Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where Pepper? How Cannoli?

In the entire month of June I have managed now 3 posts. Really pathetic. So how will I make this one spectacular to the max? Aw, who knows, I have a long list of things I want to write about, but I think I'll make this one a double dose of food stuffs.

First off, my friend Jeannette and I were talking about something weeks ago, and decided that I should do a post on How Pepper is Made. I think we must have been eating it. After doing some research, I came to find that there's really no science to it (I don't know why I thought there would be).

Pepper is a flowering vine of the Piperaceae family. The fruit of the plant is known as the peppercorn, and when it's dried, that's basically what we grind up and put on everything. It is the single most commonly used spice in the world (not including salt, but then again, salt isn't a spice).

Pepper has been used for thousands and thousands of years, has been found in the noses of mummies in Egypt where it had been used in the mummification rituals, so valuable in the Roman Empire that it was sometimes used as currency, and has been used for medicinal purposes, to treat, constipation, diarrhea, heart disease, indigestion and many other ailments.

Vietnam is the world's largest exporter of pepper, accounting for 34% of the supply, and while they dominate the market, they use almost none if it within their own country. I personally think pepper is delicious on mac & cheese and other pastas. Yum.

Secondly, I found this wonderful, yummy recipe for vegan cannolis in cyberspace and wanted to share it. When I have time, I plan on making these puppies because I LOVE cannolis. You will need:

1 box silken tofu (organic firm)
1 container tofutti better than cream cheese
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons organic powdered sugar
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 good squeeze from half of a lemon
2 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 flax egg (whisk 2 tablespoons flax powder/meal with 3 tablespoons water)
2/3 cup marsala wine
1 EnerG egg substitute egg (1 1/2 teaspoon EnerG powder with 2 tablespoons water)
1 cup vegan chocolate chips


For this recipe, you will need cannoli forms. You can buy a pack of four for about $10 at a kitchen supply store. You will also need a pastry bag with a big tip.

Whirl tofu, "cream cheese", powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender then put the mixture in the fridge to chill. This is your filling.

Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, shortening, flax egg (whisk 2 tablespoons flax powder/meal with 3 tablespoons water), and wine together to make a dough. Chill in the fridge for about 1/2 hour.

While dough is chilling, mix 1 EnerG Egg Replacer egg (1 1/2 teaspoon EnerG powder with 2 tablespoons water). You will use this to stick the shells together.

Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/8 inch think.

Cut out 4 inch circles and then roll them one way so they turn into ovals.

Roll the long side of the oval length wise around the cannoli form and brush a little EnerG egg on the edge to make it stick. (I made 4 at a time because i only have 4 cannoli forms). the ends will be flat and flayed out.

Fry in canola oil (or other neutral oil) until dark golden brown.

Drain on paper towels and carefully pull out cannoli forms so you can make more shells.

When you have made all your shells, melt 2 cups of vegan chocolate chips and using a butter knife, line each shell with chocolate. Allow a little chocolate to rim the ends.

Cool chocolate shells in fridge until chocolate is set.

Using a pastry bag with a big tip, squeeze the filling into the shells from each end.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and put back in fridge until ready to eat! They are ready to eat on the spot but the longer they chill the better as the cream filling sets up.

The only problem with this recipe is the filling and the shells do not add up. You will end up with 10 cream filled cannolis and 2-3 extra empty shells. But the shells are good buy themselves too!

Serves: 10 Preparation time: 2-3 hours

So, my mouth started to water as I re-read this. The photo is the finished product from the other blog I stole this from. Yuuum.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Quote Generator

I found out about this project because the woman behind this whole thing came into my place of business to get some DVDs made. Not only did she walk in with an amazing sweatshirt of shark teeth but her whole manifesto was brilliant and I was thoroughly intrigued by what she is doing. I can't really explain her whole deal, but in short, the girl spoke in only quotes for three years. Yeah, I'm not even kidding.

The Quote Generator

Video of What She Does

Naked Mole Rat

Having a full time job means I don't get to do a lot of work for my own blog anymore, which makes me sad. But right now I have a few moments to put up another awesome post about a weird animal. This time I chose another animal that is near and dear to my heart: the Naked Mole Rat. Back in Seattle, the Science Center has a community of Naked Mole Rats living in a viewable subterrain.

Quick and dirty: Naked Mole Rats are rodents that live in underground communities. They are one of only two known eusocial mammals, meaning they live similarly to ants and termites, in large groups with a queen and workers and such. They live in harsh conditions, and have adapted to such, with skin that has almost no pain sensation, and a low metabolism.

The very first thing one might notice about these strange looking little guys is their lack of pigment, interesting dental work and nearly blind stare. Their teeth are situated in front of their lips, so that when they burrow (by using their teeth) they don't get dirt in their mouths. They are very nearly blind, can run backwards as fast as they can run forwards and very little hair (naked...).

These guys are native to Eastern Africa, and despite the harsh living conditions they inhabit, they aren't an endangered species. They can live up to 20 years, but a large portion of that time is spent sleeping. These funky little creatures are despised by some and often called ugly (but really, come on, they're endearing), yet they manage to live on, albeit, in a very unusual way. Check them out, at your local zoo if possible, or on the web, they're really quite something.