Homemade blackcurrant juice and a shiny new steam juicer.

So back in Cali, the main thing I knew about blackcurrants were that they were a strongly-scented European fruit that was used to make booze and Ribena. The main thing I knew about Ribena syrup was that it was really handy to use when mixing up blood substitute for film and TV productions. Never actually drank any of the stuff until a couple years ago, since it was usually relegated to some obscure specialty shelf. First winter we were here, then, T’s grandmother merrily handed me a bottle of homemade blackcurrant juice and I thanked her, despite looking somewhat puzzled. We …

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And then, we were buried in apples. (With bonus apple juicing action.)

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Hey, WordPress has an integrated push-to-Twitter feature now! One less plugin to worry about, pretty cool. For all I know, this could have happened last year, but it’s new to me 🙂 So yeah. We have a few mature apple trees. We knew this meant we would be getting some fruit in the fall, but I don’t think we really comprehended exactly how much that would be. Turns out, the answer is “more than one person should try to pick with a plastic grocery bag while balancing on a chair and stepstool.” Below, a pictorial timeline of last year’s apple …

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Pumpkin Puree -or- Squashing a Squash.

I’ve been thinking a lot about instructions and tutorials lately at work, and that must have made its way into my subconscious because I’m starting to feel guilty about not updating this blog very much. It’s not for lack of material, since I’ve got a whole folder of photos and notes saved from various projects over the past year — it just seems like there’s always something else more pressing. Given, that’s probably because there was — planning an international wedding, making a pile of holiday presents, then starting a new job will get to ya like that — but …

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Basic White-ish Bread

One of the things about growing up in an Asian-American household? Bread wasn’t so much of a staple item the way it was in many of my friends’ families. Sure, my mom would occasionally buy a loaf or two to make our sandwiches when we were younger and still took brown paper bags with us in the mornings. Once we started making or buying our own lunches around junior high, though, even that became a rare commodity. Between the dorm cafeterias, countless takeout places and my mom’s sizable culinary contributions in the following years, I never had much cause to …

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Italian Bread Crumbs

Keeping it short today, since we’re still dealing with the aftermath of a three-week bout of cold/flu. I’ve lately been prone to fall asleep at the most inconvenient times of day, thanks to the interesting medication cocktail I’m on. As a result, there has been no real rhyme or reason to my posting this month, though I still try to toss out whatever happens to be going on in the kitchen as time permits. I mentioned in my previous baked pork chops post that I’ve been using homemade Italian bread crumbs for breading and frying stuff now, since it’s not …

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Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Version Two)

I dusted off another dinner recipe requiring condensed cream soup this past weekend, so it’s time to break out the substitutions notebook! This is the second version of homemade condensed cream of chicken soup I’ll be trying out. The first attempt last month, for use in enchiladas, ended on an ambivalent note. That cream ended up a bit milder than I would have liked, and there were a couple of issues with consistency and proportion which would keep me from using that as a go-to recipe. It was serviceable, but I found myself wanting to test out other options. So …

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Seafood, Creole and Italian Seasoning Mixes

There are a lot of seasoning mixes that I used to take for granted back in the US, when they were easy to come by in large jars on any supermarket shelf. I recently dug up a few recipes that called for such seasonings and realized that I could no longer get the brand name versions by just going across the street. Luckily, the internet provided — in the form of homemade seasoning mix recipes that are pretty darn close, if not perfect matches. As usual, they are much cheaper than the retail versions and are rather fun to make! …

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Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Version One)

A little over a year ago, Emmuzka and I had a short chat about the lack of condensed soups in certain areas after I’d posted a recipe using condensed cream of chicken soup. I took that as a cue to look up and bookmark a small list of homemade substitutes for the ingredient, so I was conveniently able to bust them out again earlier this week when my enchilada recipe (coming tomorrow) called for it. There are a few different ones, so I figured I’d give them each a try and then report on the varying results before coming to …

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Basic Shellfish Stock

You might have noticed that I go through a lot of shellfish in my day-to-day preparations. In quite a few of the previous posts, I’ve also mentioned that you want to save the shells and/or carcass remnants of consumed critters for stock. I suppose now would be as good a time as any to show how I usually make that stock. Shellfish stock is awesome. It’s great as a soup and sauce base, it adds flavor to rice and pasta, and can be used in place of water to give anything you’re cooking a quick boost. I always have a …

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