Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Apple a Day....

The period of time between summer and winter is clearly dictated by one thing: apple season. No, no, not fall. Because fall is all pumpkins and corn and turkeys and so forth. Apples have their own season. They are too delicious not to. I had bought a tote of apples to kick off the season...didn't really know what I wanted to do with them but c'mon, I couldn't just leave the store without them! It would be cruel!

Then, a couple of days ago, I was giving away a free sample of my Vegan Triple Chocolate Ice Cream and received a bag of organic apples in return. Hello!? Awesome! With two totes of apples in my fridge, I clearly needed a plan. Obviously pie had to happen, but what the heck else could I do? It is that dilemma that inspired this entry. Four absolutely fantastic things to do with apples. I'm not saying they are the best things, just some recipes that make me wish that apple season was year 'round. (Yes, I know I can buy apples anytime, but you can only go local apple picking in apple season, duh!)

Apple Pie
For this you need a killer crust recipe. I never follow a recipe for the guts of the pie because honestly? As long as you have apples, sugar, and cinnamon you're pretty much set. Sometimes I throw in some ginger or allspice or nutmeg. Maybe put some butter under the crust or try my grandma's new trick: marichino cherries. The point is, if the vessel (aka the crust) is nasty, no one really cares about what is inside.

2 1/4 c. AP flour
2/3 c. shortening
8-10 T. water
1/2 t. salt

Combine the dry ingredients, cut the shortening into the flour, add water. Roll on generously floured surface. Makes top and bottom crust.

Quite simple, but it melts my heart every time. No joke.

Apple Cider Jelly
Alright, so this one will be more difficult to make if you don't press your own cider (I mean really, why don't you? Geez). My grandmother used to always have homemade cider kicking around so this jelly was a regular part of my existence. You can go by some cider at the store if you must, but make sure it's real apple cider and not just apple juice.

Waldorf Salad
Alright, not everyone is a salad nut, but this one is really to die for. We sell one at Whole Foods that has wheat berry in it (the little kernels of wheat) and it is phenomenal. Waldorf salad traditionally consists of apple, walnuts, celery, and dried fruit. It can have either a creamy or vinagraitte dressing, and is great over salad, grains like wheat berry or farro, or just by itself.

Caramel Apples
After you enjoy a beautiful, healthy salad, why not indulge? Or...why not skip the salad and go right for the best part of any meal.......dessert ;) They actually make sheets of caramel now that you just wrap around the apple and bake until it melts. I call that cheating, personally. Heat up a sauce pot of 2c. sugar mixed with a few tablespoons of sugar (you want it to be the consistency of sand) and use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to brush the sugar crystals from the sides of the pot. Continue to cook (DO NOT STIR OR TOUCH THE SUGAR!) until it starts to change color. Once it is a deep..you guessed it...caramel color, turn off the heat and immediately throw in a few tablespoons of butter. NOW you can stir! Once the butter is incorporated, dip in your beautiful washed apples (make sure you use a utinsil and don't burn your hands! Caramel is hotter than boiling water! Place them on some parchment to cool and enjoy once the caramel has hardened completely.

What are some of your favorite apple recipes?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Katamari Never.

Wow. So I was quite excited for the new Katamari game Katamari Forever, so you can only imagine the heartbreak when I played the demo for the first time today. I was quite pleased that I could switch from the Tiny Prince to any of the other little guys from We <3 Katamari (I always play as the one who looks like a strawberry ^_^) , and that the noises were still the same. Then I was perplexed...where the hell do I go? How do I actually play the game? Well, apparently you are supposed to go up and select the RoboKing...which brings you to a swirly world of doom. Again...wtf do I do? How do I play? So I went up to the question mark above me where I am thrown into a room with my Katamari and told to do my thing. No mention of how big I need to get, what to collect, anything. They refreshed me on what the controls were, but still didn't really help much because the only thing I wanted to know (how the hell I pan out) is no longer a function.

I love the look. The cell-shaded levels are so beautiful. But holy shit, the camera angles are like mental rape, and I literally have to quick-turn every three seconds to do anything. I decided to do the rehydration level next. Basically, you roll around the level, watering the barren wasteland you were forced into. Cool idea, right? I totally agree...it's a new concept that steers clear of the repetitive nature found in the other Katamari games. What's my problem then? Well, I'll tell you. The screen is so effing cramped that you get lost. SO lost, mind you, that there is no way for you to figure out how to get back to the watering hole without spinning in circles a couple times first. AND since they neglected to include the pan-out control, there is no way to zoom out and see where the hell you are in relation to your goal. Screw that. It's like being given a loaf of bread and being asked to make cheese.

My hope is that since it is a mere demo, Namco gets their shit together and makes this game less stressful and more enjoyable. If not, I will be sticking to my loving Katamari Damacy and treat all the others like the Star Wars prequels....I swear they haven't happened yet.

Friday, September 11, 2009


This is not about video games, food, or technology. If you read this blog for those themes only, you should probably stop here. At this sentence. Or this one.....are you still reading?

I don't really remember where I was at the exact time. I remember that I had been in Math class before the lunch period in eighth grade...I only know this because I wondered why they didn't turn on the television we had in there. I was at lunch, basically being an eighth grade girl, when my mom entered the cafeteria. She sat down at the table, hugged me, and told me that the of the Twin Towers had fallen. I didn't really know what she meant, I had no idea what the World Trade Center was, what it meant, and why they would just fall. She explained to the other girls at my table and I that two planes had flown into the buildings, and that I would be going home for the rest of the day.

On the car ride to her work, we listened to more reports of the Towers, the Pentagon, and the plane in Pennsylvania. Once there, I watched the news and saw for myself what had happened. I still distinctly remember seeing a man jump from the window of one of the buildings, and wondering why the hell they would show that on television. Until that day, I didn't really have any sense of Patriotism. Outside of Girl Scouts and the Pledge of Allegiance, I was pretty in the dark about country, loyalty, and community. My best friend at the time and I began a fundraiser for the Widows and Children of Lost Firefighters Fund at our school. We decorated a jar for students and teachers to put money in at the end of the lunch line, and raised over a hundred dollars. Sure, that may not sound like much, but the school only let us do it for two weeks, and I wouldn't say that's half bad for a couple of middle schoolers.

Everyone was connected for awhile. Everyone remembered the importance of helping each other, and that in the end we are all Americans. Freedom. Woohoo. But after a couple of years? It kind of died down. People didn't "forget" per se...but it seemed that they neglected to remember. I agree that Patriotism isn't something that should only be displayed once a year...but it is still something I think that people should make note of.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

idk my bff Pey'J?

Saturday night, for the first time in...well, quite awhile, I meandered over to the stack of video games, picked one, and began playing. I knew nothing about this game except that it was called Beyond Good and Evil and that it's for the PS2. I probably would not have played it if Jake hadn't recently purchased a wireless control for the console. Not because I'm some gaming snob, but simply because the wired control doesn't reach the couch. And sitting on the hardwood floor isn't exactly the way to start a new game...a sore ass will inevitably alter the initial opinion of the video game.

With that said, I don't really know if I like the game so far. I don't like how backwards the controls are when taking a picture with the camera...makes it take just that much longer to focus. I also think that the amount of dialog would be fine if it were even remotely interesting. Overall, it's a pretty basic game...x is attack and action and o is eat, heal, fix, etc. It is pretty simple, which is appealing in some ways but also pretty boring in others. Maybe I have yet to find the deep meaning behind this game, but so far I don't really even understand what's going on or what my purpose is. I know I'm supposed to take pictures of Earth worms....but why? What does this have to do with the whole "war" theme? Why is my BFF a pig-man with jet boots?

Then there's the faerie who randomly talks to me, and is annoying as shit. The Latin nerd in me likes that he calls her "Yade" instead of "Jade," but I'm pretty sure that the reasoning has nothing to do with the pronounciations of Ancient Rome. I think that the game has me curious enough that I may finish it. I have also heard that it's an incredibly short game, so hopefully I only have a few more days playing it. I feel like a failure to the gaming world because I generally dislike a lot of the games that are said to be "amazing." My bad.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bring Bartering Back

Sometimes (mostly around the time the bills are due..) I wish that we didn't have to use money to pay for things. I wish I had lived in a time where people would trade their goods for the things that they needed. For example, some guy gives me fuel to burn in my apartment, and I give him a sheep that I raised...because obviously he could use the sheep in many different capacities (clothes, food, milk, etc) and we both leave happily. It would keep people semi-productive, for they'd HAVE to develop an important skill or talent in order to live. You set my broken leg? I give you a pie every week for a year! Sounds great to me.

Which is why when I heard that Chris from work had beautiful vegetables growing in his garden, I simply HAD to work out a trade with him. Obviously I wouldn't be able to pay him in plastic money, so I would have to be a bit more creative...pie. Who doesn't love pie? I mean, really. I proposed the trade to him, and he excitedly accepted. That Sunday, we traded an apple pie for this beautiful bounty:

(left-right: squash, green beans, Swiss chard, hot pepper, heirloom tomato, green heirlooms, arugula)Not to mention the hefty amount of herbs I was given as well! Fresh mint, basil, thyme, chives, and green onions a-pleanty! I obviously want to make this all last as long as I possible can, but you can't fault me for being tempted by the lusciousness of this produce.

First on the menu?

Sauteed Squash & Green Tomato Sandwich with Garlic-Dill Cheese Sauce

2 slices potato bread - toasted
1/2 c. chopped fresh squash
2T green onion - chiffonade
3T butter
1 large green heirloom tomato - sliced & seasoned
1/8 c. milk
1/2 oz. Cabot Garlic & Dill Cheese

Sautee the squash in 1 T of butter. Once squash begins to caramelize, add green onion and season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same frying pan, add the remaining butter, milk, and cheese. stir constantly on low heat to keep the milk from scorching. Heat until cheese is fully melted. Place the tomato slices on the toast, followed by the sauteed squash, and topped with the cheese sauce. Voila! Deliciousness. The tomatoes have a nice crunch to them that offsets the warm, softness of the squash and cheese.