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green tea, honey and peach
soy sauce, honey and ginger
coca cola and cherry
gin, lime and chipotle
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Based on comments from others, I've added two Zojirushi rice cookers to the list of possiblities:

The NS-LAC05 is a 3-cup cooker with a bucket of features.

The NP-GBC05 is the induction-heating version of the above cooker.

Yes, the brown rice feature is important to me, which is why I've been sticking with logic-controlled units.
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We're going to replace the current steamer we use as a rice cooker with an actual rice cooker. So far we've only checked Fry's and Costco. I need to get out to some of the Asian grocery stores.

I was figuring on a computer-controlled ("fuzzy logic" "neuro fuzzy" or other goofy brand name) cool-touch style cooker.

We looked at Zojirushi. They're really cool, but they're also expensive. Right out.

Our Costco has the Aroma Professional Series 20-Cup Sensor Logic Rice Cooker for $30. That's a bargain, and the feature set is interesting, but it's also twice the capacity that we're looking for (its dry rice capacity is 10 cups, the rest we're looking at are 5.5 cup models).

Costco online has the Tiger JAG-B10U 5.5 cup rice cooker for $90. It doesn't have the slow-cooker features of the Aroma, but it does have a "scorched rice" cycle.

Fry's has the Panasonic SR-DE102 5.5 cup rice cooker for $85. It looks comparable to the Tiger and includes a steamer basket, but Panasonic doesn't make their rice cooker manuals available online, so it's hard to tell.

Any rice-cooker geeks out there with opinions?

Cakes...

Oct. 20th, 2009 03:22 pm
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If you had $1k for birthday cakes and a week's lead time, where in San Jose (or the general area) would you go?

andy
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So what doesn't make the cut for "No Reservations?"

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This weekend was/is the American Distilling Institute's Brandy Conference (apparently each year the ADI conference has a different spirit theme). It was hosted at St. George Spirits in Alameda. Most of the weekend was taken up by presentations and demos for conference attendees. Sunday afternoon, though, was "Meet the Makers," an open (well, $40) tasting event.

On the down-side... it only ran from 2:00 - 5:00, and there was no program book or listing of all the presenters.

On the up-side... there were a lot of presenters. Who was there?

Westford Hill Distillers had some beautiful eau-de-vie. Their framboise is very fresh tasting, with a really bright raspberry nose and a very delicate flavor.

Organic Nation was one of many certified organic producers. Their gin was medium-body, very aromatic. They also had Q Tonic Water.

Koval Distillery out of Chicago is also certified organic and certified kosher. We skipped the vodka and the grain spirits. Their rose hip liqueur is interesting and tasty. The ginger liqueur is absolutely divine, sweet and hot like a really good strong ginger beer.

Warwick Valley (New York) does some nice eau-de-vie, but their black currant liqueur is one of the best I've ever had.

Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee is interesting. They produce Rehorst vodka and gin. I rather like the gin. The lemon-honey vodka is good, but it's not one of the best I've had. They also produce a bierschnaps from Lakefront Brewery's Pumpkin Ale.

North Shore Distillery from Lake Bluff, IL was one of the outstanding presenters. They do a pair of gins that are superb, an interesting aquavit and a very subtle absinthe.

Templeton Rye from Templeton, IA had only one product, and they can't produce enough of it, but it's a very nice rye whiskey.

Rogue (as in "Dead Guy Ale") has gone into spirits. Their whiskey is very scotch-like and classic; a bit more on the malt side and it could pass for an Islay malt. They do a pair of gins that are pretty tasty too.

Peak Spirits does some interesting eau-de-vie (the peach smells gorgeous). Their CapRock Organic Gin is rough but very good.

Ballast Point Spirits in San Diego also did a really nice gin.

Bendistillery Cascade Mountain Gin was worth noting. Their Cofia Hazelnut Espresso Vodka was outstanding, though; it actually tastes like coffee.

House Spirits had their Krogstad Aquavit (with a nice star anise start and a great caraway finish), Aviation Gin (dutch style, light and strongly Juniper) and Marteau Absinthe (complex with a strong bitter character).

New Holland Brewing had a few products, but the only one we tried was their Zeppelin Bend Whiskey. If you liked the early St. George single malt with it's strong floral character, this is a good one for you.

...and from there we move to Bay Area distilleries.

St. George was there, of course. We didn't really taste their stuff, because we know it well.

Tempus Fugit Spirits is only kind of a Bay Area distiller. They commission and import absinthe distilled in France. They're the "Mansinthe" and "Vieux Pontarlier" folks. Their stuff is very good, but I'm not a real big fan, it's not really to my taste. They had a bottle of pre-ban Absinthe Deschanet, though, that we were allowed a sample from. Oy gevalt. It was amazing, with a sweet nuttiness not common in "fresh" absinthes.

Osocalis had a very nice alambic brandy, but I've got to say it was overshadowed by their Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard traditional port. Yowza, it wasn't particularly sweet and had a nice fruity acidity.

Stillwater Spirits was a real surprise. We weren't tasting much vodka, but they do a really interesting barley vodka that's not distilled up enough to knock out all the grain flavor.

Shadow Organic Vodka was there. It's interesting, with a bit more flavor than I expect from a vodka. That was one of the standard items of the day; "straight" vodka that had more flavor than absolutely traditional.

Loft Liqueurs had some really fabu 'cellos. Limoncello style liqueurs in various flavors, all of them superb. The ginger didn't have the bite of the Koval, but was still quite good.

Square One had some interesting flavored vodkas; their "botanical" was interesting, but the cucumber vodka was amazing.

There were also a few food vendors.

Marcel et Henri from South San Francisco had three different pat├ęs.

Rustic Bakery from Larkspur had all sorts of little cocktail cookies and breads. The really amazing highlight was their panforte biscotti.

There was a catering chef who, unfortunately, didn't have a lot of product. He had chicken liver and brandy spread on toasts, and a great smoked fish thingy on toast.

Most definitely worth $40. If the conference comes back to the Bay Area, and they have another "Meet the Makers" event, you must go.
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  • It's been over a week and the kitchen is still clean. The cabinets still need to be sorted through to clear more space.
  • A great deal of junk that was in the front hall (or the postage stamp that passes for a front hall) has been cleared.
  • The linen closet has been sorted. I've got a pile of bedding that should go to charity.
  • We have a growing pile of stuff going to BASFA for auction.
  • I'm actually going to the gym on my own... who knew? There are some logistical issues involving the gym bag and the motorcycle.
  • Costco.com is clearing out the old model FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing kit for $80. The stores already have the new model for $160.
  • The Costco at Almaden & 85 has Warre's Otima 20 Year Old Tawny Port
  • Anyone know of a good online source for Levis? I'm sick of never finding my size, and Mervyn's is gone.
  • Anyone know of a good eBay broker? We've got some stuff to dump, but I don't want to do the work myself.
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...up to a very nice 140 degrees. A bit of 300 to start, down to 200 for most of the time, and cranked up to 500 to get it to pulling-out time.

Carry-over brought it up to 150, which is just right. The molasses-pomegranate brine has given it a rich dark caramel color. It needs to cool back down, and then I can pull out the probe thermometer and move it to the fridge.
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I've got two huge (5 and 6 lb) pork loin top roasts (from Costco), the kind where two big chunks of loin are tied together to make a roll.

I took a head of garlic (peeled), a bunch of dried flaked ginger chips and some gin, ran it around in a food processor to make a coarse paste. I cut the strings tying the roasts together, put this stuff in the middle, and reassembled them.

I made up a big batch of pomegranate-molasses brine (with herbs, peppercorns and the rest of the gin). One of the roasts is in a big ziploc in this stuff, and will be cooked to a nice medium tomorrow night. Then it gets to rest down to room temperature and sit in the fridge until Saturday evening.

The other is wrapped in saran in the meat drawer (where it won't quite freeze), waiting for the same treatment in a little over a week (it's going to be much more strongly flavored by the garlic-ginger paste).
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...it's owned by the same folks who have a restaurant in Aptos (Santa Cruz) and had a restaurant on Saratoga Avenue at Piper here in San Jose.

Well, we thought it was "had" because a while back the restaurant on Saratoga was closed, and then a big new sign and logo went up on the place.

It turns out that they were remodeling the restaurant, changing over from a small sushi bar to a larger "sushi boat" style bar, but it's the same people and it's now Totoro Sushi Boat.

Let me tell you, it's not like sitting at Isobune in the Kintetsu Mall. There you're in an always-crowded bar as mysterious and unidentifiable things go past you. It's seriously the best sushi boat experience I've ever had.

It's very good, though. The bar was kind of quiet, but most of the tables were full.

The only down-side to the bar is, unless it's really busy (and when we got there there were perhaps 6 people at the bar, but by the time we left there were probably almost 20), tends towards the "safe" rolls. There were some unusual items on the boats, like deep-fried crab claws, deep-fried stuffed shrimp, marinated baby clam gunkan and seaweed salad gunkan, but most of what was there was pretty run-of-the-mill. Still, while not particularly adventurous, it was good and inexpensive. We got out under $60.

I think we need to find out when it's really busy and go back then.
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The Downtown San Jose Beard Papa's Fresh'n Natural Cream Puffs just opened.

It's a block from work.

The cream puffs are really that good. They've always got Vanilla and Chocolate, but I'm looking forward to the Green Tea and Earl Grey Tea custards.

I will allow myself one stop a week.

For a bit of insanity, watch The Beard Papas Story. It's very silly.
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No, I'm not kidding.

How to make edible Googly Eyes (in this case, for making an edible flying spaghetti monster).
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Here's the secret on brine: 1/2 cup salt to 1 gallon liquid.

Even if you're not going to need much, just plan to make a gallon. It's cheap.

Start out with 1/2 gallon of flavorful liquid. I went with 3 pints of apple juice and 1 pint of maple syrup, but you could as easily use a half-gallon of juice and a cup of dark brown sugar. Put in 1/2 cup salt. Season with a dozen or so whole peppercorns and whatever herbs you like (I used about 1 tbsp of an "herbs de provence" blend).

Bring to a simmer, ensure all salt and sugar is fully dissolved and take off heat. Let cool and add 1/2 gallon (4 lbs, actually) of ice to the warm brine.

How much brine you need depends more on your container than how much meat you're doing. There's a lot of wing-it involved here, and a lot of flexibility. Put the meat in your container, and pour in enough brine to cover it. Ziploc bags make for very efficient vessels. Let it soak. The rough advice for chicken is 1 hour/lb, for pork up to 4 hours/lb. Shrimp does well in a brine too, say 20 minutes to a half hour.

Save any un-used brine if you wish.

Pull the meat out of the brine. Quickly pat it dry with some paper towels and get it into/onto your cooking vessel and cooking. If you don't, its own weight will start forcing out the brine.

Dump used brine; it's not good for anything I know of.

The rest is down to what you're doing. For roast pork loin, set a meat thermometer to alert at 160 degrees. That's around medium-done, which is good for pork loin. Let it roast. Pull it out when the thermometer beeps and rest it for at least 10 minutes, 15 would be better.

Oh, and remember...

Veggies need wedgies 'cuz meat can't be beat!

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Got the Scharffen Berger tour reservation for CC26 completed.
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I'm going to be soliciting quotes from transportation (bus) companies for something coming up next year. Have you planned a tour, bus-run or other such thing where you've had to contract a transportation company in the Bay Area? What did you think of the company you worked with?
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Got the order mix-up with Marcy Tilton sorted out satisfactorily.

Got a ride-in appointment scheduled to rebuild the seat for the K75. November 12, 7:00am in Hollister. Blah, but it needs to be done and I have that day off.

Got my health plan changed to Kaiser. It's not like I was taking advantage of the old one, and this will give me incentive to make use of it come January.

Left a voice mail with Scharffenberger to talk about the CC26 tour group in April.

Ordered a hemp fabrics swatch set from Pickering International. It comes with the price list, so we'll see if it's affordable.

Ordered the Silk Connection Swatch Set.

Ordered the free bleached linen swatch set from fabrics-store.com.

Baaaaaaa

Sep. 24th, 2007 04:22 pm
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No, it's not memesheep, it's Little Sheep.

Inner Mongolia Little Sheep Catering Chain Co. Ltd. opened a restaurant in Union City, and we went with [livejournal.com profile] didjiman, [livejournal.com profile] karisu_sama, their daughters and a bunch of friends. The place mats are almost as comic as the website, reading like a badly translated corporate franchise sales brochure (which it probably is).

So note for the future: Going with a huge gang for an 8:00pm seating on a Sunday night isn't the brightest idea. We got out around 10:45 and still owe R for our share of the dinner.

It is very good, though.

Every table has an induction burner in the center, and gets a pot of boiling broth in which to drop thin-sliced meat and vegetables. We got the regular broth, but next time we might try the half-and-half (a divided pot with regular lamb broth on one side and spicy broth on the other).

They have a very large selection of things to dump in the broth, including many "variety meats." Service isn't the quickest in the world, but once the food comes out to the tables that's not an issue. At least it's not an issue if you don't have an extended table of 10 people and your second tray of stuff sitting out of view where nobody realizes that it's the stuff you're waiting for.

I'd probably do this place again with 4-8 people, rather than the big mob.
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You might have seen one of those big white liquor license signs up in Willow Glen for the last few weeks. Greg and Susan have sold Vin Santo. They sold to Umberto and Sharlene Pala, formerly of Il Fornaio.

Last week was their first week in the restaurant. Sharlene is getting up to speed on the wine list and the regular customers, and Umberto has already started reworking the menu. We had dinner on Thursday night, and it's just fabulous. One of the things they've added is a "Chef's Tasting Menu" (4 courses or 6 courses) and it's a great choice if you're not in a hurry.

Stuff...

Aug. 15th, 2007 11:25 pm
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Good: got the new Japanese costume book. It's got armor and menswear (and a bit of womenswear) from Heian through Edo.

Bad: got no actual work done on the Japanese.

Good: Getting closer to my desired result with Kung Faux chicken (shrimp, etc). The velveted chicken came out perfect, I just need to work on the sauce a bit more (it was a smidge salty, I need less soy sauce and more something else). Yay for learning and perfecting new cooking techniques.
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This weekend when we were visiting friends, I noticed a can of McCann's Irish Oatmeal in the kitchen, and asked if I could check it out.

It's not just the last two cans we bought.

This one smelled of rancid fat too.

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