Monday, April 29, 2013

Ninja Cookies & Other Experiments in the Kitchen

Cooking is one of the things that I missed while I was traveling. I did get to do some in Europe, and hostels usually have kitchens, but I didn't want to spend too much time there and in places like Nepal there simply was no cooking for myself. I've enjoyed being able to just make what I want to eat on my own terms again lately. 

A few days ago one of my friends in Anchorage decided to make cookies for the first time. Part way  in he sent out a text asking if he should use the blender to blend the butter and sugar together. While the general consensus in the car was "no, he should use the mixer", it got me thinking about how the Ninja blender would work for making cookies and I decided to make some when I got home. 

Recipe/starting point. I often add a shot of espresso to them. Additional steps below

  • Make coffee!
  • Soften 2 sticks of butter in microwave.
  • Discover my sister doesn't keep brown sugar in the house.
  • Decide to substitute with 2 parts granulated sugar and 1 part molasses. 
  • Discover that was a 1/3 cup measure not a 1/4.
  • Decide to just round the butter up to 2 sticks and adjust everything else accordingly.

The Ninja loaded with butter, sugar, and molasses.

  •  Engage Ninja and observe growing screeching sound. 
  • Disassemble and realize the design assumes the blades will force liquid under the spindal. 
  • Lubricate spindal with butter and try again.

Perfectly creamy/fluffy butter sugar mixture.

  • Add all the other ingredients except the flour, oatmeal, rasins and coffee.
  • Throw in extra Cinnamon and a dash of Nutmeg for good measure
  • Mix well
  • Realize my sister's best friend is Mormon and can't eat cookies with coffee in them.
  • Drink the coffee.
  • Share some partially mixed dough. 
  • Mix in other ingredients by hand. 
  • Share more of the dough.
  • Bake until just before they look done.
  • Yields about 2 dozen excellent cookies... 
  • Hmm maybe eat a little less of the dough next time.
Verdict: They vanished like ninjas; make again.

Other experiments:

Nacho Cheese?
While in France I developed a taste for Camembert and had the thought that it might make really good nachos. This was kind of a sad imitation of french Camembert (possibly because they have to pasteurize the milk for cheese in the US), but it did make for interesting nachos.

Verdict: See if another brand of Camembert in the US is better and maybe try nachos again too.

Alaskan Salmon.
  • Catch Red Salmon in Copper River or Silver Salmon in Valdez.
  • Fillet and freeze.
  • Thaw in warm water
  • Remove bones with a pair of needle nose pliers
  • Rub with salt, garlic, olive oil, pepper, and lemon in any combination
  • Bake at 350 for 20 minutes (30 if your sister really wants dry fish).

Verdict: I'll be eating a lot of salmon!

Soylent Green (is not people)
Sometimes I just want to get healthy food in my stomach in the most efficient way possible. Breakfast at home is usually one of those times. 

  • 2-3 eggs.
  • 1/2 - 1 cup of water.
  • A large handfull or two of spinach.
  • Any other leafy greens (Kale for example).
  • 1 or 2 tomatos.
  • A large handfull or two of baby carrots.
  • A handful of Brocoli and sometimes Cauliflower.
The order seems to make a difference in how smoothly it blends. Start with the leafy stuff and then add the harder vegetables.
Sometimes I skip the brocoli and add a cucumber instead.
Sometimes I just throw in random vegetables from the fridge. (Cabbage quickly over powers most other flavors)
A couple of radishes add nice flavor.
Adding a dash or salt and pepper or some Cinnamon also improves the flavor quite a bit.

Verdict: I've eaten my recommended vegetables for the day by breakfast and I don't feel hungry before lunch. I feel better and have more energy throughout the day eating this than with any other breakfast I've tried. It's quick, simple, and easy to clean up after. My sister likes it enough I've had to increase the amount I make every morning so I can share... Still, it's no where near as tasty as pancakes and bacon. Taste can't always be my first priority though, so I'll save the pancakes for company.

Additional Info:

The raw eggs have never cause me the slightest problems, but if they weird you out, you can always try this instead. Rob's created a perfectly sanitary/synthetic version. Honestly, that seems more strange to me more than the raw eggs in mine, but I'd be willing to give it a try. Maybe for those non social lunches...

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

    Springtime in Alaska

    I arrived in Alaska just in time for spring. The photos might confuse my friends from southern latitudes. There is still a good bit of snow on the ground in Anchorage, but it's rapidly melting and the geese are flying. It's also light noticeably later than it was when I first arrived.
    Technically this the Yukon, but I like the picture Corrie took.
    Stopped to put gas in the truck at sunset in the Yukon Territory.
    Icicles on my dad's house. I'm told they has since fallen.
    The view is pretty nice once you get above the snow. 
    We almost had Denali NP to ourselves.  
    Corrie at Denali NP.
    Filling a water bottle on the side of the road. 
    Denali from the Parks Highway

    From the trail behind my house.
    Sunset over the Cook Inlet.
    Downtown Anchorage at sunset.
    A perfect spring day at the lake...
    Corrie slipped off the packed trail and broke through the crusted snow layer.
    Liz and Kelly enjoying the sun at Portage lake.

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013

    I seem to have a driving problem...

    I returned to the US 11 weeks ago though it hardly seems like it's been that long. I spent three weeks in FL with family, two weeks helping RIEtech with a proposal, visited friends in NM and across the country and landed a job in Alaska...  I've also driven some 9000 miles. That's not really a problem in and of itself, but I'm terrible about updating my blog while driving... 

    I was pretty happy to see my truck again. 
    I also went flying with my sister Melinda in a Cessna 152 while I was in KS! I was originally going to fly to KS with her from FL, but the weather was bad, so we drove instead.  
    Sunset over the hood driving into NM.
    Helping the Wassons with playground construction.

    The two hundred and sixty thousand mile alignment.
    Last day at RIEtech with everything I own in the truck. 
    Buffalo on the road in northern British Columbia. 
    Sunset in the Yukon. 
    It's spring time in Anchorage...
    I start the new job on Monday, but I'm going to keep the blog for now. I have a few more posts to make about the trip and logistics, and I'll probably at least have interesting weekends post-trip.