Friday, October 26, 2012

No Whey - We Made Cheese!


I will admit, my title made me laugh which means you now know my big secret - I'm pretty lame :)
But I am getting  off topic, so we had quite the adventure the other day: early Christmas present, delicious food and intriguing spreads! Liang came over bringing her surprise which turned out to be the neatest thing - a cheese making kit. Not only was it a magical dairy transformer package, but it was a MEGA magical transformer kit because it lets you make several different kinds of cheeses! But Liang had more in store for me because she pulled out 2 quarts (her purse was like Mary Poppin's bag I swear) of goat milk and a huge grin on her face when she informed me that we were going to make cheese! Yum. Again she reached into her purse and pulled out 2 more goodies, a fig butter and an olive tapenade that would pair wonderfully with the cheese. I kid you not, I was drooling.

We set to work sterilizing everything, heating up the milk and adding the citric acid when needed, cheese salt, and brought everything to temperature. The only time we faltered was when  we were ready for the curds but we weren't sure how fine was okay to work with. Needless to say a few extra pinches of citric acid later we decided to take our chances and let it drain through the cheesecloth and see what we got. It was a bit tricky lining the colander with the cheesecloth and pouring in the curds and whey but we managed it - slowly! After draining we put it in the little draining mold the kit came with and placed the sack-o-cheese curds we had created into it and topped it with a can of pinto beans to weight it. Finally after 30 excruciatingly difficult 30 minutes we were able to unveil our creation. We peeled off the cheesecloth from the sides and revealed a beautiful and perfect 1/2 lb goat cheese.


You can be sure that we savored this little white block of heaven with the tasty fig butter and olive tapenade. I know I definitely ate more than I should have, but I figure dairy is good for me because it helps ward off osteoporosis - so I was really investing in my future by indulging in this delightful treat hehe. YES I am aware that I'm deluding myself but I am perfectly okay with that :) That is my story and I am sticking to it (besides, that's why we run during the week, right?) Now don't get carried away, we didn't eat the WHOLE 1/2 lb of cheese (geez!) Most of it is saved for David's party this weekend, so maybe you'll get a chance to try it!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Since our recent visit to the Fall Foliage Festival all I have been able to think about is treats that I love to eat when the weather turns. And since I love to eat said treats so much I have to try and make them a little healthier at least to justify my gorging on them :) So I thought I would share one recipe I make that I REALLY enjoy (and I think Liang and Michael have too) and look forward to making soon. Unfortunately, I have been too busy to make this just yet - but I will be doing it soon! (I have a hankering for them so it has to be soon ha ha)

I was curious and found a fun fact about cinnamon rolls - the first cinnamon roll was baked in Sweden on October 4th, and there it is now known as National Cinnamon Bun Day. These delicious buns are called "kanelbulle" there, but they are known as delicious everywhere I know.

Cinnamon Rolls

I would like to say these are at least a tiny bit healthier (or maybe its my personal bias) and certainly tastier than their store bought brethren that come in a can that you have to slam against a counter to get to pop open. These puppies are more like when you wake up from a dream and you smell delicious bread baking in the oven, the caramelizing sugar, the yeasty bread smell . . . sorry I'm starting to salivate a little . . . well I didn't wake up to this today, but you can imagine what I'm talking about.

**These rolls freeze wonderfully, and can be reheated in the microwave or oven. You can also prep the dough the night before, just make sure it comes to room temperature before you proceed.

  • 3 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (about 1 1/2 packages)
  • 1/4 c warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 1/2 - 5 c flour, sifted (I use bread flour)
  • melted butter
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon
1. Add warm water, sugar and yeast together and let sit 10 minutes, or until frothy.

2. Scald the milk; pour over the shortening. Add sugar and salt and then let cool to tepid.
3. Add the yeast mix and beaten egg to the tepid liquid. Then add 4 cups of flour adding one at a time beating after each addition.
4. Dough should be soft yet firm enough to handle. Knead it until it's elastic and smooth. Avoid using too much flour because the finished product will be a dry, tough bread. Turn into a well oiled bowl and let rise 1 1/2 hours.

5. Press dough down and divide into a workable size. Roll dough into a rectangle. Cover with some melted butter and then layer on a generous layer of brown sugar (a good one is 1/4" or more thick of sugar). Sprinkle on the cinnamon to preference and roll up jelly roll fashion.
6. Cut off slices from the roll that are approx. 1 1/2" thick using unflavored waxed floss (trust me this is easier than trying to cut with a knife). Place the slices in a greased pan, giving them all a little room because they are going to rise!

7. Let them rise until they fill the pan generously, about another 1 hour.

8. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden on top. If they get too brown, cover them with a piece of foil until they're done. Don't over bake them!
9. Remove immediately from pan by inverting them onto a plate and then use another plate to right them. OR you can just serve them out of the pan to people :) Now for the glaze!

  •  1 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Mix cream cheese, sugar, butter and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Spread the glaze on rolls after they've cooled to just warm - unless you really like your glaze runny, then have at it!

I have had customers at my work beg me to bring it in every week since I first made them, so you can be assured they're at least good enough to give a chance. (Of course I don't make them every week, otherwise I'd NEVER finish a 10K race Gangnam style or not...)

Bedford Fall Festival 2012


A few weeks ago, we trekked out to Bedford to attend the 48th annual Bedford Fall Foilage Festival. We really lucked out on the weather, and it ended up being a cool 50-some degree cloudy day that held off on the rain until we were leaving. Score!

So we wandered around for a few hours, taking in all the sights and tastes, and loading up on treats to haul back for our husbands' enjoyment!


Of course we had to get some fair food! Liang got a buffalo burger with peppers and onions, which she wolfed down too quickly before a picture could be obtained. Shannon enjoyed a gigantic and tasty gyro (pictured above) and we shared the humongous order of cheese fries. We'd originally planned on getting some sweets like funnel cake, but after all that food, we found ourselves too stuffed for dessert!

So we collected dessert to bring home instead. We picked up some cinnamon roasted almonds (there were stands everywhere and they smelled so good!), fudge, caramel corn, and apple dumplings.


Also we found the fresh cider press! Shannon had promised to take a gallon home, so we waited in line patiently as these guys worked at a furious pace at this old-timey cider press. You can see the pile of apple mush on the pickup truck in the background. While we waited, we sipped on some hot spiced cider they were selling by the cup on the side. So tasty and warming on the chilly day!


We can't wait to go back next year! It's such a large event, full of interesting sights and yummy food!

And lastly, Liang's trophy finds on this trip:


Cookie cutters! Especially the BUFFALO cookie cutter! Woohoo! You can bet you'll be seeing some cut out cookies in the near future with some of these beauties!

Sunday, October 7, 2012


This is what happens when I have yarn out at home: cats chewing on yarn, ignoring all other indignities, including being wrapped in a scarf.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Arts & Crafts

No longer is this reserved for summer camp or an easy A in school. At this point in our lives, Liang and I and have found craft time as a stress free time to spend together enjoying an entertaining podcast (or two hehe) and a creative outlet for the weeks stresses. Also, Liang has been able to claim refuge in my apartment to protect her yarn from her cats. I haven't been able to witness said cats stalking their prey (the yarn), but from how it's been described this is what I imagine they look like.

Random picture from a Google search
I can see it in his eyes - he's just waiting for his owner to drop their guard so he can attack the yarn! At least that's how it plays out in my mind. Apparently there's no negotiating with these yarn terrorists - our only choice was to hide :)

Liang's blanket is going to look so good, judging by the soft and pretty squares she's made so far. I just want to bury my face in the blanket (but I won't - I promise). So, I needed to pick up an artistic hobby, so I decided on quilling (or Paper Filigree). Basically, as long as I can roll paper strips and manipulate the coils into different shapes I am golden. So far I have been able to create some pretty neat looking cards and I'm enjoying it so I feel like it's a win. Although, I'll have to start using them as the cards I send to family for occasions, otherwise I'll just be a weird lady with a bunch of unused cards in their house. . . yeah, I better start doing that. If I'm going to be that strange lady on someones street, I want to collect something much more strange than cards, because I figure if you're going to do that you may as well be interesting.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

2012 Great Race!

Pre-race (still clean)

Well, we ran the Great Race this year! After our respective half-marathons in May (one of us ran the Pittsburgh one, the other did the Cleveland one), we have been doing short races to keep ourselves motivated to keep a training regimen going. Can't let that hard-earned muscle mass atrophy away!

All in all, we haven't been training too hard, but we figured 10 kilometers (6.25 miles) is COMPLETELY doable compared to a half-marathon (13.1 miles)!! So other than making sure to get a few short running workouts in each week, and keeping a close eye on types of foods before the race (less caffeine, less fiber), we sort of winged it.

Captain America joined the 10K fun! (blurry due to taking the picture while running) Spectators of all ages were SO excited to see him!

The course was not too bad-- a steep hill in the beginning, but otherwise a steady downhill with a few small inclines as we went from Frick Park all the way downtown to the Point. However, at about mile 4-5 as we are running on the Boulevard of the Allies ramps towards downtown, there are always spectators standing there yelling "It's all downhill from here! You can do it!" While we appreciate the encouragement, Liang had learned (the hard way) when running the same stretch at the end of the half-marathon that IT'S ALL LIES. Indeed it is generally downhill from that point to downtown, but ramps go up and down as you run in, and when you're running that at the end of a race, even a small bump still feels like a significant incline.

About 2/3 of the way through the race, it started raining steadily. We were soaking wet by the time we arrived downtown!

Photo credit: David (husband of Shannon)


 And last but not least, here are our results:

Liang -- 01:00:04 (9.6 min/mile)

Shannon -- 00:54:24 (8.7 min/mile)

We are super happy with our times! This was Shannon's first 10K race, and she ran it Gangnam Style all the way! (No, really, she listened to the song on repeat throughout the race...she may be on to something there!) This was Liang's second 10K race, and she beat her 2011 time (1:03:26) by over 3 minutes! 

Go us!
Photo credit: David (husband of Shannon)