29 August 2010

what does tennessee, france, and texas have in common?

pecanpie01a jar of pecans.

nope, that’s not the answer – you’ll learn that later on.

normally, that is the ingredient by which one is inspired to make…

pecanpie02pecan pie.

but no. pecans weren’t the source of inspiration this time.

pecanpie03the motivator was a jar of sorghum syrup/molasses.

pecanpie06what is it? i pondered the same thing myself as well as i stumbled upon the recipe in the lee bros. southern cookbook by matt and ted lee.

they promised that the “secret to the most delicious pecan pie you’ve ever tasted is to retire that bottle of pallid corn syrup and replace with with sorghum molasses

perfect, because i hate corn syrup. it’s already everywhere and i refused to give anymore support to such a product.

i scoured the grocery stores in dallas and austin for this sorghum syrup, but sadly, it’s definitely a regional thing that texas doesn’t carry. so thanks to the internet and the boiled peanuts catalog, i had two jars of this mystery ingredient, all the way from tennessee.

just like there is sugar cane, there is also sorghum cane. and that is where we get sorghum syrup/molasses from. it’s part of the southeast culture, which is why i’ve never heard of it until now.

thank goodness for books.

pecanpie04so. the sorghum from tennesee. the pecans from texas. and the pie crust – of course, my go-to pâte sucrée by pierre hermé, from france.

so while pecan pie might be a traditional southern dessert that i usually skip and despise, this version contains elements that change it into, if i dare say myself, the best pecan pie i’ve ever tasted.

i can now say i actually like pecan pie.

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sorghum pecan pie

recipe adapted from p. 449 of lee bros. southern cookbook by matt and ted lee.

Ingredients:

sweet pie crust

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 eggs, beaten

4 tbs butter, melted

1 tbs corn starch

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup sorghum molasses

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1. preheat your oven to 375F.

2. line your tart pan.

3. beat the brown sugar and eggs together

4. add the melted butter, corn starch, and salt.

5. stir in the sorghum molasses and pecans.

6. pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake until it quivers, about 35-40 minutes.

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pecanpie05as a bonus, the pie is great chopped up and added to a cup of plain yogurt for dessert.

28 August 2010

trip to russia

russia0(photo used from here.)

it is a summer of limbo. i don’t know where i’m going or when. i know how – by plane. but that’s the only thing that is for sure.

while my body might be stuck in texas, my mind is definitely traveling. netflix. books. recipes.

and most recently, russia.

russia00 i discovered a goldmine. otherwise known as canon creative park.

russia01armed with a color printer, some sharp scissors, sticky glue, and lots of toothpicks i set off to see st basil’s catherdral, sans smoke.

russia02and it began to take shape.

russia03the entire time i couldn’t stop thinking about figs.

russia04perhaps my st. basil isn’t very perfect. but it’s better than not travelling, don’t you think?

russia05now that i’ve visited russia, where will i be going next…?

russia06and if you’re not into travelling, no worries, the goldmine is full of other things to visit. like cute little chipmunks.

22 August 2010

pastries, sunset, and a movie

smu92you decide to do brunch with a friend at watson’s fancy and staple. another reverse culture shock – the bakeries of america! taste, look, style – it’s all different.

smu94one example is the crossaintwich – which is a sandwich that uses a croissant as the bun. something unimaginable in france. but tasty!

smu95you aren’t sure why whoopie pies are suddenly popular again. and you don’t mind at all. perhaps macarons are just too french for the americans to go crazy for – we like our comfort desserts.

smu96cashews + chocolate + caramel + tart = happiness in the tummy.

smu97then you drive up to mt. bonnell. which is really a giant hill and not a mountain.

smu98you’re up high. but down below are where the mansions are. if you have a few million, you could live here.

smu99but you don’t. but does it make a difference? you still have access to such beautiful sights all around you.

smu99asuch as this.

smu99bor this. texas sunsets are really something, aren’t they?

smu99cand off to your favorite movie theater, the alamo drafthouse (honestly none of the imitations even come close to comparing) to watch a movie with friends.

and then you’re on the road again…

21 August 2010

one example of how to spend a nice day in austin

smu68looks like the blue skies vanished.

but the nice thing is that regardless of how cloudy it is, there is always plenty of sun.

smu69garage sales! something you never saw in france. where you people just spread out everything on their front lawn that they don’t want for dirt cheap.

smu71and then you visit a farm. yes, there is a little farm in (or close?) to austin. boggy creek is the name.

smu72plenty of tasty things to buy and eat.

smu73and you get a peek at some figs. just a few more weeks and they’ll be ready…! you can hardly wait.

smu74the chickens look happy. and the blackberries are already gone.

smu76you’re pretty sure this bbq place must be good – just look at it! the more run down, the better – at least that is what instinct says.

smu77look familiar? same drive, but just in the day time.

smu78two towers – the university tower, and the eiffel tower. all in one city!

smu79from the farm you hop to the farmer’s market. every saturday morning. you miss the days when you used to bike to it… but better than not being here at all!

smu81next trip to austin java. unfortunately it is still brunch time so you can’t order your favorite thing: any burger/sandwich with their honey wheat bread. that bread. is. something. else.

oh, and their mayonnaise is also something else.

but you settle for a poached egg. which is almost equally good.

smu82austin restaurants – whether on wheels or on cement, they’re always good.

smu84you always love going to south congress where tons of antique and thrift stores line the street.

smu83plus there is an old bonus of an old-fashioned candy store by the name of big top candy shop.

smu87more of those texas skies. looks as if it has cleared up just a bit!

smu88one thing unique to austin: the breakfast taco.

a taco. but for breakfast. with eggs, bacon, ham, potatoes…

it’s part of the culture here. in austin, there is no strict schedule, people tend to roll out of bed when they want. there isn’t this crazy energetic vibe that new york city has or the surf culture of california… it’s just very chill.

so when people get up, they’re hungry. and they want breakfast. but they also want tacos.

and honestly, is there a reason to not mix the two…?

oh, and you eat them for lunch or dinner or midnight snacks as well.

smu89you drive out a little bit up a hill to the outskirts.

smu90and you attend a concert. mother falcon is the name of the band, if you’re curious. what a perfect setting – on a hill, away from the city, a sunset, a picnic blanket, and of course the music.

smu91time for bed!

20 August 2010

where the plans to be a tourist just goes straight out of the window

smu55you are back in austin. you had plans on being a tourist and doing touristy things: the university, sixth street, barton’s creek, barbeque, the drag………….. etc…… emphasis on the word plans

smu56but you can’t. it’s too different. it’s home. you want to do normal things. the library, the thrift stores, lunches with friends, coffee, grocery shopping… all your plans to follow your guidebook go out the window.

smu57also, summers in austin have this magical ability to just make you carefree and lazy. the students are all gone, and all everybody wants to do is just swim and drink.

smu58so that’s just what you do. nothing special or noteworthy. ice cream, photo booths, lazy talks.

and you realize, this isn’t really any different than how you travel, because what you love most is not the museums and the monuments, but just walking around and enjoying the actual city.

smu62ok, so you do do one touristy thing. the bats at congress bridge. essentially, there are millions of bats that live under this bridge, and at night they come out to eat – which is a sight to see as the bats take over the sky.

however, tonight the bats take their sweet time and you leave before you see the bats. oh well! next time.

but if you do decide to see the bats, keep in mind they’re only here in the summer – the moment it becomes cold, the bats are smart and migrate over to mexico.

but they always come back.

like yourself, you hope.

smu61your theory is that austin has a great night life because it’s too hot too do anything in the day.

smu63you take full advantage of being a passenger and enjoy really looking at austin instead of focusing on the road/safety/not hitting anything or anyone.

good public transit. that does not exist in texas. yet, you hope.

smu65until then, cars are the way to go.

smu66or even pedi-cabs. downtown, you can take a ride in a horse drawn carriage or a carriage powered by muscular calves – in other words, a cyclist.

or bike, or drive, or walk. whatever you prefer, plenty of options to enjoy the night.

up to you.

smu67and that is the end of a nothing-very-important-or-productive-day in austin! which is normal.