New food ideas!

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These little pods are Japanese Miyoga. I pickled them in a little lemon juice and rice vinegar. You can eat them raw, but it’s fun with a little tartness. Stir fried bittermelon with tomatoes, sprouted lentil salad with radish sprouts, avocado, and one way rolled in a nori wrapper!

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Normal juice breakfast! Kale, celery, Apple, fennel.

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Lunch with similar wrap adding cucumber and a pomelo-berry salad.

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Breakfast juice! Sweet potato, pomelo, apple, and frozen peach.

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Steamed bass over Chinese water spinach.

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Stuffed artichoke with quinoa, herbs, and olive oil.

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Quinoa crust fritata bites.

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Thai young coconut larb with cumin cauliflower rice.

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So much salad!

I’m 2/3 through my Spring cleanse!

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stirfried long beans and carrots

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dirty brown and red rice

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yam hash browns

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stir fry gai lan and sprouted beans

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Sprouted lentil stew

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Sweet yam chips

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Slaw
Just some new dishes that are vegetarian and awesome!

Work Kitchen 95% remodeled

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What was a craigslist, free, or hand me down kitchen, is now a fun and inviting space to cook and prep food! 

I’m waiting for a local woodworker to plane an old growth plank of wood for us to use as a thin counter on the left hand wall.  All that needs installing is the microwave / fan combo over the stove! 

Remodeling the office kitchen.

It’s going slowly. 

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The builder had a few pieces delivered to our office today.  The most important element was the sink.  Unfortunately, the shelves weren’t ready for installation, so our hodge podge storage and kitchen is still only halfway complete.  Having a few surfaces and working counters is great, but where does all the stuff go?

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Let’s focus on the positives!
New corner shelf and stove align perfectly! Height and depth of range are perfect. 

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The sink is rad!  The top of the sink is biased to the left so it reaches the pipes properly.  I just noticed the dish rack may be too wide.. the surface looks a little skinny. Hmmm.

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This cabinet has some deep drawers! Super! Perfect to put dishware so it’s not collecting dust. 

The empty spot between the sink and hutch will house the garbage and recycling bins.  I notice we generate a lot of each!  Our office location makes it a little challenging to buy food, so most everyone brings in their lunch or cooks in the office. 

Again, it’s a progress shot, so I have to keep reminding myself of how it used to be..

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It’s getting there… :P oh.. don’t mind the missing side panel on the close hutch.  They will make a cosmetic piece to fit over that. :)

Meatballs with a chance of rain..

Sunday was a day of non stop rain. I felt a bit of cabin fever so I decided to make something with meatballs..

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I sliced sweet potato, carrots and green beans, and roasted them in a cast iron tagine pot. Then I added some meatballs. I set this in the oven at 400 to roast for 15 minutes.

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In the meantime, I made an appetizer using cashew cream cheese, parsley, and prosciutto..

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I shared this with my husband.  He liked it, so I made another one.

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The second time, I added fresh lemon juice and it was better.  The joy of cooking is making up little treats on a whim and having fun with food.

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So, to make this dish really sing, I sliced some dried persimmon and squeezed a cup of fresh orange juice into the pot and let everything steam until dry.

I would never recommend this with cooked meatballs, but because these are super moist meatballs made with buttermilk and panko, you cannot destroy the tenderness!  They are just perpetually moist.

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The sweet persimmon, sweet potato balanced by the savory meatballs, al dente carrots and beans and springy wild rice went well with the slightly salty and smooth refried black bean.  It was a dish with all my favorite sides and a handful of plump meatballs presented as a whole.

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The usually empty hole in the ground is full and ready for wild hogs and birds to bathe in it! :) Pretty fun Sunday brunch with 14″ of good rainfall! 

Meatballs!

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I think I made too many. :)

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Basic recipe of 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 egg and 1 cup panko bread crumbs.

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Ground a tablespoon of dried porcini mushroom with a teaspoon of smoked applewood salt from Washington state. Sifted it through a mesh screen so just the dust is used.

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When you add meatloaf ingredients, you are guaranteed a tender meatball.. Careful to bake first, just so it is browned, so you can simmer through and braise with the sauce.

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Roasted garlic for the tomato sauce.

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Tomatoes, wine, oregano, bay leaf, fresh basil, porcini water, garlic, onions, carrot, celery… Simmered for an hour.

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Using a vitamix I blended the sauce until nice and pulverized.

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Braised the meatballs for at least 20 minutes while I prepared and cooked the packaged pasta.  Buccatini!

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Once the buccatini is cooked, I mix it into the cooked meatball sauce.  Serve the noodles first, then add meatballs, extra sauce and more fresh basil for garnish. 

Bear with me..

Nothing like doing something new and not getting it quite right…

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This was our makeshift kitchen set up for the last few years.  Cracked glass cooktop, old fridge, IKEA random cabinets and sink, chopped counters and wire rack storage.. not great but for used or free Craigslist items, it was at least useable. 

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This is me getting creative..

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Really creative!

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Then realizing that when the new cabinets and appliances are put in, the floor looks horrible and antiquated! Argghh.

After thinking I’d come in during the weekend and install some vinyl tile flooring, I found that I’d be much happier with Marmoleum, a pure linseed and wood flour flooring that was more durable and eco friendly than vinyl. 

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After comparing prices and options, my office kitchen budget would be taxed with anything like clip in flooring or cork, but the sheet Marmoleum came in a gorgeous linear pattern that I couldn’t resist. 

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I pulled out all the furniture, sink, and trim.. (again).

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Cleaned it with powdered TSP & water, then had a roll of flooring professionally installed.  In 4 hours, the father & son team from Stephens Flooring in Santa Cruz buffed, glued, rolled the new Marmoleum in our little kitchen! When they came in to measure the room, they figured out how to tile the roll to get the best yield from the material.  The tape is at the joints, if you look on the right side.  This helped me save money on the actual flooring material which is not cheap. 

They did a fantastic job and I’m super happy.  Once the Marmoleum sets, the floor needs to be cleaned and finished. 
I cannot wait to finish this project! 
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Update: Feb. 11. We have a few layers of clear finish, trim reinstalled and the appliances back in. Now, we wait for the furniture to come in Thursday!
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A hundred times better!

Chinese New Year’s Eve

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Chinese New Year Dumplings
Not having easy access to an Asian market, I had to make my own water & flour dumpling skins.  Though fairly easy, I never seem to use enough flour to keep the skins from fusing together after rolling them out.  If I fill the dumpling immediately after rolling. It seems to be fine.  Anyway, after I made 20 or so, I stopped.

Luckily, I bought some fresh water chestnuts a week ago and used them in my filling.  I really love the crispy crunch it gives. The filling was simple: ground pork, leek, 1 clove of garlic and 2 minced water chestnuts.  The premade sauces (oyster and hoisin) help bind, sweeten and make this dish super flavorful.  I also add a dash of sesame oil in my filling, too.

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I boiled the dumplings until they started floating and wait until the skin stretched taut against the filling to remove them.  For the most part, this is a good indication of doneness.  I left too much air in some dumplings, so after most were removed, I took the rest out.  I’ve always placed mine in a bowl of warm water so that they don’t stick together.

I love spicy dipping sauce, so I made a ginger scallion sauce and added a few chopped Thai chilies.

I have to say, the fresh skins made the dumplings velvety and fun to eat.  A little bouncy or spongy, I guess.  I was surprised at how well they stayed together. Sometimes when I use prepackaged wrappers, they don’t always hold when folded.  I was taught you only needed a tiny bit of water to make wrappers stick, so if I read instructions that require egg or water with flour to help bind, I get nervous. :)

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To start the Lunar New Year off right, I also steamed a whole trout.  I wish all of you a very happy and prosperous year of the horse!

What if…

You mixed your recipes up..

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I thought, why should my mapo dofu need rice? Why not use over my won ton noodle soup?I’m cooking at home, there aren’t rules! 

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My black bean sauce is simplified so I don’t use vinegar.  A lot of red and black vineyard have dyes in the ingredients and a lot of preservatives.  Instead, I just add either Apple cider vinegar or today, zest and juice of Orange.

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Chili spice, rehydrated fermented black bean, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, Orange zest and a tablespoon of juice.

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Mmmm water chestnut!

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1/4 lb ground pork, 4 deformed chopped prawns, 3 brown mushrooms, 2 water chestnuts, sesame oil, Chinese cooking wine for filling.  (normally I add hoisin and oyster sauce to bolden the flavors, but I wanted to try without my “crutch” today. 

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Again, this was Friday night, and being tired made me NOT want to make fresh dough for the wrappers. 

Refurbishing a credenza: Part 2

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Finally turned this guy upside down and pulled out the dividers.  That’s when I figured out what manufacturer made this sideboard. This also helps me figure out how to best treat the wood as the finish stain I bought was walnut, anf this is probably rosewood and teak, combo of solid wood and veneers.
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I lightly sanded every surface so minor scratches are now gone.  Edges of veneer seem to flake off, so I tried to be careful.
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Unfortunately, I need to find a little replacement magnet closure for the door.
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Anyone have one?  This is a UK based furniture piece, so maybe some out there can help me. :)
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So remember the piece I broke off to reglue?
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Well, I found a wood putty that was fairly close in tone.. then my husband said I should’ve bought a wood color pencil to color the putty vs staining the whole base.

Brilliant!  But since I’m lazy, I just pulled out an assortment of prismacolor pencils and markers.. I drew in grain with multiple pencils, used tung oil on top, then touched it up again. 
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I screwed the knobs back into the doors. One coat of tung oil done.  I placed the clamp back onto the side where I glued a wood split so it can cure overnight.  A few more coats of oil and I’ll be really happy! 

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