Seared ‘garlic’ elk sirloin

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Adapted from Nevada Foodies and Creek’s Edge Elk Farm

Ingredients:
.57 lbs. of elk sirloin from here
salt and fresh cracked pepper
garlic
rosemary/thyme
For the smashed potatoes:
6-8 potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
Chopped fresh chives
roast mushrooms and caramelized onions (optional)

Directions:

Let steaks stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, boil quartered potatoes until tender (cover potatoes in 1 inch of water and check after 5 minutes of boiling, less if smaller). Then add butter to a pan on medium heat, and smash potatoes. Season with rosemary and chives. Cook other side vegetables as you prefer.

Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over steaks. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.

Add vegetable oil to the pan and swirl to coat, heat until shimmering, but not quite smoking. Place the elk steaks in pan; sear 2 minutes on all sides. Remove from heat.

Add butter and garlic and seasonings to the pan. Carefully grasp pan handle using an oven mitt or folded dry dish towel. Tilt pan toward you so butter pools, baste steaks with herbed butter continually.

Cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Serve elk steak with smashed potatoes and side vegetables.

~Jessica

P.S. I liked putting the bison in the oven for 5 extra minutes at 400 deg F, so I might try that next time with the elk.

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Seared bison sirloin steaks

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Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson, Red Cedar Bison Ranch, and The Bison Council

Ingredients:
0.5 lbs of bison sirloin (purchased here!)
olive oil and butter
salt and cracked pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
thyme

Directions:
Defrost frozen bison meat at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Season both sides generously with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

Once you see light wisps of smoke rise from the pan, place the meat in the pan and sear 1 minute per side, making sure not to move the meat around too much, which prevents that delicious crust from forming.

Once seared on all sides, remove pan from heat. Add your crushed clove of garlic to the pan and thyme, rosemary, or sage. Add more olive oil if needed. Add butter, tilt the pan and baste the steak using the melted butter.

Place pan directly into the oven and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes for medium-rare, or until the internal temperature reads 120 degrees F.

Most important: Remove steaks from the pan and allow them to rest at least ten minutes.

The story to acquiring bison meat: I was visiting my Italian friend who I knew in Germany as she was doing a postdoc in Montreal, Canada. To get to and from, I booked rideshares from kangaride because it was cheaper and faster than bus, train, or plane. My driver on the way back back to NYC happened to know of a little bison farm. So we stopped by and I picked up every frozen cut of meat that wasn’t bison burger. And hence, this meal. Bison meat is leaner than beef, and definitely not a product of the meat industry. Bon appetit!

~Jessica

Kombucha tea

Best summed up by The Kitchn

Ingredients to brew Kombucha:
4 cups of filtered water, then 8 cups of cool filtered water
6 bags of black tea (6 grams of loose tea)
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of “starter tea” from last kombucha brew (if you have it)
1 active Kombucha SCOBY

Equipment:
Stock pot to sterilize bottles
1 gallon glass jar
organic cotton cloth / bag
six swing-top bottles w/ caps – 16.9oz, Amber Glass
glass measuring cup

Directions:

  1. Boil four cups of water.
  2. Add the cup of sugar and dissolve it in a glass receptacle.
  3. Steep the tea bags in the sugar water for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Measure out the eight cups of cool water into your gallon glass jar (emptied and cleaned and rinsed).
  5. Add the four cups of tea to the gallon jar.
  6. If you have two cups of “starter tea” from the last kombucha brew, add it to the gallon jar.
  7. Once the gallon jar is room temperature-cool, slip your scoby into the gallon jar.
  8. Cover the jar with an organic cotton cloth, secure with twine / rubber bands, and set aside in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Ferment for 7 to 10 days.
  9. After seven days, taste the kombucha daily until the sweet-tart flavor is balanced to your preference.

Ingredients to bottle brewed Kombucha:
orange, ginger, lemon, lime, berries, mint, etc.

Directions for second fermentation/bottling:

  1. Prepare fresh tea (as directed above) for your next batch.
  2. Take out the scoby with cleaned hands (rinsed well). Remove the bottom (momma) scoby layer to give away to a friend or toss or save for back-up. Set aside the top (baby) scoby carefully for your next batch in a glass receptacle.
  3. Set aside two cups of this kombucha homebrew as “starter tea” for your next batch.
  4. Pour the fermented kombucha into your sterilized (5 minutes boiled) bottles.
  5. Add sliced flavorings (see above) to bottles — experiment! Leave 1.5 cm. head space in the bottle before capping.
  6. Prep your next batch: clean the gallon jar after emptied. Combine the 4 cups tea, 8 cups cool water, 1 cup sugar, and 2 cups of “starter tea” in the gallon jar. Slip (newest) scoby carefully into jar.
  7. Store these bottles at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 2-4 days, and pop the cap open each day to release excess carbonation.
  8. Refrigerate to stop fermentation. Drink within a month.
  9. Repeat

I picked up a scoby from a kombucha-brewing friend (Amber) and used regular Lipton tea bags and white sugar (my grandma saves them from her senior community center in Queens). Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavored teas. Avoid touching metal, especially aluminum. Peel off the bottom (oldest) layer every few batches. Can’t wait to try a berries and mint combination, as recommended by a friend!

~Jessica

Avocado pasta

IMG_20180403_144205.jpgAdapted from Damn Delicious

Ingredients:
350 g spaghetti
2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:
In a large pot of boiling water, season with salt and cook pasta according to package instructions; reserve a little pasta water. We had fusilli, which took 9 minutes to cook al dente.
To make the avocado sauce, combine avocados, basil (didn’t have — next time!), garlic and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor (I minced and mashed by hand with a rice paddle); season with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine pasta, avocado sauce, cherry tomatoes and corn (vegetables next time).
Serve immediately.

Malaysian Borneo

“East Malaysia (Malaysia Timur), also known as Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan (Sabah, Sarawak dan Labuan) or Malaysian Borneo, is the part of Malaysia located on the island of Borneo.” (Wikipedia)

In 2008, after successfully completing my PhD qualifying exam, my friend Amber was wrapping up her two years as a JET. The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program meant she had been living in Japan, which of course included frequent, affordable forays into the rest of East and Southeast Asia. So to kick things off properly, she planned a proper (almost backpacking!) trip from Japan to Malaysia. I would join up her “entourage” via Kuala Lumpur, and then finish off with a week in Bali, Indonesia with our mutual friend, Bing. Something like this, borrowed from Seat 61, but starting in Kōchi and going all the way down to Singapore:

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The appeal to me was the environment, of course, Borneo being mostly lowland rain forests with areas of mountain rain forest. But, really, the wildlife! Hello, Tropics.

Most important of all? Conservation in Borneo.

“Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia… The Borneo rainforest is estimated to be around 140 million years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests in the world. It is the centre of the evolution and distribution of many endemic species of plants and animals, and the rainforest is one of the few remaining natural habitats for the endangered Bornean orangutan. It is an important refuge for many endemic forest species, including the Borneo elephant, the eastern Sumatran rhinoceros, the Bornean clouded leopard, the hose’s palm civet and the dayak fruit bat.

Peat swamp forests occupy the entire coastline of Borneo. The soil of the peat swamp are comparatively infertile, while it is known to be the home of various bird species such as the hook-billed bulbul, helmeted hornbill and rhinoceros hornbill. There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees (267 species are dipterocarps), 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo. There are about 440 freshwater fish species in Borneo (about the same as Sumatra and Java combined). In 2010, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) stated that 123 species have been discovered in Borneo since the “Heart of Borneo” agreement was signed in 2007.” (Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, as in much of Asia, logging and agricultural interests threaten this natural biodiversity. Palm oil plantations are the main reason why I attempt to avoid palm products (found in everything, you know). Imagine seeing a real life rhinoceros hornbill in the wild… Sigh!

Animals

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macaques

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a sadly bored male orangutan at a “zoo”

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butterfly

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Bornean sambar

 

Food

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fried snack

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Mie goreng, also known as bakmi goreng

 

Nature

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Tropical adventures are the best.

~Jessica

“Recipes” for DIY at-home facial

  1. Exfoliate
  2. Steam
  3. Mask
  4. Tone
  5. Moisturize

To exfoliate, mix sugar and honey and olive oil. Rub into skin for a minute. Wash off.

Steam for 10-15 minutes.

To masque, use a clay mask (oily skin) or mix plain yogurt with turmeric (and mashed banana if you have a overripe one). Leave on for 5 minutes. Use a cleanser to remove the mask.

To tone, mix diluted apple cider vinegar with witch hazel and a drop of tea tree oil. Wipe off with some cotton.

To moisturize, some jojoba oil and a drop of tea tree oil. Spot treat acne before bed.

Some other suggestions: Reader’s Digest

GRE: Analyze an Issue

So I had to take the GREs last summer, and they post all possible questions asked. So out of researcher thoroughness, I copied every science-related question, the directions, and my response.

Enjoy,
Jessica

Nations should pass laws to preserve any remaining wilderness areas in their natural state, even if these areas could be developed for economic gain.

Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position.

Yes.

Governments should place few, if any, restrictions on scientific research and development.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.

Yes.

Society should make efforts to save endangered species only if the potential extinction of those species is the result of human activities.

Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position.

No.

Governments should not fund any scientific research whose consequences are unclear.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.

No.

Scientists and other researchers should focus their research on areas that are likely to benefit the greatest number of people.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position.

No.

There is little justification for society to make extraordinary efforts—especially at a great cost in money and jobs—to save endangered animal or plant species.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

No.

Some people believe that society should try to save every plant and animal species, despite the expense to humans in effort, time, and financial well-being. Others believe that society need not make extraordinary efforts, especially at a great cost in money and jobs, to save endangered species.

Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.

Society should try to save every plant and animal species, despite the expense.

Some people believe that scientific discoveries have given us a much better understanding of the world around us. Others believe that science has revealed to us that the world is infinitely more complex than we ever realized.

Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented.

Scientific discoveries have given us a much better understanding of the world.

Claim: Researchers should not limit their investigations to only those areas in which they expect to discover something that has an immediate, practical application.

Reason: It is impossible to predict the outcome of a line of research with any certainty.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.

Yes.

The best way to solve environmental problems caused by consumer-generated waste is for towns and cities to impose strict limits on the amount of trash they will accept from each household.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

OK.