kukla_tko: (own cat face)
My sekonjabin experiment failed again.

So I've decided it's a metaphor representing 2014.

First, I put a lot of good things into it. Some of the things I'd been saving for a while, some were recent acquisitions.
Most of the things I did this year were the same kinds of things I do every year, or at least have done more than once.

So I followed the paths I've usually followed.

To be fair, this year I tried some new things, too, and the same goes for the Sekonjabin.

My methods hadn't changed though.

So at the end of the experiment, I expected to have a syrup about the consistency of maple syrup to strain and pour into the bottles I've been hoarding, so I can give them out as presents.

Instead, I got something radically different.

Don't misunderstand me; what I have is perfectly consumable. It is NOT a light syrup that mixes easily with cold water, however.

What I have is a thick syrup, similar in consistency to the goo inside of a "Stretch Armstrong". Straining it is something of a strain. (See what I did there?) There is mystery goo ALL OVER my counters, in random viscous droplets on the floor, on the backs of my arms, and in other places that continue to perplex and bewilder me. (How did I get a droplet THERE?)

I'm straining it in slow motion into several bottles now. Both batches nearly turned into candy, so I have quite a lot of this weird goo.

So, despite my using my usual tactics and patterns, and familiar ingredients, 2014 yielded strange, unexpected, and awesome results.
Some of which were messy and got into everything.

That's about it, really.

Here's hoping that regardless of what 2015 yields, the results are good.
kukla_tko: (Kitty Crack ho)
I'm trying to ramp down, but it's harder than I thought. Even after serving everyone my Christmas cookies, there's still too much easily-eaten sugar in the house.

Tonight, before I hit the sack I'm boiling up some Sekonjabin.

Batch 1 and 2 were:
Red Wine Vinegar, rose buds

White sugar vinegar, rose buds (given to cosX)

I did those on DeBoxing day.

Batches 2 and 3 are:
Apple Cider Vinegar, Cinnamon sticks, mint

Apple cider vinegar, Cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves, mint

Tomorrow I may knock out another couple of batches. I have one more package of mint (might try it with the red wine vinegar?) and a couple of other vinegars that might like to get involved.

Speak up if you want some, otherwise they're going to The Boy. LOL.
kukla_tko: (Kitty Crack ho)
For those who liked this season's stuffed pumpkins, here's what I did:

For the one served at the tea social:
Note: This was accidentally vegan. So yay!
1 medium sized carving pumpkin
2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups water
Chinese Five-spice powder (Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, anise, ginger)
Himalayan Sea salt
black pepper
2 sticks of cinnamon
pinch of whole cloves
1 can water chestnuts
1 can bamboo shoots
handful of golden raisins
handful of baby carrots
1 celery stalk
1 package of shelled walnut pieces

For the one served on Halloween:

1 medium/large sized carving pumpkin
2 cups jasmine rice
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
Chinese Five-spice powder (Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, anise, ginger)
Himalayan Sea salt
black pepper
2 sticks of cinnamon
pinch of whole cloves
1 can of smoked ham
1 snack sized box of regular raisins
about a third of a can of chunk pineapple
handful of cashews
2 cans sliced potatoes
1 can whole potatoes

In both cases:
Put the rice and water (or water and broth) into the rice cooker. Add seasonings, except for the cinnamon sticks.
Set the rice cooker to do its magic.
While that is going on, cut into the pumpkin like you're planning to carve it.
I like to cut a jagged top. You can cut a round top, but make a notch so you can get it back on tightly.
Scoop out the seeds and pumpkin guts. Since you're not carving it, you don't have to be aggressive about getting the strings out. I try not to carve too deeply into the pumpkin's flesh.
Note: If you like roasted pumpkin seeds, save the seeds and wash them. If not, share. If you compost the pumpkin guts, you'll likely have pumpkins the next year.

Once the rice cooker does its job, mix the hot rice together with the additional ingredients. For the canned items, drain them before mixing them.

Lay out two pieces of foil or parchment paper on a pie pan or cookie sheet.
Set the pumpkin in the pie pan or on a cookie sheet.

Get a large spoon and scoop the rice mixture into the pumpkin. I like to toss the cinnamon sticks in first.

In the case of the second pumpkin, I had about half of the stuffing I needed, so I added the canned potatoes as filler. They turned out to be darned tasty, so I may do this on purpose next time.

Replace the lid on the pumpkin.

Wrap the pumpkin in the aluminum foil or parchment paper. (The foil is significantly easier.) Make sure the whole thing is covered up.

Re-arrange the oven racks so that the pumpkin will fit in the oven.
Set the pumpkin in the oven.

The best way to bake this is to set the oven for about 200-250 degrees, the night before you're going to serve it. I did this with the first pumpkin but set it at 275; it was overdone when I pulled it out at 11am the next day. Cooked for about ten hours.

The one on Halloween went in the oven around 1pm, cooked until 6ish. Was set for 350. Added the lasagna for the last two hours, dropped the temperature to 325 per cooking instructions.

So longer time= lower temperature.
Shorter time= higher temperature.

I find that pumpkin stuffing likes lots of ginger, and salt. Savory pumpkin loves its salt. When I have the time and am feeling very "Martha Stewart" about it, I roast the pumpkin seeds and put them back in the stuffing. Mmm.

One of these times I might roast the damn thing with the guts intact; it's not like the strings are poisonous or anything.
kukla_tko: (NEWTON)
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Thanksgiving in my house growing up was far from “traditional”.
In the first place, my father doesn’t care for Turkey, and if my father didn’t care for it, it didn’t come through the door. Period.

We would usually have a ham, or a pork roast, or a beef roast of some kind. Mashed potatoes, probably cranberry sauce from a can, green beans, that sort of thing.
Since we survived on Hamburgers and French Fries the rest of the year, at least I had something good to look forward to.

So what “traditional” dishes do I not like?
Precious few, actually. They’re all a bit exotic for me, even still.

Roast Turkey? Bring it on! I love the bird. I’ll take your leftovers, and the carcass, too. I like turkey soup.

Jellied Cranberry sauce? From a can? Hand me a spoon. Gorgeous stuff, really. Sweet and tart... delicious! “How about the stuff with the chunks?” I hear you ask. Guess what? I like cranberries, so once again; Bring it on!

Sweet potatoes or yams with all that crap on top: Sure, but I’ll add a caveat: If any part of the gooey mess is BLACK, I won’t touch it. Burned marshmallows are gross. If you burn it, throw it away, folks.

Mashed potatoes? Mashed potatoes can be your friends! I’d freaking LIVE on Mashed potatoes if I thought I could get away with it. If I have a choice, I prefer the kind that start with somebody washing or peeling potatoes, and I’ll cheerfully take on the chore myself. On the other hand, I don’t turn up my nose at the boxed stuff either. mmm. Taters.

Gravy? Yeah, I can dig it.

Pie? I love pie. Sweet potato, pumpkin, apple, pecan... doesn’t matter. Ok, I’m not the world’s biggest lover of cherry pie, so if there are other flavors I’ll eat those first. And I prefer what I consider “real” pie; pie made from scratch. I’ll handwave a frozen crust (if it is a good one) but don’t open a can and dump it in there: Peel those apples yourself! Ok, feel free to open the can of pumpkin.

Green Bean Casserole: Ok, this one gives me pause for two reasons: One, my father didn’t tolerate casseroles, so I never encountered this one. Two: Most green bean casseroles include a can of some kind of soup base, right? If it does, I can’t eat it. It doesn’t mean I don’t *want* to, just that it will hurt my butt.

Stuffing/Dressing: Once again, this one gives me pause because of the specter of MSG. StoveTop stuffing and other pre-made deals frequently have liberal amounts of MSG in them, so I usually pass. To be fair, I don’t feel like I’m missing much, since stuffing (or Dressing) can be pretty plain and not nearly the treat as the rest of the things on the table. But! (and it’s a big BUT!) I should say that my step-dad makes a damn fine stuffing, and I’ve discovered that it is the kind of dish that lets you see what kind of team is running that kitchen. Old secret family recipes, Clever ingredients, unusual combinations... stuffings can be really interesting and delightful. I refer you to [livejournal.com profile] thesigother’s Stuffed Pumpkin. Every time he did it the contents were delicious, whether he did a bread variation or a rice stuffing or a cous cous. (ok, to be fair; I’m the one who found the cous cous stuffing recipe, and I encourage all of you to investigate cous cous stuffing recipes: it works beautifully.)

So yeah... I’m both Gourmand and Gourmet when it comes to The Day Of The Ritual Sacrifice. If you put it on the table and it does not contain MSG... I’m fairly likely to eat it and enjoy it. If you go all out, I’ll notice and appreciate it.

And I’ll do the dishes.
kukla_tko: (Spike)
I want to make some buttons or t-shirts or something. Possibly some LJ icons.

They will say, "Pumpkins are food."

Here's the definition of "Pumpkin" from the online Webster's:
Main Entry: pump·kin
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: alteration of earlier pumpion, modification of French popon, pompon melon, pumpkin, from Latin pepon-, pepo, from Greek pepOn, from pepOn ripened; akin to Greek pessein to cook, ripen -- more at COOK
1 a : the usually round orange fruit of a vine (Cucurbita pepo) of the gourd family widely cultivated as food b : WINTER CROOKNECK c British : any of various large-fruited winter squashes (C. maxima)
2 : a usually hairy prickly vine that produces pumpkins

Get that? Winter Squash. Why do they call it that? Well, if you don't puncture them, get them wet, or expose them to extreme heat, they keep for months. Harvest them with the rest of the crops and set them aside.

How does one eat a pumpkin?
If your only answer to that question is "pie", you're not part of my "Pumpkins are food" movement.
If your only answers are "Pie" and "bread", you're not part of it, either.

Wanna join the movement? Post a recipe or a link to such for a pumpkin dish that you have eaten or prepared (or both.)
Here's mine:
Feed the neighborhood )

Also, there's a great story about an unusual use for a pumpkin.
My Papa was at a random gathering with the neighbors. The neighbor's father was present and telling great stories from "the farm." At some point the subject of pumpkins came up (this may have been when my family was growing pumpkins in the back yard.) Everyone said that the only thing pumpkins were good for was Jack-O-Lanterns and pie, and pie was too much trouble.
The old farmer chuckled to himself and spoke up.
"Punkins are good eatin'," he said. "You can do lots of things with 'em."
He then went through a list of things that you could do with a pumpkin (including stuffing it) and then got nostalgic.
"But the best thing to do with a punkin' is to make punkin' wine."
Of course, they asked how to make pumpkin wine.
"Well, first you cut a little plug out of the side of the top, see, about yay big. Then you pour yer sugar and yeast into the hole. Plug the hole back up and seal it with candlewax, but stick a straw in it first so it can breathe. Then ya hang the punkin up in the barn for a couple of months, give it time to ferment. When it's ready, ya take it down and pull the plug back out, strain the juice into bottles and seal 'em up. Then ya throw the punkin to the hogs. They like that a lot."


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