Monday, September 28, 2009

I Forget to Eat, and Ensuing Failures

Fire Alarm Count: 31

One of these was at 4:30 am. Seriously? Seriously? Who the fudge (it's censored because my mother reads this blog. Hi mom!) is cooking badly/smoking at this hour? If it were up to me, I would demand to know the identity of the guilty culprit and then cheerfully beat them to death. Which is, of course, why it's not up to me.

All ranting the past week has been fairly eventful, food-wise. The main thing being, of course, that this Friday, I forgot to eat. Yes. That's right. Those of you who know me well will know how absolutely shocking this is, considering usually all I think about is my stomach. 9/10 times you catch me zoning out whenever, it is likely not my next fabulous art project that I'm thinking about. It is what I'm going to make for dinner. So for me to forget about that...well...let's see how this happened...

Friday morning: I don't have time to eat. This is not unusual.
Noon: I have forgotten my 3 objects of which I must draw for Drawing class. Feel like an idiot. Run back to my dormitory during my 1-hour break to get said objects. Grab a hot dog w/ ketchup and mustard along the way. It is not particularly filling, and I debate buying some other sort of junky fast food on the way back, but decide I don't have time to eat it.
10 pm: Texting The Boyfriend, I realize that my hands are shaking and that I barely have enough energy to stand thanks to my relative lack of energy input.

Upon realizing that all I've had is a hot dog all day...I run to the fridge and find...nothing. Ever since class started, Mi, E, and I haven't been cooking daily like we used to. Which means, of course, that our fridge is not nearly as well-stocked as I would like it to be. There was a smallish bowlful of dried, days-old rice on the countertop and a bag of frozen mixed veggies in the freezer. After much scrambling, I come up with this:

Brown Rice Porridge with Mixed Veggies.

Basically, I rehydrated the dried-out rice in a pot with about a cup and a half of water, then tossed in half a cup of frozen vegetables. The bowl on the left contains cucumbers pickled in soy sauce, which is a common Chinese side dish eaten with rice porridge. Not pictured here is the bowl of sliced vine-ripened tomato I marinated in a bit of oil with a large pinch each of salt, sugar, and chopped fresh basil. On the right, you see some of the delicious chicken that E brought back from home.

In fact, the chicken was so delicious I feel the need to elaborate on it....

This is what I had for dinner about a week ago. Brown rice with fries and spicy Korean chili-chicken. That's not the official name--I'll have to ask E what it is as some point and then beg for the recipe because I must have this chicken again sometime. It is the best chicken ever. if you care, even a little, about my nutty cooking exploits in college, you may wonder, So what have you done lately?

I'm working on this microwave cooking business. I swear. But the thing is, some things just don't cook the same way in a microwave as it does in an my latest cooking disaster will prove.

Cheesecake. I love cheesecake, always have, even when I was a little kid. I think it's pretty odd--cheesecake is a pretty "adult" dessert, isn't it? Either way, at all the parties my parents ever went to, I was the only kid there that ever wanted the cheesecake. And when I figured out last year that I could make it on my own...

Anyway, I've gotten pretty good at cheesecake. The original recipe is from Kraft Foods, but ever since following this recipe to the T the very first time I made it, I've been continuously tweaking it according to suggestions by the people who've eaten it (and my personal taste, of course), and here's what I've come up with. It's more than pretty good, and really, I'm not one to brag about my cooking too much, because I'm starting out and mediocre at my opinion this is the very best thing I make. My dad approves of it. Which, I assure you, is a big, big deal. Because my dad is the pickiest eater in the world. He'll eat anything, but for him to actually like it and have nothing critical to say...well, that is a rarity. Trust me.

Yumi's New York-Style Cheesecake

1 cup graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
Don't even try to soften these cream cheese packets in the microwave. Don't do it. You'll just make your microwave explode. If you must microwave, take them out of the packets and do it at 30-second intervals. Or better yet, just take them out a couple hours ahead of time and let them soften on their own.
1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
1/4 cup flour
4 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla

~Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
~Beat cream cheese, flour, baking powder, 1 cup sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla together until well blended.
~Add 1 cup sour cream, and then the eggs 1 at a time. Beat on low speed until it's smooth, creamy, and delicious.
~Mix the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together to make the crust. I usually pulverize the graham crackers in a food processor and then add the butter, but this time in my dormitory with no food processor to be found, I did with a mixing bowl and the bottom of a Pyrex measuring cup. Turned out just fine.
~Press the crust mixture into a pan. I prefer a 13x9" pan lined with aluminum foil, but sometimes we can't always have what we want. You can basically use any sort of oven-safe container you deem acceptable. Please remember that aluminum foil CANNOT go into the microwave. Please. Chuck your container into the oven and let it bake for 10 minutes, then pull it out.
~Pour your cream cheese mixture over the crust and then bake for another 40 minutes, or until it no longer jiggles like Jell-O.
~Beat the remaining sour cream, sugar, and vanilla together, and spread it over the cheesecake. Bake for another 10 minutes, then pop it in the refrigerator for 4 hours to chill.

Makes enough for...well, it depends on how big (or small) you slice it, but from my experience if you bring this to a party with known cheesecake eaters, there probably won't be any left by the end of the night. So do what I do--make two, and leave one at home. Just for you.

Do be warned, this cheesecake will rack up the calories like no other. It is an indulgence. Completely worth the two pantsizes, in my opinion, but then again...I would do so much for a good cheesecake.

Okay, amazing recipe aside, when I tried to make it yesterday, it flat-out bombed. I get the feeling it was some combination of my botching the order of mixing the ingredients together, and the fact that I microwaved it (I can hear all the anti-microwave-chefs around the world gasping right now...get over it). In any case, while the taste was exactly as I remember it, the texture did not come out right at all. Instead of being smooth and dense like it's supposed to, it had a curdled consistency vaguely resembling the steamed, beaten egg my grandma used to make me for breakfast when I was a kid in China. Which isn't entirely unpleasant, but disturbing enough when you're expecting thick creamy cheesecake. Here's what it looks like:

The Boyfriend, who had come to visit and was the reason for my attempting this in a microwave in the first place, swears it isn't bad and ate both the mini ramekin-cakes I made, but I don't believe him. I guess I've spoiled myself on my "perfect" cheesecake, because I couldn't bring myself to finish even one. I was too put off by the consistency. In fact, I was too depressed by this abject failure to even use all of the cheesecake mixture I had made (and I'd halved the recipe). Instead I just shoved it into the back of the fridge and crawled into bed.

Today, faced with the dilemma of needing my mixing bowl back, I decided that the main problem with this newest cooking exploit was the microwave. That darn microwave. I don't have this microwave business quite figured out yet, but I was unwilling to ruin any more perfectly yummy cheesecake mixture by microwaving it. So this is what I did instead:

Pressed the remainder of the crust crumbs into the bottom of a clean plastic dish left over from one of Mi's microwave meals, poured the chilled cream cheese-sour cream mixture on top, decorated it with sliced strawberries, and left it in the freezer. It's still there. I'll tell you how it turns out. I'm too nervous to try it now...

So instead, here's a picture of what I had for lunch today. Fried rice with mixed veggies, onions, and vine-ripened tomato. Nothing special, but the colors are pretty...and it was very tasty, in a homey sort of way. Not that I'm getting homesick or anything. Really.


  1. where is the rest of the stuff XD

  2. you're so daring, cooking with a microwave! also, i understand about zoning out when thinking about food; i'm a dancer, and i constantly am missing dance combinations in class because i'm thinking about what dinner or dessert will be! I'm glad it's not just me. =p