An Egg-ceptional amount of Umami

 

A quick post today about the powers of umami and why eggs are so awesome, or what I like to call the “damn yummy. Get in my Belly,” taste . According to Wikipedia, “A loanword from the Japanese (うま味?), umami is translated as “pleasant savory taste”” . Basically, Umami is why meat tastes so unctuous, fatty, and delicious. Or, why mushrooms taste so earthy and rich. It is a hard taste to describe. Take away sweet, salty (although salty and umami are usually paired), bitter, and sour: you will find the glory that is umami. I freaking love umami and I am a truffle-holic. If I lived in France and had a pig: hunting truffles would be my livelihood. Heck, I know that truffles grow in the pacific northwest but with my history I am more likely to find a piece of petrified cow dung and think it a truffle, than an actual truffle. I’ll explain in great detail about me accidentally ordering freeze-dried cow shit in a future post. It was hilarious… to my family..

One of my favorite recipes that revels in umami is Chinese Tea Eggs. Not only are they works of art when finished, they are delicious.  I was at the Local Lan Su Chinese Garden taking in all the beauty when I got the opportunity to try a dish of these.

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The Magnificent Koi Pond directly outside the tea house.
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The pathway leading into the tea-house

They are rather difficult to procure in Americanized Chinese restaurants. I have only seen them offered once and that was at the tea house at Lan Su.  If you don’t try the eggs, the tea house and garden are reason enough to visit. Nestled in downtown Portland, upon entry you are transported to what seems like a cloud of serenity and balance. Outside is the hustle and bustle of bike messengers going upon their daily errands, and trains and/or buses taking the hurried passengers to their next stop. But inside, the walls keep out the sound and the glorious tea and eggs make it feel like you can breathe again. I kid you not. It is transportative.

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I wasn’t kidding when I said they look like little works of art or a petrified dinosaur egg. Either works.

However if you are not one to try making your own, a daily staple of mine that is both keto and delicious is hard-boiled eggs drenched in soy sauce and sesame oil.  Amazing when you need something delicious to dance on your tongue and a nice jump from having scrambled eggs or egg salad all the time. I suggest serving them with a side of bacon, because everything tastes better with the noble swine.

The recipe that I have used in the past to make the traditional eggs is found at Saveur,  Chinese Tea Eggs (CHA YE DAN).

Chinese Tea Eggs (Cha Ye Dan)

Ingredients

12 cup soy sauce
12 cup sugar
12 tsp. whole black peppercorns
12 tsp. fennel seeds
8 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp. loose-leaf smoked tea, such as lapsang souchong  (available from Amazon)
8 eggs

Instructions

Bring soy sauce, sugar, peppercorns, fennel, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, and 2 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan; remove from heat and add tea. Let steep for 10 minutes. Pour marinade through a fine strainer into a bowl and keep warm. Place eggs in a 4-qt. saucepan; cover by 12″ with cold water. Place saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil; cover pan, remove from heat, and let sit until eggs are soft-boiled, about 5 minutes. Drain eggs. Crack shells all over but do not peel eggs; return to saucepan along with marinade. Bring to a boil and let cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups ice. Let cool in marinade before serving.

Life list item achieved – Made a Chinese tea egg.

Hot Tub Time Machine for Two

 

The mist swirled in front of me as I entered the dark cavernous chamber. I thought,”What am I doing here, I am to young to die!” Followed by, “Wait, I am being way too dramatic here, deep breaths, deep breaths.” I took a deep breath and was stung by the ever-so pleasant smell  of cleaning solution and tinge of chlorine.  A cacophony  of Muzak blared at me from all sides while the teeth of the non-slip flooring bit into my tender feet. I quivered with both anticipation and fear at what lay before me. Buried in the floor like a witches cauldron was a maelstrom of bubbling liquid the many colors of the rainbow. It frothed and coiled as if the devil himself were stirring it. The lights in the dark room slipped color to color almost sending me into a trance like state… I tentatively dip my big toe into the maelstrom and awaited a reaction. I waited..and I waited. Nothing but a wet toe? I shiver now not with anticipation but because I am wearing a bathing suit and the room is a bit chilly. The water was warm though on my tow and rather inviting. Should I fight this inner urge to thrown myself into the colors and froth? “Wait,” I thought. “Is that a potted plant?” And, “are those plaster-cast columns of a semi-greek nature?” “Is that a hand-painted mural of Mt. Hood? What is Mt. Hood doing in this dark cavern of mystery?” I have an epiphany,  I am not in the denouement of a fantasy novel about to fight the evil sorcerer with nothing on but a bathing suit. NO! The bubbling pit before me is not a witches brew of malice but a hot tub filled with germ killing chlorine.  I am about to go HOT TUBBING!!!!! Did I mention it’s winter, we are indoors (obviously) and this is freaking awesome.

I got an opportunity to enjoy an hour of bliss at Portland Tub and Tan . For 60 dollars a couple can enjoy basking in very clean jacuzzi water in a giant tub listening to their music of choice. Anything from 70’s disco to rap.  It is a very unique and truly Portland experience.

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Not my room specifically, but pretty damn close.

It was really enjoyable and about 6 inches from being cheesy as hell. I LOVED IT. My motto is the more gaudy, the more lights, and the more sparkle the better. Or written formally MAGIS ET MAGIS LUMINARIA MICANT. Frankly I envision myself as one of those old ladies in sparkly tennis shoes and bitchin’ work-out gear, with the perfectly coiffed blue hair. So this place is perfect for me. Next time I am requesting the room with the disco ball.

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They have a DMX music selector, and you know I am going to bust out some disco.

My Husband and I are most definitely going back. Sadly I will not be experiencing the tanning services. For I am actually fish belly white, burn while standing in a dark room so I shun the sun. Shunnnnn.

 

Low-carb Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting

Gah.. All I got to say is that cravings are an absolute bitch. No seriously, when all you can think of is chocolate cake with coffee flavored marscapone cream, one has issues. I have been full of the issues these last few days. I even went to the grocery store in search of some sort of low-carb chocolaty heaven in a plastic container. I found some, but all they screamed to me when perusing them was, “CHEMICAL SHITSTORM!” So I found myself empty handed on the way home and about to gnaw off my arm for want of a chocolate bar. No, my arm is not made of chocolate but I think dismemberment would have been preferable than dealing with the craving at the moment. My Husband said, “Why don’t you just make one yourself. Pinterest it.” I having a pinterest recipe pinned for everything, went at it. This is what I made:

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Stuff!
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Look it is a happy face!
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Stuff doesn’t look so appetizing.
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Then we mix.
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Now we have chocolate mash.
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Look at me in all my Fluffy no-sugar glory.

All in all, not a bad attempt at a “cake” with these constraints. It was hard as a rock and only slightly chocolatey. I tried to soften it up a bit with a mix of coffee, cream, and Splenda. That really was a hail merry.  I have no idea if it is my cooking skill, ingredients or combination of both. In a pinch though it helped with my cravings and I am currently typing with two hands. So no gnawing happened.

I think in the future I might try something else, like a flourless chocolate cake made with Splenda instead of regular sugar. Seriously you cannot go wrong with butter, chocolate, and eggs. I here by dub thee Odin’s trio!?! I seem to be on a norse mythology kick. Oh also, I would never have black grout in my own home, so gauche. I rent so I must suffer the indignity of viewing the eighties in my kitchen every morning. Woe as me.

 

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Pardon for the slightly blurry picture, my camera apparently did not enjoy the cake either.
MOIST CHOCOLATE CAKE – LOW CARB, GLUTEN FREE, SUGAR FREE
The Pin can be found here Moist Chocolate Cake
Serves: 8
 
INGREDIENTS
  • For the cake:
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup xylitol, erythritol, or coconut sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk or coconut milk for dairy free
  • 2 cups almond flour (also called almond meal), my favorite is Honeyville
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 7 Tb. good quality cocoa powder, my favorite is Valrhona
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted or coconut oil for dairy free
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

I chose a different Frosting recipe. It can be found here. Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Make the Cake:
  2. Preheat oven to 350.°
  3. Line the bottom of 2 round 8″ x 2″cake pans with parchment paper. The easiest way to do this is to trace around the bottom of a cake pan with a pencil on a sheet of parchment paper large enough for 2 cake pan bottoms. Fold the paper in half so that when you cut out 1 circle, you’re actually cutting out 2. Grease sides of pan and top of parchment paper with butter or coconut oil spray.
  4. May also be made as sheet cake: grease a 9″x13″ baking pan.
  5. Dough may be mixed with a spoon, with a hand-held mixer, or a standing mixer.
  6. Beat eggs, in a bowl large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Add xylitol and milk and combine. Add all of the other ingredients and combine well.
  7. Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for about 28-35 minutes. Cook until cake is just set. Do not overbake. Slightly underbaking is better than overbaking.
  8. Oven temperatures and cooking times vary. The best way to test for doneness is by lightly touching the center of the cake. The cake should feel just set.
  9. The first time you do this you want to get a feel for what is jiggly and what is set. The description makes it sound more complicated than it is…but I think it will be helpful.
  10. Look at the cake after about 25 minutes, when it is clearly not yet done and the center is jiggly. Check again after 3-5 minutes and you’ll notice that the center is getting more set. When the center has just completely set touch it lightly. If it feels really soft let it cook a little more. Check every few minutes, touching gently in the center, and remove from the oven when set but still a little soft. Notice how long this took. The next time you’ll know exactly how long to bake the cakes for. Also you get the feel of it after the first time so it isn’t so nerve-wracking. Let cake cool completely before frosting.

The World in a Spoon of Cream

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
Mae West

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There are few things in this life of the mundane day to day that the average Joe or in my case Josephine could call decadent. I suppose it depends on your personal experience and perspective on life, but in my life not much is truly decadent. That may be a failing on my own part. But I try to bring out the joy, sexy-ness, gaity, exuberance, gratification, indulgence, rapture and ravagement in the most ordinary of things. I fail sometimes at this, but I am on a neverending quest to experience what I can in this world before I go…

All this is a round about way of asking, “Have you ever had the first scoop of cream from the top a glass bottle of cream from local grass fed Jersey Cows?”  It is a very specific sensation, very specific taste. Generally, we take cream for granted. Weird thought right? We put it in or coffee’s from little plastic hermetically sealed pop top containers. We don’t know where the hell they have come from, and they probably have been sitting on our Denny’s restaurant table for a week. This led me on an investigation of sorts. I wanted to try what real cream tasted like. From a fucking cow that was located in my own state, that ate grass. You would think that this would not be a lot to ask. I found it at a local “fancy” grocery store for 6 dollars a container. It came in a glass bottle and was so thick that it did not slosh around.

DSC_0187.jpgIn my first bite, I had an “aha” moment. “So this is what it should be about.” I don’t always buy a container of this cream, it is expensive and really it is not for cooking. It is for savoring. But when I can buy it, I always get my spoon ready for the first delicious bite. Imagine if butter and whole milk had a baby, and add in some sugar. It is almost like frosting, but not as sweet. If you are of the mind to try something new, I highly suggest this small decadent expenditure. I may make a cream-aholic out of you yet, than again a friend of mine tried it and said, “what the hell is this shit, it tastes like grass.” Your mileage may vary.

 

“More hot pies! More hot pies! – Part 1”

Is that a pie fit for a king? Such wondrous Sweet and most particular thing?

Sweeney Todd – God that’s Good

 

A few years ago I set a goal for myself that I was going to learn to cook pies.. ahem bake pies. You see my problem here. I set a goal of 50 pie recipes for myself to bake that year and set to work. I was a frigging fool.

“Making pie is hard ,” she whines.

Seriously, I am physically incapable of doing anything small, makes me ill. Must go big or GTFO. So fifty. le sigh. I made 25 that year. I learned a lot, and can make killer apple/almond pie and a coconut pie that would make you want to “slap yo mama.” All courtesy of this fabulous cookbook Sweetie-licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life

However, there is something I have always been a little fascinated with. The weird pie. Well the weird food anything… Taking something that one would not associate with yummy pie deliciousness, and turning it into something delectable. So in my quest for the weird pie, I have made a pie out of vinegar, one out of avocados, and one out of buttermilk. Now it is time to experiment with meat. I am going to make a classic mincemeat pie. As in a dessert pie with meat and I am going to force-feed it to my family and friends. I am feeling so medieval at the moment.

“[Toby]
Well, ladies and gentlemen
that aroma enriching the breeze,
is like something compared to its succulent source
as the gourmets among you will tell you, of course.
Ladies and gentlemen you can’t imagine the rapture in store,
just inside of this door!
There, you’ll sample Mrs.Lovett’s meat pies.savory and sweet pies,as you’ll see.
You who eat pies Mrs. Lovetts meat pies conjure up the treat pies used to be!
[Customers]”

Sweeney Todd – God that’s Good

The recipe I found (after much digging) is one from the 1861 volume Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management and was a feature in Saveur magazine. The article can be found Here.

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Gratuitous picture of Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd. He was frigging brilliant.
MAKES ONE PIE

For the Filling

2 cups finely chopped beef suet
34 cup currants
34 cup finely chopped rump steak (about 3 oz.)
12 cup raisins
12 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. brandy
1 12 tsp. chopped candied citron peel
1 12 tsp. chopped candied lemon peel
1 12 tsp. chopped candied orange peel
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
14 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 12 granny smith apples, cored and finely chopped
Grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon

For the Crust

Instructions

In a bowl, combine beef suet, currants, rump steak, raisins, brown sugar, brandy, citron peel, lemon peel, orange peel, lemon juice, nutmeg, apples, and lemon zest. Mix well.
Transfer mixture to a 1-qt. jar. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days to 2 weeks.
Make dough, prepare pie crust, and add filling. Heat oven to 350º. Bake until golden, about 1 hour.
I am of the impatient disposition, so the (incubation? infiltration? saturation?) period on this pie’s filling will probably be 3 days instead of the 2 weeks. yeesh. I will post lovely, artsy, and  beautifully photographed pictures of my pie-wreck when finished. I feel there will be much schadenfreude from my friends and family after this little experiment.

 

 

 

Odin’s Nuts

If great and mighty warriors that had been brought to Valhalla by the Valkyries after being slain in battles were to eat a tasty seasoned nut. THIS WOULD BE THE NUT. These nuts are not for the lighthearted, seriously, these are Odin’s nuts.

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Traderjoes.com

I present to you Trader Joe’s Truffle Marcona Almonds. But.. but they are Italian, and …almonds. Almonds do not scream Thor and Odin, and freaking Valhalla. Almonds do not make you want to run wildly down the street, wearing fur, chanting a warriors chant about to slay your foes. No! That is the realm of the majestic walnut.

Not this time!

A friend of mine gave me a few of these nuts at his house last week, and I took the bag and refused to give them back till I had consumed every last one of them. They really are the perfect taste. The Umami of the truffle salt paired with the sweeteness of the Marcona Almonds  is perfect. They are “beefy,” the food of a warrior and ridiculously good. I am on my fourth bag of them. Maybe I am not a warrior, but I am a viking inside and these make me want to go slay something. So folks, go out and make Odin proud by eating his nuts. They really are excellent.

 

Expert? Me? Nahhh

“And watch out for Molly. See if she does anything unusual. There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.”
David Wong, John Dies at the End

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Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

 

Alright, alright I might be a very slight expert in “science fiction and fantasy” novels. But saying I am an expert in something makes me sound pretentious as hell. So lets just say I have read a hell of a lot across all sub-genres of sci-fi and fantasy, I used to run my own book club, and I cried when I got to hug Neil Gaiman. Like literal tears. Take what you want from that and I won’t feel like a douche. With all the reading I have done in sci-fi/fantasy, I feel like maybe I have tapped the genre for awhile. I have wanted a new challenge.

Become an “expert” in graphic novels you say?! Challenge accepted my friend. Last year I set a goal for myself to read 50 graphic novels. What that actually means is that I read 50 and than the series following the first book. Turned out to be a whole lot of freaking books. There were really… really bad ones. Twilight.

 

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Courtesy of Wikipedia

Why did I do that to myself?

And some exceptional, incredible, not enough epithets in the english language for how good these books are, ones. Saga, and Transmetropolitan I am looking at you. It is a crying shame how much maligned this genre is. Ohhhhhhh comic books… how deep. You can suck it.

So of course, because if you haven’t noticed my not so buried neurosis about lists, you are starting to now. I found a list and started working on it. I want to finish it this year. I’ll write some posts about my favorites and see if I can turn a few of you to the dark side of comics/graphic novels and become and semi-knowledgeable person in the process.

My list as well as my running tally on all books that I have read can be found here:

My Goodreads Awesomeness

Here is the particular list I have been following as a primer. Best Graphic Novels

  1. Watchman
  2. The Complete Maus
  3. V for Vendetta
  4. The Sandman – Vol. 1
  5. The Complete Persepolis
  6. Batman – The Dark Knight Returns
  7. Batman – The killing Joke.
  8. Blankets
  9. Y – The last man.
  10. Batman Year 1
  11. Fables – Legends in Exile.
  12. The Walking Dead – Vol. 1
  13. Scott Pilgrims Precious little life.
  14. Bone
  15. Fun Home – A family tragicomic
  16. Saga vol. 1
  17. Sin City Vol. 1
  18. Ghost World
  19. Batman the long Halloween
  20. Preacher – Vol. 1
  21. Death Note – Vol. 1
  22. Transmetropolitan – Vol. 1
  23. From Hell
  24. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Vol. 1
  25. Batman Arkham Asylum
  26. The Arrival
  27. Black Hole
  28. American Born Chinese
  29. Hellboy Vol. 1
  30. Asterios Polyp
  31. Akira Vol. 1
  32. Locke and Key, Vol 1.
  33. 300
  34. Jimmy Corrigan – Smartest kid on Earth
  35. Kingdom Come
  36. Superman: Red Son
  37. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
  38. Habibi
  39. Marvel 1602
  40. Daytripper
  41. Death the high cost of living
  42. Marvels
  43. Allstar Superman
  44. Saga of the Swamp Thing
  45. Pride of Baghdad
  46. Astonishing x-men Vol. 1
  47. Runaways Deluxe Vol. 1
  48. Asterix the Gaul
  49. Palestine
  50. The Umbrella Academy Vol. 1
  51. X-men The Dark Phoenix Saga
  52. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac
  53. Stardust: Being a Romance among Fairy
  54. Batman: Hush Vol. 1
  55. The Absolute Sandman Vol 1
  56. The Lone Wolf Club, Vol 1
  57. Chew Vol. 1 Update 2-23-16
  58. Buffy the long way home
  59. Stitches
  60. Epileptic
  61. Fullmetal Alchemist
  62. A contract with God
  63. The Crow
  64. Planetary Vol. 1
  65. We3
  66. Anya’s Ghost
  67. 100 Bullets
  68. Identity Crisis
  69. Pyongyang – A journey into North Korea
  70. Batman Dark Victory
  71. Persepolis vol 1 and 2
  72. The invention of Hugo Cabret
  73. Astro City, Vol. 1
  74. American Vampire, Vol. 1
  75. Shortcomings
  76. The Dark Tower, Vol. 1
  77. The Ghost in the Shell, Vol. 1
  78. The complete Essex county
  79. Promethea Vol. 1
  80. I kill Giants
  81. The Ultimates
  82. The Maxx, Vol. 1
  83. Goodbye, Chunky Rice
  84. Mouse Guard Fall, 1152
  85. Fire and Flight
  86. The Invisibles
  87. Ex Machina Vol. 1
  88. X-men days of future past
  89. Safe Area Gorazde
  90. DMZ, Vol. 1
  91. Squee’s Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors
  92. Embroideries
  93. Wolverine: Origin
  94. The Rabbi’s Cat
  95. Top 10, vol. 1
  96. Blacksad
  97. 30 days of night, Vol. 1
  98. Ronin
  99. Castle Waiting, Vol. 1
  100. One Hundred Demons

Whew big list, right? I think it is a good place to start. Honestly, I will be no kind of expert when done with it. But, I will have a greater understanding of the genre and can move forward from there. I also notice some Fabbbbbbulous books /series that unfortunately didn’t make the cut. Namely, The Boys by Garth Ennis.  Good Times to be had. If you have any books that you think might be interesting, I would love to hear about them. I am always on the lookout.