Sammy the Seal

Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

Garlic pesto rolls, impatient scones, a quick night drive

In delicious, experience, You're a kitty! on Monday, 30 July, 2012 at 7:39

garlic pesto rolls

If it can be done with cinnamon, sugar, and butter, and strawberry, why not pesto and granulated garlic? I think it was a wise decision to leave the grated cheese out of it, I don’t think it would re-heat well. Maybe put it on top, but not in it. They turned out well, maybe I could’ve added a little more of each flavoring. Also, I’d bought a very small (it’s a bit pricey…) collection of sliced saucisson to put on one end of it, but completely forgot because I was rushing to prep and cut the rolls before the dough warmed up too much and got even harder to handle. However, the rolls themselves were great. Very light browning (not visible here), light, soft, and tender on the inside. That’s likely because I used the dough hooks to knead, instead of using my hands and then getting impatient and adding flour to the dough, which needs to be moist and sticky. I’m pretty sure that was the difference here. (Even the cinnamon rolls, right out of the oven, weren’t too soft.) Funny thing is, right after, I got impatient with moisture again.

When people say “I don’t/can’t bake”, I sort of roll my eyes, because it just requires good sense and attention to detail and instructions. However, I can understand the patience aspect. I still fail on that occasionally. I made scones right after the rolls, but quickly lost my patience with the wetness of the dough and its lack of shape or even a vague sense of structure. (Not to excuse, but it was more moist than I can ever recall. Somehow, as I followed everything properly.) So I dumped some flour into the dough, even though in the back of my head I knew that moisture is needed for voluminous scones. Such a shame, as I had held my ground with the rolls. The first batch gained less than ½ inch in volume, but fortunately the second I got ½ – 1 inch, though still not as puffy as I’d hoped. It seems obvious, but when you know the right thing to do/not do, stick to it, regardless of what your surface impulses say. In the kitchen and in life.

That part didn’t work out so hot, but it was nice to get out for a delivery and get some night air. Ahh… Thank goodness for the fotogenic feline, something extra that’s good to look at is never unwelcome.

night rider 1

night rider 2

night rider 3


Nectarine tart, plum tart, squirrel cat

In delicious, You're a kitty! on Tuesday, 24 July, 2012 at 12:22

nectarine tart plum tart

Like I said, I just wanted to feel like a success again, even if it was easy and I’ve done it before. I added a vanilla bean this time though. And obviously, I used nectarines and red plums. I had at least a pound of nectarines, and about 3-4 plums. I wanted to overlap the fruit because it was so sparse on the last one. I sliced it all, then placed them cut side up in a casserole dish, sprinkled some brown sugar on top, and roasted them at 350º (or was it 375º? Oops.) for 25-30 minutes. All done the day before, of course. The nectarine looks a lot nicer below, the color comes out better at this angle, especially the first one.

nectarine tart 1

nectarine tart 2

The plum one turned out a bit mushy, so it’s not as attractive. They could have been cooked separately, and probably for less time, but I’m pretty sure I did this late at night, so I wasn’t going to wait another twenty or so minutes.

plum tart

And just because she hasn’t been around much lately:

squirrel pose

The squirrel imitation. The body is going two different directions on two different surfaces because it’s more comfortable that way.

all alone

All alone.


“Go to the grocery store, buy some new friends”

In music videos, vinyl on Thursday, 19 July, 2012 at 14:25

Song: Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine
Artist: Modest Mouse
Album: The Lonesome Crowded West

A crowd-pleaser this ain’t (unless you’re a fan). But is that abrasive, pissed-off opening guitar line awesome. It’s certainly not the most accessible, which of course was my reaction first hearing it however many years ago. To say nothing of the 6:53 run time, which is another thing that turned me off initially. I don’t know if it’s purely an age thing, where you have enough experience to appreciate different things more, a sense of “comprehension” (though that sounds kinda indie elitist snob, which is not what I mean). Or else it’s being in a certain state of life or even just frame of mind where one is more receptive to the energy (whatever that is) that’s being purveyed, or things just make sense. Anyway, it’s nice to be at the party, even if you’re incredibly late.

The song is a bit pent-up and angry, but intelligent. If you’ve ever heard or read their lyrics, much of them have a decidedly philosophical bent. Sure there’s some confusion and self-loathing, but it’s not stale, it has a nervous, frantic energy. I used to merely tolerate its presence as “track 1”, but now I actually enjoy it. Being more “mature” and all. You know a song is good when it’s almost seven minutes long and it’s still over too quickly. So maybe song length is a matter of age and experience as well, as I’ve been a bit more receptive towards longer songs recently. However, patience  obviously still has mostly to do with whether it’s a good song or not. It goes places, rather than wandering, noodling, or wanking about to stretch out the time. I appreciate the different movements, or segments. For example, the guitar line that supports the opening verses goes away after 1:30, sort of like the ragged but melodic and perky first two minutes of “Lounge (Closing Time)” before the tempo slows and shifts. Sad to see it go, but fortunately the rest of the song is good. It’s good headbanging music for brainy, thoughtful people. t’s smart, it’s “deep” (“do you need a lot of what you got to survive?”), and it rocks. Not that I’d throw this (or the album, for that matter) on looking to have a good time, as it’s a bit dark and “serious”. But as far as purging and expressing the inexpressible, music like this always valuable. And yet, it still is a little fun. The loud parts with all their heavy-osity are nice and charged– those conclusive 95 seconds? Yeah, man, yeah.

I can never resist really old clips of live performances, this one from 2000. The sound isn’t the best, however this one gets the nod because of the Mr. Show reference before the song (“King Shit….”), and because the show starts off (this was the opening song, allegedly) with Isaac Brock taking the piss out of a heckler (or hecklers). Also, it is said that before this show, some jackass (possibly the same verbal heckler) was throwing water at him while he was setting up. He asked the person to stop so he wouldn’t get shocked, they didn’t, so he jumped off stage and started swinging. The frustrated, pissed off thing isn’t just a songwriting tone, he brings that in real life too. I hope that story’s true. If only that were captured on tape somewhere….

Cinnamon rolls

In delicious, vinyl on Wednesday, 18 July, 2012 at 14:51

cinnamon rolls plated

Song: Simply Havin’
Artist: De La Soul
Album: Art Official Intelligence: Bionix

I just thought a fragment party song would play well, rather than cinnamon rolls on their own. Something to listen to while looking. Anyway, these came out better than the strawberry rolls last week, as I had more time but was still with company. I think I need to bake on my own time, for the most part. On the whole, I could’ve let the batter and dough rise a little more. A little messy, but that’s likely because I accidentally put in two sticks of butter for the spread/filling instead of one. For the first time ever, I mistook the amount of butter in one stick, 1/4 cup instead of 1/2. There was a lot of fluid on the bottom at the end, I’m thinking it was close to 1/2 cup. Also, unless the recipe I based this on was an aberration (or in error, as I’ve already found a few errors in the cookbook so far), the only cinnamon in cinnamon rolls is in the dough only. But, I put some in the filling anyway, and sprinkled some on top. Also, I’m thinking maybe the temperature doesn’t need to be so high, it was at 400º. I didn’t compare recipes to get a general idea and to come up with a normalized formula. Tsk. Always a good idea to research and compare. But the were still good. And, since a lot of the butter melted and took some of the sugar with it to the bottom of the pan, at least the rolls weren’t too sweet.

Sigh, two round, still working on it. I need to make a complete success. It might be time for another honey, Greek yogurt, cream cheese tart covered in fruit soon.

cinnamon rolls panned

Spanish banana nut cookies

In delicious, vinyl on Tuesday, 17 July, 2012 at 11:47

Song: Spanish Air
Artist: Slowdive
Album: Just For A Day

A few weeks ago I was listening to this song on the way to work at 630 in the morning, with the sun about an hour above the horizon, and I thought about how it’d be a good song for a soundtrack of a similar scene, just more dramatic. I used to do that quite a bit, I’m sure I’m one of many. I’m reminded of simpler days– less worry, less responsibility, more time to explore and listen to music, and more time to think of vague, imaginary scenes from an imaginary film to underscore a certain song with, with the hope/dream that I’d actually get to fulfill that one day. Ha! It does a pretty sweet dramatic, minor-key melody, which lends itself to anything swooning, sweeping, or significant. Make a statement with your scene.

Random experiment at 1030 pm: I thought of what would happen if I used banana in cookies, in place of butter. I thought it’d work better than applesauce since it’s not as thin, but it still came out light and spongy, a little cake-y almost. Which is fine, but I don’t think I’ll ever make cookies without fat in them. They’re a little drier, and not as flavorful. They just don’t seem to work as well. I still don’t know how to get the right spread for cookies, though this one doesn’t count, as the absence of fat probably had a lot to do with the shape seen here:

banana nut cookies

Butter it is.

Ugly strawberry rolls, cute girl

In delicious, experience, vinyl on Friday, 13 July, 2012 at 12:26

ugly strawberry rolls

Song: Dull Life
Artist: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Album: It’s Blitz!

Usually iPod-quality sound is decent, but hearing this through a computer, I had no idea the bass tones (guitar and percussion) were so full and thick, just through headphones. I really like the ones at the beginning, like that beefy bounce at 0:42. The sound is not terribly original– it’s pretty much “modern rock”– but it’s very spirited and rousing. It’s great for dancing and/or getting amped.

Now, as far as the food, I wanted to make cinnamon rolls, but with strawberry filling instead. They tasted fine, but the appearance, well… As long as it’s edible, it’s functional. The consistency of the filling and rolling technique are main things to work on next time, that’s for sure. I wanted to impress people, but I didn’t want to waste lots of time on it though. I was seeing family I hadn’t seen in 3-4 years, and I had about 12 hours, and wasn’t about to allot time to obsess, analyze, or fix. (Also, I may have found another typo in my cookbook. These were done after just under 20 minutes, book said it would take around 40. Sigh… Hopefully, school ought to straighten this out.)

My excuse was that I was too busy interacting, but this was the only photo I got. I hope to get more from my sister when she has the time. It felt nice to be so popular for one day, before returning to inverse, mundane reality. This niece was hanging on to me much of the day, which is how she got the glasses. Earlier that morning, I was talking with four of the kids about missing and pulled teeth, which three of them had. This one didn’t have any, I guess she felt left out, but I told her to be happy her teeth are in good shape still. I think I’m in the minority in saying this is better than a missing tooth/teeth smile, which would be cute, but not as nice. Pretty almost always beats cute, anyway.

cool corynn 1

cool corynn 2

I think it would’ve been sweet without the sunglasses, she looks a little too cool. But she asked for them, and when asked if I could see her eyes in the photo, and I replied that they were hidden pretty well, she was satisfied at people not being able to see them. You have to respect your subject, especially when she’s awesome. However, she lost some of her desired mystique about an hour later at dinner when cleaning up a few drops of chocolate milk spill on the table… with her shirt. (Napkin, ehhh.) But, she gained a buttload of charm. That’s the preferable one to have, anyway.

“A cheap holiday in other people’s misery”

In music videos, vinyl on Tuesday, 10 July, 2012 at 10:35

Song: Holidays In The Sun
Artist: Sex Pistols
Album: Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols

First song in four weeks. Then, I haven’t been listening to music much at all lately. I’m not sure if I should be scared about that. And now, the Sex Pistols? Hey, that’s a great opening line, no doubt about that. It was written about Berlin (when The Wall was still a reality, kids), but I think it can apply to any “disadvantaged” place that civilized, privileged people happen upon. Bless the couple in the last panel.



It feels like, for the most part, they were there for show, to agitate, subversion for its own sake. But, in 1976-7, I’m sure it worked like a charm. And it’s still a hook-y, terribly exhilarating song. Johnny Rotten’s hyper-snottiness genuinely amuses me, strongly affected as it may be. Like the spoken mish-mash at the end, and the way it tumbles out so loosely and messily:
“I don’t understand this thing at all, this third-rate B-movie show/cheap dialogue, cheap essential scenery”

It’s easy now to take it as aimless rebellion, amateurish and short-sighted, but it still seems like a lot of fun.

Rhubarb and strawberry toaster pastries

In delicious, You're a kitty! on Sunday, 1 July, 2012 at 21:47

toaster pastry strawberry and rhubarb 1

Now turn to the right and re-arrange yourselves

toaster pastry strawberry and rhubarb 2

Better than commercial, with the likely-10%-fruit/90%-sugar filling. Making them is easy as pie. That’s all they are: pie dough with cooked fruit inside. Seven ingredients on the whole, compared to double or triple the number in processed. Butter is the only undesirable part, but as they say, it’s not so much the fat content as the excess of saccharides that are harmful. Even then, I scale back on the sugar. Fruit has sugar, so I don’t add much when cooking. It can speak for itself. If the fruit is legitimately sour, the ratio of sugar to fruit will approach 1, but not over. The dough recipe is the same I use for all my pies. I’ll list them here, but leave the technique there. (I just noticed that the post I link to doesn’t actually contain a recipe, it links to one. Dummy. I’ll type up a separate page for that soon.)

3 c flour (this one used 2 c whole wheat pastry and 1 c unbleached all-purpose)
~2 t sugar
~ 1 t salt
1.5 c butter (2.5 sticks), sliced and chilled
1 c ice water + 1 t vinegar (not all will be used, about half, if that)

2 c strawberry, hulled and chopped
≤ 1/4 c sugar
1 T cornstarch

Filling is always made beforehand (at least a day for me), so it has time to cool. It’s the same as with any cooked fruit: toss the fruit, cornstarch, and sugar in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water, stir to combine, bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat to just under medium, and stir for 10-15 minutes. When done, it needs to be completely cool so it won’t melt the butter in the dough. Since I used the left over rhubarb filling from the danishes, I have some strawberry filling to use now. But, it’s always better to make more filling. I like cramming filling in to pastries if it can handle it, because I don’t like piddling, cheapskate amounts. Also, extra filling can be used for anything, whether eating plain, spreading on bread, filling other pastries, adding to yogurt or ice cream, making a blended beverage, etc.

The dough was rolled into a large rectangle and cut into rectangles 3.5″ x 4.5″. The scraps were gathered, combined, and rolled to cut again. All in all, I got 18 rectangles, good for nine pastries. Every single scrap was used. I put half the rectangles on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and brushed them with egg wash. Then I put about a tablespoon of fruit filling on the center of each, leaving about 1/2″ border on all sides, before covering with another rectangle, pressing then crimping the edges together to seal. When all were done, I put the baking sheets in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to chill, after which I brushed each top with egg wash, poked holes for steam, and sprinkled demerara sugar on some of them, then baked 20-22 minutes at 375º.

toaster pastry strawberry and rhubarb 4

I always like to include an intermediate, less presentational shot. I feel it signifies honesty and realism.

toaster pastry strawberry and rhubarb 3

Since it was two batches, it took about 45 minutes, which is about the same as a normal pie, if not less. But, unlike pie, you can start eating halfway in. If these last more than two days, I’ll be a bit shocked, at the very least congratulatory for not gorging myself.

On another note, someone’s quite content:

happy kitty 1

happy kitty 2