Monday, September 28, 2009

Alfredo and the best corn muffins ever

I've been a fan of corn bread and corn muffins since I can remember.
So, when I saw this post by Shanny's sister, Rena: http://sandwicharchitecture.wordpress.com I decided to try it.
Ever the fiddler, here's how I changed it.

Rena's Corn Muffins
Slightly adapted
(I copied and pasted her recipe and directions and edited where I changed it)

Ingredients

* 2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
* 1 cup natural cane sugar
* 1 cup coarse cornmeal
* 2 tablespoons baking powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1 1/4 cup whole milk
* 1/4 cup sour cream
* 1/2 pound (two sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 3 large eggs

Directions

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line 17 (I know, sorry) muffin cups with paper liners (or just grease the tin with some organic sunflower oil).
- Loosely measure the flours into your sifter and sift into a bowl.
- Spoon the sifted flour into your measuring cup and drag the back of a butter knife across the surface to measure (do not shake or this will increase the flour amount and make for denser muffins)
- Put the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt into a largeish mixing bowl, and whisk with a loose whisk (meaning, lots of space between the wires – we’ll need this later) to incorporate.
- In a glass 4 cup measuring cup, measure out the milk.
- Add a dollop of sour cream to get the milk line up to the 1 1/2 mark.
- Whisk together well but don't worry about the little bits of sour cream.
- In a separate bowl, combine this milk mixture and the cooled melted butter.
- Crack the eggs into a cup or small bowl (I used the glass measuring cup), and whisk until smooth.
- Add the eggs to the wet mixture, and whisk until combined.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry (when I did this all in one pour, it made the cooled PFLOUP sound), and whisk (this is why we needed a loose whisk – it will be thick) until just blended.
- Use a 1/4 cup scoop to measure the batter into the paper liners (one scoop will fill each most of the way to the top).
- Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. (I actually pulled them out without testing because they looked SO FREAKING PERFECT at 30 min mark - perfectly curved on top, with little cracks and just golden brown enough)
- Cool slightly and remove from the pan.

The paper liners come off without trying - it's amazing.
Shannon said, "I can't help but think of Mr. Crick."
I said, "Who's Mr. Crick?"
"That guy in Stranger than Fiction. I feel like he did when he at that cookie."

These are the best corn muffins ever! Thank you Rena!!
I didn't have a second muffin pan so I put paper liners in some ramekins and they worked out just fine. You can see here that we got a little distracted before I remembered to take a picture for you!

Rena's Corn Muffins


While I was putting them together, I discovered some unused fresh egg pasta that I got at Lucca Ravioli last week and realized it needed to be cooked asap. I've had fresh pasta in a plastic bag in the fridge get mouldy within two weeks. This pasta was only in the paper they wrapped it in when I bought it so it got a little dried out.
To me, fettucini needs to have a cream sauce so I set about to make the following alfredo from scratch without a recipe. It turned out really well.

Addy's Alfredo
2 T butter
2 T unbleached all purpose flour
1 c Half & Half
1 c stock (whatever kind you use, know that you will taste it a little bit. I used Low Sodium Organic Chicken stock)
1 1/2 c shredded mixed cheeses
I used - 1/4 c fresh parmesean, 1/4 c or 1 oz cream cheese, 1/2 c monterey jack & 1/2 c cheddar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper (or to taste)
1/8 t nutmeg

- Mix the half & half and stock together and take the chill off them. You can heat them or they can be room temp - I haven't found it makes much difference as long as they're not cold. Set aside.
- Make a roux with the butter & flour.
- I do this by melting the butter over medium heat until it's foaming and, using a whisk and only ever a whisk, sprinkle the flour in slowly & uniformly, until the entire thing is uniform and foamy. It's okay, and even recommended, to let it brown a touch, but it's more important to get everything whisked together quickly and without lumps. And, by no means, will you let it burn!
- Still over medium heat, slowly and steadily add the stock mixture in a steady stream until it's all incorporated. You should go slowly enough that you're able to make a consistent paste that gets thinner and thinner as you add the stock. You'll see what I mean as you're doing it and if you've never made a roux before, it might take you a couple of tries before it makes sense. But it's SO worth it - it's the base of so many great sauces and is really easy once you know how to do it.
- Stir with the whisk for a few minutes still over medium heat. The sauce should thicken within 3-5 minutes.
- Once it's got a nice thickness, take it off the heat and stir in the cheese until it's incorporated. This will thicken the sauce a bit more.
- Mix in the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Pour onto thick, flat pasta like fettuccini or tagliarini and enjoy!

We had some left over grilled chicken so I chopped that up and added it with 1/2 a bag of frozen peas and it was quite a treat.

Fettuccini Alfredo w/ Peas & Chicken

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dream Journal - Entry 06

Was in my own bed with Shan - as if I'd slept with my eyes open. Shan had a little puppy - perhaps a Jack Russell - who's name was Watson. It was clear to me that Watson was Shan's dog. I asked him if he was training him and he said "he likes to heel" and Watson snuggled up with him.

__
Was at some kind of convention - perhaps seeing Amma. Jared was there and was really freaked out. I saw him hiding in a room and went to check on him. He said he couldn't handle the purifying energy and I suggested that he go for a walk in the woods and really ground his energy in the earth. Some women were coming into the room to do some Vedic chanting - they seemed like Mother Divine women and they thought he needed the chanting to help him. He agreed because they were pretty strong about it so I left feeling that he'd made the wrong choice.

I ended up in the bath with a short haired redheaded girl. I asked her if she was lesbian or bi and she said "why do you want to categorize yourself to everyone" and then told me that seeing me in the bath made her tingle. I felt excited and hesitant.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dream Journal - Entry 05

I was taken to mavericks for my first surfing lesson. The pros helping with the lesson shouted boredly that a small shark was coming, as if it were no big deal. It swam by me pretty close and I remained calm. Then it went after me a little bit by trying to bite my foot but I chased it away by flailing my hands under water at it.
The instructor then showed me to a tall cave that was right on the edge of the crest of the wave (I've watched a few videos of surfing at Mavericks and have strong visuals of what the parts of the wave look like). The cave was at the top of a very tall waterfall that the instructor told me his father used to throw him down with a truck wheel inner tube around him. He gave the an inner tube and tossed me into the dark, narrow, wet cave - similar to Alice in Wonderland. The fall was very long and watery and I didn't scream very much. I was pretty scared but exhilerated. When I hit water I could tell that I'd been falling fast. I went all the way to the rocky bottom but only with a touch on my foot. I pushed off and floated to surface quickly with the help of rubber innertube.
To get back up top had to go thru a disgusting hotel that had little kids running & playing wildly. One floor had a ceiling only four feet tall. Couldn't find my way out but found the history of the cavern in millions of years time lapse. It was under the Lincoln memorial, even tho it didn't look like the Lincoln memorial and was in the South, and started as a very special tree with very deep roots. To build the Lincoln memorial the tree was removed and pulling out the roots created the waterfall cavern.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dream Journal - Entry 04

I was travelling in New England & found myself driving. Bob showed up in passenger seat and was in charge of the gas pedal. I was happy but a little concerned about speed & navigation matching.
We ended up in Portland, in an industrial part like near Casco Bay Lines & this is where he & Alysia lived.
I found a board with colorful, differently sized letters behind glass. The "L e" of "Leash" was there & I happily attempted to spell out the rest by tapping the glass. The letters would come up magically but not always right so it got a little frustrating. Alysia came home before I could get it to work.
We all ended up just holding each other in our wintery clothes on a bed-like couch. We didn't talk, it was very sweet.

Monday, July 20, 2009

nopa experience

I've always thought about writing detailed restaurant reviews here at crimsonic but always just defaulted to yelp due to its ease of use and ubiquity.

however, i had such a great experience at nopa last night, that i decided to pop my proverbial restaurant review cherry here.

for months now i've been seeing my friend violet's tweets about going to nopa, her photos of things like burgers and bacon brittle, and hearing her tell me what a great spot it is.
i even started following her friend richie on twitter because of her post where he, i assume, sent her home with a burger bun she'd requested be held.
he's got a fun blog with a question of the week, observations/thoughts, quotes from the kitchen (my personal favorite segment) and photos.

to get a little tangential, i must say that following some people's blogs and twitter streams is like happily running into someone often at parties or "the regular spot" (wherever that may be for you - the library, a bar, the back of the bike repair shop, your local tattoo parlor): you feel like you kind of know them, you have easy things to talk about, and you want to know them more and have more things to talk about.

that said, when i walked into nopa with my man & no reservation and the hostess smiled at me and offered the chef's counter, i was excited to finally meet richie of linecook fame and get to watch some of that quoted hilarity in action.

this is the finishing counter before the dishes get taken to the tables. I wanted to get a shot of six plates of beautifully seared halibut but I was too slow on the draw, and they're super fast on the delivery. instead, I caught a burger with a side of greens going out with a burger with a different kind of delicious - fries. I'm sad I didn't try the greens... I do love greens. I'm jealous.


It was so much fun to watch the plates get finished here - so much olive oil, pepper, and basil aoli getting poured, cracked and dished!


when we walked up to the counter, the team made courteous nods and I said to richie (I recognized him from his blog photos) "we're twitter friends" and he and Ponder said "all right!" or "oh cool!" or something like that (now I'm following him too...) Ponder pointed someone out to me but it was a little loud and I thought he was telling me the foursquare mayor was there but he was telling me that sean penn was there (which I found out tonight in perusing tweets about nopa from yesterday). i'm really glad I didn't hear him correctly or I would have been irritatingly star struck and might have missed some of the joy I got from my meal and observations.

Okay, enough jibber jabber. Here's my list of favorite things:

- i don't spend much time or money in upscale restaurants, but like to, a lot. i tend to feel a bit like a country bumpkin in there - especially when the amuse bouche arrives. I tend to get overly enthusiastic about surprise bites.
last night was no exception but it was about the salt. the yummy little salad on a crouton was served with a little finger bowl of malden sea salt.
i've heard of it, read about it and known of its existence for a while but have never been exposed to it in its raw form like that.
it's beautiful! little tiny square crystals of salt. we played with those until our drinks came.

- i really liked my white manhattan - white whisky is really sexy - strong like, um, brown (?) whisky, but much fresher. [I'll have to ask our friend Camper over at Alcademics about white vs brown/aged/whatever it's called whisky.]

- we ordered burgers cooked differently - mine medium, his medium rare. and whaddya know, mine was done a touch more than his and had plenty of pink. i guess i don't order the burger in upscale restaurants very much (that just made me think of that scene in the Nanny Diaries - no linking - if you've seen it, you know. if not, carry on and forget I even brought it up) but having the burgers turn out exactly right was unprecedented and made me happy. um. I think my country bumpkin in showing...

- the corn on the cob cooked in and smothered by house made basil aoli was freakin' delish! cooking corn in a hot oven rather than steaming/boiling is a really wonderful way to make it.
and what a treat to have a little something sent out by the kitchen when I've only just met them! thanks guys!

- i love pudding.
and custard.
and panna cotta.
all things egg/milk/sugar/gelatin/cooked.
love them.
but, i usually avoid creme brulee because the few times I've had it, the predominant flavor was sterno, which I always attributed to the pastry chef holding the torch too close to the sugar, burning it quickly, rather than using the less hot tho less sterno-y front of the flame for a touch longer.
anyway, possibly flawed theories aside, I couldn't resist burned honey creme brulee and figured I'd take a chance.
and I'm so glad I did - not a whif of sterno could be smelt and that dessert was out of hand (outta hand!).
burned honey - whoda thunk it?
the marinated strawberry on top was nice - a few more would have been even better!
I could have done without the short bread that accompanied - I've never been much of a fan of dry, crumbly sweet things. I save my dry crumbly for aged cheese. however, as far as shortbread goes, it was quite nice - great tooth & flavor, just not my thing.

- shan got the fruit galette with chevre ice cream and both were perfect. the ice cream was just the right amount of goaty, sour and sweet. and the galette was basically that perfect mix of sweet, light, flaky crust and fruit.

- my first sip of their house made earl grey cream liquor was stupendous.
subsequent sips wished for less coffee flavor and more bergamot. I mean, I'm a huge fan of earl grey and was expecting to be given a lot of bergamot and tea flavor. when our waitress told us of the ingredients (I think she said it had rum, tequila, coffee, earl grey and lots of other things) I was suprised by the addition of coffee but figured they knew what was up.
call me traditionalist but I want my tea based things to taste of tea, not it's uppity younger cousin. (my mouth loves coffee but my stomach does not so I'm a bit bitter - much like the coffee I favor but cannot drink)

Here you see my earl grey cream liquor and three cooks - Ponder (grill master), Linecook (Richie) (sous master) and the oven master whose name I didn't catch. The oven master had an awesome flatbread dough rolling technique that was fascinating to watch. He cranked out order after order of that flatbread and it was all made exactly the same. I know that's how it's done but it's rare to get to watch it without being a part of the bustling kitchen stuff (I was a food service person for a few years in my youth - a chef once told me to "get out. get out while you still can!" and I took his advice and got into administrative assisting instead. a similar tho less smelly and less delicious profession.)



- the typeography of their menus was super fun but hard to photograph because it was curvy justified. here's a section of the dessert menu - the digestifs and coffee/tea. Yum!




When we left we were so very satisfied and happy. My experience was everything I'd been hoping for and I'm looking forward to going back as the seasons and thus, the menu offerings, change a bit. We were so full and sleepy that Shan took a lil nap while we waited in the bus stop - you can see the dining room thru the glass so know that it's an easy spot to get to and from! Lots of public transportation options!



Bonne appetite readers!
Merci nopa!

Monday, June 29, 2009

PRIDE weekend!

This is the first time in my almost 8 years living in the Bay Area that I celebrated Pride weekend ALL WEEKEND!

SATURDAY

My friends Jim and Kiki live in a great apartment that overlooks the Dyke March's route so they open their doors to us almost every year so we can watch/participate.

The Dyke March is always on "pink saturday" and I had to arrive after working all day. I left work a bit early as this is a super important fun event that happens once a year. It's like a bday party - totally worth clocking out an hour early.
I stopped at home to feed the cat and change and ran up the street to Jim's place with my rainbow body paint kit with 15 minutes to get painted before the Dykes on Bikes went roaring down the street.

That was a great start to the weekend.
[click any photo to see it larger]

During the parade I was busy "participating" and only caught one image.


A little girl walked by with her moms and a poster that said "I <3 my 2 mommies." I was slow on the shutter and thought I missed them.
As you can see, one of her mommies asked her to turn around for me. That just breaks my heart open with joy - I wish this photo could show you how freakin' cute this little girl's face is.

Violet Blue and I met at this very same party five years ago. We call it our anniversary. Here she is in all her hot gangsta glory (wearing Ben's hat).



My 89 (??) year old Grand-Aunt Polly is a Old Lesbian Organized for Change (OLOC) and she and her ladies were posted up in the sweet viewing spot of the corner of 16th/Dolores where they got a fab, ground eye view of the parade. I was too busy introducing her to Kiki and Violet and being introduced to all of Polly's friends that I forgot to get a pic, but one of her friends got a great one with what looked like a really good camera.
I'm really glad I've started spending time with her - she's totally together and fun and has a lot to say and contribute. Her friends were super cute when they found out I am her grand-niece.
Y'all should support all the Old Lesbians in your area - they freakin' rock!

After the parade ended, Violet took Ben and me to "a sekrit party in the armory." The armory is owned by Kink.com (NSFW).
It was my first visit to the giant building that I ride past every morning on my way to work, so I was excited to see the rooms and how they've got everything set up.
There were a few scenes being filmed that night but the crowd, which was pretty non-usual for that space according to Violet, was really lame and took the fun out of watching.

We wandered around with our free drinks and took pics in the different themed rooms, which was super fun.


Violet took this selfie of us and I totally <3 it.


Just about every room had a row of pegs as well as O rings strategically placed in all kinds of places.



Violet got her first Digital SLR photography lesson while I explored a small closet.



Ben and I both got psyched about the light right here and Violet was happy to oblige us with her keen modeling skills.

We decided we'd have more fun eating than sticking around (again, lame "industry" crowd - boo) so we went to Monk's Kettle [Their kitchen is open until 1am, btw...] and all ordered burgers and ginger beer. This was my third or fourth visit and I felt confident highly recommending it to these two who'd wanted to check it but hadn't yet - they were pleased.
2am, time to sleep.

SUNDAY
I woke up around 10 and called the boys to figure out the plan for the day. It was decided that we'd start by meeting at Jim's to watch a bit of US vs Brazil soccer (wow - the first half was awesome. didn't see the second.) and have some champagne and glitter.
Fur removed......glitter and sunscreen applied, we headed over to Zuni's street party to say hi to our bday friend Janice who was pouring drinks for the first time. She made us some mean margaritas, got some glitter (and sunscreen!) applied and we headed down to Civic Center for the after parade party.



We walked into the festivities via the dance music area while they were in the middle of a Michael Jackson tribute set, which made me really happy.


Yay for gay pride & kissing outside!

This beautiful man and his two little girls looked so sweet to me, I had to ask for a photo. He obliged me with such a sweet smile - I was very happy.





This mirror ball man of awesomeness was sitting on the curb, looking a little sad, when we started dancing in front of him. A few minutes later, he perked up and started dancing as well and people started taking photos almost immediately. I could tell he really enjoyed having his photo taken in that fabulous outfit. That made me super happy.



I saw this tattoo from across the dance-street and had to record it, with permission of course. I think it's wonderful and really says a lot, even if I don't believe in God and his/her judgement, per se.

We walked home before the sun went down and I had a long relaxing evening with my man after his return from a weekend riding trip.

Best pride ever thanks to good friends, excellent imbibles and perfect weather in my favorite city.

<3

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rock Steady

Shannon has a little medley he likes to sing every once in a while.
It goes like this:
"Solid. Solid as a rock, steady, steady rockin' all night long."

I can't remember why it came up tonight but we realized it's a medley of two songs from the 80s that use "rock" in the chorus so off to YouTube I went to find them.

First, I found Solid - a fun song and a cute vid. Dude's got some serious style but his stylist on the video shoot should have untucked his jacket...

Then I found the gold: The Whispers: Rock Steady.

If you don't have five minutes to spend with your speakers on, come back when you do. I'll wait.



Okay.


Ready?






I need to make a time stamp list of awesomeness (if you click on the video to go to the youtube page, there should be a comment by addycat777 [aka me] with the time stamps as links if you want to save yourself a little effort - however, not all of these are there and I got the numbers wrong and youtube wouldn't let me edit or repost - argh!):

1. 0:37 - favorite dance move with the appendicular body

2. 0:59 - love the bearded back up singer/dancer (his beard looks glued on)
Watch for more of him cuz his moves are hot. (I'll spare you additional time stamps about him)

3. 1:26 - hey! where did those dancers come from?

4. 1:36 - "doin' the snake. mmm...maybe not..."

5. 1:44 - his "jazz square" pirouette reminds me of my jazz dance class when I was 9. We listened to this song during our warm up, which included jazz squares with our feet and hips.

6. 1:57 - enter freight elevator. that must be on what the crowd comes to populate this underground funk party.

7. 2:31-2:34 - I WILL learn this dance move and show you at the next party.

8. 2:48 - is that a tour jete I see in the background?? Justin did a couple of those for me on my birthday. He's really good at it, very graceful and always has pointed toes (even in cycling shoes!).

9. 3:22 - after more freight elevator and a moment without the crowd, they're in their party suits.

10. 3:32 - dude with the sunglasses and half-fro is really feelin' it

11. 3:55 - can't quite figure out why they went back to the other, "not party" suits...

12. 4:06 - looks like they can't either!

13. 4:33 - I know they used the "not party" suit footage here because of this sick move. it's spontaneous - not to be replicated - magic, caught on film.


This song makes me happy. Although, after trying to get all of those time stamps just right, I need to avoid it for a little while... but this video I could watch without sound, over and over while practicing all of those moves. Soon, I too will be able to dance like Barack Obama.