Blue Apron: Week 9

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Whole Grain Spaghetti with Corn, Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone Cheese
So many leftovers from this Whole Grain Spaghetti with Corn, Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone Cheese from Blue Apron and soooooo good. The best whole wheat pasta I've had.

Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken with Choy Sum & Jasmine Rice
Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken with Choy Sum & Jasmine Rice from Blue Apron was fantastic. No leftovers, but tasty.

Tomato-Basil Burgers with Olive Aioli & Green Bean-Tomato Salad
Still don't like burgers from Blue Apron, even these Tomato-Basil Burgers with Olive Aioli & Green Bean-Tomato Salad. WHY AM I MAKING A BURGER WITH MY HANDS?! The green bean salad, however, was delicious. No leftovers.

A Livable Apartment

Friday, November 27, 2015

Living room

It's been a few months since we moved into our tiny apartment in California. Partway through November, we finally achieved livableness! Most of our artwork from Pittsburgh has been stowed away in our hallway closet which is filled to the brim with longterm storage boxes and camping gear. We also have a small external storage locker which is a life saver for exciting things like our cooler and camp chairs.

We stocked the living area of the apartment full of Ikea products for storage and aesthetics. 600 square feet can't exactly handle anything bulky and we can't exactly handle anything pricey. A few pieces came from craigslist: the Ikea Kivik sofa ($100!), the Ikea Jokkmokk dining table, and the Crate & Barrel cabinet on the bathroom counter. Craigslist can be a good source for vintage pieces, but it can also be a steal for newer items folks no longer use.

CA Apartment Layout
I got my first twangs of homesickness looking at these photos as it all just looks so crammed and cluttered compared to our Pittsburgh apartment. I guess that's what happens when you lose a third of your square footage!

From the doorway Bathroom
A Tjusig shoe bench for the entryway, with a Tjusig coat rack hidden behind the door. I have two large baskets from HomeGoods stores that we use throughout the apartment to hold odds and ends. In the bathroom are the custom curtains, some vintage amber hobnail tumblers from eBay, and a craigslist Crate & Barrel cabinet to hold a Costco-sized supply of toothpaste.

THAT IS NOT A BOX RIGHT THERE. nope. nope. nope.

So much counterspace and mirror, and nowhere to put a towel ring. Except maybe an insta-mount towel ring on the mirror itself. It works, no screws needed. Vintage mirrors hung at odd heights in the hallway.

Living room
My favorite print by Michelle Armas (I am in love with her work) takes center stage here in the living room. The Kivik couch is actually three separate one-piece sectionals and an ottoman (that we use to form a chaise). This allows us to easily rearrange our largest furniture piece according to our needs in this small living room. The Ikea coffee table on casters is no longer made, but the Strind is close. It was a craigslist find years ago in Pittsburgh, and one of the few pieces of furniture we bothered to bring with us. We should buy 50 more of those pintuck accent pillows.

Dizzy's scratching post is serious business. Anything to prevent the doofus from scratching up the furniture. This is the same one from Pittsburgh, and it works pretty well as its height allows her to fully stretch as she scratches. Although, it's pretty obvious there's no good location to place a giant scratching post.

Living room
We hung a Mosslanda picture ledge to cut down on some of the clutter that a wall of artwork might bring to this room. We've stuffed an office and living area here, so we're trying not to stuff it much further. The "office" is two Lillasen desks separated by a large Alex drawer.

Living room
A wider shot of our Ikea hacked Lappland TV unit. We filled the shelves with books and Branas baskets from the old craft pantry (craigslisted). They held up surprisingly well as moving boxes.

A dishwasher. The best thing ever. I threw a dish drying mat on top, since we no longer need a full drying rack. It's good for the soggy odds and ends that need to be air dried.

I bought two $3 majesty palms from the Ikea as-is section our first day in town, and saved them from a certain death. Root-bound and unhappy, I rather aggressively broke up their root balls and replanted. So far, so good! A bit of greenery really helps put together a room.

From this angle, you can see how we store our snack tables, the little corner of airtight grain containers, and my nearly fully stainless steel electric kettle. It's so nice to not have to worry about whether I left the stove on! Fears of burning down the building are gone.

White Irises in a Blue vase
The craigslist Jokkmokk table in all its glory! I wanted a small wooden table that could fit in the space and matched the approximate color of the faux-wood floors. There's so much clutter (everywhere), I just didn't want the table to stand out. The Eames chairs are from the past two Pittsburgh apartments. They disassemble which cuts down on moving space.

Dining Area
We went with the 4x4 Kallax shelves instead of the 5x5, so they'd be short enough for us to reach all our red Kitchen Aid appliances. The system works well! On the walls are a classic Pittsburgh print and a pegboard. Once you go pegboard, you never go back. And then there's the All Clad Emerilware cookware (upcoming post), plus a carbon steel wok, and we've also added some rectangular measuring spoons to have on hand.

Bedroom, Unpacked
A peak at the tiny bedroom that provides real meaning to the word BEDroom...We have a Brimnes storage headboard with two Janso clamp lights, and no nightstands! No room. I'm a little upset that I hadn't anticipated upgrading bed-sizes when making the triangle quilt a couple years ago. The top was initially 2 columns too wide for a queen bed, so I removed them. Now I'm kicking myself. I love my quilt too much to not use it, but it looks stupid being not wide enough. Not sure what to do. I still have some of the triangles, so I guess I could remove the binding off one side, add a bit of width, make some more binding, and then patch it in? Then that side will always be wonky. I don't know. It makes me sad.

Bedroom, Unpacked
Here you see our shallow Pax closets with Bergsbo doors to match the headboard. I tossed some old ClosetMaid cubeicals on top, and called it a day. Nazar boncuk above the door and copper-string LED twinkle lights, as always. I'll figure out what to do with the clothes drying rack and ironing board later. We spend so little time in here, it matters little.

Campus Tour

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lasuen Mall

Northern California does have an autumn. Although, I confess I may've cherry-picked these photos a bit. Even in mid-November, autumn is spread a bit thinner than it is in the east coast. But it's still lovely.

I've also switched institutional affiliation, which has been its own mini-adventure. Each campus I find myself on is more beautiful than the last. This place is drop.dead.gorgeous.

Lasuen Mall
Main Quad
Memorial Church
Main Quad
Back of Memorial Church
Stanford Visitor Center
Autumn Leaves
Serra Mall
Landau Building
Main Quad Engineering Buildings
Rodin Sculpture Garden
The Oval
I am so thankful this is all working out. It's been rather intense, but I think we're finally starting.

Blue Apron: Week 8

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stir-Fried Ginger-Basil Chicken with Tinkerbell Peppers & Coconut Rice
And so begins the Iris-eats-dinner-in-the-dark series. With some very tasty Stir-Fried Ginger-Basil Chicken with Tinkerbell Peppers & Coconut Rice. That eggplant was perfect. The chili sauce was perfect. And I could eat that coconut rice all by itself.

Summer Ratatouille & Parmesan Polenta with Heirloom Eggplant & Garlic-Cheese Toasts
Summer Ratatouille & Parmesan Polenta with Heirloom Eggplant & Garlic-Cheese Toasts. Surprisingly filling. And crazy amounts of leftovers.

Spiced Meatballs with Garlic Toasts & Summer Squash Salad

This Spiced Meatballs with Garlic Toasts & Summer Squash Salad wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't given both of us digestive issues. I liked the squash salad, but I don't know if it was the culprit or the meatballs.

Moving! Sewing Curtains

Friday, November 20, 2015

Curtains for under the bathroom counters

If I just moved, I'm probably making curtains. Even in an apartment that comes complete with blinds.

The unfinished photos of the apartment may not highlight it, but our bathroom has a ton of counter space. And under that counter is...nothing. So we stuffed the open area with cat litter boxes and plastic drawers and laundry detergent. Like one does. I acquired a couple suspension rods and threw together these curtains from beige Ikea fabric to go with our very beige apartment.

I followed my usual curtain-making logic, which may or may not make sense. Equal parts algebra and winging-it. Mostly just winging it.

2 Cut in half (for 2 evenly sized curtains)
4 Iron double-fold hem (+1/4")
8 Sew double-fold hem
9 Iron & pin double-fold hem on bottom (should be larger/heavier than top, if possible), 1/4" + larger
10 Sew double-fold hem
12 Iron, Pin, & Sew hem for top of curtain (large enough for curtain rod)
Curtains for under the bathroom counters Curtains for under the bathroom counters
Curtains for under the bathroom counters

Success: Browned Butter Ice Cream [omg]

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This is pretty much the best ice cream ever.

You guys. This might be one of the best ice creams ever. Up there with homemade molasses icream, homemade cookies & cream ice cream, and Jeni's cognac fig and goat cheese ice cream.

This is Browned Butter Ice Cream, modified from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home. You can find the recipe from MyHomespunHome, here. Jeni's recipes always add so many toppings. In this case...we just left them out. It's delicious as-is, especially if you can get the milk solids a few shades shy of black (i.e., super dark brown). The darker you can get 'em without burning, the better. And having gotten the fats super dark, this ice cream is amazing. I also used our Kitchen Aid stand mixer ice cream attachment, and the secret to those (as always) is to fully freeze the bowl overnight, and to leave the ice cream mixture in the fridge for a few hours before churning. 'Comes out right every time.

Ingredients might play some part in all this fantastic flavor. I splurged a tiny bit on ~$5-worth of fancy butters and cream cheese. It's all so fantastic, I just want to dunk my head in that 6-cup bowl of heavenly butter ice cream. It has a bit of a greasy after-feel, but that is a small price to pay for eating butter.

High Quality Ingredients from Milk Pail Market
Homemade Browned Butter Ice Cream (almost fills a 6-cup Pyrex)
Homemade Browned Butter Ice Cream
Homemade Browned Butter Ice Cream

To brown butter, you basically just melt it for a bit until the milk solids separate from the butter fat (i.e., oil). And then you keep boiling the melted butter until the milk solids turn a nice shade of brown. There's an interesting point where the mixture is all foam-y, and then suddenly, the foam disappears and you have separation! It's a sort of nifty food science moment. This process yields something known as clarified butter or ghee (if you caramelize the milk solids). 'Supposedly delicious on all sorts of dishes that you'd ordinarily use butter for: on roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, on bread, or inside an apple pie. Not too shabby!

All the butter needed! Like, $5-worth. Clarified Butter

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