The rules of the game are simple:
1. Make sure your blender can handle ice. The smell of burning machinery is very unappetizing.
2. Always, always, always put the liquid in first. This also helps to keep the machinery death away. (Though perhaps a $400 blender from Blendtech wouldn’t do that, it’s still a good idea. Yes, that price would be worth it. That’s a VERY good company.)
3. A quick rule of thumb— which may need a little tweaking— is to have enough liquid (and binders) to fill your glass halfway, and then enough loose ice cubes to fill your glass completely. Obviously, this breaks down when you don’t have pre-mixed concentrates to work with, but it’s a good fudge factor.

Then all you need is a little imagination. I’ve been experimenting, and here are a couple of recipes I’ve been playing with.

Berry Smoothie
You will need:
1/2 cup orange juice
1 single serving berry or cherry yogurt
Frozen strawberries or raspberries (frozen cranberries are optional)
1 tsp wheat germ (optional; good for helping to lower cholesterol)

Dump the ingredients in the blender in the order given; pulse blend on high until smooth. (The frozen berries are in lieu of ice, and work very well.)

Black and Blue Smoothie
for those days when you’ve banged your elbow and stubbed your toe
You will need:
1/2 cup lemonade, or water and lemon juice
1 single serving of blueberry yogurt
Frozen blackberries (frozen nectarines or skinned peaches optional)
1 tsp wheat germ (optional)

Again, blend in the order given. Add frozen berries if it seems too thin. It is best to always go from thin to thick; most blenders won’t blend in new liquid very well.

Mocha Smoothie (approximate; I don’t drink coffee)
You will need:
1/2 cup strong coffee or two shots fresh espresso
4 oz. milk (about one glug, or if using an espresso machine, top off the shot)
1/2 single serving plain or vanilla yogurt (if you have yogurt powder, substitute 1/4 cup and add it last)
16 or 20 oz. glass of ice
Chocolate syrup
Ground cinnamon (optional)

The amount of chocolate necessary is dependent upon you. The cinnamon is good for drawing the bitterness from coffee. (The things you learn as a barista.)

Happy Accidents

Years ago, in what seems like a former lifetime, an acting teacher taught me that when accidents happen, they are gifts that give you the opportunity to create something you never would have otherwise… whether that be on stage or in real life.

Back in September, I purchased a Michron from Alpine Labs. It’s a great tool that connects to DSLR cameras to control the shutter and create time-lapse video or long exposure stills. I actually only wanted it because I could program it to leave my shutter open for over 30 seconds to capture some long exposure images in the dead of night. I really wasn’t planning on creating any time-lapse videos.

On my first time out in the woods shooting photos in the dark, I must have dropped a cord when I was packing up because the next time I went to use my Michron, I couldn’t…

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What Makes English So Weird?

And finally, because of this firehose spray, we English speakers also have to contend with two different ways of accenting words. Clip on a suffix to the word wonder, and you get wonderful. But – clip on an ending to the word modern and the ending pulls the accent ahead with it: MO-dern, but mo-DERN-ity, not MO-dern-ity. That doesn’t happen with WON-der and WON-der-ful, or CHEER-y and CHEER-i-ly. But it does happen with PER-sonal, person-AL-ity.

What’s the difference? It’s that –ful and –ly are Germanic endings, while –itycame in with French. French and Latin endings pull the accent closer – TEM-pest, tem-PEST-uous – while Germanic ones leave the accent alone. One never notices such a thing, but it’s one way this ‘simple’ language is actually not so.

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Fruit Lassi

You will need:
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 cups water
3 tbsp puréed fruit (mango or strawberry, usually)
crushed pistachio nuts (optional)

Place the yogurt in a jug and whisk it until it is frothy, about two minutes. Add the sugar. Mix in the water and fruit and whisk until blended. Serve chilled with pistachio nut garnish.

Frozen fruits are really good for this drink; find them in the dessert section of the freezer department.

Snow White

Hot as Hate

Black as coal and red as blood

We think we know the tale,
the young beauty rising
from the fading of the old
saved by sympathy
and succored by the world.
We’ve lost the cues
the comb, its poisoned tines
the corset laced tight to press the breath away
signs of beauty, warped by jealousy
We are left with only the apple
health and temptation inverted.
We think we know the tale
but willful blindness marks our telling
a car pushed into a lake
in a bathtub, one by one
we do not wish to remember
that at the start
there was no stepmother involved.

March 5, 2009

Indian Cashew Chicken

You will need:
2 medium onions
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup cashews (2 oz)
1 1/2 tsp garam masala*
1 tsp garlic pulp (like through a garlic press)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp corn oil (canola oil okay)
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
1 tbsp golden raisins
3 1/4 cups chicken, skinned, boned, and cubed
2 1/2 cups button mushrooms
1 1/4 cups water
Extra cilantro to sprinkle on top

Cut the onions into quarters and run them through a food processor or blender. (If you’re a glutton for punishment, dice them by hand.) Add the tomato paste, cashews, garam masala, garlic, chili powder, lemon juice, turmeric, salt and yogurt; blend.

In a saucepan, heat the oil, lower the heat to medium, and put in the blended mix. Fry for about 2 minutes. Add the cilantro, golden raisins, and chicken and cook for another minute. Add the mushrooms and water; stir and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Check to see that the chicken is cooked; the sauce should thicken, but if it doesn’t, it’s still very very tasty. Sprinkle with the extra cilantro and serve with saffron rice or potato cakes. Serves four with sides.

*This is a spice mix available at Indian markets and many large supermarkets, Cost Plus, and Trader Joe’s. If yours doesn’t have it, you can make your own by grinding 4 inch-long cinnamon sticks, 3 cloves, 3 black peppercorns, 2 black cardamon pods with husks removed, and 2 tsp black cumin seeds together in a mortar.