The Ultra Busy

Erhmagerh so much busy lately. No time for writing. Any who, here’s what I’ve been up to lately.



Coconut dino coconut panna cotta. Vegan-ified by using agar agar. This stuff is good. I’m on a huge coconut kick lately.


New hot water heater installed (not by me). Yay hot water that lasts longer than 10 minutes and doesn’t make loud sounds after use. This is especially nice in December when it’s all chilly.20151126_144157[1]

Gingerbread Ninjas Maka brought up for Thankgiving in Amherst, MA.


A blueberry pie by Papa Amherst. I think I ate half of this (don’t worry, there was another pie for other people)


3 roasted ducks for 6 people. No turkey this year. Duck all the way.


One of the most beautiful plates ever.

20151126_172439[1]20151128_104202[1]And duck cracklins for breakfast. Be still my fat-filled heart.

Eat Meet 2015


The lovely Ginny behind Dreampuff Sweet Shop held a pig roast this summer. It was a great day at Grafton Lakes State Park. I can’t believe summer is almost over. Boy do I have a lot of catching up to do!

I don’t even have the words for this pig. Other than delicious.

And drinks, too! Ginny was a peach and made two great cocktail punches. Somehow I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the potluck dishes, but they were all great. You know how sometimes someone brings that one dish that doesn’t work for the crowd? Not here. Everything was so good. More meats, beans, veggies, and dessert galore.

Until next year. What is summer good for, if not for spending it with friends, food, and drink?

A Reflection on 10 Years as an Adult

So I’ve legally been an adult for 10 years now. Here are some reflections and a note to my 18-year old self:

The first few years felt tough, but you get over it. You feel like you won’t find a place in the world, or your “thing”, but you do. It’ll just take longer than you think it will, but you’ll get there.

Also, you never really get “there” because you’re always changing and evolving. You keep learning and the more you learn, the less you realize you know. It’s humbling and awesome. Keep trying to be a better person. We still need to work on the whole “empathy” thing, but maybe in 10 years we’ll have some positive change to report back on.

Friendships change, people change, priorities change, death happens. Enjoy the moment, you can’t change everything.

You bought a house. Seriously!

This blogging thing is awesome – you would not believe how many awesome things happen just from spewing out words on the internet. Seriously, so many awesome things.

You get to have fun, crazy hair! And it gets thicker in your late 20s. Or it might just be that new awesome stylist you found. But maybe both. Still, hope this stylist doesn’t leave town any time soon.

You would not believe how much more freedom you have in your late 20s versus your early 20s. Early 20s = “OMG, I am going to be broke forever.”. Late 20s = still budget conscious, but you get to have fun every now and again, like going out for dinner with friends once or twice a week without having to insanely budget, or buying new sneakers when you want to.

You’ll have a different perspective on weight than a lot of people you encounter. You’re smaller now than when you were in high school. You’re not super tiny, but some folks will call you that. It’s flattering, but you’ve also developed a passion for fitness, so you do work for it (though it feels more like play). It may be the glibness of being thinner, but you really don’t give a crap about what you weigh or what size you are because you realize you’re one heck of a lady regardless of your size/weight.

You’re still not entirely sure if you want to birth your own kids, though you’re opening up to the idea of caring for them and having them around your house (probably hormones, but also a bit of realizing the world is larger than you and your parents would like to have another new little life in the family).

Still haven’t found a vacation city that tops Montreal. You’ve traveled to a bunch of places, but there is something about Montreal that is just awesome.

Stay Hungry Kid,

Ching Ming (Chinese Tombsweeping Ceremony)


Two weekends ago I went down to Flushing to spend the weekend with my family for Ching Ming, which is a Chinese Tombsweeping Ceremony. I don’t remember ever doing one before with my family, but I saw it on my Google Calendar for Chinese Holidays and asked my Dad if we could celebrate it. My dad talked with my aunts and uncle and settled for the first weekend in May when we’d all actually be able to do it together. Our take on it was simple and didn’t involve anything super elaborate. Just lots of food offerings (things the deceased enjoyed when they were with us) and paper offerings to burn.

We burned this money with gold or silver on it. I remembered folding them into ingots at the funeral and asked my dad if we were supposed to fold them. “Oh, god no. We’ll be here all day.”

And burned some hell money to Yeh-Yeh and Mah-Mah.


Very official poking stick.

My uncle went all out and bought a ton of stuff to burn to Yeh-Yeh. The paper offerings can get quite elaborate, like this paper roast pig.

And this paper set of treats.


We even burned a paper mansion.


Treats go in the fire. Yeh-Yeh loved burning things. I remember we had a burn tub in the backyard of my childhood house in Washingtonville, and he loved coming up for a visit and burning things.


Then it was time for lunch, so we went to Jin Cheng since they’re never that busy for lunch on Saturdays and they have a parking lot. Free tofu & beef soup to start. This was welcome for me since I’d had dental surgery the Thursday before we drove down and couldn’t do a ton of chewing. (Yeah, that was a really crappy week. Our beloved cat passed, I had dental surgery, and then a weekend of travel (thank goodness for Albany John, bc I couldn’t drive down).

Chicken strips. Kind of like sweet and sour, but not gloppy.

One of the perks of dental surgery was that I could beg off of rice without anyone going “Really??”. It was awesome.

Squid, fish, and veggie pot.

Fish, and shrimp and eggs. Oh man, the shrimp and eggs were right up my alley, both in terms of texture and flavor. There was sesame oil and a bit of white pepper in the eggs, and they were so tender and fluffy.


Beef chow fun. A family favorite.


Then Albany John and I went off for a walk to Sunrise Kitchen Supplies on Main Street. THEY WERE OPEN THIS TIME! YESSSS. When we went for Chinese New Year they were closed. I love this store. It’s small, but open to the public, and they have some great purchases and take credit cards for $15+. I wish we had something like this near us in Albany, but ah well.

Fun fact, this is also where Albany John got to put his Mandarin skills to use and tell off an annoying customer. She was yelling at the staff about everything under the sun and complaining about their service, etc. But for some reason she veered into “Why do you sell to foreigners?”  in her ranting and they said “We like the foreigners because they spend money,” to which Albany John retorted “Some foreigners speak Chinese!” which was the only thing that got this lady to be quiet and leave. The employees had a slight smirk on their faces and seemed pleased she stopped shouting, and her daughter looked extremely embarrassed. Meanwhile I had no idea what she was saying because my Mandarin is just that good.

Any way, here are the AWESOME goodies we got for just shy of $80! A big proofing container for me in the back left. 3 different Hello Kitty ceramic food storage containers, tongs, a whisk, big spatula, big chopsticks (for grilling or stove-top cooking), wood chopsticks, tiki cups, a hot pot straining spoon, and a full size sheet tray.

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So many awesome goodies. If you click on the pictures you can see the crazy awesome prices.

After this we rested for a bit, and then I convinced my Dad, Dad’s Lady, and Uncle to try Ethiopian food (next post).



Granola is one of those foods that is SO incredibly good, that I can’t keep it in the house, otherwise I’d eat it all the time. And in gigantic amounts. So when I was recovering from the stomach bug after Christmas, I was happy to see that my father-in-law Papa Amherst and brought some of his very own granola. Gosh darn, that man makes some damn good granola. Sweetened wee oat flakes, dried fruits diced up into wee bits, nuts, sesame seeds, and toasty soy beans.


I couldn’t eat very much, but needed calories. This was the perfect solution. I really like granola, so I wanted to eat it, and it didn’t upset my stomach.

Homemade Butter


Unsalted butter is a great treat, but rather hard to find with out “Natural Flavoring” in the list of ingredients. Seriously, check the label. It’s really hard to find an unsalted butter in supermarkets. There may be one available in the organic section, but sometimes not (or they’re out).

I decided to try to make my own cultured butter without any “natural flavoring”. My own results were… successfully interesting. I’ve made regular butter plenty of times as a kid – just shake cream until it turns to butter. But by lightly fermenting it with a starter, you can make a more flavorful cultured butter.


I went to the Co-Op for cream from Meadow Brook Farms. $1.69 per cup. I bought 8 cups because I’m a cautious over-purchaser like that.


You don’t need a scale, but I wanted to make sure I had my initial measurements straight. I only used 4 cups of butter.


4 cups of cream purchased, a little over 4 c of cream yielded.


Each cup was a little more generous than .5 lbs, so instead of 2 lbs of cream even, I wound up with almost an extra ounce of cream. So, very close to .25 oz extra per 1 cup container.


So for cultured butter, you add something with live cultures in it. Some yogurt, or buttermilk, usually. I always have yogurt in the fridge, and picked up a Greek Gods yogurt from the Co-Op, too. It was on sale, and I think this is where my experiment may have gone a bit awry.


The Greek Gods regular yogurt is really thick and creamy. Albany John tried a bowl and had trouble finishing it because “It’s thicker and richer than butter,”. For our household, it’s definitely not an eating yogurt, but more of a cooking yogurt. And it has pectin as a stabilizer in it, which I’m not fond of. It is so thick, the pectin is really unnecessary. And I think it bound too much with the liquids in my butter making.

Well, that’s what I get for not reading the container.


Any way, toss a few tablespoons in (I did about 6 T of yogurt for 4 cups of cream, or 1.5T per cup), cover, and leave on your counter for about 24 hours, or until the top of the cream looks thick and maybe has a few bubbles.


Then it’s time to whip it! I just used my electric hand mixer to turn this into butter. I was surprised at how little buttermilk it yielded.

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I figured I’d just press it out, and save the buttermilk for later iterations of cultured butter.


Um, buttermilk. Is that all?


Seriously? 1 tablespoon of buttermilk? That’s all I get?? Buttermilk is usually a 50-60% yield when making butter. I was expecting a pound of buttermilk. So, I am thinking this is where that pectin in the yogurt started to mess with the buttermilk retention in my butter making.


I washed the butter a few times. Maybe I have hot hands, but I also had a hard time getting it to firm up.

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Wash, wash, wash. So much butter. Basically 2 lbs of whipped butter.


Hello Kitty butter molds, because why not?


The butter had a nice fluffy, whipped texture, and I enjoyed it salted and unsalted. I wrapped some up in parchment paper to make my own butter logs. But I wish more buttermilk came out…


Rye bread as butter vehicle.

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I made some 5 minute bread and the chewy rye flour with white AP flour was a nice nutty bready excuse for slathering tons of butter on each slice.

Venison Swedish Meatballs


When I went to go visit my mom’s side of the family downstate, my uncle gave me a ton of venison to bring home once he heard I liked venison. Or, as he put it “If you like venison, I’ll give you a little bit to take home, and if you really like it, you can have a lot more,” Wow, if this is a little bit… I’m afraid of much more! Hee hee, so much meat!

Albany John made Swedish meatballs from the venison using Alton Brown’s recipe. Love that recipe – they always come out so tender.


This was from about 5 lbs of venison meat that Albany John chopped up on a food processor. Venison added an extra meaty flavor to the meatballs.

Tent Camping at Dippikill


Have you ever been tent camping? After cabin camping at Dippikill earlier this year in the winter, Albany John had me thinking that tent camping at Dippikill might just be fun. He reserved  campsites 3 & 4, which are  very close to each other and a great way to camp with a group. Campsites at Dippikill are only $10 per night! We had 2 other lovely couples (and pooches!) camping with us, and it was nice to have one site for the tents, and the other site for cooking and revelry.

The hike in is about 3/4 of a mile, which is pretty do-able since it’s mostly downhill. It’s the hike out that’ll kill ya, though.


But first there was ice cream. Because I am bad at camping and so Albany John ice cream-ed me before we went in, kind of like bribing a child. Shitty picture, but this was a “small” ice cream with Reese’s pieces mixed into the soft serve at the Luck E Star in Warrensburg, NY just before we rounded the corner to Dippikill. Not very creamy, but a neat novelty to have candy mixed in the ice cream.


We made it in, and boy was I ever a feast for the mosquitoes on the way in. I got at least 15-20 bites along the way. The rainy weather sure harbored a lot of mosquito families. I also discovered I’m fairly allergic to mosquito bites, because shortly after getting to our site and setting up the tent my face turned red and puffy and all of my bite-sites got incredibly red. It was like getting the Asian flush, but sober. YAY! I think it freaked out my friends, but I’d had a similar reaction to a different bug bite when I was younger, so I knew it would go away eventually.and be relatively harmless, but I let them know that I’d be happy to go to the hospital if I puffed up to a point that worried them further.

Thankfully face returned to its normal state of puffiness within 2 hours, just in time for Albany John to return from his second trip to the car for more schtuff. I’ve nicknamed him Albany “Just one more thing” John because he is not a light packer.


There wasn’t as much readily available wood for burning at the campsites compared to the cabins, but there were plenty of downed trees, small branches, and pine needles.


Albany John added some sort of lighter fluid to the wood.


And one of zee other camping buddies properly layered the wood. FIYAH!


Albany John and another one of the menfolk found a few split logs and brought them in on one of the canoes. And get this  – the canoes are all just on the lake and available for anyone to use! So fun!


Albany John went to Helmbold’s for some hot dogs before we went. You can buy seconds for, like, $2.50/lb, and this 5lb vacuum-sealed baggie of hot dogs was about $12.50.


And here, you can see that, yes, they are seconds. Imperfect, but still tasty guys. For some reason that makes me like them even more. Hot dogs of character.


Campsite 4 had a grate over the fire ring, which made cooking relatively easy. Albany John and I both thought the others method of campfire cooking was ridiculous. I just opened a can and popped it on top of the grill to heat up, meanwhile Albany John brought a Calphalon pot (with cover!) to heat up one. ONE. can of chili beans. How do you heat up canned goods for camping? Which one of us is more ridiculous to you?


We cozied up to the fire and tried in vain to spray ourselves with enough DEET to hide from the mosquitoes. I was fairly unsuccessful at this endeavor, but at least I provided everyone else I was camping with refuge from the mosquitoes.

We left the next morning, and the bugs went after me with a vengeance. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I weren’t so attractive to bugs, but it is really hard to be one with nature when mosquitoes are chomping away at you through pants you’ve sprayed several times with DEET.