Category Archives: Experiments

Backyard veggies

What we’ve been working on this summer, from day 1…

…to today:

and a strawberry-close-up:

Besides the berries we also have tomatoes (two kinds), herbs (four), peppers, cucumbers, and squash. ┬áThe cilantro is going crazy and blooming dill-like leaves and flowers and a couple of peppers have already been destroyed by local varmints (bugs? squirrels?) but everything else is coming along well. ┬áHope for a harvest before we get the first frost…

The new style here

What do you think? The photo up top is one I took a couple years back at the best gelato place I can think of anywhere (and you could say I’ve done my share of research…) — Capogiro in Philadelphia. Now that I’ve found that my work computer (though not my home computer) will allow me to upload new photos for this template, I might just stick with it and vary the pics once in a while. Oh the foods you will see!

What we’ve been eating…

… in the last few busy weeks.

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First of all, a meal lovingly prepared by Auntie N and her sister S when we visited them in New Hampshire a couple of weeks back when little L was in town. (Except she’s not so little now, still working at not growing taller than me!) You can see the zucchini, potatoes, and fish which were all featured at dinner that night. On Sunday I tried an experiment involving fresh figs (brought in by cousin T), ham sliced straight from the hock, and a drizzle of olive oil. My family wanted to replicate a dish we had tried the night before at the restaurant where cousin A works. I toothpicked the ham to the fig and gathered the bundles together on a roasting pan and cooked until the meat was browning and the fruits were leaking juice. And it worked! I mean, as far as experiments go this wasn’t novel, but for me it was. Next time I get my hands on figs I’ll do it again. Mmmm.

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As the next weekend started– nearly coinciding with our 5th wedding anniversary– we were lucky enough to go to a Red Sox game. Not only that, but we had tickets (notice I didn’t say seats) on The Green Monster (thank you, thank you, to future lawyer B and her man K). We went with those crazy guys who post the big red Ks whenever Daisuke Matsuzaka is pitching so red-painted faces (and in one case, a whole bald head) made our group stand out. And at least two guys (yes, it was mostly guys in our band of 9) risked the giant monster dogs, pictured here with the evidence of the loooong rain delay in the background. But we waited it out for two hours and then watched most of the game– too bad we had to leave to catch the last train home.

Mr. Food and I got up (late) the next morning to head west for K and T’s wedding (at last!) which was in Washington, Mass. last weekend. Lunch on anniversary day was at my favorite restaurant in Amherst where we gulped down their fish tacos and funky aguas frescas (one melon and one jamaica). Next stop, milkshakes (err, I mean, frappes!) in Huntington — we stopped at the Country Store here ostensibly for directions but came away with a refreshing mint chocolate drink made thoughtfully to be “straw-able” the best way I could describe what we wanted when the kind scooper asked how she could make it for us. Sorry no photos here, we drank it before I could think to photograph…

And then the wedding– we didn’t get a picture of the cake, there really wasn’t a standard one anyway– dessert was chocolate cake or strawberry shortcake (biscuit-style!!!) or other things I can’t right now remember. The important part is that the weekend was lovely; so thanks to the newly married couple still honeymooning in Iceland and congratulations from all of us (yes, the cats too, they remember you).

How long does it take a Popsicle to melt?

Answer: More than 20 minutes.

But who would keep a Popsicle around that long? I’m probably the only one– but only in the name of science…

I was curious about the new Popsicles that are supposed to melt slower than the classic varieties. Do they really last longer? So, I bought a box of each and put them to the test.

Time: Last night, 8:53 to 9:13 pm, Eastern time.
Location: My stovetop. Stove was not on nor had it been for at least an hour.
Ambient temperature: 75 degrees (F).
Windspeed: Negligible.
The players: In one corner, Slow Melt Cherry (the favorite) and in the other, Classic Grape (the contender).

Event time-line: The pops were each lowered carefully into a juice glass and photographed at minute zero (and every two minutes for the duration). Within the first minute, each had begun to melt at the contact points with the glass. If anything the “slow melter” was quicker at the melting. At any rate, it melted differently. For this cherry pop, the melting resulted in a slushy, not-quite-liquid, residue while the grape pop melted as expected, directly into a purple puddle. By minute 14 (pictured above), the pops had each melted more, but not enough to call off the experiment just yet. I persevered. At minute 20 they had both melted about the same amount of liquid/slush, that is to say about a half a teaspoon. The experiment ended here and the taste-test began. At this point Grape Contender was more al dente than Cherry Front-Runner which was actually quite softened (though I should mention, easier to eat because of it).

So, what have we learned? It’s not worth the extra 70 cents to buy the slow melters, unless of course you prefer those flavors and/or you like your pops with less of a bite. But, let’s remember we’re talking about ice pops here and you can’t go too far wrong, people! These suckers (haha) are tasty. But tonight I didn’t wait 20 minutes to eat mine. I’m not wasting any more time on these, I’ve got a few dozen burning a hole in my freezer.

(Now I need another experiment. Any ideas?)

Tea theme a-brewing…

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I know I have been writing a lot about tea recently, but just one last one, all right?

This is the best find from my trip to Whittard’s last week with N… a Teaposy bundle of tea that blooms into a flower when given the chance. Glass teapot necessary. Glad we had a couple on hand. This one was called, I believe, the Lady Fairy and was scented with lily (a new tea fragrance for me) and jasmine. So it was not only fun to watch but tasty to drink too. But at this price, when will we get another?

The cheesecake-atorial

This afternoon the girls came over for a cheesecake lesson and some good Chinese takeout. L, N, and V arrived with food from the Chilli Garden in Medford Square. I always get the cold noodles– they are topped with garlic and enough spicy things to make your mouth (and lips) burn long after the fact. But, delicious.

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Then, the cheesecake lesson! In months past I have taught these three how to make vegetable soup, spinach quiche, and, most recently, a quinoa dish with Rice Krispie treats for dessert. All but the last were sadly undocumented events and will never be shown publicly (perhaps the quinoa will show its face, though!). Due to time constraints and my perpetual difficulty in getting a large-sized cheesecake sealed entirely against the water that surrounds its baking tin, we tried making mini cakes in muffin tins. And you know, it worked! While L greased up the tins (without this, the little cakes would never have slipped out so easily!), N and V ganged up on the crust. All patted crust into the tins and baked for less than ten minutes… then the filling was paddled into creaminess in the stand mixer: cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla, and zest from one blood orange. V seems to have a weakness for kitchen power tools (while L enjoys a good hollow-ground, Asian-style knife) so she primarily handled both the pulverizing of the crust and the beating of the filling. Everyone pitched in to fill the tins with batter and we baked the little tasties for 27 minutes at 325-degrees. They cooled down quickly in the refrigerator and were eaten– topped with fresh berries– within an hour of emerging from the oven. Experiment worked! What should we cook next month, ladies?

11 eggs. 6 colors. Snacks for a whole week.

The smell of vinegar always reminds me of Eastertime, sitting around Grandma’s old kitchen table dunking hard-cooked eggs into little plastic cups filled with bright colors. This year, I’ve got apple cider vinegar on hand (am I supposed to use the white only? I’ll find out). We don’t have a dozen eggs, I think someone (Mr. Food!) must have eaten one since we bought them but that’s ok. It’s only me dyeing them anyway, on the counter top next to the stove. Mr. Food asks “are they still edible?” He’s not interested in the dyeing, only the eating.

First, the color tabs go in the vinegar. They fizzle just like old times.

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In goes the water, and then, the eggs. Then we go out for a while leaving them there, sealed against any possible feline attacks.

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We return and I pull five bright eggs from the little Mason jars. Another five go in. The eleventh is in the yellow and I think it needs longer in the bath.

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Now we have lunchtime snacks to last a while… Mr. Food already has his eye on one of the red ones. Onto Easter!