Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sorry about the late post. I have about a hundred excuses, but I think I'd best leave them at the door.

Tonight, I cooked a red lentil soup. I got the recipe out of a nutrition magazine. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about one key facet of "nutritious" cuisine--the lack of salt. This isn't always a bad thing. It was tonight. Apparently, in red lentil soup, a lack of salt leads to a bland, albeit nutty, flavor. Ugh.

I had to improvise. I asked my parents what was missing. My dad said potatoes while my mom said sausage. With the help of my mini food processor, I threw both into the mix. My first thought as to the missing ingredient: cheese. My second thought was corn. I decided not to add the latter, instead opting to add some white aged cheddar and garlic.

I threw in garam masala! I threw in salt! I threw in more onions than the recipe suggested!

When I began, the clock read 5:30. It now read 7:20. I stared at the soup long and hard. By this point, my tongue was burnt and my taste buds had lost any ability to discern subtle changes in the soup's flavor. It was time to let my baby go and to heck with the consequences.

"Soup's up!"

Thankfully, my toiling paid off. The soup was delicious. We paired it with some homemade bread--lightly sweet and fluffy--and ate it lukewarm. The broth had turned green from the spinach; the nutty flavor of the red lentils was still apparent, but less overbearing. I was amazed by the transformation of the lentils. In the beginning, they were little orange disks, tiny and beadlike. After a long simmer, they had broken into crystalline shards. It was culinary magic.

The kitchen still smells like curry powder.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Summer is the best time of all to enjoy my favorite frozen treat.

Certainly, ice cream ranks up high on the list--as does every other country's form of ice cream, be it gelato or kulfi or shaved ice. But the sugars make me thirsty; the sticky clean-up is a chore. Let me tell you: for pure simple pleasure, nothing beats a Ziploc bag full of frozen grapes. No muss, no fuss, but totally delicious.

The grapes have a firm, solid texture that slow melts away to reveal soft, frigid fruit. The grapes' skin collects a layer of frost that sometimes grows to be inches thick. If you forget about the grapes and leave them in the freezer too long, the grapes turn into oddly-shaped, purple-or-green wads of ice.

The flavor is tart and sweet. At times, a frozen grape can be like an unripe persimmon in that the moisture is sucked from your mouth only to be replaced by the water from the melting ice. Other times, a frozen grape can alarm you with its sugary, granular texture.

Frozen grapes have no aroma; they burn your fingers with an icy touch if you hold them to long. But, man, are they good.

Other fruits that are good frozen include bananas (especially when coated in chocolate!) and most berries. Strawberries can turn out rather tart, so I tend to sprinkle them with a bit of Splenda before biting into them. I've tried to freeze oranges and apples--I love both--but neither turn out very well. How disappointing!

Freeze some grapes today! You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I had a whirlwind adventure today at World Market. I'd never been before, which may come as a surprise to those who know me. I'm such a junkie when it comes to foreign junkfood--especially candy!

I got quite a haul.

The Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans were interesting, to say the least. I'm doing a full write-up on those later--a short blurb would not do the flavors justice. Here's a preview: the bacon is burnt, the vomit is fruity, and the grass is oddly refreshing. I can't say I enjoyed eating the jellybeans, but I'm glad that I tried them.

The Deluxe Flake candy was a huge surprise. I've had it once before. The kind I had, however, wasn't "Deluxe." To separate it from the "normal' Flake candy, Deluxe Flake is coated with a chocolate shell, making the inside the flakiest part of the bar.

Flake candy is a great example of truth in advertising--the bar crumbles with every bite, leaving chocolate shrapnel in its wake. Unfortunately, this resulted in a messy floor which I'm sure will only exacerbate our ant problem. (Sigh.)

The chocolate was light and cloyingly sweet. I broke the bar in half to reveal a network of tunnels tracing through the bar. Inside, thin chocolate sheets had folded and curling into themselves, forming what looked like chocolate ant tunnels. It added a noticeable texture to the candy bar--pleasant, but unusual to my American tongue. (Unsurprisingly, Flake is an Austrailian candy bar.) I didn't really like the aftertaste, but the lightness of the bar was enough to satisfy me. For a gimmick--"Flake bars actually flake!"--it works well.

I bought two candies from Germany--a bag of "soft liquorice candy" and a bag of gummies. Both are produced by Katzen, a candy company with an adorable logo featuring a cat. Oh, yeah. Being that I love German food, I had high hopes. Besides: liquorice? Gummies? I'm so there!

The liquorice was the salty-sweet kind. Although I enjoy this type--to a certain extent--it was a bit unusual at first taste. After sampling a few squishy treats, my taste buds adjusted and I could enjoy the ride. The liquorice candies came in two shapes: straight-fish and arched-fish. I love the speckled, crystallized look the sugar gives the soft black candy.

The gummies were good, although I think the Japanese company Kasugai makes better ones in a wider variety of flavors. As is, these gummies came in various geometric shapes--diamonds, rectangles, and the like--and in varying shades of red, yellow, and orange. Each gummy had the German adjective describing their flavor embossed on the top. There were some cognates, the most notable being "Kiwi."

Sadly, many of the flavors were very similar to one another. The entire bag had a pan-tropical-fruit flavor that, while not unpleasant, wasn't anywhere near as awesome as I was hoping it would be. Still, they were tasty; I'll give props for that. I'm not sure I'd necessarily buy them again, however.

If I had a photo of the gummies, I'd put it here. Alas, the batteries of my camera died and I have to go sell an organ to afford some new ones.

The last candy, Aero, has yet to be devoured. I have high hopes for this chocolate bar. Other candy blogs have raved over Aero bars, kvetching about their unavailability on American shores. Well--we'll see! I have a sneaky suspicion that it will end up being another candy in which texture takes precedence over flavor (a la Flake).

Oh--I suppose you want to know how the Thai soup is? I haven't eaten it yet! I've always enjoyed Thai Spicy-Sour soup, though, so it's probably delicious. That's going to be my breakfast/lunch tomorrow--along with a delicious chicken sandwich. While making the sandwich, I got to break in my new mini food processor--hooray! It's both adorable and functional.

I have plenty of blog post ideas, so here's hoping to a long run for DBDtK!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

If you are either:

a) a salsa lover, drawn to the fiery mix of flavors that enhances any meal
b) a chilehead, who savors that delicious visceral reaction that comes from eating something spicy

then you owe it to yourself to visit Salsa de Rosa. They make some truly delicious homemade salsa. The mildest salsas are far too bland for me, but the hot salsas--oh yeah! They're fantastic, blending just the right amount of heat and flavor.

(I like Hot more than Extreme Heat because Extreme Heat had a bit of a sour tartness that I didn't like. The temperature was nice, though. I could tell because my nose started to run. My scale for spicy food is tissue-based.)

The best part: they offer a $4 sampler pack, filled with their most popular flavors. I've had the sampler, and it was wildly awesome. It was packed with a gel-based (I think!) ice pack, so the box stayed cool. The salsa has to be refridgerated. Honestly, though, it never made it to the fridge. I gobbled it up upon arrival. The portions are small, but for a sampler that's to be expected. I was satisfied with my purchase.

My only concern is that, like most "good" food products, they're expensive. Alas, as a poor college student, I can't really afford to keep up my gourmet salsa habit. At least I can recommend them with a clear conscience.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

After work, I decided to embark on an adventure to every foodie's Garden of Earthly Delights: the grocery store.

Of course, it was all good fun. I poked at the produce and tried to find some Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans which, alas, were nowhere to be found. I found a new brand of Pringles--spicy!--and a can of Vienna Sausages spiked with essence of jalapeƱo. (As long as I can try new spicy junk food, I'm a happy girl.)

Here was the best part of the entire trip: the Giant Pickle of Doom.

Our local grocery store has one of those awesome vats where you can fish out your own pickle for 99 cents. I, being a devout follower of the Cult of the (Dill) Pickle, love this vat. The pickles are huge, sour, and utterly delicious. So, it was an awesome surprise to find a pickle today that surpassed my own high expectations.


Only vaguely pornographic.

Oh, yes. This pickle was amazing. As soon as I laid eyes on it, I knew it was worth my $1.05, tax included.

I'm ammending this photo with a girlish giggle.

For a reference in size--especially since I have tiny hands--here is the pickle sitting beside a normal-sized, albeit overripe, banana. I'm telling you, this pickle was a doozy.

For the sake of science, I measured the pickle with my trusty measuring tape. The final result: the pickle is six inches, with a 7-inch circumference. That's as big around as my wrist!

Of course, that begs to question: how did the Giant Pickle taste? Well, my friends, it tasted of Heaven soaked in a splash of mild vinegar, with a tart yet buttery aftertaste. The first bite, oddly enough, had such a buttery taste that I felt like I was eating a German cucumber salad made from Salata dressing. The further down I got, the more the tartness came through. The seeds inside the pickle were huge and slippery--as I swallowed, I could feel them sliding down the back of my throat. I'm still eating it now, and the buttery taste is starting to return as I near the bottom tip. The skin is surprisingly soft; biting through it feels like nibbling a steamed carrot--firm yet yielding. I'm still in shock as to how little sourness the pickle has! I can hardly taste the vinegar.

Oh, Bi-Lo, thank you for delivering unto me this Pickle. It's awesome.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tonight's dinner as a no-cook affair. Despite that, it was still very, very delicious.

Dinner was a smorgasbord of hummus, grapes, grape tomatoes, cheese, olives, salmon, and Melba toast. The flavors played off one another well--the tartness of the olives paired with the sweetness of the grapes; the soft cheese melted into the hard Melba toast; the salty salmon offset the sadly bland tomatoes.

The hummus, admittedly, went well with everything. I stuffed it in pitted olives! I slathered it on the Melba toast! I dipped both grapes and grape tomatoes in it!

My least favorite part of the meal was the salmon--it was simply too salty for my taste! I had to pair it with the tomatoes, which were strangely bland. I suppose this heat wave is killing off our tomato plants--or, at least, sapping them of all flavor. Alas! I guess salsa's out of the question.

I never liked cooking all that much. Even now, I'm not sure that I really enjoy it.

When I read food blogs, I sometimes start to feel like a bit of a foodie imposter. All those food bloggers, man--they really dig hunkering down by the stove and whipping out the kitchenware. They seem to revel in creating new dishes and tweaking recipes from dusty old tomes. The posts tend to follow a dramatic build-up: first the creation, then the cooking, then the consumption. Sometimes there's even a big, extreme-macro photo at the end.

Me? I just like food.

I'm a bit impatient with cooking, though I've done in on the occasion that I've craved something specific. As is, I can't seem to budget my time and energy well--and cooking is something I've never quite been able to conquer. I think it'd be fun to whip up delicious dishes at a moment's notice. But I find it difficult to inspire myself to cook.

Food is an inspiration. I love food and it's thick, layered flavors and textures. I love trying new things. Every country has delicious junk food if you look hard enough.

One of my resolutions for this year was to cook. And, honestly, I think I've managed to actually keep my goal. I've cooked many a delicious meal: hearty bowls of red chicken curry, filled with bamboo shoots that have soaked up the spicy broth; cheese-encrusted chicken with burnt, crispy edges; little bento boxes filled with tiny foodstuffs arranged in silly ways.

But, hey--I want to cook more. I want to create sumptious college feasts and goofy dorm food. I figured, what better way to force myself to both write and cook than keep a food blog?

Let's do this thing!