Fall foraging

There are some good foraging opportunities near my apartment. The best is a pear tree – I believe it is ornamental since the pears are small. It wasn’t clear to me if the owners were interested in the pears, so I just collected ones that had fallen onto the sidewalk, and made pear-sauce! I strained the cooked pears through a mesh strainer, and used the remaining fibrous matter to make alcohol.

There are also a ton of sugar maples. If I had tapping equipment, I could make maple syrup.

And lastly, there are a ton of chestnut trees. Unfortunately, they are horse chestnuts, not true or sweet chestnuts, which were largely killed off in the early 1900s by chestnut blight. The only trees that survived were those far enough (about 10 km) away from other chestnut trees.

Horse chestnuts contain high levels of naturally-occurring saponins, which make them taste really bitter. Apparently, they are also poisonous. Before realizing this, I collected a bunch. I was super excited to find chestnuts since they’re pretty expensive to buy.

Horse chestnuts really look quite similar to true chestnuts. The main difference, besides taste, is the lack of a tassel on the tip of the shell. True chestnut husks also have more closely-set spines.

As far as I’m aware, horse chestnuts only have one use: making liquid soap! You can soak the nutmeats in water to dissolve the saponins, and use the soaking liquid as liquid soap or detergent.

Marufuku Ramen

I’ve been wanting to go to Marufuku Ramen in SF, for a while now, but since they don’t have any vegetarian options it’s hard to go there when I’m travelling with N.

Fortunately, Friend M came to visit the Bay Area, so we decided to go try it.

They always have a really long line. Fortunately, you can put your name on a waitlist on Yelp. I’d recommend doing this 1-2 hours in advance.
Friend M pictured with his Off-White branded camera strap.
Chicken karaage. Pretty good.
Hakata Deluxe Ramen. Tonkotsu broth with chashu and kakuni.
I saw people doing this (lifting noodles out of bowl) on Instagram, so I decided to try it too.

Overall, pretty good. Would recommend.

Sichuan Hotpot

I went bouldering yesterday with Friend A. After we finished, we happened across Friend B at the gym, and the three of us planned to have dinner together.

Unfortunately, Friend A has decided as of late that his diet must consist solely of Panang Curry Chicken from Siam Royal. After much protest from Friend B and I, we managed to grudgingly convince Friend A to have homemade hot pot instead.

I haven’t been using my Sichuan seasonings at a fast enough rate, so I decided to make Sichuan-style hot pot. Here’s the recipe.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a table-top burner, so we had to make due with eating around the stove in the kitchen.
My kitchen isn’t so clean. Maybe a B health rating.
Friend A and B, shown here eating hotpot while critiquing r/MachineLearning (apparently it’s trash or something).

Overall, it was pretty good. And much cheaper than the Sichuan hotpot at Haidilao.

After hotpot, we watched the heartwarming new show Goblin Slayer. Interestingly, it seems like it’s a show about slaying goblins.

Fancy food

J says he doesn’t cook much by himself, but when he does it sure is fancy!

Twice-cooked pork belly.

Crepe recipe

My mom’s best crepe recipe!

Basic Crepes

Makes 12.

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tb butter

Melt butter. Add milk, salt, flour. Beat well. Add eggs and beat. Letting the mixture sit may help with flour absorption and lumps.

Heat small skillet (nonstick or cast iron recommended). Lightly butter. Spoon about 3 Tb of batter into the skillet and spread evenly. Cook until nicely browned. You may want to flip each crepe to cook on the other side as well, but it isn’t necessary.

Crepes can be stacked until ready to fill. If you have trouble with sticking, separate with wax paper.

I made an amazing breakthrough

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get the free pasta rollers to work. Each one came with a roller portion on a stand, and a separate cutter portion. Without a stand, the cutter is nigh impossible to use.

Hold the cutter in your hands. Have a friend feed the pasta dough into the cutter, and have your other friend turn the crank.

Maybe you’re supposed to take the stand apart and replace the roller head with the cutter head? Except that the stand doesn’t come apart, and the head cross-sections are different. I thought that there were missing pieces, until…!

I was Googling pasta rollers last night (to verify terminology, e.g. “pasta roller” vs “pasta machine”) and discovered that some models let you mount the cutter on the side of the roller.

Indeed, it worked!!
There are these little tabs that slide together.

Wow! Now I only need one friend to help me make pasta.

Homemade noodles

A while ago, I acquired three manual pasta rollers for free on Freecycle. I kept one, I gave one to sibling C, and the last is in need of a home. The biggest issue with the pasta rollers is that they were previously used for polymer clay…

With C, the homemade noodle enthusiast, visiting, it was the perfect time to get out the noodle machine! We made two big batches of noodles with the fancy Grist and Toll flour + 00 flour to smooth out the whole wheat.

Rolling out the dough. Occasional clay bits appeared in the dough.
Hanging the noodles to dry in the oven, although they can be cooked and eaten immediately. Once dry, the noodles can be stored at room temperature!

SF and Cookin’

The day after the park walk, C and I went to San Francisco via the Caltrain, of course.

First we went to Rainbow Grocery to check out the bulk selection. We were actually too starved to shop, so first we ate our picnic lunch on the bench in front of the store.

At Rainbow Grocery, we bought 00 flour (Wikipedia on flour type numbers) for making pasta. C also bought some Rancho Gordo cassoulet beans (would not recommend) and some heirloom Carolina gold rice from Anson Mills (here’s a Serious Eats article on it’s history). C was duly impressed!

Then we went to Cookin’, a mid-century-European-cookware thrift store.

(stand for food mill, wok spatula)

Cookin’ was very impressive! They have a large selection of very niche items – not just one canning food mill, but 5! – and a large selection of vintage and non-electric cookware (e.g. hand-crank egg beater). The store is organized by type, so that all the wooden cooking spoons are together within the larger implement section, the copper pots are together within the larger pots and pans section, etc. Not everything is displayed, so ask if you’re looking for something specific.

I bought a canning food mill stand, which I haven’t even been able to find on eBay. C bought a wok spatula, which she’s been looking for at thrift stores for ages.

The triangle legged thing is the stand. Source.

Cookin’ is kind of expensive, but the prices are worth it for those hard-to-find items. The prices for popular items (vintage Le Creuset) are on-par with eBay, but the low demand items seem too expensive (worn plastic spatulas for $0.75). The store specializes in European cookware, so you won’t find a lot of specialty Asian items, e.g. (although C did get to choose between 3 different wok spatulas).

Darning eggs are used to stretch knit fabrics to make them easier to repair.

Oddly, they were selling darning eggs as pestles. They do look a bit like wooden pestles (see canning food mill picture above), but the owner obviously doesn’t do crafts. At least I know where to find darning eggs now 🙂

As some reviewers note on Yelp, the shop is like a display of the owner’s personal collection of cookware. The inside is an organized hoard – leave large bags and hats at home to avoid accidents! Enjoy!

Wisdom tooth removal!

J had the rest of his wisdom teeth and second molars removed yesterday. (Keep your wisdom teeth after removal – apparently they contain stem cells!) They were all impacted ’cause J’s mouth is tiny. J is in much better shape than I had anticipated.

Since J is supposed to eat soft foods (only Soylent and Pedialyte so far), I took the opportunity to make chocolate pudding! I’m probably going to eat it all myself, since J doesn’t like pudding…

I used this recipe in combination with this recipe. The main change I made was to decrease the amount of bar chocolate and increase the amount of cocoa powder, which we have in abundance.