Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Green tea and fish = delish!

I dabbled a little in the kitchen tonight. Ben wanted something seafood-y. I obliged. It's quick and easy to cook and generally quite tasty. The only downside is the price of seafood in Australia; but that is a completely different story. Anyway, I thought that I might as well share the little recipe tweak I came up with so that other fish-om-nom lovers can enjoy too.

Green tea-infused honey-soy salmon

You will need:
2x 160g salmon (I like skin-on for the crispness)
1/4cup soy sauce
2Tbs sake
3Tbs honey
1tsp sesame oil
1tsp green tea powder

What you need to do:
First off, you are going to want to consider the proximity of your smoke detector to your stove-top. If you think that this may be too close, I hope you have the fire department and police on speed-dial so you can continuously inform them about your "faulty" detector. OR!! You can get some rice-bran oil for cooking because is creates less smoke while cooking at high temperatures... I'd choose the latter. I speak from experience... Our smoke detector enjoys telling my neighbourhood that I am, indeed, cooking with oil.



1. So, add some rice-bran oil into a pan and turn on the heat. Get the oil to cover the base of the pan nicely before you place anything in there. When you tilt the pan to coat the surface, the oil will "run a little like water" - that's when you know its hot enough, that and the ssssSSSSSSSSsssssssssss noise you may start hearing. Add the salmon, skin-side down. Cook on high-medium heat for 1 minute. Turn the heat to medium.

 

2. In the meantime, combine the other ingredients into a small pouring jug. Mix well to combine and keep nearby. Turn the salmon over and cook on medium-low heat. I prefer my salmon to be really pink to near-raw when I cook. If you prefer it well and truly dead, cook for longer than 2 minutes. This will all depend on the thickness of the salmon you have but if you get the 160g cutlets then 2 minutes is plenty.

Green tea powder

Nothing to look at, but it'll taste really good!

3. Take salmon off the pan, onto a plate and cover to keep warm. Pour or wipe (carefully) some of the oil out of the pan then add the green tea mixture. It'll bubble and sizzle for a little, keep stirring it and it should thicken just a little. Add your salmon to the pan and coat it in the sauce. Plate up the salmon and pour the remaining green tea sauce over the salmon and any accompaniments you're having with it (I have some cooked ramen noodles and steamed greens).

It's messy. I don't care. I'm hungry!

Itadakimasu!
Enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Students are easy targets

I swear, there were similar ads in the University toilets, library and outside the Biological Science building. Maybe that was what happened to the "missing" students during morning lectures...

XKCD: Study

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Would make for an awkward family reunion

Acanthodes bronni. The species name has "bro" in it, and according to a study undertaken by Davis, Finarelli and Coates, the shark-like A. bronni is a member of the family.

Wikipedia: Acanthodes bronni; your relative, a "few times" removed.
For an understanding of the position human beings find themselves in comparison to A. bronni, have a read of this blogger post: Common ancestor for humans and sharks: Acanthodes bronni. This post provides a brief history of the lineage and traits of Gnathostomes (everything with a spine and jaws).

Love your Brother shark.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Goldfish - a little cooler than your average fish

I think I want to turn the swimming pool into a piece of art work. But I won't choose just any old piece of artistry... I want realistic goldfish painted by Riusuke Fukahori. This guy is amazing. I watched all the available footage with his techniques - jaw-dropping. 

Painting each layer on resin to make gorgeous 3D sculptures. You can peruse Fukahori's masterpieces of fishiness in the ICN Gallery through Dominic Alves' flickr gallery. They are all beautiful. Wish I had them all...

(image from Alchemist & Co)


...hmmm 
I have NO idea where to put them all...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Macarons for Mother's Day

May 13th was Mother's Day this year (well, for Australia that is). I made my mum something in the kitchen this time too - not hippo cookies again ~ she asked me this year to "Please refrain from getting me more hippos; I'm starting to feel like the Crazy Hippo Lady". So, not to worry Mum... I won't give you anything to do with hippos. I did, however, make her some strawberry macarons with pomegranate chocolate filling

They are quite delicious!
 Anyway, my housemate, Kass, was asked by her folks if she would mind the two cats for them while they moved house and found another place etc. She asked permission from myself and Ben if we'd be comfortable with the living situation - not a problem, we rather like them and had "cat-sat" the youngest for 6-8weeks last year. They arrived VERY SHORTLY (all were given barely 24hrs notice) on Saturday afternoon from QLD. 

In the meantime, I've made at least 4 batches of macarons; displeased with all of them. Ben needed me to help him pick out a gift for his mum, and then grab some lunch. I came back, prepared the 5th batch - hoping against all odds that I get this to my standard! Piped the mixture onto baking paper in 2 trays and set them aside on the kitchen counted to rest for 30mins (macaron thing). Decided to relax before getting ready for Ben's mum's dinner that night, so I stepped out of the kitchen and plonked myself on the couch.

Sadly, the three of us were too complacent about the behaviour of the cats. Scamp, the older, chunky grey-and-white feline behemoth, had jumped on the kitchen counter to sniff the window - which had been left a crack open to air-our the kitchen. We just heard the bell... turned towards the kitchen and I saw ~with horror~ Scamp straddling the tray; not quite touching the macaron shells, completely oblivious to his own predicament. I called for Ben to hurry up and quickly grab him. Bad move. The sudden movements freaked the cat out and he panicked and promptly squelched a big cat paw right in the middle of what was once a perfectly rounded macaron shell.

Thanks for the help, Scamp. Much appreciated.

I baked them anyway. He had only ruined one. It didn't matter. Besides, it was extremely hilarious seeing a large cat try a short burst of speed with a bright pink, strawberry scented right paw.

Scamp with his macaron

Monday, April 30, 2012

Got a case of the Humans



I laughed. Hysterically. Probably enjoyed this too much, but I had to share.





Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lost my wisdom

I went under general anaesthetic to extract all four wisdom teeth this past Tuesday. First time under general anaesthetic. Turns out, anaesthetic and I are very good together. I woke up wonderfully albeit a little dazed and sore. The surgeon said it was a routine procedure, but he did note that I had a fairly nasty infected pocket. I didn't feel anything before surgery, so I didn't really think much of it. I'm paying for it now. Fever, chills, pain. Not fun. 

The thing that scared me the most was the numb tongue and lower lip. That is scary! You can't drink from a cup properly, so you have to sip through a straw. I poked the straw up my nose before I could distinguish where my mouth was. I can only eat with a teaspoon; table spoons are too big. My first meal was natural yoghurt. Since my lower lip was completely numb, I didn't know that I had spilt some yoghurt down my chin and onto the icepack I had wrapped around my jaw. Kass just sat there watching me and laughed after she pointed my immaculate appearance. Thanks, Kass. Have to be extra careful about eating hot soup...

Thankfully, this whole procedure is a one off. I look forward to eating solid food again *yay*!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cuddlysaurus: where fluffy IS deadly

Cuddly-looking, fluffy and fuzzy: not something you'd expect to describe a very large carnivorous mesozoic predator. BUT, there WAS a downy dinosaur. Yutyrannus huali, the tyrannosaurid with the fluffy coat, is the largest dinosaur discovered with a full covering of feathers.

Y. huali was uncovered in China, and estimated to be 60 million years older that its famous cousin, Tyrannosaurus rex. Although considerably feathered, the immense bulk of the predator would not have been very aerodynamic - instead the down was purely for insulation, perhaps with a little splash of colour for display. It's not entirely odd for a predator to be feathered - snowy owls manage quite well in polar climates and their physiology is simply a downsized version of Yutyrannus.


(Image of Yutyrannus huali by Alain Beneteau aka dustdevil)

Info collected from these news articles here, here and here.
And this journal article in Nature.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Currency of the extinct

Damn it Australia!!!

We already have the superior "plastic money"... but despite this, we are a land girt by sea... and are clearly MISSING OUT ON A HUGE OPPORTUNITY!!

I mean, Australia, we had dinosaurs... so... if Canada can do this then why haven't we done it yet?!?! I am talking about, of course:



The very awesome coins will be ready for purchase next Monday for C$29.90!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tsk tsk tsk. Such a cliché



Over 9000 views, that is.

I may have been thinking about this since I started the blog.

Terrible.

I know.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy 21st, Gord

Happy 21st to my brother today!

My earliest memory of you is in an incubation cot a few hours after you were born; I was lead upstairs to the labour ward by the creche staff. You're my best friend while we were growing up. Always had my back. You even told me what I would be getting from mum and dad for Christmas without me having to guess. You pissed me off by doing a number of things when we were kids: e.g. remember the time you flushed my collection of shell and animal-shaped soaps down the toilet... one... after... the... other?! Or when you asked me if I would trade Krystal for Shadow because Krys was a smaller kitten than Shadow was?! Or whenever we got takeaway for lunch, we had a system (eat fries first then the burger); you always wolfed yours down and then you'd look at me with your big, hopeful eyes and ask me "Are you going to eat that?"

Despite being the typical painful younger sibling, you did grow up to be a really great guy. I hope you had a really great time and I hope I met your expectations for your birthday dinner last night. Love you lots.

XOXO

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My current craving is WAGASHI


Wagashi: a traditional Japanese confectionery
generally made with natural plant-based ingredients


They are almost too pretty and intricate to eat. I remember having wagashi at a Japanese tea ceremony in Toyoda, Japan (in 2004). A long time has passed since then. It was a really wonderful experience, and I've never been able to rid myself of the craving for red bean wagashi.

Toraya Confectionery has the most amazing-looking range of wagashi, in my opinion! They have been running since before the 1600's. I'd recommend giving them a look. The attention to detail is simply spectacular!

But if you're wanting to make your own at home, have a look at the blog, My Wagashi Chronicles, by dosankodebbie. She is quite brilliant and readily makes the art of wagashi creation available for the rest of us.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Novelty food

I'm sure everyone knows about Japan's venture into creating square watermelons. Of course, they succeeded in this. The novelty of having a square watermelon is not lost on me... they're much easier to stack.
There are actually a LOT more deliberately, oddly shaped fruits and vegetables. Again, in Japan, a farmer produced a heart-shaped watermelon some years ago. I can imagine how these would have been popular around Valentine's Day.

Another shapely Japanese edible are these star and heart shaped cucumbers.


In China, a farmer made Buddha-shaped molds and fastened them over the growing fruit on his pear trees. The result was ... well, different. I think it would be like biting into a juicy, pear tasting baby. A tad disturbing, yes.

To top it all off, it's not just Asiatic countries which have taken a liking to making strangely shaped fruit and veg. Disney World in Orlando, USA, have jumped on the "vege cart", so to speak. To incorporate a little more Disney cheer into your life through food, pumpkins are produced with the likeness of Mickey Mouse!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Velvety Goodness

Ok, I've been asked by a few people for my Red Velvet Cake recipe. I'm caving in and supplying it :D

You will need:

125g softened butter
330g sugar
3 eggs
300g SR flour
290ml buttermilk
3tsp cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
1tsp apple cider vinegar
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbs red food colouring

1) Grease (or line with cupcake paper cups) a muffin/cupcake tray OR cake tin (20cm diameter). Preheat oven to 170deg. C.
2) Cream the softened butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. It should look light and fluffy. While still beating, add one egg at a time. Beat well. Add the cocoa and red food colouring.
3) Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add half the buttermilk and half the flour mix to the red batter; mix. Add the rest of the buttermilk and flour.
4) Throw in a pinch of salt; fold in the vanilla and combine the apple cider vinegar into the cake batter. Now you can pour in even, but generous, amounts of batter into the cupcake tin or cake tin.
5) Place it in the oven for 30 mins. Cool.

Cream cheese Icing
(just as important as the cake recipe)

500g softened, philli cream cheese
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
50g softened butter
1tsp vanilla

1) Making sure you don't over-mix, combine all "wet" ingredients in a bowl, then add the icing sugar. The mixture will be deliciously thick: trust me, if it's too runny it will RUIN YOUR LIFE!
2) Spoon into a piping bag and squeeze over the cooled cupcakes/cake!

EAT!!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

It's 2 years today since I came back from a week away in Margaret River and started up my Storme in a Teacup on blogspot!

I can't believe I have continued doing this without forgetting to post for a number of weeks or months... my memory is pretty bad. I can forget within seconds where I'm just placed my mug of coffee and spend nearly 10 minutes looking for it.

Today, however, I'm a little stuck with what to post. I asked Ben a few times... he just giggles and says I should write about something I found yesterday. I don't think I want to present that just yet. Sorry, Ben, maybe some other time...

Then he suggested I blog about Bloaty.

Ahhh, Bloaty, my (nearly 1yr old) unfortunate stuffed cat that didn't end up looking like a cat but instead has the appearance of a bloated black toad. Yes, Bloaty. He's a work in progress; well, he was made in 10 minutes for a costume party prop with disastrous consequences (he was stuffed with the scraps of material and the would-be tail of his ill-formed cat-body). He's been a pretty prominent member of our household. Formally known as "Bloaty: the Unfortunate Raping (he's often found on top of other plush toys) Wish Toad", he's a little like our resident Pedo Bear; always manages to make you feel uncomfortable and a little violated. I can't throw him out. He's too important. Without Bloaty, I'd never be able to creep Kass out by leaving him on her pillow or hidden in her bag. Ben would never have something soft and squishy to throw at people in the house and I would never be able to hear the laughter of friends as they poked fun at my miscreant.

From his scrawny limbs to his round, wooden button eyes, to his strange, pained expression - I can't help but love my unfortunate wish toad. So impressed with him once I unveiled him, Kass wrote a poem about him:

Bloaty the (Unfortunate Wish) Toad


I wish I wasn’t so bloaty,

I wish I wasn’t so black

I wish I was a real toad,

And not once a maybe cat.


I wish my legs weren’t so short,

I wish my arms weren’t so thin,

I wish I had real organs inside,

instead of stuff from the off-cuts bin


I wish I had some sort of toes,

And eyes not made from button,

I wish I had an actual mouth,

If I’m going to look like a glutton.


I wish I was I bit cuter,

And that I wasn’t so damn lumpy

I wish I had a girlfriend

With whom I could get hot and humpy


It isn’t easy being a toad

Made out of off-cut cape

But worry not my dearest friend

I have a colourful history of rape.


Here's to another year of random happenstances!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vertically challenged? Look no further...

I have found a solution to Kass' and my vertically-challenged dilemma. Since we are the shortest people we know (and the shortest people we regularly congregate with), it has occurred to us both on numerous and, sometimes, separate occasions that it can be a little bit of a problem. For example, we have a stepping stool in the kitchen so we can reach the top of the pantry and can reach over the stove top while cooking with a tall saucepan (yes, it is necessary). We're both the same age -though she keep claiming to be the youngest by what sounds like decades-, so we're done with the whole vertical growth thing and regular heeled shoes don't quite make up the difference.

The fix: Make everyone the same height with shoes of varying heights = ~2m tall.

(in Kass' opinion, this means she can cut people taller than her off at the knees or hips... but this solution ensures that limbs remain intact or somewhat so -broken bones may occur from heightened falls-. Additionally, this solution plays on Kass' other weakness; SHOES)


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My heart pumps RICH CHOCOLATE MOUSSE!!

The most amazing, mouth-watering and terribly delicious thing in the world:


The Richest Chocolate Mousse Ever

Without a shadow of a doubt, this recipe will either cure you from your obsession with chocolate for the next few months, OR it'll KILL YOU before you've finished licking the spoon!

You will require:

350g dark chocolate, chopped into bits-made-easy-to-melt
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1tsp instant coffee dissolved in 10ml warm water
1tbs cocoa powder
300ml thickened cream

Additionally, you should have 6 ramekins (or 4 larger ones for the daring).

The method is simple enough:

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl either in the microwave OR (and this is the better way) rest the bowl of chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water ensuring the bowl doesn't touch the water. Stir the chocolate until melted. Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, cocoa and coffee. Beat until the mixture is well combined ~ 5minutes. Add this mixture to the melted chocolate. This should look dark and smooth! Beat cream in a bowl and gradually spoon it into the chocolate, stirring gently as you go.

In a clean bowl (sorry about all the bowls; your kitchen must be a mess by now), beat the egg whites until they form peaks. With a plastic spatula or spoon, gently fold in the beaten egg whites in the chocolate mixture. This will make the mousse light and airy. Just be careful not to mix and fold too much because this will release all the air (no one wants a mousse that feels like a lead weight in their gastrointestinal system).

Spoon mousse into ramekins/glasses/dessert bowls and place on a tray. Put tray in the fridge and leave the mousse for an hour. You can check on it if you like, but I find that the wait is made longer every time you open the fridge and stare at them... I also add a little dissolved coffee to 100ml of cream, whip it and whip it good, then dollop it on top - because my arteries can take it!!!

Enjoy!

Don't worry, my heart doesn't really pump rich chocolate mousse ... or lumpy custard for that matter. I'm sorry if this may have shattered some dreams...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Parenting WIN

This is fantastic!

A definite parenting WIN in my books!
(reminds me of my brother and myself)


video

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Nicolas Steno: You old dinosaur

Today is Nicolas Steno's 374th birthday. For those of you who are unsure of who Steno is/was... I shall enlighten:

Steno was a scientist, but more importantly he was a geologist (and palaeontologist). He identified the relationship between glossopetrae (tongue stones) and the teeth of sharks to be one and the same, adding to an argument established by the late Fabio Colonna; the difference being, Steno noted differences between living shark teeth and those known to be glossopetrae (Owen, 2009). He is the father of the law of superposition, the principle of original horizontality, and the principle of lateral continuity; a basis for stratigraphy.


So, happy birthday, Nic! You old dinosaur.

Owen, D. 2009. Shark: In peril in the Sea, Allen & Unwin, Australia


In Dinosaur News:

PLoS ONE shared "New Ophthalmosaurid Ichthyosaurs from the European Lower Cretaceous Demonstrate Extensive Ichthyosaur Survival across the Jurassic–Cretaceous Boundary".

In brief, a 130 MY old ichthyosaur (
Acamptonectes densus) was discovered in Braunschweig, Germany. The sparkling, diamond-in-the-rough snippet of information you should dust off and take home should be that ichthyosaurs are "traditionally" from the Jurassic period; this specimen dates to the Cretaceous. How the ichthyosaur survived the JK event (mass(?) extinction) is beyond me... Oh, but wait! A.densus didn't survive the JK event... essentially, it, among other ophthalmosaurines and platypterygiines continued to thrive: "...diversity and disparity was reasonably high".

Anyway, to clarify what's so important about the "re-writing of pre-history" and what part this ichthyosaur played, I'd recommend reading the excellent ramblings of Darren Naish's blog post (co-author of the PLoS ONE article). There are some wonderful diagrams and anecdotal tidbits within.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

These boots are made for nomming...

I baked vanilla "shoe" cupcakes for Kass' birthday (albeit a week late). I decided to surprise her with them when she got home from work... the squeal was mind-shattering! I got the idea from a random Google search of "shoe cakes"... Kass loves shoes; her collection rivals Imelda Marcos!! (haha... not that bad, otherwise we'd need another house just for her shoes :|).

This image sent me to a wonderful blog, Hoosier Homemade, which after subscribing to the vast range of helpful and inspiring newsletters, I received the information I required to make my own edible mini shoe replicas!

Here's my version:




Monday, January 2, 2012

Cupcake happiness (and rainbows)

My friend, Alex, posted some amazing looking cupcakes on my Facebook page in hope that I'll make them sometime in the near future. I can't say no to this... a) they're really cool cupcakes, and b) he demanded "MAKE THESE!" in capitals.

Without further ado... I shall share the image with you:


This piqued my interest, and I found myself looking through Google Images for some more cupcakey inspiration. I found a whole array of detailed, very geeky and very delicious looking goodies. The people who have made these are clearly kitchen gods/goddess'. I have a LOT to do and try before I can even scrape the bottom of the bakery bowls with the complexity of some of these cupcakes!!

Self-explanatory...


Coffee cups of noms!


Futurama Brain slug

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Beginning of the End

So... 2012...

End of the World in December? Unlikely...

But I did start the New Year off with a chipped calcaneus (heel)... Not too bad. Could have been worse... could have severely broken it. Anyway, I found these;


Layered rainbow jelly... YAY!!
Either way, I'm going to make them... sometime...