Blog - /Cooking

Sun, 05 Oct 2008

Trader Joe Spring Rolls FAIL

I tried some Trader Joe Tofu Spring Rolls, just for the heck of it. The tofu and peanut sauce tasted decent, but they completely screwed things up by including raw mint leaves in the roll. What a terrible idea. Mint belongs only in ice cream and gum, and even then, not in raw form. I had to wash the taste out of my mouth with a hot dog.

Sun, 07 Sep 2008

Coffee, take 2

I've come up with my own way of preparing coffee. The goal is to make something that tastes decent, takes less than two minutes to prepare most mornings, and only occasionally requires brewing. This is similar to my earlier post on this topic, but with an improved formula.





Preparing a batch

  1. Follow normal coffee-making directions, but with the following proportions. Make sure to place the medium-roast coffee into the coffee-making apparatus before adding the espresso coffee.
    • 5-6 cups of water
    • 1/4 cup of medium-roast coffee
    • 1/4 cup of espresso coffee
  2. Let prepared coffee cool, and then pour into 1-liter container and store in refrigerator.

Preparing a single cup

  1. Fill cup about 1/4 full of refrigerated coffee mixture.
  2. Fill cup with milk to about 2/3 full.
  3. Heat cup in microwave between 1 minute and 1.5 minutes, depending on desired temperature.
  4. Add creamer to taste. I usually add around 3 teaspoons of it.

The resulting cup of coffee has a nice flavor from the scalded milk, and the espresso adds a much-needed note of authenticity.

Sat, 05 Apr 2008

Foods of Southern California, part 1

I have thoroughly enjoyed some of the food here in southern California, so I thought I would highlight some of the things I've tried and liked.

One of the first things I tried was the White Pizza from the California Pizza Kitchen. I had previously tried that pizza purchased frozen from the store, and didn't care for it. Getting it fresh from the restaurant and having bacon added to it made a critical difference. It consists variety of tasty cheeses, a little olive oil instead of pizza sauce, salty chunks of bacon, and enough spinach to keep you honest. I've found that I like the pizza best when I let it cool to just above room temperature. This makes the spinach less noticeable, and gives the Ricotta cheese clumps just the right texture.

I've also been trying out some items from Pick Up Stix, since they allow me to order items online and pick them up on my way home from work. I didn't care for the Orange Peel Chicken, but the House Special Chicken was delicious. Their Cream Cheese Wantons, which have some green onion mixed with the cream cheese, are quite possibly the best thing I've had out here so far.

I have had good experiences at Tortas Mexico as well. Their specialty is the Torta, which can be ordered with different meats. It consists of lettuce, tomato, beans, mayonnaise, avocado, and jalapeƱos, contained between a sandwich roll. I never thought it possible to put mayonnaise on a Mexican dish, but the Torta can pull it off seamlessly. The Chicken Sopes (pronounced "So-pays") are also delicious.

Wed, 14 Nov 2007

Lemongrass disappoints on the Pad Thai

In my previous post on Lemongrass, I noted how they did the General Tso's Chicken dish right. Alas, they did not do so well on the Pad Thai. It was wrong in just about every way. The noodles were angel-hair, which doesn't make sense outside of Italian dishes. The seasoning was not reminiscent of other Pad Thai dishes at all, and was bland. They used whole peanuts rather than chopped peanuts. The green herbs (I don't know what they're called) that taste good in Asian cucumber salads simply don't belong in Pad Thai. It was just a complete disaster.

Sun, 11 Mar 2007

SkipBones restaurant visit

While back in the Mishawaka area over break, I noticed that the Lee's Famous Recipe restaurant on Logan was changed into a "SkipBones" restaurant, which is unassociated with Lee's. I decided to give them a try.

Their menu was a bit sparser than Lee's, with not as many sides advertised, and only chicken strips and chicken sandwiches available. I liked both of those items best out of the Lee's menu, though, so that was fine with me. The combos include fries, slaw, Texas toast, and a dipping sauce. I went with the 3 chicken strips combo. The chicken was about the same as Lee's, but perhaps a little tastier. The fries were top-notch, and tasted like Rally's fries (that is, seasoned). The slaw didn't have much taste to it. I have no basis for judging the merits of Texas toast, but it was palatable. The dipping sauce (the flavor I had was honey mustard — they have a nice array of other flavors as well) was quite good, and came in a container that made for easier dipping.

Overall, the meal at SkipBones was quite good, though I'd recommend asking for double fries instead of slaw. Since they do not have biscuits, mashed potatoes, or green beans (except in the Sunday buffet), the place does not quite fill the same niche as Lee's or KFC. Nonetheless, I could definitely see myself visiting there in the future.

Mon, 29 May 2006

Chili Nacho Salad

I like chili when it's done right. For me, that means that it has to be made from scratch, given at least an hour to simmer, must not have too many kidney beans nor spices, and must be somewhat watery. When chili is not done right, I have to think of creative ways to consume it. This time, I tried a variant of the Wendy's recipe for what they call a Nacho Supremo Salad. I prefer a less fanciful name, so I call it a Chili Nacho Salad.


The lettuce salad should preferably not have any other vegetables in it, and should contain some Iceburg lettuce. The cheese should be either Cheddar or a Mexican blend.


  1. Heat chili.
  2. On plate, add 2 handfuls of lettuce.
  3. Apply the desired amount of sour cream or dressing.
  4. Add about 1 and 1/2 cup of chili.
  5. Add taco sauce or salsa if desired.
  6. Top with plenty of shredded cheese.
  7. Garnish with tortilla chips.

I'm pleased with the way it turned out.

Fri, 21 Apr 2006

The virtues of rice milk

I have begun using rice milk instead of regular milk. The primary reason for this is to avoid spoilage. I don't use regular milk fast enough, so I end up having to throw about half the carton out each time. Rice milk, on the other hand, lasts at least a month and a half.

There are two varieties of rice milk available at the store that I go to: regular and vanilla. The vanilla flavor is good for making horchata1 (which is the very reason that I started buying it). It's also decent for flavoring coffee.

Regular rice milk is good for almost anything else, which for me is just cereal and cooking. It tastes fine in cereal, but I'm still working out how to change the hamburger helper directions to accommodate it. The first batch of hamburger helper turned out too watery, so it might be necessary to decrease the amount of water used by about a 1/4 cup.

1. Horchata is a Mexican rice drink. To make it, start with rice milk, add a pre-bought Horchata mix, and garnish with cinnamon. I got hooked on it when I tried it at La Bamba.