Thursday, December 19, 2013

i bought my first e-reader!

I bought a Kindle Paperwhite!

Wifi only, with ads. For $119 (no special pricing).

BUT I’M SO EXCITED!!! I’ve started referring to it as my new best friend. As in, “I can’t wait for my new best friend to get here.” I got free 2-day shipping (my sister is a student!) but they take 2 days longer to actually ship … so I have to wait for Christmas Eve. But maybe, just maybe it'll get here sooner. I've always been a big reader and I've actually been asked by EVERYONE why I don't own an e-reader already. I'm actually not one of those early adopter people (camping out for the 1st iPhone or whatnot). I like to wait and see if something will stick around, wait for the necessary upgrades and kinks to be worked out. And THEN, after reading copious amounts of reviews and other people's real life testimonials, I'll look into getting THE COOL NEW THING.

I've been considering the Kindle for almost a month now. I realized my work/commute bag was too heavy as is and that's what was keeping me from lugging around my commute-reading. So I re-started reading ebooks from the NYPL on my iPhone. But the glare was tiring out my eyes and making them noticeably drier (I wear contact lenses). So, I bit the bullet. YAYYY FOR MY NEW E-READER!!!

Big research going on now: Do I need a cover? And if so, what kind/which? 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Daylight Savings Time makes me feel.

I have a folder on my computer desktop titled "Pictures to Organize" and I just drag and drop (I have a MacBook Pro) pictures I come across on the internet that I find funny or interesting or think I'd like to share with a friend, etc.  I was going through it and found this:

This combines two things I super-like: truth about how I feel and Hyberbole and a Half's "CLEAN ALL THE THINGS" (now) meme.  Changing the clocks (either forward or backward by an hour) makes me feel all magicky and awesome.  In an "I CHANGED TIME!!!  I MADE (OR GOT RID OF) AN HOUR!!!  I SPED FORWARD!!!/I MOVED BACK IN TIME!!!  TIME TRAVEL!!! 

To clarify, I get this feeling whenever I travel between different time zones as well.  For example, whenever flying between Korea and the NY, either skipping a whole day or taking off and then landing earlier on the SAME day FIGURATIVELY blows my mind.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Women on the up and up.

Read this short article about the best-paying jobs for women in 2011 a few weeks ago (accompanied by this cute list/slideshow).

Lawyers made #4 on the list:
Median weekly earnings: $1,461
Approximate median yearly earnings: $76,000
Women as percentage of the profession: 35%
Earnings as percentage of men's earnings: 77%
Last year's position: No. 3
I was actually a bit surprised at the  approximate median yearly earnings (only a meager $76,000???) and the earnings as percentage of men's earnings...  But I've heard enough anecdotes about the woman lawyer in a couple taking a more "low-key" position than the man lawyer/banker/etc. once kids enter the picture.  For example, one of my supervisors at an in-house position had made her transition when she found out she was pregnant and her husband was still working in BigLaw.  This is just one example of many that I've heard where the woman chooses(?) to go the in-house/public-interest route (which basically usually means less demanding hours but also less pay) once the couple moves from coupledom into familydom.

Compare that info with that of #2 on the list, pharmacists.
Median weekly earnings: $1,605
Approximate median yearly earnings: $83,500
Women as percentage of the profession: 48%
Earnings as percentage of men's earnings: 83%
Last year's position: No. 2 
 So, apparently the more well-represented women are IN a given field, the less the wage disparity between men and women.  From these two examples (though a small sample), you can see a bit of that trend.

Saw this interesting little infographic today via Forbes Woman and that reminded me of putting up some of this related info together.
Equality in Leadership
Infographic created by: Educational Leadership (who wanted me to remove the link because: "The reason I am contacting you today is to ask that you remove all links from that lead to I don't know which pages will remain after the overhaul, and I don't want you left with a dead link on your pages.")

Friday, March 23, 2012

Food on Friday: Strawberry cake cookies!

So, since the potato wedges were so easy I felt a little like I'd cheated at a "REAL" food post.  Here's the follow-up of a sneak peek I gave at the finished product a few weeks ago.  I was alerted to this sweet pink recipe by Tiffany and the original recipe is here.

This is one of my "semi-homemade"-type recipes, just FYI.  (I seriously think that show is so underrated, but that's a rant analysis for another day.).

You can use ANY strawberry cake mix.  The first time I used this Duncan Hines one.  I bought a box of the Pillsbury kind this week at Target - we'll see how that one turns out.

The original recipe used only half the box ... HA!  Who does that?  I doubled the recipe and used the entire box of cake mix.  My only regret?  Not using TWO boxes!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine all the ingredients BUT the cake mix.  And then add the cake mix last to make the cookie batter.
It looks orange - but it was def more pink!

I don't remember if I was patient enough to chill this prior to baking ... let's assume that I didn't, but I definitely will/should next time.  I think I dropped these by the rounded tablespoon-ful - and spread them quite far apart b/c they apparently spread.

See how much they spread out?

A delightful cookie sandwich!

I wanted to make pink frosting to match the pink cookie but my sister suggested yellow would be pretty as well.  And it was!  Doesn't this just LOOK like spring in my mouth???  I might make a few different colored batches of pastel frosting and do these for Easter as well!
How adorable/appropriate is the butterfly napkin?
I realized that although I'd linked to the perfect frosting recipe, I'd never shown the process here.

Here's the flour and the milk just as it's starting to simmer.

Starting to thicken up (I probably should've taken it off the heat at this point - it really does just SET in a second).

Stirring and too busy photogging

Yikes!  Waited a few seconds too long... (no worries - the frosting might not whip up as fluffy or big as it's supposed to, but it still makes this lovely rich frosting that tastes delightful).

Mixed it with the butter/sugar mixture and added a few yellow food coloring drops and voilĂ !!!

If you DO make cookie sandwiches and happen to store them in a Tupperware (like I did), the moisture from the frosting soaks into the cookies and makes them EVEN softer.  They literally fall apart in your hands and you're just covered in strawberry cookie and frosting, which isn't really a bad thing.  My sister REALLY liked the softened sandwiches so I made a few for her but the rest of the time I just took out a cookie and spread the frosting on there like cream cheese (about half an inch thick TEEHEEHEE). 

Potatoes. Part 5. Potato wedges.

A casual potato snack for casual Friday!  (Hah! As if I would celebrate/participate in "casual Friday.").  These are super-easy to make and so great as a late night snack.  I always make these when I get a post 10pm french fry craving (which is to say, I make these pretty often).  This is so easy I don't even have pictures of the process because I never considered putting it up here.  But it does round out our week of potatoes 5 ways, so here goes.

This is my own recipe based on lots of others and a bit of trial and error.  It's a good serving size for an after-dinner snack for our family of 3-4 adults (depending on who's home).

3 large-ish potatoes cut into 8ths lengthwise
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tbs olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (since I usually make a small batch I nearly always use the toaster oven for this - heats up quicker!)
Slice the potato into wedges and press with paper towel to get out a bit of excess water
Toss all ingredients together in a bowl ("What's a ... bowwwl?")
Bake for 35-40 minutes (or until done)

Here they are coming out of my old apartment oven.
These are small red potatoes

Another view (I wanted potato wedges and guac).

They're great with ANY dipping sauce, ketchup, honey mustard, mayo, sriracha, etc.  Oh, but NOT Miracle Whip.  That stuff is NOT a totally equal substitute for mayo - no, no, not in all situations.  In egg salad and shrimp salad maybe, but not as a standalone condiment.

P.S. Because I know this last post is a bit of a cop-out, I'll be back with the a-long-time-ago promised Strawberry Cookie recipe a bit later =)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I get excited about kids killing kids!!!

(Okay, so the title of this post is clearly not true.  But after writing the post, I realized some/all of my favorite books are really about kids killing kids (Ender's Game, The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter books). But you can't blame me for these books being so epic!)


That was actually the first draft of this post.  I thought I'd let some of you enjoy or at least try to imagine how excited I was when I sat down to write this.

Anyway, The Hunger Games premieres this weekend and actually I'm sure there will be throngs of people at the midnight showings tonight.  But after my midnight premiere experience of the last Harry Potter movie, I think I'll sit that one out and let the young'ns have their fun.

Despite the less-than-enthusiastic NYTimes review, which actually confirms a lot of my own concerns after seeing the preview (that Jennifer Lawrence wasn't skinny enough for the character - she's supposed to be close to starvation, that Haymitch was too "pretty/clean," that the movie would be "cleaned up/made too PG" compared to the content of the book, etc.) I'm pretty excited to see a film version.

And despite everything else they didn't keep "true to form" (albeit based on my own reading and imagination), how PERFECT/SPOT-ON was the casting of Josh Hutcherson as Peeta the baker's son?  Seriously, A+++ for that one, Debra Zane.

AND OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG, so this is kindof completely unrelated but as I was reading that article I linked to (about Debra Zane) I clicked on some of the actor/actress names because I didn't know who they were, like Hailee Steinfeld.  And even though it doesn't look like she ended up in The Hunger Games SHE'S SLOTTED AS PETRA ARKANIAN FROM ENDER'S GAME!!! OMG OMGOMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!  One of my actual favorite books of ALL TIME!!!  It's GONNA BE A MOVIE!!! AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! : AAF#R#RIFSD:KGJNB:SDLF:RGUIO:RGBVF:GR:GR:HOGWER~~~~~~~~~@@@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My life is awesome.  They better get it right.  (I approve of their casting much more than I do the casting of The Hunger Games' characters based on - although I never pictured Major Anderson as a woman, I guess they never used pronouns for him/her).  (AAAAAAAAAND I just finished reading Ender's Shadow, the Bean parallax to Ender's Game, had to keep myself from sobbing on the bus for that one).

Potatoes. Part 4. Italian Potato-Sausage Soup.

I've never been a big soup person.  Something about solid food in liquid just weirds me out.  It's like, why is there solid food in this bowl of flavored water?  But lately, more precisely, this winter, I've really gotten "INTO" soup.  Like, I think it's delicious and want to soak bread in there and have yummy hearty soup for lunch.  My other (old) prejudice against soup was that it was never filling enough for me.  I'm a hungry-type of gal and liquid meals just didn't fill me up.

Let's say my conversion was partially brought about by adult braces.  Sometimes, especially right after a tightening, my whole mouth would be in pain and liquid food sounded like the only appetizing thing in the world.  That and buckets of ice cream.  Hehe.

Anyway, my sister has always been a big soup person so she was overjoyed at my conversion into soup and my foray into soup-making.  A few weeks ago I made this hearty yet light soup that was GREAT for lunch.  Adding in a thick slice or two of a French baguette not only made this meal pan-European but also made it filling enough to last me the rest of a work afternoon =).

So, without further ado, my spin on Italian Potato-Sausage Soup.

Assembled ingredients (I don't recall using that cheddar ... so no idea how it snuck into the picture).
Not sure why there's cheese and bacon here - didn't use it

The recipe said to remove the sausage from the casings but my casing was pretty stuck, so I just sliced up the sausage and then used a handheld blender to break up my sausage.  As you might've noticed, I'm a pretty big fan of aidells brand sausages.  The only one I'm not a huge fan of was the Chicken & Apple, it was just a touch, ok fine, it was like a blunt hammerstrike too sweet for me.

Anyway, so I broke up the sausage and cooked it was red pepper flakes (but the Korean kind because that was the only kind I had on hand  I assumed that I used Korean pepper flakes because that's the only kind we have but actually I don't even remember if I used red pepper flakes at all - I'll have to ask my sister if the soup was any kind of spicy and report back), regular paprika, onion, and garlic.  I added the chicken broth and used Google to find out what was in Italian seasoning and added about a teaspoon's combination of the appropriate seasonings I had in my cupboard (basil, rosemary, and thyme - I didn't have some of the others like marjoram and sage and I just straightup don't like oregano).  I also threw in a bay leaf or 3 (ok, 3) because I always see chefs do it on TV so I always throw in a few bay leaves when I make soup or stew.  I looked up on Google the next day why people do it and apparently I added an "aroma" to the soup with the bay leaf.
Delicious juices swimming together

Bring it all to a boil and add diced potatoes.  I also added a drained can of black beans because 1) I like black beans, 2) they're good for your heart, 3) I believe beans make soup heartier, and 4) because I like adding beans to anything I make in a soup pot.  Cover and let simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender.  Test the potatoes' tenderness in any way you'd like that doesn't cause injury.

So the reason this "hearty" soup is not as heavy as what it wants/claims to be is the use of what I inexpertly call a "thickener" rather than just adding heavy cream or a more traditional roux.

I'm pretty sure I did this next thing as one step.  As in, I just let the cream cheese come to room temperature while I was assembling the first half of the soup and then melted it all together in a small saucepan rather than blending first then adding it to melted butter. This was a few weeks ago, so my memory might be a little off, but I can't imagine myself using more pots/pans/dishes than necessary.  (My secret specialty is making any food in one bowl/pan for easy cleanup!).
Looks like the beginning of my Perfect Frosting!

I followed directions after that, cooking over medium heat until pretty thick. When the potatoes were cooked, I added the milk mixture and chopped spinach.  As you can see below, I only halfheartedly chopped the spinach.  No big deal once it was in there.  (I was actually annoyed at having to use the whole bag of spinach and that's why I halfheartedly chopped it... I had bought the spinach originally to put into morning smoothies (you can't taste them and all the nutrients are still in there!) and was disappointed at using them in my soup instead but it all turned out fine in the end). 

I don't think I needed to add any extra seasoning at the end so I didn't (even though the recipe says to).  I just let the soup cool down (after I'd already learned firsthand why not to pour hot soup into weak little plastic Ziploc bags) and then ladled into sandwich size Ziploc bags, which was perfect for these small round containers (ooh, the little "handy tips" on the side say to take soup to work for lunch in these!  And I did!).  I lay the baggies flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer since I'd made enough for the week for both me and my sister.

Take out a baggie the night before and transfer it to the fridge.  It was thawed to a granita-like texture the next day, perfect for squishing out into the plastic soup container.  I topped it off with a little grated-at-home parmigiano (have a baggie of that in the fridge just for this purpose) and took to work with a 2" baguette slice.

Unfortunately, I got really busy/excited after the soup was actually made and have no pictures of the finished product.  Mostly I had a bit of a mini-disaster after trying to ladle the hot soup into flimsy sandwich bags that melt/rip and then trying to contain that mess while losing as little of the precious soup as possible.  And then when it came time to eat the soup, I was already starving for lunch and never remembered to snap a pic before digging in...

But my consistency was about the same as this:
My sister actually came home from work after the first day of soup lunch and told me she couldn't figure out if it was a broth or a cream soup, but that she stopped caring after she tasted it.  So that's a win, right?

Anyway, let's just say it was really in between being too creamy a la ...
And too watery a la ...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Potatoes. Part 3. Gnocchi, three ways.

So, as promised, GNOCCHI!!!  This is one of those things that one of my college roommates and best friends ALWAYS orders.  You know how you have a group of people that eats together often enough and you get a feel for each others' tastes?  Like one guy I dated ALWAYS ordered fish.  This other guy was unpredictable, he loved getting something different each time.  My dad invariably gets calamari or chicken wings (at non-Korean places).  My mom will get any salad that mixes fruits and balsamic vinaigrette.  I will almost always order scallops if that's an option.  Or anything that comes with french fries hehe.

My college roommate will order anything on the menu that has beef short ribs or gnocchi.  She was the one who introduced me to gnocchi.  I never thought it'd be that hard to make but I once attended a seder where the hostess served hand/homemade gnocchi and everyone was so impressed that I assumed it was a difficult feat.  Imagine my disappointment (that I hadn't attempted this earlier) but also my excitement upon finding out just how easy this is.

My sister really likes gnocchi and I've been meaning to make some for her from scratch.  (This is how I show my love, I make your favorite foods from scratch - tell the boys! haha).  Anyway, I looked up a few recipes and was always confused at the simplicity, surely it had to be more difficult for people to be so impressed.  As it turns out, the recipe/process is not difficult, just labor-intensive.  (To be honest, I've only rolled a few of the gnocchi myself - my mom and sister are much better at actually producing the little buggers - I just prep the "dough" and cook them up).

The recipe I've relied on is from allrecipes.  It's insanely simple.  Boil two potatoes, mash 'em up, then add 2 cups of flour and 1 egg.  Mix.  Oh, here's a lazy woman's tip: dice up your potato before boiling - or at least quarter them.   They'll cook so much faster and you're gonna mash 'em anyway so looks don't matter.

Then, flour your work surface, and start rolling and cutting.  I was pretty blase about the prettiness of my gnocchi (it's going in your stomach, so the most important thing is how it tastes right?) so my mom took over pretty quickly, telling me my food was ugly.  Actually, it went something like this, I was ripping off chunks of dough and throwing them into the pot.  My mom walks over to see the cooked ones in a bowl and says, "What is that?  That doesn't look like the gnocchi in restaurants - those are pretty and round."  I said, "They have underpaid Hispanic workers doing it all day.  I just got home from work, I'm hungry now, and don't have time to make pretty gnocchi."  She then pushed me aside and started making "pretty" gnocchi.
From left to right: dough, rolled dough, pinched off gnocchi waiting to be boiled

Pop 'em into boiling water a slotted spoonful at a time.  When they float up, they're ready to eat!  You can see my ugly gnocchi in the middle of the plate and my mom's pretty rounded gnocchi at the bottom.

So, now we've made the gnocchi, how to serve it up 3 ways.  It's really simple actually.  I just made two sauces, and combined one.

I've never liked tomato sauce.  Not on pizza and not on pasta.  But I DO like it when I make it myself.  I'm sure purists would be appalled at my method.  Usually I make a super-light tomato sauce, heating olive oil and minced garlic, then adding cut up cherry tomatoes and serving when hot.  For a more "traditional" (and the word is used SUPER-loosely here) sauce, I just add a little more tomato.  I heat up a whole bunch of olive oil, throw in a tablespoon or two of minced garlic, chop up at least 4 normal-sized tomatoes, and let that all stew/simmer for 10 minutes (or however long it takes for the pasta to cook).  I break down the tomato a bit with the back of a wooden spoon (because I don't like chunks/lumps in my food but my sister likes the chunks so I leave some for her).  Here's my secret ingredient, miso paste (the original flavor).  Just a healthy squirt.  It adds a depth and umami flavor to the simplicity of the tomato mush.
Tomato sauce w/some gnocchi keeping warm in it.
Since the gnocchi gets cooked in smallish batches, I keep the sauce not even simmering (just on the lowest heat level) and keep dumping the cooked gnocchi in there.  By the time all the gnocchi is cooked, the sauce is heated through and the gnocchi's been kept warm  but not overcooked.  It's kinda like having a chafing dish, but not really.

1 way: Tomato sauce
As you've seen before, I'm also super-into carbonara sauce.  This was a bit of a failed experiment.  Unless you can figure out some genius way of keeping all your gnocchi boiling temperature at once, I would not recommend it.  That being said, if you DO figure out a method, do come back and share.  The problem is that the gnocchi gets cooked just a handful of pieces at a time.  This is not conducive to the carbonara method of using the pasta's own heat to "cook" the egg/cheese sauce.  I "solved" it (being so generous to myself) by adding the just-cooked gnocchi to the egg/cheese mixture as it was done, a few pieces at a time.  This really was an improvised measure and didn't produce the creamy beautiful carbonara sauce that I normally get.  There were clumps of unmelted/not totally melted cheese and I'm sure some uncooked egg as well.  As it was, it was edible and yummy but I wouldn't make it for friends/guests (which is my measure of confidence in cooking).
Look at the edamame and shrimp - fancy!
Seasoned edamame and chopped shrimp.
This is a real cheat, because I called it "vodka sauce" but really it's just a mixture of the 1st two sauces.  The parmesan we had bought (I normally try to get parmigianno reggiano but the grocery didn't have any) was too strong and pungent so we just mixed the tomato sauce in to tone down the sharpness of the cheese.  It was a good compromise.  For the record, I have it on information and belief that parmesan is MADE the same way as parmigianno reggiano but it's just made IN AMERICA (or outside the reggiano(?) region of Italy).  It's more of a designation marker (like champagne vs. sparkling wine vs. prosecco) than a genre/type marker.
3rd way: Vodka sauce
And just in case you think that all that work was for naught, here's the kicker - you can make a WHOLE bunch at once and freeze them (UNCOOKED) to have homemade gnocchi ready to go any day!  Place them on a flat surface (I used a cookie sheet covered in wax paper) and pop into the freezer (it's important that they freeze without touching, so they don't get stuck together).  Once they're frozen you can put them all in a baggie or Tupperware container.
All lined up to go into the freezer

I ate frozen gnocchi all last week for dinner!  I barely even thaw them.  Take out as many as you want to eat (I just filled a plate to the fullness I could handle) and let them sit in the fridge or on the counter while you wait for the water to boil.  They still pop up in only a few minutes.  I actually had them on the counter first then put them in the fridge when I realized they were starting to stick to each other in the bowl as they were thawing.  I'm so in love.

And just in case you don't even like waiting for potatoes to boil, here's the first recipe I wanted to try and still haven't.  They use instant mashed potatoes to speed it up.  I'll definitely report back if I try it.  But now that I've seen how easy these are, I really see no reason for the hack.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Potatoes. Part 2. An Idaho Sunrise.

So, Part 2 of our fun potatoes series.  Because, I seriously love potatoes, and seriously, they are super versatile.  And it's $2.99 for a 5 lb. bag at my local grocery store.  I go through at least a bag a week lately.

I came across this particular recipe by accident.  Usually I'll have a craving for something or want to use up something I found in the kitchen/pantry and start using Google to find recipes, but this time I was merely browsing through one of my favorite cooking blogs (Our Best Bites) when I came across... drum roll dum dum dum... An Idaho Sunrise: Egg-Stuffed Baked Potatoes (if you're really gonna make these, go consult their recipe, because I'm leaving out a bunch of little steps below).  I think she used much bigger potatoes, the ones I had were pretty small and I'm definitely going to use large-ish potatoes the next time I make these (the bigger they are the more STUFF you can put inside!).

Without further ado, here we go.  Bake some potatoes.  I actually baked them the night before I planned on making these for brunch (because you need them to cool down enough to handle.  Ooh, quick note.  If you like potato skins and getting every last bit of potato mush, then DO wash your potatoes before making these.  I'm not a huge potato skin person, and didn't wash the outsides, but my sister IS a potato skin person and got very mad at me after she ate her potato skin and got sick after eating too much dirt.  Oops.

So, bake the potatoes, and when they've cooled enough for you to handle, start lobbing off tops.  Like this:

Then, use a spoon to scoop out the innards (set aside to make mashed potatoes, or gnocchi! - recipe tomorrow!).  Don't go all the way through like I did on my first attempt here (you can see the bottom skin where I actually broke through) because all your delicious innards will leak out onto the pan.
DON'T DO THIS!  You should NOT see brown at the bottom!
 Fill in the emptied out potato shells about 3/4 full with your choice of toppings.  This really is versatile - I went with some sausage and shredded cheddar in mine because I eat like a little kid and only like meat and cheese.  My mom and sister also got a bit of diced onion and scallions because they like a little zing.  And actually I put in less than half the cheese into my mom's because she's not that partial to it.  I think I could see myself doing some sauteed mushrooms and truffle salt in one and eating it all sophisticated-like wearing a breakfast hat (think this, not this or this).  Then, crack in an egg right on top and go ahead and throw some more toppings on (like I said, use MUCH bigger potatoes than I did).  You still want to be able to see the yolks so you can tell when they're done.
Top right is pre-egg.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes.  Just enough for the egg to set...
My sister already stole one off the pan before I could get a picture.
Unless you have a strong preference for well-done yolk, you want to get these out JUUUUUST as the yolk starts to set so that you can have this beautiful runny deliciousness as you cut in...
OurBestBites has much more appetizing pics!
Actually, the yolk looks pretty set in the original recipe.  But we all like runny gooey yolk in my family, so ours are a little underdone (you DO want the whites to be cooked though - the first time I popped these out to see if they were ready the whites were still clear and that was pretty grosseriffic).

All mixed up!

Seriously, these are SO easy to make and the payoff is AMAAAAAAZING.  You can probably even make these pre-coffee and let the coffee drip as you're waiting for these to come out of the oven.  (I don't drink coffee so I wouldn't know, but they were seriously SUPER easy to make).  Can't wait to try them again with BIGGER potatoes and MORE stuffing!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Potatoes. Part 1. Latkes!

So I stopped posting "Food on Fridays" because one of my friends told he didn't like them  (YKWYA, you can skip these!).  But last week two of my lady friends requested the return of Food on Fridays.  In an attempt to catch up, and also because these are relatively easy to write and I seem to be a bit short on time these days, I'll be doing potatoes FIVE ways this week.  Also, it was just St. Patrick's Day, and potatoes are super-Irish.

You could rightly say this to me about my excitement about St. Patty's Day... =)
So, I normally love bland foods (my favorite foods are plain pasta, bread with nothing on it, and water).  So potatoes are generally right up my alley.  I'd fallen into a bit of a rut however, thinking the only thing I could do with potatoes was to bake them or mash them.  But recently I've fallen back in love with potatoes and how versatile they are.  Without further ado, our first potato recipe of the week: Latkes!

I followed Smitten Kitchen's recipe pretty much down to the letter.  I actually used my handy dandy kitchen scale to make sure I kept the ratios about right (1 lb. potato for 4 oz. of onion). 

So first, you grate your potatoes and mince/grate/food process your onion.  Then prep your flour/egg mixture.  The only "tweak" if you can call it that I made was using truffle salt instead of regular salt.  I think the oil/potato/onion flavor actually overpowers the truffle aroma though, so it might be a bit of a waste to use truffle salt.  However, I made these for a second time last night (for lunch this week along with homemade mini meatballs), and still used truffle salt, just because it felt fancy.  And also, I keep being gifted truffle salt - so I have a bit of an overabundance of it.

Potatoes and onion strained in makeshift "tea towel" and flour/salt mixture
Closeup of egg/flour mixture

Mix up the potatoes/onions and egg/flour to get this:

I omitted carrots because I despise cooked carrots (also, they're not even in this recipe, which is one reason I chose it).  But I've seen them in enough breakfast potato dishes that some of you may wonder why I don't have some beautiful orange visual interest in my pictures.  But, yea, I don't like 'em.  I even pick them out of my hashbrowns if they're in there (I'm looking at you, Community).

Dropped by big spoonfuls into a hot oiled pan.  (I used olive oil instead of peanut oil just because it's what I had on hand, and last night I used vegetable oil.  Since we're not deep-frying the smoke point doesn't really matter, that I could tell).
Flatten them down some after dropping

A view of both sides, I used a normal dinner spoon so they're kinda oblong instead of rounded.
Nice and golden on both sides now

And final plating for brunch!
Small red blob is ketchup and bigger red blob is Ikea's lingonberry jam.
 I wanted to make a big big batch this weekend so that my sister and I would have enough to take to work and I also wanted to cut down on the oil factor.  So I tried baking them using this same recipe but find instructions from recipes for baked latkes and it was a disaster (425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, flip, then 5 more minute).  I didn't take any photos but basically the latkes all STUCK to the tin foil (the dull side) even after I had brushed it with more than enough vegetable oil.  Basically they cooked up fine for the first 10 minutes, but I couldn't get them off the foil to flip.  I'm not sure if it's the store-brand cheapo tin foil I opted to buy, but I didn't want to chance it and after 2 FOILED batches (PUN!!!), I went back to the frying pan.  Now the house reeks of lovely fry oil (not wholly unlike McDonalds...), but at least I have yummy crispy latkes for lunch!