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Note to self: If you want to put pasta into that soup or stew that you're cooking, first pre-boil the pasta. Don't put dry pasta into the soup. Even if it may have worked well in the past, now you'll likely end up with it stuck and burnt to the bottom of the pot.

Remember the orzo incident? It's not only orzo. It's the macaroni too. (But what about noodly noodles? Surely they wouldn't sink and stick?)
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cupboard contents

A while back I bought a can of Cuitlacoche, also called "corn mushroom" or less flatteringly, "corn smut". It is considered a delicacy in Mexico, and was expensive - at least $4 or $5 for a small can. I don't recall ever having had it before, and suspected I might not like it, as in general, I don't even like mushrooms. But it being vegan, I figured I should at least try it.

It sat unopened in my cupboard a long time, as it being such a small can, it didn't seem worth the trouble of getting out my saute pan and cooking it.

Remember my trip to Kroger Marketplace, when I found the 89 cent bottle of date/orange/flaxseed/chili spread? (which by the way, makes a chili-bean-like tasting sandwich.) I went back to the same store a couple days later to get a shelf for supporting my keyboard when working standing up. I didn't end up getting the shelf, as it wasn't quite the right size. But this time, the special discount section had a bunch of Cuitlacoche cans, for only 39 cents each! I still didn't know if I'll even like the taste (especially after reading this review), but at least now I could buy enough for a whole panful, to make it seem worth the effort of cooking it.

I also got some other greatly discounted items - vegetarian taco filling, vegetable couscous sauce, and even some switchel drinks. Oh, and even a box of cinnamon raisin Matzo granola.

Man, that place is like a candy store.

Update - 2016/10/09:
I sauteed the cuitlacoche with onion and garlic in peanut oil, and ate it with cornbread and vegan smoked gouda cheese. The cuitlacoche actually tastes all right to me. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it's not at all mushroom-like. It reminds me of some food I've had before, but I can't think what.

dinner and dessert

Saturday, December 12th, 2015 10:24 pm
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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.

stick & burn

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 11:22 pm
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Note to self: Don't buy orzo again. Too likely to stick to the bottom of the pot. When making stew, add in any other noodles.

Frozen black-eyed peas take much longer to cook than baby lima beans. When making stew, only include things that cook fast. Otherwise it will burn in on the bottom while you're waiting for the food on top to get soft.

When making red lentils, watch the pot constantly, as it will overflow if given the slightest chance.

nary a cully

Monday, October 26th, 2015 09:58 pm
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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.
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Two snowfall-related songs on my mp3 player random play in the last hour while cooking broccoli leaves for dinner. If the forecast weren't for 80 degrees tomorrow and 84 the next, it might seem an omen.

Ah. I didn't even realize that Lovespirals' Aspenglow was a cover of a John Denver song.

Hmm. Tastewise, I think I prefer collards. Unless it is because I didn't cook these as soft as I usually do others.

Last week I cooked mustard greens with cabbage. I intended for the cabbage to reduce the sharpness of the mustard greens, which it did. But I didn't like the cabbage taste. Cabbage tastes good to me in soups, but not in stir-frys. Need to remember that.
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1.5 cups sweet/glutinous rice - rinsed it with water a few times.
Heated some water in pot, not quite to boiling.
Soaked the rice in the hot water for 10 minutes.
Stirred the rice to unclump it, then strained out the hot water.
Transferred the rice to a glass/pyrex dish, and added enough cold water to cover it by a finger.
(that was too much water).
Put the glass lid on, and microwaved it 7 minutes.
Stirred/fluffed the rice. Used a spoon to remove the extra liquid from the top.
Microwaved it another 5 minutes. Most of the water was absorbed, but the rice didn't taste cooked enough.
Stirred in some salt and sugar, and microwaved it another 4 minutes.
Then let it stand for a while.

It turned out pretty good. It's not as sweet as the sticky rice they serve in restaurants with mango.

Next time:
- add less water. Maybe re-use the hot water rather than adding fresh water.
- or plan the meal earlier in advance, and soak the rice in cold water for an hour rather than in hot water.
- use somewhat more sugar and add it earlier (1/4 cup? 3/8 cup?)

Based on info found on these pages:

hemp tofu

Monday, April 7th, 2014 09:29 pm
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I bought a package of hemp tofu. After reading the review on that page as well as the one here, I decided to cut it into cubes and pan-fry it.

Raw, it tasted bitter and unpleasant. Sort of like soy tofu that's too old and gone rancid. But the date on my package said Apr 21, so it should have still been good.

Frying it, it didn't crumble much or fall apart as the other reviews had mentioned. It held its shape fairly well. But it didn't brown much nor get crispy. The bitterness remained. I wonder if that bitterness is inherent to the hemp (and maybe is one of those bitter flavors that only some people are bothered by), or if it really just wasn't fresh enough. The other reviews don't mention bitterness.

In fact, several people mentioned it tasting similar or even better than tempeh. I completely disagree. Fried tempeh tastes much better to me.

I may even throw the rest of this out; it's that bad.


Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 10:32 pm
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Shouldn't a stove be smart enough to know when food on it is burning, and to let you know? It could lower the temperature and start beeping, or even better yet, it could send you an email saying "Hey, get off that computer! Your dinner is about to be toast!"
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Notes to Self:

For using the Fagor pressure cooker:

- to get the lid on, line up the straight mark on the lid with the center of the handle. That way, it should snap down and turn.

- for cooking dried beans, supposedly you shouldn't fill it more than half full with the beans + water

- turn the stove on high. Don't try to heat it up slowly; that takes forever. Make sure to turn the temp down to low (2 or less), once steam starts coming out fairly strongly.

- if steam isn't coming out fairly strongly, it's probably not hot enough. The noise will be annoying.

- the yellow dot thing will pop out when the pot is pressurized. It won't be even with the metal; it will be further out

- after finishing cooking, if you turn the dial on the handle to let steam out, you won't be able to stop the steam by turning the dial back again. Steam will keep coming out.

bits and pieces

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 01:03 am
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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.

no-go coco jello

Monday, May 28th, 2012 06:51 pm
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I thought I had a great idea... I made a jel dessert using coconut milk in place of half of the water. But it didn't work. It remained a liquid. Apparently coconut milk keeps it from jelling.
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Candles for Diwali, in October.

December. The glittering of old ornaments went well:

Except for the 3 which fell out of my hand and shattered on the floor, before the glittering began.

Cooking of potatoes:

I wasn't able to recreate the silky texture of the dish from last year, but it still turned out well. I peeled a few of the potatoes, and simply cut the rest in half, unpeeled. The broth and onion flavor soaked into the peeled potatoes much better than the non-peeled ones. Perhaps in the future it would be better to use large potatoes (as they are easier to peel) and to cut them into small chunks.

cooking potatoes

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 06:17 pm
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Last year while visiting Qiao's family, I was served a delicious dish (ostensibly vegetarian) with small new potatoes. They were in a savory sauce/broth, possibly with onions. The potatoes' texture was perfect - they were silky on the outside and soft on the inside, but not falling apart. I dare say it might be like the kind of potatoes you'd get with a pot roast.

I want to try to replicate that dish. The person who made it last year didn't remember much about it when I recently asked, other than that she cooked them on the stove, and must have cooked them a long time.

So this is my plan:
- chop onions and fry/caramelize them with oil in a pan
- add some vegetable bouillon cubes and water to make a broth
- add potatoes (I'm not sure if I should peel them or not... I suppose they'd need to be peeled, in order to get a silky outer surface?)
- cook on the stove in the frying pan (in the broth) for however long it takes for the potatoes to get soft.

I had considered cooking it in the oven, but I suppose that the stove should work as well.

I'm not sure how much broth to use.. I don't want the potatoes to burn or fry, but I don't really want them to be like boiled potatoes either.

Ahh! I finally found this page with good instructions.

Update: Try cooking until all or most of the liquid is absorbed or thickened. Also put extra oil/margarine in with the stock.


Sunday, July 10th, 2011 11:42 pm
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Qiao is sweet. He buys me vegan cookbooks.

Just recently, he got me "the get healthy, go vegan cookbook", and "Vegan Planet".
Then on another day, he got me "Ani's Raw Food Essentials".

Qiao isn't vegan himself, but he eats the things I cook.

Some of the recipes I tried lately were "Chilled Ginger-Peach Soup with Cashew Cream" and "Cool Cucumber Soup with Cilantro and Lime". Those were from the Vegan Planet book.
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Tomato, cilantro, and garlic sauteed with tangy lemon and lime juice. Also, cornbread.

addendum: I suppose it would have been better without the lemon/lime juice. Tomatoes are acidic enough on their own.

stainless steel pan

Saturday, June 11th, 2011 11:51 pm
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After the unfortunate incident in which my nonstick pan got burnt, leaving it discolored and smoky-smelling, I decided to replace it with a stainless steel saute pan. Not having used a stainless steel frying pan before, I was worried about food sticking to it. I found some online advice which recommended heating the pan to a hot temperature* and then letting it cool down somewhat before putting the oil and food in. This is supposed to reduce sticking.

My problem is that I don't know when the pan has cooled down enough. So far, every time I put the oil and food in, the pan still seems to be too hot, and the food starts making loud scary popping noises... at which point I put the lid on the pan, remove it from the burner, and wait for it to stop popping while hoping that the food isn't burning in the meantime.

The new pan browns things better than the nonstick did, though. And even when food starts to stick, usually I can just stir in a bit of water, and the stuck on parts dissolve away.

(*) - supposedly it is hot enough when water drops dance across the surface. And it is *so* cool watching little spheres of water sizzling and floating around in the pan!


Sunday, March 27th, 2011 11:52 pm
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Note to self:
Don't walk away from the stove, and especially don't sit down in front of the computer, when toasting sesame seeds.

(no subject)

Sunday, February 6th, 2011 09:44 pm
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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.