Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ode to a Chick

It started innocently enough, as affairs often do. A blog post here. An email there. Then it descended into a full throated affair. But I should begin at the beguin.

I was an avid reader of a Kim O’Donnell, a former writer for the Washington Post. She had one of the earlist food chats, What’s Cooking, and wrote a terrific blog, A Mighty Appetite. She’s done wonderful work for tasty vegetarian cooking and I try to follow Meatless Mondays and have done a couple of Eating Down the Fridge weeks. The Post killed her chat and she eventually relocated her blog to TrueSlant (since purchased by Forbes).

One of her blog posts caught my eye: Superfly Fries. Panisse are akin to French fries made from flour from dried garbanzo beans. I buy mine at Indian groceries where it’s known as Besan. You bring chicken stock up to a simmer, stir in the flour, and cook until it thickens. Then pour out the batter in a pan and refrigerate. Cut into segments like home fries and deep fry. Serve with a bit of mayo.

I then proceeded to buy too much of the flour and didn’t want it to go to waste. Turns out that a 50/50 blend of wheat flour and besan is great in many recipes. I’ve done some homemade pasta and it’s wonderful. Nice and nutty. Also makes great pancakes. This stuff was definitely in the rotation.

The capper came this past week. We’ve started doing the South Beach diet. Or rather, the lovely Keen is doing it full bore and I’m trying to be supportive. So, I make SB compliant meals and limit my consumption of carbs to finishing up after the boys or catching happy hour on my own. Thing is that not having any kind of bread or rice is difficult. I’ve made some nice discoveries. Tofu goes nicely into a beef stew (adds the missing satiation of mashed potatoes and picks up flavor from the sauce). Still, sometimes you want some bread.

Enter the humble garbanzo bean. Or rather, the chick pea. I did say this was an ode to a chick. It’s allowed under the diet for reasons unclear to me. Perhaps it’s the protein content. I don’t know. However, Keen found an amazing recipe for a chickpea flatbread called socca. It’s absurdly easy and sensational. Probably takes about 20 minutes to make. Put a cast iron skillet in the oven and turn it up to 450. Do a basic mix of chickpea flour, water, salt, and pepper. If you like them, add some onions and a bit of rosemary. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into the skillet, swirl, and then pour in the batter. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn on the broiler for a minute or so to finish.

Unbelievable. The stuff is amazing. Here's the relevant links as I have nothing to do with this recipe.

So, I’m in love with a chick, even though it’s a pea. Fortunately, my wife is willing to allow this affair of the stomach.


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Three Most Important Things About Catching Mice? Location. Location. Location.

We dealt with a mouse infestation last year. I think they originally took refuge from all that snow in February. One mouse is cute. Even two. They’re little, quiet creatures. I actually removed one or two gently (you can fling a mouse a goodly distance by its tail). Sadly, they can’t be toiled trained and tend to leave their ever so tiny and cute mouse poo in not so cute places. They started getting bolder as well. Once they started mooning me, it was war.

Off to Home Depot. I have to say that the race to build a better mouse trap has succeeded. It’s like going to the computer aisle at Best Buy and about as confusing. You can get traps that all but put the mouse in a tiny little coffin and play Amazing Grace as it is lowered into the trash can. In the end, I went with four or five claw like contraptions along with a similar number of baited traps.

We’d spotted the mice at a few places, so the claws went there. The mice had gotten into a few spots, so those were natural locations. We used to have a bin full of various sweet things, generally candy or jelly brought back from trips to Costa Rica. I found a few empty wrappers one time and thought who would eat a candy and then leave the wrapper? What happened, of course, was the mice found the candies and would consume them, leaving a wrapper behind. As the mice apparently had a sweet tooth, I used Nutella for bait instead of peanut butter.

The early results were impressive. I think we caught a dozen mice the first week. Well, caught is a euphemism as the claw is not for those who prefer catch & release trapping. I started putting X’s on the most successful traps. Fortunately, we didn’t have enough mice for one of them to make ace. Ten kills, right?

I never saw any mice in the poison-baited traps. They were purported to trap the mouse, but ours were a bit too small. I did see a couple had some serious nibbling, so I suspect they were effective in a quiet way. There are probably some dessicated mouse carcasses back behind our cabinets. So we could finally relax.

Well, until this winter. December was brutally cold for Washington. It’s not as bad as Minnesota, where I went to college, but I also tended to wear warmer clothing there. We started to see some evidence of a renewed infestation. I spotted the first mouse this afternoon. It was nibbling on something it found on the range top (which admittedly needs cleaning). We’re better prepared this time. We bought a lot of storage containers so there’s no easily available food. We just need to keep the kitchen clean at night.

And finally to the title of tonight’s post. The mouse came up from behind the range and I’m pretty sure they use the electrical cord as a ladder. So, I moved one of the claw traps to that spot. A couple of hours later, Keen mentioned that she thought she heard it snap while she was doing her workout. Yup. Mouse #1 down. The trap triggered about five minutes and caught mouse #2. I’m curious as to if there will be another victim by morning. Sorry, mice. We’re not ready for pets.

Update from this morning: Mouse #3 down. We'll see what tomorrow morning brings.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

A tale of two more iPads

The replacement iPad arrived Thursday morning. It's pretty and shiny and I had fun tracking its progress from China to Hong Kong to Alaska to New Jersey (a surprisingly brief stop in light of weather) to Virginia. Keen restored her iPad settings and has had much fun with it.

We had a friend over for dinner Thursday night. A call came into Keen's phone, but she didn't answer it as she didn't recognize the number. Then I got a call from the same number. It was someone asking if we'd lost an iPad (yes????) and who said he'd mail it back to us. I voluntarily mentioned a reward. I'd happily pay a few hundred dollars for the return of our iPad.

I'm not sure that our old iPad will be coming back home, but it looks like a serious possibility. Regardless of the motives of the person who currently has possession of our iPad, I'm happy at the prospect of its return. Ironically, the new (refurb) iPad has some kind of a problem that causes it to reboot spontaneously when one is in the middle of listening to something. Looks like it might get returned. Odd times.