I love to try new things, and by “things” I mean food. I had one adventure with Asian fruits, which went well, for the most part. I have been trying to find dragon fruit since then, and have just now succeeded. This thing was surprisingly large, the equivalent of a medium baking potato.
What amazing pictures, you say! Why thank you! I took them in daylight, instead of the usual nocturnal-cave-view I usually use.
The fruit is lightly sweet, and the seeds crunch like kiwi. The flavor was similar to a very mild kiwi flavor, actually. It was kind of expensive though, $6 for one fruit, so I won’t be adding it to our normal grocery list. It is definitely worth trying, though.
I always have fun at the Asian grocery store. If you’ve never been to one, make an effort to track one down. You can find all kinds of random, interesting things. On my last trip I found these Vegan Beef Slices, which is basically soy protein made into fake beef.
Unfortunately, they don’t have any instructions on the package in English, so I kind of made up a recipe. I made some very strong broth from buillion, and then soaked the “beef” in it for about 10 minutes while I chopped vegetables. This makes the “meat” soft, and gives it flavor. Hubby ate a plain, dry piece of “beef”, and he said it wasn’t good. I didn’t even trick him, he just wanted to try it!
The buillion I used had beef in it, which somewhat defeats the purpose of soy meat, but I need to use it up anyway. Plus, this was only $3 for a big package (think the size a cereal bag is inside the box), but the measurement is in grams so I have no idea what that means. Thanks, American public school system!
I made a regular stir fry, and added my rehydrated “beef” to it once the vegetables were mostly done cooking. The “meat” is ready to eat once it has plumped back up; it just needed to be heated up with the rest of the food. The texture is good, but I doubt you could trick someone into thinking this is meat. I love the high protein and low fat and carb content, and of course the cheap price tag. This “meat” also absorbed flavor pretty well, so it would be a good option for people that don’t like tofu for that reason.
I also like the fact that I can store this in the pantry, and it can be cooked and ready in 10-15 minutes. It’s great for quick meals, and impromtu vegetarian cooking. Add the fact that it’s cheap, and you know I love it.
I love sushi, but as everyone knows, it can get expensive. I’ve wanted to try and make it myself, but the process seems prohibitively difficult, and the ingredients are expensive. Add to that the fact that I’m scared if I use raw fish I’ll kill myself and Hubby, and it seems like a recipe for disaster. I have possibly invented a solution, however. There’s no rice or fish, but it is sushi-like enough to make my mouth happy, and that’s the only thing that matters. I basically stuffed some seaweed full of vegetables and sauce, and ate it, and it was great!
Nori seaweed: my normal grocery store has this in the “International” section. It’s $2.50 for ten sheets. It was a little cheaper at the Asian grocery store.
Veggies: I used sweet potato, avocado, carrot, raw cabbage, and cucumber. You could also use sprouts, tempura vegetables, or anything else your little heart desires. If you’re going to use green onions, I would chop them up and use them sparingly so they don’t overwhelm everything else.
Sauce: I used the Thai Hot Chili Mayo pictured above. It is simply mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha, so you can easily make your own. I found eel sauce at my Asian grocery store also, which would be amazing. I used teriyaki sauce for dipping. You can easily make this a vegan recipe by using Nayonnaise (soy mayo), and it’s almost raw vegan, although I don’t know enough about that particular diet to recommend a sauce.
Optional fillings: If you want you can add some chopped up scrambled eggs, cooked brown rice, fake crab legs, or sesame seeds. Hell, add cooked shrimp, I don’t care. Experiment, because this is much easier (to me) than making real sushi, so just try whatever.
In order to use sweet potatoes, you should cook them first. I attempted to cut one into long strips, and the knife got stuck. I persevered however, and it was still a big hassle. I have experimented since, and discovered a few tricks: 1) Buy long, skinny sweet potatoes, that are kind of small. 2) Bake them most of the way first, like in the microwave so it doesn’t take too long. 3) Now peel and cut them into strips. 4) A little goes a long way. I used one small sweet potato about the size of a banana, and that was enough for 3 of these rolls. What I actually did is cut this potato up as though I was making sweet potato fries, and bake them all in the oven on a cookie sheet. You can use either method, I just found the first method listed here to be easier, and it didn’t heat up the whole kitchen.
There are a few options for how to prepare your vegetables, but I think this is the easiest. I have this handy-dandy cheese grater that comes with different blades, but it turned out the basic cheese grater with the large round holes worked the best, so you can just use your normal cheese grater. I chose one big, fat carrot, washed it (rather than peeling, because that’s where a lot of the vitamins are), and grated it to nothing. This was way easier than I thought it would be, even with my weak, useless, T-Rex arms. I grated the cucumber as well, but this released a LOT of water. It was very fast, but then I had to drain the veggies on several paper towels to remove the water. If you don’t drain them the water will mix with the sauce in the roll and start to leak out creating a HUGE mess. Chopping the cucumber into long matchsticks seemed to eliminate this problem. I chopped up a little raw cabbage and cut the avocado into strips also.
Once you have everything chopped up, you can lay out your seaweed. I happen to have a sushi mat, but this is not a necessity. I did a few by hand and it worked fine. I spread the mayo onto the seaweed, leaving one edge blank for about an inch and a half. Keep your fillings in the mayo square so you can roll it easily.
I laid out my shredded veggies and sprinkled them with sesame seeds. If I had any eel sauce I would have squirted it on right here. Try to keep the veggies low, and evenly spread. We’re basically substituting raw veggies for cooked rice here. That’s good nutritionally, but then the whole thing doesn’t stick together the way regular sushi does. That only means you don’t slice it up in the end; just eat it like a burrito!
I have now added my avocado and sweet potato chucks. I tried to keep them relatively centered. I did a few tests of the rolling process to make sure I was not over-stuffing them. To roll this up, the first thing you need to do is rub some water on the blank 1 1/2 inch section. It needs to be damp to stick to the other seaweed. I just got my fingers wet and rubbed it (That’s what she said!!!). When you’re ready to roll, start with the side that’s away from the camera, the side where the mayo goes almost to the very edge. Roll that over the toppings. Try to make it pretty tight, but not so tight that things are squishing out everywhere. I rolled the far edge down so that the edge just touched the spot where the blank area of seaweed started. I then rolled the damp edge over top of this, pulling everything together snugly. I rolled it pretty much by hand, then used the sushi mat to firmly squeeze the whole thing together, but that didn’t seem that necessary. I have no clue if I am using that thing how I’m supposed to or not, but now it’s covered in mayo, and I have to figure out how to clean it.
I did cut this one in half, but after this first one I just started eating them. I made one that was only seaweed, sweet potatoes, and spicy mayo and it was awesome. I also made a few where I tried to seal one end of the roll by folding the seaweed over itself, and those were a little bit successful. These things taste amazing, are easy and cheap to prepare, but my rolling technique will take some practice. If you want to add some scrambled eggs to yours for additional protein, I would scrambled 2 eggs with a tablespoon of water and some teriyaki or other sauce you like to give them flavor. You then cook them like an omelet, just letting it sit in the pan and cook into one solid piece. Let it cool, then cut into strips.
I want to experiment with more sauces, but I am currently completely enamored with this spicy mayo. Tempura flakes in there would also be great, but of course adds fat and empty calories. I used very cheap vegetables for mine, so I think my cost came out to around 50 cents per roll. Considering most sushi rolls are $4-5, that’s pretty cheap! Plus you don’t have all the carbs from white rice. There are tons of possibilities for these, and I can’t wait to try more.
I seem to be some kind of curse. Three of the places I’ve reviewed on the blog have closed down, only one of which I gave a bad review. I’m starting to worry that I’m some kind of anti-cool: the minute I like something, everyone decides it’s not cool, and quits going. I’m a bit worried, and hesitant to blog about places I like. On the other hand…
I can go to restaurants and demand free stuff! If they don’t provide it, I’ll just write a fantastic review, then their business will dry up! Boutiques will have to give me presents and jewelry to ensure my favor! I DEMAND TRIBUTE.
I tried to use my power for good. I gave DiMassi’s a less than stellar review, and I was gleeful when they shut down. But they have opened back up! They have signs out that say “Grand Opening”! They didn’t even change the sign! You can see I have no choice but to use this for my own gain.
But before you judge me, think about this: I make take some of you minions with me to exploit this. We could be up to our ears in crab cakes and fashionable accessories!! Being a minion does have its benefits. So you guys just keep sucking up, and we’ll see what freebies trickle down to you. In the meantime, I’m going to go check on all my favorite restaurants and make sure they’re still open.
I wanted to try some new foods the other day, so I went wandering around an Asian grocery store. I found canned lychees, jackfruit, longans, and mangosteens. Hubby and I tried each one.
These are the lychees. They were probably my favorite. The texture is a bit crunchy, reminiscent of onions, but the flavor was similar to canned mandarin oranges, without being citrus-y. They were lightly sweet, and slightly perfumey.
Jackfruit reminded me of mango, but more fibery. These were my second favorite.
These are the mangosteens. They were squishy, like melt in your mouth squishy. The flavor was sweet and light, but the texture was off-putting to me. Hubby liked them though. Some of them had seeds inside, but the seeds were kind of like very soft almonds. They were edible, but I wasn’t a fan. The longans were almost the same as the lychees, just smaller.
The object that inspired the whole adventure was the durian. I read a book that mentioned that an American soldier stationed in Vietnam loved these and had a crate shipped back home to the US. When it got here, the port authority thought it was a box of something rotten and threw it out. Did I take this as a warning? Nope. I thought “Surely it can’t be that bad. Why would people grow and eat it if it was that terrible?”
It looks like mashed up bananas, and the texture is kind of similar. The flavor is lightly sweet and creamy, if you can get past the horrible smell. It smells like the worst, oldest, dirtiest pair of sneakers you can imagine, lit on fire, times a million. I had this box in the freezer, and even though it was wrapped in two layers of plastic, I could smell it in the fridge. My entire kitchen stinks unbearably. We have elected to have the windows open even though it’s 50 degrees outside.
When you taste it, it’s not bad, then the smell invades your nasal cavity and sets up camp. You smell nothing but durian for about 20 minutes, and once it’s faded you keep catching faint whiffs of it. Once that passes, you start burping up durian so you can relive it. Obviously your body is attempting to reject it as quickly as possible, but to no avail. Please, save yourself the misery, and just rest assured that if a food smells like rotten milk burning in a chemical plant, it’s not actually food. I really can’t express how horrid it is. I have had to promise, willingly, never to bring it into the house again. We’re now calling this the Great Durian Disaster. Just looking at the pictures makes my stomach roil.
I had to get that horrible taint out of my mouth, so we ate some smoked gouda, and smoked cheddar from Sprouts, which were both amazing, with a honey crisp apple. The gouda was probably my favorite, and helped erase the memory of the horrendous durian.
If you hate your roommates/family members and want to make them suffer, it is STILL NOT WORTH IT to bring a durian into your home! You have been warned!!
As you all know by now, I really love Asian food. Any time we go out to eat, that’s all I want. Awhile ago, me and the girls from work went to Triumph Cafe to test their pho. I love pho, plus this place is cheap and close to work.
Pros: It’s cheap, close to where I work, and the place has a great atmosphere. It’s small, but bright and clean. The grilled meat dishes I sampled were very good, pretty much as good as anywhere else I’ve had them.
Cons: The pho was good, but heavy on the nutmeg and/or cinnamon. Personally, I prefer a more savory broth, with only a hint of sweetness. These guys kind of over-did it. The place is small, and very popular (at least at lunch time), so it was hard to get a table all together.
On the Clever Chick Scale Triumph Cafe gets a “I would definitely eat there again for the good food at good prices, but my quest for the ultimate pho continues”.
I’m sure you have all figured out by now that my “recipes” are just, in fact, conglomerations of whatever random crap I have in the house at the time. For this one, I used chicken, but it is very simple to make this vegetarian or vegan; the variations are at the bottom.
Today we’re using one chicken breast, about a half cup of frozen peas, a cup of frozen broccoli, one cup uncooked rice, two scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup chopped onion, and a bunch of teriyaki or soy sauce, whichever you like.
Start by cutting up the chicken really tiny, and sauteeing it in a large sauce pan. Get your rice cooking at the same time, according to the package instructions.
Chop what needs choppin’.
Throw the veggies in to cook with the chicken. You can add some teriyaki or soy sauce, and garlic salt at this point. You can use different vegetables, if you like, such as bell peppers (ew), water chestnuts (EW), or even just a bag of mixed frozen veggies. Once the veggies are almost done, throw in your raw scrambled eggs, and stir them around to cook. I throw teriyaki sauce on top of them while they’re cooking so they get some flavor.
Hey, the rice is done! It’s so fluffy and delicious! You can also use leftover rice for the recipe. If it’s a bit chewy, just throw it into the veggies, once they’re cooked, and add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Let it cook and stir it around to make sure all the rice gets coated in oil and heated up.
Once the rice and veggies are both ready, you can combine them in the pan, and stir everything together. Add your sauce and spices to taste.
To make this recipe vegetarian, leave out the chicken. You substitute tofu if you want, or add extra scrambled eggs. To make it vegan, leave out the chicken and eggs. I consulted my teriyaki sauce bottle, and it appears to be vegan. Everyone can enjoy my cooking; I’m just that amazing.
First off, I have to tell you all that something very serious has happened. I’m almost out of coffee. There’s enough for right now, but after that I have to go to the store!! I’ll try to be strong and plow ahead, because that’s how much I love you little minions. Enough to inflict my barely-awake, nonsensical ramblings on you. You’re welcome.
Friday night, I had a fantastic night. Me and Samantha went dancing at our favorite place, Barbarella, and it was everything girls’ night should be: dancing, drinking, gabbing, and pretending to be a lesbian couple so the people hitting on us would go away.
Saturday morning (and by “morning” I mean 2 pm) I paid the price. Not only were my legs sore from jumping around, I was dehydrated and *un-caffeinated*. I know, I don’t know how I survived either. I usually function based on a large number of caffeine injections throughout the day, starting at 9am, so I was well below my daily quota by the time I woke up. I am honestly surprised I even regained consciousness.
After scrabbling around in the kitchen blindly, coffee was created, and I gradually fought off my zombie-like state. I then realized food was the other cure for what ailed me, but again, I need to go to the store. I decided finding pants (other than my Mr. Bubble pajama pants) was a ridiculously monumental task, akin to getting the ring back to Mount Doom, so simple food would have to do. This is a recipe I’ve made before, and I really like it. You will need 2 eggs, 1 cup (uncooked) rice, 1/4 cup onion (or more depending on your preference), and this stuff:
The teriyaki sauce totally makes this dish. It’s similar to soy sauce, but with a more complex, savory flavor. I use instant rice, so I start it in the microwave first thing. Then dice up the onion; I like rather large chunks. Start the onion sauteeing in a frying pan in some olive oil or butter. Once they start to get a teeny bit cooked, throw in some of the teriyaki sauce, and stir.
Let the onions cook to your preference. I like mine a little golden, but still crispy. When the onions make you happy, crack the two eggs into the pan, and stir them around. As the eggs are cooking, throw in another tablespoon or two of teriyaki. Let’s all keep in mind that when I took the pictures I had not had any caffeine for about 15 hours, so the pictures are a bit blurry. You should all just be amazed at the fact I had the presence of mind to take pictures at all in my handicapped state.
Put half the rice in a bowl, and throw a dash of teriyaki on it, then put half the egg mixture on top. This recipe makes enough for two servings, so you can either share, or eat half, pass out, and reheat the rest when you regain your mental faculties.
I know it sounds weird, but this is really good, simple food, and I’ve made it many times when I was not hungover in the slightest. It is easy enough to make when brain no workee, which makes it great hangover food.
My little sister, Beans, is making me feel old. She’s buying a house in a couple weeks, and now she has a real-live grown up job. The only benefit to me (therefore the only one I’m concerned about), is that her job involves a bunch of traveling, so she was able to stop by for dinner the other day. I got to see her, give her some crap I don’t want, and receive presents from her, so it was all winning.
I was planning on cooking dinner for her, but at the last minute begged to go out to eat. Beans is super easy going, so out to eat we went! Beans had never had Vietnamese food, and I was dying for some, so we headed over to the Parmer/I-35 area to invade Pho King. Just so all you people know, it is spelled Pho, but pronounced Fuh, so yes, we ate at Fuh-king.
Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup. It is beef broth with thick rice noodles, and then you can choose what kind of meat goes in it. I prefer the very thin slices of steak they put in raw, and the hot soup cooks it instantly. When you order Pho, most places will offer you small or large bowls. It’s so cheap, you’d assume the small is like a normal cup of soup, but it’s generally the size of a basketball. Ask your server how big the bowls are before you order. I have never finished a small yet, and I have no idea how big a large is.
When it comes out, they bring you a side plate with raw herbs (usually basil, I think), bean sprouts, limes, and jalapenos on it. Those are for mixing into the soup, according to your preference. I generally throw in a few bean sprouts at a time, and eat them while they are still crispy, and add a dash of Sriracha. Pho is very tasty, and it is great for
Pho King also has grilled meat with rice or noodles, and lots of other enticing things on the menu. I usually get Pho whenever I can, but this time I got grilled pork and rice. The meat is cut very thin, and grilled to perfection. It has some kind of slightly sweet marinade on it, which blends beautifully with the charred, crispy edges. Beans loved her Pho, and even ate it like a native, throwing in raw jalapenos and Sriracha.
I’m attempting to find the best Pho in town, but it’s hard since we tend to go out to eat semi-rarely, and Hubby isn’t a fan of Pho. There’s a new place on my list to try, but unless someone wants to pay me to be a food critic, it’s going to have to wait for the bathroom remodel to be completed. On the Clever Chick Scale, Pho King gets a “I will take everyone I can there, and tell lots of people about it”.
My friend Phuongie, of Mi Bella Rosa designs and blog, has probably eaten at every Asian restaurant in Austin, and knows where all the good ones are. Last time she graced our fair city with her presence, she took me to Coco’s Cafe on Highway 183 near Burnet. It’s in the same shopping center as Mister Tramp’s, and Sunflower Vietnamese Restaurant.
Coco’s is Taiwanese food, which I had never had before, that I can recall. I got a rice bowl with pork, and Hubby got a rice bowl with bar-b-qued eel. Both were fantastic, and cheap, at about $6 each. Phuongie got several kinds of appetizers (I forget which ones), but they were all very tastey as well. Each day Coco’s has a different kind of soup, and the day we were there it was some kind of melon soup. I had never had anything like it, and it was great as well. If you go there, there’s a huge pot with bowls next to it to the left of the counter by all the silverware, and it’s self-serve.
Coco’s also has a bazillion types of drinks. We got bubble teas, which are the beverages with large, round, tapioca balls, or “bubbles” in them. The bubbles are chewy, like gummy bears, and I enjoyed mine a lot. Coco’s has an amazing website also, beautiful, but functional, and it shows you the variety of drinks available. They don’t have any prices listed on the website, but everything was cheap or reasonably priced. They only take CASH, however, and have an ATM on-site, which just screams of “scam” to me, but whatever. Just take some cash out before you head over there.
On the Clever Chick Scale this place gets a “Super delicious, and great value. I can’t wait to go again, and I will recommend it to many friends”. My only criticism is the fact that they only take cash. That just seems ridiculous these days, but it’s not enough to keep me from going back. Loved it!
Hubby has always been a huge fan of curry, and pretty much anything spicy. I have been attempting to increase my tolerance for spicy things, and have discovered that I actually like curry, too. I’ve never been able to make it at home, until my friend Black of Two Tokens recommended this:
The directions on the side are for meat, but I used it before to make a tofu, cauliflower and onion curry and it was fantastic. This time I decided to use cauliflower, onion, and cooked lentils. I chopped up and sauteed and entire head of cauliflower, and a medium onion.
Once it started to get brownish, I added 2 1/2 cups of water, as per the directions, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. I added my fully cooked 2 cups of lentils, and then let everything heat back up, since they came from the fridge.
This is what comes out of the package:
The whole thing is made like a chocolate bar, so you just break it into chunks, and mix it into the food. They start to melt, and thicken in the liquid. Make sure to stir constantly, and try to avoid lumps.
Here’s the finished product! It was really good, and the lentils kind of melted into the sauce. I think I might try chick peas next time, since they might hold up a little better. I may have used a bit too much cauliflower for the amount of sauce created, but it was still really good.
Even though the package says medium hot, I don’t find this to be hot in the slightest. They do have mild and other version, and I found it at my normal grocery store in the asian section. It was maybe $2.50 for the box? Not too bad. This is not the type of curry that has the coconut milk in it. I love those sooooo much, but again, have no idea how to make it. I am starving right now, and writing this post is torture. Time to acquire snacks!!