Archive for April, 2009

Ikea Run

April 10, 2009


It’s been almost two years since I’ve gone to Ikea, and for good reason.  It is not the place to go when you’re on a budget.  The meandering aisles and the oft single digit prices lend to spending with thoughtless and reckless abandon.  I miss you, old friend.

I went in, armed with a list and a specific budget.  Both went to rot with each fanciful new item.  Do I really need more plastic prep bowls?  Nested tin containers?  Paper napkins printed with Indian-style animals?  Kind of, sort of, not really.  I wanted the Grilla grill pan, but I forgot to look for it, such is the distracting power of Ikea.  I did start to build my arsenal of hermetic jars.  At $2.99 each, I can afford to fill my pantry shelves over time.  Since I know that my willpower is nil at Ikea, I should keep my trips to a minimum, and purposeful.  We shall meet again, in a few more months…

Figuring It Out

April 9, 2009

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Since failing at making kimchi pancakes recently, I have been fixated on perfecting them.  The first time around I was hungry and hasty, prioritizing speed over detail, making leaden, rubbery pancakes.  This time, I would follow the Dok Suni recipe with precision and alacrity.  I was still baffled by the 3 to 1 proportion of flour to liquid which yielded a dough, not a batter, could this be right?  I could barely spread it out thin, and in the end it was okay, but not as light and crisp as I’d like.

Going off the grid, I added 1/4 cup more kimchi juice to make it more batter-y.  In a Momofuku-inspired moment, I added bacon and fried it in bacon grease.   All improvements.

But I still wasn’t totally happy, so I tried Mark Bittman’s Korean pancake recipe for the batter, keeping the Dok Suni filling.  The batter had 50% more liquid to flour and a bit of oil.  And that was that.  Perfect.

Kimchi Pancake

-mince 3 garlic cloves, 1 jalapeno, 4 scallions (including green parts)

-drain and save the juice from a 10-oz. jar of kimchi

-chop 10-oz. of kimchi

-combine 1 cup flour, 1 egg, 1T oil, and 1 1/2 cups of liquid (kimchi juice and water)

-stir in vegetables

-heat 1t oil in a skillet over medium high, spoon in about 1/4 batter, spreading evenly

-cook until the edges are dry and the bottom is brown, about 3 minutes

-flip and cook another 2 minutes

-serve with dipping sauce – 1T white vinegar, 3T soy sauce, 1t sugar

The bacon addendum:

-cook 4 strips of bacon

-cook over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is chewy, not crisp

-drain bacon on paper towels, save bacon grease

-fold cooled bacon into pancake batter with vegetables

-cook pancake in 1t bacon grease

Having It All

April 8, 2009


I’m realizing that the special someone to repair my re-modelling, may have to be many someones.  Contrary to my initial thoughts, I feel like I’m looking for a general practitioner when I need a bunch of specialists.  Since the oven is the priority, I checked in with someone who I thought was more of a GC, but is actually an appliance installer who works with an electrician and a painter.  He offered me confidence where I had none, explaining the pros and cons of gas and electric ovens.  He assured me that the DeLonghi oven that I originally wanted would be fine for under counter use, that the warning the company heeds about ventilation was more of an extra precaution than anything else.  There was no danger of fire or overheating.  I will only need an extra shut off valve for the gas intake (each gas appliance needs its own shut off valve) and half an inch taken off of the oven frame to accommodate the oven.  As someone who is licensed and insured, he may not be the contractor of my dreams, but I sure wish we met last year.

The Other Greek Salad

April 7, 2009

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Cleaning out my fridge left only a few items standing, among them – romaine lettuce, feta cheese, scallions, and a lemon.  I’m on my way to a maroulosalata, the other Greek salad.  A refreshing mix of crisp shredded romaine, punctuated with scallion and dill, and tempered with creamy feta and a lemon and olive oil dressing.  All flavors are balanced, all flavors are bright.  It tastes like spring.


-shred 2 romaine hearts

-mince 4 scallions

-roughly chop 1/2 cup dill

-zest and juice 1 lemon, combine with 1/4 cup olive oil to make dressing

-toss lettuce, scallions, dill, and 1/4 cup feta with dressing, mix well so that ingredients are well combined

Judging a book by its cover

April 6, 2009


When I went on my cookbook bender, I took a chance with Tonia George’s Soups.  It hit a cord by being an easy soup book, but what got me was the cover and all the gorgeous photography inside.  I didn’k know who the author was, and the recipes are in metric, even chancier.  So far, it has not disappointed.  In fact, everything I’ve made has been excellent from these elegantly written recipes.

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I made her Thai pork and rice soup from the stock of last week, more flavorful with the addition of ginger, fish sauce and sugar.  Effortless pork meatballs of cilantro, garlic, fish sauce and white pepper, are made even easier if you have a food processor.  Chinese cabbage and rice noodles complete the soup.  From now on, I’m basing my cookbook purchases on their covers.

Got Shelves?

April 1, 2009

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For The Littlest Kitchen 2.0, along with the oven and finishing the vintage cabinet, I’m thinking of subway tiles for the backsplash and more little shelves above the cooktop.  The two ideas work well together in the sense that the the shelves give the tiles a stopping point, otherwise the tiles would have to go all the way up to the ceiling, a costly and complicated undertaking.  The new little shelves would fit in the recessed area above the cooktop, about 4 1/2 inches, which would mimic the open shelving on the opposite wall.  I’m finding that I could use more shelving, since the open shelves are starting to overflow with goods.  The bottom of the shelves, or the top of the tiles, would start at the same height as the bottom of the vintage cabinet.  The top of the shelves would go up to the top of the panel adjacent to the stove.  I would probably have to hire my cabinet maker for the shelves, a ridiculously small job, which may or may not be worth his while.  And although I wish for the contractor of my dreams, I may not have enough money to have the work done all at once for 2.0.