Saturday, February 7, 2009

Work work work. And pretzels for poker.

It's been a full week since I was last able to post, so I have a bit of a backlog happening. I started writing a couple of times, but my day job is in busy season--which is the legislative session--and my consulting gig is finally getting some traction. And I'm perpetually cleaning up the survey to get ready for a pre-test next week (assuming there are people to survey). I have been trying to figure out how to post a copy of it, but it looks like I need to upload to a separate website and then link to it here ... too much work for the moment. Baby steps.

Last night we hosted a poker party with some new friends we connected with through my friend Russell, who has been sending his friends in Seattle on blind dates with each other. Thus far very successfully, I think. I am very excited about them, but skeptical of complicated card games. I have trouble simultaneously remembering both the rules and the whole betting thing, and then lose patience for paying attention. So my expectations for the game were low and I figured I'd concentrate on the snacks and general hanging out. Turns out the game was fun. I didn't win a single hand (I split one pot with Jay, but I don't think that counts), but we weren't playing for real money.

Specifcially, I wanted to try making soft pretzels after seeing them on the Food Network's Good Eats. The cutesy tone on that show can be really annoying, but the actual content tends to be good and the cooking steps are de-mystified and simple. I knew you boil bagels and pretzels, for example, but didn't know why and it seemed hard. Now I do (sort of), and know it isn't hard.

I tried them out for the poker folks, and was very excited that they came out well. The poker folks gave some pretty positive feedback. I made a bunch of smaller pretzels instead of 8 large ones the recipe calls for, and used sea salt ($4.99 at Trader Joe's) instead of pretzel salt (who knows where you can get that, anyway). They were particularly good warm, but held up well and would freeze well, I think. I used a slotted spatula to fish them out of the boiling water and it was way less awkward than I thought it would be.

The pretzels were be labor-intensive so the other stuff was not: a chocolate peanut butter bar cookie thing, and then some tamari almonds.

The almonds are quick and easy but might be ruining my cast iron pan:
  • Heat a dray pan and add raw almonds, stirring them for a minute or so.
  • Add a generous pour of tamari or soy sauce, and stir while the liquid evaporates and the almonds are dark and coated with the soy sauce.
  • Taste one to see if they are strong enough for you, and either add more tamari and repeat, or spread them on a cookie sheet or parchment paper to dry and cool a bit.
  • Add some coarse salt to taste.
The whole thing takes about 10 minutes. The only down side is that the are a bit sticky. Spreading them out before putting them in a bowl helps them from sticking together a bit, but I haven't figured out how to avoid it completely. I've made these a couple of times now and no one seems to care. I tried once with blanched almonds and they came out chewy, so I'd stick to raw. I'd like to try it with wasabi sometime soon but am not sure how to pull that off yet.

The chocolate peanut butter bars were from a Cookography recipe. They were delicious, particularly after they sat for a couple of hours, but I don't even want to think about how many calories might be in there (I'm afraid to take a picture because I might be tempted to eat more). Peanut butter, butter, chocolate and condensed milk, with more peanuts on top? The recipe says you can get away with a cup of crushed peanuts -- I think you can cut that down to half or even skip them entirely. I have leftovers to distribute ASAP before I get too attached to them, and will definitely bust these out for the next work function (there are a lot of food-related activities at work--I have to do a brown bag lunch presentation in a couple of weeks, and will bring these along, i think).

I ate almost exclusively bread, fat, sugar and booze yesterday, with a red bell pepper and an apple thrown in to make myself feel better. I have some detox gym and stair-running planned in a couple of hours, with a friend who is a trainer and kicks ass. So she will probably kick my ass. Which reminds me: next post will be about the Big Climb: the race to the top of the Columbia Tower. 69 stories and about 1,300 stairs. I did it last year and am hoping to beat my time -- but can't quite remember what it was so need to figure that out, i guess.

Ok -- I'm off to make yet more edits and have more coffee before heading to the gym. Enjoy the day!

1 comment:

  1. You make it sound almost tempting to try my hand at pretzel-making, Martha.

    On a completely different topic: Aren't your readers about due for another batch of Rocky photos?