Appliance advertising dinner

J and I went to a free advertising dinner for an appliance company. It was a neat experience. J described it as like being at an in-person infomercial. They did go a little too heavy on the advertising. I mean, I know that was the point, but they made both reasonable and laughable claims about their products (“this $10k fridge will pay for itself in reduced food waste”).

The whole showroom is like a bunch of luxury kitchens smooshed together. I enjoyed looking at all the details chosen for the different areas (e.g. yellow ceramic countertop with crackle glaze).

Interestingly, they use the actual products in the showroom to make the food for these events. I’m used to the appliances not actually being hooked up.

Vegetarian version was roast oyster mushrooms instead of scallop.

Vegetarian version was sad… Veggie sides were also sad.

This cupcake thing was really good! And the whipped cream was super rich.

They also gave us a lot of alcohol.

The new mixing bowl already broke :(

I was making popcorn in the microwave in the mixing bowl I found and it cracked in half 🙁 Sometimes if the popcorn doesn’t mix itself well (the popping causes the kernels to mix themselves) because of the bowl shape, etc, it can cause a hot spot. I guess the hot spot was too much for this bowl and it broke. Maybe it had been dropped before…

Freebie plants!

Last year I got a couple BIG batches of free bulbs from someone on Trash Nothing, a give-away site similar to Facebook Marketplace or Freecycle.

Tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinth

Paperwhites (last winter)

I planted them in my local tree square. Some are starting to come up!

Community garden photos from last year

August of last year. Looking fairly lush. I actually had a fair bit more growth later in the season, even pretty late into the fall. The back fence was covered in vines — both my beans and other people’s veggies.

Front to back starting on the left side, I have basil, a pepper (hidden, gifted by a fellow gardener!), teeny baby onions, cherokee purple tomato (gifted by a fellow gardener!), cucumbers, and squash and stuff (volunteer brassica) at the back

Off to the right side are a yew (bush-like) and a box elder (small tree). Plus there’s a full-grown zelkova tree above the benches to the far right. So the plot isn’t too too sunny, especially that front right corner. The spot is too shady for veggies, so I’ve started putting some shade-tolerant native plants (inland sea oats, and volunteer violet transplants) in that corner.

I think the soil is really bad, too. I need to mix more compost in. I was supposed to do that over the winter, but time got away from me. Still planning on going some prep before planting seeds for this upcoming year.

I harvested a couple peppers off of this plant. They weren’t spicy at all. The plant was kindly gifted to me by a fellow gardener. She got the seed from a coworker.

Last harvest of the year (November). There were several pods, more than shown here. I had these beans in soup. I also got a cucumber (not totally sure it was mine. The vines on the fence were all jumbled together. I definitely had planted a cucumber, though), basil, and some other odds and ends.

Jian bing breakthrough

We made jian bing recently (crepe with egg and veggies inside, Chinese style). Usually the crepe would be wheat dough you have to knead and roll out very thinly, but we made this batch using dosa batter (rice-based) and they turned out great!!

We can buy dosa batter from a nearby Indian grocery store, so it’s easier. (Of course, if we made the wrappers at home, they could be whole wheat.)

I used a variety of fillings: egg, fried tofu matchsticks, Chinese pickled spicy mustard stem, fishcake (Korean-style, leftover), minced onion, green onion, lettuce, and cilantro. Sauces were hoisin, peanut chili oil, super spicy oil (leftover from hotpot), and garlic chili sauce.

Pretty darn good overall. My only tip for next time is to use less hoisin. General cooking instructions here.

Japanese soufflé pancake?

We had really good Japanese hotcakes at a restaurant, Rule of Thirds, in Greenpoint. I thought it would be fun to recreate them at home.

The original. Goo in middle is maple butter. Plus the restaurant had fancy counters (walnut, maybe?) and fancy design in general.

The original pancake was light and fluffy, and somewhat eggy but not custardy. Like a standard pancake, it is probably leavened by both eggs and chemical leavening. But the soufflé-like texture is probably from a relatively high proportion of egg and whipping the egg whites. It was not very sweet, similar to a standard pancake.

I figured I wanted some features of a standard pancake and some features of an whipped eggy cake-y thing (not really a soufflĂ© — the hotcake weren’t that eggy).

We happened to see the hotcakes in progress at the restaurant. The batter was ladle-able, but had enough body to make a mound in the baking dishes (definitely egg fluff). It wasn’t particularly yellow.

I referenced three different recipes: sponge cake from Cook’s Illustrated, pancakes from Cooks Illustrated (oddly using lemon juice and milk rather than buttermilk), and pancakes from Joy of Cooking (milk version). I combined steps and ingredients from them that seemed to go in the direction I wanted, and I ended up with:

Hotcakes?

  • 2 oz (1/2 cup) cake flour (I actually used maybe 3/4-1 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4-1 cup (??) milk (I actually used maybe 2/3 cup)
  • 2-3 Tbsp butter, melted (I actually used maybe 2 Tbsp)
  1. Whisk flour and baking powder
  2. Melt together milk and butter. Keep warm.
  3. Whisk egg whites with sugar.
  4. Whisk yolks until light in color and fluffy. Temper with some of egg white mixture.
  5. Fold 1) into 4). Fold in 2).
  6. Bake for 15 min at 350°F.

V1 of the home version. Not so close.

I think I reinvented corn bread (without corn). It wasn’t bad, but not very close at all to the restaurant version.

One big issue I had is that I added WAY too much milk, which caused the batter to be too liquidy. I added more flour to give structure to the batter, which made it too dense and cake-y. It seems like most of the structure needs to come from whipped egg whites. My pancake is also more yellow than the one at the restaurant. The eggs we get have super bright yolks, but maybe the “pancake” needs less yolk.

So for next time, I need less flour, and to reduce the overall amount of liquid (so less milk, butter, and maybe egg yolks).

Recipe to try next time:

Hotcakes V2?

    • 2 oz (1/2 cup) cake flour
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 3 egg whites
    • 2 Tbsp milk
    • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
    1. Whisk flour and baking powder
    2. Melt together milk and butter. Keep warm.
    3. Whisk egg whites with sugar.
    4. Whisk yolks until light in color and fluffy. Mix in 2). Temper with some of egg white mixture.
    5. Fold 1) into 4).
    6. Bake for 15 min at 350°F.

As it turns out, there are recipes online for “Japanese soufflĂ© pancakes”. I didn’t bother searching, because I didn’t think the “hotcake” recipes I would find would be soufflĂ©-y enough. I think I’ll continue with the experiment because it’s fun.

Thrift store shirts

While Jimmy was at an internet café, I went to the nice Goodwill on 6th Ave. They have a section at the front with sorted-out fancier items (nice for a quick browse), but even the non-curated items are quite nice.

Prana. Intending to use this as more of a work/outdoors shirt. It fits pretty well, but the pattern’s just okay. The fabric is pretty loosely woven, so it may not last well.

“Flanders Linen”, although I couldn’t find out much about them. They claim to have been around since 1350. The shirt is only 30% linen, though. It is crisp and light — should be good for summer. I just washed everything, hence the wrinkles.

Corduroy shirt from Uniqlo. Really this is too big, but we’ll try it out.

My first Muji shirt!! I like their clothes. They have interesting construction, but are still simple. I like the low collar on this. Overall it looks like monk clothing.

Cuff detail. The cuff pleat is formed when you button it! Might use this on future shirts I make. Color is more accurate in the previous photo.

I also found this nice mixing/serving bowl on the sidewalk on the way back!

Other quilted items I’ve seen around

The first three pictures are from a quilt exhibit at the American Folk Art museum, on Tucker Square. The quilts were really cool. They also had a good exhibit on wind vanes a while back (there was a wind vane made by the guy who made the wind vane on Faneuil Hall in Boston – it’s a grasshopper!).

This quilt narrated a scene of people going to church and some Biblical scenes. “Twelv [sic] desires six on each sid [sic] of the river”. There’s a river off to the right, not shown.

Ladies going to church, if I recall correctly.

Quilt by a professor (?) of mythology with a sense of humor.

Seen at a thrift store, maybe Austin Creative Reuse. Black bean bag, anyone?

Orchid!

About a year and a half ago I found an orchid at our local free-swap shelf. It’s the common kind, Phalaenopsis, and shockingly one of the plants bloomed last year! The flowers last a LONG time — several months — so it’s very rewarding.

Last year’s flowers!

With more buds open.

It seems that the secret to getting Phalaenopsis orchids to bloom is that they have to be somewhat cold for a few weeks, especially at night. “Phalaenopsis are induced to flower when exposed to temperatures lower than 79 F (26 C), particularly during the day. Traditionally, growers use a 77 F/68 F day/night (25 C/20 C) temperature regimen for spike initiation” (Orchid Society document).

I did this accidentally (and well below 68°), because our 1900 apartment doesn’t have great insulation and my orchid is right by the window. But if you live in a well-insulated or very temperature-controlled place, you might have to go to some effort to get cold enough temperatures.

If you want to avoid the winter chill requirement, you can get Polychilos subgenus Phalaenopsis orchids. I’ve been reading a lot about orchids. The success with this one has been motivating.

In fact, both plants are gearing up to bloom this year. One has a head start of a month or so, so we should have flowers for a fair bit of the spring and summer.

This is the same one that bloomed last year. It seems happy!

This one is blooming for the first time. See the new spike coming in right below the crown? It’s shaped like a backwards C and purplish in color.

I coaxed this orchid to have 4 leaves. Both plants have been aborting the oldest leaf when they grow a new one. I thought maybe they were too dry, so I misted them just about every day. I guess it worked?

Looking forward to more orchids in my future!