darkoshi: (Default)
Interesting article: What's the Difference Between Dutch Process and Natural Cocoa Powder?
Natural cocoa is acidic, and the acidity of your ingredients affects the leavening you should use.

Even more enlightening: Baking Basics: Baking Powder vs Baking Soda


Sunday, March 6th, 2016 10:49 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
I made a batch of "Pistachio and Rosewater Cupcakes" (sans frosting) today, but forgot to add in the pistachios. They taste great anyway.

Pink magnolias abloom:

Me back in January, suited up for using the angle grinder:

A sunrise last month:


darkoshi: (Default)
Note to Self:
Wax paper is not the same as parchment paper. Parchment paper is meant to be used for baking; wax paper is not and will smoke in the oven. Do not bake with wax paper!

I had mistakenly thought that "parchment paper" was the British term for "wax paper". I don't recall ever having seen rolls of "parchment" paper for sale in the grocery store. But as rolls of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and wax paper last me for years, who knows when the last time was, that I really stopped to look.

Also news to me, parchment paper is often coated with silicone or other agents. Considering that silicone is not biodegradable, and I don't want unknown chemicals leaching into my food, I suppose I'll skip the short-cuts and keep greasing my pans.


Yesterday I found that another button on my oven doesn't work anymore. The "Temperature Down" button. Therefore I can't set the oven to less than 350 degrees, as I sometimes like to do for keeping food warm. I guess I'll have to get the control panel replaced eventually after all.


I've now tried out both of these recipes which use packaged cake mix as an ingredient:
Pistachio Pudding Cookies and Lazy Cake Cookies. While they both taste good, the texture & taste doesn't seem as good as stuff I make from scratch. And using cake mix isn't that much easier than using flour, sugar, etc.

dinner and dessert

Saturday, December 12th, 2015 10:24 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Before Thanksgiving, I bought some pul qua squash, also known as opo squash, calabash, or bottle gourd. I'd never cooked it before, and wanted to see what it was like. I also bought a fennel bulb.

This week, while wandering through the vegetable section at Kroger, I remembered that the squash was still in my refrigerator's vegetable drawer! Out of sight, out of mind.

Today I belatedly remembered it again, so I've finally sauteed it. It's juicy and has a mild flavor, sort of like cooked cucumbers or chayote.

Note to self: Next time, cut out and discard the center spongy part of the squash. It has a rather unpleasant texture after being cooked.

While browsing recipes, I found a photo of caramelized fennel. It turns out that you can caramelize fennel, just like caramelizing onions! So I did that with my fennel. Yummy. That's how I should always prepare it from now on.

I used coconut oil for the caramelizing and sauteing - the first time I've cooked with coconut oil. It went well. Scooping the solid "oil" out of the jar with 2 spoons wasn't as awkward as I thought it might be.

[personal profile] marahmarie had linked to an article about how it is bad to fry food in vegetable oils, due to aldehyde toxins that form in the oils at high temperatures. Here is another article about the same study. Both seem to me to be rather lacking in details.

But that, along with other things I've read about the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in vegetable oils, and how too much omega 6 causes inflammation, made me decide to try cooking and baking with coconut oil.

This last year, I've been mainly using sunflower, safflower, and olive oil. The sunflower and safflower oils are organic, expeller-pressed and naturally refined (terms explained here).

I'm still not convinced that naturally refined vegetable oils like those are necessarily bad, especially at the medium temperatures that I saute at.


For dessert, I'm going to bake lazy cake cookies - a chocolate chip bar cookie made with cake mix. I'll use the Neat Egg substitute again, as it works so well in baked goods, and I'll use melted coconut oil instead of the butter.

Pistachio Pudding Cookies : another good-looking recipe, which I may trying making a vegan version of.

making brownies

Saturday, November 21st, 2015 06:38 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Sometimes, it's awfully hard simply to decide whether to use the 8x8 or the 13x9 pan.

+ If I use the big pan, it'll look like I have more brownies!
- But they'll be thinner and might over-bake and end up hard/tough.
- The big pan will take more space in the fridge.
+ If I use the small pan, the brownies will be nice and thick.
* Mom always made brownies in a 13x9 pan when I was a kid, and they were good and chewy even though they were thinner.
- But I was a kid; small things seemed bigger back then than they do now.
* Maybe I should make both boxes of brownies at once, in the big pan?
... 13x9=117. 8x8=64. 2x64=128. Using 2 boxes in the big pan would make even thicker brownies than using one box in the 8x8 pan. They might not get cooked enough in the center; I'd better not try that.
* Maybe I ought to do something with the yellow cake mix at the same time. Yellow cake + brownie swirly thingy? 1 package of cake mix requires the 13x9 pan. If I mix them, I'd have to use only half of the cake mix or it might overflow the pan. I suppose I should stick with just brownies for now.
... So, which pan should I use?


Sunday, November 8th, 2015 02:18 am
darkoshi: (Default)
This morning, I again went to bed too late and woke up too early. While lying in bed, I decided to clean the refrigerator gasket and refrigerator coils today.

After getting up, I washed and dried 5 loads - including the new towels and all the dog blankets. On the 5th load, the spin cycle stopped working. After 3 or 4 tries I got it working again. Maybe the trick is that the door needs to be closed while holding the power button in to reset it.

I washed out the recycling bin with the hose, as some of the cardboard I had in it had left a funky smell. While doing that, I accidentally stepped into some dog doo. I decided to throw the shoes away. They were an old worn out pair that I only wear around the house, with a hole in the rubber sole. The doo got up into the hole, and would have been hard to clean out.

I disposed of stinky radish.
I used the weed whacker, being careful to look where I stepped.
I cleaned the flap on the dog house, and the gunk on the storm door.
I vacuumed.
I cleaned the toilet.
I washed dishes.
I made a chocolate cake from a mix (the "Neat-Egg" worked fine, but may have been too thick. The package says 2 Tbsp water per "egg", but 3 Tbsp would be better.)
I made next week's lunch sandwiches (so that I won't have to do it tomorrow; lately I've been forgetting about it until after midnight on Sunday).
I did various other minor tasks.

I did not clean the refrigerator gasket nor the coils. Maybe tomorrow.

nary a cully

Monday, October 26th, 2015 09:58 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Black-Eyed Pea Tempeh. I fried some up and tried it for the first time. It has the familiar tempeh flavor, but a different texture, in the same way that black-eyed peas have a different, mushier texture than soybeans.

Ackee. I'd had some back in 1999 during a trip to Jamaica. Ackee is a fruit that looks and tastes somewhat like scrambled eggs. If picked/eaten before fully ripe, it can be toxic. Around here, it is sold canned in the Caribbean food section of some grocery stores. Expensive and a delicacy. I bought a can a while back, and let it sit in my cupboard a long time, uncertain how to prepare it. But it simply needs to be heated in a saucepan, and served with margarine and salt. Yum. It has its own distinctive savory flavor, but yeah, scrambled-eggs-like.

Neat Egg - an egg substitute for baked goods, made from powdered chia seeds and chickpeas. When mixed with water as indicated in the instructions, it gels into an egg-white-like consistency. I tried it out with a box of brownie mix, and the results turned out quite well. I'll have to try it with cake mix next time. Neither of those usually work very well with my usual egg replacer powder.
darkoshi: (Default)
I'd been wanting to make these green tea cupcakes ever since Qiao gave me the fabulous vegan cupcake cookbook. I finally bought the essential ingredient - matcha green tea powder - last year, but didn't get around to actually trying out the recipe until last week. The cupcakes turned out soft, fluffy, and super-duper yummy, even without any marzipan flowers on top.


It is blackberry season. I've seen people gathering berries along the roads. On the way home from work today, I stopped by a patch and picked some myself. I'm glad I stopped at the place I did, as 2 other people were already stopped by the larger patches further down the road which I passed by later. As it was, after stopping my car where I did, it took me a while to gather my courage to get out of the car. I had a silly fear that someone would come out of the commercial building whose driveway I was parked in, and accuse me of stealing their berries. From the car, I couldn't even tell if there were any ripe berries in this patch. But I finally got out, and got me some lovely berries.

Thin dress pants aren't suitable attire for blackberry picking. A branch snagged my pants and tore out a few threads before I managed to get free. Denim would have been better.

After getting home, I checked the bushes across the street and picked some more berries there too. But those were tiny compared to the others.


I remedied the pinholes in the curtain black-out liners by using fusible web to iron on extra strips of black-out fabric over the seam lines.

The black-out fabric and/or the fusible web gives off fumes while ironing it at the necessary heat level. But at least those fumes were temporary.


Knoppix! I created a live disk and used it to boot my laptop to Linux. Neat! The last time I created a similar live disk and tried it on my old computer, I never got the internet working as that would have required finding and installing the necessary wireless drivers. But this Knoppix live CD had everything I needed - my wi-fi and internet worked, as did my external mouse and keyboard.

I was using Linux in order to reformat a 256 GB flash drive as FAT32. Windows didn't let me do it. Linux did.

The reason for reformatting the flash drive is a story for another time.


Partially inspired by this post by [livejournal.com profile] gfish, as well as articles such as this one, I've been trying to do more work standing up.

When we moved buildings, I was given a 2nd monitor. Rather than position it side-by-side with my other monitor, I put it on my cubicle's shelf, after moving the shelf down a few notches. That puts the top monitor at a fairly good height for me to use while standing. So now I have one monitor on my desk to use while sitting, and another on the shelf to use while standing. I can position my mouse higher by using a small stack of books. But I can't really get the keyboard high enough to be very comfortable while standing.

I was thinking that rather than moving the monitor and accessories up and down, it would be simpler to have everything up high, and to have a high chair. Then everything would be at the right height whether I was sitting or standing. Maybe someday.

For now, I can only manage to stand for a few minutes at a time before I start feeling tired/uncomfortable, or before I feel the need to sit down to do something that takes my full attention. Working while standing is sort of like trying to write with my left hand - I can do it, but at a slower pace and with more frustration.

Sometimes I stand in a spread-leg or horse-riding position, which brings my torso low enough to comfortably use the lower monitor and keyboard. But I don't do that for long either, as it makes my feet tired, and I feel self-conscious about looking weird to anyone who walks by.

Then again, I do full-body stretches in my cubicle a few times a day, which surely is a strange sight to see, too.


Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 10:24 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Note to self:

Do not use 2 tsp salt in a dessert, no matter what the recipe says. Especially not when the recipe is only enough for a 9x9 pan. Even 1 tsp is probably overkill.

Note to self:

Cheesecake brownies may sound like a good combination, but I prefer them separate. Grandma's cheesecake recipe probably is the best.

bits and pieces

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 01:03 am
darkoshi: (Default)
After bad results with both a cake and a batch of brownies, I've discovered that I don't like the smell and taste of unrefined soybean oil. It tastes sickly sweet to me.

All I found on the subject is this statement on a few webpages: "Unrefined soy oil has a strong, distinctive flavor and aroma - some like it, some don't."

Next time, I should taste an oil before using it.

I do like the taste of extra virgin olive oil, but it doesn't seem like that flavor would go well in cakes and cookies. Have any of you tried baking with olive oil? Anyway, I now have some "naturally refined" safflower oil, which should be mild flavored. I used to buy Canola oil, but I began to notice it having an unpleasant stale smell and flavor, even when it wasn't particularly old.


After months of testing different deodorants, I finally found a suitable replacement for the one I used to use. (More details on that possibly forthcoming.) But last weekend, I found out that the store I bought it from no longer is selling it. I may have to buy it online (luckily it doesn't seem to be discontinued).


I ended up doing 2 saliva hormone tests (as referenced here and here). I took the saliva samples for both tests on the same day at the same times. Each test was processed by a different lab. I figured that using 2 different labs would give me an indication of how reliable the results were - if the results agreed with each other, that would give them more credibility than otherwise.

But the results did not at all agree with each other. So much for that. I suppose I'd need to get a blood test done somewhere for (possibly) more trustworthy results.


I had headaches every day for 2 weeks, and then they stopped, even without me taking any meds. They must have been after-effects of the stomach bug virus. Now I'm occasionally getting headaches again, but these are more like my usual ones, and not every day.


Qiao is now walking with only the aid of a cane. In fact, he is beginning to walk short distances even without a cane!

He recently bought himself a Sony Tap 20 portable PC. It's a giant tablet. It has a very nice screen.


You know what would be useful? A website along the lines of "These are various sounds your car may make, along with an explanation of what part of the car may be making the noise and why". Well, actually, sort of like this, this, and this, but with actual car sound samples rather than human reproductions of them.

nanoo nanoo

Sunday, June 26th, 2011 11:05 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
This week of vacation hasn't been at all relaxing for me. But I did get a lot of things done, and the house looks better - fewer piles of "to-do" stuff laying around. I still have stuff that I wanted to get done, which I didn't. I wish I had another week off. Or month. Or year.

Maybe I'll take another week off next month.


I ended up baking the poppyseed rolls too long. They still taste ok, but not very special.

It would be bad if my place of employment suddenly started random drug testing, with all the poppyseeds I've been eating.


I'm glad that the NY legislature passed the gay marriage bill. While looking over the list of states that now allow gay marriage, I was surprised and impressed to see that Iowa is among them.

bread machine

Saturday, June 25th, 2011 06:46 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Notes to self:

When using the bread machine, attach the kneading blade to the bottom of the pan *before* putting the ingredients in.

If it looks like some of the flour is sticking to the sides of the pan and might not get incorporated into the dough, a rubber spatula works great to loosen the flour and push it towards the dough-ball.

If you're just making dough, and you leave the dough in the machine after it is ready, it *will* keep rising and it *will* hit the lid of the machine and stick to it, making it harder to clean up the machine. Therefore, take the pan out of the machine when the time is up, and at least punch the dough down somewhat.
darkoshi: (Default)
A few months ago, I came across some tasty-looking recipes for Mohnschnecken, which are similar to cinnamon rolls, but with a poppy-seed filling rather than cinnamon. I remember having eaten them a few times in Germany, and was inspired to make some vegan ones for myself. So I bought 2 cans of ready-made poppy seed filling from the grocery store.

Since then, I haven't felt up to the task of making the rolls, until today. One of the recipes I looked at today mentioned something new to me: a Tangzhong / Water Roux starter. It's simple to make, and is supposed to make the bread/rolls stay moist and fresh longer. I will try it out.

Interestingly, one of my favorite brownie recipes includes something similar to the water roux starter, but it is made with rice flour rather than wheat flour. Those brownies always turn out very chewy and moist.

(no subject)

Sunday, February 6th, 2011 09:44 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Oh dang. I already missed the half-time show and most of the commercials. I never seem to be able to remember that the Superbowl is happening, on the actual day of it. The football doesn't interest me, but it would be nice to see a Superbowl half-time show for once, instead of only hearing a bunch of hoop-la about it afterwards.

But I made a yummy fruit filling for a streusel cake, using a can of sliced pears and a package of frozen raspberries. I thickened the pear juice on the stove with some cornstarch, then stirred in the fruit and sugar. Hopefully the cakes turns out as good!

My aunt always used to enjoy hot raspberries over vanilla ice cream. It's a good combination.

(no subject)

Sunday, December 20th, 2009 10:38 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Reminder to self:
When baking store-bought frozen pie shells or any other aluminum-ware which has those tiny holes on the bottom, *always* place them on a baking sheet!!

Oil dripped out from the holes to the bottom of my oven and caused horrible smoky fumes. Since the pies weren't finished baking, I thought it made most sense to put up with the continuing fumes until the pies were done, then to clean the oven later. That was yesterday. Today, I'm still trying to get the smoky smell out from the house.

If this ever happens again, it would be better to remove the food from the oven *right away* when I notice something like this happening, deal with the oven, and finish cooking the food later.


I'm happy to report that the neighbor is not keeping that dog in the cage most of the time. I haven't seen it in there since that other day. I still can't figure out why they put it in there in the first place, and the cage is still there, but at least it is empty.

(no subject)

Sunday, August 17th, 2008 12:21 am
darkoshi: (Default)
The house across the street was playing Mexican music for a while. But then it stopped and a woman was yelling and it sounded like she was... maybe breaking glass, or banging metal... knives? against each other? A guy is yelling now too, but it is not as loud anymore.

I made brownies. And baked the frozen apple turnovers at the same time, since the oven was on anyway. I ironed the new curtains I had bought for the red room. Perhaps this week I will buy a nice curtain rod for them. I have vacation. And I ironed the shirts I had washed. I stir-fried some parsley.

This morning I was hearing a song in my dream. A man's voice was singing "I've been missing you forever and a day.. for-eeeverrrrr..." From what I've googled, there isn't any song with those lyrics, so my head must have made it up. It surprises me, my head doing that, not just the lyrics but the actual music along with them, because my head doesn't very often do that when its awake. Before that part of the dream, a song was playing on the car radio, with the words "Stop it, stop it, stop it"... a sort of dancy song.

I cut the rest of the grass that I didn't get to yesterday, because the 2 batteries I have for my electric trimmer only last so long before I have to recharge them. I've got 2 shirts for which I plan to sew the sides in tighter because I don't like how they look when they wallow out behind me.

A movie I finished watching yesterday, "Nobody Knows", was macabre near the end. I wasn't expecting that.

Now the yelling is over. Someone was just signal-whistling; a kid probably.

I feel listless. What is life for?