Saturday, October 27, 2012

Great Accomplishments: cooking 3 meals at once!

I feel very proud of my recent accomplishment of cooking 3 meals at once.. for dinner, lunch the next day, and lunch after mass.  Both my husband and I volunteer at church on Sunday mornings so there's not time to cooking..unless we want to eat out with a nap-deprived toddler.  Having something to heat up at home simplifies things a bit and saves money!  Saturdays are also the only days when we can really hang out together.. again..  no eating out because of a nap-deprived toddler.  We have tried.. and faced public humiliation with our angry cranky person almost each and every time!

Without further ado, this is what I made! - 2 quick stir-fries (going at the same time) with steamed rice as an accompaniment for Friday dinner, and while we ate dinner,  I heated up a braised stew (taktoritang`1)  that could be eaten with rice or noodles (which take 3 minutes to boil) - I had already cooked up 4-5 meals of vegetables the previous day to go along with the stew.  

Home-Style Tofu reminds me of my mother-in-law's home-cookin'!  Its very mild, stir-fried in a brown sauce, and extremely easy to make.  I used regular-firm tofu, some rehydrated shitake mushrooms (I have also used regular white mushrooms from the American grocery stores), omitted the shrimp.
Had it along with some silk squash (my new favorite veg)

Mise en place!

The results after very little time:

I literally threw all the ingredients in this pot.. including a frozen slab of meat.. and left it to cook.  It gets better the longer it simmers.
(this is the same as the red hot pot of fire I posted previously...without the hot pepper powder.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
Unenthused about Halloween.  Trick-or-Treating always freaked me out.  Growing up, I was always reminded that strangers might stick poison in the candy (so make sure its unopened candy), some neighbors could be child predators, etc.  I don't even remember trick-or-treating in the neighborhood - I think I went to a church party once and went to the mall once.  Paranoia, much? - well.. it WAS the years surrounding the Chicago Tylenol murders..people finding white powder in their soda cans..  Ugh.  We actually don't even hand out candy in our house because we don't want to open the door for weirdos.
--- 2 ---
I've started to read a book.  How many times have I said that this year?  Looking into home-schooling - it looks like I'll have to be familiar with some of the books on the booklists.  I'm reading Pride & Prejudice right now.  I'm far enough removed from watching the 1995 BBC series for a few years that reading it won;t be just replaying the series in my head.
--- 3 ---
Ashamed?  Ummm..  I have to look up words in the dictionary a few times for every page in Pride & Prejudice.  Examples:  chaise, indolent, piquet, celerity, expostulation, precipitance, just to name a few. (And I've already forgotten half the meanings) :(
--- 4 ---
Best movie villain ever - has got to be Loki of Thor/Avengers.  He reminds me of Emperor Commodus from Gladiator - gots father issues, insecure, cunning.. except he's got weird magical powers.  Makes for great campy movie fun.  The movies have got great witty lines too.  I wasn't familiar with the Avengers before, but I like their film portrayals.
--- 5 ---
Home-made potato chips FAIL - I have a habit of not buying junk food at the grocery store - I'm not sure when I started that but it certainly has limited the amount of junk that I consume. (if it aint in the house, I ain't gonna eat it, and too lazy to make it).  Tonight though, I took the plunge and tried to make potato chips.  It was really easy slicing them but I didn't want to fry them and make a mess.  Its kind of ridiculous how many pans I'd have to use to place a single-layer of chips - so I also microwaved some on a plate.  Microwaving produced the best crispy taste (like Munchos) but it sticks to the plate :(.   Baking made for some uneven cooking and soggy chips.. Perhaps I'm not using my mandolin correctly - for some reason my chips were all half-burnt, half-soggy.
--- 6 ---
DIY Cardboard Box Toys - these are hard to make without a good blade.  so far I've made a toy stove/sink area and a box-car.  The kid thought the box-car was kind of crappy... pulled off the steering wheel and then pulled off all the wheels (which were all styrofoam plates).   Thinking of making a puppet theater next.  Yay for Pinterest!
--- 7 ---
Cry-it-Out - not sure how people do it; I was going through some old magazines and there was a whole section on infant sleep.  One of the methods with "strong evidence" was cry-it-out.  Just can't do it.  Can't think of leaving an infant for 12 hours to cry and to check on them only in the morning.  That's so sad.  Even if there is no evidence that it harms the child psychologically, doesn't it make the parent feel somewhat guilty?  Not for us! Not that I have any better solutions...  as nobody is sleeping through the night still :-/.  But...we...are...close...  5 hours is good 'nuff.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Minimal Prep and Easy Recipes: Asian Edition

If there's one thing I'm semi good at, its eating!  and finding good recipes to cook :)  This has become more difficult as the toddler has grown more restless as she develops.  The challenge is finding stuff thats easy to put together with minimal prep and stirring - Oven-baked or a braised meal.  Not into opening the slow-cooker we got for our wedding just yet.. the idea of leaving something on for 8 hours and leaving kind of freaks me out (not to mention that my neighbor's slow-cooker short-circuited while she was gone...)

A few awesome recipes that I go to when the toddler becomes extra restless;  they are all versatile.  They all go great with steamed rice.  A quick sautee of any vegetable goes well with any of these.  Running low on rice?  Then the sauce/broth can be spooned over noodles and eaten as a noodle soup!  The leftovers have even better flavor!

Tak ToriTang (Korean Spicy Chicken and Potatoes)
So versatile - you can stick even a sack of FROZEN chicken wings into the pot, use the soy sauce/sugar/water mix, add the garlic onion, stick in some cut potatoes and carrots, simmer x 45 minutes (once in a while, stir) AND YOU'RE DONE!  Waxy potatoes work best.  You can also sub daikon for the potatoes.   I usually leave out the hot sauce..  The first time I made it...
(it was still good though.. not that I could really taste it)

Chicken Adobo (Philipino - Chicken braised in soy sauce mix)
Braise some chicken in soy sauce/garlic/bay leaves/peppercorns.  Add vinegar/salt/sugar later.  The end. :)
The recipes calls for marinating - I don't even think this is necessary - I have done this with half frozen chicken legs and it still turns out fine.  This recipe is not very tart, it is very mild.

Brown the ribs.  Add everything else.  Simmer.  Interestingly this recipe calls for more sugar than other soups that I have tasted.  Better as a brothy soup for noodles rather than to be eaten on its own.

To make this easy, buy precut pork belly (Asian grocery store).  Another throw everything in the pot and simmer dish.  May not sound like a lot, but its PORK BELLY with FRIED TOFU (very hearty, very filling). In fact, I had packed my husband a lunch that was virtually vegetarian so he was expecting a super meaty meal today.. He saw this dish and exclaimed, "where's all the meat?!"  but he didn't even eat a quarter-pound of this since its so filling!

More blog posts to come.. (Fast pasta dishes,  quick oven-roasts..  )

The housework is coming..  As I am typing this, I am boiling 6 dishclothes in a pot of vinegar/water.  I have a habit of leaving the cloths in the sink and then they get all nasty and moldy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Alrighty.. Clearly failing at this Martha Stewart-ness stuff.  So I'm going to participate in Conversion Diary's "7 Quick Takes Friday" to get the ball rollin!!!!!

--- 1 ---
Homeschooling?   Anyone heard of a Chinese-Catholic Homeschooler?   Will we be ostracized from all our relatives and fellow parishioners?  Everyone's heard of Tiger Mom, right? Well, most Chinese ppl I know had tiger mommies - everybody is either homeschooled after school and during the summer or sent to some kind of afterschool or summer program.  Why not just school them at home and have a whole lot of free time (haha?) to build up moral character, instruct in the faith, and dilute peer pressure craziness?  I hear my younger relatives talk about their public school experiences and they are not very reassuring...Anyone out there know of any Asian Homeschoolers?  I need back-up here when we break this decision to the grandparents..
--- 2 ---
Not sure where this blog is going - one reason why I've been procrastinating so much.  My old blog was all about my professional school and training..ethical situations, and all (it went on for 7 years!).  But now onto another chapter of life!   There's only so much I can write about housework.  Gotta find my niche.  
--- 3 ---
I gained 6 lbs in 2 weeks since quitting work!  No - thats a good thing.  My coworkers told me I looked sickly.  Thought it was breastfeeding but really it was all the stress and being overworked (and I was part-time!).  Now I can get my health back and focus on the family!
--- 4 ---
Reality Show ("Chopped") Inspired Meal Planning - one thing thats come more naturally for me in this SAHM business is the idea of meal planning.  Except I don't plan my menu then go grocery shopping.  I do it the "Chopped" way - I go get my on sale produce and good-lookin' meats (thus my "mystery basket") and then come up with something with whats in the pantry.   Its worked so far - we get a variety of foods and rotate through different produce/grains. Watching the show has really inspired me to think differently about cooking - especially that episode where they used leftover pizza and beer as ingredients to make totally new appetizer foods.

--- 5 ---
Anonymity?  Can't decide whether to stay anonymous or not.  At my old blog - I had to because of the nature of the job.  But if I talk about la familia here, it'd be better to stay anon.  I guess that relates to #2 - where I decide this blog goes! 
--- 6 ---
East meets West.. NOT!  Another blog idea I had..  I live and interact with many traditionally minded Chinese folks.  I am a quasi-crunchy person myself but in TOTALLY the opposite way.  I'm all about allopathic medicine but I do many attachment parenting things (I think I listen to the Popcaks too much - but they are AWESOME! ) - babywearing, extended nursing, making my own bebe food..  So CONSTANTLY these older relatives or peers are questioning our practices and giving me weirdo suggestions.. (weirdest one?  injecting children with poop.  NO THANK YOU - if I find out someone is actually doing that, I would probably call child protective services!)  I also totally do not believe in Chinese post-partum practices ("the month") - I actually found an article in a peer-reviewed journal about how there was no difference in chronic pain between women who adhered to the "month" and those who didn't..  However citing science doesn't matter to some.. and none of these folks have produced any articles or reading to suggest that their practices are evidence-based.
--- 7 ---
Smoke but no fire...  My husband and I kept smelling poopy diapers tonight, so we kept having to check the stinky toddler's diaper.  No poop!  Then I remembered.. I fed her cabbage!  They were so stinky, I decided to google cabbage farts and look at this gem I found :).  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

And there it is!  Blog post #2!