You're only seeing my successes here. In fact, I fail at this much more often than I succeed.


2011-09-25 20:26:23
by: jovial_cynic
One of the great things about having kids is having another excuse to be a kid. And that means doing things like playing with your food.

I saw this on some blog a few years back, and figured I'd do it. It was such a hit with the kids that I figured I'd do it again and document it. Enjoy!

Step 1: Cut up hot dogs and stick four 1/2 piece spaghetti noodles through them.

Step 2: Throw into shallow pan and boil.

Step 3: Watch your kids' faces as they eat something fun.


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2009-02-14 17:41:52
by: jovial_cynic

(hideous, isn't it?)

What do you do when you have a fridge full of leftovers from spaghetti, tacos, some frozen corndogs, and pizza ingredients?

A corndog pizza quesadilla.


It looks really disgusting, especially because I played with the contrast/brightness on the image (for special effects!)... but it was actually kind of tasty.

Costco tortilla shells are awesome, and when you spread leftover spaghetti sauce over one, add some salsa, black olives, pepperoni, diced onions, some cut up corn dogs, and toss a bunch of mozzarella cheese on top, topped with another shell, you end up with a kid-pleasing treat.

I made one without salsa and onions, since my kids don't really deal well with such spice quite yet, and they seemed to eat it just fine.

Also, this is the kind of meal that my kids eat when my wife is out of town, and I've got to come up with ideas for food.

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2008-11-29 22:39:28
by: jovial_cynic
I've decided to take up yogurt-making.

I've got my head around the wine-making, and I want to eventually try beer-making, but yogurt-making is something that my mom recently introduced to me, and I figured I'd give it a shot.

After doing a little research, I went to the grocery store and picked up some milk and got started.

Similar to real sourdough, yogurt is made with a starter. That is, you can take a batch of yogurt and pass it through batch after batch and make yogurt forever, or at least milk becomes unavailable. There's something kind of magical about the idea of it, and if all goes well, I may have a set of yogurt that'll last for generations.

You can actually just pick up a tub of original all-natural yogurt at the grocery store and use it as a starter, but my mom happened to bring over a mason jar full of yogurt that she picked up from a friend. At this point, I have no idea of the history of this particular batch of yogurt... and although I can probably call my mom's friend and find out, I think I'll let my imagination create my own history on this mystery.

Here's my setup. Milk, source yogurt, pots. There really isn't much to the process of yogurt making.

This is a pot of milk in a pot of water. It's referred to as a water-jacket, and it allows you to raise the temperature of the milk without the risk of scorching it. It's not absolutely necessary, but it is a rather foolproof way of heating up the milk to 185 degrees.

After heating the milk up (to kill off any rogue bacteria), you let it cool back down to 110 degrees and then throw in a bit of the yogurt. For my 4-cups of milk, a single spoonful of yogurt is enough. And then you wait. If you're able to keep the milk at 110 degrees, your yogurt will set up in 7 hours... but if you leave it at room temperature, it takes closer to 9 or 10 hours.

Nine hours later, it's a little runny (it hasn't chilled in the fridge yet), but it's certainly yogurt.

Yogurt, by itself, is not very delicious. I prefer mine with a bit of honey, personally. This first batch turned out quite well, and I'm going to make great efforts to maintain it. It's my very own yogurt quest.

Here's a PDF of the instructions, if you want to try it for yourself.

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2008-01-19 21:45:18
by: jovial_cynic
I've created a new section. I originally posted some of my food adventures in the DIY section, but figured that I might explore food enough to have a new section I've labeled, "cooking."

The latest food adventures comes from my love for Korean food. I'm half-Korean, and I grew up on rice, seaweed, spiced vegetables, and all sorts of food with the eyes still attached. My wife isn't crazy about any of it, but I can't go for too long without craving it.

One of my favorite Korean foods is kim-bap, which is the Korean word for sushi. I periodically pick up some pre-made kim-bap at the local Korean market, but at $3 each time, I figured it was time to learn how to make it myself. After stumbling upon a page that shows how to make it, I went grocery shopping at the Korean market and decided that tonight was the night.

Kim-bap is rice, mixed with condiments, and wrapped up in seaweed. The condiments that are used varies, but it often include pickled radish, egg, carrots, spinach, and beef. I didn't feel like buying spinach, so I substituted it with lettuce, and in place of beef, I used odeng, which is like a thick noodle made from flour and fish. It's hard to explain; I don't think there's an American equivalent.

Anyhow, here's a bunch of pictures of the build up.


Kim. That's seaweed, and it's what we use to wrap everything up.

And here's the kim covered in rice.

I used a potato peeler and shaved off some slivers of carrot to use.

A single egg, fried flat, and then sliced up into strips.

No spinach for me. I used lettuce instead. I'm not opposed to spinach -- I just didn't feel like going through the process of boiling it up.

This is odeng. It's fish cake, or noodle, sliced into strips. It looks kind of gross in that picture, but it's about the most delicious thing ever.

This is pickled Asian radish. It's dyed yellow, and I'm not sure why. But it's always that way. I could have picked up a pack that wasn't dyed, but it was a larger pack, and I didn't feel like spending another dollar. Growing up, my relatives referred to this as "Japanese kimchee," but I never understood why. I'll have to ask my mom. It's not spicy like kimchee -- it's just pickled.

Here's all the condiments piled onto the rice before rolling it up with the handy bamboo kim-bap roller I bought at the Korean store. You can use paper, but I wanted it to be official.

And here it is rolled up. My goodness, it looks like kim-bap. I almost ate it without cutting it up.

Look! Kimbap! I made that!

Delicious. It tasted perfect. And as I've told some of my friends, the way the portions work out, I think kim-bap is about the most perfect food.

Of course, I couldn't go to the Korean store without picking up some fun stuff. I'm a big fan of cucumber kimchee, because it's crunchy, and stays that way for along time, unlike lettuce which gets soggy pretty quickly.

Also, spiced dried anchovies. It's not as bad as it sounds -- it isn't fishy tasting. But one thing that freaks people out is that you're eating the fish whole, eyes included.

Yes. That's an anchovy eye, staring at you from behind the tail of another anchovy.

Anyhow, there you go. That's kim-bap. It was my first time making it, and it was fantastic.

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2006-04-29 20:58:27
by: jovial_cynic
So, I figure it's good to take a break from crazy land and figure out how to make those roadside "authentic California tacos" that are popping up everywhere in my town. I scanned my favorite forums for a good recipe and came up with this:

Salsa Ranchera
(Makes ~1 Cup)

1/4 lb. white onions, peeled
1/4 lb ripe tomatoes, unpeeled but halved
3 sprigs cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt

-Chop the onions and tomatoes into regular cubes, about 1/4 inch on each side.
-Pull out the big stems and chop the cilantro finely.
-Combine onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and salt in a bowl and toss to combine.

Salsa Roja
(Makes ~1/4 Cup)

1/8 cup dried arbol chiles
1/2 small tomato, trimmed and halved
1/8 tsp salt

-Snap the stems off the chiles and toast them in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until dark but not black. Discard all the seeds that fall out while you toast them but don't otherwise seed the chiles.
-Place the tomato halves in a small saucepan and add water just to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until you get an orange foam.
-Put the toasted chiles in a blender, add tomato cooking water just to cover, add the tomato halves and the salt, and puree until the only solids remaining in the sauce are the chili seeds.

Carne Asada
(Makes ~8 tacos)

1 2lb flank steaks
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 cloves garlic

-Place flank steak flat on cutting board with one hand flat on the top surface of the steak.
-Using a long, thin-bladed knife, slice the flanksteak into 2 thin sheets of meat (between your hand and the cutting board).
-Prepare the marinade by combining the orange juice, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt and olive oil and whisking with a fork. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and add to marinade.
-20-30 mins. before grilling immerse all the two pieces of meat in the marinade.
-Brush off any garlic stuck to the meat and grill over a very hot fire (add some wet wood chips if possible for smoke flavor).
-Grill each piece until the outside is crisp and even charred in places but still medium rare and juicy inside. As each piece finishes put it in a covered pot kept in a warm place.
-With a thin, sharp cleaver or heavy knife, chop the meat into small chunks with a maximum dimension of 1/4 inch.
-Save any juice that collected in the pot to spoon over the meat as you scoop it into the tortillas.

To Assemble:
-Warm your (preferably fresh) tortilla on a griddle.
-Hold the tortilla in the palm of your hand.
-Add a heaping 1/4 cup of chopped grilled beef and some beef juices.
-Add 1 Tbs. salsa ranchera, 1 tsp. salsa roja.
-Sprinkle on a bit of salt and squeeze a wedge of lime over the top.
-Add shredded cabbage.

Mmmm boy. I know what I'm eating tomorrow.

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2006-03-09: PIZZA SUCCESS! 2006-03-08: MMMM PIZZA