[cooking] What to do with all the zucchini and summer squash

Last night I made Hobak Chon. Just zucchini slices (thank you for the perfect rounds, mandolin) dredged in flour, egg, pan fried, then eaten with a dumpling dipping sauce. It was all right but I would have preferred a not-so-eggy exterior. Next time, maybe flour, then egg, then panko flakes?


Panko flakes (Japanese breadcrumbs) were the way to go. I dredged zucchini slices in flour, dipped them in one egg beaten with a little half & half (I think the milk helps the egg stick to the flour), then panko flakes. I pan fried in a non-stick pan in a little vegetable oil. Crunchy and yummy. The only downside was that they were a little bland (will add salt and pepper to the flour next time) but I had a little dish of dumpling dipping sauce to dip the slices into.


I also made some Chicken Fried Rice:

2-3 cups cold leftover white rice
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into quarter size pieced
1 yellow summer squash, sliced into quarter size pieces
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 cup julienne carrots (I buy a bag already prepared this way)
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
3-4 tblsp Soy Sauce
1 tblsp Vegetable Oil
1 tblsp Toasted Sesame Oil
2 tblsp Huy Fong Chili Garlic
Vegetable stock

Heat sesame and vegetable oils in wok-shaped pan, over med-high heat, until surface of oil ripples. Add onions- stir occasionally for 5 minutes. Add chicken, cook until chicken is no longer pink. Add Chili Garlic, stir, add summer squash. Add soy sauce. There should be some liquid accumulating at the bottom of the pan. Cook until squash is al dente. Add carrots and broccoli. Stir every thing together, heat through for 7 - 10 minutes. Add rice, using the liquid at the bottom of the pan to soften and break it apart (if the grains are stuck together). You should only add small amounts of vegetable stock as a last resort, if there's not enough liquid to fully separate the rice. (I use a silicone spatula to stab the rice clumps apart). Mix gently and serve hot.

Still more zucchini to deal with tonight. I'm thinking... Korean Zucchini Pancakes.


[cooking] Korean and Japanese

I had a lot of fun last week trying out some new Korean and Japanese recipes.

Kimchi Jjigae. I actually didn't have any kimchi in the fridge, so I had to buy some at the grocery store. The clerk, a high school boy, swiped the jar over the barcode reader and then looked at it. "Kim-eee-key," he said. "Kim... Kim-eee-chee... What's that?" I told him it's "kim-chee" and it's spicy-hot pickled cabbage. He looked disgusted and I suppose I would too. Anyway, the stew came out all right. The broth wasn't as RICH as I would have liked (more gochujang next time?). I have a bag of seafood mix in the freezer and I'd be willing to take a stab at seafood jjigae this week.

I also made some seasoned cucumbers (oi moochim). This was really good with rice- cold and crunchy and spicy! I'm making more this week.

Dollar said one of his favorite foods from his time in Japan was Yaki Soba. While this was an easy/tasty recipe, it wasn't quite what he remembered. He said there was an underlying brown-sugar flavor in the sauce they used over there. I think this is the "steak sauce" referred to in the recipe but I have no idea what Japanese steak sauce is (and I'm not going to use the American version: A1). Is it just teriyaki sauce? Tonkatsu sauce?

[knitting] Block Party

There was a message from Webs on the answering machine when I got home from work Friday. They got the blocking boards and they're holding one for me. !!!!!!!!! It was a quiet night with me binding off Lady Eleanor while Dollar and my sister's boyfriend continued their epic Axis & Allies game.

Saturday morning I got up and decided to go to Webs. Crazy, I know, to drive two hours alone (the trip was too short notice to get my sister to come along) for just one thing but... It had to be done. Plus, I had just picked up The Chemical Brothers' We Are The Night and The Crystal Method's Drive, so I had lots of music to familiarize myself with.

The trip down was easy. Inside Webs, I spent about an hour with all the tubes of buttons there, trying to find something that would work with the Starsky cardigan. After lots of "too big" "too heavy" "too gray", I settled on toggles. Ceramic, horn-shaped, wood-looking toggles. Yea! I grabbed three. Then I looked at the price. $7. SEVEN DOLLARS EACH. I'm not spending $21 on three buttons! Shit. No wonder there were so many left in the tube. After more searching, I settled on four textured buttony-looking buttons for $0.75 each.

That night, I tidied up my chaotic craft room (a little) and set to blocking the back and fronts of Starsky. The blocking board is wonderful, all those lines and numbers lead to very EXACT shaping.

Sunday, I wove in all the ends to Lady Eleanor (not as bad as I thought it would be) and blocked her on the floor (on bath towels) next to Starsky. Here it is in all it's colorful glory (with some color-select pictures):


[knitting] Lady Eleanor

I'm on the last ball for the Lady Eleanor stole and my knitting is slowing down. I kind of don't want it to end. Plus, all those ends to weave in- Yikes! Last night I knit 4 squares and then set the project aside to do Sudoku puzzles in bed.

Tonight I'll knit more and maybe even bind off. Then I'll start swatching and doing the math for the Rogue hoodie. Once I'm fully motivated to start that, I'll weave in the ends for Lady E.

A blocking board! A blocking board! My kingdom for a blocking board!


[knitting] No Blocking Board

The trip to Webs on Saturday was a bust. At the check-out register I asked for a large blocking board and the woman said, "Where all sold out of those!" in a Isn't that totally GREAT?! manner. I stood there, not knowing what to say while she grinned and continued, "As soon as Knitting Daily did their post on blocking boards, we sold out! The same day, I think!" Grin, grin, grin.

Great. So, le sigh, I signed my name to order a blocking board. I asked when they might be getting the new blocking boards in, and she said a couple weeks. So it looks like I'll be making another trip down to Northampton, MA in a couple weeks. While I was there, I got enough Skye Tweed in Loch Ness Teal to make a future sweater for Dollar and my sister got some Rowan Handknit Cotton in pink to make an Elizabeth Zimmerman February Sweater for a friend's baby girl.

We then went to a Korean restaurant for lunch (Kimchi Jigae!) and got some supplies from the food store next door- bulgogi marinade, noodles, frozen mandu, etc.

I was so dejected over the blocking board (and concerned over the frozen goods in the back seat) and we decided to drive directly home and not pass through Springfield to check out the Simpsons premier.

Sunday was a very fine day. We watched a movie, I went grocery shopping, vacuumed the house, made a nice salad for supper (topped with thinly sliced rare steak) and knit more and more of Lady Eleanor. I'm 75% done!


[knitting] I have been knitting a lot

I finished all the pieces to Starsky. All that's left is to block the back and fronts, join the shoulders, knit the collar, block the arms, and then seam everything together. So it appears I've still got my work cut out for me but it's nice to be so to the finish line. I'm off to Webs this Saturday with my sister for a blocking board.

See more Starskys (Starskies?) here. I'm not doing the belt. I'll find some other way to create closure.

In the meantime, I've started Lady Eleanor from Scarf Style. See lots of Lady Eleanors here and here. I'm using Noro Kureyon #139 and I love the rich jewel colors. I can't stop knitting on this: I started Saturday and I'm already 40% done.

After so many small-ish projects, I'm finding these larger projects more satisfying. Plus, they're eating up major amounts of yarn from my stash. I think my next project might be Rogue.

And then? Mittens. And then? Tams. And then? And then I'll have to re-inventory my stash.


[cooking] Crab

It's been all crab, all the time at home. My mother recently hosted a dinner and had a pile of King Crab legs. I focused solely on the crab (and admonished everyone at the table for not doing the same), saying, "We have to eat these now. Tonight. Remember Christmas? They weren't as good re-heated. Put down the steak! Drop the garlic bread! For the love of- FINE. I'll try to eat them all myself." Didn't happen. I only got through two.

After the dinner was over, I grabbed the largest one to-go and it sat in my fridge while I contemplated what to do with it. Then it hit me: Crab Cakes. I wrestled with the crab arm for half an hour, trying to figure out how to get to the meat without a cracker. Lots of smashing and cursing later, I had just over a cup of shredded meat. Then I made the following:

Crab Cakes

1 cup shredded crab meat
1-2 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 1/2 cup panko flakes
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil

- Add mayonnaise and egg to bowl. Wisk until smooth. Add crab meat, green onions, mustard powder, Old Bay seasoning, salt, pepper and 1 cup of panko flakes. Smoosh everything together with hand. If mixture is very wet, add remaining panko flakes.

- Form into patties (3 - 4 inches across, 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick). Coat both sides with breadcrumbs. Fry in non-stick pan, in vegetable oil, over medium-high heat, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Makes 4 cakes.

My cakes were on the thick side, so getting the inside to heat through took a little longer. If you're worried about eating raw egg, make your patties a mere 1/2 inch thick. Crab cakes tend to be salty, so serve 2 as main course along side a garden salad.

I liked these but Dollar thought they tasted like horseradish. I would omit the mustard power (but not the Old Bay) if this concerns you.


I made a crab and green onion quiche for brunch this past Sunday. I got a 1lb pound can of crab claws and used half for:

Crab and Green Onion Quiche

1 pre-made pie shell (I'm lazy)

2 eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup half & half
Salt & Pepper

3 slices swiss cheese
1 cup crab meat
2 green onions, sliced

- Preheat oven to 350

- Put the pie shell in a pie dish. Layer swiss cheese on bottom. Sprinkle crab meat and green onions over cheese.

- Wisk together mayonnaise, eggs, half & half, salt and pepper. Pour evenly over crab and green onions. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes.


With the remaining 8oz of crab, I decided to make crab and corn chowder last night:

Crab and Corn Chowder

One SUPER LARGE russet potato (or 2-3 regular ones)
1 stick celery
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves

1 small can creamed corn
1 small can corn kernels (drained)

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
1 cup crab meat

Salt & Pepper

- Peel and dice potato. Put into heavy-bottomed, medium-sized pot.

- In a food processor (or blender), chop celery, onion and garlic together until very fine. The idea here is to make a very wet paste/puree. Pour over potatoes, pour some water into food processor/blender to loosen remaining ingredients, pour over potatoes. Repeat until potatoes are barely covered with water.

- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.

- Add creamed corn, corn kernels, milk, crab and butter. Heat through, add salt and pepper to taste, serve hot. Makes 3 - 4 servings.



[games] Axis & Allies

Dollar and I have an ongoing game taking up the entire dining room table: Axis & Allies. We're new to the game and still sorting out all the rules, so it takes us an hour to get through one round of turns. That's right, an hour. We've only made it through two rounds- we've been playing an hour here, an hour there.

Dollar is playing for Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. I'm playing for Germany and Japan. So far, Russia has been making a big push into Eastern Europe while my secret German subs are going all over the oceans, conducting lethal attacks.

Most of my downtime during the game is spent either taking cheap pot-shots at my enemies ("Come on United States. Why don't you all put down your collective Big Macs and get into the fight already.") or playing with the pieces. I especially like to grab the U.S. Bomber (my favorite large plane in the game) and fly it over the game board while mimicking airplane sounds ("Nnnyyyeerr...Nnnyyyerrr...") and bombing sounds ("duhduhduhduh...duhduhduhduh..."). Sure I'm behaving like an eight-year-old boy but the pieces are begging to be played with in such a manner.

The most difficult part for me is trying to conduct so many battles over so many areas, all at once. I'm used to Memoir '44, where each game is one battle. Axis & Allies is like trying to juggle 50 Memoir '44 games at once. The think A&A is going to be a game we only pull out to play a few times per year. I'd like to try playing it with 5 people, where everyone takes a different country.


[cooking] Storing

Went and saw Ratatouille Friday night. I was so excited about the movie that I forced Dollar to come see it with me on opening night. It was so funny. I loved all the food and cooking! I would totally go see it again, since I missed some of the jokes because of the audience's ceaseless guffawing.

Summer's bounty is here and I've been cooking like mad- just to store and freeze stuff. The herbs are out of control and I've made the following herb butters (1 stick of soft butter mixed with 1/4 cup of minced herb):

- Sage & Thyme
- Thyme & Oregano & Savory(?)
- Cilantro & Lime
- Garlic & Chive

All went into the freezer, except for the Garlic & Chive (a little of which was used last night on baked potatoes). It was the Sage that got me started on the herb butter kick- I had so much that I didn't know what to do with it all. I read that Sage is best used with fatty meats, since it aids in the digestion of grease. The Cilantro butter was necessary because my plants were starting to get over-grown and go to seed. I cut back the plants so much that they look like bamboo shoots now. Hahahaha.

I went to the market on Saturday and spent -$0.31 on groceries. As in, I brought back 16 milk bottles ($16.00 worth), got $15.69 worth of vegetables and the clerk handed me thirty-one cents. I wish every shopping experience was like that. I got some basil and made some pesto (adding in some of my own mini-leaf basil). All of the pesto went into the freezer.

Saturday my sister and I went strawberry picking and made 8 half-pints of strawberry jam. I was exhausted by the time we finished. It was a full day of picking, washing, hulling, slicing, stirring, ladling, wiping, boiling, washing. Ugh. Sunday morning I got up, made scones and popped open a jar. I brought it all upstairs (with coffee) for breakfast in bed. The jam is awesome. Really sweet (but what did I expect after mixing four cups of crushed strawberries with seven cups of sugar) and the strawberry flavor is strong. I'm convinced this is because the strawberries were only off the vine for three hours before they were preserved. The only disappointing part of the jam-making experience was seeing all the berry bits float up to the top half of the jars. Was the berry mixture too hot when we packed them? Was it too runny? I stirred the fruit down in the jar that I popped open Sunday morning, so the jam would be uniformly chunky. I think that's going to be the mode of operation for the rest (I plan on hiding the remaining jars in the basement until the dead of winter, when I really want a sweet taste of summer).