Monday, January 5, 2015

Making Ramen Noodles

It took the new year and several days off to chill for motivation to spike for an all out ramen fest. We used the recipes from the Ivan Ramen cookbook (they work great!) and enjoyed the feast.

Ramen refers to the noodles and soup which in our case was a triple broth mixture including chicken stock, pork stock, and dashi. We purchased back up frozen noodles from the nearby Asian store. My honey bunny did most of the work as he made the roast pork, stocks, menma (bamboo), and sofrito. I made the noodles, steam buns, and assisted with the dashi.

The ramen noodles were made using my kitchen aid mixer with a pasta attachment. These were the first try of Ivan's Toasted Rye Noodles.

Ivan's Toasted Rye Noodles

75 grams of Rye Flour
620 grams high protein bread flour
300 grams cake flour
10 grams Kansui powder (bake baking soda at 275ºF x 1 hour)
430 milliliters cool water
13 grams salt
Cornstarch as needed

1. Bake the baking soda x 275ºF x 1 hour. Cool.

2. Toast the Rye flour in pan over medium heat about 4 minutes, until you can smell the aroma. Use 70 GRAMS in the recipe.

3. Mix water, salt, and kansui until fully dissolved.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine flours and add water mix. Mix for 10 minutes-- add a spoonful of water if it isn't coming together. It will be on the dry side. Dough should form into a ball of sorts. Cover the dough and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

5. Flatten dough into pieces and cover with a damp cloth.

6. Set up your pasta machine and adjust for largest size. Pass piece of dough through, fold onto self making a double sheet, run through thinner setting, and repeat for the thinnest setting. Run through 4th time without double sheeting for the thinnest you can get them. Set aside and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

7. Pass thin dough sheets through a cutter or cut by hand. As you work, toss the noodles with a little cornstarch to keep them from sticking together, shake off excess before cooking. Store the noodles in a container wrapped tightly with plastic (or individual portions in ziplock bags) for up to a day.

8. Cook in boiling water for about 50 seconds (varies with water and flour used). Drain. Place into bowl of hot soup broth. Garnish.


Making ramen noodles

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Put Your House in Order

This time of year my friends in Japan are cleaning or at least thinking about it-- the house, office, car, buildings, just about everything, gets a thorough cleaning before the new year. The idea is to make room for the new.

I love a clean house, but I'm lazy or rather, busy, so I focus on organizing things and ignore the dust. The real war is with stuff. This year, inspired by Marie Kondo's new book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I have literature to support my approach.

You start by putting like with like, make a huge pile, and then go through every item where you physically have to pick it up and see if you feel the joy. Kondo talks you out of keeping a ton of crap that I know exists somewhere in my house. She has recommendations on where to start and some pitfalls to consider so read the book for further details.


Letting go of stuff is the key and this idea of holding it in your hands and sorting by vibes is great especially for stuff being kept out of obligation. I'm feeling for love, and if it isn't there, the item is thanked and discarded. It could be my familiarity with Japan, but this method works for me. 

I'll be working at this for months which is better than never dealing with it. Let's face it, the gains I've made over the past two weeks will dissipate Christmas Day-- I've got kids. 

If you're surrounded by stuff or keep seeing piles that need to be dealt with, start with her methods to dig into the real root of a happy home life-- surrounded only by things you go wowza over. Then stuff the rest into the culprit's room. Maybe inspiration for a clean space will come to them in a dream.

One housekeeping tip I can pass along to those of you who suffer with living with Legos, everywhere, is to sic a rat on them. The Mule's rats love the Moose's Legos. Nothing like the threat of an imminent rat attack to get the Moose to clear out the Legos!

"Discard anything that doesn't spark joy." 
Marie Kondo

There's space on my book shelves!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Birdman and Opening Night

John Cassavetes' film Opening Night (1977) has the actress Gina Rowland stumbling drunk behind the stage in the days leading up to opening night for a play on aging. Haunted by a tragically killed fan, a younger woman, she fights by day with both the ghost and the play write, an older woman. Blind drunk, she pulls off the performance of her life just in time to open the play.

Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance (2014) echoes a similar structure with a mysterious superhero alter ego levitating about in his head is funnier and seems a fitting alter ego for Michael Keaton's Batman fame.  Edward Norton is brought in to save the play when another actor departs, but he proves to be difficult on set and full of himself while also making him kind of fun and funny. Emma Stone, the daughter that gets no daddy time, is recently out of rehab and crackles with a wisdom that eventually even her dad notices. Sparks surprisingly fly between Norton and Stone as he seeks her attention.

I'm not sure if Birdman is channeling Opening Night, but for me the similar territory of opening on Broadway pulls them together, with Birdman being a bit more quirky and fun.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Football & Food in Athens Schools

I love that this little town in the hills of Ohio, though often ignored politically, undeveloped economically, and mired in pockets of profound poverty, in the same day served the Athens City School kids Abby's winning dish for the state of Ohio school lunch contest and sent the high school football team to the State Championship game at the OSU stadium in Columbus.

We've got the food thing going on in Athens so it's no surprise that we've got budding chefs even in fourth grade. Whereas it's pretty incredible to see Athens compete with big city football programs that pull from a much larger pool of talent. Let's face it, football is a game where Goliath has the advantage.

Athens High School did not win, but it was the kind of football game that kept the fans on both sides on their feet (56 to 52) to the last seconds. For the record, and many were broken, there were more Bulldog fans. The Irish had twenty pounds and several inches on nearly every Athens player, but they did not have a quarterback with a phenomenal passing game, thus the slug fest high scoring game.

The real controversy was prompted when the school board notified parents that all Athens City Schools would have an early release followed by a delayed start. Turned out that parents, staff, and the buses were needed to get the football team and marching band up to Columbus in time for the game, but not everyone knew this information.

Being Athens, here I refer to the spirit of rebel rousing, the school board got an earful from parents august that four hours of education were being taken away before even a snow day hit for football. Nonetheless also being Athens, people listened. So a few digressed with hot air, but still people actually listened. Parent concerns were taken to heart. 

The school board explained their position in a letter and in the end took only two hours out of the school day. 

The special lunch was pulled off thanks to cooperation with the Athens City schools, Abby's family, and parent volunteers. 

The kids embraced it all.

At the game, it was cold in the stands. We were prepared-- I pulled out our ski gear. I noticed my neighbors in the stands sported hunting gear, making me feel a tad more city-mouse than I think of myself. As I watched the opposing fans cheer their Irish team from Toledo, the Athens fans rang cowbells. More cowbell



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mug Shots

In Appalachia you rub elbows with people from all walks of life. A glimpse into ways that contrast my own such as the summer day I asked the electrician to wait while I finished off a pot of jam led to the disclosure that he had earned a blue ribbon at the county fair the summer before for his jam. The surprise jam aficionado caught me off guard.

Recently, a farmer lectured me about adding trace minerals to the soil. Amusing because I have a garden that barely qualifies as a trace of land.

However, today's tip takes the cake due to both the sincerity of the tip and the source which comes from a  jail bird.

Drum roll.

Get your mug shots right away. The Police put you in the cell and leave you there overnight and then take your mug shots when you look all scruffy and worse for the wear the next morning

Get'em early folks!

Much cuter than a Mug Shot