Happy New Year – With Butter!

Eye-roll warning – Below is way too much modern city-person excitement about discovering a process that’s been known to this world for thousands of years and probably a number of young students who have done cooler science experiments in class than I did.

You guys – I made BUTTER!

I made some whipped cream for the New Year’s Eve party that I attended, and while I was there one of the guests asked if I had ever let the cream whip too far and accidentally made butter. And I was all like, SHUT UP I CAN MAKE MY OWN BUTTER JUST BY WHIPPING CREAM FOR TOO LONG!?

This was happening. But, you know, after lots of caipirinhas and ringing in the new year.

Fireworks

Happy New Year, 2013! Photo by bayasaa on Flickr (CC-BY)

The next morning:

I had a half pint of heavy cream left over so I threw it in the Kitchen Aid mixer and set that puppy to eight and waited eagerly for sticks of butter to arrive.

And waited.

And waited.

After about seven minutes I had thick whipped cream, but it wasn’t until the fifteen minute mark that I started hearing slurping, splashing noises from the bowl. After about another minute I had this:

Fresh Butter

Fresh butter caught in the whisk and buttermilk left in the bottom of the bowl.

I pulled out the butter from the whisk and strained the buttermilk. All of the butter went into a bowl and then I smooshed as much liquid as I could from it with the back of a spoon. Then I transferred the butter onto some wax paper and made a butter stick…err…roll:

IMAG1064

Mmmm…agitated fat globules.

Of course, then I needed something on which to try out my new butter, so I made pancakes (gluten-free).

Pancakes with Butter

Butter on cherry pancakes.

Oh, and then I used the buttermilk in some alfredo sauce that night.

Yum.

And because I read a lot of time travel books, one of my thoughts during this process was how I’m now totally set for work if I ever accidentally get transported back in time (I assume that most of my science know-how will be a bust because if I start talking about little tiny bugs that make us sick, or other up to 21st century science, I’ll get burned as a witch or locked in an asylum). I’m going to be the butter QUEEN! But I’ll have to figure out how to harness electricity and invent a Kitchen Aid first because that churning crap looks like way too much work.

Gangland Turkey Killing

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate the holiday! I have a few odds and ends for today’s post, and then I’m getting back to the party!

Things are all a-flurry in the Bilyeu-Hubby family households. Over the past two days I have made gluten-free mincemeat pie, Mom’s made cranberry sauce, many board games have been played, and much 12-year Glenlivet has been drunkified.

I’m hosting Atheists Talk on Sunday. You can listen live at 9am CST when we interview Dr. Ivan R. Schwab about his new book Evolution’s Witness: How Eyes Evolved.  I can already tell this interview is going to be a blast; in 2006 Dr. Schwab won an Ig Nobel award in ornithology and he wore a giant, red woodpecker hat for his acceptance speech! Silly + Science Talk sounds like a good reason to wake up early on a Sunday to me! If you listen live, remember that you can always call or email us with questions during the show. We love that. Doooo eeet!

Here’s a little holiday-themed stupidness that my brain did when I was glancing at the newspaper yesterday:

Of course, the image is associated with the article beneath it, but at first glance I thought Thanskgiving had gotten really weird this year. Considering the seriousness of the first story, I have to say that’s some odd article formatting, Star Tribune.

Here are links to the first, very not-funny story about a gang feud in St. Paul, and to the second story about the weird not-really-a-pardon-more-of-a-stay-of-execution for the turkey named Bipartisan. 

And with that I’m back to the holiday chaos!  Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend!

6 O’Clock BS: Gluten-Free Pizza

Tonight I made gluten-free pizza! I used a Red Mill Mix, but it required yeast and mixing and other related baking shit, so I think it counts as fancy cooking.

First, the crust:

Pizza Mix, Olive Oil, Eggs, Yeast in warm water

The yeast had to sit for a few minutes, then I added the eggs and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then the pizza flour mix was added in and mixed on medium for 1 to 2 minutes.

[Read more...]

Cuzzy’s Brick House Restaurant

My work group went out to lunch today, and I found another place that serves gluten-free pizza!

A wood-fired Brick House Pizza – Pepperoni, Sausage, bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms & black olives all served on a gluten-free crust.

For those of you used to paying top dollar for gluten-free alternatives at Pizza Luce (a small Classic costs $12.59. The same pizza with a GF crust is a whopping $5 extra at $17.59), Cuzzy’s Brick House is a breath of fresh, oregano-scented air. Their small Brick House (shown above and pretty much the same as Pizza Luce’s Classic) is $12.99, and they will sub in a GF crust at NO additional cost.

Cuzzy’s Brick House is located in Chaska, MN. It’s a bit of a haul if you’re coming from Minneapolis or the east suburbs (oooo..take THAT St. Paul!)  However, their menu is phenomenal and I could see making the occasional special trip out here with friends. Cuzzy’s is several steps up from your average soup, salad and burger joint. I mean sure, you can snag any number of variations of hotdog or cheeseburger if that’s what you’re craving, but they’ve also got appetizers like Portabella & Brie Bruschetta, pastas like the Butternut Squash Ravioli, entrees like the Cabernet Mushroom Chops and a desert menu that will add a couple of pounds to your bottom just from seeing it as the waitress carries the tray across the room.

Burgers and sandwiches run in the $8-10 range and the entrees are around $10-18. Their drink prices are reasonable, and the open, classy interior makes Cuzzy’s a great place to have happy hour. Also, I’ve been told that they throw a mean weekend bar night!

Cuzzy’s also has a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis (but doesn’t show pizza in the online menu), and The Victoria House in Victoria, MN is in the same family.

2880 Chaska Blvd., Chaska MN
website: http://www.cuzzys.com/
phone: 952.448.5594
email: [email protected]

Fresh Pesto and Tabouli

September 22nd marked the official first day of Fall, and I (admitted defeat, bidding a woeful adieu to summer) celebrated by cutting all of my basil, parsley and chives down to the ground.  When one has grown a ton of basil and parsley over the length of an entire summer, it only makes sense to prep some pesto and tabouli.  A few glances at the interwebs and a quick dash to the Wedge Co-Op for fresh tomatoes, garlic, green onions, some walnuts and quinoa, and I was ready to begin.

Pesto

First I made the pesto.  I stripped all of the leaves from the stalks and chopped the leaves using my mini Cuisinart food processor, then I chopped the walnuts, crushed the garlic and shredded the parmesan-reggiano.  I mixed everything in a big glass bowl and then added half a cup of olive oil.  That’s it!  It was lover-ly.  For more blow-by-blow, this is the recipe I used from Simply Recipes.

The big white pieces are broad, flat shreds of parmesan…mmm… A little pesto goes a very long way when mixed into pasta.

Tabouli

I used this recipe from greatpartyrecipes.com to make the Tabouli, but I made a couple of changes.   Instead of the gluten-containing bulgar I used quinoa, I skipped the mint because it was exorbitantly-priced, and I left the cucumber out because I somehow lost it between the checkout line and home, and I didn’t feel like going back out to buy another.

I started cooking the quinoa and then chopped the parsley – stems and leaves – in the food processor.  I diced tomatoes, minced the garlic, and sliced the green onions.  Once the quinoa cooled a bit, I mixed everything together and finally added the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

It was also lover-ly and simple.

~~~~~~~~~~

Afterwards, the kitchen looked like this.

I was done with cooking for the evening, so I threw a little of the extra quinoa on a plate, mixed in some pesto, added a side of tabouli and had a loverly (if quite herby) dinner.

Perugia: Gluten Free Dining

Yesterday we meandered through the San Pietro area.  One of the highlights of the trip was finding this random crepe kitchen, Le Cre.  It was tucked near the end of a tunnel-like alley next to the Pozzo Etrusco, an ancient Etruscan well.

I noticed the word “glutine” in a few places around the shop and then I saw a newspaper clipping with the words “gluten free” in the title along with a picture of the place.  The bar tender saw me pointing and saying “gluten free” and she nodded.  She pointed up and at the ceiling and in that moment I learned one of the loveliest phrases of my trip thus far: Senza Glutine.  Directly translated it means “without gluten”.

She spoke a fair amount of English, and was able to explain that the senza glutine side of this particular kitchen has been dedicated to gluten-free food preparation.  She told us that there were a few GF restaurants in the area, and that they were very prevalent in Southern Italy.  So it was that I enjoyed a crepe in Italy.

We nom nom nom on a nutella e crema senza glutine crepe

On Wednesday we ran across another luncheon place that had a senza glutine section on the menu, so I was able to enjoy PASTA in Italy :)

Thatsa lotta pasta carbonara – and it’s gluten-free!

Tonight (Wednesday evening) we stopped back at Le Cre for one final crepe dinner.  The owners close up Le Cre for the summer on Friday, so even though we’re surrounded by bars, paninitecas, pizzarias, tavole caldas and ristorantes, we decided to vist them one more time. 

One of the cafe staff makes my senza glutine crepe

Salami, cheese, whole marinated “spicy” button mushrooms, lettuce, mayo on a GF crepe

Mom said she needs a short break from “Italian food”.  Tomorrow night – sushi!

Time is way too one-directional.

This was my To Do List last night.

Make dinner.

I made this – Fancy Hot Dog Stroganoff from simplyrecipes.com.  I substituted quinoa for the egg noodles and added spinach.  This picture is from that site – My dinner was so yummy that it was all gone before I remembered that I wanted to snap a photo.

Change the litter box.

Blech.

Research wireless routers and make a decision on which one to purchase.

Ah, technology.  How I take you for granted until you break.

Transplant my tomato plant, and also the parsley and chives.   Plant new lettuce and spinach seeds to replace the ones that drowned in last week’s summer deluge.

Done!  I can’t believe how much the tomato plant exploded!  This is my tomato plant on April 17th:

Practice my Italian.

Aprenda a hablar italiano.  Verb book, flashcards, iPod Italian language apps, Easy Italian workbook.  Crappy, blurry photo.

Update the biodork blog with Sunday’s Pride Parade post.

See this big empty rectangle?  That’s my Pride Parade post – no Pride pictures for you!   You get this post with me whining about how busy I was last night instead.  But I’ll have Pride pics on Thursday.

Start rereading Terry Pratchett’s The Color of Magic and be done in time for CONvergence on Thursday.  Come up with some costume-ish thing for Saturday night at CON.

240 pages – no problem!

Plan rail transport from Rome to Perugia for 7/19, book my scuba dive in Sorrento, go to the bank and let them know that I’m going to be using my credit card overseas so they don’t shut down my account while I’m in Italy, figure out where/when to exchange USD for Euros, figure out how to pack enough clothing for two weeks (allowing for trips to la lavanderia) in my tiny little backpack, and…and…

Okay, that last one was really all about making the list, rather than accomplishing everything on the list.

Phew!

War on Salt

There is a very interesting argument just gearing up over at sciencebasedmedicine.org.  Dr. Steven Novella (of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast and NeuroLogica blog) has introduced to us “The War on Salt”.

Accepted medical research indicates that people with high blood pressure need to decrease their salt intake to prevent cardiovascular problems later in life, but it sounds like the “war on salt” is about to come a little closer all of us. 

It seems that food awareness is a sleepy giant that is starting to stumble up onto its feet.  I know the raw/vegan/organic and “natural” foods movements have been around for decades.  And as Dr. Novella mentions, New York City has recently legislated the amount of trans fat that is allowed in certain foods.  As (literal) consumers, we are having to do a LOT of research before we eat.  It’s becoming a bit harder to plead ignorance for the  PBJ/white bread and Mac-n-Cheese diet.

Okay, it can be easy.  No processed foods, less eating out.  Fresh veggies, meats, dairy, eggs, whole grain breads, and fewer starches, sugars and sodium.  Easy enough, right?  Gets a little harder when you’re trying to work, go to school, wrangle kids, maybe single-parent, less income, two jobs, volunteer work, kids’ afterschool activities, Tivo, writing new blog posts, homework…but with some effort, it can be done.  After all, eating healthy has an extremely important and profound effect on our quality of life, so it can be argued that a little – or a lot – of attention should be paid. 

But – gah!  I was feeling overwhelmed in the grocery store last night.  Is  organic vs. conventional celery significantly nutritionally different.  I don’t think so.  Is there a benefit to eating raw food?  Might be.  Might milk from hormone-injected cows have a deterimental effect on my health?  I don’t have a clue.   I walk past most of the the pre-packaged foods in the store these days, but even if one wants to buy “fresh” starting materials, the choices are many.  Do I need to care if the cattle I’m going to ingest was grass-fed or corn-fed?  Well, I think grass-fed tastes better, but that’s completely subjective.   

Any time someone opens a conversation about healthy eating and the magical combinations of foods that will increase your chances of immortality (ooo – I know this one – it’s zero!   Or wait…is that infinity?), fierce arguments start up.  The comments section of Dr. Novella’s post has shot up from 10 to 18 in the time it’s taken me to write this post, and there are some great ideas being discussed.  Right now the hot topics are the role of government intervention in public choices, and personal responsibility.  *rubbing hands together gleefully*   Ooooo!  It’s going to be a bloody one!

As for me, constant vigilance!  I’m always updating my personal food choice habits (trying to keep up with the latest research rather than fads), but for now I think I’ll stick with the $0.99 conventional celery over the $2.99 organically grown stuff.  And maybe I’ll use a bit less salt.