Saturday, August 27, 2011

Emotional manipulation

I share inner, personal feelings with no one in particular when I post online. Just the satisfaction of knowing it was read is usually enough for me. I get it off my chest, and I feel better.

There are various reasons why using it against me does nothing to me, but instead reveals your true character. First, what I say to myself in my depression, 9 times out of 10, is far, far worse, uglier, and more honest than ANYTHING you could EVER say to me. I have most likely already told myself whatever insult you have for me, and I already know my personal flaws well enough that I won't hear anything I didn't already know.

Second, you are the internet. Nameless, faceless. Sometimes, certain names get personalities attached to them and I even fool myself into considering people in the same regard as I would a cool classmate or coworker I know in real life. But, here is the thing. You never got as close to me as you think you did. I hold very, very few people close enough that they can hurt me badly. I have been burned far worse by RL friends than 'internet friends'. My boyfriend, my RL best friend, my family. They are the only ones that can touch me on that level. I let them into my heart on a personal, deep level. It is one that can hurt me for a very long time. Internet people are flesh wounds. Scratch me, I whirl around and smack you. The scratch heals, I am over it.

My only mistake was letting you close enough to scratch me in the first place. I take my licks for that one. I took a chance. Sometimes, I get gentle caresses and hugs. Those are worth the risk I take, which is why my ways won't be changed by your slight.

Trying to use the personal things I posted against me for some petty, stupid misunderstanding is pathetic. It only shows how ugly you really are inside, and who is worth keeping in contact with.

And that is all I have to say about that.

/archived for future reference

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fail creamy chicken bread pudding

So, my recent tinkering with bread has resulted in some... less desirable results.


Ok, they were actually utter failures. Dense, dry bricks of utter fail.

Always the thrify and enterprising one, I can never waste perfectly good food! I mean, it is fully cooked and not rotten. If just doesn't exactly have the desired... bread qualities. So, bread pudding it is!

Last time I made a typical sweet bread pudding, nothing special, it was very basic. The best part was where I used leftover Dulce De Leche mixed with bourbon and milk for the topping. Mmmm :)

This time, I wanted to try something succulent to use up the leftover chicken from the rotisserie I made the other night. I began with a basic recipe for artichoke bread pudding. Digging to the back of the cabinet, I discovered only one lonely can. Canned artichoke isn't cheap! Plus, there is a vegan recipe that calls for artichoke I have been saving it for. There was, however, plenty of canned mushrooms. The main veggies I had already established based on the staples we always have around the house-- onion and celery. Leftover cheese from the pizza the night before, plus leftover white sauce from the pizza. A rough estimate of what was thrown in is as follows;

1 loaf of FAIL bread (or, perfectly acceptable yet stale bread, of whatever type you choose), cubed

2 cups milk

3 eggs

1 cup cooked chicken

1 medium sweet or red onion, diced

1/2 + 1/2 cup of defrosted and drained frozen bell peppers

1 small can of mushrooms

2 stalks of celery, diced

1/2 cup of white sauce, like alfredo, or 1/2 can of condensed cream of chicken/ mushroom/ celery soup

1-11/2 cups shredded italian cheese blend (I mixed mozzarella, asiago, and Parmesan)

olive oil

fresh ground black pepper

1+1 tsp Spike (red label)

3 tsp italian seasoning blend

1+2 tsp Trader Joe's 21 seasoning salute

Soak the bread in the milk for at least 30 minutes, or until the bread is soft and most liquid has been absorbed. Push down the bread to extract about 1/2 cup of the milk. Whisk the eggs with the extracted milk, 1 tsp spike, 1 tsp 21 salute, and pepper to taste. Using 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, grease a 13x9 casserole dish, making sure to get the sides too. Cover the bottom of the pan with enough bread to to cover the entire bottom, or a bit more than half of the bread. Evenly layer on the chicken and 3/4 of the onion, then pour the sauce or soup on top and spread evenly. Evenly layer on the celery, mushroom, and bell pepper. Top with black pepper to taste, 1 tsp red label Spike, 3 tsp Italian seasoning, and 2 tsp 21 salute. Sprinkle with half of the cheese, or enough to evenly cover everything. Evenly spread remaining bread on top. Evenly sprinkle the remaining onion and bell pepper on top. Pour the egg mixture over the entire thing, pouring slowly to ensure it is evenly spread. Grind some more black pepper on top. Evenly drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Evenly sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes- 1 hour, or until sides are crispy and top is golden brown. If the top is browning faster than the sides, cover with foil.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Perfect Vegan Whole Wheat Millet Bread

3 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/4- 1/3 cup sugar (adjust to your taste)
1 1/2 cups soy milk (108 to 115 degrees)
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp melted vegan margarine
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2-1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup millet
water as needed to thin dough

Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm soy milk. Let stand 5 minutes. Combine 1/3 cup sugar, salt, butter, oil, and 1 cup warmed soy milk with the yeast. Add pastry flour, beating at medium speed with mixer until well-blended and smooth. Fold in millet.

Gradually stir in enough whole wheat flour to make soft dough. Place in well- greased bowl turning to grease top. Cover and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in bulk. Punch down, turn dough onto well-floured surface and knead several times. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Sweet, soft, yeasty tasting. The whole wheat adds a complexity and heartiness! For white rolls, sub the whole wheat flour for pastry flour and exclude the millet.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fresh Fig and Bellavitano Tart with Caramelized Cherry Merlot Reduction

A.k.a., stinky cheese fig pizza :p (this is how I presented it to the boyfriend)

Anywho, I was in Trader Joe's yesterday and came across fresh figs! $3.50 for a 1 lb box! I knew I must haz nao. But, with no recipe in mind, I searched all night for the right recipe to do them justice. We are on a really tight budget right now, so I also knew that whatever I made I could not buy any other ingredients for. The figs were the splurge, and now I need to use them! The last time I brought them home (probably around this time last year, actually) the boyfriend picked up some goat cheese, and he stuffed the figs with the goat cheese and walnuts and wrapped them with bacon. When I looked up recipes, half of them had prosciutto in them! We are *trying* to eat vegan and vegetarian, and I know that pork can't be the end all magical ingredient with fresh figs!

I found a number of recipes I liked, and it came down to deciding between doing a dinner or desert. I remembered I had my loaf of fail multigrain bread in the fridge, which is now old, stale, and super dense (the fail part). So, bread pudding seems to be in order! I decided between two recipes with that as well, a savory one or a sweet one. When I explained the options to the boyfriend, his eyes glazed over until I got the the part of the can of dolce de leche that has been languishing in the fridge for over a year. He lit up like a puppy being asked if it wants a cookie, and I then knew what the answer was :p

So, to contrast the sweet desert, a savory fig dinner was in order! I pretty much winged the recipe using all sorts of stuff I have taught myself in the past year, as well as inspiration in terms of what kind of stuff to mix with the figs from the common ingredients I found in recipes for fresh figs. Everything in this recipe, except the fresh figs, were random things hanging out in the pantry and fridge. Also, measurements are approximate for a lot of this, especially the cream sauce. I winged it!

Tart crust:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt (to taste)
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 tbsp softened butter
2 tbsp turbinado or other large grain sugar
2 tsp fennel seeds
(reserve egg white for brushing later)

Whip butter until creamy. Whip in yolk until creamy. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well, the mixture should be crumbly. Fold in the sugar and fennel seeds. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and allow to chill in fridge at least 1 hour.

Caramelized Cherry Merlot Reduction:
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup cherry juice
1/4 cup merlot

Place a small, non stick saucepan over medium low heat. Add the brown sugar, and watch closely. As it begins to melt, stir the sugar around to prevent burning. When it is all melted, allow to caramelize for just a few seconds, then add the cherry juice. Stir until the hardened caramel completely dissolves, allow to cook down for 2-3 minutes until syrupy but NOT burnt. Watch it close! Once it has reduced to half, add the merlot and cook down for around 5 minutes, stirring often. When the bubble begin to get foamy, you know you are close. Stir vigorously and pay close attention to the consistency and smell. If you smell burning, it is usually already too late and you need to start over. You want the reduction to be syrupy, and you should get about 1/3 of a cup of reduction from this recipe.

Shallot Garlic Bellavitano Cream Sauce
2-3 shallots, minced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh basil
1 tbsp minced fresh italian parsley
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 lb Bellavitano Raspberry cheese (or your favorite stinky cheese!)
1 cup whole milk (we dont keep milk on hand, so I used 1/3 cup dry milk mix and 1 cup of water)
salt, to taste (I like to use Spike instead of salt)
fresh black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup white wine

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium low heat. Saute the shallots and garlic in oil until they just start to get some color (about 1 minute). Add the flour, the mix should be a paste. Stir often, cook for 3 minutes or so, until the flour is golden brown and the mixture takes on a buttery popcorn scent. Be careful not to burn! Add the milk, stir well until the flour paste (it is a rue) is dissolved in the milk. Cook about 3 minutes, or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the cheese, and more water if the sauce if too thick. Cook until cheese is melted and mixture begins to foam again. Add salt, pepper, basil, and parsley, cook another minute. Reduce heat slightly, add the wine. Allow to cook down until a thick, creamy sauce forms. If it is taking a long tome to reduce, add some corn starch or arrowroot to thicken it up. This recipe makes more than needed for the tart, so you'll have extra sauce for pasta or pizza!

Tart fixin's
1/2 lbs fresh figs
2 oz Bellavitano Raspberry cheese, shredded
2 tbsp fresh italian parsley
1 large sweet onion, caramelized (saute slow and low with 3-4 tbsp of butter until brown and soft)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
egg whites for brushing

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out your tart dough on a floured surface. Lay into a greased pie dish, ensuring there is enough dough to go up the sides (you will be folding these sides down over the tart in the final step). Brush the dough with egg whites. Add about 1/2 cup of the cream sauce (you want enough to cover the bottom generously, but not so much it will make it soggy). Sprinkle the parsley and cheese on top of the sauce. Sprinkle the almonds next. Layer a generous amount of the onions. Slice the figs in thirds, lengthwise, and arrange on top with the seeded center facing up. Fold the sides of the crust over the tart and brush with egg whites. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tart crust is golden brown. Allow to cool, then drizzle the reduction on top. NOM. NOM I SAY!