Friday, July 31, 2009

Funky Food: Gooseberries

Funky Food #1: Gooseberries

Should you try them?
Yes! at least ask to try one.

Where to find them:
Farmer's Markets

Where I work, we sell and sample a
lot of fruit. Our most popular sample item is the gooseberry. Gooseberries are "sweet-tart berries." As a fruit they are sort of like a mix of a grape and a kiwi; they have the size, texture, and skin of a grape, but the small negligible seeds, hair, and tang of the kiwi. The tastes are somewhere in between.

They are without a doubt, an acquired taste. Some people find them too sour. Like most fruits, gooseberries get sweeter as they ripen, but the line between sweet and ripe to sweet and alcoholic is pretty slim. While there are a lot of different gooseberry varieties, the most common difference, from what I've seen, is green versus red.

Usually higher sugar and higher acidity than green, darkens in its color as it ripens. Best for eating, jams, or baking. My favorite summer snack food.

These go from a bright, yellow-green to a more translucent and darker skin as it ripens. A much milder berry than the red ones. The green gooseberries are the most commonly found variety. Great for things like gooseberry fool.

So, go find them! Gooseberries are only in season for a little bit more (sorry, this is late)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Basic Microwave Pasta

Whenever there was a sale for pasta, my family and I would be there. We were the crazy group of people who just slid shelves of boxes into our three carts and layered them into our trunks until we had a solid pasta wall. My basement had a room dedicated almost entirely to pasta, where I would build forts out of the blue boxes. This is the simplified microwave version of one of my family's favorite pasta dishes.

Cooking the Pasta To cook pasta in the microwave you will need a decently large microwaveable bowl; Pyrex is great. If you do not have a microwaveable bowl (and trust me don't use a non-microwaveable bowl, it has the potential to explode, brief science explanation at end*) then go shopping at the two best stores in the world: The Goodwill and The Salvation Army.
Pour about half a pound (half the box) of pasta into your bowl and fill it with water (with enough room to move it in and out of the microwave without sloshing). Microwave on High for 5 minutes; take out, stir, repeat. If after 10 minutes, the noodles are still too firm, let them sit for about 3 minutes and check again. If still too firm then cook for a minute and check again. But a caveat! Do NOT put them in for another 5 minutes, once noodles start to cook they can overcook really easily. Drain pasta. This cooking is based on info from The Essential Microwave Handbook by Carol Bowen.

-Making the Sauce Open a can of dice tomatoes and dump them on the pasta. Add to taste garlic/garlic powder, diced onion/onion powder, fresh/dried parsley, basil, oregano. I usually add about a tablespoon each of the garlic and onion powder, a tablespoon of the parsley, and half a tablespoon of each the basil and oregano. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Mix the pasta and sauce, then drizzle in olive oil. Serve and top with Parmesan cheese, you know, or Parmigiano, depends on how fancy you're feeling.

Omnom, for real, it's pretty good.

*So, science. Microwaves work by heating up water molecules within things. If you have a dish with a lot of water in it, then it will heat up often leaving your food room temperature-ish. These are not microwaveable dishes. If you microwave one for too long in the microwave at too high a heat, then the water molecules become overly excited and the dish breaks. Yay for science!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Instant Coffee Day!

Well, it is National Instant Coffee Day today; cool in its own right, but also a great reason to make iced coffee. Instant coffee is great for college (and high school) life because, hey, it's instant, but also relatively cheap.

Instant coffee gets a bad rap often because of its taste. But, instant coffee can taste really great as long as you keep fresh. This can be easily achieved by putting your coffee in the freezer. Actually even if you don't have instant coffee, I would advise putting it in the freezer.
Alright, so good instant coffee, here's how.

- 1 cup of boiling water
, which is about the volume of the average coffee cup. I get this from my electric kettle which is amazing. But you can also boil water in your microwave. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes. Take time out sometime to figure out how long it takes your microwave to boil water, as this knowledge will come in handy with a lot of microwave living.

- 1.5 tablespoons of instant coffee. I have always used Nescafe. I went to Europe, most people I met used it there. Decaf, regular, your call, both have good, consistent flavor.

- Mix your boiling water and instant coffee together, thoroughly, otherwise you get instant coffee flakes and those are VILE.

Now, you can add any number of things to coffee. Some people sugar, others milk, or cream. And of course others might like their coffee black.

*Note on the sugar: try adding a little bit of cinnamon instead of sugar to your coffee next time. Cinnamon will take on a really sweet note in coffee and add a completely new dynamic.

**Note on the cream: cream and coffee are not a winning combination without reason. Scientifically, bitter (coffee) and fat (cream) will almost always taste wonderful.

- Pour it all over ice. omnomnom? it really doesn't work here. Anyway, enjoy!

Oh, also, how cool is this! I would love to drink coffee like that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mini and Micro, now on Facebook

Hey, guys.

So, I am experimenting with publicity and the like and so have decided to create a Facebook page for The MiniFridge and Microwave which can be found here. Please, tell me what you think of the idea and whether or not it would help you keep up with entries and the like.

I've been getting a really steady increase of followers, and I was wondering how in the world are you finding this blog? If you could tell me how that would be wonderful!

Other than that, thank you so much for trusting in this blog, even with its so far 3 posts. I really appreciate your support and your comments.

~The MiniFridge and Microwave

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tofu (and my issue with some haters)

Tofu is one of those foods which has a ...reputation. I understand that not all people like it (Paula Dean, for example, on Wait, wait), however, I cannot understand why some people degrade it and have not even tried it.

I cannot even count the number of times I have had this conversation:

Friend: What are you eating?
Me: Tofu!
Friend: EW! Oh my gosh! How can you eat that? That is the grossest food ever!
Me: You must have had really bad tofu. What dish was it?
Friend: What? Oh, I've never tried it.

How frustrating!
So, please, those of you who are constantly making faces at it, just try it. You don't have to like it afterward. However, if you do happen to fall head over heels for bean curd whether silky or firm, a lot of doors for simple, cheap, filling, nutritious, and yummy meals open up to you.

The following dish is great, especially if you are stuck somewhere without air conditioning or it is just plain hot. My dad used to make it for me all the time. So, without further ado: Chinese Summer Tofu.

1) Cut the tofu into slices and put on a plate. What kind of tofu you get depends on personal preference: As the firmness of the tofu increases, the soy taste increases, and the nutritional value increases. i.e. extra firm tofu is
the healthiest, while silky is just nice. I would recommend getting tofu in water, because it stays more flavorful
that way.

2) Pour (or drizzle, once again, depending on taste) soy sauce and sesame oil on top of the tofu. If you don't
want to go out and buy huge bottles, you can usually find soy sauce and sesame oil packets with Chinese take-out
or store-bought sushi.

3)Throw chopped green onions, sesame seeds, and pickled radish on top of the tofu. The pickled radish I
used was gardenia pickled radish. This is an ingredient you can find in a lot of Chinese stores. While not crucial,
the radish really adds dynamic to the dish by being sweet, tangy, and crunchy.

4) Omnomnom (I think that might become a sort of tradition)

If you don't have access to green onions, sesame seeds, or pickled radish, fear not.
This dish is great with just soy sauce and
sesame oil, or with soy sauce, sesame oil, and some sprinkled sugar.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Grilled Cheese! With an Iron!

Whether one is a gourmet or ragtag taster, I cannot think of a reason why one would not like grilled cheese; Crunchy, buttery outside, lightly gold and shimmering, while the inside pools with melted cheese, perfectly salty. My friends can tell you that I LOVE grilled cheese and went through a phase/am going through a phase of trying a new recipe almost daily. It's a recent fascination, sparked when I discovered the GCI, or the infamous Grilled Cheese Invitational.

Anyway, based on recipes I've found from GCI champions (
Hot Knives? Coolest kids ever in the world of grilled cheese, not to mention food), the web, and general experimentation, I should have a pretty regular update of new grilled cheeses to try in your dorm. So, following, are the basic instructions.

Get two slices of bread and two slices of cheese, American is, of course, the classic option here.
  • Note on the bread: I used a Light variety by Pepperidge Farm, moral of the story? DON'T USE LIGHT BREAD! Seriously, it's too flimsy. If it happens to get stuck to the foil it will just fall apart. You may have noticed the gaping hole in the bread of my picture. It got stuck to the foil and proved to contain no structural integrity, regardless of how much extra fiber it claims to have.
Next, butter the outside face of each slice of bread. I had a picture showing this, but I trust you to understand. =)

Now, to cook a grilled cheese with an iron you need: an Iron, a piece of Aluminum Foil (large enough to wrap around your sandwich), a towel folded at least twice, and a text book (
Introduction to the Practice of Statistics ftw).

Wrap your sandwich in the foil and stack all items as shown. Your iron should be set to the highest level. Apply the iron on one side of the sandwich packet for about 30-40 seconds, then flip the packet and iron that side for 30-40 seconds.

Turn the iron off, open the foil, and Voila! Una belleza grilled cheese =).

Oh, right! Now, Onomnom.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Infamous Microwavable Chocolate Cake

As I am going off to college there is, of course, one question on my mother's mind: How will a dorm-bound child make fresh chocolate cake?! As luck would have it, she received this recipe in an e-mail. Now, I've tried to find out the source, however, this recipe is all over the internet (as in rampant). So, I'll credit tndaisy1960.

The cake is really good, warm, gooey (which I think most chocolate baked good should be), and wonderfully simple. To note, the original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of sugar, but I always cut down sugar. Also, for most of the recipes cited on this site, I'll try to keep ingredients simple and few. The "complexity" of this recipe is definitely greater than what I'll normally do. Anyway, here it is, the 5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake.

Put all the dry ingredients in your mug and mix.

Put all the wet ingredients in your mug and mix.

Next, add your 'small splash of vanilla extract' and chocolate chips and mix. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons, but what is a chocolate cake without much more chocolate than called for (I used probably 5 tablespoons...)

Now, take your concoction and stick it in your microwave at 1000 watts for 3 minutes.

Lastly, but surely not, delight in your delectable treat, or as my friend would say OMNOMNOM it.