Monday, January 26, 2015

Samosas and The Librarians

I started watching The Librarians this season, the new show on TNT, which I think is fair to describe as an American Doctor Who.  But a little lighter, a little sillier, with magic instead of timey-wimey, a magical door instead of a TARDIS.  It's fun and it has John Larroquette, and Noah Wylie pops in every once in a while acting loopy and very Doctor Who-like, so it makes me happy.   So knowing my luck, it's going to cancelled.

The show revolves around a group of Librarians who, along with their Guardian, go around the world collecting/saving the world from magical objects.  In one recent episode, the magical object was a house.  A scary, terrifying house wherein lived a serial killer.  But it turns out the house itself wasn't evil, it was the House of Refuge.  A magical house that provides people what they need. 

And how did they discover this?  Ezekiel, the world class Australian thief, finds himself in a miniature dollhouse version of the house, and discovers that the house will give him samosas.

Yes, he asks for samosas, and they just appear.  He asks for beer and it appears in his hand.  He asks for an Xbox One, and there you go. 

But the really important thing is he got SAMOSAS. 
So since that episode, I've really really wanted samosas.  I will also take a magical house that provides samosas on demand, but I will also take samosas that I have to pick up. 

Ta da!  We got 3 orders of samosas just for us.  A few days later we got more samosas.

But I'm still not satisfied, honestly.  I could still have more samosas.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Red Velvet Oreos + Backstory

Why yes, I am mildly interested in the fact that Limited Edition Red Velvet Oreos are coming in February, just in time for Valentine's Day!
Mostly to check out the cream cheese filling, because cream cheese frosting is by far the best part of red velvet cake. 

A lot about red velvet cake turns out to be fairly modern.  Velvet cakes first appeared in the 1800s, a reference to their smooth texture.   In the 1930s, New York City's Waldorf-Astoria started serving a red velvet cake - the red referencing either the hint of red from the interaction between cocoa and acid, or from the use of brown sugar, which used to be called red sugar.

But red velvet cake really didn't take off until a Texas food extract company, wanting to move its red food coloring and butter extract products, started distributing a red velvet cake recipe to shoppers, during World War II.  Only after spreading out through the Midwest during the 1940s and 50s did red velvet cake start to become especially popular in the South.  And somewhere along the line, cream cheese frosting was added. 

And then of course, for the the past 10 years we've had a fancy cupcake craze, in which red velvet has done well.  According to someone really, truly named Mr. Sprinkle, the year 2011 was when “red velvet cake flavor emerged as a force of nature.” 

In May of last year, the New York Times thought the end might be in sight, citing a marketing researcher who was not named Mr. Sprinkle (honestly, that's the best name ever), “There is a limit to the red-velvetization potentials in different categories ... Red Velvet wine, for example, is an effort that may not lead to more product launches.”

So Red Velvet Oreos may, appropriately enough, be the death knell for the whole red velvet cake thing.  Unless there is a Red Velvet latte Starbucks.  Wait, what?  Argh!  THERE ALREADY IS!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An Unexpected Pierogi

We've been burning through the big bag of fresh tortillas from Costco making quesadillas, lots and lots of quesadillas,- in the past month, because kids will always eat them, they are easy to make, they are delicious, and did I mention that kids will always eat them? 

What makes them particularly delicious are the excellent uncooked flour tortillas made, I think, by TortillaLand, and found in the refrigerated section of Costco.  They are light years better than any other tortillas I've found at the grocery store.  They are thicker, chewier, fresher, and not only do they have flavor, they have excellent flavor. 

But then Foodgoat came up with an even better use of the tortillas, which also happens to be the best use ever of leftover mashed potatoes. 


He put some warmed up leftover mashed potatoes inside a tortilla, pinched it shut, sauteed it in olive oil, and topped it with sour cream, shredded cheese, and green onions.  And there you have it - a great big pierogi, better than anything Mrs. T makes, in just a few minutes. 

I love that it makes use of leftovers.  I love that it's quick.  I love that it's so simple even I might try it by myself.  But mostly I love anything that's fried, and potato-y, and cheesy, and sour cream-y. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

12 Days of Polvoron: Small Batch Polvoron

To celebrate the Philippines this holiday season (and bring attention to the continued need for typhoon relief), I'm doing 12 days of polvoron.  

I thought I'd start with the basic recipe I will be using, a small batch version.   Most recipes for polvoron make large batches, which can be great for families and sharing, but what if you just want a few?

Easy!  Polvoron is simple to scale down into a small batch.  It makes about a dozen, which is good for a family snack, or just one person, if you can eat as much polvoron as I can in one sitting.  And it doesn't take very long - the longest part is toasting the flour, and that's like 5 minutes.

Small Batch Polvoron

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered milk (full fat is better than non fat, if you can find it)
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)

  1. Toast the flour on a dry skillet or saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. 
  2. Mix the flour with the powdered milk, sugar, and salt. 
  3. Pour in the melted butter a little at a time, mixing with a spoon until it starts to clump and resemble damp sand.   
  4. Pack it firmly in the polvoron mold.  Refrigerate to harden it a bit if you feel like it.  Wrap it up in tissue paper if you feel like it.  Or just eat it straight up.  

12 Days of Polvoron

It's #GivingTuesday!  Following the crazy consumerism of Black Friday through Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is an effort to bring everyone together for a national day of giving.  

This year, the cause I will be supporting is much more personal.  My parents were in the Philippines at the time of Typhoon Haiyan, and flew out of the typhoon danger zone to safety just before all flights were cancelled.  

Not so lucky were the many people in my family's hometown of Sigma, a small, rural community in the province of Capiz.  As in many parts of the Philippines, the typhoon caused significant damage and destruction there.  Especially hard hit was the local elementary school - Ponsaran Elementary, named for my grandfather.

Right before the typhoon, my parents were in Sigma to help build a fence around the Eleodoro J. Ponsaran Elementary School, which has 120 students.  But Typhoon Haiyan not only destroyed the fence - it also destroyed much of the school building itself, including the entire roof.  Because of the extensive damage, the government is considering closing the school, instead of repairing it.  This will require the children to walk 7 kilometers to another school, in an area that is rural and mountainous.

The teachers and parents want to reconstruct the school. Local residents have volunteered to provide the labor.  They just need the construction materials to repair the roof and rebuild the walls.

To help, my family has started a fundraiser to supply the people of Sigma with the tools and materials necessary to help them to rebuild their town.  The funds will be used to purchase locally-sourced lumber and construction materials to repair damage to the school.  It will also be used for tents for temporary shelter, and to repair or construct new homes. 

So for this Giving Tuesday, I hope you will consider a contribution to the Rebuilding Sigma Fund as well.

12 Days of Polvoron Challenge!

And, to continue celebrating the Philippines this holiday season, I'm going to do 12 days of polvoron over the next month.

Polvoron is a kind of shortbread treat, a butter-heavy, milk sweet that is popular in the Philippines, particularly around the holidays.  I've posted about it a couple times already, but this time, this month, I'm going to try to come up with 12 different variations.

I've really only stuck to the basic recipe before, so I'm not really sure what I'm going to come up, or how it's going to turn out.  Me experimenting in the kitchen has the potential for really epic failure.  I'm not, by any means, a polvoron pro.  So if you have suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!