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It has been relatively cold here lately; yesterday morning the temperature was about -7C. One visual sign of this is that the birds outside are SO POOFY. The juncos yesterday were at least twice their summer volume.

Thus, if I look out my window and see exceedingly poofy birds, I may have a reliable indicator that it's cold out there.
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This worked out quite well, so I shall post it here for your enjoyment, should you be inclined to try it.

First, you will need kvass. You could buy kvass, or you could make it. In case you don't live near a Russian market, I will tell you how to make it.

1. The Kvass

Kvass is a fermented drink made from bread.

For the kvass, you need sugar, raisins, yeast, and black bread. Very dark eastern-European-style breads with lots of rye work well, as does pumpernickel. I won't tell you how to make the bread here, as it's beyond the scope of this post. I trust you can either obtain it or know what to do with rye flour, wheat flour, yeast, molasses, salt, sugar, and water, and how to wash your talons before sticking them in a bowl of dough. Let's not get too many levels deep here.

Cut a few slices off the loaf. I recommend two to four (depending on the size of your loaf) about a centimeter thick for ease of toasting. Toast them, and toast them hard. You want Maillard reactions, and you want caramelization. Don't be afraid to burn them a little. Turn your black bread even blacker. Don't turn it into carbon, but toast it well. You want singed croutons here. This is vital to the flavor of the kvass. Inadequately toasted bread will yield not kvass, but beige disappointment.

Next, fill a pot with two liters of water and boil it. (There will be a slight loss of volume to the bread and to filtration later.) Turn off the heat, then toss in the toasted bread slices. Rinse a few dozen raisins and add them. Add any spices you like, if you are so inclined. Cover and leave overnight.

The next day, remove the now-sodden bread slices from a liquid that should smell very bready and be a deep brown in color. Squeeze some of the liquid out of the bread, but don't squeeze too much or you'll make filtration more difficult later.

Mix in a hundred grams of sugar and some yeast, then strain into two well-cleaned quart mason jars or equivalent sealable glass containers. Rinse a dozen new raisins per jar and add them, then cap the jars.

Put these in a warm place for two days. Above my refrigerator there is a cabinet that is terrible for keeping dry goods in because the warmth of the radiator below makes everything rapidly go stale; however, it is perfect for when I actually _want_ to encourage fungal activity.

After the two days have passed, strain the curious fizzy brown solution through a cheesecloth, a towel, or a shirt you don't hold in very high regard, into two new very clean jars, then refrigerate. Kvass is best served cold.

Do not use coffee filters. I repeat, DO NOT use coffee filters. It will take forever and you will hate it.

Kvass is slightly alcoholic, and how much so depends on the quantity of sugar, the temperature of fermentation, and the duration of fermentation. I drank half of it this morning and my head feels slightly funny 9v6

2. The Okroshka

Okroshka is a cold soup that uses kvass as its broth.

Normally okroshka uses sour cream, mayonnaise, and some kind of sausage. These are all animal products and I will have none of it. Here is what you need:

  • A potato

  • A bundle of parsley

  • A bundle of dill

  • A bundle of green onions

  • Several radishes

  • Mustard

  • A jar of sauerkraut

  • A jar of vegan mayonnaise1

  • A kilogram's worth of "grain meat" from the store or homemade seitan2 if you can't find the former

  • Salt


Cut the grain meat into slices no more than half a centimeter thick and fry them in a pan with a small amount of oil and add it to a large mixing bowl. Usually this stuff is made from wheat gluten or soy.

Cook the potato however you like--boil it, microwave it a few minutes, whatever works for you. Then cut it into cubes one to two centimeters in size. Don't peel them. The skin is good for you. Add it to the bowl.

Wash and chop the greens and the radishes, then add them to the bowl. Now dump in a generous amount of sauerkraut, similar in mass to the not-actually-meat. The purpose of the sauerkraut is to add tanginess, since there is no sour cream here. Add mustard to taste, or horseradish if you like.

Next, add a similarly generous amount of the vegan mayonnaise. Mix that all together. You should have a great big bowl of green and white stuff that smells amazing. You are nearly done! This is the most storable form, lacking only one ingredient, so feel free to set some aside to freeze for later.

Now portion some into a serving bowl, pour kvass over it, and salt to taste. Serve with a glass of kvass, because they can't help but go well together.


Except for the footnotes and vegan modifications, this is mostly adapted from this kvass recipe and this okroshka recipe, and from my experiences in following them.


Note 1: If you can't find vegan mayonnaise, use the water from a can of chickpeas, a whisk, some salt, some sugar, and some sunflower oil, or whatever other oil you'd like to use, and lemon juice or vinegar. Whip the funky bean-water until it forms stiff peaks, mix in sugar to taste, then gradually mix in the oil; then mix in the sour stuff and the salt until is tangy and salty enough for you. This is easiest with a motorized whisk. You can do it manually, but it's a real workout. This is aquafaba mayonnaise, of course. You can do much more with aquafaba than make meringues.

Note 2: Seitan is easy to make. First, get a five-pound bag of flour, dump it into a large mixing bowl, and add enough water to make a typical dough. Knead until stiff. Divide it into three balls, then soak them in a bucket of water overnight. The next day, take each ball and knead it in some water until you get most of the starch out and you have this weird spongy stringy eldritch-looking thing. That's gluten. Knead some spices into it--I recommend making a Weißwurst spice mix, e.g. salt, parsley, ground white pepper, granulated lemon, granulated orange peel, onion powder, and garlic powder--and cut it into smaller pieces, stuff them into an ice cube tray, and freeze them for later use. If you thaw these and cut them into slices and fry them into a pan, it's amazing.
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My immersion blender does not make aquafaba, though I had hoped it could; I have only succeeded through the precise and extensive application of a manual whisk, and on reflection I actually have very few uses for aquafaba and I'm not sure I care enough about it to make it again. Apparently a motorized whisk works, but I despise an overabundance of single-use kitchen implements--indeed, I could barely justify the immersion blender, and for some time I regretted the purchase for the waste of space. The preponderance of oddly-shaped, difficult-to-clean edge-case kitchen implements it seems to entail is, indeed, one of my chief complaints against European-style cooking. Let me make do with a pot, a frying pan, a pair of chopsticks, a cutting board, and one good knife. (I'll tolerate a menkiri bōchō but only because I like udon and soba a lot. I suppose that also entails a rolling pin, but that is easy to clean and store.)

However, I make dal far more often than I make hummus or falafel--whose byproduct is that peculiar suspension of beanstuff--and I found that the immersion blender works splendidly on dal. Most recently I applied it to a simple chana dal recipe that I originally discovered as a filling for dal parathas.

When I am too lazy to make parathas, I just make the dal.

A single-use implement is justifiable if I will use it often--say, a rice cooker, a teapot, or something that works well for dal.
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Now that I am on day shift, going outside is no longer depressing.

Skyridge Park is once again a serene and beautiful place: Dense woodland and a few well-maintained trails with a couple of wooden bridges and benches, accompanied by the sound of singing birds and flowing streams. Though a little narrow, the largest of the bridges is big enough to do the Yang taijiquan long form on, and after that I can go to the bench nearby, see nothing but forest, and sit down and draw things for a while.

Birds prefer to have a lot of room for some movements, particularly "white crane fans its wings" and "step back and repulse monkey". You should always be ready to repulse monkeys.

The park appears to be well-populated with spotted towhees. I am particularly fond of these talkative birds. They are not so shy when they have lots of trees and thick underbrush to hide in. Like most songbirds, they sleep at night, so I am thankful to have their company again.
atomdrache: Likeshine drew the good part.  I made the awful background. (Default)
The following instructions are intended for an avian audience, but are easily adapted to chefs of other morphologies. If for whatever reason you are not a bird, I am sure you can make the necessary adjustments, as long as you can operate a knife and a mortar and pestle, and as long as you can peck things.

I have not specified exact quantities because I believe proportion is more important, and I shall specify proportions only loosely because I simply can't be arsed because I expect you to adjust them to your liking. It's pesto, not the total synthesis of cyanocobalamin.

Obtain:

  • Ingredients:
    • Pine nuts (cashews work fine too)

    • Basil (bunch, fresh)

    • Garlic (a few cloves)

    • Nutritional yeast

    • Maggi seasoning (or other salty savory fermented brown stuff, e.g. soy sauce, yeast extract, miso, or doenjang)

    • Olive oil


  • Apparatus:
    • Mortar and pestle

    • Cutting board

    • Knife



That was close. I almost had to rewrite the ingredients and apparatus sections because, despite [personal profile] premchaia_pre4's repeated suggestions that I adopt M-backspace in place of it, I am very strongly habituated to erasing the previous word with C-w, which unfortunately is also "close tab" in some browsers.

Anyway.

I will assume you have washed your basil, as well as your feet. You should prepare food with clean talons, and you should preen beforehand to reduce the likelihood of shedding loose down feathers into the mortar (note the absence of feathers from the list above.)

Start with the nuts. Pour a nice little mound of them into the mortar. They'll end up being about half the volume of the finished pesto. Pound them to the desired consistency. Sprinkle liberally with nutritional yeast, dribble enough Maggi (or soy sauce) to wet the nutritional yeast flakes into a paste, add a little olive oil, and then mix that into the mashed nuts.

Next, peel a few cloves of garlic. Don't be shy. It's delicious. Mince them on the cutting board, then transfer them to the mortar. Next, do the same with the basil. The basil should make up at least half the volume of what goes into the mortar--don't be afraid to use lots of it! Basil is a magnificent herb. And it's fine if you use the stems. They're not very hard. Just mince them well.

Now mash that all together and give it a good pounding until it's well-mixed and the garlic, basil, and previously-mashed nuts have achieved the preferred texture. It needn't be a sauce--it's fine if it's chunky.

And it's done.

At this point, feel free to spread it on bread or to tear off chunks of bread with your beak and rub them around in it. If you're serving it to other people, you might want to transfer it from the mortar to a serving dish; however, if there are no witnesses, then feel free to use the mortar as a serving dish. I'm certainly in no position to judge you.
atomdrache: Likeshine drew the good part.  I made the awful background. (Default)
I feel like I should emit more syllables here, so I am going to do just that! I can emit syllables nearly all day long, but I must pause to eat and to sleep, which constrains my duty cycle somewhat.

Oops, I just did that thing where I hit ^w twice and killed this tab and an unknown innocent bystander. [personal profile] premchaia_pre4 told me to get in the habit of using M-backspace and I keep forgetting because it feels slightly more awkward and I just go back to using ^w.

Additional syllables follow. )

squawk

2015-Mar-02, Monday 03:54 am
atomdrache: Likeshine drew the good part.  I made the awful background. (Default)
I am startled by how much I resemble a female eclectus parrot. Not only is my coloration very similar, but I also hide in a hole all day and am fairly promiscuous.

Speaking of parrots, if you haven't heard of Hatebeak, I recommend investigating. They were a deathgrind band whose vocalist was an African grey parrot. Their drummer now plays in Pig Destroyer; I don't know what became of the parrot.

Ow. My head. I do this thing every Sunday where I'm lazy and don't eat breakfast until it's time for lunch. It's not a good thing to do.

I need to do more work on my journal style. This thing looks awful.
atomdrache: Likeshine drew the good part.  I made the awful background. (Default)
We'll have to destroy them ship to ship.

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