28 June 2011

Iced tea, anyone?

Oh, how I love iced tea in the summer... Love it! Sweet and cold, in a glass filled with ice cubes and fruit... My favourite one by far is the Summer fruit tea from Simon Lévelt (yes, I'm aware that this website is Dutch, sorry), which is a blend of all types of summery fruits, like peach, apple and citrus, and blossoms like hibiscus and orange blossom. And it's pink. What's not to love?

I'm fully aware that you all might know exactly how to make iced tea and that I might sound like the redundancy department of redundancy, but here's a quick rundown of how I do it.

Get your favourite, summer-y flavoured loose tea. Like I said, mine has all sorts of dried fruit in it (and hardly any tea, I believe, so basically it's not even a tea) but if you're a big fan of green tea and lemon, go for it!

Grab a lemon and grate the peel (and put it in a bowl, don't toss it out!), then cut up the lemon in thin-ish slices.

Also, grab your sugar. I used almost a cup in 1.5 litres of tea which was slightly too much as it was very, very sweet but the BF seemed to like that, so if you like sweet, go for it!

I usually make about 1.5 litres in one go because that's how much can go into the largest soda bottle I can still fit in my fridge, so by that reasoning, heat up slightly more than 1.5 litres of water. Once boiling, turn off the heat and dump in your tea, sugar, lemon peel and lemon slices! I use about 20 grams of tea a litre, which is slightly on the stronger side.

Now let it stand for a while. Once it has cooled down enough, you can pour it into a bottle that can fit in your fridge or, if you're not a hillbilly like me and actually own a pitcher, you can use that. Filter the tea when pouring so the bits and pieces and slices of lemon will not end up in your tea. (trust me on this, those slices you dumped in when it was still hot will no longer look tasty and fresh. If you want, you can cut up a fresh lemon and put those slices in your pitcher or bottle, along with a whole bunch of ice cubes, when you serve the tea. Gives it a nice bit of extra flavour.)

Now for the fun part. Grab a glass, and throw in about 4 ice cubes. Then fill the glass about half-way with frozen fruit! I usually use strawberries, as they're slightly larger and give off a lot of juice, which means added noms. Another way to go is by freezing bits of fruit into your icecubes. Stick in a drinking straw and enjoy!

And don't be like me and knock over your glass when you've had one sip. Sure, the ice in my lap was refreshing on a hot day such as we had yesterday, but I still feel sticky, even after a shower...

Yesterday was scalding hot, and I haven't slept for more than a few hours so today I have a throbbing headache and a bad temper. But boy oh boy, the weather today... Look at that. The sky is yellow, people! Yellow! We've got a lot of rain coming our way by the look of it. The bf is looking forward to it, after getting about the same amount of sleep. He's been playing songs that reference lightning or storms or rain all morning.

See? DuunDUN, DuuunDUN, Dundun, dundun, dundun, dundun... Okay, so that doesn't look like much yet, but there's more coming, trust me. I'll report back as soon as possible whether we've flushed away or not. Now I've got to go and find my rubber boat, I think it might come in handy.

27 June 2011

I've gone and done something!

Something... blog-related! Yep! It's special, as well. Really. Never done it before. Or, well, done it once or twice, but not consistently!

Any idea what I'm talking about yet?

Ha, okay, I'll tell you. I've gone back to all my posts and added tags! Exciting, isn't it?! Now if you want, you can see all the posts I made about food, or about crafts, or about photography, in one go!

It taught me a lot about my little blog. For instance, it taught me that Blogger does not have a nifty 'this is a label? now it's a page!' button. Booh, Blogger. Booh. So yeah, those labels don't have a place to go yet, apart from underneath all my posts. You can click on the label and it'll give you a list of all posts labelled with that label. Nifty.
It also taught me that I had 5 more posts in my archives than I actually have posted. Can you believe that in 1.5 years, I have only made 86 posts?! I could have sworn it were tons more! Or well, there were 5 more, but these turned out to be drafts containing no more than a few words, if any, and one rant about my birthday. Good thing I threw that one out. But it does mean that I have only 13 posts to go before the big number! 100 posts! I'm going to do something fun for that one. Only 13 more posts to decide what that fun thing will be.

It also taught me that my photography skillz (which, really, aren't exactly skillz yet) have vastly improved over the course of the year-and-a-half that I've been running this blog. Like, really. It's almost embarassing that those pictures are up there.

Speaking of pictures, I've also decided that from now on, I will use larger pictures and scale them down to size, so that if you want, you can see the larger version of the picture when you click on it. Nifty, huh?

And to prove that it works, and because I hate pictureless blogposts, here's a picture of two ducks that has absolutely nothing to do with this post. Because who doesn't like ducks?

And in a last act of 'it's summer and therefore things should change'-ism, I decided that I will be fidgeting with the look of this blog a little in the next few days/weeks. Because with all the work I have lined up already, I sure could use another timesink to add to the list.

23 June 2011

Soup. It's good for you. Yes, really.

For some reason, we ended up with a boatload of tomatoes in our fridge. I don't even know where they all came from, though I have my suspicions. You may even say that the person most likely to have brought them all in the house was me. I'm not pointing fingers or anything. But what's a girl to do with a bucket of tomatoes?

Make soup, duh!

I handed in my pre-final version of my thesis on Monday and spent the rest of the day searching for recipes that did not involve canned tomatoes (which there are surprisingly little of, I might add) and finally found one to my liking. Of course, while I was searching, the BF decided that what he really, really wanted for dinner was quiche (he discovered the miracle that is parmezan and is trying to incorporate it into at least one meal for the past two weeks).

Yesterday I finally got to try out this recipe I found and tweaked with the help of the BF. It involved lots of tomatoes...

and lots of basil.

And meatballs, because tomato soup needs meatballs. I'll spare you the raw meat pictures, though, so here they are about 5 seconds before I scooped two up and scarfed them down. (and then had to go and get a drink of water because I burned my tongue.)

In the end, it all came together to be a lovely, spicy tomato soup that tasted fresh and creamy (even though there's no cream in there, imagine that) and will be made more often!

Tomato soup (original recipe from Scandi Foodie, but I adapted it to what I had in the fridge)
serves 4-6

olive oil
2 shallots or 1 onion, finely chopped
1.5 kg tomatoes cut in quarters
3 small spring onions
1 cup vegetable stock
fresh basil, about 2 handfuls
thyme (mine wasn't fresh, but it got the job done)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp honey

Take a large saucepan and heat some olive oil. Sauté the shallot/onion for a couple of minutes.

Add the tomatoes and stir, sauté for a couple more minutes.

Add the vegetable stock and the spring onions and bring to a boil, let cook for 30 minutes.

Add the basil, pepper, thyme, honey and any other spices you want to add (though I must say, this was plenty), and puree this with a stick blender until smooth. Taste, and add more pepper or herbs if needed (mine was verrrry spicy because I thought I hadn't put enough pepper in and overdid it on the second go, but it was good, so go spicy if you like!). The BF decided that we had fresh basil and should use it, so he cut up some more basil in little strips and added that just before we took the pot out to the table, so ours was very basil-y.

If you're like me, and want meatballs in your tomato soup, add them now and cook the soup for another 10-15 minutes. If not, serve your soup while it's hot! And serve it with a nice piece of bread, or, like us, with crackers and boursin. Easy meal, and oh, so delicious!

9 June 2011

Guild pride

(disclaimer: today's post deviates from the norm a bit, but I wanted to post this anyway. It's about my World of Warcraft guild and crossposted from our guild's blog so those not interested in WoW at all may skip this post.)

Although some people would debate that there is no such beast, to me, World of Warcraft exists for a large part because of the community. Sure, one could perfectly enjoy the game without ever setting foot in a guild or having any friends on his or her friendslist, by simply pugging their nights away or questing or even by spending hour after hour on the auction house. But to really enjoy the game, I need my guild.

Back in the day, when we just hit level 80, the boyfriend and I started to look for a guild. We had our own little guild, The Silvermoon Bookclub, founded just so we could stand in Orgrimmar without getting guild invite after guild invite from random people, but this was never meant to be a 'real' guild: it only contained our mains and Tim's first ever character, a warlock named Festago that never made it past level 10. But we wanted more. We wanted to raid. We joined a few pugs, the most memorable one being our first venture into the new Naxxramas, where the very first trashmob dropped a purple fist weapon that I immediately rolled on and equipped. In my offhand. In my defense, I was a baby-rogue, I learned much since those days.

But pugs didn't cut it. At that point, the decision was made to either look for a guild, or quit the game: we both reached the point where just single person content didn't interest us anymore. We spent a good two weeks reading up on how this 'guild' stuff works, looking up guild websites of Turalyon guilds, spent hours idling in Dalaran or Orgrimmar to keep an eye on recruitment messages in trade chat... Until a message by this one hunter, named Jdog, came along, which made us chuckle, look up the website, chuckle some more, whisper a member and ending up in a long whispered conversation with the guild master. We filled out an application form (and took it very seriously too, I think it took us an hour of filling out, proofreading, editing and finally sending it in), joined Vintage, and ended up in a guildie's backyard in a different country a mere 2 months after for a barbecue.

When I tell this story to people that do not play the game and have little knowledge of how a MMORPG works, they have trouble believing it. I mean, we joined a group of people and it steered us away from wanting to stop playing the game altogether? Really? Does getting the right group together really make that much of a difference?! But it really does. And the longer we play the game, the more we realise that it can really make or break the game, too: one rotten egg in your carton can ruin the whole cake.

Some guilds out there make it a point to show off their guild pride in every way possible. Recently, one of the top guilds on Turalyon reached level 25 and celebrated by parading through the Valley of Strength on their freshly acquired scorpions. Some guilds flaunt their guild pride more aggressively: I've seen guilds gather up in bunches on the steps of Dalaran's North bank just to show off a title and laugh at people who didn't have it. Some had the habit of shouting their latest achievements throughout town for everyone to read. And even in real life, people show off their guild pride in the strangest ways: they paint guild-related scenes on their cars or even get tattoos of their guild name and/or logo.

While Vintage has never been about flaunting our guild name in public, in-game or real-life, (except for one Swedish loonie who wanted to tattoo 'Vintage' in the back of his neck), we're more than just a group of people that get together in-game and run instances. Who doesn't log on every now and then just for guild-chat banter? Or logs on Vent while not even in game just to chat with guildies? Even if Vintage gives me headaches every once in a while, I still smile when I talk about my guild. And that's how I flaunt my guild pride.

4 June 2011

Cookies. There's always time for cookies.

You know, sometimes I just want to bake cookies. Not even to eat them, although that's a nice benefit. No, just the process of making dough and baking cookies and having the whole house fill up with the scent of freshly baked goodies from the oven... It's like cheap and delicious therapy. Calms me right down.

Last week, I had such an urge. On Thursday, I decided that I wanted to bake cookies, but remembered that I had used up the sugar. So, off to do groceries we went, and brought back a bag of sugar. On Friday, when I wanted to bake cookies, I remembered that I also needed brown sugar, got distracted, and remembered again on Saturday during a grocery run. On Sunday morning, I decided that this was the day, I was going to bake cookies! I was all set, pulled butter and eggs out of the fridge, grabbed both the types of sugar, grabbed chocolate and dried cranberries and my box of oats and nuts, opened my pantry... And discovered I was out of flour.


Long story short: it took me a week to finally get all the ingredients together to bake.

But then it came together very quickly. See, first, I made this dough. I'm pretty sure I've linked to it before: it's the Everything cookie recipe from Pioneer Woman. It's the best dough! And it's good for any type of cookie, too, whether you bake them plain or fill them up with chocolate, or fruit, or nuts, or a variation of all the above... And it's so good, I forgot I was supposed to put it in the oven when it was at this stage and was all ready to just dive in and eat it all. I've stopped myself before this could happen, though, because I wasn't done yet!
See, I had chocolate. And cranberries. And that just adds more nomnomminess to this dough.

But adding these oats and nuts to the mix makes it even more delicious! It's a good thing I didn't eat that plain dough, isn't it?

So while these went into the oven....

I took care of this. And when that was done...

these were as well. Hmmm.... Tasty! And they smell divine! Good enough in fact, to lure the BF out of the study and into the kitchen, to steal some while I'm not looking.

Can't really blame him. I mean..

These really are damn tasty.