It has been so cold and windy outside that I minimize my time outdoors. I had to come to work this past weekend and I was skeptical of the regularity of the weekend bus service so I decided to walk to campus. Was that a big mistake! The walk is usually pleasant and takes about 15-20 minutes. By the time I reached campus, my thighs were frozen and when I entered the building, they were so cold that it felt like they were burning! I'm guessing that was frostbite? It happened to me a few times because I was too stubborn to cancel a sushi date with a friend (yes! My sushi buddy's finally baaack! Yippee!).
With cold weather, along comes hot foods (and drinks too!). I decided to mull some wine this past weekend with some mulling spice that I bought at Williams & Sonoma. They were on sale ($2.99 for a whole box!) and I couldn't resist. I've also been wanting to try mulling some wine! On Saturday, after my sushi date, I stopped by at Trader Joe's and bought a bottle of their two-buck-chuck Syrah and mulled that. Talk about Trader Joe's, I love love love them! But that's another topic altogether. Next post, maybe. Anyway, mulling wine is very simple yet subtle. The only ingredients required are wine, some sugar and the mullling spices, so in that sense, it is very simple. The mulling spices include cinnamon, allspice, cloves, etc.
Now, the subtlety comes from how you mull it. I've read that you absolutely CANNOT boil it, you're supposed to simmer it gently for about half an hour. Otherwise, it'll turn out mucky and taste like crap. I followed the directions and even stood by the stove most of the time to ensure that it is simmering, not boiling. However, I got distracted by an urgent phone call and let the wine boil for maybe less than a minute! Fortunately, it turned out ok. I served it warm with a cinnamon stick as garnish and added flavor. It was a delicious winter drink but unfortunately, didn't taste so good when it has cooled. So if you do mull wine, try to finish it before it cools down. On the can of the mulling spice, it says that the mulled wine/cider can also be served when it's cool but I'm just guessing it's not to my taste.
Another thing I've been quite enamored with is a new brand of breakfast cookies that I recently discovered on Amazon.com. I've enjoyed Quaker's breakfast cookies that come in oatmeal raisin and apple cinnamon flavors but this new brand I found is way, way better! I encountered it on Amazon while I was browsing around and chanced upon Baker's Breakfast cookies. I read the reviews and found that overall, people really enjoyed the taste of these cookies in spite of the fact that they're really healthy. How healthy? Think 6g of fiber, 6g of protein, 0 trans fat and 0 cholesterol for under 300 calories! I was still skeptical but ordered some anyway. I chose the double chocolate chunk cookies and unfortunately (an fortunately) Amazon only sells them in packs of 24. Unfortunate because I wasn't sure that I was going to like them and fortunate because it turns out that I love them!
I love them because they're not only good for you, they are actually very tasty. The texture of the cookie is very soft and chewy so I guess this won't be for you if you like your cookies crisp and snappy. It is also very very chocolatey and I love biting into one of the rich chocolate chunks. It is also very filling and satisfying with the ample protein and fiber in it! They're perfect for on-the-go breakfast and snacks. Thesedays, I've been one almost every day (as part of a balanced food plan, of course) with a mug of freshly brewed piping hot Harrod's Earl Grey or delicate green tea. It's just so comforting to savor a delicious cakey cookie with a warm caffeinated drink. They'd probably be delicious with some strong coffee too. I can't wait to try out the other flavors, in particular peanut butter because I'm crazy about all things nuts! Haha~
I was rather adventurous last week and decided to try making chocolate souffle (yes, that intimidating dish that puffs up in the oven like nobody's business). It wasn't as intimidating as I thought, only rather detailed. I found that you absolutely have to butter the souffle dish thoroughly and then sprinkle sugar in it thoroughly too. And then, before sliding the souffle into the oven, you have to slide a finger between the souffle and the dish and go around so that the souffle can rise maximally. I only dipped a finger halfway down the dish on the side (should've been all the way down so it touches the bottom) and my souffle didn't rise as magnificently as I believe it could have. However, it was still awesome tasting. It wasn't too sweet and the texture was very dream-like: light, fluffy yet moist and smooth. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was the perfect dessert: a mix of cold and warmth. The only disappointing thing is that the souffle almost immediately shrunk when I pulled it out of the oven because of the cold temperature in my apartment (yes! It was THAT cold!).
This pleasant souffle experience has inspired to make a cheese version with Gruyere and Ementaler some time in the near future. How exciting!
I've also been more motivated to knit recently not only because it's just so comforting to feel the soft yarn in my hands when it's cold, also because I've been trying to minimize my trash TV time on weekdays. I'm trying to limit myself to one hour of television per day; however, I'm still watching a crapload of TV during weekends though. Anywayz, I've been learning two techniques: multi-color knitting (also known as intarsia) and cables. I know how to knit multiple colors in rows, but I've been interested in acquiring the skills on how to knit patterns with many colors, not just rows. The first swatch (or knitting sample), I did with some scrap leftover yarn from my legwarmer project and I decided to do a heart pattern. It was a little bit complicated with the sparse description in my Stitch'n'Bitch book but I managed to do it! It looks so cute and awesome from the front but is rather messy in the back due to the need to twist the yarns and start new colors often. I thought that it's sooo cute that I decided to make a coaster out of it. So I made another one just like it and seamed them back-to-back together. It turned out to be a bit on the chunky side but it's a good coaster!
I'm so inspired that I plotted out a star knitting chart and I'm going to knit another coaster with the star pattern with my scrap yarn! I've also mastered the fine (and deceptively easy) art of knitting cables. Cables are those snaky patterns that twirl back and forth, very popular on sweaters. This time around, the Stitch'n'Bitch book was very very helpful because not only are there step-by-step illustrations, there are also step-by-step written instructions, making it very idiot-proof for people like me. check it out!
That'll be it for the next week or so because I'm going to St. Martin for a 8 days starting next week! Yes! Can you believe my luck? I'm going to be basking in the Carribean sun, lathered with an SPF 50 lotion, reading trashy, easy chick lit novels while sipping on a ice cold alcoholic beverage with a teeny weeny paper umbrella. Fortunately, St. Martin is also known as one of the best culinary destinations in the Carribean! I'm sooo loooking forward to fresh seafood and innovative food, which I'll update you with when I come back (... if I come back, hah!).