Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sacrilegious Sushi Dinner

Sacrilegious Sushi Dinner

I bought some sashimi-grade salmon from Uwajimaya, the giant Asian grocery store in the International District of Seattle. I trust their sashimi-grade fish more than I would, say, Safeway's. This is only 0.2 pounds of salmon, and was enough to leave me stuffed. (Only half of that is shown in the photo in this post. I kept the other half in the fridge until I was ready to eat it.)

I've heard that it's hard to make good sushi yourself, and I'm sure someone with real sushi chef training could have filleted this salmon better. But really, I just slid the knife along the "flakes" of the salmon and it practically fell apart on its own.

Then I got sacrilegious on its ass. ;) Normally, when I order sushi at a restaurant, I try to hide from the sushi chef as I cut my nigiri into 6–8 smaller, (my-)bite-size pieces. But after filleting the salmon, I realized that I might as well pre-cut the salmon into the bite-sized pieces I like. No sushi chef here to hide from in shame when I'm in my own apartment!

I'm not sure how you could have a more mutilated Japanese dinner experience. Let me count the ways:

  1. That's a huge bowl full of long grain rice (rather than Japanese short-grained extra-glutenous rice), moistened with seasoned rice vinegar and sugar (rather than proper sushi vinegar). Note that it's not in separate little rice pads for the salmon.
  2. Soy sauce with ground mustard instead of wasabi. (This substitution was suggested via a quick Google search. It worked surprisingly well, actually.)
  3. Salmon cut into tiny cubes, piled in a heap with absolutely zero presentation value.
  4. A fork for stabbing said cubes, and a spoon to shovel a bite of rice behind the salmon on the fork.
  5. Served on Western-style plates, not sushi plates.
  6. A glass of milk, something I'm sure isn't commonly served in a society of lactose-intolerants. (I appreciate my mutations!)
  7. A coffee mug for the tea (at least it is jasmine tea...). Said tea was brewed in a drip coffee maker.
  8. And Pocky and Hi-chew for dessert. Also not served in nice Japanese restaurants, although these are Japanese candies... :P

Not sure how I could have made this more sacrilegious and still resemble a sushi dinner. :) Regardless, I very much enjoyed my meal, which is really what counts when cooking for yourself, ne?


Homemade Bread

Baked Bread

In a fit of domesticity, I baked a loaf of white bread from scratch last night. I was inspired by Forrest, who made his own bread the night before. He kept interrupting himself on the phone to murmur about how tasty his bread was. I got jealous, so I baked up some of my own.

I followed S. John Ross's bread recipe, which is very simple but also explains some of the why of the ingredients and where you can modify the recipe for different results. That's the kind of recipe/instruction I like. :)

Basic Bread (small loaf)

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 rounded cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Dissolve sugar and salt in water in a large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. Add butter.

Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Move to a floured bread board or countertop. By hand, continue adding flour until the dough is a smooth, homogeneous mass.

Set in a warm place (such as a warmed oven), covered, to rise for 45 minutes. Take out, punch down (using flour as necessary if it's become sticky), form into the desired loaf shape, then put back in the warm place, covered, to rise for another 45 minutes.

Bake in a non-preheated oven at 350 °ree;F for 30-45 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven, brush lightly with melted butter or olive oil, then let sit to cool for 1 hour. Enjoy!

Yield: 1 small loaf.

Source: S. John Ross.

I took photos as I went; you can check out each step on my Flickr page.

Midway through the first rising step, I called up Forrest and talked with him about what the consistency of the dough should be. He agreed that the bread was probably a little too dry. I took it out of the oven, added a tiny bit of water to it (maybe a tablespoon?), mixed it up until it was doughlike, then put it back to rise some more. This interruption of its rising step probably accounts for why it didn't double in size like it was supposed to the first time, but rose just fine when left alone for its second bout of 45 minutes.

Second Rise in the Oven, Minus an End

Okay... so I have a confession... As you can see evidenced in the photo here, I really like eating bread dough. Really like it. I'd been snacking on little bits of it as I kneaded it, but I wanted more after it was already nice and loaf-shaped. Well, this is my bread, so I can snatch off an end piece and make the loaf misshapen if I want to! :) This is why the finished bread isn't quite as symmetric at its two ends as you might expect.

Next, I'm thinking of making my own Auntie Anne's pretzels. Mmm...


Friday, January 25, 2008

Phantom Spill Sensation

About a week ago, I was drinking a cup of tea when I felt the tea spill onto my right hand. But when I jumped up to grab a towel, I realized that I hadn't actually spilled anything. It just felt like I had spilled tea on my hand. I thought it was strange, but shrugged and moved on.

Now, today (by which I mean Thursday) while I was shopping I felt the same sensation in my right foot. It felt exactly like there was warm liquid in my shoe, except there wasn't.

I posted on a forum an hour and a half ago asking if anyone else had experienced such a thing, and already 3 people have said they have. I'm asking here to get a different set of peoples looking at the question. Some no responses to balance the yes ones would be interesting. Even more interesting would be that everyone feels this sensation but never mentions it... but I doubt that's true.

So, my (admittedly small sample size of) blog readers! Have you ever felt a warm, wet sensation, like you've spilled something on yourself, only to discover there was nothing there? Post in the comments, email me, whatever.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bought Myself a Slow Cooker

While I was staying with my folks, my dad made some beef stew in his slow cooker. It reminded me that I'd always liked the idea of slow cookers, and now that I'm going to have a non-negligible commute, I'm going to feel even less like cooking than when I was 3 miles from work. But I could toss stuff in a slow cooker and eat it when I got home. :)

So I've got myself a 3-quart slow cooker — this Hamilton Beach one had good reviews compared to some of the others, but wasn't as pricey as the Crock Pot name brand. I'll wander down to B&N tomorrow and pick out a tasty-looking cookbook to go with it.

Hopefully I'll be able to find myself a brown-bag–friendly group at Microsoft to have lunch with, so I'm not wasting so much money on eating lunch out every day...


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Backdated Holiday and Vacation Posts

I'm a bad person; I didn't use any of my month and a half of vacation to blog. And now, looking back on all that I did, I don't want to type it all up at once. But I did take photos, so now the plan is to backdate small posts with the photos to remind me. Watch this space for backdated posts for December 2007 and January 2008. Because I'm a bad person. :)