All posts by yiling

Method Break! Sorting Recipes by Time

You know those recipes I keep on file (these days, via iphone)? A few years ago I started sorting them by time, since sometimes I’d find myself two hours later on a weekday, finally eating. In the case of today’s recipe, this goes in the sad, “60+ minutes to Multiday” folder. This one I try only to dredge up on weekends, holidays, or special occasions. Weekdays are generally restricted to the “30 minutes or less,” or maybe “30 to 60 minutes” folder. That’s total time, not time to cook, because prep time is still your time. It’s not like it’s any less tasty in those folders, but at least then I get a few minutes between finishing dinner and going to bed. Yes, dessert has its own separate folder. I don’t need to touch that on weekdays anyway.

What do you do to make sure you don’t awaken from a cooking haze only to discover it’s four hours past when you might have liked to have finished and gone to do something else (like eat, or talk about food, or plan your next meal)?

What is your coping mechanism?

Cucumber Salad (Sunomono)

Bonus entry!
I had leftover cucumber from that tzatziki (and leftover tzatziki too, but that’s a different puzzle), so I figured I’d make some delicious but simple cucumber salad, Japanese style. The recipe I’ve been using since 2007 is from this website with cucumber recipe files.

I halved it for my purposes tonight, but this is the full portion for ingredients below:

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
  • salt (haven’t found I feel there is much added value with salting it)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil


Thankfully, the 30-day reduced sugar challenge I was doing with co-workers in October is over, so I am adding sugar to my heart’s (small) desire! I am either in denial, or I didn’t have that bad a sugar addiction as the books say most people have. I actually did quite badly last month, gaming the rules I was following, and the limit of 1 sugar item (like dessert) each weekend day actually turned into a quota, which I don’t think I was previously following. But enough of a tangent, back to the task:

1. Mix all the ingredients except cucumber together.
2. Add cucumber, toss to cover, and chill in fridge.
3. Eat (cold) in an hour, or tomorrow.

Leftover Cucumber
Leftover Cucumber
Marinade Mix
Marinade Mix


Hmmm, apparently I forgot all about the website’s recommendation to eat it with sesame seeds. I’ll have to try that too.

Cucumber Salad (Sunomono)!
Cucumber Salad (Sunomono)!


This week’s trial recipe ratings:

Novelty:  0, I’ve done this before.
Likelihood of repeat: 100%, since 2007.

This recipe has proven itself a tasty snack, side, and picnic item. It keeps pretty well if you need something that’s made in advance, and doesn’t need to be warmed up to taste good.

Tzatziki Sauce

(November Week 1 Trial)

In anticipation of potential consumers of my meal output going down by 50% this week, I went for a minor trial this time: tzatziki sauce. I found one from The Man Fuel Blog that at least mentioned the risk of heartburn, so I went with that, at half portion.

mint, sour cream, cucumber,  greek yogurt, garlic
mint, sour cream, cucumber, greek yogurt, garlic

1 tsp garlic (went with pre-cut stuff from the jar to get something milder than fresh raw garlic)
1 cup greek yogurt
1 Tbsp sour cream
1/4 tsp dried mint
salt to taste
1/2 c finely diced cucumber (peeled first)

Didn’t take much mixing (for specifics, see the instructions linked above), and I just let this sit for about 30 minutes:

Bam! Tzatziki!
Bam! Tzatziki!

Thanks to my helpful co-chef, got some falafel (prepped “fresh from the box”) fried up with tomato, lettuce, cukes, and roasted butternut squash and potato to overload atop some pita bread for a tasty but vegetarian dinner, and lunch the next day!

Falafel Salad for Dinner
Falafel Salad for Dinner: yes, the pita bread is under there somewhere..
Falafel Bento for Lunch
Falafel Bento for Lunch: chewing gum to combat garlic breath not pictured. 

 This week’s trial recipe ratings:

Novelty: 4 of 5 stars
Likelihood of repeat: 60%
Felt really good to have this for lunch. It was delicious, kept well, but didn’t feel over-filling. I really like the novelty of home made tzatziki sauce, since it is so simple to make, but I’m still wishing I could find a delicious yet non-raw-garlic version. You got anything?

Spanish Bread & Garlic Soup

(October Week 5 Trial)
I banked this Spanish Bread & Garlic Soup recipe in my Evernote recipe folder last April waiting for the right day, which apparently meant in the Fall, when I’m in the mood for soup. Having to watch the video for the actual instructions behind ingredients -including turning the heat up and down a bunch- may have had something to do with it.

I started with the prescribed ingredients, including some home made chicken stock from a Sunday a few weeks ago:

Ze Ingredientz
Ze Ingredientz

Baked the bread at 350 for 15 minutes and forgot to include olive oil, sliced tons of garlic thin by hand (my amateur area of expertise!), sauteed it, then sauteed the ham..

bread, garlic, garlic, garlic, ham, olive oil
bread, garlic, garlic, garlic, ham, olive oil

Added the bread to the mix, and paprika..

emphasis on the BREAD and garlic soup

Brought it to a boil, salted, peppered and cayenned it to taste, and popped in a couple eggs* in to poach on low covered,

ooh, steamy
ooh, steamy

Voila! Bread and garlic soup!

Spanish bread & garlic soup
Spanish bread & garlic soup

This week’s trial recipe ratings:
novelty: 4 of 5 stars
likelihood of repeat: 75%
My test audience of one mentioned it was a little carby, and I have to agree. I was not expecting quite so much bread-to-garlic substance ratio. I think I’ll probably make this on a lazy weekend for half the portion size, and possibly when I’m the only one home. It’s definitely a good recipe for a low budget if you have some stale bread lying around, paprika, broth and garlic.

*Let’s just pretend the first egg was not lost to the bready, soupy abyss and got overcooked, and that this perfect, just-runny egg in the picture was the only final product.

Addendum: Four days later and I finally finished the leftovers, what was I thinking on those giant portions! A tasty poached egg with a just-runny yolk definitely makes the flavor right in this soup, which I found hard to replicate via microwave egg poaching at work (yolk gets cooked too fast too evenly). I may try this poached egg addition to some other soups too.

Jerusalem Artichokes (a.k.a. fartichokes)

(October Week 4 Trial Ingredient)

Jerusalem Artichokes - peeled them to try and reduce potential flatulence
Jerusalem Artichokes – peeled them to try and reduce potential flatulence

Congrats, folks, it’s a two-fer this week, for the inaugural postings of this blog.

I bought some jerusalem artichokes (a.k.a. sunchokes)* at the Farmer’s Market near my work. Never had them before. Despite the internet’s warnings when I was looking up recipes (after I bought them) that these suckers were also known as ‘fartichokes,’ I plowed on.

To brighten the dish, I also got some golden beets, roasted them together with some red onions at 400 for around 30-40 minutes.

roasted jerusalem artichokes, golden beets and red onions
roasted jerusalem artichokes, golden beets and red onions
roasted veggies on spring mix salad
roasted veggies on spring mix salad

This week’s trial recipe ratings:
novelty: 2 of 5 stars
likelihood of repeat: 2%.
Like, maybe if zombies attack and it’s the only thing to eat (I’d probably mistake it for ginger out in the field anyway). The rommate was not a fan, and only found it worth a politeness bite.

I wouldn’t avoid it if it were in a dish with other food I liked at a restaurant, but the architecture of its shape made it hard to clean, the flavor was no so remarkable, and I just love potatoes more.

Have you made these before? Got a recipe/prep style for it that you think will change my mind? Let me know.

*The etymology of the name was pretty interesting, though..


11/14/13 Update
: my spouse Kris finally got a look at this blog, and he disagrees that this tragic experiment should have made the cut to the blog at all. Star rating for novelty downgraded to two.