Thursday, August 16, 2007

Notes from the Pantry: Flavor!

Oh blessed Epicurus, my ability to taste has returned! I know it's silly, but whenever I'm sick, there's a part of me that genuinely fears that, just maybe, I will never taste again. Who knows, it could always be some new neurodegenerative disease. Right?
Hypochondria and delusions aside, I am overjoyed to be able to appreciate more than texture and calories again. Hallelujah!

+Mom and I adventured about Chinatown, picking up fun kitchen toys at the now-famous Wok Shop (thanks to an article Saveur ran last November). I also found one of my Quest Locations (Golden Gate Bakery, home of SF's best egg custard tart). But alas! They're on vacation till September 1st. Oh well, absence makes the heart (stomach?) grow fonder...

+I decided to make the kid's last summer science lesson "fun," so I put together a workshop on the science of flavor. After a chat about the sensory system, psychology of perception, and cultural culinary traditions, I set them loose on a "flavor lab." We played with everything from measuring taste bud density to the effect of temperature on complexity of cheese flavor to sampling "unusual" flavor combinations from varied cultures (rose-saffon ice cream, spicy dark chocolate, and crema de abacate). The kids were extremely positive about the assignment, and several expressed complete surprise at what they enjoyed. The girl who claimed not to like spicy foods begged for extra pieces of the capsaicin chocolate sample. Even the rose-saffron ice cream had a following. Hurrah!

+I'm this close to splurging on one of these: i-Roast2

+I'm going to help cook for the Ferry Plaza Sunday Supper! Of course, I won't be doing anything glamorous -- probably washing bowls and peeling onions. However, there's a neat lineup of chefs preparing the meal, and I'm excited to be a part of the kerfuffle.

+Tomorrow, I'm meeting a friend for dinner at Range. Their online sample menu makes me salivate -- so my hopes are high.

Okay, I have a real job and I need to be rested for it. Till next time,

Monica

Fresh Peach Frozen Yogurt

Millions of peaches, peaches for me.

On a whim, I added Thai basil for garnish since I have an abundance in the garden. Wow! The heady ripeness of the peaches was enlivened by the complex herb, reminiscent of pineapple basil curry or basil-lemongrass soup. That's a good thing, by the way. I chopped up an extra tablespoon to stir in. I bet a coconut milk-peach sorbet with Thai basil would be delicious too.

Ingredients:
3lbs extremely ripe peaches
1/2 c. sugar
1/3-1/2 c. full fat plain yogurt
Fresh peaches and basil for garnish (optional)

Blend till smooth before freezing in an ice cream machine. Garnish with fresh peaches and basil, if you're adventurous.

Also, amounts are estimates. I blend, taste, and tweak, remembering that the frozen product will be less sweet than its liquid form. Play around!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

MISERY

I have been sick for days and cannot taste. Life is hollow.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Notes from the Pantry: Oompa Loompas and Reusable Mugs

+Adventures: Saturday wine-n-cheese soiree. Sunday brunch at the Berkeley Thai Buddhist temple, followed by a Sharffen Berger factory tour and spectacular coffee at Guerrilla Cafe. Failed to locate oompa loompas, but developed 60% crush on our attractive, snarky tour guide.

+Conquests: replicated Curried Coconut Soup from Cafe Gratitude. Success!

+Musings: Ideas for sustainability contest -
*reduce car use (which is already low). I enjoy walking, biking, and public transportation; I haven't yet biked to work as I am still adjusting to being anywhere by 8am, but I think I am up to the challenge. My goal is to walk anywhere within 1 mile, bike anywhere within 5, and public transport anywhere further. When all else fails, carpool.
*carry my portable coffee mug.
*set up recycle bin in room.
*use Julia's compost bin.
*caulk windows/doors in house to reduce heat loss.
*switch to rechargable batteries.
*reduce consumption of new goods (recycle goods via thrift store, freestore, or craiglist, or make own)
These are a good start. If I can incorporate one lifestyle switch a month, it'd be easy to make each of these a long-term habit.