Archive for August, 2012

August 21, 2012

Day 284

Lithuanian Kolduny

I whipped out my Old Polish Traditions cookbook and found this recipe for Lithuanian meat dumplings. Don’t ask me how a Lithuanian recipe wound up in a Polish cookbook. In the heavily ethnic mining town of my roots, implying that the two clans are interchangeable wouldn’t be taken kindly by either. Anyway, kolduny, pierogi, ravioli—seems it’s the same concept, different filling. The filling in these is supposed to be diced sirloin, kidney suet, grated onion, marjoram, salt and pepper.

I know what you’re thinking: Kidney suet? Wow, she’s really gotten brave. Didn’t happen, though. Not sure if you can find kidney suet around here, and I didn’t really want to find out. Good ol’ ground beef is a perfectly acceptable substitute for a sirloin/suet combination. At least I think so.

Since the recipes in this book are rather old-timey, I had to employ math (10 ounces of flour?) and reasoning (1 to 2 eggs? Which is it, 1 or 2? Geesh), a couple of skills that have grown rather dusty on my mental shelves. But these turned out all right. Even if they are Lithuanian.

August 20, 2012

Day 283

Coca-Leaf Tea

Wikipedia — which is most definitely never wrong about anything — claims selling coca tea is illegal in the U.S. unless it has been decocainized (is that even a word?), kinda like decaffeinated coffee. But I take my mate de coca straight, thank you very much. So I hooked up with a connection who gets it right from the motherland, Peru. Wasn’t very hard, since she’s right across the office. One of these teabags appeared on my desk during a particularly vocal stretch of mid-afternoon crabbiness. Tastes like run-of-the-mill tea, but with a kick — like a more mellow coffee buzz. Glad it’s not readily available, though. All I need is another monkey on my already crowded back.

August 19, 2012

Day 282

French Onion Soup

How did I live (almost) 40 years without this in my life? So, so good. Used Julia’s recipe, of course.

August 18, 2012

Day 281

Guava Jelly

Seems I couldn’t find anything I needed on a recent trip to the grocery store. Couldn’t find cotija cheese, couldn’t find the right kind of sausage, couldn’t find chaat masala (Bittman claims it’s not a problem if you don’t have chaat masala … just mix some up yourself with always easy to find amchoor and asafetida. Super helpful, Bittman.) Anyway, as I was grumbling around the store I came across canned octopus (we know how that turned out) and this little jar of guava jelly.

First I tried it with my old standby, the PB & J. But that didn’t count, since the PB completely overwhelmed the J. So I went with Plan B: a guava glaze on some pork. I used this recipe (just the glaze part, and I substituted lemon juice for orange juice). Since the end result was destined to be sweet meat, I was sure the whole thing would end badly. But it was surprisingly ungross. Could have used a kick of spice, though — which it would have had, if I had followed the entire recipe.

August 17, 2012

Day 280


This is an Eastern European thing, but I had never run across it before. It’s roasted buckwheat particals that are cooked like rice. (I just followed the directions on the Wolff’s brand package — chicken broth, butter, salt.) Excellent stuff. Like Quinoa for the babushka set.

August 16, 2012

Day 279

Octopus (Canned)

Don’t be fooled by the sketch’s friendly smile. I’ve officially experienced a new Picky Niki low. The smell, for one, was horrific. I had to put on the fan, scrub all the offending dishes right off and light a girly candle. Still lingered like a bad dream. And the texture, good lord. Not exactly chewy; not exactly rubbery. Chubbery? I was warned against trying this “delicacy” from a can, but this website made it sound so benign. It’s totally not.

August 15, 2012

Day 278

Anchovy on a Shingle

According to my workmate Kelly, eating puréed anchovies cloaked in Puttanesca sauce (Day 169) doesn’t count as an official anchovy taste. Apparently I have to pluck one right out of an oily can, slap it on a cracker and ingest. She brought me the can — as I’ve said, my coworkers are currently  torturing me with canned seafood — and then, to ensure my participation, procured another sleeve of Ritz crackers. Fine. I ate it, even though it looked like a worm curled up on that cracker, only with bones sticking out everywhere. And a worm on a cracker would probably smell better. But, again, it really wasn’t all that bad. Just another salty mess in need of love and understanding.

August 14, 2012

Day 277


Sure, there was no real reason to sample yet another preservative-heavy slice of lunch box Americana. But I really wanted a chance to draw this retro-licious packaging. And to share this poorly recorded moment in Simpsons history. But other than checking those two items off my bucket list, it was a pretty dreadful experience. Think stale, room-temperature s’more. And I don’t even like the fresh, hot ones.

August 13, 2012

Day 276


Or Tlayuda. Bittman calls it “clayuda” in How to Cook Everything and “tlayuda with black bean purée” in his online column, so I don’t know what to tell you. Long story short, it’s Mexican pizza. And it’s very, very delicious. (I don’t think I’ve ever said that before about anything with “purée” in the title.) I couldn’t find chorizo, so I used chourico, a Portuguese sausage — they both start with a “ch,” anyway. The only thing that threw me a little was the cabbage on top. It was good … just unexpected.

August 12, 2012

Day 275

Treacle Tart

I bid the London Games — and British food — a fond farewell tonight with treacle tart. I figured it was doomed to fail, since “treacly” has entered the language as a synonym for outrageously sweet. And I most definitely do not have a sweet tooth. I prefer my food to match my personality: bitter and salty. But, anyway, the recipe I used really cut the sweet with a good dose of lemon. So it was okay.