt completely (if you just cut chunks off a block of cheese, like I do, because you buy cheese in the cheapest form and still don't own any sort of grater...), the macaroni/pasta absorb the last bits of water from the sauce, and you to get more hungry while smelling the delicious cheese melting on the stove.

3. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Does wondering whether I have too much rice automatically kick me off the Asian island?  To my credit, I graduate in two months, too, and still don't know where I'll be living this summer.  I'll be working as a research intern at Brookhaven National Lab, but haven't been given any information about where I'll stay.  What if they don't allow rice cookers where I'll be living?!

Postscript: I love daylight savings time!  I don't get enough sleep to resent losing just an hour, and the extra daylight time is completely worth it to me.  It means that I was able to make and eat this macaroni and cheese dish, write this post, and still see the light outside.  Sunlight, well, the light that manages to filter through the current clouds, makes me so happy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thankful... Tuesday?

Cara Cara oranges are indeed sweetly pink inside.

They are also delicious and look like tiny, adorable, brightly orange grapefruits.

Thank you.

(What?  It's my blog, I can be ridiculous if I want :D )

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hazelnut Spiked Hot Chocolate

So, I'm back.  Although my photo (lack thereof) problem has not been fixed, it's time for me to return to the blogging world.  The item that brought me back was not the salted caramel pudding, the cinnamon toast or the spot-on tiramisu, but this, a simple drink that barely warrants a recipe.

Recently, I purchased a bottle of extremely cheap, and not terribly flavorful, hazelnut liqueur.  The brand is Lloyrd's, which I can spell, but can't pronounce.  The original intention was to bake chocolate hazelnut cupcakes.  Even with 3 tablespoons of liqueur in a single batch of batter, there was only disappointment and a consolation prize of perfectly pleasant, but ordinary, chocolate cupcakes.  Still, this bottle was not without redemption.  This recipe was actually my boyfriend's idea, he of the land of 28 inches of snow in a single storm.  It was perfect :)

Hazelnut Spiked Hot Chocolate

1 packet Swiss Miss (or other favorite) hot cocoa mix
8 oz. hot water
½ cashew chocolate candy*
1½ teaspoons hazelnut liqueur (less if you use Frangelico or something more legit)

1. In a mug, drip some of the hot water into the hot cocoa mix.  Stir with a spoon until it forms a paste, then add the chocolate candy.  

2. Add the rest of the hot water, stirring to combine and allow to cool to almost drinking temperature.

3. Add the liqueur and stir. Enjoy!  (Not too drunkenly :P)

*Note: Thanks to Half-Price Chocolate Day, otherwise known as The Day After Valentine's Day, we have a giant box of Russel Stover readily available.  It's typically too sweet for me, but rather popular in the U.S.  Any chocolate can be used, but we like the nutty flavor (of the cashews) and the quick melting of the milk chocolate candy.