Friday, 25 April 2014

Friday crumbs: a collection of morsels from around the web

Happy Friday! We've had an odd week here because Wednesday was a stat holiday, so the week got a bit broken up. Then next Thursday is also a holiday, which I'm sure is really helping with students' attention levels as the semester wraps up.

Kicking off the Friday crumbs this week is a story comparing two completely unnecessary things.

These might be getting redundant, because I hope the fact that I link to it every single week is a tip-off to the fact that The Toast is brilliant and amazing and you should be reading it every day, BUT this piece on a time-travelling grandmother was touching and heartwarming. My own grandmother started to "go" due to dementia well over ten years ago, and she passed away two summers ago. She was a brilliant woman.

Speaking of my family history...I have had a lot of time on my hands, so I've been doing some genealogical research. This BBC article on the resurgence of county flags in Great Britain (the article focuses primarily on England but also mentions Scotland and Wales) reproduces the flag of Westmoreland, which is where my family came from.

Bitch Magazine (that's the name; it's possibly NSFW; you have been warned) has a piece on a Marvel Comics collaboration with Planned Parenthood that was published in 1976. It makes reference to other collabs that Marvel has done with various action groups across the ideological spectrum, if you're interested.

We've had some nutty weather lately: 26 degrees and humid as all get out. I'm hoping for a big storm!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Fridge pickles

I am a big fan of salty/briny flavours and pickled veg. Love pickles, love olives, love kimchi, love salgam, etc. I make pickled onions fairly frequently (slice a red onion, place in sealable container, cover in red wine vinegar, stick in fridge, eat with tacos/eggs/smoked meat sandwiches/etc.) but I'm also terrified of killing myself or other people through improper preservation of foods, so I've never made actual shelf-stable pickles.

Did you know that you can make pickles in your fridge?


It's true! And oh-so-simple.

I initially used a tiny glass jar with a sealable lid (about the same size as the small glass Nutella jars), but I'm planning to use a much larger receptacle next time. I do recommend using a sealable glass, rather than plastic, jar. 

I decided to start with the classic cucumber pickle. The quantities are a little rough, so feel free to play with your own spicing.

Ingredients

3 small cucumbers (about 15cm long). I peeled them because we bought them from a local market and I'm concerned about pesticides etc., but if you buy organic ones you could probably get away with just washing them really, really well. They would have been a lot crunchier with the peel on.
Half a small onion
4 cloves of garlic
Vinegar to cover (I used white wine vinegar)
Salt - I used about 1 tsp
1 tbsp black whole peppercorns
1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp dried dill
1/2 tsp whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp sugar

Directions

1. Peel the cucumbers and slice them in to rounds. Or, don't peel them and slice them however you choose. Or keep them whole! I won't judge. Thinly slice the onion and garlic cloves. 

2. Place all of the ingredients except the vinegar in your container, then close the lid and shake it up to evenly distribute the spices, etc. Add vinegar to cover. 

I left them in the fridge for about two days before eating. They only lasted about a week because I ate them all, but when I have made pickled onions in the past they lasted for at least a month and usually more than two. As far as I can tell you should be able to keep these for about a month, checking frequently to make sure that they haven't developed any strange smells or growths. 

Thoughts

Getting the pickles out of the container was a pain in the ass because they were all covered with peppercorns, cloves, etc., which I don't recommend eating. I now understand why pickle containers exist. I usually just sort of brushed off the debris with my fingers, but you could also rinse them in a colander before eating. I think that using a larger jar would help, as well.

I'm planning to play with the spicing a little because the clove flavour was a bit overpowering. Also, most recipes for pickling spice include mustard seed, which I forgot to buy but which would be delicious. It's also sort of the most important flavour component in pickling, as far as I know. I'm thinking of adding some fennel next time around, as well.

Finally, I ate the pickled onions along with the cucumbers, but the garlic was a little too garlicky for me. YMMV. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Friday crumbs: a collection of morsels from around the web

Hello all! Happy Easter and/or Chag Semeach to all those observing.

For a special Easter treat, why not watch this video of a marshmallow peep in an airlock?

And for your Passover-related news, here's an interesting piece about the appearance of quinoa on Passover tables.

Buzzfeed has an excellent long-form piece on Tom Lehrer. "The Elements" and "Oedipus Rex" are tied for my favourite Tom Lehrer songs - do you have a favourite?

It wouldn't be a Friday Crumbs post without a Toast link. This week's covers Kit Pearson and CanLit. I'm a huge Kit Pearson fan and just found out that you can do an Awake and Dreaming tour in Victoria!

I'm sure you want to read about a species of Brazilian cave insect where males and females have reversed sex organs (there are photos of creepy-crawlies at the link).

If you've been on the Internet in the past week or so you have probably seen this article about the 13-year-old girl who hunts with eagles in Mongolia, but in case you haven't...here you go.

Speaking of Central Asia: the story of Samarkand.

Finally, Gabriel Garcia Marquez has died at the age of 87. In honour of his impressive body of work, here is a gently-teasing look at what missed connections from his stories would look like.

Think of me when you are eating bread and/or Creme Eggs (or both???) this weekend. Oh Creme Eggs and Mini Eggs, I miss you so.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Buxom Full Bodied Lipstick in Two-Timer

I received a deluxe sample of Buxom's Full Bodied Lipstick in the shade Two-Timer with a recent Sephora order. It's the first product I've tried from the brand.


Two-Timer is described as an "earthy rose"; I think that "tea rose" or "antique rose" would also describe it well. 


The packaging is suuuuuuuuper tiny (here it is next to a bottle of sunscreen for scale). I am not particularly in love with the packaging, for reasons that I can't quite put my finger on. It looks a bit chintzy, I think. I do like tiny things, but not this tiny thing in particular. 


Swatchy swatchy. The lip stick shows up quite a bit more on my lips than it does in this swatch. You'll see in the photo below that it looks a bit pinker and generally more pigmented on my lips, possibly because my natural lip colour is more pigmented than my arm. 

The formula had a lot less slip than what I'm used to, but I've mostly been wearing lipstick/balm hybrids. It's not drying at all and is quite comfortable to wear. Wear time wasn't great, unfortunately: it was completely gone after about two hours and a meal. 


On my face. I know, I look SUPER IMPRESSED with everything in this photo. Wearing Buxom Full Bodied Lipstick in Two Timer and nothing else. Well, clothes, obviously. 

I'm perfectly happy with this product as a deluxe free sample but I don't know that I would buy it in the full-size. I'm not in love with the colour, which is too bad because based on the texture, bullet colour, and arm swatch, I thought I would like this lipstick a lot more than I actually do. I think it looks a bit...vintage-y on me, and not in a good way. More in a dated mauve sort of way. It's just obvious enough to not be a MLBB colour without being exciting or fun. I'm going to keep wearing it because I'm going through job interviews right now and need to look more conservative and professional, and I don't think it's unflattering, but I'm a little torn. Thoughts? 

If you want to see swatches of a bunch of other shades, Latoya's post on a set of minis makes the range look way better than I have in this post. I do still like the look of Menace and Provocative. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Sneaky vegetables (zucchini and carrots)

One of the huge advantages of living in Turkey is that there is spectacular produce available all year, and it gets even better when things start coming in to season. The grocery stores and supermarkets are overflowing with zucchini (kabak) right now, so I've been trying to work it in to various dishes. It's not my favourite vegetable, so generally it has to be "in disguise."

The vegetables in these two recipes are "sneaky" because you can't really taste them. Nobody should be under the impression that either of these recipes are healthy: one is shallow-fried and one is cake. But they are delicious and they do contain vegetables - in the case of the kabak mücveri, quite a lot of vegetables!

Variation on Kabak Mücveri (Zucchini fritters)
This is not a quick meal (including frying this took about 45 mins start to finish), but it's easy and doesn't occupy too much counter space so if one member of your household has an aversion to chopping lettuce due to the squeaky texture of lettuce leaves and therefore hates making salad, they can concentrate on the fritters while the other member of the household prepares salad. For example.

I added curry powder to these because I was looking for something like a cross between a latke and a veggie pakora. The traditional Turkish recipe calls for dill, crumbled beyaz peynir (Turkish all-purpose "white cheese"; similar to feta but made with cow's milk instead of sheep's milk), and a tiny bit of paprika. Oh, and also no carrots. So basically these are similar to mücveri only in that they have zucchini and are fried in sunflower oil.

The recipe could have served 4, especially when served with a salad, but we ate them all.

Ingredients
3 washed unpeeled zucchini, grated (approximately 3 cups of zucchini)
2 washed and peeled carrots, grated (approximately 2 cups of carrots)
1 grated medium-size onion
2 eggs
3 tbsp milk
1/4 cup less 2 tbsp flour - I like a looser batter so I used far less flour, but if you want them a little firmer, use more.
1 tbsp curry powder (I used a mix of tandoori masala and garam masala, but you could use whatever you want)
1tsp turmeric
1tsp dill
1tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Place the grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and allow to drain for 5-10 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Squeeze out any excess liquid (which will be a terrifying shade of green) and then proceed to step 2.

2. Place all of your ingredients in a bowl and stir until the eggs and flour are evenly distributed throughout. It should look sort of like creamy coleslaw at this point.

3. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, pour enough sunflower oil to shallow-fry; I had it at about 3mm. Working in batches, add enough of the batter to make pancakes of approximately 7-8cm diameter. Flip when the bottoms have become dark brown and slightly crispy (about 5 minutes) then cook on the other side for another 3-4 minutes. The outsides should be crispy and dark brown and the insides soft and golden.

4. Serve with yoghurt!

Next time I make these (and there will be a next time, because they were delicious), I am planning to use far less oil. I made them flat like latkes, but if you wanted a fluffier, more fritter-like texture you would probably need more oil to ensure that the sides get cooked properly. A word of advice: because of the turmeric, the cooking oil will turn bright yellow and will stain clothing.

Chocolate-carrot loaf (Çikolatalı havuçlu kek), adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book
My husband and I both love carrot cake - we had it for our wedding cake! - and a few years ago I found a recipe in Food and Drink magazine for a chocolate carrot cake with mocha frosting. It was delicious, but a little rich for every day, so here is a variation that is a little less rich and a lot less complicated. I am under no illusions as to the relative health benefits of carrot cake, but...it has 2 cups of grated carrots in it, so that's something.

A note on pans: I made this in a 5x7 loaf pan, but it took forever to cook and the outside got a little crispier than I would have liked. I would suggest making this in a square or round cake pan, as the batter is very dense. I'm still figuring out the high-altitude baking thing, and when I first mixed the batter together it was very, very dry. I think this may be in part because I reduced the sugar - which is recommended when baking at higher altitudes because it reduces the amount of liquid - but that may have been a mistake. I beat an extra egg with approximately a quarter cup of milk and added it to loosen up the batter. However, this might be why it took so much longer to bake. I would give it a try first as written, with 2 rather than 3 eggs, and add the third egg at the end if you are finding that the batter is too dry (although I doubt it will be).

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
pinch cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup of sugar (I used less, but it was not very sweet. If you like a sweeter cake, and especially if you are baking at high altitudes, I would use the full cup)
1/2 cup of vegetable oil (I used sunflower, because that's what we had in the house)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of carrots
1/2 cup of chopped bittersweet chocolate (optional)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line your pan of choice with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon until well blended.

3. In separate bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Beat in the oil and vanilla extract.

4. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the carrots and chopped chocolate, if using, and stir until evenly distributed throughout.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for (if using a loaf pan) approximately 45 minutes or until the cake has started to pull away from the side of the pan and a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. If you are using a cake pan, the cooking time will be reduced but the signs of done-ness still apply. I would start checking at 25 minutes or when it starts to smell like cake in the kitchen. When done, remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack.

Enjoy!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Friday morsels: a selection of crumbs from around the web

Even though I was only away for one Friday, I missed two posts. I had thought I was going to be OK with the jet lag, but I had a job interview on Wednesday and I think I just tricked myself into sleeping properly for the first few nights. Now, my sleep schedule is all messed up and I'm trying to get it back in sync.

In the meantime, here is an extra-large compilation of Friday crumbs!

How very Amelie: the Atlantic reports on a discovery of over 400 photo booth portraits of the same man, spanning approximately 30 years, that showed up at an antiques show and which are now part of an exhibition.

Yes, writing languages for Game of Thrones is a real job - and it sounds super cool. I don't watch GoT but I do love constructed languages.

Short TED talk on mental illness by Ruby Wax. This could be triggering for some, as there is some frank and irreverent discussion of various types of mental illness including depression, anxiety, and PTSD, so just be mindful of that if you would like to watch. Plus, she makes fun of Paris Hilton, so if you feel strongly about her, please also bear that in mind.

These maps of Europe (including Turkey, the Caucasus, and parts of the Middle East and North Africa) show variations in language across the continent by looking at a number of words. They were originally posted on Reddit but this BI piece gives a bit of context to them. Check out the comments for some examples of language nerdery where people correct some errors or omissions in the map. I have my own to add: in Turkish, hıyar might mean cucumber but salatalık is much more common (and polite); the other term is mostly used as slang for idiot/moron. Here's the subreddit for many more etymology maps, if you are so inclined.

What would erotica look like if it were written by aliens?

A list of 26 sandwiches to eat for dessert. I love sandwiches.

Another Toast link: the evolution of food mascots.

Someone has designed a functional, tactile, and beautiful watch for people who are blind or visually impaired - and they are naming it after a British Paralympic medallist who lost his sight in Afghanistan.

Finally (and this is some familial promotion), my brother is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this summer! You can follow him (and the development of his majestic "trail beard") at www.tomontherun.ca, or on Instagram @juniorvarsity.

Any exciting news from any of you over the past few weeks?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Joe Fresh Mousse Blushes

In February, I saw a shot of the new Joe Fresh Mousse Blushes on beautygeeks and they immediately went on the must-swatch-and-possibly-buy list. I showed the two that I bought, Rose and Melon, in a quick group shot in my Toronto trip report. I hadn't had the chance to open them prior to leaving Canada, and then I read Beauty Reductionista's less-than-glowing review and was pre-emptively disappointed (although quite impressed that Liz's post is the top search result on Google for "Joe Fresh Mousse Blushes").

Well, I have some reservations (almost all packaging-related) but I have to say that overall I am really impressed with these and very happy with my purchase.



Rose on the left, Melon on the right. The blushes are packaged in little white pots, about the size of one of those coffee pods, with corresponding lids. Melon got a little turned around, so the product ended up all over the top of the pot. The quantity you get, especially for the price (I thought I paid $8 each, but the Internet is indicating that it was actually $6), is very generous. I need just the teeniest, tiniest bit to get some lovely colour.

The packaging is profoundly poorly thought-out. Melon started leaking a viscous, silicon-y liquid from under the safety seal (I think it had to do with the pressurization on the airplane, and it hasn't affected the texture). I cleaned it up but have decided to keep them in a little ziploc bag just in case. These would make so much more sense packaged in a squeeze tube: more hygienic, easier to carry around, and less likely to leak. Also it would make it easier to dispense in reasonable applications, rather than the giant globs that my finger picks up. Got it, Joe? Tubes, please!


Once again, Rose on the left, Melon on the right. Melon pulls very orange on me. The texture of these is incredibly silky and smooth. It's actually similar to, well, chocolate mousse. Not that I've ever dipped my finger in chocolate mousse and then put it on my cheeks, but it's how I imagine that would feel (although for the record I don't recommend you try eating these. I doubt they taste like real mousse).

For comparison, I found that the Becca beach tints are slightly harder and less "smooshy" than the Joe blushes. In the arm swatches, little pills of colour remained after the product was sheered out, but I didn't have that problem on my cheeks.

Ingredients: dimethicone, dimethicone crosspolymer, silica dimethyl silylate, nylon-12, polymethyl methacrylate, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, tocopherol acetate. May contain mica, titanium dioxide, iron oxides, red 30, yellow 5 lake, red 7 lake. 

I did find that these are incredibly pigmented, and here is where the ultra-soft texture worked for me: when I first applied them (particularly Rose), it gave me instant clown cheeks. The softness really helped me sheer them out to a much more flattering shade. 

Wear time is perfectly adequate for a cream product (I applied Rose, below, before going out to dinner and it's still visible about five hours later) but not stellar, and I imagine it would be even lower in hotter temperatures. 


In a combination of sun and indoor lighting, wearing Rose on my cheeks. Other products used: NARS TM in Groenland and Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla, Benefit Watts Up!, Clinique Chubby Stick in Ample Amber and l'Oreal Infaillible eye shadow in Bronze Divine, MUFE mascara, Revlon lip butter in Lollipop. I'm beginning to get the sneaking suspicion that my tinted moisturizer is too dark. Also, I look super-sweaty, but I think it's because this is about 30 seconds after applying makeup, and it usually takes about 5 minutes for the TM to sink in and stop looking greasy. 


In direct sun, wearing the NARS TM, concealer, and MUFE mascara, plus Joe Fresh mousse blush in Melon and Tarte lip gloss in Achiote layered over Maybelline Colour Whisper in Orange Attitude. This picture really shows how dark the TM is. I should probably buy lighter shade, because this looks a bit silly. In my defence, I don't think it's quite as noticeable in real life.

So, overall: good product, piss-poor packaging. I'm glad I bought these and will happily continue to smear them on my face, but the presentation needs some work.