Saturday, April 20, 2013

Peanut Butter Fudge

Oy. Somehow I have three papers due by the end of the week. So much stress! I need to not freak out. But I'm so good at it. I used to be better. Which is not a good thing, being a pro at anxiety. It's been a long time since I cried because I was so overwhelmed by work. And I am not about to let that happen again.

Do not trust them when they say it is American Style. It is not,
When I was younger, as young as like, nine years old, I always had something to worry about. if I wasn't worrying, that was also a cause for worry, because it might have meant that I was forgetting something that I was supposed to be worrying about. But as a consequence I always did really, really well in school. Because not being the best at everything was another reason to worry. I avoided competition and team activities because of how much I worried about losing. Relying on other people was too much of a risk, for them and for me. Yeah, I am aware that isn't a very healthy mentality to have.

Is it worth it to sacrifice my sanity? No way. I learn in college to let go of some of my control issues. Not all of them (it's a work in progress). So I have to figure out how to strike a balance between uh, happiness and having friends and being a normal, functioning human being without feeling like I'm neglecting my work. Sometimes I don't know how to do that. Sometimes stress baking helps, and it helps a lot when it's something you can make in five minutes. Sometimes boiling sugar makes you feel more alive. Hooray for peanut butter fudge! 

If all else fails, you can just listen to this guy over and over again. 

Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter
Put sugar and milk in pan and bring to a boil. Boil two and a half minutes. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and vanilla. Stir just until mixed well.Pour into greased pan (the smaller the pan, the thicker the fudge will be. And 8x8 is pretty good). Cool and cut.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Clementine Beef

I haven't eaten or made anything especially interesting up until now, which is going to be my excuse for the lack of posting. I feel that I've been doing more impromptu socializing lately, which leaves less time for cooking elaborate things. And sleeping. But it's worth it to have those late night conversations, to visit somewhere new, do some wandering. 

I bought a bag of clementines recently. Clementines are my winter/spring fruit that I eat obsessively (apples being the fall fruit and my true love, peaches, being the summer fruit). I usually have no issues eating all of them almost immediately, but this batch, for some reason, ended up being incredibly difficult to peel. So they sat in my room for a while, me glaring at them occasionally, willing their peels off. Hasn't worked out so far. 

 Since I've eaten all my lemon curd (don't judge), I decided to try my hand at a batch of clementine curd, which turned out very nice, but I still had too many clementines on hand. Unless someone felt like peeling them for me, I was not going to eat them. So I browsed and brainstormed. How else can I use these? And I came across a recipe for clementine beef! The juice and zest is combined with honey and soy sauce, the sweetness balanced out by the kick of chili flakes. You'll definitely enjoy this if you're a fan of orange beef. 

Clementine Beef
adapted slightly from daisy's world 

3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds tri-tip, skirt or flank steak, cut in thin strips on the bias
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (I ended up using YR Sauce, which is quite similar to Worcester Sauce)
 2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/3 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice 2 clementines, for zest
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, as needed
3-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the lite soy sauce and cornstarch. Add beef strips and mix well. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
To make the sauce, whisk the  hoisin, honey,  red pepper flakes, soy sauce, clementine juice, and the zest of one clementine until completely combined. Set aside.
In large pan or wok, heat oil on high and brown beef in small batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a platter. Set aside.
Add more oil in the pan, if necessary. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sauce mixture and cook until reduced and thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Add all the beef back into the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Add spinach (or other vegetables) and cook just until spinach is incorporated and beef is heated through. Season with freshly cracked black pepper.
Garnish with more clementine zest. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lemon Curd

Guys. It's sunny. In Ireland. SUNNY. You can't see me (or maybe you can...?) but I'm basically jumping for joy right now. I don't like heat, but I LOVE the sun. Sometimes I swear that I photosynthesize. Y'know what, if I learned that I was part sunflower, I'd be okay with that. I hate being cooped up in a classroom when it's so glorious outside...but skipping all my classes to frolic around is probably frowned upon. 

I don't want to write papers. There's so much of the world I still haven't seen! Heck, there's so much of Dublin I haven't seen. It's making me sad. I should be making the most of the incredible opportunity. I wish I could spend all day exploring the hidden places of the city with my friends, then go somewhere reeeally high up and watch the sunset over the city. And then do some stargazing, staying up too late talking about things that matter. Throw some ice cream in there somewhere and you have my perfect day. 

I hope to get that perfect day before I leave, but for now, I'll make some lemon curd. If sunshine was a food, it would be this. It even tastes bright, and goes with pretty much everything. Used as a filling between layers of cake, slathered (I love that word) on a scone, or, as someone wisely suggested to me on my facespace page, mixed in with yogurt. Best idea. Mm. I'm in such a good mood right now I don't even know what to do with myself!

Lemon Curd

3 large eggs
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (4 grams) finely shredded lemon zest

In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for up to a week.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Hello, hello! I hope all of you had a splendid Easter. I spent mine in Southwest Ireland. It appears to me that Easter is far less commercialized in Ireland than it is in the United States. I saw nary a trace of Peeps or Reeses Eggs (my favorite. I had a dream about them). That's okay with me. If I had to choose...I would pick beautiful mountains and beaches over chocolate. Shocker, I know. Take a look, you'll see why. 

This is part of the Ring of Kerry, a beautiful, circular path around the peninsula. Apparently there is a walking route as well. I would have loved to wander all day...

The tiny and adorable town of Dingle. Here we're out on the bay, hunting for Fungie the Dolphin! He is very mysterious, a solitary creature that appeared in 1984 and has been frequenting the bay ever since. Apparently he prefers humans to other dolphins, as he swam in between the boats for as long as we were on the water. 

You may be asking yourself "what the heck is that monstrosity?" Well my friends, the answer is a deep fried Cadbury egg. Can't say I've ever eaten anything remotely similar, and I'm still undecided on whether or not it's an experience I'd care to repeat.

Inch Beach. I love an empty beach...stood in the sand for a while with my eyes closed blissfully and my face turned up to the sun. 

 And here it is folks, Slea Head. Dramatic and breathtaking and so much more than I could imagine. Spent some time running around the hills, getting blown around by the winds. That kind of exhilaration makes me feel like a little kid again.

Killarney National Park. No motor vehicles allowed. Our form of transportation was a horse drawn carriage! Somehow reminds me of parks back home in the Midwest, minus the mountains. Another place I would have loved to stroll through if I had more time. 

That's all for now. I would highly, HIGHLY recommend a visit to the Southwest Peninsula if you're in Ireland. A place really bursting with life but somehow tranquil at the same time.