Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kodiak Cakes Waffles are Da Bomb!


For me, home waffles have been a losing proposition. I either spend way to much effort effort making good ones from scratch, or I make some disappointing boxed-mix waffles. Needing some waffle mix in a pinch, I stopped in at the local Meijer. Lo and behold this Meijer had quite the selection of mixes. As is my nature, I studied the ingredients and nutrition of every box until I came across Kodiak Cakes - Buttermilk and Honey. It had the holy grail of ingredients lists:
100% whole grain wheat flour, 100% whole grain oat flour, non-fat sweet cream buttermilk, dry honey, leavening, egg whites, salt. Just add water.

I quickly added it to my cart and the next morning I went straight for my Belgian waffle iron. (On a side note, it's worth spending a little extra on good iron. The cheap ones don't cook evenly.) Per the instructions on the box, I combined the mix 50/50 by volume with water and stirred it with a whisk. (Its good to incorporate some air into the batter. It makes for fluffier waffles.) I sprayed the iron with some oil and poured in a scoop of batter and waited for the beep.

Out popped a wonderfully golden waffle. I quickly topped it with a large dose of whipped cream (the real stuff) and a handful of fresh blueberries. I was one of the best waffles I've had (and hands down
the best boxed waffle.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Egg Salad Variant

After this past holiday weekend I found my self with two dozen eggs edging up on expiration.  My method of choice for saving eggs is hard boiling followed by a week of egg salad or deviled eggs. After prepping the eggs for egg salad I realized I was short on every veg one typically throws into egg salad. During my frantic rummaging through the fridge I noticed my jar of Olive Muffalata and thought, "This couldn't be any worse than pickle relish." I added a dab to a spoonful of the eggs and it was rather tasty.

Egg & Olive Salad

Ingredients:


  • 2-4 Hard Boiled Eggs cubed
  • Spoon full of Mayonnaise
  • 2 Spoon fulls of Olive Muffalata
  • S&P to taste

Directions:

Mix it up and eat it! (optionally in a sandwich)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Well-Tempered Sentence

I recently came across The Well Tempered Sentence at a used book shop near my aunt's house. I, being interested in punctuation, immediately picked it up and gave a few pages a thumbing. What a wonderful surprise it was! It contained all my favorite punctuation marks illustrated with peculiar, mysterious, and at sometimes surreal example sentences. Google has a few pages available for your perusal. I recommend that you check it out.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to Pour Out a Bottle Quickly

Credit: Joseph Golden, NOAA
No body likes waiting for all the flat soda to pour out from a bottle into a sink so you can recycle it. I remember my second grade teacher challenging some smarty pants to a race to see who could pour out a bottle the fastest. The kid of course tipped it over and let it glug away while the teach poured it slowly and left a gap for the air to flow back in. Her method was far superior.

Avoiding turbulence is key to pouring out a bottle quickly and poor airflow causes turbulence. If we can find a better method of supplying air we can pour the spent soda out faster. Spencer's Gifts has solved this problem as well as the age old college problem of not getting drunk fast enough with a special beer bottle attachment which has a straw to relieve the back pressure; however, I found a better method with no additional equipment required: The Tornado Technique™. (Note: when pouring into your mouth, it's a lot less messy to use the attachment.)

The Tornado Technique™ is simple, just twirl the bottle as you pour it out so that the liquid inside starts spinning. As gravity pulls the liquid out it adds energy to the spin which transforms it into a self sustaining whirlpool. As the whirlpool is draining into the sink the replacement air will come up through the center. No more waiting! Alternately, if your goal is to pour the bottle out as slowly as possible in order to just watch the tornado, there's a bottle attachment for that too.

Getting over First Person Motion Sickness

For years I've suffered from motion sickness related to 3D motion in some video games (mostly first person games). I mostly worked around this by using smaller screens, keeping the lights on in the room, and trying to avoid tunnel vision (which is hard during intense scenes). I recently purchased Antichamber, a game designed for all my puzzling weaknesses, and unfortunately its non-Euclidian nature just wasn't agreeing with me.

I dug around the web a bit looking for cures to motion sickness but there was nothing new; I had tried them all. That is, until I found a forum post (which I'm unable to locate) that said that you can just keep pushing and eventually your body figures out it's not dying. Sounds like fun, right? So here's what happened.

At first I could only play 20 minutes until I was past feeling ill and into the heaving stage. I decided to take a break for an hour or so, then went back to playing. After an evening of nausea, break, nausea, break, I progressed to a 45 minutes session with only feeling ill and clammy hands. Not bad for one day.

The next day I played an hour before bed and only felt a little nausea. I finally broke though! Then the day after that I played an hour and a half with no issues. Well no issues with the motion sickness. Antichamber, on the other hand, gave me plenty of problems. But, like with any well-designed puzzle game, the problem is you and you know you just have to push through it.

Cool (Dangerous) Microwave Tricks

I was just reminiscing about all the cool stuff I've microwaved in my life so I turned to YouTube to see if anyone has done it better. As expected, they have: I never thought of using a glass to trap the plasma. Anyway, here's some videos of people reliving my childhood.

Microwave a CD:


Microwave a Grape:


Microwave a Lit Match:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Batch Cooking Kabobs

This past Easter I hosted around 20 people for dinner. Cooking for 20 people is easy if you're making a roast but this year I was inspired to make some Shish Kabob and Shish Tawook. Here's how I pulled it off:

Meat
5.5lb Lamb Leg Roast
6lb Chicken Breasts

For the lamb I trimmed the fat and tried to separate it into the component muscles before cubing. I was left with a couple tasty meat flaps for lunch. The chicken I cubed normally.

Marinade
For the Kabob marinade I used this Greek dressing recipe. While the recipe is restaurant sized, I scaled it down to 30 servings (2 cups of red wine vinegar) and I had some extra to use as dressing. For the Tawook I made the same recipe only substituting lemon juice for the vinegar. After mixing the dressing, I ran it on high in the Blendtec to get it to emulsify. It started separating the next day, but after two weeks it's still 80% emulsified. Perhaps next time I make it I'll substitute fresh garlic, or add some more mustard. Both will help the emulsion hold.

I left the meat in the marinade for 24hrs. This made the meat wonderfully tender as acid will break down some of the connective tissue. A couple pieces of lamb that were fairly tender before I put them in were a little over tenderized. It's hard to control for this because large cuts of meat have such a variety of muscles.

Cook Prep
Assembly is straight forward. Separate the skewered meat with onion or green pepper for even cooking. Be sure to soak wooded skewers in water so they don't burn. The last time I cooked a large batch of kabobs there was a large bottleneck at the grill. So after some internet research, I pre-cooked the kabobs to medium-rare in the oven. 450 degrees for 12 minutes while I warmed up the grill on high. Normally this would char the outside before they cooked but with the pre-cooking they only have to stay on long enough to get some delicious grill marks. About 15 minutes before I was ready to serve, I briefly grilled the kabobs and had them ready to eat in no time.