Monday, March 2, 2015

Your Reaction to this Blog: "We Really Need It."

According to data collected by the National Oceanic Administrative Authority (No idea how close that is to what NOAA actually stands for), Denver saw a monthly snow fall in February of 22.5 inches, which is a whopping 15 inches greater than normal for February.  This was also a record for the month of February.  It's a frightening though, since March is typically the snowiest month on average here.  Of course, as we're all trained to say, "we need it."  Not sure if that's true or how "what we need" is determined, but I know as long as you say that to anybody, you'll get a massive MMMMMMMMMM HMMMMMMMMMMMM in response.

It's my belief that half of that monthly record snow fell over the course of two days last week.  Wednesday was probably the wettest snow I've ever experienced here, and Thursday was the most fun (read:  not fun at all) that I had to drive in.  The latter was a result of driving and circling the oh so wonderful Denver airport multiple time while waiting to pick up a friend.  As if it wasn't hard enough not being able to identify road lanes, I suffered constant attacks from snow plows kicking up sparks and ice bullets aimed at my car every time I passed by.  Oh yeah, I also at one point started driving up an off ramp on the highway, but I blame the city for poor ramp planning there.  At least the oncoming delivery truck stopped and let me turn around when I realized my folly. 

But what I thought would be a 7 day storm, really ended after two days and the rest of the weekend turned out to be really sunny during the day.  Of course, below freezing temperatures after sundown made for some interesting conditions on the roads, which were covered in freshly melted. glistening ice patches.  I also learned that Denver doesn't really bother plowing most side streets....despite record snow falls.  Seems like a failure on the city's part to me, as I found myself stuck one evening, parked uphill on a steep road with no hope of escape.  But before I get there, let me tell you about my recipe success from earlier in the day!

On Friday, I tried another recipe from my quickly becoming favorite website, www.thewoksoflife.com

This recipe, a vegan version of roast pork buns, or char siu bao, substitute pork with tofu, and did not disappoint at all.  I also thought this would be a difficult multi-day recipe, much like it's piggish cousin, but really this was done start to finish in about 2 and a half hours.  1 of those hours was just proofing the dough, so that hardly counts.

The recipe calls for making the dough with coconut oil, since this was a vegan dish.  Having never used coconut oil before, I was surprised to find it was a solid substance.  I thought I had already failed from the beginning but the recipe seemed to encourage me that this was supposed to happen.






While the dough was proofing, (which PS I think I screwed a little by not letting the yeast activate enough.  Everything still came out good but I know better next time), I made the tofu filling. 

The recipe called for wok frying tofu and onions until browned, and then adding a mixture of wet and dry seasonings, water, and then flour to thicken the filling into a scoopable texture.



After the filling is done and cooled, the rest is pretty easy, unless you're actually going for good technique, and restaurant quality presentation. 


dough cut into 10 equal pieces

Attempt #4 before I finally got the dough rolled out the right size
Completed buns look like mini pacmen.  I WILL do better next time.
The dough was probably a little thicker than it should have been, or maybe I cooked it too long, but overall it was a success.  I will make these again while it's still cold out.  And then once it's hot enough for me to cook with the windows open, I will try to make the real pork buns.  You may recall I tried this once before, which ended with me frantically trying to stop the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm and finally throwing away a pound over semi cooked, delicious smelling pork shoulder.

Later that day, I went to HH with some friends, which progressed into more drinks at their house.  We ended up playing a board game, which I had little interest in playing.  But we beat the game.  The key to beating a board game I figured out that night, is to let the one interested person decide every move of the game while you drink and listen to music that you haven't heard since college.

A fun night had, I left around midnight to go home.  But this was the aforementioned parking uphill night, and despite my best efforts, and some help from a group of stoners who offered to chain my car to their hummer and tug me uphill, I ended up staying the night with my friends and dealing with the car in the morning.  Thankfully, a path to reverse down the hill was clear in the morning and no issues, (other than the city's lack of proper plow planning) I made it home in time to do very little before my next night out.  Proper plow planning.....say that 3x fast.

Saturday night, I indulged in Denver's Restaurant Week by going to Kevin Taylor's at the Denver Opera House.  Or under the opera house, to be more specific.  Normally I avoid restaurants that are named after the chef.  I usually find that as a sign that the chef is way too pretentious to understand why I don't want to pay $40 for a locally sourced Kale chip drenched in truffle butter.  Honestly, if that sounds good to you, this might be the biggest issue in our friendship.

I was also a little put off by the restaurant's decor.  Downstairs from the opera house, the restaurant kind of looks like an event space with tables placed there for a makeshift dinner, or maybe one of those fancier restaurants you'd expect in a theme park, where everything can be moved quickly for the Mickey Mouse parade that will surely go through at some point.  Plus with sub-zero temperatures outside, sitting right by the stairs near the entrance was not optimal.  But then food came, and my whole opinion on the restaurant changed.  The sweet potato gnocchi was pillowy, the strip steak and braised short ribs cooked to perfection, and the goat cheese cake, wasn't too baaaaaaahd.  (sorry.)  I actually deleted that joke when I first wrote it and then put it back because this is MY blog so shut up.  Not a bad meal at all for $55.  (That's $30 for the dinner and $25 for the parking ticket because parking downtown is seriously the worst.)

So there it is.  A good weekend of drinking and eating.  And sitting out snow storms on the couch.  And almost dying on the road.  Typical weekend.  Now I'm back to idiotic emails from asinine "coworkers."  I am SO engaged at work.