Archive for April, 2012

April 27, 2012

Cinnamon Raspberry FroYo: A Marvelous Mess!

by Kathryn Baldwin

“What?! We had a spotless kitchen like five minutes ago!!” That’s what my mom said when she appeared at the kitchen door and saw this on the newly wiped counter:

“…but I wanna make raspberry cinnamon frozen yogurt!” I whined. She was probably thinking, “psh, if I really wanted fro-yo I could just gather some spare quarters and drive down the street to get some.” She’s right, and so could I. So why the heck did I choose to subject myself to mounds of dishes?! Plus, having an insane amount of egg whites left over guilted me into making mint meringues on the side: more ingredients, more spills, more clanking utensils, more dirty towels, and more left over sweets to stare us down throughout the week.

Well too bad!!!! Some days, making a mess is necessary for our happiness. Case in point:

-Do surfers opt out of a day at the beach because the sand is inevitably going to invade the carpet in their van?

-Does my family give our poodles away (or my Pop for that matter) because they track trails of leaves five feet inside every single doorway?

-Do runners choose not to go jogging because they’ll dirty an extra pair of workout clothes?

-Do painters leave their paint at home because cleaning the brushes is too much work?

-Does a wood worker throw away his belt sander because it spreads too much sawdust?

The answer to all of these questions: sometimes.

Sometimes we abandon the spotless kitchen and walk down the street for some take out, but sometimes a little artistic expression, appreciation of ingredients, and tired knees are necessary. Actually, going out to grab a bite is often cheaper. Using practically a whole carton of eggs just to make a quart or two of ice cream seems insane, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try out Pop’s retro ice cream maker every couple months.

In an instant, you might end up sprinting across the kitchen with a hot plate in your left hand, gooey egg whites on your right hand, opening the oven door with your foot while making your iPhone timer stop quacking with a free pinky finger. These unsolicited, frantic moments happen spontaneously but they’re thrilling in their own Julia-Child-Bad-Girl kinda way (not to mention entertaining to guests).

Yes, I threw apart the kitchen and had to repaint my nails after doing so many dishes, but next time we eat frozen yogurt at Ian’s Yogurt, the contrast of an organized, self-serve toppings bar will flood me with memories. As the clerk weighs my styrofoam cup, I’ll be daydreaming about cracked cinnamon sticks steeping in warm milk, a roaring, ancient ice cream maker, and my smiling family as they scraped the pink edges of their fancy frozen yogurt cups.

Make a mess this weekend. Your creativity is craving it.

Cinnamon Raspberry Frozen Yogurt Recipe:

My favorite ice cream recipe is from BrownEyedBaker. I have an addiction to cinnamon stuff based on my obsession with Horchata, so I tweaked that cinnamon ice cream recipe this time to make it a TAD! bit healthier.

Steep the cinnamon sticks, ¾ cups sugar, and a pinch of salt in two cups of slowly heated, whole milk for an hour.

Beat five egg yolks and add the milk mixture (cinnamon sticks removed) into the yolks slowly. Strain that yolkie mixture back into the saucepan.

Warm yolk mixture again and stir-stir-stir until it leaves a film on your spoon.

Strain this mixture into a bowl; add a cup of plain Greek yogurt, another dash of cinnamon for looks, a tiny bit of vanilla, and a few handfuls of raspberries.

Then let your retro ice cream maker drive your family crazy. Or maybe you have a quieter one…? Haha.

April 18, 2012

Need a Spicier Relationship?

by Kathryn Baldwin

Speaking of spices, a friend and I recently essay-texted about a typical relationship spoiler: How can a couple rediscover their spice when it seems like the Silk Road has been buried for years? Yesterday, during my final minutes in Treadmill Hell, songwriter Ricardo Arjona delivered me the answer via his song “Di me que no” on my iPod:

En Español:

Si me dices que si, dejaré de soñar y me volveré un idiota,

Mejor dime que no y dame ese sí como un cuenta gotas;

Dime que no pensando en un sí

Y déjame lo otro a mi,

Que sí se me pone fácil

El amor se hace frágil y uno para de sonar.

Dime que no,

Y deja la puerta abierta.

In English:

If you tell me “yes,” I’ll stop dreaming and become a fool.

Just tell me “no” and give me that “yes” like a slow-trickling story;

Tell me “no” thinking about a “yes”

And leave the other to me,

Since “yes” makes me seem easy,

Love becomes fragile and one stops dreaming.

Tell me “no,”

And leave the door open.

-Ricardo Arjona, Di me que no

Everyone needs to dream in order to keep loving. Why does winning the lottery not guarantee happiness? Because solving the money problem makes you stop dreaming about how you’d the spend money and then you’re forced to focus on other problems.

Why can eating chocolate cake every single night ruin the decadence of chocolate cake? Because you’re no longer left to dream about the lusciousness of chocolate cake; the thrill of the hunt and the aspect of restraint gone, chocolate loses its exotic lure. Without imagination and looming hopes, any love, even love of chocolate, can lose its flavor.

Ricardo tells us couples to “leave the door open”… to culinary adventure. No pair is capable of checking all “first times” off their list:

  • Duck into an Indian, Asian, or Mexican market together to pick out a foreign fruit and leave laughing about how many people stared at you for seeming out of place.

  • Put Italian ingredients into your typical quesadilla dinner and compare how much easier that was to concoct than making a “calzone” would have been

-My Favorite: flour tortilla, Sautéd mushrooms, spinach, basil, sundried tomatoes, Mozzarella (folded half-moon style of course).

  • Ask your partner what country they’d die to go to and then Yelp the closest restaurant for an international date next Friday (followed by a country-themed movie rental).

-How about Spain?: Order some Paella and sangría at Esperpento in San Franscisco’s Mission District. We love that place.

  • Wake up early and pack a picnic for a low budget ferry ride across the bay. Then, bike from bench to bench, munching home packed snacks at each post, and complimenting each other’s attention to picnic-food-detail.

If you’re anything like us, culinary adventure might cause the kitchen to go up in flames. It may even award you both Moctezuma’s Revenge after eating those 1a.m.-hotdogs from a Guadalajara street vendor. Safe or not, the outcomes of adventure continually add fresh layers of spice that our perpetually virgin pallets have never experienced before.

Keep that kitchen door open, lovers 🙂

April 12, 2012

Beware of Diet Obsessions!!!!!

by Kathryn Baldwin

Sometimes, I get so annoyed by people talking about “losing weight” that it makes me want to inhale ten chocolate cupcakes. (Clearly, my rebellious character wasn’t just a teen phase.) Did you know that in the U.S., 1% of women between ages 15 and 25 develop anorexia? Not to mention, of all college students, 3% develop anorexia (Eating Behavior page 139). That means that right now, in the library where I’m writing this, probably three people are starving. Plus, thanks to globalization and reverence of skinny western culture, these numbers are skyrocketing in places like China, Japan, and Greece. So while the whole world is talking about people dying from obesity, a silent crowd is starving to death.

Here are a couple of my theories:

1) My generation wasn’t taught how to cook. Thus, we don’t know where to start the first time we are thrown into a kitchen alone: “You mean we have to create a meal with protein, vegetables, grains, starch, calcium, … ? Wait… lemme get a pen! No, forget it. Let’s go to Chipotle; I haven’t eaten all day.”

2) Most of us are living in a climate region of the world in which our genetic heritage does not belong (read about it). AKA: If my great grandma is from Sweden (where my ancestors ate only specific grains and vegetables for centuries), I doubt my genetic make-up is meant to tolerate mounds of tropical pineapple and corn every day (no wonder I’m mildly allergic to pineapple, and melon, and grapes, and…). Thus, I argue, Americans have found themselves nutritionally lost. We’ve developed sporadic and unhealthy eating patterns without understanding why. Nor do we care when we get gas; we just pick up some Tums!

I have many theories, but the point is that I have done some research. Sometimes when I’m standing in line at Safeway, I want to reach over and claw down the cover of Women’s Health Magazine, rip it up, and make it rain. Those computerized photos of 100-pound women next to ridiculous diet headlines are infecting our innocent children. Still, slashing magazines will accomplish nothing. All I can do is take interest in the facts.

Once you’ve read about the side effects of all the diets (good AND bad), you learn what is truly beneficial for your specific body type. Full, religious submission to one diet is nowhere near as beneficial as studying how each diet works and why. Remember: a healthy diet doesn’t always mean losing weight!

If you’re interested in learning about a healthy way of living, I recommend reading one of my right-hand reference books: The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies (Contra Costa Library). I also have this Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook where recipes are labeled for which type of body benefits from which meals, and why. This particular soup is beneficial for all body types (that is, of course, unless you have a food allergy to one of the ingredients): Asparagus Miso Soup!

Sauté half an onion and a teaspoon of minced ginger in some heated olive oil. Then, add 2 cups vegetable broth (or bouillon cube with liquid). Simmer two cups of chopped sweet potato in this mixture for about ten minutes. Briefly mash this up with a potato masher. Then add two cups of chopped asparagus and simmer five more minutes. Finally, stir in 1 tbsp of miso paste, a pinch of cayenne, some pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. I like to put a dollop of plain yogurt and a dash of cayenne on top of mine, but of course, everyone’s body is different. You should decide what to garnish it with. (btw, this insanely delicious and satisfying soup has protein, starch, vegetables, calcium, …you name it…)…

April 4, 2012

Spring Break Panuchos

by Kathryn Baldwin

Considering it’s Spring Break, I decided I had time to dedicate an entire evening to learning to cook something. I am the craziest person I know.

Why Panuchos?… you ask…

–       I prefer to make things that people have never heard of before. That way, when my boyfriend eats it, there is no way in heck he can compare it to his mom’s similar, yet far superior, dish.

–       I was craving black beans because they remind me of Cuernavaca, Mexico. (Plus I wanted to practice making refried beans from scratch and black beans can’t be compared to our usual pinto beans, which the pros in our families always make).

–       In the spirit of Easter, I was searching egg recipes but I didn’t feel like constructing some lame morning scramble.

–       I had way too much time on my hands because the entire point of Spring Break is to pretend you have no homework.

Once I decided to make Panuchos, I read up on those Yucatan medallions in the handful of old school, faded Mexican cookbooks we have around the house. Apparently, travelers passing through the Yucatan area during the 1800s stopped at “Don Hucho’s” food stand where they bought a unique on-the-go snack. Don Hucho basically created a sandwich by slitting open a fried corn tortilla and tucking beans and an egg inside. Hence the name: Pan-Hucho (aka: Bread-ooch-oh). I swear, when humans get in a hurry, we wrap a layer of grains around some protein and then munch on the run. The Grilled Cheese, the Pita Pocket, the Sushi Roll, the Burger, the Crunch-Wrap Supreme, the Panucho… psh, they’re all related.

So, after over three hours of a Mexican Monsoon swirling in my kitchen, I had constructed something you could more or less call a Panucho. A fried, homemade corn tortilla was slit open with refried black beans and a hard-boiled egg tucked inside. On top, I’d piled a layer of chipotle mayonnaise, chicken, and a mixture of lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cilantro.

(Granted, slitting open the tortilla was well above my skill level so the rest ended up being tostadas. Psh. Don’t hate.)

Let me clarify one thing: DON’T TRY TO MAKE THIS ENTIRE THING FROM SCRATCH IN ONE SINGLE EVENING unless you had a long string of “hey-I-have-a-good-idea” moments and an endless amount of time.

What you should do is this:

Go to the Mexican market and find dried chipotle peppers. Put a bunch of the shriveled little guys in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit about a half hour or three (while you cook whatever you’re cooking). Then remove the reconstituted chiles. With a fork and knife, cut off the stem side, scrape out the seeds, and put what’s left (the outer layer) in the blender. Puree them and mix in either mayonnaise or sour cream.

I’m pretty sure this simple nonsense is exactly what made the entire Panucho dish “one of the best ever.” I will soon be making burgers with this runny goodness.

Happy Spring Break everyone 🙂