Archive | June 2016

6/26/16

I know this isn’t a food, but it has all the components of your typical dish and it actually works crazy good. (Usually, I’m a stickler for good grammar, but “crazy well” didn’t sound very…good. Just crazy.) In case you didn’t know, my family adopted a puppy back in December, and although we adopted him as a family, he is my responsibility. That means I was in charge of vaccinations, his neutering appointment, and, of course, everyone’s favorite caretaker’s perk: house training.

Here’s another thing you probably didn’t know about me: I am the youngest child in my immediate family. That means that everyone tells me what to do and that’s also the case for school. If I’m in a classroom with just the students in my grade, chances are I’m the youngest since I’m a May baby. So basically, the only family members I can tell what to do are our dogs (and even then, they don’t listen). Because I was never trained to be an authoritative figure, I can’t yell at anybody. I try to base my lines on what I’ve constantly heard my mom say: which syllables to accentuate, how loud, how high-pitched, even body language. Still. I can never seem to get it right–not enough to actually make an impact.

IMG_1712 Basically.

I’m also a very lazy person, as you could probably tell because I spend all my time at home and it took me one year after college graduation to figure out that I actually wanted to go into cooking. This translates into puppy caretaker as having the inability to clean up pee and poop immediately, even when they miss the diaper pad. I’m used to the stench in my room, which became a problem because my mom is constantly yelling at me to clean it up ASAP.

So I decided to finally do something about it. Actually, I decided around the third time I got yelled at, but always forgot. Until today…half a year later. I looked up what concoctions I could put together based on the simplest household ingredients. I read a few blog articles about what really works and what doesn’t. One solution caught my eye and it seemed easy to make and the reviews were outstanding.

You just put together some white distilled vinegar, warm water, and baking soda and you’ve got yourself a strong stain remover! I tried it on dried urine in the carpet. (Yeah. Dried. I’m seriously that bad.) You’re supposed to keep a dish towel (I used a paper towel) on the dirty area after spraying it and keep something heavy on it so it really gets the complete stain. Once I picked it up, it was all yellow and, according to the article, the little stain particles detach from the carpet fibers and the towel just…picks it up?

And it really does work, even on dry stains! At least I hope so. My carpet was pretty dirty already, so I’m not sure if the mixture cleaned it up or made it dirtier. Either way, the urine stains are no more.

It works on the wall too! My puppy tends to get poop on the wall (he uses it for support or something) and I tried getting it off with just water, but the paint started to fade. I looked up how to get it off the wall without ruining the paint and listed were the exact same components of the carpet cleaner. So after making sure that it was safe to use on the wall, I managed to wipe off the little skid mark. (Not sure how I’m going to find the exact paint shade to fix the fade, but hopefully everyone will forget. See? Lazy.)

It however doesn’t seem to work on the white baseboard (I may have looked that up). I tried scrubbing it, repeatedly spraying…nothing worked, so I figured maybe it’s coated with some kind of powerful finish. Back to the drawing board, I guess.

But it really does work on the carpet and painted walls at least!

Yeah, I told you it wasn’t food-related, but it does involve a recipe with simple ingredients commonly used in cooking!

Oh well, the more you know!

Here’s the link.

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6/25/16

So imagine this: you’re chopping up a large cucumber, just so you can snack on something later and you’re in the mood for cucumber chips for some reason? (Not grilled or anything weird. Just sliced cucumbers.) So you go to the grocery store and get the cucumber, wash it, chop it, find that once in a while, because the first piece often sticks to the knife, the second piece you chopped rolls away.

Then, you decide to put them all in a Ziploc bag for later. As you’re packing them up, a lightbulb switches on over your head: what if I add a bit of lemon juice and shake it up? you wonder. So you add a little bit of lemon juice and shake the bag, although it’s not really shaking as much as it is using your hands to rub the slices around since they stick together easily.

Once you try it, you taste the cucumber. You taste the lemon. Then, it dawns on you: less lemon juice.

Other than that, I think that’s an interesting taste. Certainly something I’d like to look into and it’s definitely healthy. I don’t know how much juice was specifically added, but I figure you can add the amount to your liking. Everybody has different taste buds, so if you want to make it your healthy snack as well, it’s going to take a few tries to get it right for your own preferences.

Give it a shot and tell me what you think!

6/21/16

The first step towards figuring out what you want to do in life is job shadowing. Find a few people who can let you tag along and figure out what their typical day looks like. And why not? It’s a free chance to get a glimpse of the life you think you want to lead. That way, if it turns out that maybe there’s something else out there for you, so you want to keep looking, it’s not too late. You don’t need to go through the stress of quitting a job–or even worse, holding onto a job that makes you miserable because you still need to make a living, but suffer through never being happy with your life. That’s what I’m most afraid of anyway, which is why I’ve never been serious about which career path I want to take, till now. 

I looked into a few personal chefs around town and reached out to them via email. One entrepreneur responded and she wants to meet for coffee sometime, which I’m excited about. I’m not very good at coming up with questions, so I’m hoping she knows what I need to know more than I know what to ask for. So far, my only request is for her to explain what her typical day is like. Then maybe her prerequisites when she first joined that line of work. Suggestions she may have for me as I build up my culinary career. If it’s enough to make a full living off of for one person. What kind of benefits would I get. Wow, maybe I know more about what I DON’T know than I thought. 

And maybe she has an internship available for starters like me. I don’t know. Maybe that’s reaching out a bit, but I need a job somewhere, and I’m looking at places like Starbucks since serving coffee is probably a good start to a culinary career: it’s for beginners and being a regular there, I already have a good general idea how the system works purely based on observation. My biggest concern with working at the front is memorizing orders, really. Plus, I’m a very awkward person. I could mishear something and assume another, and then I end up having to remake the order. That is why I always ask confirmation questions to make sure I get it right, but that could get annoying. 

Then again, it could just be my brain: I haven’t really challenged it in order to feel competent enough to do this. Either way, I can’t live in the shadows of fear forever, right? 

6/20/16

Dad wanted breakfast and, since he wanted the usual dish that my mom makes him, I decided to add my own twist to it. Now, the original meal consists of: Over-Medium eggs, buttered toast, and some sort of meat. My take: scrambled eggs with cheese, buttered toast (but only because I panicked!), and strawberries. 

What do you say? Looks good, right? I remembered how to make scrambled eggs based on “The Food Network’s” Perfect Scrambled Eggs recipe, but didn’t recall the specifics on quantity and ratio, so I just guessed. And I mean on everything too: how much salt, pepper, milk… Oil, even, when I set everything on the pan. Although I don’t think I needed any because it didn’t mix well with the liquid eggs. The recipe says to use butter, but I figured when you’re frying, you can just use oil most of the time. 

As far as taste went, I think there was too much cheese, but that may just be my personal taste. I don’t like too much cheese. 

The only moment I really panicked was as the bread was toasting. I thought about what to put on it once it came out of the toaster. Jam? He doesn’t like things that are too sweet, plus we have some odd flavors in the fridge: Verry Cherry Jelly (the label was partially ripped off), Old Fashioned Three Berry Jam (specifically strawberry, blackberry, and red raspberry), Sweet Honey Apple Pear Butter, and Chocolate & Chipotle (although technically that’s barbeque sauce). 

Other than that, this wasn’t difficult to make at all. I followed the directions to the scrambled eggs and added the cheese when most of the liquid eggs were cooked. That way, the cheese has time to melt while the eggs still cooked. 

Next time I make it, I’ll definitely have to switch it around a bit until I find an arrangement that is my own. In the meantime, bon appétit!

5/31/16

So…what’s up, guys? I know it’s been a couple weeks and I apologize. I did cook a few times over this hiatus and I took photos at the time, but never got around to updating the entries. I figure it’s better late than never, right? Since I still have the photos of the dishes I made, my next entry will just sum up what I remember from making each of them.

You know, I never noticed how creative you have to be in order to get into the cooking business. You don’t want to be cooking the exact same thing every single time–you want variety (despite what I made today). Not only that, but it also has to look good on the plate. If you’re missing an ingredient and don’t have time to look for it at the store, you need to improvise. Just wanted to point that out.

Today, I made steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans. My favorite dish. And I think I’ve gotten it down. Mostly. I still had to refer to the recipes a few times, but I didn’t measure any of the ingredients. Never used any of the measuring tools and they all turned out perfectly. Just sayin’. Just sayin’. 😉

No, there were still a few flaws. I was mostly worried about the steak. I still can’t quite cook it to pro-level, and by that, I mean make the top and bottom less crunchy. I think I slightly burned mine. Just a teensy bit. My dad bought me a book (that I’d actually read about when looking for cookbooks) about how to cook using science and I went over the steak portion. Apparently, it is a big deal how often you flip the steak. I didn’t really care about the details; just which way was better: flip once or multiple times. Answer: once. I only flip it a couple times anyway. I try to cook it on one side for a few minutes and hope that it’s halfway done and then flip, to try to get the other half. Then, I poke a hole in it to measure the temp. If it’s not ready, I flip it because it was, I don’t know, bleeding, and I wanted to cook that portion.

IMG_3194 So here’s the usual photo. I know it looks the same as the other times I’ve made it, but I thought I’d show you anyway. Usually, I’d add more green beans, but to be truthful, I guessed on the portions. Each ingredient. My mom said that they were all made perfectly this time (that steak is still iffy to my standards though) and, tasting each of them myself, I know they just taste the same as my previous attempts.

The biggest question I had is really how to fry steak perfectly. I know it’s typically grilled, but in our family, the men do the grilling. Since I can’t do that myself, I just use the pan. I think my biggest issue is the oil. I feel like that’s always the culprit whenever I cook meat. The more oil there is, the more it explodes and burns me (which is why I always put on long-sleeved sweaters now). I added a lot of oil–don’t know how much, but all I can say is there was about a half-inch depth in the pan, which doesn’t say much because the circumference of the pan I used could differ from yours. Although perhaps that doesn’t matter, because I only used a bigger pan to cook three steaks at once. If you’re just cooking one piece, then you can add enough oil for one pan?

When I made the mashed potatoes (which were first), I just added the rest of the butter that we had, which I’m guessing was 2 tbsp. Then, I added a bit of the milk and, after I mixed it in with the mashed potatoes, I knew I needed more moisture, so added the rest of the milk. I think we had enough. I can’t tell you how much, specifically. All I can say is I used the rest of the milk. (Shrugs.)

Before placing the steak on the pan, I washed the meat (of course), but also dried them. I especially dried them, too. Maybe that’s why it seemed more successful this time. I also just added salt, rather than salt AND pepper. I also put the salt on the steak more easily, I think. I carefully (not slowly) dumped one layer of the salt all over the surface of the meat using the dotted portion of the cap.

As I said before, I only used the recipe as a reference, but the recipes I looked at were, as usual, Rachael Ray’s green bean recipe; only used the Blue Bloods Cookbook recipe to look at that table of inside temperatures, since my brother likes it rare and I’ve never cooked it rare before; and The NY Times Cooking classic mashed potatoes.

I believe that’s about it. At least, I hope it is. I want to get to that update.

Oh, also, when I told my mom that I just guessed at all the ingredients, she told me that with more practice, you get better at your judgment of portion. When you look at the recipe, you can visualize how it tastes as you go over each step.

I will add one last reminder though: garlic salt with mashed potatoes. Perfection. Add it to taste.