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Oh hi blog. It’s been so long I don’t even know where to start. So I’m just going to jump into how to make hot-and-numb shredded chicken, a delicious cold side dish:

1. Come home from work, check fridge and realize you have leftover chicken that has been there for juuust long enough that maybe you should throw it out?

2. Smell chicken. Smells okay. Start shredding the cold chicken into bowl with your fingers and enjoy playing with food. Tell yourself a joke (“what did the brown chicken say to the brown cow? ….. BROWNG-CHI-KA-BROWNG-COW!!”) and laugh out loud to yourself.

3. Throw ~ 1 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns onto foil and pop into the toaster oven to toast ’em up.

4. Slice 1-2 scallions (greens and white parts) sprinkle on top of shredded chicken. Enjoy the colors in your bowl and bust out your camera and your overhead shots. “This is going to make a great blog post!”

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5. Suddenly realize your toaster is smoking and your Sichuan peppercorns have burnt into a black crisp. Curse out loud. Throw out peppercorns, put fresh tablespoon of peppercorn into toaster.

6. Assemble dressing ingredients: sesame oil, spicy sesame oil, chili oil, soy sauce (not pictured). Whisk together in a separate bowl with sugar until sugar is dissolved. Pour over chicken. Taste, adding more oil or soy sauce or salt.

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7. Smell burning peppercorns again. How the hell do these little buggers burn so quickly?!?? Dump burnt peppercorns, put in new peppercorns again. Stand in front of toaster this time and wait for those little shits toast. Take out when it smells good, not burnt. Feels good, man.

8. Crush the crisped up peppercorns in mortar and pestle. It will smell amaze-balls, and make satisfying crunching sounds.

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9. Sprinkle crushed peppercorns and some crushed red peppers over chicken. Mix well and enjoy with bowl of rice, or congee, or noodle soup.

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BAM.

(I used leftover boiled chicken, which work best for the recipe. The chicken stays tender and juicy. But roast chicken is fine too, you may just need extra dressing. A blend of white and dark meats is best.)

 

 

 

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As most of you know, yesterday Boston got struck by a blizzard. While the winds were roaring and snow was piling up outside, at apartment 312 for dinner we were having:

1) Pork loin roast, rubbed with brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ginger powder, salt and pepper, and covered with bacon.

2) Kale sauteed with onion and garlic.

3) Fettuccine with fresh diced tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic.

We spent the rest of the evening playing Cranium, drinking gin and tonics, and watching stupid television. Pretty sweet way of spending a blizzard evening!

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Kimchi fried rice with carrots and scallions. Normally I’d also have bacon, but I had leftover chicken that I was going to mix in and having 2 types of meats seemed too extravagant. Normally I’d also serve a fried egg with that but I didn’t have any on hand.

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I love leftovers. Sometimes, I even think that leftovers taste better, especially if you heat it up right.

Last week we made  steak and potatoes with a beet salad. The steak was covered with pepper and seared. Potatoes (including some gorgeous purple ones) were roasted in the oven with rosmary, plenty of olive, and salt and pepper.

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We roasted some red and golden beets at 425F for about an hour the night before. We then served them sliced with high quality olive oil, and salt and pepper. I love the way the golden beets are stained by the red beets around the edges!
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After dinner, Mike and I started watching Doctor Who. It was getting really late and I was sleepy but he really wanted to watch just “one more episode.” So he promised that if I watched another episode with him, he’d make me breakfast in bed the next morning. And boy, did he deliver. He reheated the steak in the oven so that it was still undercooked in the center and served it with a streak of sriracha sauce. He used the fried the leftover potatoes with onions for some amazing homefries. There was also freshly made guacamole, eggs, and bread that I stole from a restaurant across the street from where we live. And with “stole” I mean we were there late for desserts and drinks and then I drank enough to have the courage to ask a staff if I could take a few of the bread they had leftover for the day since they’d just throw it out anyways. Yay for positive consequences from a night of drinking!

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Not pictured: freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, and the fact that the meal incapacitated me so much I spend the rest of the day in bed watching Doctor Who. Pretty sure that was Mike’s plan all along.

 

Hurricane Irene is a real party-pooper. It’s just wet and miserable looking outside. Crappy enough that no one wants to go out, but not dramatic or exciting enough to tweet endlessly about. The worst of the storm so far was at 10am, right before my planned brunch with friends at 11am. Seeing the weather, I decided to cancel the brunch. However, I had already prepared everything, so I had no choice but to sit down and eat all that delicious food myself. I know, my life is soo hard.

I was primarily motivated to host a brunch because I’ve been craving a bloody mary. Mike makes a really killer mix with tomato juice, grated horseradish, tobasco sauce, Worcester sauce, and black pepper. This time the mix literally cost Mike and I tears to make though. We saw fresh horseradish at the supermarket so we decided to grate our own. It turns out, if you pulverize horseradish in the food processor and then lean over it to take a big sniff, your stomach will churn such that you nearly vomit and your eyes will feel like they are endlessly bleeding tears. At least now I know what my substitute is for pepper spray. What is that, rapist? You want to rape me? Please hold on while I whip out a horseradish and a grater from my purse, grate it into a bowl, and then throw it your eye. HA! TAKE THAT!

On the menu was a quiche lorraine with caramelized leeks, diced ham, and a egg-y filling topped with melted swiss cheese. The quiche came out very well, though sadly a lot of the filling leaked out. I used Michael Roux’s recipe for my tart base last night. He suggests forgoing using any instruments and making the whole crust by hand. I found it actually very therapeutic to spend the evening creaming butter and eggs on counter with my fingertips. And there’s something very relaxing about quietly kneading and rolling out dough.

Mike and I recently invested in a stand mixer and I wanted to prepare something yeast-y for brunch that wasn’t just boring old bread to get more use out of our stand mixer. Hence we decided to make our own pecan rolls. Using the stand mixer, I made the dough last night and let it rise overnight.

Pecan rolls, right before I popped them into the oven

In the morning I rolled out the dough and slathered butter, sugar, and cinnamon on top. Then I rolled up the dough and cut it into 1″ thick slides. I spread a glazing, consisting of an unspeakable amount of butter, brown sugar, and pecans, at the bottom of a pyrex dish and then carefully placed the rolls on top. I popped them into the oven at 350F for about 35 minutes, pulled them out, and immediately flipped the rolls over on a rack. That was the trickiest part because I didn’t have muffin tins and only some of the glazing and pecans stayed on top of the rolls. That was better for me though because I find glazings and toppings too sweet anyways. The dough came out great though! Really fluffy, light, and bread-y — just what I wanted.

Finished pecan rolls

Finally, we served (ourselves) all this with a bloody mary with a healthy dose of vodka for our lonely, guestless brunch. We still have half a pitcher of the mix left! But I’m sure that won’t last long. Hope everyone is staying safe and dry through this hurricane!

My busy schedule in the past two months has really reduced my eating habits to near-pathetic. I rarely cook and spend most of my meals eating out and overpriced sushi places or mediocre cafeteria food. When I do make my own dinner, it’s usually ramen or frozen foods or leftovers from a week ago.

Tonight (or I guess technically last night. It’s 4am and I’m having trouble sleeping…) I came home to one of the best meals I’ve had in a really really long time: citrus salad with seared steak and sauteed mushrooms. Mike made all of it so I have no idea what went into any of it. When I asked him what was in the marinade for the steak, he replied “Asian.” So…ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. MMmm, I love me some Asian!

The citrus salad consisted of blood oranges, regular oranges, and my new favorite fruit, pomelos. Pomelos are big and juicy like grapefruit but taste closer to an orange. They’re also super fun to eat, because I love the feeling of peeling the skin away and only picking out the pulp!

While I’m uploading pictures of food, I found this gem from a while ago when Mike made me tea eggs. You can find the recipe yourself online because I’m too damn lazy and I pride myself in having the world’s worst food blog. He puts star anise, cinnamon sticks, orange peels, and possibly five spice in the soy sauce/tea mixture.

 

All of this reminded me that, yes, I still do love food. And my boyfriend for cooking it for me.

First round: bretzel rolls. Didn’t bake for long enough perhaps, so the color isn’t as deep as I’d have liked, but the taste is all there. I look forward to making tasty sandwiches out of them!

Round two: Sesame bagels. We didn’t do as good of a job shaping them. They sort of look more like croissants…but I assure that they’re scrumptious with cream cheese.

Round three: Preztel-shaped pretzel/bretzels.

It’s a little sad when you peruse my collection of pictures on my computer. There are a few folders of people on vacation, but the vast majority of my pictures are pictures of food — mediocre pictures I promise to myself I’ll post on this website and share extensive recipes. But then grad school, research, life gets in the way and I forget. So I thought to myself: what if I just spent a ton of money on fancy gear that would make my pictures better? That will solve all my problems!

This is where you come in.

I simply can’t friggin’ figure out the tech talk. Basically, I want to be able to take nice pictures in low-light/indoor situations. I have a tendency of getting up close and personal with my food so something with a decent depth of field and could do macro/focus on close objects would be nice. I have a Nikon D40 and the lens that came with it (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G)

  1. Can I buy lenses/flashes from brands other than Nikon?
  2. If I just want to be able to take brightish pictures that don’t all look orange because of the poor lighting in my living room would it be savvier to buy a flash (I’ve been suggested this one) or to invest in a lens with a low max f-stop (like f/1.4 or 1.8…?)
  3. Why is the Nikon 55mm f/1.8D only $150 whereas the Nikon 55mm f/1.4D is almost $400?
  4. Any other suggested products?
  5. Or would you suggest that I just don’t know how to take pictures and that the lens I have should be fine for what I’m doing? (I will not be offended if you answered yes to this question)

Thanks everyone in advance for the advice! Also, in case you’re wondering what my mediocre pictures end up looking like at this moment, here are some pictures of my dinner tonight: Crispy fried pork belly sandwich with melted swiss cheese and an over-easy egg. It was pretty much the best sandwich I’ve ever had. The pictures look sort of ew though (fault also in poor food presentation and lack of photography skills…)

Picture taken under fluorescent kitchen lights

Picture taken under kitchen fluorescent lights

Picture taken under dining room halogen track lights

Crispy on the outside…

Belgian waffles, shown here with a reduced peach glaze

Belgian waffles, shown here with poached peaches

…and fluffy on the inside

My favoritest boy in the world made these for me yesterday morning, after I slept for 12 hours, recovering from a self-induced all nighter with some friends I met at a conference. Recipe for Belgian Waffles from Joy of Cooking (you can see the transcribed instructions here, because I’m too lazy to type them up myself). Pears were poached in mostly orange juice (diluted with some water) with two cinnamon sticks, vanilla extract, orange liqueur, sugar, and honey. After the peaches were done, he took them out and reduced the sauce to yield a syrup-y glaze to pour over the waffles in place of maple syrup. Yum yum!

Took my last final of the year yesterday. I have officially survived through my first academic year of grad school. In celebration, I made some steamed pork-and-daikon buns…

…and scallion buns (hua juan) (花卷)

❤ my life!