Frequently Sought Questions
Friday, December 23, 2005, 11:45 PM - faq
No one's actually asked me any questions, but I frequently have questions show up in my search log. Some of them are issues that are actually addressed in entries... this gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Some of them are good questions that aren't answered that I know the answer to. And I feel like I've failed for not providing an answer. I mean, someone clicked through google to my site hoping that I could save them... hoping that I could tell them "how to construct a laser bean" or something like that... Unfortunately, the monkey won't tell me how to build a laser bean. I think he specializes in laser papayas anyway. But there are issues I can address, and I'll do that in the faq category. Readers can also just, you know, actually ask questions.

Here I address Fudge Related Questions, Norwegian Questions, Monkey Questions, and Miscellaneous Questions. The blog software doesn't let me use anchors, so you'll just need to scroll down if you're looking for something specific.

Fudge Related Questions

For a more thorough fudgey rant, see my fudge entry.

does altitude affect cooking fudge
Probably. I dunno, though. I've never left sea level except on road trips, and I don't often make fudge in motel rooms. I would assume that it does and use the soft ball method as your main indicator rather than trusting your thermometer.

how to make fudge set up if it is too runny
I think you might be screwed. You should have used the soft ball method in conjunction with your thermometer instead of just the thermometer. You have several options. If it's only slightly too runny, keep it in the refrigerator and make sure it gets eaten shortly after it's set out. If it's extremely runny, use it as ice-cream topping or just eat it with a spoon. If you absolutely have to have hard fudge (for gift-giving purposes or something like that), you probably have to start over. If you're dirt poor and there's no starting over with fresh ingredients and your family and friends will hate you forever if you don't cough up some proper fudge, you can get crazy experimental and stick it in a pot with some water or cream or milk and melt it back down and start over. I've never tried this. You'd be in dangerous territory, but if you really have nothing to lose, you could always try it. I'd re-disolve the sugars and re-melt the chocolate... and use the soft ball method to make sure I actually got the proper amount of sugar this time. You'd be completely flying blind, so you wouldn't know what the right temperature was for your ingredients or anything. It would be a fiasco waiting to happen. I really wouldn't try this at home. You know, you could just go out and panhandle and get enough cash to buy some more ingredients.

fudge balls too runny what to do?
Um... see above. If they're really really too runny instead of only slightly too runny, make truffles. Make your fudge balls into balls and freeze them. Look up a truffle recipe and just make the outside coating bit (I haven't ever made them myself and am not going to pretend I know how to temper chocolate off the top of my head), dip them in the coating and let it harden.

why pumpkin fudge didn't set
Ok, it sounds like you were getting seriously experimental. It probably didn't set because you modified a recipe without accounting for the additional moisture that would be in the pumpkin? You might have needed more sugar to balance out the pumpkin? Or maybe fibre interferes with fudgeiness? I bet it would... fudge sets because all the sugar you've put in it crystalizes. Even if the sugar crystalizes properly, comparatively large pumpkin fibres might make the texture a little wacky. But if that's not your problem, you probably ought to have used the soft ball test instead of a thermometer. The thermometer is a guideline and the actual temperature you want varies with altitude and ingredients.

Norwegian questions

recipe for lefse made with instant potatoes
potato lefse instant mashed
norwegian flatbread

I don't know. I mean, I have done it a couple of times, and I have a recipe for potato lefse on my site, but my family never made potato lefse so I can't vouch for its authenticity. Especially since I told my mom I made it and she told me that when she was a kid, Mrs. Horn used to make potato lefse and bring some over to share (Grandma would share her hardanger lefse with Mrs. Horn as well... I guess they had a collective thing going) and it was always really tough, but my potato lefse is always so tender it doesn't seem much like lefse at all. I imagine I don't use enough flour... it's yummy but I don't think it's authentic because Mrs. Horn knew what she was doing and um... I don't know where I'm going with this. I have a lefse-inspired potato flatbread recipe.

how do i freeze lefse and pack it
I dunno with potato lefse. With hardanger lefse, after you butter and cinnamon-sugar it, cut it into strips and stick it in ziploc bags and throw it in the freezer. You don't have to do anything fancy, it sort of magically works. Once we even saved some for next year. Not intentionally, mind you, but people were feeling sick and lefse didn't get made and some was found in the freezer from the year before and it tasted fine. Just defrost it gradually. I wouldn't microwave it, I'd pull it and stick it in the refrigerator a day before I wanted to serve it.

recipe for norwegian glug
I've never heard of norwegian glug. When I use the term "glug," I refer to an imprecise amount of liquid. It's more than a splash. There's a good chance that Norwegians use metric glugs, but I don't know what the conversion rate is. Sorry.

Monkey questions

monkeys lunch recipe
He prefers papayas, but I think he occasionally sneaks laser beans when I'm not looking.

pitchers and info about monkeys
I don't know much about monkeys. I have some wonderful links, but I don't know if I've actually linked to anyone who knows about monkeys. I've never seen a monkey pitcher. We do white elephant gift exchanges most christmases, but none has ever come up, despite the kitch value you'd think they'd have. If you're after pictures, check out the "so many monkeys, so little time" link in the links section. Whoever that dude is, he has some awesome monkey pictures.

ginger monkeys who won't eat
Do you mean gingerbread monkeys who won't eat? Perhaps you shouldn't be biting the heads off your gingerbread critters.

if cheese and monkeys were the same
If cheese and monkeys were the same... the implications are mind-boggling. Would this mean that cheese was really high maintenance and might tear your house up if not given enough attention? And that maybe you should just give up and be vegan? There's a big difference between cheese being like monkeys and monkeys being like cheese... Would monkeys melt? Would they go well with wine? It's very complicated. I'm willing to make up an answer to just about anything, but you have me stumped. You'll need to ask someone else.

Miscellaneous Questions

Chineese soup thin types
Sorry... I haven't actually made any chineese soups since I started the blog. I have been known to make them, but some people aren't very enthused when I recommend them, so I usually make them when I'm by myself. Try again in February.

how to make egg mayonaise
Mayonaise is pretty nasty, so you wouldn't catch me making it. But
I've heard that you drizzle oil into egg very slowly while you whip the heck out of it. If I were guessing, I'd start with an egg in a blender (on a reasonably high setting) and slowly add oil until it got to the right consistency. When you make meringues, it works better with room temperature egg. I dunno, I'd guess start with a room temperature egg for mayonaise too. The raw egg thing kind of scares me; you might look into getting those special pasterized raw eggs that are specially processed for such purposes.

breakfast or what ?
Good question. Breakfast or sleep in and start with lunch. Or you could overthrow the tyranny of the clock and start keeping 30 hour days. Then it's hard to tell what meal you're eating. There's a certain bit of cognitive disonnance involved in eating dinner as the sun rises, or breakfast as the sun sets, but this will happen once every few days. I find that naming meals stops making sense at this point.

carrots take long time cook
Yes, they do. But you can intervene. Julienned carrots will cook faster than big hunks of carrots. Usually when I cook carrots, I julienne them. Unless I'm making soup. Soup wants to ook, so a long time is in order whether carrots are involved or not.

how to spell calamata
I dunno. Maybe you should try to figure out how to re-word your sentance so that you can avoid the word entirely. Say "greek olives" or "those purple greek olive things" instead. Or just spell it wrong. I find that if I spell the occasional thing wrong, I'll get hits from people who also spell it wrong. I'm probably the bajillionth google hit with the correct spelling, but I'm up near the top when I get more creative.

rolled oats for lunch
Sounds good. I actually prefer pinhead oats, if given the option, but rolled oats aren't bad.

mung bean cake
They're good, aren't they?

microwaving cheese
Don't over-microwave it or you'll get something really solid. If it's in small pieces it will microwave more uniformly. If you're trying to make a melted cheese sandwich and cut a big hunk, you want to do it for a long time on a very low power rather than a on a high power. Unless you like it in an unmelted block in the middle and solid bubbly sheets on the edge.

I've actually been told that I misspelled qvark and it's actually spelled quark and pronounced qvark. It's a fresh cheese.

deconstructed soup
Hmm... you could give people pieces of carrot, onion, cellery, and some protein item like meat or tofu and serve them nicely arranged on a plate with a bowl of water on the side. Or you could just do something like sukiaki. I don't even know if I'm spelling that right, but it's yummy. I haven't had it in ages because I don't have an electric frying pan and my mom stopped making it regularly about 20 years ago. But you'd put a mixture of soy sauce, broth, and mirin in an electric frying pan. Then you have plates of all sorts of thinly sliced raw stuff. And everyone gets a bowl of rice and a little dish of raw egg. And then you take what you want to eat and stick it in the broth until it's cooked then pull it out and let it dribble in your bowl of rice. Maybe dip it into your raw egg first... then when you're done the rice is all dribbled on by the various food items so it's good and brothey and you can eat it. I should really try to get the recipe from her, shouldn't I.

stovetop gingerbread bowl recipe
I'm guessing you'd like to make stovetop gingerbread? Well, I'd do it like any other stove-top flatbread. You can probably go take my gingerbread recipe and instead of squooshing the whole thing out into a pan and baking it, pat it out into rounds. Put some oil in a frying pan and fry it on both sides. When I make flatbreads, I just do it until it feels right, which isn't a very helpful description. I don't know what you think stovetop gingerbread ought to be like. If you make it a super-flat flatbread, like tortillas, the top will puff up a bit. But with a thicker one it won't. Oh, I know! I have a great idea. Just go get a pancake recipe, or pancake mix. Add tons of spices to it (go click on the gingerbread link for a list of what I'd use) and cook it like normal pancakes. If you want, you could chop up some candied ginger and sprinkle it on top after you pour it, then when you flip it that will be like a blueberry pancake, only with ginger.

squash apetizer
I've never made a squash apetizer. Hmm... you could get some puff pastry and cut it into smallish squares and line small muffin tins with it. Then cook some squash and mix it with some butter, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and corriander. The puff pastry package ought to tell you how to cook it; I've never made puff pastry, so I'm not going to stick my neck out. Scoop the squash mixture into the little puff pastry thingys, and you'll have little pumpkin-pie-like appetizers. Yay.

Split Pea Soup
Friday, December 23, 2005, 10:13 PM - soups, sandwiches
We made split pea soup yesterday. Yum. Split pea soup is the reason for the existance of ham. We made stock from the ham bone on christmas* evening and used it as a base for the soup.

Ham Stock

We cooked the ham in a large dutch oven that we use as both a stock pot and a roasting pan. After carving the ham, we simply stuck the bone back in the pot. There were lots of good drippings caked onto the bottom of the pot. By making the stock immediately after, we guarantee that we get their yummy goodness. Equally important, we guarantee that those caked on drippings that would be a pain in the ass to clean off on their own will spend several hours ooking away. Add a couple of coarsley chopped onions, 3-4 carrots (also coarsley chopped) and several sticks of celery (you guessed it---coarsley chop that too). I also threw in some exceptionally gristley pieces of ham that I wouldn't want to encounter in a sandwich.

Pour enough water into your pot to cover everything up. Let it ook for several hours on low heat. I always heat it up until it boils then turn it down until it just barely stops and leave it at that temperature. Look in on it periodically, but you don't need to obsess. If it gets foam on top, skim it off and throw it into a can that is destined for the trash. When it's ooked for several hours, strain out the veggies and ham bone and throw them into the trash. Then skim the fat off the top and put it in the can you're skimming things into. You don't want ham fat down your garbage disposal. Now you can refrigerate or freeze the stock for later use.

Split Pea Soup

Pour 6 cups of ham stock into a pot. Add 1 bag (~2 cups) of split peas. Let it ook until the split peas are hydrated to the point where it looks like a thick green sludge instead of split peas in water. If you get impatient, I've been told that you can hit it with an immersion blender, but I'm a big believer in ooking. After it's done ooking, add some diced ham and let it go a few more minutes to warm the ham up. Serve and eat.

Leftover Split Pea & Carrot Soup with Ham Sandwiches

Today we had leftover split pea and carrot soup. We took 1 leftover bit of carrot soup and some leftover split pea soup and stirred them together and microwaved them. It worked. The carrot soup was definitely more potent, but the flavors didn't conflict or anything. There wasn't quite enough for a meal, so we served it with ham and cheese sandwiches. We made one ham/cheddar sandwich and one ham/jack sandwich, put a bit of oregano on both of them, and split both of them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005, 08:43 PM - holiday
We celebrated christmas* yesterday (pronounced christmas star). We were going to celebrate christmas' (pronounced christmas prime), but we thought christmas* sounded more festive. Why christmas* instead of plain ordinary christmas? Well, christmas was just at a damned inconvenient time. We thought about celebrating solstice instead, but we had to do laundry that day. What's my point? We made a festive christmas* dinner. Christmas is one of the few days in the year when I really feel the need for a big hunk of meat. Actually, the meat isn't so important, but the soup you make from the bone is, so you have to make the meat at some point, and usually this happens on Thanksgiving and Christmas. When they release a tofurkey with a real turkey carcass underneath, that will be the day. We want split pea soup, so we had a ham dinner for christmas*. We made Ham, carnival squash, cauliflour, and apple chutney.


Buy a ham. Don't just buy any ham, buy a ham with a bone in it. If it doesn't have a bone, you can't make split pea soup by boiling the bone with some veggies and split peas. WTF would be the point of that? Don't let Tha Man deprive you of the bone. Ours turned out to be a partially cooked city pork butt.

What does this mean? I didn't see city on our label, but I've discovered that there are 2 kinds of ham: dry/country and wet/city. There was a web site I came across that explained that dry/country ham was a pain in the ass. They didn't quite put it that way, but gosh, there were all these steps to make it properly moist and there were bags and oil and all sorts of paraphenalia. Lots of steps, too. I don't know if you can even buy dry ham in a grocery store anyway. In any case, our ham was a wet ham. It had a little bit of small print on the label explaining that a sizable percentage of its weight was water, just in case you were planning on suing them over paying for the moisture in the ham instead of just the meat. I think that's how you can tell you're getting the right thing.

Ours was partially cooked instead of completely cooked. It didn't look like we could get a bone and have it completely cooked. Ours wasn't a high falutin' spiral cut either. In any case, if it's completely cooked, you only have to cook it to be 140 degrees F. If it's partially cooked, you need to cook it so its internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F if you don't want to risk severe stomach badness, pain, parasites, or death. There will be a label on your ham explaining what the ham company thinks is an appropriate internal temperature for your ham. You should trust them more than you trust me. I could have made a typo. Ours said it would take 20 minutes a pound. Our elite math skills suggested that this would be about 2 and a half hours. It took more like 3-3 and a half hours. Make sure you have snacks.

We stuck our ham cut side down in a giahugeous pot on a little plate that was turned upside down. The plate was ovensafe stoneware. If you have some sort of roasting rack, that's probably what normal people would use, but a person can only have so much kitchen gear. We put about a cup of water into the bottom of the pan. We put it in a 325 degree oven for a really long time. We used a meat thermometer to tell when the ham got hot enough. While it was cooking, we stuck other stuff we needed to cook into the oven so everything would ideally get done at the same time.

Carnival Squash

Carnival Squash is some variety of winter squash. The label on the squash said it was festive, so we thought it would be appropriate for christmas*. None of the other winter squashes said they were festive on their labels. Why use a unfestive acorn squash or a drab butternut squash when carnival squashes are festive? There are nuances of difference that I'm sure the squash conneseur can tell you about. But this doesn't affect cooking; you can treat all winter squashes roughly the same way.

Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and clean them. Stick them on a cookie sheet. Smoosh them around in some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stick them in the oven (On the rack that doesn't have a ham on it, obviously) for 5 minutes. Pull them out and snack on them while you wait for the ham to take an hour longer than it was supposed to. I should note that not all winter squashes have the same seeds. We tried this with a butternut and its seeds were too tough and fibrous. But with every other variety I've tried, they've been really good.

Place the squash cut side down on something that can go in the oven. We used a dinner plate of the same pattern as the little plate underneath the ham. Stick the plate of squash in the oven. Come back in about an hour. Stick it with a fork. If it squashes, it's done. If it feels like a brick, stick it back in and check back in 10-15 minutes. Since squash always takes longer than its supposed to and ham always takes longer than its supposed to, they make a great pairing at any meal.

Remove the squash from its skin and stick it in a bowl. Your partner might find the skin so festive, and the ham so dilatory, that he will think the skin is a tasty treat. Yum. (I didn't try it, but he said it was good.) Add a tbs of butter, a bunch of cinnamon, nutmeg, corriander, and allspice to the squash. Squash it.


Remove the green cabbagey bits. Cut the stem off so nothing sticks down off of the head. Rinse the cauliflour. Put the cauliflour in an oven-save dish with a lid. Add some whiskey, water, salt, and pepper. Stick it in the oven for 20 minutes or so. If it doesn't fit on the shelf next to the squash, you've mismanaged the size of your cooking apparatus. When you think it's done, open the lid and stick it with a fork. If it's the softness prefer for cauliflour, it's done. If it's not, stick it back in for another 5 minutes. It is good if it's soft enough that people can cut off serving-sized clumps at the table with the serving spoon.

Apple Chutney

This is something you want to make the day before, or at least the morning before, the rest of the meal.

Dice up a bunch of granny smith apples. I used 5 apples. They have to be granny smith or it will be too sweet. It was already on the sweet side using granny smith. If you used red delicious or something, it would be yucko-sweet instead of slightly sweet with a nice zing to it. Chop 2 cups of walnuts.

Put 1 cup of white vinegar in a pot. Add 2 cups of brown sugar. You could use white sugar, but that would require having some around. Our resultant chutney was pretty brown, so if you're obsessed with aesthetics and prefer a lighter color, you might use white sugar here. Add a couple of tablespoons each of fennel, corriander, mustard seed, and cinnamon. You could add a teaspoon or so of nutmeg as well. Boil these and stir until the sugar disolves.

Add the apples and walnuts. Let them boil for a few minutes then squoosh them well with a potato masher. Serve chilled or at room temperature. This goes really well with ham. It also goes really well with gingerbread.

carrot soup
Sunday, December 18, 2005, 10:07 AM - soups

Carrot Soup


some onions. whatever you have lying around. probably one large onion's worth of onion. I used what was left in a bag of cut frozen onions (not much--about a quarter cup), what was left in a bag of frozen pearl onions (about half a cup; still not enough), and threw in some dried onion flakes for good measure. If you have an actual whole onion lying around, dice it.

6 carrots, chopped coarsely.

sundry spices, to taste. I used about 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp fennel, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp corriander, 1 tsp powdered ginger, 1.5 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 dried thai chili.

~2 cups of water

1 glug spiced rum

1 glug sesame oil

The rest of a can of evaporated milk. What does this mean? I'm not sure. Maybe half a cup? Maybe 2 generous glugs? Maybe even 3 generous glugs? Who knows. You'll have to add milk to taste.

Three leftover pancake-mix crepes (or any other variety of leftover flatbread. I really think pancake mix crepes are superior for this application; I just don't think proper crepes would be as good here, but some other fluffy flatbread might be.)

Two dollops of goat cheese

fake meatballs or hardboiled egg


Add the onion, oil, and spices to a pot. Cook them on medium heat for a while. This gets the spiciness and onionness into the oil. Since oil is what's best at holding flavor, that's where you want it. Add the carrots and just enough water to cover everything. Allow to ook for a long time. We started hard-boiling some eggs at this point, and decided it had ooked long enough when the eggs were done, more or less. Microwave a serving of fake meatballs.

After ookage, remove the soup from the element and blend with an immersion blender. Or mash it with a potato masher if you don't have an immersion blender. Add milk. Stir up and cook a bit more. Cut the crepes into strips and split them into two bowls. Put the fake meatballs into one bowl. Cut two hardboiled eggs into the other bowl. Fill the two bowls with soup. Put a dollop of goat cheese into each bowl. Serve. The person who is completely sensible gets the bowl with the fake meatballs. (In fact, if we were both completely sensible, the meatballs would have gone straight into the soup right after blending and cooked there instead of in the microwave.) The person who thinks that hardboiled eggs in soup are heavenly gets the bowl with the eggs in it.

Other Carrot Soups:

October 6, 2005

Blintz Onion Soup
Thursday, December 15, 2005, 08:18 PM - soups, flatbread

Blintz Onion Soup

Blintz onion soup is what you make when you have goat cheese and lots of green onions lying around. Initially, it was going to be onion soup and blintz. But the onion soup was quite strong, so we cut up the blintz and put them in the soup. The cheese melted into the soup and the blintzes acted like noodle/dumping things. It was quite yummy.

Crepe from pancake mix

Now, if you actually have ingredients, you should just go get yourself a real crepe recipe. Or you can just use a pancake recipe and leave out most of the levening and add extra water.

Mix pancakes as directed, only add half again as much liquid. For me, this meant 2 cups pancake mix, 1 1/3 cup water, and another 2/3 cup water. Let it sit until the bubbles dissipate a bit. Pancake mix has more levening than crepes ought to have, so waiting a bit will make them crepe-like instead of pancake like. Of course, if you were actually making pancakes you'd want to cook them right away to make them fluffy. But we're making crepes, not pancakes.

Heat a pan to medium heat. How can you tell if it's medium heat? Your crepes won't be screwed up. You can splash the pan with water and it should bubble and fizzle instead of just drying up quickly. Unless you're lucky, you should just expect your first crepe to be screwed up. Today my first crepe wasn't screwed up, but that's pretty abnormal.

Pour batter into the center of the pan and shift the pan around so the batter spreads to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. I sort of pour it slowly into a widening spiral as I turn the pan to get it to cover evenly. Cook it until the surface dries up and the edges shrink back a lot and start to peel up from the edge of the pan. Then flip it and cook it a bit more. It should be brown on the first side and white with brown spots on the second side.


Set out the cheese before you start making the crepes; it's best at room temperature. Smoosh together a whole bunch of coarsley ground black pepper, some dried onion flakes, some basil, and some goat cheese. Spoon it in a line on a crepe. Roll the crepe like a burrito. Stuff as many crepes as you'd like to eat, then put them all back in the frying pan for a few minutes. It will soften the cheese a bit and brown the crepes a little.

Onion Soup

Get some stock out of your fridge. You should have some leftover from thanksgiving. Or just make some broth. Since our stock was condensed, we added some water and vermouth. After it heats up, add a ton of sliced green onion. Let it wilt a bit, then you're done.

Blintz Onion Soup

Spoon the onion soup into bowls. Cut the blintzes into 1.5 cm wide slices and drop the slices into the soup. Eat.

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