Super quick noodles.

I’ve been missing my sense of smell & taste for almost 3 weeks now due to The Plague™ and for some reason, the only thing that has been remotely appealing to eat is pasta.
It started with Mom’s garlic noodles (lots of chopped garlic, fried in butter, can of tomatoes, some herbs & spices, plus noodles and lots of cheddar cheese) and since then, it’s kind of been a rather unconventional combination of ingredients that I wouldn’t have considered throwing together under normal circumstances that I’ve been making over & over again this past week.

While your noodles are cooking, put into a large bowl: a pat of butter, a decent drizzle of garlic olive oil, and a good sprinkling of your favourite furikake (if it happens to have bonito, rice balls & egg bits, even better!). Set your bowl over the pot and let it melt the butter. While that’s doing its thing, grate some parmesan cheese & set aside, give your melty butter concoction a good stir so it’s all nicely combined. When your noodles are cooked to your liking, add them from the pot, directly into your bowl with the cooking water still dripping. Mix everything together so that every strand has been sufficiently coated in the buttery emulsion and season with pepper. Add your cheese, extra furikake if desired, and stir well, making sure to add extra pasta water if needed to get the right consistency. Eat fast while it’s still hot! :D

As a side note: I have recently discovered the perfect method for cooking pasta so that I don’t have to worry about accidentally overcooking it. Apparently that Serious Eats tip for cooking dried pasta totally works!

Put your pasta into a pot just large enough to accomodate the size/length of your noodles and cover it with about 1-2″ of cold water (don’t forget to add salt). Bring to a boil, stirring a couple times as needed, then cover the pot, shut off the heat and set your timer for 10 minutes. Yea, seriously. When the time’s up, taste test your noodles and it should be the perfect doneness! Add noodles to your hot sauce, stir to combine and you’re good to go!

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BTW… 

The 8bit Vogmask also arrived the other day! It finally came back in stock and I snagged it just in time! Now I am almost ready to begin Round #2 of Rituxan… Just need to finish restocking the deep freeze with lots of homemade ready meals again!

 Looks like today will be a bulk soup & cheesy-herby biscuits making day ^_^ 

Adagio Tea’s Sherlock Fandom Blend (updated review)

Note: This is a reprint of My thoughts on Sherlock, the tea with a few extra thoughts added.

My thoughts on Sherlock…

Honestly, when you first smell the tea: My God, it’s smoky as fuck.
It’s a bit of a bummer that Sherlock’s the most overwhelming fragrance when you open the fandom sampler box; but I am hoping  that if I keep Sherl separated from the rest of the teas, they will all come back to their own.
 Sherlock: blended with assam melody, lapsang souchong, black tea, natural spice flavour, cinnamon bark, orange peels, ginger root, cloves, cardamom. Teas: lapsang souchong, assam melody, oriental spice.

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 When I was discussing the characteristics of Sherlock with a friend; she noted,“I have to admit that smoky isn’t a descriptor I am attracted to in my tea.” — and neither am I.
If you’ve never smelled lapsang souchong, it’s really shocking at first. It totally reminds me of campfire, and it’s almost too smoky at first — reminds me more like the acridness that comes of forest fire smoke. I find it a turn off to be honest…. Why would I want to drink campfire??
…But the thing is, once you get past the smoky and the tea gets brewed to the proper strength, when you finally get to drinking Sherlock you only get a nice sense of subtle smoke flavour; again, more like that feeling I mentioned of a cozy campfire. With the addition of milk and a touch of sugar (highly recommended, by the way), there’s a really nice smoothness that balances everything out.
As to the other flavours of Sherlock, I could only just barely taste the orange peel and the spices; but that might possibly be due to the fact that I tend to use less tea leaves than most people recommend when brewing a pot of tea, so I found that the orange peel & spices were both only subtle at best.
To be honest, I don’t know how I would feel if the spices were more prominent & noticeable; but I have a feeling it would taste too much like a chai at that point versus a really intriguing cup of smoky tea that totally brings to mind memories of old, stuffy, Chinese junk shops or the house of elderly relatives…
Be warned: the smoky becomes a lot more prominent & noticeable when your cup of tea gets cold!

My Teas Arrived!!!

It seems like ages ago that I ordered teas from Adagio. Probably sheer bad luck on my part that I ordered stuff just as the east coast was being hammered by a huge snowstorm, wreaking all sorts of havoc on transportation and shipping routes.

Anyhow, a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far, away…) I ordered a bunch of free tea samplers from Adagio. We’re talking almost 10(!) years ago. Back at Christmas, my parents received some tea from Older Bro, and Baby Bro’s fiance was also given tea. Since everyone in my family seems to have a hard-on for Teavana, I decided to check them out.

Conveniently, it was the Boxing Day/Week period for shopping, and I flitted about online to see what was on offer. I picked up one chai blend (which I am rather wishy-washy about, at the moment) and a brand new cast iron tea pot. I’ve been seriously coveting a cast iron teapot for ages and the one I ended up with happened to be 50% off, so it was kind of a done deal at that point ;)

Fast forward a bit, and I was flitting around online again for more options for tea and at that point re-discovered Adagio… and their FANDOM BLENDS! *SQUEE!*

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Honestly? I think Adagio is rather brilliant to come up with a concept that involves tea lovers, fandoms and in the case of the tea blends I purchased: Fandom Artwork!

All the teas I purchased happen to be their more popular blends from the Fandom line, created by artist Cara McGee. I really like her drawing style, and currently am enjoying her tea blending skills; something I can’t imagine is an easy skill to acquire.

Here’s the list of teas I ended up getting from both the BBC Sherlock Sampler, as well as the three extra blends I chose, just because.

Sherlock Sampler

Sherlock: blended with assam melody, lapsang souchong, black tea, natural spice flavour, cinnamon bark, orange peels, ginger root, cloves, cardamom. Teas: lapsang souchong, assam melody, oriental spice. (See below for my thoughts on this blend!)

Lestrade: blended with gunpowder, pu erh dante, black tea, natural hazelnut flavour. Teas: gunpowder, pu erh dante, hazelnut

Mrs. Hudson: blended with assam melody, black tea, natural almond flavour. Teas: assam melody, almond

John Watson: blended with assam melody tea, ceylon sonata tea, green tea, black tea, cinnamon bark, natural cinnamon flavour, orange peels, natural bergamot flavour, blue cornflowers. Teas: irish breakfast, cinnamon, earl grey green

Molly Hooper: blended with chamomile, snowbud, rose hips, hibiscus, apple pieces, natural wild cherry flavour, dried cherries. Teas: chamomile, dewy cherry, snowbud

Mycroft: blended with black tea, rooibos tea, cinnamon bark, ginger root, cloves, orange peels, cardamom, natural chocolate flavour, dark chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, natural vanilla flavour, natural creme flavour. Teas: chocolate chip, rooibos vanilla chai, cream.
 
Extra Tea Blends

Moriarty: blended with black tea, ginger root, cloves, cardamom, natural ginger flavour, natural cinnamon flavour, cinnamon bark. Teas: ginger, masala chai

The Woman: blended with honeybush tea, lapsang souchong, rose hips, hibiscus, natural vanilla flavour, apple pieces, natural wild cherry flavour, dried cherries. Teas: honeybush vanilla, dewy cherry, lapsang souchong

Doctor Who Tardis: blended with black tea, orange peels, natural bergamot flavour, blue cornflowers, natural blackberry flavour, natural vanilla flavour, blackberry leaves. Teas: earl grey bravo, blackberry, vanilla.

My thoughts on Sherlock, the tea.

Honestly, when you first smell the tea: it’s smoky as fuck.
When I was discussing the characteristics of Sherlock with a friend, she noted, “I have to admit that smoky isn’t a descriptor I am attracted to in my tea.” — and neither am I. If you’ve never smelled lapsang souchong, it‘s really shocking at first. It totally reminds me of campfire, but it’s almost too smoky at first — like forest fire smoke.
The thing is, once you get past the smoky, and the tea gets brewed to the proper strength, when you drink it (I highly recommend milk and a bit of sugar by the way), you get only a nice subtle smoke flavour; like the more cozy feeling of campfire I mentioned, again. With the addition of milk and a touch of sugar, there’s a really nice smoothness that balances everything out.
Now, possibly because I tend to use less tea leaves than most people recommend using, I could only just barely taste the orange peel and the spices. I found they were both only subtle at best. I don’t know how I would feel if the spices were more noticeable, but I have a feeling it would taste too much like a chai at that point versus a really intriguing cup of smoky tea that totally brings to mind memories of old & stuffy Chinese junk shops, or the house of elderly relatives…

Be warned: the smoky becomes a lot more prominent & noticeable when your cup of tea gets cold!

Yup. Savoury oatmeal is totally the way to go from now on.

 

I knew there was something weird about oatmeal always being flogged to tasting sweet and not being at all filling. If it had been something that was used more in let’s say, Chinese or let’s say Indian cooking, we’d probably be more intuitively eating it like we already do rice. I think we’re totally biased about how we eat oatmeal because it’s a primarily western-eaten grain, usually only consumed with sweet toppings.

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I mean if you think about it, risotto is basically just the Italian way of making Chinese jook/congee, right? So if we just swap out rice for oatmeal, I imagine that there are absolutely no limits to what kinds of flavour combination profiles would match up brilliantly with oatmeal. The only difference being of course, is that it’s a heartier grain with slightly more flavour. It’s certainly not a deterrent, in my opinion, and plus: It means that suddenly you’ve opened up so many more options and flavour combinations.

My favourite toppings for jook happen to include: green onions, black eggs, and a generous splosh of fish sauce. I honestly don’t see that as being a bad combination even with oatmeal, the only difference is that it’s unlikely that I would need to dunk in the Chinese doughnuts because you’ve already got that wheat-y flavour profile in the oatmeal… not that there’s ever anything wrong with dunking fried dough in stuff, I’d just have to make sure that the oatmeal was a lot soupier than I currently make it. ;)

Anything that you eat with rice, would honestly be perfectly acceptably used on top of oatmeal. In fact, you don’t even have to cook it with anything like broth or stock, however you normally cook it for breakfast is fine and dandy! It’s been so long since I played around with oatmeal topping combinations that I forgot how enjoyable it was. I think that using steel cut oats is definitely preferable than the usual fast cooking rolled oats, just because it gives great creaminess plus the extra chewy bits of oatmeal makes for nice textural contrast. By all means though, if all you have is just regular oatmeal, use that absolutely!

I think that as a basic template: some kind of leftover protein + cheese + some kind of green vegetable matter + seasoning + drizzle of flavoured oil at the end, is the fastest, easiest and tastiest way to eat oatmeal. Not to mention most filling ;D

If I had it on-hand, I would love to fry up some mushrooms with garlic & lots of fresh thyme, and serve them over the oatmeal with a few pieces of emmental or other swiss cheese. Soy sauce, fried/poached egg with a runny yolk, with sesame oil and some chopped green onions would be amazing. Plus, I’d really love to make a batch using miso, some nori, a poached/fried egg and maybe some furikake sprinkled on top at the end would be pretty awesome.

Vague Savoury Oatmeal Recipe Template – serves 1 generously

2 1/4 cups water

1/2 steel cut oats

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Optional: better than bouillon chicken base, miso paste, dashi stock, etc

Optional: leftover bits of meat (like steak, ham, etc), cheese, fried/poached egg, etc

Optional: cooked kale, caramelized onions, garlicky mushrooms, etc

Optional: chopped green onions, toasted & crumbled nori, sesame seeds, furikake, etc

Optional: butter, garlic infused olive oil, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, etc

Bring water & chicken base to a boil.

Add oatmeal and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

When oatmeal is cooked, add your optional toppings, I used Snowdonia Cheese Company’s Beechwood Cheddar + leftover bits of steak with slices of garlic chips cut into small pieces, then season with a couple grinds of pepper to taste and serve with bit of flavourful oil, like a drizzle of garlic olive oil, before serving with a giant spoon.

Super Sekret Christmas Gifts COMPLETE!

Yellow, Hobbes #2: COMPLETE!! ^_^

     

I’m the tiniest bit bummed that Yellow Hobbes didn’t turn out the same size as Original Hobbes — this would be due to the fact that I didn’t realize the yellow yarn I had in my stash wasn’t actually worsted weight like the recently purchased orange.

Side note for future reference: the random yarns you chose from your stash without first looking at the labels (on the assumption that all your yarn is the same weight) probably means that you are going to be in for a bit of a surprise in the end. Let this be a lesson learned. 

Yum tastiness…

 After a whole week & a half of meals dedicated to comfort foods that would give warmth, bolster spirits during a time of great need, and provide extra calories for someone who has a tendency to shed weight like water off a duck’s back when they’re stressed,  Saturday night was just the night to make something easy, filling but not too gut-straining, plus still relatively comforting but fresh & palate-perking.

I know that the holidays are finally here, and usually that would imply bringing out all the favourite holiday-centric meals, but I’m just not feeling it as of yet; plus I’m pretty sure the damper on my mood has something to do with TheHubbs’ stress & sadness revolving around MIL and the passing of FIL last week after a long, stress-filled week of just patiently waiting.

[Sidenote: the term sofa-meal(s) will be used  as a term, from this point forward, to denote any dinner-time meal consumed while sitting sofa-side. Usually it will imply the meal was simple make and easily eaten while feeling physically or emotionally fragile; something from Netflix will very probably be playing on tv as accompaniment & distraction.]

So that brings us to this: homemade lamb souvlakis & tzatziki, greek salad and a side of hummus with extra pitas. I have to say: it was really damn good for a sofa-meal. 

Most of our sofa-meals in the last four to six  months basically consisted of a small pot of soup and a couple sandwiches. Simple & speedy to make, but not terribly soul-satisfying. The meal’s only saving grace is the soup being homemade; made ages ago in vat-sized quantities, portioned out then vaccuum sealed and frozen with the intention to be eaten as future meals.

This meal was remarkably satisfying considering it’s basically just an assembly job and in my opinion: a cold meal. The biggest surprise was how quickly it took to reheat the large chunks of leftover lamb that I had frozen from last weekend’s roast leg of lamb. It’s not easy to reheat roasted meats originally cooked to medium rare without drying it out or overcooking it. 

I’ve said it before and I’m certainly happy to say it again: I ❤️ my Sansaire. I should reallt try to think of using it for so many more things. I had a facepalm moment the other day when I saw that someone had used their sousvide setup to proof their challah bread dough! Why didn’t I think of that myself?!? It’s the perfect way to proof yeast bread doughs because you  can control temperature AND keep the dough from drying out at the same time!! 

/end  sidetracked tangeant

Anyhow, like I was saying: easy to make meal that is pretty satisfying. 

I love Greek salad because it just needs cucumber, tomato, bell pepper in the colour of your choice, and a bit of red onion (although I use green onions) to be all chopped into bite-sized pieces and tossed together in a big bowl. Drizzle with a genous amount of  your favourite olive oil (mine  is garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil from Blue Door), a good splash or two of red wine vinegar, to taste. Season everything with salt, pepper, & some dried oregano;  then rain down a whole bunch of cubed feta cheese overtop before mixing it all with a really big spoon.

 If you happen to enjoy kalamata olives, the time to add a small handful would be at the same time your feta cheese came to the party. I would suggest that you halve the olives, as these are pretty intense flavour bombs and please consider removing the stones! No one enjoys having to figure out the polite way to spew olive pits without other people noticing. 

At this point I would highly recommend that you leave the salad alone at room temperature for awhile so the flavours can do their thing and the veggies can rid themselves of any fridge coldness that remains if they were once hanging out in the icebox, chilling.

 I especially love tzatziki made at home. I use: Greek yoghurt + grated cucumbers that were lightly salted then left to drain in a small colander, then quickly rinsed and squeezed off as much of the extra liquids as possible. Add the mandhandled cucumber to the yoghurt, a bit of salt & pepper for seasoning, a good squirt of lemon juice and +/- a tiny bit of garlic with a drizzle of olive oil, if you’re into that sort of thing. Mix everything together with a spoon, taste for seasoning, adding extra lemon juice if needed to brighten things up a bit more, then leave the tzatziki alongside the greek salad for their flavours to become one.

   
 

As for dessert: the long awaited & anticipated Apple Tarte Tatin!

I’d been wanting to make this recipe since last week, but didn’t get around to it until this past weekend. Super easy recipe that I wish I had learned to consider making much sooner and much more often! 

Seriously, this is the easiest way to make an apple pie/tart. Just peel, slice & core a bunch of apples, squeeze over a lemon’s worth of juice to stop the apples from getting too browned and sprinkle with your favourite spices; I used some cinnamon, a few shakes of ground cloves & half a dozen gratings of fresh nutmeg. 

Make a simple caramel sauce with sugar and apple juice (or calvados if you’re able to handle that sort of thing ^_^) in an oven-safe skillet, large enough to eventually accomodate all your apples and sauce. Wait for the sauce to get a little thick and properly coloured, then carefully add in your apple slices and gently toss until everything’s evenly coated with the caramel. Leave alone to cook for about 5 minutes & preheat your oven to 375°. 

While you’re waiting, roll out a sheet of puff pastry until it’s about 5cm larger than the diameter of your pan. Once the apples are slightly pre-cooked, very carefully lay your puff pastry sheet overtop, tucking the pastry all the way around the edges so no apple peeks through (use the back of your wooden spoon if needed, DO NOT EVER TOUCH HOT CARAMEL!!). Once you’ve tucked  your apples under their puff pastry blanket, put the whole skillet into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. 

When the time is up, pull the skillet out from the oven, very carefully put a large plate on top of the whole pan and very quickly flip the whole thing over. Let cool at least 15-20 minutes for the caramel to set up before serving with vanilla ice cream.

WARNING: This dessert is amazingly easy, but also incredibly dangerous if you’re not careful to take special attention to the fact that this dessert has molten hot lava temperatures. Caramel is not something you wanna just be blazé about! It’s crucial to make sure your caramel is at least a little bit “thick” so it doesn’t just spill all over the place, and please be sure to protect your arms when you flip the pan over. 

 
 

Original Jamie Oliver recipe I followed for Apple Tarte Tatin found here.

Weird’n’Tasty things….

Is it possible to substitute duck fat for butter in cream cheese frosting?!? Turns out the answer is a resounding yes.

I ran out of butter in the house earlier in the week (*HORRORS!!*) and The Hubbs asked me if I would mind making him some treats to bring to work the other day to share with everyone cuz they were all stuck “in school” for a course. 

Wish granted: Cinnamon Snails, it is! ^_^

I honestly didn’t know if the duck fat idea would work. 

I just crossed my fingers and kind of hoped that using the duck fat as a replacement for butter in the cream cheese frosting recipe included with the Snails recipe wouldn’t impart any really weird flavours. I noticed that it added a bit of something, but I don’t know that I would necessarily call it a bad-something, per se. It was more like an unidentifiable savoury-ness that I couldn’t quite put my finger on…. Give or take.

[Side note: why the hell does icing sugar make everything taste so awful with its dusty powdery-ness?!?? Blehh!!]

The big important question: Would the duck fat be used again for other dessert frostings/icings if I ran out of butter? Probably not. Next time I think I would like to try using goose fat, as it was mentioned that goose fat is a lot more neutral in flavour compared to ducky fat when rendered. 

Would I consider using duck fat for baking? Yeah, I would be more inclined if I was making something like bread for sure; especially like I did for the bacon kugelhopf au lard recipe, ages ago. Damn… that was a great snacking bread with a cuppa hot tea. Sorry, tangeant.

The Snails recipe below is copied & pasted directly from my girlfriend Shannon. 

It does not account for my “Cream Cheese Frosting: The Adventures in Duck Fat”, as The Hubbs’ request had come at an inopportune time when we needed to restock most of my essential baking ingredients and I was seriously scraping the bottom of my proverbial barrel just to fulfill his request. I most of the icing sugar, but barely enough cream cheese (just the tiniest wodge leftover from who knows what). Funny enough: I actually had some of Mom’s homemade cheesecake in the fridge, leftover from last week’s family dindin that I ended up partially scavenging  in attempts to boost the cream cheese flavour, as to try masking the awful icing sugar’s dusty-powdery flavour that I despise so much. 

There may have also been some random additions of: extra vanilla, some vanilla paste, and dark grade A maple syrup to help compensate for the missing quantity of icing sugar… and again: mask the dusty powdery flavour.

If you want to give the duck fat idea a go, I would highly recommend NOT SUBSTITUTING the half-cup butter for duck fat as a 1:1 ratio. Instead: consider using about 1/4-1/3 cup of ducky fat to the original creaming stage. See how you feel about it and if you’re feeling keen; add more, up to the original 1/2 cup quantity of butter.

P.S.: I love Shannon’s mental note at the end of the cream cheese frosting recipe & am leaving it in its originally written form. ^_^

  

———————————————————–

Shannon’s Cinnamon Snails
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
6 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

In large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients.
Cut in butter till resembles coarse oatmeal.
Beat 1 egg slightly and mix with milk.
Stir into dry ingredients.
Lightly gather dough into a ball, being careful not to overhandle.

Place dough onto lightly floured surface and gently knead about 12 times.

Roll out to 9×18

Beat remaining egg and lightly brush over dough.
Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over dough.
Roll up like jelly roll, starting from long side.
Cut into 18 slices.
Place each slice in a paper lined muffin tin and bake @350°F for 25-30 minutes.

Goes nicely with this stuff on the top:

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Soften butter and cream cheese, and whip together with sugar and vanilla. Try to stop eating it from the bowl before you make yourself sick. Save some for the kids.

Commission Project: COMPLETE!

Crochet cellphone carrier/protector/pouch/cozy (ugh I hate that term!)/whatever: COMPLETE!

This would be my first commissioned project in ages and it came with an interesting customization request: an added belt loop!

I designed this pouch ages ago for TheHubbs’ assorted electronic toys (cell phones, gameboys, PSVita, Nintendo DS, etc) and quite a few people have asked over the years where he got his Pocket-O from. When he tells coworkers or casual observers that I made it for him, they always seem to express their amazement that it’s even possible to make something like this.
  
I am immensely proud of how the whole thing turned out as there was a lot of crochet-drama going on: tons of frogging back, so much cursing at my sloppiness & poor observation skills (there is in fact a visible right & wrong side when adding a border!), and the continual bemoaning of my lack of mental visualization abilities & engineering skills on my part. 

Let me just say that things become way more complicated when a piece needs to be turned inside out to become the finished product. 

Creating a belt loop is lot harder when you have to figure out and remember which side of the piece is considered front/back or pretty/ugly to determine what will become inside/outside when it’s complete! While you’re doing that, there’s also the issue of remembering that the sides need to be stitched together with the right/pretty-sides facing, so that when you do turn it inside out, all the pretty stitches are what you actually see; but that little flap closure also needs to be properly sandwiched in the middle of it all before it can be stitched closed and finally declared complete! 

*Whew!*

Currently all that’s left to do is: stitch on my creation label, make some cute packaging, and make some updated thank you business cards to be included in the whole delivery of the Bumblebee Pocket-O™.

As a side note: I have a bit of a conundrum in trying to decide if I want to change, or if I should change, the name of my little crafty business-self. 

Cuz really: it could be kinda hard to explain the concept of the name TeaseMeGirl Handmade. Although, I suppose could come with up a cute, marketable, answer for backstory. I still like the name and TMG Handmade just doesn’t sound as cool!

To be honest, it makes me sad to be changing my crafty business name after all this time, but something niggling at the back of my brain is saying I should do it for the sake of professionalism and/or marketability, especially if it comes to TheHubbs having to field any questions on my behalf, should he get any more commission requests from coworkers or potentially someone out of the blue.

On that note, I guess I have some brainstorming to do. *ponder*