Chairman Meow and the Spirit of Christmas

Three things:

1–in class today we were doing some stupid ServSafe review, which was sucking my soul out through my ear-holes in visible wisps that were pink when they exited, but turned a beige-gray color the closer they got to the front of the room. Awful. We had to discuss a scenario in which an employee, “Raul,” went from handling raw chicken to making salads without washing his hands. The question was asked, “What did Raul do wrong?” Duh. I answered, “he shouldn’t have gone from touching his chicken to tossing the customer’s salad without washing his hands.” Comedic GOLD.

2–it’s candy cane season! I do so love candy cane season, as it’s just about the only thing that can console me from the loss of candy corn season. Well, that and Borden canned eggnog, a relic from my childhood that is all but a legend these days, but that I still manage to hunt and capture just about every season (usually involves at least 10 stores). I found some today, in Central Market. Just like that. By accident. Usually I have a better chance of finding a packet of powdered unicorn horn wrapped in a Gryffin-skin pouch, but today it was just SITTING there. Awesome. I bought some and drank a can of it already, which is a solid 1000 calories, but I think qualifies as carbo-loading. It thawed the winter of my heart, that can did. And the candy canes are in the hizzouse as well, although a disturbing trend was noticed. Chairman Meow likes candy canes, too. Little beeyatch better keep his paws of my striped sticks of joy.

3–I made you this. It’s bacon-wrapped chicken breast with sweet-hot mustard cream over couscous with buttered green beans. Actually, I made it for Chris. I couldn’t eat it, on account of having gorged on maple-pecans, an apple, grapes, gingerbread pieces, and eggnog all afternoon. Mmmmmmmm.

Uh, miso horny

My title is a little bit lame, I get that. But I couldn’t resist, and I’m sure you’ll forgive me for that. Chris and I had the day off today, and our lunch was bangin’ as the kids are saying nowadays. Spicy corn fritters with sweet chili sauce, miso soup with mushrooms, onions, and carrots, and a simple salad of tossed romaine and a peanut-soy dressing. Me love you long time.

I had NO idea how much fun frying my own rice noodles would be. I did it on impulse, to prop up my fritters, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to un-fried noodles again. Maybe you’ve tried it, maybe you haven’t, but if you have, then you know that when you drop the rice noodles into the hot oil they sit still for a split-second and then explode popcorn-style to 10 times the volume immediately. The whole thing is over in under five seconds, and it’s truly spectacular to watch. Possibly I’m just easily amused. I’d say you should at least give it a shot at home, for entertainment value. Except for my family, who can expect to eat them when they visit next (thus removing the possibility that my brother will set fire to his house while drinking and trying to deep fry rice noodles.

Give the corn fritters a shot, too:

1 C all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C water
1.5 C fresh or frozen (thawed) corn
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 t salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t cumin
olive oil for frying

Stir together flour, baking powder, and seasonings. Add egg and water and stir until combined (mixture will be stiff-ish) (hehehehehe). Stir in corn and green onions until mixture is combined well.

Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan or a skillet (I used an electric skillet). Plop spoonfuls onto the skillet and press down gently to spread the mixture to about 3/4″ thickness. They don’t have to be round, just uniform in thickness. When the bottom has a golden brown crust, flip the fritters over and finish cooking through. This takes a total of about 6 minutes. Serve immediately with sweet chili sauce. Yield: about 6 good-sized fritters.

I only ate one of the fritters, since I’m on a steady diet today of vanilla tootsie rolls, which are now being sold by the bag and not just as the single golden ticket inside an entire bag of Child’s Play candy. I’ve waited for this for a lifetime. I checked the ingredients, and they’re mostly made of sweetened-condensed milk, which probably explains my infatuation with them. I could drink sweetened-condensed milk straight, and did for most of my childhood. This is really gross, but I used to steal the cans out of my mom’s pantry, poke a hole in the top, and drink from that can (hidden in my room) for a week or so. I think that you’re supposed to refrigerate after opening, but try explaining that to a kid who just wants solid access to sweetened-condensed milk, even though she’s been forbidden to steal the lone can that is kept on-hand for emergency baking…poor me. Now that I can do what I want with my food, and I have a great-big fridge, my metabolism won’t support me drinking cans of goodness. This is the conundrum that I face as an adult.

New school, meet old school

I spent Sunday morning rifling through my new schoolbooks and found a recipe for Lasagna al Forno that looked really good. For one, it was lasagna without ricotta. I approve that message. For two, it involved a lot of steps, which I figured would be a fun way to spend the afternoon. God only knows how much I love an involved cooking project, and I have so much TIME on my hands since I can’t do any exercise this week (save the quick runs I have to sneak past Chris while he’s at work so he can’t tell me to “take it easy”). You see, there’s this rule that says in the week leading up to a marathon you aren’t supposed to do anything physically strenuous, and you’re supposed to eat a high-carb diet.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “OMG, YES!!!” I mean, it sounds really seductive to just sit around eating candy. Hell, I’m pretty much tempted to do that every day. But the rub is that after eating a pretty balanced and healthy diet that emphasizes veggies and proteins and lessens carb intake (not too much, though), exercising twice a day every day, and consistently making abdominal progress (I swear, they were thisclose to coming out from behind their cloud for the first time ever), I am now actively regaining the weight, feel all puffy from the change in diet, and have less energy. So it sucks a little. Plus, with all the puffiness and weight gain, I will have to run in a baggy shirt, and that’s lame-o (what SHOULD have been Rachel’s slogan).

Solution? I am now running for a cause, and I’m required to wear their jersey thingy. It’s more forgiving than a sports bra or tight shirt, and I get to be condescending to the regular runners. AND, to top it off, when I cross the finish line limping like a wounded dog, onlookers will assume that it’s because I’m suffering from the disease that I’m pimping, and will congratulate me for my courage. I’ll look at them, smile weakly, and tell them “I’ve just got to stay strong.”

How the crap did I end up running for a cause? I got accosted by a survivor at the run-a-tab event. He came up and asked me, “are you running the marathon?” I puffed up my chest and told him I was, still feeling enormously proud of my stupidity. He then asked, “are you running for a cause?” Uh…I assessed his body language and (rightly) assumed that he wouldn’t be satisfied if I just said, “my thighs,” even though that would have at least been TRUE. I told him I didn’t have a cause, and he gave me one. Ladies and gentleman, I am now Running For Bone Marrow. Or bone marrow research, or something like that. It doesn’t really matter, because I’ve elected to slightly alter the phrasing so that I’m Running For Osso Bucco. Same-o! (every episode of Rachel’s show. Ever.)

So back to the lasagna: My mother doesn’t understand my love of molecular gastronomy. I’m sure she’ll be happy when I give it up and return back to my traditional roots. Only very soon, my traditional roots will be replaced with a smidgen of classical French training and a paper hat. And then where will we be? So I’ve decided to present last night’s actual dinner (which took a full 5 hours on Sunday to prepare) to see if the “classical French” style goes over better than the chemicals and awesomeness style. They’re both equally time consuming. I used to be able to cook so much faster…

Lasagna al Forno requires that you make
-a roux
-a bechamel
-a bolognese
-a marinara
-homemade spinach pasta
-a well-formed whole out of the above parts

That’s a lot of shit. And I mise en placed it as best as I could, just for practice.

This here’s a basic white roux. Butter and flour. Less delicious than cookies made of the same ilk, but also with better thickening power than a batch of cookies.

Next, the bechamel, which is a basic white sauce made with minced onions, milk, white roux, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and more butter. I used one of my school-issued chef knives for the very first time. Oh.My.Gosh. SO sharp, it was like slicing through butter. I let Chris test it out, and he got really excited, too. Turns out my college knives had dulled from the hundreds of times they’ve been through the dishwasher. Lesson learned by both of us, I think.

On to the Bolognese. This was actually kind of weird, since it didn’t call for anything tomato-related except for an ounce of tomato paste-not nearly enough to make it anything like the Bolognese I’m used to making. I’ll admit I was concerned when I first put it together, but it came together after a couple of hours simmering and a dose of cream. It’s got pork, beef, diced prosciutto, mirepoix (diced carrots, celery, and onions), seasonings, white wine, and chicken stock.

That last shot makes it look more tomato-ey than it looked in real life. Also, the whole time it cooked it smelled like McDonald’s hamburger. Gross, yes. But it tasted nothing like them.

On to the tomato sauce, which actually WAS tomato-ey, but required that I peel and mince two WHOLE BULBS of garlic. I loathe fresh garlic prep. It’s sticky and finicky, and I hate it. All the same, I love garlic to pieces, and sometimes only fresh will do. My mincer is a piece of communist crap, so that complicated things. Did you know tomato is one of the French mother sauces? I did not. I thought it was Italian. See how much we’re learning together?

The pasta, ah, the pasta. How many times have I made ass-noodles because I can’t figure out how to get it through my POS rollers and keep an even consistency and keep from sticking together? How many? LOTS. But this time, I just rolled it out, and came up with my own genius lasagna sheet-cutting technique that required zero extra effort, and prevented sticking. They’re green because they have a touch of spinach puree in them. Enough for color, not enough for flavor. I cheated, and used my Kitchenaid for kneading to protect my weak girly-arms.

Assembly line–bolognese, noodle, bechamel, cheese, noodle, repeat.

The final product was al dente, ooey-gooey, cheesy, flavorful bliss. I served it with a quickly thrown together focaccia and some balsamic-herb dipping oil. We gorged, and there’s still a ton left.

I’m using the leftover tomato sauce to make pizzas tonight. Maybe this carbo-loading isn’t so bad after all. Now, for your amusement, this is how we now have to weigh our beast of a puppy. Almost 8 months old, and still growing, he’s now almost dwarfing my 6′ tall fiance. Forgive the sweaty disarray. This was immediately following our Sunday run.


I have so many freakin’ photos for this stuff (we’re still figuring out the new camera and are absurdly snap happy). As such, this is going to be a photo-journalism-style blog. It’s late. And I just did culinary math, which apparently was written For Assclowns, By Assclowns (FABA). “If train A is going East at 10 miles per hour, and train B is going West at 120 miles per hour, how many carrots are on each train?” WTF?? I’m good at math (sort of) and Chris is good at math (excellent, in fact) and neither of us could stop squinting in perplexity at the way these problems were written. So, without further ado, my weekend in photos:
First, I attempted to make a tart cherry caviar, using the regular spherification process. I’d love to explain this to you, but does a much better job than I could at this point, so head on over. It’s a chemical reaction of an algae extraction and some calcium chloride. That’s all I’ve got.

A mixture of sodium alginate and tart cherry juice in the blender. If only I’d known what a spectacular failure this would be, due to the lack of sodium citrate for pH balancing…

Adding the rest of the chilled tart cherry juice to the warmed mixture of sodium alginate and the original cherry juice. Splashed a shitload on my stove, if you’re curious.

Here is a picture of the tart cherry caviar failing to form firm balls (hehehehehehe). It was almost worth it to spend two hours trying to figure this mixture out, just so I could enjoy typing “firm balls.”

Drip-dropping the creme Anglaise mixture in the reverse spherification mixture. Since it’s so high in calcium, you can’t use regular spherification. Again, check

A pearl of creme Anglais–reverse spherification

Making blinis for the very first time. Not super-difficult, though I should note my lack of equipment and expertise led my blinis to be slightly thicker than ideal. Must work on being more Russian…

And now, the carrot mixture. Same principle, but far better results (likely because the ratio is posted online).

They firmed up as soon as they hit the calcium chloride water. Awesome.

Strained through Chris’s espresso filter. I run with gangs, and I do what I want.
Aren’t they cool looking? Super-sturdy, too. If I shake them, they rattle around, yet if I put them in my mouth, they’ve got the most delicate little shell, with liquid inside.

The result of these two experiments are blintzes in the style of a traditional blini serving. Delicate crepe-like discs, filled with a honey-vanilla ricotta, topped with vanilla yogurt sauce and carrot caviar. A sauce of carrot and misshapen creme Anglais pearls float beside it.

The blintzes really did taste phenomenal. Exciting, since I hate caviar but have always thought these were so pretty.

My affair with the UPS man

So I was sitting around my house yesterday afternoon, playing on the computer and prepping myself mentally for a night out on the town, when the doorbell rang. Now, I had been expecting this to happen at some point, because our new camera was coming. A Canon EOS Rebel XSI. It’s actually pretty exciting, because it might mean that the photography on my blog graduates from “fairly shitty” to “at least edible-looking.” I also got a book on plating techniques to peruse over the weekend from the school library. Overall, I figured it was going to be a good weekend. So I went to the front door, full expecting the camera. Instead, I found a small package from a sender I didn’t recognize. Ooookay…

I brought the box in the house and grabbed a knife to cut the tape. As I was cutting, a white powder shot up. My immediate thought was “Oh heavens, someone has finally had the good sense to mail me some Anthrax.” Rather than being alarmed (mostly because I knew we have Ciprofloxacin upstairs in our medicine drawer), I continued to open the package. Turns out I had sliced right into a delicate foil package of…cocaine! Okay, kidding, but this was even better. It was tapioca maltodextrin. That’s the stuff I SHOULD have used when I was making powdered peanut butter for my molecular gastronomy experiment. I also found the following packets nestled in with the maltodextrin: sodium alginate, calcium lactate, calcium chloride, sodium citrate, and calcium lactate gluconate. All of the ingredients for spherification and reverse spherification. All the stuff I had ordered for my project, but that they had then said they were out of, and then had refunded my money for, but then had accidentally sent anyway!!!

You know how they say that if you have Tantric sex you can have a 15 minute orgasm, or something like that? Well, this was exactly like that, only longer, I didn’t have to sleep with Sting, and anything I end up swallowing from this experiment will be because I want to, and not just out of some sort of misguided courtesy. It was that amazing.

As I was dancing around the house, planning grandiose experiments in my head, knowing but denying that this will likely be much more difficult to execute than I am allowing myself to believe it is, the doorbell rang AGAIN. The camera?

NO! More chemicals! I had requested information from a food chemical company about some of their products, and they had sent me a sample. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was standing there open-mouthed with shock and delight when the doorbell rang again and the UPS man gave me our new camera. Best.Timing.Ever.

I made mini PB&J; sandwiches with powdered peanut butter on top
and mini muffaleta sandwiches containing artichokes, tiny peppers, salami, kalamata tapenade, provolone, and seasonings.
I served the PB&J; sammies with shot glasses of milk, and the muffalettas with a drizzle of balsamic, powdered olive oil, and alder-smoked salt. Taaaaasty. Then I took pictures of them with the new camera. So niiiice.

So I proceeded to start powdering things at an alarming rate: peanut butter, olive oil, anything that would hold still long enough for me to powder it. The tapioca maltodextrin (called “Zor-B,” I think) actually turns the fats into powders, almost instantaneously, and then when you put them in your mouth they immediately melt into the original fat without any aftertaste, starchiness, textural issues, etc. The stuff I had used before made it taste really floury, and you had to mash it around until it formed an awkward paste. This knocked that experiment out of the ballpark completely. It’s, in all seriousness, almost magical. And today I am going to spherify things. Like apple juice. And then I’m going to reverse spherify things. Because in reverse spherification you can spherify things that have a high alcohol or fat content, and it makes a sphere that will remain spherical, even while suspended in a different liquid. I’m thinking that I’m going to reverse spherify white russians, then suspend them in a small amount of Coke, reminding them that they’re just one snap away from being a black russian. EDIT: Here’s a good recipe for alcohol spherification (spherifying alcohol)

God, I’m so excited. And so hungover. Last night was first Friday, so it was running-a-tab night. You remember, the night where we run miles and miles between bars drinking and carousing and apparently now chanting “We love to drink, we love to run, but drinking and running is much more fun!” This is what my arm looks like this: The lines are beers, the circles are shots, the square was a double shot of Three Olives cherry vodka (mmmmmmmm), and what looks like a butterflied chicken at the bottom was, I think, a mixed drink. It was the last one, so I’m hazy. I know that the guy I brought from class called it a turducken, and he’s the one who drew it, so I guess that’s what it is. Today is going to be a good day, provided I can wash this crap off of my arm.

TacoTaco, BurritoBurrito

So…where’s the beef? Reasonable question, given that I’ve made two things over the last two nights that are traditionally riddled with cow, yet have been cow-free (with the exception of dairy). This isn’t so much on purpose, but it seemed reasonable to try and limit fats as much as I can while I’m doing things like cheese tastings in school. You’ll be pleased to note that I didn’t even TRY the blue cheese. I’m sorry, but that shit is not an okay food substance. Even the description of how it’s made is a turn off. The chef was all graphic about it, and I was cringing. There was no “when a cheesemaker and a cheese love each other very much, they share a special hug, and then the cheese gets a blue baby in her belly” explanation. Nooooooo. Instead they had to tell me how they take perfectly nice cheese and then some guy takes needles and pierces them into the cheese and sticks mold in it. I hate that guy. I love Mr. Cheesemaker, but I hate Mr. Mold-Poker. Ugh.

So last night we had taco salad. Taco salad is one of those delightful foods that can be either wildly trashy or totally amazing depending on how they’re made (and by whom). Ours were homemade tortillas, baked in cast iron, topped with ground chicken that had been socializing nicely with spices and onions for quite some time in a pan. Then I added diced mango, avocado, grape tomatoes, roasted red peppers, white chive-cheddar cheese, and attempted to arrange them on top without toppling over to cover the adorable tacky chili peppers on my plate. Note the singular; I could only bring myself to own one (1). The dressing was really the deal-maker in the dish, though. A yogurt based cilantro-lime business that was sweet and creamy and tangy and perfect for this. Even the mangoes were doing the backstroke through it.

I just love the little red pepper. It’s called a “fresno pepper,” and it’s so stinkin’ cute. Looks like the quintessential Southwest Design pepper, like the produce equivalent of a friggin’ coyote wearing a bandana. Note: I absolutely despise Southwest design. Even walking past it on quaint streets near Indian reservations makes me feel like I’ve been raped in the eyeballs. Coyotes do NOT wear bandanas, and seeing people depict them as doing so makes me want to kill myself. And cacti pillows do not make me want to sit on your gaudy-ass turquoise couch. I don’t like feeling as if I’m going to get pricked in the ass–the same reason I don’t walk around outside alone after dark. Also, dreamcatchers are not attractive. They look like spiderwebs with feathers stuck to them, and I for one am not interested in running into a spider that is large enough to eat an entire bird, leaving only the feathers behind.

Now today, I made bison chili with some great ingredients. Free range bison, for one. And some co-stars:

Does Guinness want to go to the party? The party in the chili?
Does bitter chocolate want to go to the party? The party in the chili?
Does tomatillo want to go to the party? The party in the chili?
Lime, spices, peppers? You guys want in?

There was most certainly a party in my chili. And then a party in my mouth. And everyone came, I’m pleased to announce.

Then some brown sugar skillet cornbread with little white shoepeg niblets throughout. And Plugra butter, because it gets me hard.

I don’t know what’ll happen tomorrow, but I’ve got a baggie of Iberico ham in the fridge that is making sweet cooing noises when I walk by.

TWD: Ah shit, I almost forgot

My top taste-testers during the day:Willie and Mr. Bear

Election day, that’s my only excuse for not presenting you with my Tuesdays with Dorie post for this week: Rugelach. Or, as we’ve been calling them (fondly, not offensively) “Jew-Cookies.” Mostly because I made them the same day that I made latkes, and because that’s what Wiki told me when I checked out their history. Don’t you judge me!

Rugelach is basically a cream cheese dough that is spread with apricot jam and then rolled up into cute little crescents with a traditional filling of nuts and cinnamon-sugar. Dorie amended this to involve chocolate chunks and raisins. I, being the lazy swine that I am, didn’t have all of the appropriate ingredients onhand, so I made them with finely diced dried apricots whirred in the food processor with Ghirardeli sweet ground chocolate. It made little non-pareil balls of chocolate covered apricot, basically. Totally awesome. I ate a shameful amount with my bare hands, which made my fingernails look like I had been rummaging around in the cat box. It was really, really a tasty combo. My rugelach were overly-jammed, so they leaked out goo all over the cookie sheet, which then caramelized and made it impossible to get the rugelach off of the tray, so most of it fell apart and got put into the “Cookie: Trauma ER” that is my mouth for resuscitation efforts. Sadly, very few made it.
I also didn’t refrigerate the dough, because I was on a DEADLINE of wanting to bite a cookie pretty immediately. So, uh, my bad.

Kristie’s Offensive Electoral Commentary

I had a long, smack-talking, pre-emptively gloating post that I wrote semi-drunk during the election coverage. Now that it’s over, I am having second thoughts. So I’m editing my post, and I’m going to be less demonic.

I just watched the election, and Barack Obama was elected as the next President of the United States. I have never been more proud to be an American. I have never felt more faith in God. I have never felt more promise for the future. I don’t say these things lightly, and I want it noted that I am able to be proud, faithful, and strong while still believing in a less-aggressive, more-wordly government. I keep room in my heart for the poor, even if they have to eat crappy mac n’ cheese. I keep room in my heart for homosexuals, especially you, Peter. I keep room in my heart for minorities, even though I wish they would respect Barack as a leader, without acting like he’s a racial poster child. Most of all, I keep room in my heart for the possibility that we’ve finally elected someone who has the influence, the vision, and now, the power, to unify a divided world and make it safe for us once again (or for the very first time). I look forward to environmental consciousness. I look forward to health care reform. I look forward to a revived economy. And I look forward to the possibility that we may someday be able to look at MSNBC without seeing a giant list of international threats. I’m tired of being afraid of what’s going on outside of my control. So tonight was a great night, and the next 4 years will hopefully be equally great. And thanks to my family for being so gracious about an Obama win, even when I wasn’t able to be so gracious myself. As for tonight?
What have I been doing?

1-My toolkit came from school today. It is chock full of sharp knives and awesome utensils, so I unwrapped them and made Chris admire each piece individually, allowing him to hold (but not use) the knives in turn. They’re heavy and beautiful and it has taken every iota of my self control to leave them in their backpack and not use them to cut everything in sight. And thank GOD I didn’t have a melon on hand, because that melon baller is calling my name like a siren.

2-I made an All-American dinner to celebrate our election night and as an offering to the nationalistic powers that be to try and bribe them into a favorable result. My drink was the apple pie martini that Choosy-Beggar Tina made a couple of weeks ago. My vodka was done soaking with apples and cinnamon, so I mixed it with Buttershots and half-and-half to make apple pie ala mode martinis. So good!! Thanks, Tina. Then we had a salad of iceburg and romaine lettuces, cucumbers, and chopped up carrots dressed in Hidden Valley Ranch. How red, white, and blue is that?? Finally, we had turkey brats on homemade white buns (slightly sweet and old school), topped with sweet-hot grain mustard, and a GIANT baked potato stuffed with butter, bacon, chive-riddled cheddar cheese, and sour cream. I rolled them in olive oil and kosher salt before baking them in a preheated cast iron pan, so the outsides were crispy as hell and the best part of the potato. Besides, the bacon, obviously. Then we finished with the traditional apple crisp and vanilla ice cream. You’ve seen it before, you can see it again.

Apple crisp never gets old. I’m so full right now. Of food. And HOPE.

Adria-tic, see?

I should have posted this yesterday, but by the time I finished writing about it for school, I just didn’t have any motion in my ocean for another re-telling. Now’s as good a time as any to BLOW YOUR MIND.

Okay, maybe not blow your mind, but at least breathe strongly in your mind’s direction. I had told you guys that myself and my partner had been assigned Ferran Adria (wunderboy) as our culinary celebrity. Well, the project we did involved a lot of experimentation, which ended up being a scientific joyride through the more pedestrian forms of molecular gastronomy.

Saturday, after our run, we were supposed to go to a Halloween party up in Austin. Chris, sadly, got called in to work to deal with a general who had developed some sort of allergic reaction and had to be tended to with the type of health care that our country reserves only for those select few deemed “important” to the government. So it was a solid evening of waiting for this guy to stop with the sniffles and rash-scratching. While that was happening, I waited patiently to go to the party. When it became evident that this was not going to happen, I drove to the hospital to keep Chris company, and to play in the allergy lab. It was SOOOO COOOOL. Chemicals everywhere, expensive medical instruments that were just aching for me to mishandle and, thus, break them. It was a total Kristie wet-dream. I was there for a very specific purpose, though: to clarify juice.

Regular juice is full of sediment and pulp, making it less concentrated in flavor. I took carrot juice and a strawberry banana smoothie (separately) and spun them in a centrifuge at extremely high speeds until the sediment formed a puck at the bottom of the test tube and the clarified, wildly intense liquid flavor remained at the top. I got to use pipettes. I got to use beakers. I got to wear a lab coat. It was incredible. Which is why I spent my entire Saturday night, well into the middle of the night, trespassing in a lab at a darkened hospital. Woot! Here are some pictures from the event.

Now, if that weren’t cool enough, I did some other experiments.

1-Chocolate cayenne gelee made with agar agar
2-Raspberry foam (made in my new iSi cream whipper *score*)
3-Powdered peanut butter and powdered olive oil (made by combining tapioca maltodextrin with a fat substance)

4-Ferran Adria’s Frozen Chocolate Air, made by mixing soy lecithin with chocolate water, beating it to a froth with an immersion blender (lecithin stabilizes the bubbles), scooping the bubbles into a pan, and then freezing it. The effect is that you’d put a delicate foam into your mouth, and you’d sense cold, but before you could register a substance actually being IN your mouth, it’d be gone leaving behind a memory of chocolate flavor with no residue. It’s craaaaaazy.

We passed out the “tastings” to the group, and while not all of it tasted super-great, it was all at least pretty cool. My partner’s wife made a professional-level, very artistic PowerPoint, and our presentation was solid. The chef, who had been giving everyone constructive criticism at the end of their presentations had nothing to say except that we had been awarded full points, which is pretty sweet because it’s a big hunk of our grade. So I’m all pleased with myself. I never put this much effort into anything in “real college.” Thus the mediocrity…

One more, sorry!

I know, I know, I’m supposed to write about awesomeness, but I have one more story before I post that. It’s about running and Colorado, so I promise it’ll be the last one before the good stuff, and it’s important to the set-up.

I have to tell you about my day yesterday. We got up at 6 am and went for a run. What kind of run, you may ask? Well, it was the final long run before the marathon that comes in two weeks. How far? 22 ri-damn-diculous miles of torture. TWENTY TWO. This doesn’t seem like it’d be that much further than the 18 we ran two weeks ago, but I assure you, it was EONS harder. I can attribute much of this to the leg-lifting I did on Thursday. I don’t know what the hell was going on, but I was really, really sore. Lactic acid had set up little resort-style swimming pools in my leg muscles, and I was hobbling around all day on Friday. Saturday morning arrived, and I quite literally had to hold on to the railing to mince down the stairs with a grimace on my face. Every step was painfully sore, in the way that only occurs on the second day after a workout. Did I think to myself “Hey, maybe running 22 miles will be slightly tricksy if you can’t even walk down the stairs, self.” No, I did not. I proceeded and thought I would just run the lactic acid out and it’d be good for me. Wrong-effing-oh. Every step of the run hurt worse than the step before it. And I was coping with it by kind of zoning out and praying for death. Then a special, new thing happened. The skin on the inside of my bicep started to rub on my sports bra in a way that was not pleasurable. About halfway through the run it had turned into a series of underarm blisters that would raise up, keep rubbing, break, and then turn into new blisters. The cloudy chill in the air broke, and a shiny sun came out that hasn’t been seen for DAYS in these parts. The temperature reached 82 degrees, and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. This doesn’t seem like it’s very hot, but there’s a reason they hold marathons in the late fall. Heat is amplified by exertion. So we started to get sunburns on top of the chafing injuries and crippling quadricep pain. Woot woot! Let the fun continue! I did what any sane person would do: I went into a grocery store, found a tub of vaseline and a bottle of suntan lotion, and put a scoop of each into either hand. I feel pretty bad about this, but I don’t carry cash in my running shorts, and it was becoming an emergent situation. I smeared my blisters with vaseline, coated my body and Chris’s with sunscreen, promised myself I’d make it up to the grocery store (and I totally used generic, rather than their expensive stuff–I’m nothing if not a giver) and went on my way. At mile 20 my body stopped working and I burst into tears. After about 3 minutes of dragging my feet and sobbing, I pulled myself together and finished the run. It was incredible. The feeling when you are done with a run that long is (I can only imagine) the same feeling that Cuban immigrants get when, after a week-long ride in an air-free, dysentary-riddled, cramped, dark boat basement, they finally set foot upon American soil and realize that they’ll never have to go through it again. Only it’s a little different because I have to do it again, only longer, in two weeks. But I learned my lesson about the leg lift in the week prior to a long-ass run. Never again, my friends. (What am I, John McCain?)

When I got home, I started to make some cookies for a party we were going to last night. In Colorado, we have a grocery store called “King Soopers.” In this grocery store, they have a free cookie section where children can pick out a cookie to eat in the store. They’re cheap cookies, and usually only have a couple of options, but it’s exciting to get free cookies no matter what they are. One of the options for these cookies is “cherry chip.” They’re unique and I haven’t found them elsewhere. In Texas, we have nothing even kind of like this cookie, and Chris and I were both craving them. After extensive research online, I realized that I could find absolutely NOTHING like the recipe I wanted, but I did find the cherry chips at the King Arthur Flour page. I bought them, and began with the experiments. Here is the fateful recipe. It is good enough that I have eaten a total of eight cookies in the last 24 hours. That’s almost embarrassing.

King Soopers Cherry Chip Cookies a la Kristie

2 sticks butter
1.25 C white sugar
.75 C light brown sugar, not packed very tightly
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
1 T Torani raspberry syrup (I’m sure other brands are fine, too)
2.25 C All-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
2/3 C mini cherry chips, or to taste
pink food coloring

Heat the oven to 375 F. Cream butter and sugars til fluffy. Add egg, extract, syrup, and pink food coloring (just enough to achieve a pretty violent pink color) and beat for 1 minute. Stir together dry ingredients, and then add to the wet mixture. Mix until combined, but don’t overmix. Add the cherry chips and stir them until evenly distributed. Using a cookie scoop, make small balls of dough and flatten slightly with your fingers. Bake 12-15 minutes, until the tops just barely start to crackle but haven’t yet begun to brown. Cool on a rack and serve with milk. For free.