Babes, What’s for Lunch: Tonkotsu/Momofuku Ramen from Scratch

Color me a masochist – 3 trotters, 1 pork neck, 6 chicken legs, 5 grocery stores, marathon dishwashing, and 48 hours later, we’ve got Tonkotsu/Momofuku broth, menma (stewed bamboo), ramen noodles, taré (yakitori barbeque sauce) and shoyu tamago (soy sauce eggs) all from scratch.

Perhaps during the next lunar eclipse, I’ll make it again and chronicle the process.

How to Make a Papier-Mâché Pig Piñata

In honor of my niece having turned the big 1-0, I threw her a mini-luau at the beach.  Since we couldn’t exactly bury a pig in the sand, we decided to make a papier-mâché pig piñata.  Traditionally, piñatas are stuffed with treats and then kids club them to death until their guts fall out.  Way to reward violence! :)  That was the original plan but then this little piggy got anthropomorphized and the kid got attached.  Winston is his name.  He was ultimately modified so that his pudgy little body could be spared.

The making of Winston was pretty simple with a few supplies we had around the house.  We were inspired by this Pin and we’re sharing the process as part of the Pinterest Challenge.  Woo hoo!

Glue (we made three total batches of glue – one for each layer):

  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup boiling water

To make the glue, bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Then mix all the dry ingredients together.  Add the cold water to the dry ingredients to make a runny paste.  Whisk the runny paste into the boiling water and stir constantly until you get the first bubbles of boiling.  Immediately remove from the heat and set aside to cool – about 15 minutes.

Assembly:

  • balloon
  • masking tape
  • 7 bathroom tissue tubes (4 for legs, 1 for snout and 2 for ears)
  • newspaper, torn into 1.5″ strips
  • pink construction paper, torn into strips
  • butcher’s twine
  • paint brush
  • black marker

For the legs, I cut off about 1.5″ off of each tube so Winston’s legs weren’t too long.  I cut open another tube and cut that in half to create a larger, shorter tube for the snout.  The tail was strips of paper* twisted together then wrapped around a pencil for the coil.  All of Winston’s extremities were then attached with masking tape.

*In the process of covering Winston, we realized that his newspaper tail would be impossible to cover in pink so we had to perform emergency surgery and his tail was replaced with a pink construction paper one.

I started with reinforcing the legs by brushing glue on Winston’s legs and belly.  The strips were then applied all the way around each leg so that it was touching both the leg and the body (kind of like a starburst effect) so that it’d be secure when it was all dry.  The same was done to his ears and nose.  Section by section, the then-soon-to-be-10-year-old and her sister painted Winston in glue and applied the strips until his entire body was covered.

We found that the brush then strip method kept things really neat and tidy without having to submerge each strip in glue then trying to messily apply it to his body.

We covered Winston with three layers – allowing for a complete dry and hardening between layers (time will depend on your atmospheric conditions) – two newspaper and one pink construction paper.

Butcher’s twine (for hanging Winston) was tied around his entire body and behind his ears after the first layer was dry so that it was extra secure.

The initial pudgy body modification idea was to make a less-violent string piñata.  A string piñata usually involves a trap door from which several strings are tied but only one of which actually opens the door.  I thought I could make udders from which the strings would be attached.  Then I remembered Winston was a boy.  :/

I also didn’t like the idea of one kid getting all the guts and glory.

Husfriend came up with the brilliant idea that Winston could crap candy leis!  It was a perfect solution (that I had to execute by myself).  :/

The candy leis were simple yet very time-consuming to make:

  • candy (I used three packages of individually-wrapped hard candy which yielded about 20 yards of lei)
  • 1 roll of cellophane
  • curling ribbon, cut into 6″ pieces

The cellophane was cut into 3″ wide strips spanning the length of the roll.  The candy was then laid in a long row in the middle of each long strip of cellophane.  The OCD in me also had to have the candy Roy G Bivved.  The cellophane was then wrapped around the row of candy and ribbon was tied at each joint.  When I got to the end of each strip, more cellophane was added and overlapped to keep it continuous.  Then after every single joint was tied, I went back and curled all the ribbon.

I was too deliriously tired to take any decent pictures.  This was the only salvageable one:

The single super long strand of candy was then painlessly stuffed into Winston via a newly-minted butt hole.  :)

In the end, it was all worth it.  Projects like this always remind me of my father.  He was my Martha before I knew of the Martha.  

Winston was a major hit and the kid was happy.  Her friends got a major kick out of pulling candy crap out Winston’s butt and wearing it around their necks.

Winston had fun.

But his butt was tired!

How to Make a Onesie Rose Bouquet

Today, I get a new niece.  I made her a onesie bouquet.  It’s quite simple.

What you’ll need.

  • 8 onesies (or however many roses you’d want in your bouquet)
  • artificial flowers (I chose calla lilies because they came with large full leaves)
  • floral foam
  • green floral tape (I used masking tape found in Husfriend’s stash of stuff)
  • bamboo skewers
  • flower pot (or any other opaque container)
  • shredded green paper for filler (I just ran green paper through the shredder)

Start by wrapping the skewers in the green tape for the rose stems.  Leave the pointy end uncovered.

To make the rose bud, take a onesie and fold it in half lengthwise, making sure to tuck in the sleeves.

Then roll it from one end to the other until a bud forms.  Secure the bud with the masking tape and attach the stem.

To assemble the bouquet, shove the foam down into the flower pot and secure with tape.  Then insert each bud into the foam and fill in the gaps with the artificial flowers.  Then cover the exposed foam with the shredded paper.

Voilà!

Babes, What’s for Dinner: Gluten-Free Meatloaf and Red Mashed Potatoes

Sometimes, my belly craves classic Americana.  I don’t know where it stems from considering we never had any traditional American fare growing up.  I still remember my first taste of burger.  It was hard to let go – literally.  Before I was of school age, my father and I accompanied my older sister to her first day of school where they were serving burgers for breakfast – go figure.

We sat at the long benches in the noisy cafeteria amongst all the other excited-for-the-first-day-of-school kids.  I quietly enjoyed my soft and salty parcel of joy.  I was in my own little burger heaven and did not realize how much time had lapsed.  The bell rang and everyone got up to clear their trays.  They tried to take mine but I wouldn’t let go!  My sister laughed and laughed but I didn’t care.  I was in love.  :)

With this recipe, I tried to create an unknown nostalgia.

For the loaf:

  • ½ cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 lb pork
  • 1 lb beef
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg
For the glaze:
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Heinz 57 sauce

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Combine the bread crumbs and the water and set aside.

We always grind our own meat.  I am certainly far from a vegetarian but I find it a little scary to eat something that is made of 200+ different animals.  I’ll take my cow one at a time, please.

Our KitchenAid stand mixer is the one thing that stays out on our plywood counter as it gets used so often.  It’s very handy for recipes like this.

With the grinder attachment, start with grinding the meat.  We used pork butt roast and beef tri-tip that we happened to have around.  Then grind the vegetables.

Transfer the bowl of ground vegetables and meat to the mixer and add the remaining ingredients, including the hydrated bread crumbs.  Mix with the flat beater just until combined.

Pack the mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Flip the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Pop it into the oven.

Then prepare the glaze.  Toast and grind the cumin.  Then combine with the sauces.

Take the loaf out of the oven and cover with the glaze.

Pop the loaf back into the oven for 45 minutes until its internal temperature reaches 155° F.

While the loaf is cooking, prepare the mashed potatoes.

  • 5 medium organic red potatoes
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  • milk
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground

The one thing Husfriend insists on buying organic is potatoes.  Like any good wife, I research then obey.  If potato farmers aren’t eating their own crops, we probably shouldn’t either.

Boil the ‘taters until a fork easily slips through them.  Drain and let dry.  Then mash with the butter.  Add milk until desired creaminess is reached then salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Babes, What’s for Breakfast: German Dutch Baby Pancake

We used to wait in line forever for these little babies.  Little did I know it’d be so easy to make at home.  All it takes is a little blend and bake.

This’ll serve two:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Mix everything together in a blender until smooth.

Melt the butter in a small 9″ skillet with oven-proof handle.  Swirl the butter to coat the entire pan. With the skillet still warm, pour the batter into the skillet and then immediately place the skillet in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top edges are brown.

Slip onto a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar and drizzle with fresh lemon juice.

Guten appetit!

Babes, What’s for Dinner: Tacos Al Pastor

Being in Hollywood has so many great perks – one of which is easy access to amazing, and often very affordable, food.  One can stumble outside and have their pick of a bounty of food and cultures.  Within walking distance of the apartment, we have access to Peruvian, Pescatarian, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Hungarian, Greek, Southern Italian, Northern Italian and Mexican.

Nothing beats Tacos al Pastor any time of day.  These delicious parcels of goodness originated in Puebla, Puebla as the result of the natives adapting the shawarma that was introduced to them by Lebanese immigrants.  Mexicans swapped out lamb for pork and added their own herbs and spices.  To say that we’re big fans of both versions would be a big understatement.

If we could, this would have a permanent home in our home:

Source

Alas, we barely have room for Dorothy.

There are many recipes on the internets and this is a culmination of a few tasty trials:

  • 1 4-lb  pork butt roast
Marinade:
  • 5 dried guajillo chili peppers
  • 5 dried ancho chili peppers
  • 5 dried anaheim chili peppers
  • ½ tsp whole cumin
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbs annatto seeds
  • ½ tbs dried mexican oregano
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar (the regular stuff can be used – I just don’t like the smell of it)
  • 1 chipotle chili pepper (in adobo sauce)
  • 1 tbs adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle chili peppers)
  • 1 fresh pineapple cut into 1/2″ slices (3 slices for the marinade and the rest for the cooking with the meat)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbs canola oil
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 4± tsp kosher salt
Mandatory Garnish:
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
Optional Guacamole Garnish (just mash it all together):
  • 2 large avocados
  • 2 tbs white onion, chopped
  • 2 tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbs tomato, chopped
  • kosher salt, pepper and lime juice to taste

Before starting the marinade, put the pork in the freezer to make it easier to slice (about half an hour).  Oftentimes, I just have the butcher do it for me.

Dissect the peppers by removing their stems and seeds.  Then cut them into pieces with kitchen shears and gently toast in a frying pan over medium heat.   Flip often as to not burn them which will impart an unwelcome bitterness to the marinade.  Then toast the cumin, cloves, annatto seeds and cinnamon stick.  Let cool then finely grind the peppers and spices in a blender.

Except for the salt, oil and onion, blend in the remaining ingredients until a watery paste forms.

Brown the onions with the oil then add to the blender and pulverize.

Cut the pork into lengthwise slices about 1/3″ thick and spread out onto a large baking dish and salt accordingly.

Then slather the marinade between each layer until every nook and cranny is covered.  Cover and allow it to marinate in the fridge overnight.  When I don’t plan ahead and am super craving tacos on the day of, we just use our vacuum sealer to marinate the meat.  It takes about 12 minutes to get the same results as a tortuous overnight wait.

When it’s time to cook, spread the meat out in one layer in a shallow, lightly oiled baking dish or on a rimmed cookie sheet and place in the set-to-high broiler.  There should be some open space between the pieces; it’s better to do multiple batches than to crowd the meat.  When I made the marinade, I warned Husfriend to not eat the pineapple slices in the fridge as they were going to be used for the tacos al pastor.  Turns out I forgot to remind myself so when it came time to cook the meat, we didn’t have the pineapple.  Normally, the pineapple slices go on top of the meat in the oven.

Assuming you didn’t accidentally eat the pineapple too, broil the meat and pineapple for 10-15 minutes until well browned and crisp; there should be some caramelized juices in the bottom of the dish.  For the “taco-shop” treatment, dice the meat and toss in a pan over medium-high heat with the pan drippings.  This’ll give the edges a little crisp and infuse even more flavor.

¡Buen provecho!

Pinning and Pining

Our bathroom is a whopping 28 ft².  Inside this teeny-tiny space is a bathtub, pedestal sink, toilet and hamper.  The bathtub is your standard hard-to-clean 100-year-old model.  One could say that we have a double sink, except that it’s actually double faucets.  :/  It’s a basin faucet with separate spigots for hot and cold water.  If Necessity were the mother of Invention, I can’t figure out why she would have given birth to this.  Necessity must have liked to customize her own warm water for every splash.

We have an old school tankless toilet that one might find in an actual old school.  I like that it never clogs.  I don’t like how the valve leaks though.  We’re waiting to hear back from the handyman who came by on Saturday to survey the damage but then never returned…

Despite its small size, this bathroom must have been a real beaut in its heyday.  There are white subway tiles on the walls, penny tiles on the floor and a white carrera marble threshold.

In spite of its small size, we have managed to make it work.  Storage, however, is a big issue.  There is a teeny-tiny medicine cabinet for the presumably teeny-tiny medicines people took back in the day.  We inherited an étagère made of MDF from the former tenant that worked well before the days of leak.  Apparently, MDF and water aren’t friends.

With a little boost from the Pinterest Challenge, I set out to find a more water-friendly solution.

It seemed that chrome was the way to go.  Pottery Barn had a really nice one found via Pinterest but at $549, that was never gonna happen.  Scouring of the interwebs yielded a pretty comparable one for $88.  But, it was still too much.

Target had a similar one on clearance for $15.  However, it only had two shelves and we needed that third for more storage.  I hemmed and hawed and finally, eureka!

Given the large amount of clearance between the bottom shelf and the top of the toilet, I was able to transfer the shorter bottom legs to the top and added another shelf.  Voila!  I’m pretty proud of my $529 savings.  :)