Tags: food


Titanium Spork and Dactyllic Ice Cream

Regarding Sunday's QotD: sure enough, somebody did. There was ceviche ice cream (which no, I did not taste, being a vegetarian, but it felt good to know that the aside I tacked onto that quote wasn't wasted).

Home again, very tired and my right wrist hurts very badly for some reason. The entries I tried to send via SMS never got posted, I guess.

Fun weekend. Way too many people that I don't see often enough. (Good that they were there; bad that so many people are in the "don't see often enough" category.) Too many to catch up with everyone. Enjoyed the conversations I did have. Played electric guitar in the pick-up band for contradancing.

Fun contextless quote (I'n not really taking it out of context, as it neither had nor needed one to begin with): "I have a titanium spork." The speaker does, in fact, have a titanium spork.

Later utterance which caused one listener to wind up with drink or food coming out his nose: "You can lick my spork." (Uttered in response to my musing that I didn't know what titanium tasted like. I licked the spork. Now I know. It tastes just similar enough to aluminium that I had to go grab a periodic table to see whether they're in the same column. They are.) There were other great lines that I can't recall at the moment, though I sure hope they come back to me later.

I've decided that ice cream flavours with habernero pepper in them are like dactyllic meter in English poetry: you can't end on them easily, because each foot/spoonfull feels like a lead-in to another line/bite, producing an effect that is very, very tasty, but unending. (Have you ever tried to write a poem in English using nothing but dactyls? It turns into the never-ending jig.) So you have to finish the poem with an iamb or a spondee or something (in English anyhow), and you have to follow the coconut-lime-habernero or amaretto-habernero ice cream with a spoonfull of chocolate coyote or sundae-all-in-one or herb-cream-cheese ice cream (or caramelized onion ice cream, or cucumber sorbet, or ...) for terminal punctuation if you ever want to be able to stop eating.

I think the herb-cream-cheese ice cream was the spondee of ice creams.


Nightshade Deficiency

There are things I don't like as much about the nearest (more important detail: within walking distance) grocery as I do about more distant stores from other chains, but only one aspect that really puzzles me.

How can a grocery store not carry any chili peppers in the produce section? I could understand (however much I'd grumble) stocking only a single type, such as jalapeños, but no hot peppers at all? Once, and I figure they're just out of stock; twice and I think I'm unlucky; time after time seeing nothing more closely related than green sweet bell peppers, and it finally sinks in that the grocery store within walking distance simply does not meet my Capsicum needs. (I didn't notice so much when I was able to dash off to other stores in my own car, and thus only hit this particular store occasionally.) Can there really be so few local residents who eat chili peppers and rely on that store?


Figure and Ground

Garlic-free dill pickles taste funny. The absence of garlic didn't register immediately as lack-of-something; it seemed as though there was an extra, very strange flavour. Curious, I took a closer look at the label on the jar, and things became clear. (Yes, of course this was an accidental puchase. If I'd known such things existed on the market, I would've paid more attention to the little "garlic free" flag stuck between two larger words, and reached for a different jar.)

(And in unrelated news, a wee update re: yesterday: Wow do my legs hurt. Not going for long walks today. Errands will have to wait.)


Unsolicited Culinary Opinions -- HMPH!

I just ate a bowl of cinnamon yogurt. Perrine wandered over to where I had set the bowl down, sniffed it, and made the "this is crap" sign. "Shut up, cat. I don't need your opinion because I didn't put that there for you. We already know we have different diets. And yeah, it smells like spoiled milk; it's yogurt, it is carefully-pre-spoled milk (like cheese, which you do eat sometimes), it's supposed to smell like that. Silly beast."

(I've known other cats who loved yogurt, and looked adorable reaching into empty single-serving yogurt cups to scrape the last bits off the sides with their paws and lick them. So far, Perrine doesn't seem to like yogurt with or without cinnamon.)


Gratuitous Food Post

Stuffed butternut squashed (lentil filling), jalaneño cinnamon corn muffins, porcini mushroom tortellini, creamy pesto sauce with pink peppercorns, purple corn, baked purple potato, beets, halloumi, and decaf earl grey.

I felt like eating Easter colours.

It's almost ready. :-)



"Ultimately, food without chillies is like love without a kiss." -- "chilli dude" John Boland of the Byron Bay Chilli Company


Getting Enough Irony In My Diet

Talking on the phone to the Sheepie, she veered into one of her recurring criticisms of my diet (Sheepies are emphatically not vegetarian). She said, "We were meant to be omnivores! These claws! These teeth!"

My first thought in reaction was, "I don't know about that; most people's claws aren't all that strong ..." But then the double-irony hit me: my nails are claw-strong. But I'm still not going to switch to hunting my food (or eating the sort of food to which the verb "hunt" applies in that sense, with the possible exception of wild mushrooms[1]) just because I'm actually equipped to do so.

(She's also informing me about differences between digestive systems of people of Mediterranean descent and folks of other ancestry. I wondered whether I'd inherited more of my mother's genes or my father's in that regard. Er ... until tonight I'd had no idea that there were any negatives to (large quantities of) olive oil other than the calories. I guess that means my digestive system is mostly inherited from my mother.)

[1] The top of the food chain[2], when they're nourished by the corpses of carnivores, as I explained to the friend who said, "I didn't sleep my way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetarians."

[2] Yes, I know this sort of thing is why they call it a "web" instead of a "chain" nowadays. Shhh. You're spoiling us fogeys' jokes.


Mommy, My Breakfast Is Confusing Me!

I'd seen uncooked whole blue potatoes before, and tasted cooked ones, but hadn't cooked them myself ... so when I saw what looked like the same thing in a grocery store the other night under a sign describing them as purple, I assumed that "purple potato" was just an alternate name for the blue ones.

This morning I pulled one out to cook it. In the light in my kitchen, a mix of fluorescent and daylight, it looked a little darker than I'd remembered, but hey, it had been a long time since I'd looked closely at blue potatoes in decent light. Then I peeled it and saw that parts of it were white with light purple striations and other parts were dark purple blotches, with nary a bit of blue anywhere. Cutting it in half, the interior was a much more even purple, deep, royal, mysterious, and Not Blue.

But as soon as the pieces began to cook, they did indeed turn blue. Oh, a faintly purplish-blue in a few spots, but most of the surfaces I could see were unmistakably and unambiguously blue -- not a particularly deep blue, but very much the blue I expected to see in a blue potato

Except that, just to keep me off balance (I swear, inanimate objects exhibit volition expressly to confuse me) the pieces that got cooked a little bit more than I intended ... turned purple again. A paler purple than the raw substance, but certainly not a blue. (Corners that got cooked even more turned the same light-brown/dark-gold as similar edges of the white potato I was cooking at the same time -- crunchy-potato-bits colour.)

Now I'm scared to poke at Google about this, lest the answers turn out to be as confusing the riddle. But at the same time, wondering whether other colours of potatoes perform similar chromatic tricks. At least my breakfast was yummy.

I need more sleep. (Unless I wake up later and discover that there are still two blue -- er, purple? -- potatoes in my kitchen and I only dreamt eating one for breakfast and posting this entry, in which case perhaps by then I'll have had enough sleep ... )

Now to decide what to cook to take to a party tonight, and try to sort out how I'm getting there without taking my own car out on the Interstate.

[ETA: I didn't think to run upstairs for the digicam until after I'd already finished eating and started writing this entry -- I don't usually think of a camera as something I need to have on hand while cooking, but I'll try to remember to photograph the other purblueple potato when I cook it. But I was planning to bake that one, so the rich purple raw interior won't show ...]


Sweeping Out Brain-Clutter (assorted topics)

I want to get some random post-fodder out of my head, then I'll try to get back to finishing already-started topics and maybe even finally try start to catch up on comments and reading my friendspage ... So for the moment, some random snippets:

I need an OS X machine. Oh, for quite a while now I've known how pleasant they are, and have thought about how nice it would be to have one, but I could do most of what I wanted to do using a combination of Linux and Windows and once in a while Mac Classic, if somewhat less niftily.

But now there's a tool that I want to create (if it doesn't turn out to already exist), and I want to make it for a couple of Mac users, and the level of transparency I want to build into it will require my learning a lot more about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the OS X environment and access to OS X for trying out ideas.

I want to make a magic music container which will, when accessed, produce sheet music in the most apropriate format for the application of the moment, without the user having to keep track of five files per tune or worry about whether the JPG was regenned the last time the PDF was updated or the Finale file was edited. The less the user has to think about choosing the format or dealing with archive-maintenance tasks, the better, and adding tunes to the library has to be nearly as easy as getting copies out. For myself, I'd probably continue putting a Makefile in each sheet music directory under Linux, but I want to create a more end-user oriented solution, and the more magically Macish the UI, the better. Easily using the clipboard to paste tunes into a word processing or DTP document to create sets will be a very important feature. OCR'ing scanned pages of sheet music will be extremely useful as well -- I don't want to try to write that part, so I'll want to invisibly invoke some other program that already does music OCR.

This would be in a "really big, long-term project" category. It's going to take me a while to get it just right.

It was probably mere coincidence, but this startled and amused me nonetheless: A few days ago I was lying naked in bed and Perrine leapt up on me. "Jeepers, cat! Your paws are like ice," I exclaimed. Perrine jumped down straightaway and left the room. Two or three minutes later, she returned and jumped up on me again. This time her paws were not just warm, but hot. I'm not sure what she did in those few minutes.

Two errors while making yesterday's breakfast, the first being the classic mistake of picking too small a bowl to start with when improvising in a new direction, and winding up having to get a larger bowl as the list of ingredients grows ... and the second being a result of my relative inexperience with habaneros ...

A while ago I decided that since I like a lot of things that are flavoured with habaneros, I should learn to use them myself -- I mostly use jalapeños and serranos, and sometimes those skinny red Asian peppers that I'm not sure the name of. So for the past month or two I've been playing with habaneros, and have figured out how much habanero goes with how much egg and cheese to result in maximum flavour within a comfortable-to-me level of heat.

Yesterday morning I learned that "this much habanero to that much egg & cheese" does not translate to "somewhere in the ballpark of this much habanero to that much other stuff". Not even close. (Either that, or habaneros get a lot hotter after sitting in the fridge for a while.) Tasty, yes, tasty, but rather uncomfortably hot. Eat-slowly-and-drink-lots-while-my-nose-runs hot. Accent-hot or maybe snack-hot -- pleasant for a bite or two -- but too hot for "I'm hungry and want to fill my tummy" eating. Whoops.

I ate half, and threw the rest in the icebox. Last night I hit the grocery for a block of cheddar, and this morning I ate the rest of the too-hot breakfast with occasional bites of cheddar to tame the effect. That worked. I'll get the hang of the little orange firebombs yet. But I get the idea they're easier to use when making a large batch of something than in single-serving recipes. I wouldn't mind finding a milder but similar-tasting pepper to use instead. Chipotles taste a little bit like habaneros to me, but not so much that I'd call one a substitute for the other. (It's interesting that I notice any similarity in the first place, since habaneros aren't smoky and fresh red jalapeños don't taste anything like habaneros -- they taste like, well, like green jalapeños minus the green-taste -- but the interactions between flavour components are fascinating and often mysterious.) One of the reasons serranos are my favourite pepper so far is that their flavour:heat ratio is unusually high; even though serranos are hotter than jalapeños, you can (optionally) make milder recipes with them because it takes less of the pepper to get more of the pepper's flavour. (The other reason serranos are my favourite is that I happen to really like their flavour, of course. I find that they taste much more interesting than jalapeños regardless of the overall heat level of the dish they're used in.) Habaneros, alas, are t'other way 'round, having an interesting flavour but a relatively low flavour:heat ratio.

My ability to tolerate cold on my hands seems to be dropping. I suppose I should take notes to figure out whether it's correlated with my levels of fibromyalgia pain from day to day or an actual long-term trend of its own.