Monday, June 23, 2014

Lies, Damned Lies, and Food Photography (in which I use the word 'damn' a lot)

I've been giving a lot of thought recently to photography and food photography. Specifically, how it plays into our whole 'lies damned lies and Pinterest' theme.

Consider, for example, yesterday's dinner.

Yesterday's dinner was millet patties. Or, if you wanna get all fancy and pinteresty about it, "Savory Millet Cakes."Oooo lala. Doesn't that sound waaaaaay better than patties?

So back to photography. I took a couple of pictures of said cakes (because now I'm a food blogger and am virtually incapable of simply cooking and enjoying my food without taking a goddam picture of it). Consider, if you will, this:

It's got a certain 1970s quality, don't you think?
vs this:

I call this 'patties, deconstructed'

Here's the thing. IT'S THE SAME DAMN DISH. Exactly the same. Same taste. Same recipe. It's even the same view from the top of the plate (which I've recently learned is the thing to do in food pinteresty photos.

The difference? One got stylized, one did not. One got instagramed, one did not. One is square, the other is a rectangle. Same same.

And I'm fooled as much as the next guy. I think the first picture looks way more appealing than the second. If it were a cookbook, I would make the first dish over the second, anytime.

Dear readers, I'm torn. On the one hand, I want to EXPOSE ALL THE LIES on the pinterest, and show you that it's the FOOD and the TASTE that matters, and you should ignore the fancy photography and see it for the lies it really is!

On the other, I am tempted to go out right now and buy a fancy shmancy camera so my blog can get big and famous and I will write a book and then sell the movie rights and I will be played by Meryl Streep because I'll be old by then and I sure hope that she'll still be alive.

It's a quandary.One that might end up costing me a good thousand sheckels, at least. But the true cost is my SOUL. (Unless anyone wants to donate a fancy camera that they're not using?)

For now, I give you

Savory Millet Patties Stuff

(loosely based off of Eatingwell's Savory Millet cakes)

I like making millet sometimes so that I can get away from the trifecta of wheat, rice, and potato. That being said, it *is* hard to find millet outside of health food stores. So don't say I lied to you and claimed this was easy to find. Rice or potato would probably be an ok substitute.)
  • a few lugs of oil, maybe butter too
  • about 1/2 an onion
  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • some flour, wheat semolina, matza meal, or bread crumbs (optional, but good if you've added the egg)
  • green things
  • a bunch of cheese
  • 1 grated zucchini
  • about a tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • salt
  1. Boil the millet like you would rice - put some oil in a pot, heat, and fry the millet a tiny bit. In the meanwhile put the kettle up to boil. Stir the millet around in the oil for a minute or two, making sure not to burn. Then add 1 tsp salt and the boiling water - CAREFULLY. (Last night it splashed and got a bit of boiling water-millet all over the store that I have yet to clean up.) Turn to low, and cook until the water has completely evaporated but the millet is still mushy. Set aside.
  2. While the millet is cooling enough to handle, take a look at what you have in your fridge and/or freezer. (I like to keep cheese in my freezer, because it keeps forever and is just fine for cooking with.) Got some kind of cheese? Great, use it. Got some parsley that's almost dead? Great, use that too. Got some strange kind of chives that you're not sure what they're good for? Yogurt that's about to go bad but isn't yet? They can go in. Etc. This is a 'finish all the leftovers' kind of dish - it's (almost) all good. (Significant Other would accuse me here of lying, because he would try doing things like putting strawberry yogurt in, and then being very confused when I gag in disgust, and protest that I said it's all good. Hence 'almost.' If you're not sure, ask your local cooking expert.)
  3. Mix all the things except the oil/butter into a bowl and mash it together. I added an egg, but it really wasn't necessary, and then once I added the egg I needed to add some flour so it would stick together. If I did it again I'd skip the egg. 
  4. Fry, 3-4 minutes on each side. The trick to frying, I've learned, is a) NON-STICK PAN, because if you have a sticky pan, it almost always sticks. No way around it that I've found. I'd be happy to hear otherwise if you have; and b) Don't move the patties until they're nice and browned on each side. 
  5. Serve on bed of spinach to look fancy. Or with salad on side. Or with a fried egg on top. (But NOT with soy-milk fruit juice on the side. Turns out that's disgusting.)
  6. Eat. But not before you've made it look fancy and taken pictures of it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chia Part III - In Which There is a Picture of a Cat

As promised.
My apologies for the clearly staged cat there.

I fixed the chia. That doesn't mean that I'm done with the chia, I think there's more to be done and explored, and so many people have commented with potential things I can do with the rest of my bunch of chia seeds (and that's not even including the ones who suggested I give it to them.), that clearly, there is more experimenting to be done.

Just, maybe, not quite yet. I gots other things to write. Like homemade marshmallows, for example, which are much yummier if homemade and not nearly as complicated as one would think.

But before we get there. I fixed the chia tapioca soy milk soup.

How, you ask?

First, I tortured it a bit. Yes, I did things to it that one really should not do to food. I'm sorry, chia. I froze it, then refridgerated it, then refroze it, then defrosted it. It was not happy with me, but it did bend to my will. So ha.

Then, I added a bunch of sugar, some milk, some more cocoa, and a secret ingredient that I will reveal below. And I made them into popsicles. (I want to say that most anything can be made edible by turning them into popsicles, but that's not even remotely true. Like, mac and cheese popsicles would be DISGUSTING. So I can't say that. Fortunately, this is not disgusting at all. It's actually pretty good.)

I like how the strewn mint makes this look fancy

It does have that slight taste of 'huh I think there's something healthy in here but I can't white figure out what...' so if you're looking for a way too sneak more chia seeds into your kids diet, this is it. It's ever so slightly grainy. But - it's chocolate. So, chocolate.

Now, I'm going to share my trick for making things edible aka my trick for turning almost dead fruit into yummy popsicles with you. It might sound ridiculous and like something only unemployed food bloggers do, but I assure you (and this is coming from me, the non-liar), it's quick, it's easy, and it's worth it.

It - is syrup.

In this case, mint syrup, but also basil syrup, ginger syrup. And lord knows what other kinds of other syrups you can make, but I haven't tried everything yet.

This is why you should make syrup:
  • We've already discussed how I hate throwing things out. This happens to me a lot with herbs. You buy a bunch, use a handful, and still have herbs coming out the wazoo. Or, you only used the leafs, and still have tons of stalk. You make syrup.
  • You hate the taste of water and buying tons of coke is EXPENSIVE. This will save you so much money.
  • You have a soda stream and just recently noticed that all their syrups contain aspartame. EWWWWWW. Syrup uses sugar. Yum. (I'm not gonna say it's good for you, but at least it's not aspartame. Ew.)
Making syrup really is actually easy, and then you can stick them into those convenient squeeze bottles and stick them in your fridge and they last forever. The Internet thinks they only last a week. I think the Internet is wrong. It's sugar. Doesn't sugar preserve things?

Here is the recipe for syrup, and you do not need any special equipment. If you don't have a convenient squeeze bottle you can even use a jar. (OMG did I just say you could use a jar?!?? That is SOOO unpinteresty of me.)

Chocolate popsicles. I has them.

Simple Syrup recipe

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup herbs or a bunch of herbs or a bunch of ginger peels that you didn't want to throw away

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small pot. 
  2. Cook on low heat. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  4. Use a colander and/or a cheesecloth (see why you should buy a cheesecloth?) and strain. The easiest way to do this is to pour into something with a spout, and then from that into a jar or squeeze bottle.
  5. Make popsicles

Monday, June 16, 2014

Chia I hardly Know'a - Part II

Cherry killer. Qu'est-ce que c'est

I had to wait a couple of days to actually try this, because I was too lazy busy to get to the store to buy cherries. Which, being one of five ingredients, I think was pretty essential for this dessert.

And the results:

Meh. (Originally this post read 'bleeeeeecccch', but then I decided to be more generous...) The cherries tasted good. But then, it's hard to ruin cherries.

As far as the rest of it goes - it was just barely edible. AND IT WAS CHOCOLATE! (Can you sense my rage and disbelief through my use of caps?)

Also, it separated. Excuse me, Miss Pinterest Liar, did you instruct me to mix it? No? I didn't think so. Well, it completely separated, and it tasted like crunchy tapioca soy milk soup. And NOT in a good way.

J'accuse, Pureela, j'accuse.

Furthermore, myyyyyyyyy husband, Pureela, who is not difficult and not allergic to green and quite likes health food said, and I quote, "it would probably be fine if you added a bunch of sugar to it." (To which I responded, "well, anything would be fine if you add a bunch of sugar to it.")

Still, if you were a vegan, gluten-free, pure foods, paleo-eating person, I suppose this would be considered edible. But then again, if you are a vegan gluten free paleo person, you are almost certainly not my acquaintance, and there is no way you would be reading this. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Sure it LOOKS pretty...
However, because yours truly HATES throwing out food, even this must be made edible. Somehow.  So I'm going to try adding sugar to it, maybe some yogurt, throwing it in the blender, molding it into popsicles, and calling it a day. Surely that'll make it edible, right?


It looks like this post is going to need to become a three-parter. Next up, I'm going to fix this. I still have lots of chia seeds to use. I also happen to have some real milk and sugar. Trying this again, but with real food.

In the meanwhile, dear readers, anybody got some dirt and socks?


Chocolate Cherry Chia Pudding

Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, try this at home. Unless you want to be disappointed. Or unless you suspect me of being a liar. Which is fine, but I'm not.

Of course, if you are a gluten-free, paleo person who sadly does not believe in sugar, then you've got nothing else to eat, so go for it.

1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup chia seeds (look for powdered chia seeds if you want a smooth texture)
3 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2-3 tablespoons organic agave nectar or other natural liquid sweetener
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and sliced + extra for plating

additional toppings : extra cherries, raw cacao nibs, dark chocolate shavings (use 70% dark chocolate or higher)
Directions :
  1. In a bowl or large mug, stir together the first 4 ingredients: milk, chia seeds, raw cacao and agave and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Just before serving, separate into 4 serving dishes, top with sliced cherries and garnish with raw cacao chips, dark chocolate shavings and extra whole cherries and enjoy! (Liar! Argh. I hate lies.)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chia? I Hardly Know'a

Ladies and gentlemen, I've done it.

I have gone and bought the singular most bizarre thing I have ever bought in a food store, and that includes the time I went looking for mace.

That's right. I bought chia seeds.

What ARE you??

I bought these seeds for what looks like the absolute most disgusting...I mean, ahem, healthful, recipe I have ever seen on the Internet, bar none (well, none outside and buzzfeed lists about things the Russians eat.) If it weren't for the cherries, I don't think it would have anything in it I consider food.

And that this. Chocolate-Cherry Chia Pudding. Sounds so friendly and harmless in the title, right? It claims to be 'sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan-friendly and clean.'

I mean, so's my cat, but I wouldn't want to eat her.

But, the blogging pinteresting lady who posted this SWORE on the graves of her ancestors that even her "difficult" husband who is "allergic" to green foods thought this recipe was, and I quote, "actually good."

We'll see about that.

That's right, ladies and gents. I'm going to try this. I'm going to take one for the team. I'm going to put chia in my food.

Tomorrow, I fully expect that either I will have grown a cape and be able to fly, or I will be the proud owner of a plant-pet. Either way, I will let you know if this is a lie, a damned lie, or, indeed, actually edible.


Monday, June 9, 2014

If this post didn't make you gag a bit, I'm doing it wrong

So, I was over at Pinterest perusing Pinterest so that I could find things to poke fun of at Pinterest while using Pinterest to circulate this blog more.

Circular logic? Perhaps.

But seriously, I don't want this to be a 'let's all make fun of all the things' blog. For one, it's too easy, and for another, it's mean. I don't want to be mean, I want to be honest. I want the Internet to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and if it doesn't, well, I'm going to call it on that.

But in any case, I was over on Pinterest, and what did I find but this:

L-3VE on Pinterest

Yes, that's right, you read that correctly. L33333VE. (I think it's pronounced lurrrrrve.)

At first I thought it was cute. Aww, 79 date ideas! 47 at-home date ideas!! 132 cheap date ideas to do with your husband! So cute!, Praying God's word for your Husband  for when he feels inadequate or overcome with worry? Asking me if I am a wife that's easy to love7 ways to turn my husband's bad day into a good one? (Please don't click on these links, it will only encourage them.)

You sure you just don't want me to go put on a sexy negligee and warm his slippers by the fire and prepare his martini for him? BED

The 1950s called, Pinterest, and they want their sexism back. 

Blech. I should probably go back to recipes now.

Coming up are a few reader requests, including potato tricks (may or may not be as good as french fries), rennet (hopefully), and...CHIA....the food, not the pet.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

What's for Dinner, Ma (or, What I Would Have Named This Blog in an Alternate Universe)

Have you ever opened the fridge and realized that, even though it's full, there is nothing to eat? 

I know I have. 

It used to happen all the time when I was a kid (and would, invariably, end up in a parent answering back "There's lots of food! Open your eyes! And shut the fridge, you're wasting electricity!") and now, even though I am what some would claim to be a full-fledged adult, it still happens. 

I think the problem is that much of the kind of food I make (or claim to make) takes HOURS to cook - beans from scratch, brown rice, that sort of thing. So, because nobody wants to make food when they're not actually hungry, I don't think about it until it's too late, and then I end up making pasta and white rice. Ok. Not really. Not together, that is. Rice and vegetables. Or pasta and stuff. Unfortunately, this is really not an ideal diet, and also tends to happen when it's gotten late and I'm hangry, cranky, and about to eat our cat.

For years, I've been trying to combat this phenomenon, in a number of failed ways. I have tried: 

sooo muuuccch tunaaaaa....
- making weekly menus 
- an app with ideas of what's for dinner, so I can come up with menus on the fly
- notebooks with said dinner ideas
- creating a fb group called "what's for dinner," which failed miserably because most people (myself included) were too embarrassed to write down that what they had had for dinner was an egg on toast. 

There is another 'what's for dinner' group on fb, and, with all due love and respect to my friends in that group, it is seriously NOT what's actually for dinner. What it is, is another form of Pinterest Lying - Facebook Bragging. 'I made a chilled tomato bisque with tomatoes that I grew from scratch organically in my back yard, coq au vin with a chicken I raised myself, melon-endives-asparagus salad, and fresh sorbet made with the tears of the starving children in Africa. Oh, and I made all that while homeschooling my 8 children.' 


Anyway, I'm writing this post before I go try to get some beans cooked before I starve and get cranky and eat the cat, but in the meanwhile, I will share with you what is, actually, for dinner more often than not.

Pasta with Stuff


  1. Heat water in your electric water kettle, in case it goes faster than on the stovetop, because you're starving and 2 minutes might be the difference between death and eating your cat. 
  2. Pour almost boiling water into pot. Add tsp of salt. Boil.
  3. Cook pasta according to cooking instructions if you like it slightly raw (aka al dente), more if you want it well done.
  4. Top with olive oil, garlic, and dried parsley (if you're feeling fancy, cook garlic in butter first); OR mix in soy sauce, peanut butter, and ginger; OR cottage cheese; OR  regular cheese; OR if you're feeling SUPER fancy and aren't starving, make a roux, add tuna, and make a lazy man's tuna casserole thing (do I need to give further explanations for that? Let me know and I will.) 
  5. Eat. (The pasta. Not the cat.)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Make cheese! Make cheese now!

The annual opportunity to have cheesecake is almost upon us (yay cheese!) and for this opportunity I highly - HIGHLY - recommend you make your own cream cheese. Why? Do I really have to explain why? It's delicious, it's about a million times cheaper when you make it yourself, and it might have fewer preservatives. That's why. Also, it's easy.*

*So as I do not become one of those irritating Pinterest Liars I have formerly spoken out against (and whose very existence was the inspiration for this blog), I am going to put a gigantic qualifier on 'easy.' It is easy IF you have cheesecloth or something that can double as cheesecloth. Now, I highly recommend you get cheesecloth because if you have cheesecloth you can make your own ricotta, paneer, labaneh, and cream cheese. BUT, if for lack of time or resources you cannot get a cheesecloth, you can use:
  • a random piece of thin cloth like muslin. Fairly cheap to buy at fabric stores,
  • a baby's burping cloth-  LIE. I have tried this. It didn't work. The cloth was far too thick. If you find a thinner cloth and it works for you, let me know.
  • panty-hose? Maybe? I don't see why not, it's a thin enough material. Haven't tried though. 
  • Actual cloth diaper that was used on actual babies? Maybe. Sounds kinda gross to me, but that's probably just my silly 21st century sensibilities.
Anyway, I highly encourage you to get an actual cheesecloth if you can find it.

Then, this recipe. It once was found, but then I failed to bookmark it, and then it was lost, and finally refound, and bookmarked on every single device I own. It was surprising, actually, how difficult it was to find a simple DIY cream cheese recipe on the internetz. Many websites claim you can't actually make cream cheese from scratch, and that you need rennet and other specialty ingredients to make it work. I don't know what they are talking about. I've made this several times before, it's amazing, and you can then make cheesecake out of it.

Have I mentioned yay cheese? Yay, cheese. Also, yay cheesecake.

 Homemade cream cheese
From More Quiche, Please

Yield: About 1 cup
take recipe, multiply X5 for cheesecake

  • 1 container sour cream = 200 ml = 0.423 US pint (you could probably round up to 1/2 a pint. Sh! I promise not to tell.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
You will also need:
  • 1 cheesecloth (a thin burping cloth works perfectly - LIES! NO IT DOESN'T! )
  1. Mix salt and sour cream in a bowl.
  2. Put into cheesecloth, tie it up somewhere it can drip (ideally into a bowl or something that can catch the drips), and let it drip - yes, outside of the fridge - overnight or for 8 hours. 
  3. Scoop it out, put into a container in the fridge. 
  4. The end. The recipe claims it keeps for a week, but, really, why wait? Make cheesecake. 
Well, yeah, it kinda looks gross now. But ... cheesecake!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Homemade mayonnaise - turns out, not that hard

I've been meaning to make mayonnaise for a long loooong time now - basically since Julie and Julia came out. I keep reading that it's not so hard. But...we barely ever use mayonnaise at all, so it's hard to justify making it when the store-bought one is tiny, cheap, and lasts us pretty much forever. (Really the only thing we regularly use mayonnaise for is for distracting the cat when we clip her claws - during which she makes the most hilarious sounds that waver between utter bliss and pure hatred. We really need to put a video up on youtube one of these days.) Anyway, it's hard to justify making homemade mayonnaise for your cat. Not impossible, but hard.

Today, however, life (and by life I mean our upstairs neighbors) handed us bread. We had the tomatoes, we had the lettuce, we were about to have the chickpea-parsley-green onion-chives patties....we just needed the mayonnaise.

Opportunity to make homemade mayonnaise - I has it.

Turns out, really not that hard. (And cheap! And delicious!) I didn't differ from the original recipe much, because it's Alton Brown and I would trust AB with my life. (If by life we mean palate, and that basically boils down to the same thing, no?) I didn't have dry mustard, so I used regular mustard, and otherwise I left this recipe alone. Thanks, AB.

Finally, the recipe contains the requisite warning about raw eggs. To which I say, feh. I laugh in the face of salmonella poisoning. Hahaha. Raw eggs are delicious. If you are pregnant or have a compromised immune system, fine, go ahead and avoid raw eggs. I personally think all good things in life have raw eggs in them, and if they don't, they should.

Also, Salmonella sounds like and should become a lovely girl's name. (What? It's not more or less ridiculous than Yasleen or Shiny. with apologies to all the Yasleens and Shinys out there.)

Homemade Mayo


1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup oil, safflower or corn

  1. In a glass bowl (why glass specifically? Not sure.) whisk together egg yolk and dry ingredients.
  2. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture.
  3. Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit, (which means you've got an emulsion on your hands). Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (but just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant (albeit thin) stream.
  4. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.
  5. Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week. (That's it?? No way we're going to finish that much mayo in a week. Anyone want some homemade mayonnaise?)

CONTAINS RAW EGGS: The Food Network Kitchen suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.
Hey look, Ma, I made mayo!

Next up: cherries. Because I have too many cherries in my fridge. Stay tuned.