Sunday, December 27, 2015

Immersion Blender

We have a simple rule in our kitchen: if we buy a new piece of equipment, something has to go.

We go a long way with good knives and a couple decent pots, and we don't use many gadgets. But I do like my immersion blender, and have been using it for over ten years. 

I can make a creamy soup in a few minutes from ingredients in the freezer:
Stock (see previous post)
Mirepoix (see previous post)
Leftover roasted vegetables (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes, squash)
A spoonful of tomato paste (for acid, color, umami)
Salt and pepper
I just heat all this up, then blend right in the pot. The result is better than canned.

I never make the same soup twice. For example, spices, or fresh ginger (stored in the freezer), or garlic move the soup around the world.

Other dishes I make with the immersion blender include eggplant dip and a surprisingly good banana chocolate "ice cream." The "ice cream" is actually:
Bananas, a little past their prime, saved in the freezer, thawed slightly
A couple good heaps of cocoa powder
A small amount of milk to help everything to grip while it is being blended
Cleanup is minimal compared to the mess made transferring liquids to a countertop blender.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Palm Springs Hiking

Palm Springs, CA, is surrounded by mountains and lovely trails: good reasons to be there last week.

There are downsides to hiking in the Palm Springs area:
  • Too much driving to trailheads. It took one to two hours.
  • Days are short at this time of year. When my partner and I were hiking around Palm Springs last week, the sun set soon after 4:30 p.m.
But there are upsides to being in Palm Springs in early December:
  • Comfortable, dry climate. The average high in July is 108°F, but in December, the temperature reached the low 80's. At higher elevations, the temperature was in the 50's. 
  • Cheap digs. We stayed in a comfortable resort for close to one-third of prices charged later in December through the rest of the winter.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Urban Hike: Early Nordeast Houses

If I didn't know better I would walk right past this unassuming house. It looks to be about the right size and style for Nordeast (Northeast Minneapolis), and it's in a typical neighborhood.

A typical Nordeast neighborhood has a bunch of churches and bars. There's five churches within a couple blocks of this house, and plenty bars within staggering distance.

The house was built some time in the 1850's through 1870's making it one of just a handful of houses in Minneapolis surviving from that time. The Minneapolis fire of 1893 destroyed more than 23 surrounding blocks, but somehow spared this house.