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Uncrushable Laser Monkeys! (or, what I had for dinner)
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.

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

Carrot Soup



Ingredients



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

Process



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.


Blintz



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.

Soup
Tuesday, December 6, 2005, 12:51 PM - soups
We made soup from the capon carcass the other day. We actually made the stock the day after thanksgiving, froze it, then made soup with some of it later.

Stock


You'll need a big pot of some sort. You don't actually need a big pot; last year we didn't have a big pot so we broke the carcass up into a couple of absurdly small pots & it still turned out ok. But a big pot helps. This year, we had a big pot. We got a dutch oven after discovering that a good quality stock pot costs several hundered dollars more than a good quality dutch oven of the same capacity. The dutch oven could double as a roasting pan as well, which a stock pot wouldn't be able to do. Maybe if we made soup all the time, a stock pot would be worth it. But given that we make it only several times a year, it wasn't worth it. Don't get a crappy stock pot, either, because that would be silly. We could have gotten a crappy stock pot for much less than the dutch oven, but it wouldn't have worked properly. Good ones have an aluminum core that goes up the sides; crappy ones have an aluminum core just on the bottom, or nothing. We have a small pot that just has an aluminum core on the bottom and you can't just turn down the heat and let it simmer because the heat won't get to the top of the pot; it's a problem for 2 people's worth of soup. I can only imagine how bad it would be in a stock pot with 4-5 times it's volume.

Stick the carcass and giblets in the pot along with coarsley chopped celery, onions, carrots, and a handful of black peppercorns. I think we used 2 onions, 6-8 carrots, and a comprable amount of cellery. Fill the pot with water so that the carcass is under water. If the carcass sticks up, just break it up so it gets underneath. You can do this with your bare hands and feel very primal. Grunting helps, as does using telegraphic speech. Actually, it's just easier with your hands than to go pull out a cutting board and a cleaver. You're welcome to do that, though, since I recognize that cleavers have their own appeal.

Let it ook on low heat for 3-6 hours; if you have a crappy pot, you'll want to use a higher heat. It should be at the low end of simmering. Every 15-20ish minutes, go skim the foamy stuff off the top. When foamy stuff stops forming, you can ignore the pot for longer. But check on it periodically because it's bad to leave something completely unattended on the stove for hours. You never know when a badly aimed mind-control-laser might be directed at the pot, causing its entire contents to sublimate. Then you'd want to turn the stove off.

When you think it's ooked for long enough, take out the carcass and throw it in the trash. Then use a sieve or collander, remove the smaller chunks from the liquid and throw them out. Skim the fat off of the top and throw it out too. Since a dutch oven has a very high surface area, skimming the fat was hard because it didn't make a very thick layer. So I dipped a mug into the pot and let the top layer of stock fill the mug. I skimmed the fat from the mug (which was now a quite thick layer) and then repeated the process until the great majority of the fat was gone.

We had a much higher volume of stock than we had containers, so we condensed it to about 1/4 the volume by just letting it simmer without a lid for a while. Then we stuck it in a container in the refrigerator. When refrigerated, it had the consistency of jello. When it became apparent that we weren't making soup any time soon, we split it up into freezer boxes and froze it.

soup


Remove stock from the freezer. Stick it in a pot... you can even use your small crappy pot. Add some water if you condensed your stock. Add a bunch of brussel sprouts and perl onions. Ack!. I've been hanging out with too many programmers. You can use pearl onions if you don't like scripting languages. I'm more of a c person, myself. Add some salt (since we didn't add any to the stock) and other seasonings if you feel so inclined. I don't remember what I used because I was slightly irresponsible and didn't post about the soup in a timely fashion.

Let it ook for about half an hour. The important thing with brussel sprouts is to let them ook properly. People often think they don't like them because they haven't had them cooked properly. Remember, if you take the ook out of cook, all you have is c. Or something like that... um... nevermind. But ooking is important.

Mashed Potatoes
Saturday, October 29, 2005, 11:18 PM - soups, comfort food

menu



breakfast: um... breakfast?
lunch: ramen
dinner: mashed potatoes with gravy and meatballs

recipes



ramen



1. Search your house from top to bottom in hopes that you have some foodstuffs besides the ones you just bought at the store, because you just aren't in the mood to eat any of that stuff today. I didn't buy much because my car is 3000 miles away so I just bought some staples I was out of due to poor planning in July. Plus I'm going back to Albany in a week so I didn't want to buy anything that could go bad. Just some canned and frozen stuff.

2. Discover a stash of ramen in (surprise, surprise) the little hidden ramen cupboard. Score!

3. Boil water. I boil water in one of those counter-top boiling water pitchers. You could use a stove top, but it's much slower and quite possibly less efficient (more waste heat). I couldn't swear by the heat efficiency, but I can swear by the time efficiency.


4. Scrounge through your freezer for veggies. I found green beans.

5. Microwave the green beans in the bowl you plan on eventually having your ramen in.

6. put the ramen in the bowl. use the block of ramen to put the beans aside so that the beans end up on top of the ramen; this way it's easier to make sure the noodles are properly submerged.

7. add flavor packets. If you know what you're doing and buy the good ramen, there will be several flavor packets. I had 3 flavor packets. Do not decide that fat is bad for you and you're going to skip the fat flavor packet. I've never tried this myself, but I've been warned by several reliable sources that it tastes yucky without the fat packet. And really, it's not that big and your body needs some fat.

8. Pour boiling water over the ramen.

9. Let it sit a while.

10. Eat.

Mashed Potatoes with Gravy and Meatballs



1. decide, upon reflection, that you still don't feel like eating anything you bought at the store the other day.

2. poke around looking for cream of mushroom soup.

3. open the can and put it in a saucepan. stir up the soup. You need to add a can of water, but if you stir it first it won't get lump. Once it's smooth, you can add the can of water and it will stay smooth.

4. Remember to turn the stove on at some point. It doesn't really matter when. I turn it to hi because i'm impatient. If it bothers you to risk boiling a cream soup, you might be more patient and use a lower setting. But I've always been too impatient so I use high and turn it down when I remember.

5. Add 6 fake meatballs. Why 6? because the package says 6 is a serving. If you're using different fake meatballs, you might need a different number. My fake meatballs tell me they should be cooked for 8 minutes. It really doesn't matter if you overcook them, but I set a timer just in case, because nothing is worse than having an unexpected frozen chunk in your food from undercooking.

6. Poke around in your freezer for vegies. Ideally, you want brocolli, but no such luck. Add a bunch of green beans. Somehow brocolli is much more comforting than green beans. When I was a little kid, I always wanted brocolli on my birthday. Yeah, maybe I was a freak. It might have been because when my mom made mashed potatoes she let us build landscapes with gravy volcanoes and tree-covered slopes and all that... Let that be a lesson to any parents that might be reading this: if you want your kids to eat their veggies, let them play with their food. It's all about presentation.

7. You might want to stir periodically.

8. Oh yeah, I added a couple of cloves of garlic. I didn't have any real garlic, I had this frozen stuff in cubes that are each supposed to be a clove. I dunno... it seems mighty suspicious, but the store I went to didn't have any other garlic. It's better than that powdered stuff, anyway. Not having a car really cramps my style. If I ever have to do this again, I might risk eviction and sneak out the back of the apartment complex, cutting 2 miles off of the round trip walk to the grocery store.

9. Boil some water in the water-boiling-pitcher.

10. Stick a chunk of butter in a bowl.

11. Pour some instant mashed potato flakes into the bowl. Just eyeball it... make about as much as you think you'd want to eat once they were expanded. And add some salt.

12. Pour some water into the bowl... just enough to make the flakes turn potato-like when you stir them with a fork. I always eyeball these things because following the directions never works. It's always too runny if you follow the directions, so you go back and add more flakes, then you have way more food than you intended. The directions also call for milk, which I don't have on me at the moment. But it tasted fine just using water---good to know for future reference.

13. Spoon the mushroom soup/green bean/fake meatball mixture over the potatoes. The gravy-type stuff made enough for 2 meals (I ate all the meatballs, I'll probably cook up some more and add them to it for another meal some other time).


14. Eat.


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