Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spring Salad

The weather is finally getting warmer, and we're starting to experience two consecutive days without rain!

This transition to the warmer months calls for some fresh salads.

Exhibit 1:

Fresh Spinach, Sprouts, Tomato and Tofu

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sugar Free Vegan Fudge

I finally gave in and bought some Organic Coconut Oil... it's been exploding in the blog world right now.
Used it to experiment with making a teeny test batch of some vegan fudge.

This is what I used:

1/2 t vanilla
10 drops liquid stevia
20 grams coconut oil
2 T dark unsweetened cocoa powder

... mix all ingredients and freeze.

To be continued when I take the fudge out of the freezer.
I licked the spoon after mixing and it tasted like extremely dark/rich chocolate sludge. I couldn't taste the stevia but I was hesitant to add more because I was worried that it would get overly sweet and have a weird aftertaste. Maybe it will be good after it freezes. We shall see!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New blog!

I'm keeping this blog for recipes and future travels, but for posting quick pictures/ideas/quotes, I've started a new tumblr:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wine Notes: Cuvaison 2007 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

Cuvaison is a Napa Valley winery that uses certified sustainable growing and production practices. They have land in Carneros (where they grow Pinot Noir and Syrah) and also a vineyard on Mount Veeder, an AVA on thin volcanic soil that produces noteworthy Cab Sauvs.

I recently tried the Cuvaison 2007 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon

First impression: Soft, subtle, fruity, jammy

1) Color: Inky dark burgundy
2) Nose/Aroma: Black cherry, black currant, strawberry
3) Mouthfeel/Taste: Flavors of subtle oak and warm blackberry. The finish was subtly floral and thus a bit unexpected - it was almost too refined and nuanced. I thought the initial flavors and aromas would have been better balanced by a more assertive finish.
4) Score: 91. This wine was very smooth and refined with excellent, crisp fruit-forward flavors. It had an outstanding balance and structure, although the tannins could have been more developed and bold. I would recommend storing this wine for a few more years before drinking.


Here's the scale that I'm basing my score on:

Wine Spectator’s 100-Point Scale:
95-100 — Classic; a great wine
90-94 — Outstanding; superior character and style
80-89 — Good to very good; wine with special qualities
70-79 — Average; drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
60-69 — Below average; drinkable but not recommended
50-59 — Poor; undrinkable, not recommended

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Santa Monica Salad

There are a number of things I miss about living in Santa Monica. One is being five blocks away from the Pacific Ocean. A little farther down the list is this ubiquitous salad. A mixture of beets, goat cheese, spinach, and other goodies makes it a fresh and flavorful creation. Most of the restaurants in Santa Monica served some variation on this salad.

LA (especially the West side) is an epicenter for trendy food. Santa Monica also hosts one of the country's best farmer's markets - which was also in walking distance of my old apartment. I liked to buy fresh local beets, spinach, and other goodies at the market each Saturday. There's also a market on Tuesdays, but the only time I could go is when I had the day off work. That is also the day all the celebrities go to the farmer's market, because I saw three different actors there that time. They must avoid the Saturday crowds.

Karen's Santa Monica Salad:

- 1 head Romaine lettuce
- ~4 cups baby spinach
- 2 golden beets and 2 purple beets, steamed and cut into sections
- fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- alfalfa sprouts
- toasted walnuts
- 1 orange, peeled and sectioned
- 4 large basil leaves
- aged Balsamic vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil

Mix and Enjoy.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Kombucha: Adventures in Tea-Fermenting

Kombucha brewing away.
So. If you've never heard of kombucha, you should probably go to Wikipedia and get a little introduction. If you're not totally disturbed by the idea of fermented tea, read on.

Top view of a healthy SCOBY at work. Tinted pink because I used some Tazo Passion tea. That stuff stains.
After having homemade kombucha at some cafes in Thailand, I decided that it would be my project to start brewing my own kombucha after returning home. It's a really easy process, as long as you have a starter culture. After some Craigslist sleuthing, I found a woman in a hippie co-op who was giving away kombucha cultures. I picked one up and got started.

Layers growing on the culture.
Making kombucha is incredibly easy. I got a 2-gallon glass container, brewed 2 gallons of green tea, added 2 cups of sugar, and waited for the sweet tea to cool. Then I added the kombucha culture (also known as a SCOBY, or "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast". Yum.

Another batch: Chai Kombucha
Then I waited about a week and half. During that time, the culture eats the sugar and ferments the tea, producing a mildly vinegar flavor. It's not alcoholic, although it has a tiny bit of alcohol from the fermentation process (about 0.5%).

Big batch of berry green tea kombucha, next to small batch of chai & clove kombucha
After the tea is done fermenting, I removed the culture and bottled it. Kombucha isn't supposed to come into contact with metal, so I've been using glass jars with plastic lids.

Repurposed bottles
After bottling, I waited a few more days for the secondary fermentation process, during which the kombucha can develop carbonation and become deliciously fizzy.

A glass of the good stuff
Waiting for the secondary fermentation to occur. After a few days waiting, you can pop the bottles in the fridge, where the cold will stop the fermentation process. Enjoy! Kombucha's supposed to have a host of health benefits, but at this point I'm addicted to the flavor. My favorite mix so far? Chai with clove and cinnamon.

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