Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Say No to “No Knead” Bread

This stuff was all the rage around two years ago, when the recipe was first published in the New York Times . I thought about trying it then, but I never got around to it. Then I mostly forgot about it until yesterday, when I decided to give it a go.

I wasn’t really sure on the kind of yeast to use, so I got both Rapid Rise and regular active dry yeast. I made a batch of the dough with each, and to be honest, they look about the same across time (I wish I had two bowls of the same size, it would have been easier.

Active Dry, 12 hours:

Rapid Rise, 12 hours:

Active Dry, 18 hours:

Rapid Rise, 18 hours:

I was only able to bake one, and I was going to do the rapid rise batch, except it fell apart and stuck too much to the towel, so instead I bake the other one. The loaf that came out looks kind of nice:

The only thing is, it doesn’t taste very good. I mean, it doesn’t taste bad at all, but it is not good, and definitely I could have made tastier bread, with a little bit of kneading, in less than the 21 hours or so it took from start to finish. I don’t think I’ll be trying this out again.

posted by neil at 9:51 pm
under bread,cooking  

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup

There are probably a million recipes for butternut squash soup around. The following is a fairly simple one, utilizing ingredients that I had on hand. You can probably use it as a spring board to create your own variant with very little effort. It is something lovely to make during the colder months of the year, even in places that don’t get that cold, like San Francisco.

Simple Butternut Squash Soup
serves 4-6

1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium carrot, finely diced
1 medium leek (or half a small onion to be more traditional), finely diced
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 tbsp freshly ground ginger (you could also use grated fresh ginger root)
5 cups vegetable broth, or chicken broth, or water, or white wine or a combination (I used 4 cups of vegetable brother and 1 cup of white wine)
salt, pepper to taste

1. Put the oil in a large sauce pan or dutch oven and heat over medium until shimmering. Add the carrot, leeks, and celery along with about 1 tsp of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the aromatics are translucent and are softening.

2. Add the squash, liquid and ginger. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for approximately 45 minutes until the squash is tender

3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. You could use a potato masher or a standard blender as well, if that is what you have on hand. Finish it up with a whick to make sure it is smooth, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Some variations on a similar theme:
Wohali’s sweet potato butternut squash soup
Quinn’s Pumpkin Bisque

posted by neil at 7:28 pm
under cooking  

Thursday, December 18, 2008


So, I cannot claim that things are settled yet, but yesterday night I powered through unpacking the kitchen so I can cook again. So I have cooked the past two nights – more info on this will follow later in this post. But first, I must discuss my new favorite thing – using the xbox 360 to view downloaded vidoes over the network. Quite simply it is able to access video files stored on a windows PC (or another computer that runs the windows media player sharing protocol) and then show them on your TV. This is cool because I have a lot of British TV shows in .avi format. Historically I watched these mostly on my macbook pro, usually lying on my bed. Occasionally I would hook the laptop up to the TV via HDMI and watch specific things, like Doctor Who episodes, like that – but it’s sort of a pain. This is quite seamless, and simple, and great. The 360 is the best console I’ve ever owned.

Ok, on to food. Last night I made carnival squash with chili-maple oil:

1 small squash (acorn, carnival, small butternut)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 small dried chili

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) Cut the squash in half (crosswise for roundish squash, lengthwise for butternut). Scoop out the seeds. Spray the cut side with cooking spray. Bake face down on baking sheet for 45 minutes, or until flesh is soft when poked with skewer
3) While the squash is baking, seed the chili and cut in to thin strips. Melt the butter and mix with the syrup and chili strips.
4) When the squash is done, allow to cool slightly, then either brush the halves with the butter and serve whole, or scoop out the flesh and mix with the butter.

Tonight I made some garlic cooked shrimp with “BBrazilian style” collard greens. The shrimp were just cooked in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and a little bit of wine until done – simple. The recipe for the greens, which I got from wohali (I halved it):

1 1/4 pound collard greens, stems and center ribs discarded and
leaves halved lengthwise
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil

1) Stack half of collard leaves and roll into a cigar shape. Cut crosswise into very thin strips (1/16 inch wide). Repeat with remainder.
2) Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Heat oil in a
12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stir
ring, 30 seconds. Add collards with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing, until
just tender and bright green, 3 to 4 minutes.

posted by neil at 10:29 pm
under cooking,rambling,technology  

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The State of Things

I am sitting here at my “bestie” Erin’s place watching her fold laundry. She says she has the cutest underwear. Anyway, I came over to her place to store some things in her garage.

The apartment is very far from being set up, but some important things have been accomplished today. I bought some curtains from Bed Bath and Beyond (hurray for 20% off coupons) to try to make my bedroom darker. They claim to block 99.8% of light, but the seem to let a bit more light than that through. Still it’s much darker than before, and maybe I’ll be able to sleep past 7AM tomorrow! I hung them using an abandoned rod on a living room window. I also ran cat 5 through a wall to the little office room, so that the router can be by the computers that need to be plugged in directly. I made a few too many holes in one wall, and I’ll need to paint it. It’s OK, because the color of that wall isn’t ideal anyway. I bought spackle and paint and etc so I can do that tomorrow. I guess in some ways doing this stuff was procrastinating the unpacking and organizing, but these improvements will make the place more livable.

Tomorrow morning we have a walk through at the old place with the landlord’s mom. And then that will be about that, I guess. I hope to be done unpacking by the end of 2008, so that I can buy the couple of pieces of furniture I’ll probably need early in 2009 and finish organizing. I guess I should work on unpacking the kitchen stuff asap so I can start cooking again.

posted by neil at 3:52 pm
under rambling  

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Moving (The Process)

Moving day is Monday, so my primary activity this weekend is packing. I feel like it is going at a reasonable rate, but it is super tiring. Also it’s all dusty up behind desks and what not – and my skin is all itchy, and I have either a bug bite, or a particularly bad reaction to dust or some other substance I’ve come in to contact with on my left forearm. Seeing as the skin there is sensitive (just below the elbow on the inside) it’s probably a reaction, and I am glad I have some prescription caliber topical steroids around…

Time for a short break playing Fallout 3.

posted by neil at 3:19 pm
under daily tribulations,rambling  

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