Monday, April 23, 2012

Homemade Milk Tea

When my husband and I eat out, we always dissect the food and drink trying to figure out how to make it at home. And sometimes we manage to figure it out. After drinking kegs-worth of boba over the years, my husband started making it at home, and I have some pictures of the process and final product to share with you. Let me ask him how to make it:

Christie: "How do you make it?"
Michael: "Make what?"
Christie: "Milk tea."
Michael: "Oh. ummm. 8 cups of water. 12 black tea bags. 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk."
Christie: "What do you do with it?"
Michael: "Put it in a... you're not interviewing me again are you?"
Christie: "No." (don't judge me!)
Michael: "Boil the water, dunk it a lot. I dunk it until i'm tired of dunking it. Leave the lid on stewing."
[long pause]
Michael: "You have to put the sweetened condensed milk in while it's warm. I think. That's what I do."

In nice, recipe format, that would be:

Bring 8 cups of water to a rolling boil. Turn off heat. Dunk 12 black tea bags repeatedly in the hot water.

Mash them up against the side with a spoon. Then, let it steep for about five minutes. The dunking, mashing, and steeping make really strong tea which is what you want.

Then, stir in 2/3 cup of sweetened condensed milk. Let it cool. Refrigerate.

Also, you can buy these bobas on Amazon if you want the full experience. We followed the directions on the package and they turned out perfect! Though they only last about a day in the fridge after you cook them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Doodle Tappy

Before I get too far into this post, let me ask my husband why on earth he gave this dish the name "Doodle Tappy." I am going to type as he answers me.

Me: "So why is it called Doodle Tappy?"
Michael: "I don't know. [pause] I have no idea. [longer pause] Something about macaroni, riding on a pony."
Me: "What do you mean?"
Michael: "I don't know. Yankee Doodle went to town riding on a pony, stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni."
Me: "So, the Doodle comes from 'Yankee Doodle.' Where does the Tappy come from?"
Michael: "I don't know."

Well, there you have it folks.

Now, let me share this simple, quick "recipe" that has become a scrumptious staple around our home. I use the term "recipe" loosely. Foodies: feel free to wildly adapt these guidelines to your taste. Everyone else: just follow the pictures fairly closely. :-)

Here we go!

Boil about 10 ounces of your favorite shape of pasta following the directions on the box.

Crank the burner as high as it goes. Brown ground turkey (2 pounds), salt (about 2 teaspoons), and fresh ground pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon) breaking up the turkey as you go. It's done when there's almost no more pink.

Add about half a chopped onion, about two cups of chopped tomatoes, and about two cups of frozen veggies. I did corn and peas. Stir up the pot.

Put the cooked pasta on top followed by about two cups of grated cheddar cheese. I like extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Stir it all up again.

Heat it all up on high stirring once in a while. When you see simmering juices in the pan, turn the heat down to medium and let it simmer for about ten minutes stirring it a couple of times.

Then, eat!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unorthodox Produce

One of the greatest privileges of living in Southern California is that, for a large portion of the year, I can pick lemons from local trees for free instead of from produce piles at the grocery store. And one of my favorite things about picking lemons myself, aside from how incredibly sweet and lemony they taste, is that I get to see the hilariously unorthodox shapes that they sometimes take.

A couple of months ago, Michael and I discovered what has become our go-to lemon grove on public property across the street from his old elementary school. It's as adorable as it sounds. Side note: I would love to find in my neighborhood a go-to orange grove, pomegranate grove, kumquat grove, tangerine grove, avocado grove, ... You get the idea.)

Here are two specimens of the pounds and pounds of lemons we picked last Tuesday. The one on the right is about the size of your typical lemon from the grocery store pile. Check out the bad boy to its left!
Isn't that cool?! I guess I have had the fleeting thought that perhaps whatever made this lemon this way is something that I shouldn't be ingesting, but then again, there is no way to find out and they're so delicious (I even eat the skins), I don't really want to know!

Onto the other unorthodox produce.

My snap pea plants have grown into quite a tangle. Unfortunately, the peas are the same exact shade of green as the leaves and the vines. Therefore, I will scour the tangled vines, picking every last snap pea only to find (every single time that I pick, mind you!) a monstrosity of a snap pea tucked in hiding.

Again, grocery store sized pea up front. Bad boy in back.

Pretty huge, huh?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Loving a Person Just the Way They Are

I love this singer/songwriter. I love this song. I love these lyrics. They are so simple and so true.

"Loving a Person" by Sara Groves and Gordon Kennedy

Loving a person just the way they are, it's no small thing
It takes some time to see things through
Sometimes things change, sometimes we're waiting
We need grace either way

Hold on to me
I'll hold on to you
Let's find out the beauty of seeing things through

There's a lot of pain in reaching out and trying
It's a vulnerable place to be
Love and pride can't occupy the same spaces baby
Only one makes you free

Hold on to me
I'll hold on to you
Let's find out the beauty of seeing things through

If we go looking for offense
We're going to find it
If we go looking for real love
We're going to find it

Just because posts feel naked without a picture

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

100 Foods to Eat Before You Die

Drinking from a coconut cut fresh off a tree in Thailand.

I love food! And I love going on little food adventures, trying something I've never eaten or heard of before, so when I saw the facebook app listing 100 foods to eat before you die, I had to check it out. 

As I went through this list, I was surprised by how so many of the foods brought up very strong associations and memories for me. Here they are, with a bit of my commentary. I crossed off the ones I've eaten. (About half!)

1. Abalone (This always reminds me of the book Island of the Blue Dolphins. All I remember of that book is the main character gathering abalone all the time.)
2. Absinthe
3. Alligator 
4. Baba Ghanoush
5. Bagel & Lox
6. Baklava (Yuuuummmmmmm.)
7. BBQ Ribs
8. Bellini
9. Birds Nest Soup (Could have gotten this in Thailand and didn't. Dang.)
10. Biscuits & Gravy
11. Black Pudding (This is where I draw the line. I would never eat this.)
12. Black Truffle
13. Borscht
14. Calamari
15. Carp
16. Caviar
17. Cheese Fondue
18. Chicken & Waffles (People in Los Angeles love this. I am a bit underwhelmed by it.)
19. Chicken Tikka Masala
20. Chile Relleno (LOVE these.)
21. Chitlins
22. Churros
23. Clam Chowder (Had it in a bread bowl in San Francisco. Classic!)
24. Cognac
25. Crab Cakes
26. Crickets (Considered trying this in Thailand too. Don't regret my decision to not eat it!)
27. Currywurst
28. Dandelion Wine
29. Dulce de Leche (During her childhood in Argentina, my mom ate this all the time. When I was a child, she would often make it at home. Back then no one knew what dulce de leche was. My how times change.)
30. Durian
31. Eel
32. Eggs Benedict (I can't believe I've never had this!)
33. Fish Tacos
34. Foie Gras
35. Fresh Spring Rolls
36. Fried Catfish
37. Fried Green Tomatoes (Been wanting to try these too.)
38. Fried Plantain (Had this in Sierra Leone all the time. It was my favorite thing to eat there.)
39. Frito Pie
40. Frogs' Legs (Had this on a high school choir trip to New York City.)
41. Fugu (Between the steep price and the risk of death, I will probably never eat this. Check out the wiki article.)
42. Funnel Cake
43. Gazpacho
44. Goat (I just tried goat for the first time on our anniversary!)
45. Goat's Milk (hoping cheese made of goat's milk counts!)
46. Goulash
47. Gumbo
48. Haggis (This almost crosses the "I wouldn't try it" line.)
49. Head Cheese (Pretty sure this crosses the line.)
50. Heirloom Tomatoes (Now I just want to grow them.)
51. Honeycomb (So fun to chew it until you're left with just a ball of wax in your mouth. Still remember the first time I tried it at an 1800's style farm in Illinois.)
52. Hostess Fruit Pie (random!)
53. Huevos Rancheros
54. Jerk Chicken
55. Kangaroo
56. Key Lime Pie
57. Kobe Beef
58. Lassi
59. Lobster
60. Mimosa 
61. Moon Pie (This list is so random.)
62. Morel Mushrooms (Want!)
63. Nettle Tea
64. Octopus (Had it for the first time when I re-visited Portugal when I was 14. I loved it.)
65. Oxtail Soup
66. Paella
67. Paneer
68. Pastrami on Rye
69. Pavlova (Had to look this one up. Now I want it.)
70. Phaal
71. Philly Cheese Steak
72. Pho (Pho will always remind me of Los Angeles.)
73. Pineapple & Cottage Cheese
74. Pistachio Ice Cream
75. Po' Boy (Never heard of this before, but it sounds great!)
76. Pocky (Think I've had this... not too sure though.)
77. Polenta
78. Prickly Pear (I may have had this in Mexican food. Not sure.)
79. Rabbit Stew (Rabbit is delish! Common dish in Portugal where I was born.)
80. Raw Oysters
81. Root Beer Float (Love these.)
82. S'mores (Camping classic.)
83. Sauerkraut
84. Sea Urchin
85. Shark
86. Snail (May have had this, too. Don't remember.)
87. Snake
88. Soft Shell Crab
89. Som Tam
90. Spaetzle 
91. Spam (yuck.)
92. Squirrel (This makes me want to finish reading the Hunger Games series.)
93. Steak Tartare
94. Sweet Potato Fries
95. Sweetbreads
96. Tom Yum (Yay! Thai food!)
97. Umeboshi
98. Venison (My great aunt hunts. I remember eaten her venison chili in their home in the snowy woods of Minnesota.)
99. Wasabi Peas (I still remember popping a free sample from some market in Philadelphia into my mouth and regretting it.)
100. Zucchini Flowers (I've been wanting to try stuffed zucchini flowers for some time now. Perhaps I should plant zucchini just for the flowers...)

How many of these foods have you tried? What memories are attached to these foods for you? Which ones would you never try? Feel free to comment below. Don't be shy. : )

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Purple Carrots

I bought Michael purple haze carrots last year for Valentine's Day, or something like that. We finally planted them in October, and according to the seed package, they should have been ready for harvest in two months. Well, they struggled for six months, as most of our ground plants do, due to a lack of sun on our tiny strip of dirt that is overshadowed on the east and west by two story buildings.

On Sunday, I wrapped my hands around one carrot's green foliage and gave a tug. It resisted hard. A few more tugs and out popped these awesome purple carrots. Good job little guys! Now I am going to eat you!

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