Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Pokémon – Now In Candy Form

Look what I made!

Pokemon candy making

I’d been dying to make these Pokémon candies since Scott sent me the video of how to make them. Well, it was Cath’s birthday the other day and that seemed like the perfect excuse to try out the recipe!

Really, all you need to make these are some candy melts and silicone half-sphere mould. The former were pretty easy to find (I got them on sale at Michael’s craft store, but later discovered you can also buy them in bulk at the Bulk Barn), whereas the latter were more difficult. We checked every kitchen store in the area, plus Michael’s, Canadian Tire, Winners, and London Drugs and found silicone moulds in every shape other than half sphere. In the end, I had to resort to ordering it from Amazon!

Candy melts

Candy Melts are available in just about any colour you can imagine!

Pokemon candy making

Silicone half sphere mould

Then all you had to do was melt the appropriate colour Candy Melts, coat the mould with it and stick it in the freezer. In ~15 minutes, they popped right out and were all beautiful and shiny!

Pokemon candy making

We made two yellow half spheres to make Pikachu, two blue half spheres to make a Polliwag, and one red & one white half sphere to make the Pokéball! Then we made some ears for Pikachu1 and then, using food safe paint brushes and melted Candy Melts of various different colours, decorated them up. Then you use the remaining melted Candy Melts to glue the two halves together and you are good to go!

Pokemon candy making

The original video shows you how to make them as piñatas, but I didn’t think it would be nice to smash a poor innocent little Pokémon! Well, at least until you are going to eat it.

Pokemon candy making

Pokemon candy making

They are Pokélicious!

  1. Sadly, one of the ears fell off on the way to the party! []

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New Foods I Made in 2016

Like my book goal, I managed to achieve my goal of making 16 new food items that I’d never made before – in fact, I surpassed my goal by 1 item.

1 Cream puffs 28-Feb-2016
2 rice krispie easter nests 24 Mar 2016
3 Asparagus and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts 14-Apr-2016
4 breaded zucchini 9-May-2016
5 macroons 14-May-2016
6 macarons 23-May-2016
7 sauteed garlic scapes1 16-Jun-2016
8 crushed salt & vinegar potatoes 17-Jun-2016
9 BBQ’d country style pork ribs 25-Jun-2016
10 grilled zucchini, green onion, and lemon salad 25-Jun-2016
11 fig sauce 24-Jul-2016
12 blueberry jam 24-Jul-2016
13 apricot jam 24-Jul-2016
14 garlic parmesan breaded chicken breasts 24-Jul-2016
15 chirizo stuffed zucchini 1-Aug-2016
16 chicken schnitzel 10-Oct-2016
17 banoffee pie 25 Dec 2016

Taking up canning this summer helped my cause, as I made three things with my new canning set: 2 successful jams and one failed jam that was re-imagined as a sauce2. I also see a trend of making breaded things, with three different kinds of breaded chicken and one breaded vegetable making the the list.

My favourites of all the things on this list are macarons (super time consuming, but so delicious) and the crushed potatoes.

Garlic scape

Why did no one tell me that garlic scapes were a thing before 2016?

  1. Also BBQ’d garlic scapes on June 25, 2016, but didnt’ think it was different enough from sauteed ones to count as a different item. []
  2. Note to self: next summer, try making raspberry and blackberry jam, jalapeño jelly, pickles, and canned spicy green beans! []

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Various Updates

Life seems to have gotten extra busy, so I’m resorting to writing this blog posting on my phone during my morning commute [and then posting it tonight, now that I’m home from my hockey game, with a few edits made and photos inserted!], despite just yesterday saying to my sister “I don’t know how you can write a journal article on your phone!” I stand by my sentiment that this is not the ideal way to type out a long piece of writing but (a) my evenings for the foreseeable future are booked up and (b) when I tried to turn on my ereader just now, the battery was dead so what else am I going to do on this Skytrain ride?

Foot Update

  • It’s been a month since I sprained my ankle. It’s not 100% healed, but it’s mostly there. Been sporting this awesome kin tape – I have no idea if it actually does anything, but figured it can’t hurt. I’ve gotten back to hockey (after 2 weeks off) and a running (after 3 weeks off), though on my runs on Saturday and Monday my left knee was bugging me, so I’m probably compensating for the ankle even though I don’t feel the ankle. I‘m going to get got it checked out today after work to see if it needs adjusting or strengthening or something [and I got some work done on it to work some of the edema out – because it was still a bit swollen today – among other things. Hopefully that will help me get to 100%.
  • As if having a sprained ankle wasn’t bad enough, last week I did this to my toe at hockey:
    Hockey injury But I didn’t do it *playing* hockey. I did it by stubbing my toe on my hockey bag after the game. It looked much worse than it felt, thank goodness!

Garden Update

  • For the most part, my garden is doing quite well, with the notable exception of my tomato plant, which died. When I was away in St. John’s I had to put my whole garden inside as my strata decided that that was the exact perfect time to power wash and paint my balcony and so I couldn’t have anything out there. The tomato plant did not survive that. I just bought a new tomato plant to replace it – hopefully there are no more unforeseen upheavals of my garden this summer.

    My new tomato plant

    This is the new tomato plant I bought. Wish me luck getting it to tomato!

  • When I put my garden inside my condo for a week, my jalapeño plant had two little jalapeños and many little buds. The buds never ended up blooming, but the jalapeños that has started kept going and now about a dozen more buds have budded. I can’t wait until the first ones are ready to eat.
    My first two jalapenos

    My first two jalapeños

    Jalapeno buds

    Jalapeño buds

  • Prior to the Great Upheaval of the garden being moved indoors, my cilantro plant had bolted. I didn’t even know that was a thing until it happened – my cilantro plant shot up to about 2 ft I’m height and the leaves went all feathery. Dr. Google explained to me that cilantro plants don’t like it when it is hot, so when the temperature gets too high they start to bud, then shoot up I’m height and go to seed – the idea being that the seeds will fall and the plant will regrow when conditions are better. If you catch the buds early enough you can cut them off and keep your plant going, but I knew nothing (Beth Snow) of this until it was too late. So I let it go to see and then harvested the seeds and have now planted them. And now we wait to see if they will grow.
    Coriander seeds that I harvested after my cilantro plant bolt4ed

    Freshly harvested coriander seeds

    I did manage to get this parsley to grow from seed1, but it was seed that I bought rather than seed that I harvested.

Goals Update:

I’ve tried out making quite a few new food items towards my goal of making 16 new food or drink items I’ve never made before.These include this grilled zucchini salad:

Country-style pork ribs:

Country style pork ribs

Garlic Scapes2 – I made them both sautéed and BBQ’d:

Garlic scape

Homemade Salsa:

My first batch of salsa

Smashed potatoes ((These are delicious. I’ve made them several times now because they are good!)):

Smashed potatoes

I’ve made a total of 11 so far and since it’s only just past halfway through the year, I’m ahead of schedule.

Another goal for this year is to knock 16 items off my 101 list and so far I’ve only done 3 in 2016, which means I’m way behind schedule on that one! The most recent of the 3 was to “go for a ride in a float plane”, which I did when I returned from Salt Spring Island to Vancouver last week. It was super cool!

Tangent: While on Salt Spring, we played a fair bit of tennis. I tracked it with my GPS watch to see how far I ran – here’s a map of one of our matches:

Tennis, as tracked by my GPS watch

We also saw some goats and chickens at Salt Spring Island Cheese:

Goats at Salt Spring Island Cheese

Chickens at Salt Spring Island Cheese

Cat Update

My cats are still the most awesome cats who have ever catted. Even despite the fact that Watson is kind of a jerk who never lets his sister on the cat tree. You know the giant cat tree that I bought them that is big enough for like 10 cats? Watson seems to think it’s not big enough for more than 1 cat. And if the 1 cat is not him, then it’s not even big enough for 1. If Crick tries to go to there, he chases her off. Sometimes he doesn’t even stay on the tree – he just doesn’t want her on there. Like I said, he’s kind of a jerk. But I still love him.

Watson won't let Crick onto the cat tree

Poor Crick is relegated to siting on the fireplace mantle, since Watson will not share the cat tree.

Lord Commander Watson Snow, the Watcher on the Wall

Lord Commander Watson Snow is the Watcher on the Wall

Crick gets him back by eating his food. I always put their food in two dishes and usually, Watson will have a few bites and then wander away to clean himself. Meanwhile, Crick eats her entire dish and then starts in on his. She’s a little piglet. And I love her.

Crick is hiding under the open dishwasher

Crick is hiding from her brother

Watson

Watson is keeping up with the news

Crick thinks she's a shoe

Crisk is disguising herself as a shoe

It's too bright in here!

It’s too bright in here!

  1. All my other herbs have been from seedlings. []
  2. Why has no one ever told me about garlic scapes before? I got them at the New West Farmer’s Market, w It’s the top part of the garlic, is only available for a short period each year, and is like a mild garlic taste without the bite. Very cool! []

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Easter Treats – My First New Food Item for 2016

Due to my immune system having gone MIA for the first 3 months of this year, I’m rather behind on many of my goals. Including the goal of “Make 16 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before” for which, up until Thursday, I have made a grand total of 0. But now that I’m mostly healthy (just waiting out the remainder of my 100 day cough – which isn’t infectious, it’s just irritated lungs), I have made my first new food item of the year, just in time for Easter!

Easter treats

Easter treats

One of these eggs is hatching!

This treat was super easy to make and combines three awesome things – Rice Krispie squares (or nests, in this case), Mini-Eggs1, and Peeps.

  1. I’m generally a chocolate snob, preferring to eat high quality dark chocolate, but for some reason the combo of milk chocolate and whatever heaven they make that candy shell from makes Mini-Eggs one of my exceptions. See also: Reese peanut butter cups. []

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I’m cooking beets for Christmas dinner. Wait, why did you think I had a big knife and red on my gloves?

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Christmas Baking 2015

For the official record1, the following baked goods were baked at the annual Snow family Christmas baking extravaganza 2015:

My Mom:

    • Tiger Cookies

Tiger cookies

    • Cranberry Nut Clusters

White Chocolate Nut Clusters

  • Fake Nanaimo Bars2

Fake Nanaimo Bars
Nancy (my sister):

    • brown sugar jam cookies

Jam sandwich cookies

  • cheese crackers

Daniel (Nancy’s friend):

  • lemon squares
  • almond crescent cookies

Beth:

  • shortbread cookies
  • amaretti
Ameretti

Amaretti dough

Ameretti

Amaretti cookies – pre-baking

Ameretti

Amaretti cookies – baked

Ameretti

Amaretti cookies – close up

  1. My blog is the official record. []
  2. Which I’ve been referring to as “Parksville Bars”. Parksville is the town next to Nanaimo. []

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Making Dinner With A Little Vitamin Beer

A friend of mine and I have taken up home brewing, because science. It’s a long story that I’ll blog about later, but suffice it to say that we recently finished our first batch and it was, shall we say, suboptimally carbonated. Tasted quite good for a first batch, if I do say so myself, but one can only drink so much undercarbonated beer, so I came up with the idea that I should look up some recipes for things you can make with beer, because beer. And I came up with the following, all of which tasted pretty darned good, if I do say so myself!

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread:

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread

This was really quick to make and really tasty, if you are in the mood for a dense bread. I had read the comments on the recipe before I made this and noted that someone had commented that it didn’t take nearly as long as to bake as the 50-60 minutes stated in the recipe, so I made sure to check on it early and it ended up only taking about 35 minutes to bake!

Savory Beer Pork Chops:

Savory Beer Pork Chops

These pork chops were also pretty delicious. As well, when I put the brown sugar into the beer to make the marinade, the beer foamed up and looked like real beer!

Homebrewed Beer

Potato Beer Cheese Soup:

Potato Beer Cheese Soup

This was a pretty good soup – and I generally don’t even like soup!

And so I was 3 for 3 on delicious tasting recipes. Can’t say that this was the healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten – pro tip: when you meal is all beige, something is drastically wrong in the nutrition department.

In addition to finding a way to not waste beer1 and making a delcious dinner, I also managed to bring the number of new food items I’ve made this year to 10 and so I’ve officially completed 67% of my goal to make 15 new food items in 2015 and it’s only February!

  1. Which I’m relatively certain is at least a misdemeanour, if not a full out crime. []

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New Foods I Made in 2014

Another item from my goals for 2014 list that I figured deserved its own posting was make 14 new food items that I’ve never made before1. And this goal I not only achieved, but I actually surpassed!

This year, I made:

IMG_7382

Salad rolls that I made with my friend Kim

Homemade Spinach Pasta

Homemade pasta that I made with my friend Linda. Topped with pesto and feta!

IMG_7483

BBQ chicken, corn-on-the-cob, roasted potatoes, and grilled zucchini

I also made guacamole devilled eggs a couple of times this year and I think the first time I made them was in 2014, but I’m not 100% sure I didn’t make them the previous year, so I’m not going to count them just in case. As well, I made *5* new drinks that I’d never made before – The Suffering Bastard, The Leveraged Synergy, and the Value Added Leveraged Synergy (all at my “I’m finished my MBA” party!) and the Mortgage Margarita and strawberry lemonade (for my housewarming party) – but I’m not counting those since the goal stated “food items”, but not beverages. But I don’t need to since, as you can see from the list, I actually made *19* food items this year! Hopefully I won’t regret using up extra new ideas this year when it comes time to try to come up with 15 new food and/or drink items to make in 2015!

  1. I see now that I look at the goals that I said that all the items “must be blogged about”. And while I didn’t blog about them all at the time I did them, I did keep track and now I’m blogging about them, so that totally counts! []
  2. This one has a back story. I was having a bunch of friends over for dinner and decided that I would try my hand at Baked Alaska. When I told Kalev, he got upset, saying “What are the vegetarians supposed to eat??” And I was confused and said, “What’s not vegetarian about ice cream and meringue?” It turned out, he was thinking of Beef Wellington, not Baked Alaska! So another time when he was coming over for dinner, I decided to make a vegetarian version of Beef Wellington, which turned out to be quite delicious! []
  3. I’ve made lasagna before, but not with tofu in place of ricotta cheese. It actually was quite tasty! []
  4. I wasn’t too big a fan of these myself. []
  5. I had a bunch of limes leftover from margarita making, so I tried this recipe, but it turned out that I much prefer the honey mustard dressing that I first tried making earlier and which is now my staple. []

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A Spicy Situation

As I wrote my goals update post last week, I realized that though I’d long ago come up with a solution to my spice situation (item #14 on my list of goals for 2014) and I had promised Stacy that I would blog about it, I have been delinquent in actually writing said blog posting. But better late than never, right?

To give you a little background, I own about eleventy billion types of spices because spices are awesome. What was not awesome was that I had spices in all sorts of different containers – some were in bags, some in jars/bottles – of all different sizes and I basically just had them all thrown haphazardly into plastic bins that I kept in my cupboard, which meant that whenever I wanted a certain spice, I had to pull all the plastic bins out of the cupboards and dig through them all to find what I wanted. Not very efficient and rather annoying when you are trying to enjoy some cooking! Hence, why I decided I needed to figure out a useful way of organizing the damn spices.

My first step was taken care of, as I long ago had made a test tube spice rack out of surplus lab equipment1. I don’t have enough room for all elevently billion spices, but I was able to put the 13 spices I use the most often (or which just look really cool) into test tubes, labelled them, and now they sit on the counter, within easy reach while I’m cooking.

IMG_0436

For the eleventy billion minus thirteen other spices, I decided to use a drawer to store them, rather than the cupboard, because I’m short and I need a step stool to reach things in my cupboards. True story. For any spices that were already in a jar/bottle, I just laid those down with the label facing up. For all the ones that were in bags, I went out and bought a bunch of little jars and labeled them. Hence, I now have this drawer full of well-labeled spices:

IMG_0430

IMG_0433
The metal thing on the right is a grater that I use to grate nutmeg. Because my sister taught me the joy of freshly ground nutmeg.

IMG_0431
I have no idea why I inconsistently capitalized the spice names on the labels. I only just noticed it when I looked at this photo. Omg, that’s going to drive me crazy.

So there you have it – my spice storage solution!

  1. There used to be a lab equipment thrift shop at UBC, where you could buy cast off lab supplies. They even had an electron microscope in their inventory at one point! So I got a test tube rack, which was actual white plastic (which is the kind we usually used in the lab), but I painted it metallic silver to make it look cooler). []

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Pasta Perfection

A long, long time ago in a galaxy that is right here, my friend Linda noticed that “make homemade pasta” was item #43 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days and was all “I have pasta making attachments for my KitchenAid mixer. We should totally get together and make some pasta”. And I was all, “Totally!” And then for a long long time we were both all, “Hey we should really pick a date to make some pasta” and “Yeah, we totally should” and repeat. At some point we finally got our act together and set today as the big pasta making day!

We decided to make some spinach fettuccine, mostly because many of the other recipes called for semolina flour, whereas the spin-fet called for all purpose flour and we figured we didn’t want to go and buy special flour in case we discovered that we hated making pasta and then we’d have a useless bag of flour sitting around.

As it turns out, pasta making is not nearly as complicated and scary as I thought it would be. We basically just blended up some spinach, mixed in eggs, water, and flour, kneaded the dough for a bit and then, in small batches, ran it through the pasta roller attachment several times, making it into successively thinner and thinner sheets:

Homemade Spinach Pasta

Linda rolling the dough!

Once you have a sheet of your desired thickness, you run it through the cutting attachment1:

Homemade Spinach Pasta

Linda displaying her freshly cut pasta!

And viola!, you have homemade pasta:

Homemade Spinach Pasta

We learned a few things from this our first pasta making adventure, the first of which basically can be summed up as “Follow the instructions!” Lesson #1: You should probably let the pasta dry while laid out flat. We were planning to cook all the pasta once we had it all cut, so we sort of just piled it up on a couple of plates. At the time we put it on the plates, the noodles seemed to be holding their shape and not sticking together, but by the time we got all the batches done, we discovered that the noodles on the bottom of the pile were rather smushed together, just from the weight of the pile and the amount of time that they sat together. (In our defence, the instructions did say you could make the pasta into little “nests” for freezing, but upon closer reading of said instructions, we realized it said that you can do that *after* you dry it and also it said “little” nests, not giant pile o’pasta.)

From the above, we learned lesson #2: This dough is very forgiving. Given the smushedness2 of the remaining pasta, we decided to re-roll and re-cut the noodles. The dough seemed rather dry and stiff at first, but Linda managed to work a bit more water into the dough and after much kneading and re-rolling, it returned to its fantastic pliable yet sturdy consistency that allowed us to cut more noodles, which we cooked immediately so as to not allow them any opportunity to re-smush together.

Lesson #3 was more of an idea for next time rather than a “lesson” per se. While making the pasta, we would roll out a few sheets and then switch from the roller attachment to the cutter attachment and then back again when we were done cutting and ready to roll the next few batches. We realized that it would be way better if we had two mixers, one with the roller attachment on and one with the cutting attachment on and not have to do all the switching back and forth. Given that both Linda and I own this type of mixer, that’s totally doable3.

Because we wanted to be able to taste the pasta, we opted to serve it with a bit of olive oil, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and feta:

Homemade Spinach Pasta

Homemade Spinach Pasta

Verdict: Not only did this taste amazing, it was really quite simple to do. I think that you should probably buy me a present and it should be this.

  1. Linda had one for fettuccine and one for spaghetti. You could also just use the sheets to make lasagna or stuffed pastas, like ravioli or cannelloni []
  2. Is so a word. []
  3. There may or may not be a pasta party in the works now. []