Monday, July 26, 2021

Well, I Sort of Followed the Directions

 So, I realized recently that I almost always just kind of, sort of, follow a recipe.  I usually start out planning to follow the recipe exactly but it just doesn't work out that way.  

Like when I was looking for a nice grain bowl or grain salad to make for lunch I found this recipe for Cranberry-Pecan Wheat Berry Salad from Taste of Home.  It looked good in the picture and the ingredients all sounded good.  So I started to make my shopping list.  Well, I didn't have any wheat berries.  I was going to put them on my list when I realized I had a whole bag of farro.  So why not just use what I had on hand.  How different could they be, really?  And then I got to walnut oil.  Walnut oil?  I didn't even know they sold bottles of walnut oil until I read this recipe so I was pretty sure I was never going to have a use for it again and I didn't want to buy a bottle of something that would just sit around forever.  So I used olive oil instead.  Everything else I did according to the recipe.  Although I will admit that some of the quantities were eyeballed.  

As with a lot of grain salads like this one there is not a lot of cooking to do.  You have to cook the grain but that is mostly just waiting. You combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl (All of which I had on hand except the walnut oil.  I like when that happens and I get to use what I have instead of having to buy a bunch of ingredients.)  There is sage and thyme in the dressing.  The recipe gives you the amount to use for either fresh or dried.  I used dried because I had them and I have a habit of only using a small amount of fresh herbs and having to throw away the rest.  Then there is a little bit of chopping to do.  And the rest is just mixing everything together.  So nothing too complicated or time consuming.  

It made for a very satisfyingly and filling lunch.  The very savory dressing matches well with the fruit so it has a nice balance.  The apple gives you a nice crunch for a nice texture against the chewy grain.  I think it was the sage and thyme in the dressing but there was something about it that made me think of Thanksgiving.  It reminded me of the stuffing my mother would always make.  

Sometimes when there is no meat or cheese in lunch I feel the lack of it.  But in this one I don't.  It was definitely a full meal.  I will keep the recipe on hand and maybe even use wheat berries next time.  Or barley or quinoa or whatever.  

Friday, July 16, 2021

Evil Librarian Book Review

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

(from the back of the book) Something about the new librarian isn't quite right.  Maybe it's his (literally) mesmerizing eyes.  Or the way students start acting like zombies after spending time with him.  Or the horns and giant bat-like wings that appear when he thinks no one is looking.  Um, yeah, Mr. Gabriel is a demon.  But only Cynthia Rothschild realizes that something is very wrong.  Worst of all, her best friend, Annie, has fallen completely under Mr. Gabriel's demonic spell.  Now, in addition to saving her beloved school musical (Sweeney Todd!) from technical disaster and avoiding making a  complete fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn must find a way to save Annie and the rest of the school from the evil librarian - before he steals away her BFF forever and leaves everyone else dead!

This is a fun book.  Yes, it is about a demon who is killing people and sucking out the souls of teenagers but it does not feel dark.  It is surprisingly light hearted for a book with so many demons in it.  I like that.  Cynthia is dealing with some big things (even aside from the demons) but she deals with them with humor and the help of her friends.  Nothing is ever taken too seriously.  I like the running dialog in Cynthia head and the way she is always telling her brain or her nerve endings to shut up.  I have to admit, I was over the whole, 'I can't think because Ryan is standing too close' thing.  But that is probably because I can't remember what it's like to be a teenage girl in love.  All of the characters are interesting, even the ones who are not much more than a cameo.  And I love the way the evil librarian is make you shiver creepy even when he is doing regular human things.  The book is fast reading because the action keeps the plot moving at a good pace.  Even when the book focused on the play there was never a lull.  In fact, the way the story shifts from the demons to Cynthia's crush, to her dedication to the play so the paranormal happenings are taking place in the middle of her regular life is part of the charm.  I really enjoyed reading this one and will visit the evil librarian series again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Maybe I Should Get a Wok

So I wanted to try to make Drunken Noodles.  I love Drunken Noodles.  I do not own a wok and I have tried to make other dishes that tell you to make them in wok and I figure 'how much difference can it make' and it doesn't turn out well.  And I have also tried to make other rice noodle dishes that have not ended well.  But despite my past failures and the fact that I still don't own a wok I decided to try again. 

Spoiler Alert: it went much better this time.  

I used the recipe for Drunken Noodles (or Pad Kee Mao apparently) from The Woks of Life.

There are a million different recipes out there but this is one of the ones that told me to use Thai chilies instead of a chili paste or something.  And I just liked the looks of it.

I started to gather my ingredients.  I could not find rice noodles as wide as the ones I would usually get from the restaurants so I settled for ones that looked liked fettuccini.  I could not find Shaoxing Wine, so I got mirin.  And I used just regular basil, not holy or Thai.  And I'm sure I had more chicken than I was supposed to.  But whatever.

The directions for the noodles said to let them sit in really hot water.  So they were easy to cook.  Then there is a fair amount of chopping to do.  I added an extra Thai chili, because I like heat and well, I had to buy a box of like a hundred so why not.  

Then it is basically adding the ingredients to the wok (or in my case a skillet) when you are told to.  My skillet was just a little too small so stirring wasn't the easiest.  And I don't know if having a wok would help or if I got the noodles too soft before I added them to the pan or if I'm just a brute but I break up the noodles quite a bit in the process.  The finished product did not look exactly like the Drunken Noodles I have eaten before but it was pretty close.  Closer than I expected.  And much closer than my last rice noodle effort.  I was very pleased.  It got even better when I ate them.  They were just what I was hoping for.  I will make them again.  Maybe in a wok next time.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Yakuza Apocalypse Review

 Yakuza Apocalypse with Hayato Ichihara

(from the case) In the ruthless underground world of the yakuza, Kamiura is the legendary boss of the underlings. He is rumored to be invincible, but in truth is a vampire with superhuman powers. Kamiura's most loyal underling, Kageyama, is seen as weak by the rest of the gang due to his sensitive skin that can't be tattooed.  When assassins aware of boss Kamiura's secret arrive from abroad, he is given an ultimatum: return to the international syndicate he left years ago or die. Refusing, an assassination attempt is made against Kamiura and he bites Kageyama, passing on his vampire powers to the unsuspecting yakuza.

I can't say this was not interesting to watch.  With the Kappa demon, the giant frog creatures, the sword fights, and crazy vampires it was definitely a spectacle.  But I don't know if something was lost in translation or if there were references I didn't get but about 85% of the time I had no idea what was going on.  The story line was interesting but there were some inexplicable things that happened that left me scratching my head.  It kept me entertained enough that I watched the entire movie but I can't honestly recommend it.