May 28, 2009

Colorful Pasta For Spring Farewell & My First Cake

Intense, it smelled warm like home,
Then spring dawned few more days.

Spring time, faint smell released from honeysuckle vines in bloom rejuvenate me. You find them blooming in little garden spaces in apartment entrances on the streets. They assure me, there is room for growth even in a place with less source.. Life in the city, supposedly has more source. If only we didn't have to give up nature.

But it's possible to find smiles. I have a two pot basil garden. Farmer's market to sell me colorful, fresh and hopefully organic produce. Seaside to go for walks nearby. I have much more to be grateful for - but excuse me while I say farewell to spring, my favorite time of year.

Colorful Pasta For Spring Farewell

Very easy to make spaghetti for lunch or dinner. Or in my case, breakfast! Luckily I crave more reasonably, other times. Craving for anything I can't get due to late time, past midnight for example.

What makes this spaghetti special is visuality : colorful ingredients you include. Juicy red pepper, Cretan zucchini, peanuts why not and leftover broccoli. Prep and cooking, I fixed this meal in fifteen minutes I think. Ridiculously delicious for such short time spent. No excuses for having to eat unhealthy! Who's familiar with the lil green wraps tangled with spaghetti?

Taking a closer look on it, hint there...

I won't go for a usual recipe, but instead share my tip for cooking this pasta practically. Cravings don't wait.

- Preserve water : No need to fill the pot fully and let boil for pasta throw in. Depending on how much pasta you'll use, add water three -four fingers above them. Instead of dumping all that water down the drain in the end, you could add less at the beginning and if you did well with the measuring by senses... it'll be just enough, so there won't be any need for draining at all.

- Avoid sticky pasta: One tablespoon oil of choice into boiling water

- Save time: I wanted veggies with my pasta so at around fifth minute, added them into pot to cook together with pasta. Four more minutes to go. Actually, I'm not sure. I never do timing. Helpful eh? Yes, because in intuition I trust. You can always pinch a strand of spaghetti to check for how soft you need it.

- Use herbs, spices: Is there another way around? I can't think of a life without these.

Easy Peanut Honey Home Cake, Even For A First Timer!

My first cake here...

I love and use the baking method for food in general, but sweet/desserts are something else. Profession! Little by little I'm warming up. Baking a cake has been on my mind for a while now. Especially carrot cake with walnuts. Cheesecakes are so alluring. Oh cupcakes. But for these two I need extra equipment...

Happy Birthday Tangled Noodle!

Well, I baked a cake in an oven proof bowl. The batter raised twice its level. (I need cake mould!) I followed a recipe, which is way unusual. There are so many unbelievably amazing food ideas out there from all you foodies, and on websites we come together. But seriously, I'll pass the recipe if it is:

  1. * Too much work it's overwhelming
  2. * Not clearly described
  3. * Just recipe, but no personal note (There are tons of them, what makes yours stand out?)
  4. * Ingredients are location specific, no substitute ideas given (Evil! Some of them look so good...)
  5. * Not visually inviting
Don't get grr at me now, I know we all have our own way - or we're *on* our way to creating them.

those come to my naive mind. What's yours? Maybe we should point these out after all... to optimize our foodie experience, he he. Okay. Diversity is good.

What you need (in using order):

  • - 3 eggs,
  • - 2 cups (or 480 gram) sugar (but I used half of this, and added some honey instead),
  • - 0.6 cup vegetable oil,
  • - 1 cup (or 250 gram) yogurt,
  • - 1 pack baking powder,
  • - 1.3 cup (or 300 gram) flour,
  • - 1 pack vanilla extract.
My addition to the recipe:

  • - 200 gr (0.7 oz I think) peanuts
  • - 2 tablespoonful of comb honey
Instructions? What do you mean instructions! This is the part I fell in love with.

Pre-heat oven moderately (325F or 160/170 C)
In a deep bowl, all ingredients above get in order and meanwhile you constantly stir/ or ideally use a mixer. I did some labor there, no problem.

The cake mixture will be squishy and evenly consistent. It needs to be stirred/mixed so well. Especially if you use nuts, honey like me.

I just know the mommy rule about baking. Bake until the knife comes clean. Must be universal...

The result was so satisfying for a first time baker like me. It passed Mom test, too. The crust browned - and even cracked! (Sorry this was a miracle to me). Inside it was spongy, nicely baked. It smelled like peanut butter and home. It made me think that American people I know would go crazy for this cake. It's PB time!

Recipe above is so compatible, it went from basic spongy cake to peanut honey cake for me. I wrote it on a post-it, hung on the fridge with a magnet for later use. It's that life saving.


Miu murmur: At the time of writing this post, I munched on purslane & yogurt meze, green bean mom made, some whole wheat bread. 4 am.

Strong smell of plastic burn came inside my room from the street. But first, I got alarmed that it's in our house. Well, I blew up the kitchen once. I'm still wondering what caused that weird smell, now it's not as strong though... On that person't behalf I apologize your fresh breath of air is just ruined. I'm good at these, but rather call me a realist nut than pessimistic.

In the morning I'll check the litter container for the remains of some undercover's top secret documents.

I'm in a good mood actually, yesterday I went out with former university classmate and her friend. We had beer and chatted, while listening to this band live Those guys have a future. Sound better live for the note. What else...

Next post, I'll talk about appreciating my fellow foodies (hey Ann!) and also, my blog's makeover. Pss, notice the change already? Those reading via Google reader might have not yet, but take a look! I'm aiming a more spirited, more personalized look. Live up to its name. Cheers.

Credit: Gourmet Sleuth for measurement conversions.

May 18, 2009

Monday Mischief Smoothie

With Monday we associate a syndrome, new diet or just the beginning of a new week. This time, I choose mischief and bring it together with nutrition in a smoothie. Actually, this is just the result of my random experiment with unrelated looking (to me?) ingredients. Enjoy.

Checking out what raw edible stuff I got, here's what I came up with:

  • dried apricots
  • a banana
  • yogurt (do I ever run out of this...)
  • less than a glass of milk
  • a chocolate bar (mischief part)
  • comb honey

I could have some fruit yogurt, too. Still under the impression of the other smoothie I made, though. So, off into the food processor goes all ingredients above. Checking my spices and herbs; I include some cinnamon, flax seeds, fennel seeds and basil leaves for aroma & nutrition enhancement. There we go... After running the processor a couple rounds till everything inside is smooth enough, I add in the milk and it's ready. Flavorful smoothie that's good for the digestive system. Especially dried apricots, flax seed and fennel seeds being commonly known for it. Although the use of banana here is a regulator against a result that's uncalled for. Hmm next time, I'll leave fennel seeds out of it or maybe just add a small pinch... its pungent aroma was too much for my liking. Possibly it's better off roasted, used as a garnishing to meat dishes, for example. Or, potatos. Or tea! Back to the outcome:

I shall continue the smoothie experiments.

May 16, 2009

Fruity, Chill & Delicious... Wonder Breakfast!

PS: I made it to top 7 out of 1650 posts with this on Foodbuzz, I walked around with a huge smile on my face all day

The Turkish already have pretty healthy breakfast habit. You name it, we have it on table almost. However some days just call for another delicious alternative. Waking up not quite feeling awake, I decided to prepare something nutritious and visually inviting to kick start my day. It'd be fruity, chill and yummy. Smoothie, alright! I never made one before... who cares? Improvise.

Moving onto imagining what goes into a smoothie, strawberry flashes in my mind. Flavorful, energetic. Banana? High in fiber and potassium, be welcome. Turkish yogurt is not even questioned by this dedicated fan. Some milk too, sure. Tablespoonful of honey, suit yourself. I have a good feeling about this day already. A couple spinning in the food processor, my wonder breakfast is ready. I mean the nutrition part is taken care of. How about the visuality? Taking some extra time with it, I'm having a special breakfast. Slicing some strawberry, pouring smoothie into cup, top with few leaves of fresh basil for the pungent aroma.

Here's yours:

Weekend is here. What's for breakfast, foodies? ;-)

Note for Foodbuzz friends: I posted a poll about "X foodie sent you a post to view" messages coming to our inbox. I pulled the link for you, find it here.

May 13, 2009

My Secret About May 13th, Picnic By The Sea & Fresh Basil From Flower Festival

I've got two birthdays. I've never died and come back to life, not that I know of. But I've got my original birth date as May 1st, and May 13th on every official paper there is. Back when mom was pregnant to me, it was difficult obtaining maternity leave. Agreeing to her doctor's suggestion, I was registered 12 days later. That's my story which makes me feel funny every year. I don't intend to change it at all. It's my secret...
Picnic By The Sea
Yesterday I enjoyed such a nice day out with mom. I actually forced her to go out which she thanked me for later. I was envisioning having a small picnic by the seaside. So I made pasta with sausages and indulged them in yogurt & spice sauce. Just enough for two plastic containers. Pack. In another, some washed arugula and cherry tomatos. Pack. Ready to leave? Nope. Pocket size radio, some water and mint candy, all set.
Since we don't have as much as green I'd like here in city... I go to the sea then. Nature bits, the blocks of apartments couldn't eat up yet! Ha! :D

Fuzzy green tea mochi looking rocks during walk

A couple minutes later we're on our way to the seaside. Basically, walking to the coastline which is arranged as green areas to enjoy, walk, come with pets and exercise outdoors with installed equipments.

We walked up to a shady area and sat on the grass. There were few men trying to catch fish. One of them had this fishing rod with a jingle hooked on it. It kept distracting me. When they left, I captured a photo of my view from where I sat:

De-clutter your mind...

Feeling very hungry by now, we quickly finished eating our pasta. Since it was chilled, garlic let its pungent aroma merge well by then. Yummy!
Flower Festival

After contemplating the blue sea, green grass and sunny weather our flesh and bones enjoyed, it was time we'd start walking back home. Following the coastline, we came across a crowd of people and flowers in all colors. Right, it's time for flower festival in my province again!

Mom as she's examining flowers

Such vibrant colors... such liveliness... Reminding me there is beauty to appreciate. A lot of visual feeding!

Close up on floral feast

If you wanted to get them, they were dirt cheap too. For comparison, one of those flower pots above come for 0.50 to 1 in mine - which makes like 30 to 65 cents in US money. CENTS.

Basil smell is calming to me...

As much as I enjoyed the flowers though, I just laid my eyes on cactus and basil pots. Cactus dudes I love for being self sufficient which I associate with myself. Basil I appreciate for the mesmerizing smell - and I wanna eat it! Actually we mostly keep this herb for a little green and great odor in the house. All my childhood we did. But now, I'm so motivated to pick few leaves for pesto sauce :blush:

Plus, mom told me that it'd encourage my plant to grow better.

When I look it up online, I come across somewhat different basil plants with bigger leaves... From memories I know this plant I have will never grow that big leaves, only grow in volume with same leaf size.

Question here; does this look like the usual basil you use for cooking? Also, all basil use ideas welcome. If you cooked food with basil, would you link to me below to get familiar also? Next post I'll have a meal that uses my new metal steamer I previously mentioned and use some basil too! Though, steaming and basil don't have to come together.

P.S: Lastly... talk about lucky! As I was typing down this post, amazing pastry smell slowly surrounded me. To my surprise, mom secretly baked my favorite - I mentioned before... It's a twist to the Turkish pogaca by laying out the dough flat on the baking tray. You could see the original version by clicking this sentence for -> Midnight Craving For Pastry: "Turkish Pogaca" by me.

So comforting... This one has cheese, all melted inside

Oh by the way, if you're not yet familiar with the little black seeds sprinkled over the pastry... I suggest you visit this informative post by clicking this sentence for -> "Special Ingredients: Nigella" by LouAnn at Oyster Food & Culture

I'm off to enjoy this all time favorite pastry with some green tea now, and possibly go for a walk on the coastline again because all this talk made me miss it. Flower festival's still going on, and I planned to buy another pot of basil to gift.

How are you doing?

May 11, 2009

Let's Talk About Steaming

Among cooking methods I try to learn, steaming's been one of favorites for it's healthy and you save water and nutrition value of food, perfect. Though all the time I've never met a steamer. The steaming I tried to do seemed to work okay with veggies cut in big chunks, tablespoonful or two of olive oil and some water to evaporate. Tasty as food was, that steaming didn't really give me what I wanted. Veggies for instance would be more mushy as a result of the the water not evaporating as desired and I'd be left with some watery food. Not to mention having sprinkled my spices directly into water mistakingly beforehand which would result in almost bland veggies I'd spice up again afterwards. We don't like bland food... do we, Kim?

I got a metal steamer now (for 4 bucks!) - never owned or used it up until last summer when I noticed my then roommate did. Now that I have it, I can't wait to use it. Though I only know by intuition that you're supposed to add some water into the pot so it evaporates and steam cooks the food. So is that it? Doesn't it look much more complex than that!

I am craving for steamed broccoli like the one I had just recently... might as well go for it again. Flavorful goodie with no effort. Chop up some garlic. Squeeze some lemon and pour olive oil. Spice it up, there. Turkish yogurt too! Already drooling.

By the way, I thought I'd ask my foodie friends about the use of this steamer. I could use some inspiration, ideas, tips on all things steaming from you guys. Oh if anyone has both metal and bamboo steamer, I wonder if there is any difference in taste as well. Now that I think about it, I have more questions:

  • Dumplings on metal steamer?
  • Which veggies work better?
  • What else than veggies?
  • Use of olive oil, at all? Please?
  • What if I add some spices to the water for uhm... some spicy steam! No, the question is, when do the spices go in?
  • Any creative and easy to make sauce ideas to go with steamed veggies?
I go to bed craving for steamed broccoli now...

May 09, 2009

Visually Stimulating

strawberry bowl
A bowl full of freshly picked flavorful strawberries, in their best season to grow... Spring, I really like you.

May 05, 2009

23rd Birthday To Remember

I had a significant one this year - one that I will remember well later on. People I love all remembered me once again, feeling lucky for that... I've got messages, calls and surprises!
On my birthday morning, May 1st, mom and I went out for a breakfast together. Then we were caught in rain so we went back home instead of hanging out. For once I didn't plan anything as in how to celebrate this birthday and to be honest it felt alright. Then again as it was getting late, I thought I should go out do something nice. I dressed up and ventured out, took a bus went to the opposite coast. Hung out for two hours, ended up getting myself cheesecake instead of buying dinner cause the Chinese buffet has run out of business apparently. Yummy yummy. I did some people watching. It felt funny, as if I had a secret no passerby people knew. It's my birthday! I wanted to stop some people and let them know. I had all these thoughts about "how we perceive birthdays" on my way back to the bus. I am maturing nicely, I feel it. Everything gradually resolve to be just good if I put thinking into it. I've been having a lot of fruitful time to spare for thinking.
Back to my birthday,
Next day my sister and her boyfriend was visiting. I was so excited for that... and didn't know how to pass time so I spent hours cleaning & cooking beforehand. I made my first couscous! Thought I invented green bean chips also. Apparently not!
**Couscous with chicken and zucchini, carrot & yogurt meze, green bean chips!, Turkish pogaca oh yum
Food I made was gone in a matter of fifteen minutes haha. We quickly got prepared to go out after dinner.
So it was quite a night after dinner together, drinks at bar, Turkish tea & hookah at cafe and midnight snacking we did.
Next day I had such a sweet surprise from my boyfriend, red roses...
I'm still on cloud nine from all these!
Thank you all my foodie friends for celebrating me!

May 01, 2009

My 23rd Birthday: Where's the cake gone!

Today is my 23rd birthday, and I previously made a food related resolution that I'd bake my first "real" bread special to this day's morning. I woke up early, and making it happen didn't seem likely. I wanted to bake myself a birthday cake instead. Except that I wanted to jump to decoration without having to deal with cake prep. Now I'm just heading out to see what I can do, maybe cheat and buy a pre-made cake, dessert... anything sweet, chocolatey and nutty. Oh... Why not yet another "Oh, you didn't cake"?

Tomorrow my sister and her partner are visiting so we'll have a low-key (I guess?) family celebration then. Sun's almost going down so I'd better hurry up. Because I won't miss today.
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