I grew up watching Star Trek. In fact, I can't remember a time when I didn't watch the show in some form (blame my father: he's the engineer that introduced me to Asimov while I was still in elementary school). First it was TOS with Kirk, Spock, and crew, and then TNG, followed by DS9 and Voyager - and then nothing, because by the time Enterprise rolled around I couldn't handle suffering through another bad series. (I gave up on Enterprise after watching the pilot. And the pandering of the "decontamination" scene where two characters rubbed each other with gel. In soft focus. With close-ups of hands and half-clothed body parts.)
All this to say, I was thrilled when I stumbled across these adorable Star Trek cookies from Bakingdom. (Visit her for instructions and more cute photos.) They're absolutely perfect. I especially love the happy look on Uhura's face.
On a related note, some of you may know that I also co-host a Star Trek podcast, Podcast on the Edge of Forever. We just posted a new episode. Paul Brooks and I (with our guest Matt Porubcansky) discuss sexism and progress in the Original Series, talk briefly about the forthcoming Star Trek Into Darkness, and end with a Very Serious Debate: Which Enterprise is your favorite and why? It's good, nerdy fun.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013
I have personally eaten everything on this list. While I won't guarantee that you'll love them all, they're each worth trying for the experience. And no, I didn't include insects or arachnids on the list (even I won't touch them).
I'm going to guess that most people won't even get 25. What's your score?
|Chicken feet. Photo by avlxyz.|
I'm going to guess that most people won't even get 25. What's your score?
- Beef Tripe
- Bird's Nest Soup
- Bitter Melon
- Blood Sausage
- Calf's Head (Tête de Veau)
- Chicken Feet
- Chin Chow (Grass Jelly)
- Dragon Fruit
- Duck Feet
- Fish Head Curry
- Fish Maw (Air Bladder)
- Foie Gras
- Frog Legs
- Pandan Cake
- Pig Ear
- Pig Trotters
- Prawn Heads
- Quail Eggs
- Sea Cucumber
- Snails (Escargot)
- Sweetbreads (Pancreas and Thymus)
- Winter Melon
Thursday, February 14, 2013
And what better way to show your love than Star Trek cookies? With my favorite cast, no less. Mike at Semi Sweet has full instructions for these amazing creations on his blog. Aren't they fantastic?
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Ever wonder how many cones of cotton candy it would take to build one room? The answer: 1800. Artist Jennifer Rubell created an installation featuring an 8'x16' freestanding room completely padded with pink cotton candy: "Padded Cell acts as... an all-American funhouse that is at the same time confining, threatening, claustrophobic. It is an object that addresses the dark side of pleasure, the price of pleasure, the possibility that pleasure is its own punishment."
Perhaps. But I have to say, I think it's just plain awesome. And possibly delicious.*
* Horrible sugar toothaches not withstanding.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Firecakes. I kept walking past the words painted on a glass storefront window, and I liked the design - it was friendly, cute, a little modern, a little retro. Intriguing. Eventually I saw a flurry of activity: bakers, cleaners, various workers. Then one morning, word went around the office I was working in for the week: Free doughnuts!
In truth, I'm not a doughnut person. So I reacted accordingly - I stayed at my desk while half the office cleared out. Then, as people trickled back in, I heard the magic words: Valrhona chocolate doughnuts. Wait, what? A colleague showed me photos on her smartphone - and they looked good. And confirmed that yes, Valrhona chocolate doughnuts were available. Within minutes I was inside Firecakes for a pre-opening preview of gourmet treats in flavors like butterscotch praline, coconut cream, apple fritter, and triple Valrhona chocolate cake.
I was not disappointed. The doughnut, crafted in small batches from a family recipe, was delicious - crisp on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. The glaze wasn't cloying, as is so often the case. Quality. The friendly staff also gave me a latte (La Colombe beans - can't argue with that) that paired perfectly with my pastry.
Now that Firecakes is officially open, you, too can experience one of the better doughnuts you'll find in Chicago. If you're already a fan of fried dough to begin with (and I know most of you are!), you may need to visit on a regular basis.
68 W. Hubbard St.
Chicago, IL 60654
Monday, February 11, 2013
In a previous post, I laid out the standard Amish Friendship Bread recipe with a substitution for instant pudding (since adding artificial ingredients to home-cooked food seems to miss the point). But most recipes also come with a list of stipulations that make the starter seem like a mysterious relic from an ancient civilization. Of course, it's not. I've been making bread, waffles, pancakes, cakes, and other goodies with my starter for over a year, and here are a few myths I've debunked:
Myth #1: No one knows what's in Amish Friendship Bread starter. It's an Amish secret.
This is just silly. There's a recipe here for those of you that haven't received starter from a friend - it's quite simple, really, just sugar, yeast, milk, water, milk, and flour. No magic involved!
Myth #2: Never mix your starter in a metal bowl or with a metal spoon.
Most of the kitchen metals that we use now are coated with a protective finish, and your starter never touches them for long anyway. Metal bowls and spoons are totally fine and won't hurt your bread.
Myth #3: Never put your starter in the fridge. Or the freezer.
Your starter will survive just fine in both places. I usually leave mine on the counter at room temperature, but putting it in the fridge won't kill it. The starter is actually fairly hardy - it's fine unless it starts to turn pink or fails to bubble. In fact, if you get tired of dealing with it, you can put the starter in your freezer for months and just thaw it at room temperature when you feel like baking again. Just don't forget to feed it once it's thawed.
Myth #4: You have to mush your bag of starter every day, feed your starter every five days, and give cups of extra starter away every 10 days.
Remember what I said about the starter being quite hardy? You don't have to be chained to the 10-day cycle that came with your recipe, and you don't have to find an ever-increasing pool of friends to burden with starter. More on this later!
So there you have it: the myths of Amish Friendship Bread. Have any other myths? Add them in the comments!
Saturday, February 9, 2013
A year ago, my friend Loni handed me a recipe and a plastic bag filled with batter. "It's Amish Friendship Bread," she said. "It's delicious."
Being the committed foodies we are, Loni and I avoid using artificial or packaged ingredients whenever possible. With the Amish Friendship Bread, this was a problem: the original recipe called for a box of instant pudding. Ever read the ingredient list for instant pudding? It's basically sugar, cornstarch, preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors. Ugh. She decided we could do better and replaced the pudding mix with dry milk powder, cornstarch, and more sugar. The result? A lovely, all-natural "bread" (I honestly think it's better categorized as coffee cake) with a moist interior and a crispy top. And yes, it's delicious.
In the course of the last year, I also ended up dispelling many of the myths about Amish Friendship Bread and figuring out how to take control of the starter. More on that in a later post! (Update: The post is up! Amish Friendship Bread Myths.)
All-Natural Amish Friendship BreadServings: 2 loaves
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 75 minutes
- 1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup oil
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease two loaf pans.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dust the greased pans with half of the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Divide the batter into the loaf pans and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture on top.
Bake for one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.