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eG Foodblog: C. sapidus - Crabs, Borscht, and Fish Sauce


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BTW, C. -- those biscuits really do look fabulous!  Maybe I should refrigerate my shortening before cutting it into the flour and baking powder?  I've never been able to produce a flaky biscuit, ever. I do make decent drop biscuits, though.

Thanks, Sandy. I did refrigerate the shortening before cutting it into the flour. I have also read it helps to cut the biscuits with a sharp cutting implement before baking - I used a sharp chef's knife. Based on which side of the biscuits rose and which didn't, next time I might trim the sides, too, to see if it makes a difference. The cut edges definitely rose higher than the outer edges, which were smushed into shape with a board scraper.

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Ah, the traditional refrigerator shots – I was hoping Sandy and Alana would forget, but no such luck. :rolleyes:

The main refrigerator compartment is a bit topsy-turvy. We moved things around to fit the ribs yesterday, and to fit the stock pot full of borscht today. The weather has been cooperative, so root vegetables, etc. are stored in a cooler outdoors. I use the bottom crisper drawers most frequently. The left crisper drawer holds vegetables – bell peppers, bok choy, long beans, Chinese leeks, etc. The right crisper drawer holds seasonings and aromatics – chilies, scallions, cilantro, basil - all of the good stuff. You can barely see bristly lemongrass stalks on the bottom right, just above the crisper.

gallery_28660_4106_695.jpg

The fridge door. The green beans are for the dogs. The amber bottle to the left of the half-and-half is root beer that Mrs. Crab and the boys made at home – we have a case or two more in the pantry, waiting for the yeast to get their act in gear and carbonate the root beer properly.

gallery_28660_4106_11436.jpg

The freezer. Lots of home-made chicken and/or vegetable stock, bread, the grease jar, and a bottle of vodka. Ice cream is for the boys, mostly.

gallery_28660_4106_14278.jpg

The freezer door. My favorite part is the top shelf, which holds key Asian ingredients like Thai “long chilies”, galangal, turmeric, and our stash of kaffir lime leaves. Our Russian friends grow a kaffir lime tree indoors, and they bring over armloads of kaffir lime branches whenever they visit.

gallery_28660_4106_20086.jpg

We store ginger, scallions, and onions in a wicker basket on top of the fridge. Garlic has its own clay pot with air holes, also on top of the fridge. Tomatoes, limes, and avocados sit on the counter, and bunches of bananas hang from hooks on the drying rack. We also have a stand-up freezer in the basement, but it badly needs defrosting.

Oops, I forgot - we also have an under-counter dorm fridge. We use this fridge to store drinks - milk, Danimals, and beer, mostly. This frees up a lot of space in the main fridge. I will try to remember to take a picture.

Sigh. :hmmm::smile:

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Bruce it is so good to be reading your blog.Work has kept me busy and I am just now finding it and have now read it start to finish.

I have always found your evening meals to be drool-worthy and the cooking you have done so far this week is no exception.

As a GRITS girl, I must say that you have done us proud with the ham hocks and greens. I still have some left in the fridge that Rachel made me a few days ago the I am enjoying immensely.

I do have a suggestion for another way to cook them although I don't have an actual recipe for them.

When I lived in Alabama, we had a little chinese place in town that was the place to go for a meal out. The chef took the greens and did a chiffonade cutting across the greens so that there was a little piece of the stem in each strip.They were then stir fried along with finely chopped bacon,garlic , chopped onion,super thin matchsticks of carrot and then dressed with a little soy sauce and maybe some fish sauce... you get the idea. Cooking time was very short so that the greens (particularly the stem) retained a bit of their crunchiness.Sooo Gooood.. give that a try sometime. You have everything in your kitchen that you could possibly need to make them. Some nights on my way home from work I'd stop by and get just an order of green to go for my dinner.Man do I miss them :wub:

Looking forward to what's to come next!

And this old porch is like a steaming greasy plate of enchiladas,With lots of cheese and onions and a guacamole salad ...This Old Porch...Lyle Lovett

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Also, any points values that you could include in your blog would be great. I'm doing WW as well and am always looking for "real" food to enjoy (although I am fortunate in that my leader is not one of those that seems to push the pre-made proccessed food ideas on us) Thanks :smile:

And this old porch is like a steaming greasy plate of enchiladas,With lots of cheese and onions and a guacamole salad ...This Old Porch...Lyle Lovett

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Wow, your chicken and lemongrass looked great. I've never had it with coconut milk and curry here in the North. It's worth noting I have THE EXACT SAME BRAND of coconut milk sitting on my kitchen counter right now. Is it a small world, or what? I'm travelling down the coast in April, and I'm going to take copious notes about the differences in North/South cuisine - for the edification of myself and all eGulleteers.

Have we started a Vietnamese home cooking thread yet? We need to do that. I've made a date to do a cooking exchange with one of my co-workers - she wants to learn how to make banana bread, after I brought some into the staff room. It's such a healthy and great cuisine - and points-friendly, too!

Thanks for letting us in to see your cooking and your life.

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Nakji: Thank you! I look forward to learning the differences between northern and southern Vietnamese food. Please remember to bring your camera on the trip. Mai Pham (Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table) seems have more recipes from southern Vietnam, but Andrea Nguyen’s family lived in the north as well as the south. I haven't finished reading through Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, but the recipes seem to reflect influences from both regions.

Guppymo started a Vietnamese Food thread (clickety), and posted an amazing array of home-cooked Vietnamese meals. I would love to reactivate that thread – perhaps we can start posting there when we cook Vietnamese food?

Edit: forgot "to".

Edited by C. sapidus (log)
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As a GRITS girl, I must say that you have done us proud with the ham hocks and greens. I still have some left in the fridge that Rachel made  me a few days ago the I am enjoying  immensely.

caroled: Thanks! You are the amazing baker and mapo tofu maker, correct?

I do have a suggestion for another way to cook them although I don't have an actual recipe for them. 

  When I lived in Alabama, we had a little chinese place in town that was the place to go for a meal out. The chef took the greens and did a chiffonade  cutting across the greens so that there was a little piece of the stem in each strip.They were then stir fried along with finely chopped bacon,garlic , chopped onion,super thin matchsticks of carrot and then dressed with a little soy sauce and maybe some fish sauce... you get the idea.  Cooking time was very short so that the greens (particularly the stem) retained a bit of their crunchiness.Sooo Gooood..  give that a try sometime. You have everything in your kitchen that you could possibly need to make them.  Some nights on my way home from work I'd stop by and get just an order of green to go for my dinner.Man do I miss them :wub:

Awesome - that sounds right up my alley! <runs off to add collard greens and bacon to next week's shopping list>

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Oh my. You have my fridge. Your freezer is so empty and organized. Oh my. Is that the egg rack you are using to hold small jars in the door?

All the food looks so good.

I've got lemongrass on my nursery shopping list. I have the pot, the site, just need the plant. My one experience cooking with it suggested its like bay leaves - simmer in and then remove. You handled it quite differently from that. When you chopped it fine and cooked it, did it get tender or stay very fibrous/chewy? Do you peel many layers off the stalk before chopping?

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Holy crap, those biscuits are a thing of beauty! I live in Northern Virginia - send me some???? It looks like you rolled them out nice and thick - was the butter frozen? Is that how they came out so flaky?

Thank you, Basilgirl! The butter and shortening were refrigerator temperature before mixing with the dry ingredients. I also used heavy cream, on the theory that the more detrimental an ingredient is to your health, the better it will be when baked. :laugh:

Beginner's luck, methinks.

Don't tell us this is the first time you've ever made biscuits!!!! I'm loving this blog. And now I'm so ashamed to admit that I've given up on homemade biscuits and now use whack-a-roll, frozen Pillsbury, or Bisquick. :shock:

I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

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Holy crap, those biscuits are a thing of beauty! I live in Northern Virginia - send me some???? It looks like you rolled them out nice and thick - was the butter frozen? Is that how they came out so flaky?

Thank you, Basilgirl! The butter and shortening were refrigerator temperature before mixing with the dry ingredients. I also used heavy cream, on the theory that the more detrimental an ingredient is to your health, the better it will be when baked. :laugh:

Beginner's luck, methinks.

Don't tell us this is the first time you've ever made biscuits!!!! I'm loving this blog. And now I'm so ashamed to admit that I've given up on homemade biscuits and now use whack-a-roll, frozen Pillsbury, or Bisquick. :shock:

Third time making biscuits, but Ann_T and others were very helpful when I posted my first-time tale of woe. :rolleyes:

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Oh my. You have my fridge. Your freezer is so empty and organized. Oh my.  Is that the egg rack you are using to hold small jars in the door?

That's funny - the fridge came with the house. I dunno about the egg rack - the indentations are more jar-shaped than egg-shaped. I'm way too lazy to take eggs out of a perfectly good container and carefully put them somewhere else. :smile:

All the food looks so good.

Thank you!

I've got lemongrass on my nursery shopping list. I have the pot, the site, just need the plant. My one experience cooking with it suggested its like bay leaves - simmer in and then remove. You handled it quite differently from that. When you chopped it fine and cooked it, did it get tender or stay very fibrous/chewy? Do you peel many layers off the stalk before chopping?

Can you grow lemongrass outside year-round? We have grown lemongrass in the vegetable garden, but the stem diameter doesn't get that big around before frost.

I have seen lemongrass used three ways:

1. Chop finely and use in stir-fried or grilled dishes. Lemongrass is pretty stringy if you don't chop it very finely across the grain.

2. For Thai and Malaysian curry pastes, chop the lemongrass and pound it to smithereens in a heavy mortar with chilies, garlic, shallots, etc. Sometimes we start curry pastes out in a food processor and finish in the mortar. If we have enough volume we can use the Preethi grinder, but it doesn't work for small quantities. We are still playing with the most efficient method of making curry pastes.

3. Bruise the lemongrass, simmer it like a bay leaf, and remove before serving. In Cradle of Flavor, James Oseland recommends bruising the lemongrass and tying it in a knot. We do that for coconut lemongrass rice, which is delicious (but not very WW-friendly, unfortunately).

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Mrs. Crab woke up early, made coffee, put the borscht in the outdoor fridge to solidify the fat . . .

gallery_28660_4106_10106.jpg

. . . set up to make Russian black bread for tonight . . .

gallery_28660_4106_22451.jpg

. . . and breakfasted on coffee and a muffin with egg white and Canadian bacon (4 WW points or less). She ate a portabella burger for lunch when she came home to start the bread machine (portabella burger - 1 point; whole-grain muffin - 2 points).

gallery_28660_4106_48802.jpg

Good news and bad news this morning. Bad news: my throat feels like I gargled with broken glass, so I stayed home from work. Good news: I can check my work e-mail from home and post on eGullet. Breakfast: coffee, blood orange, and a throat lozenge. :angry:

gallery_28660_4106_31697.jpg

Edited: y'know, if I looked at my own pictures more closely, I could tell the difference between Canadian bacon and a portabella burger. Also added WW points (thanks, Mrs. C!).

Edited by C. sapidus (log)
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Catching up on pictures here - we stopped by the Latino Market . . .

gallery_28660_4106_13028.jpg

. . . and picked up some odds and ends. Their chorizo is excellent, the best I have found. They carry Salvadoran and Mexican chorizo, so I have learned to say, “Quatro chorizo Mexicano, por favor” in a moderately convincing manner. :rolleyes: I know that I needed bitter orange (naranja agria) for something – a Rick Bayless recipe, perhaps? :unsure: No ginger beer until my throat feels better. :biggrin:

gallery_28660_4106_42938.jpg

We also picked up some yard-long beans and baby mustard greens at the Asian Market. The owner is from Burma, and gave me a book of Shan recipes. Much more about the Asian market later.

gallery_28660_4106_18744.jpg

I forgot to take a picture of the sign outside the Asian Supermarket - sorry for the blurry pic. For locals, the store is located across the street from Rita's shave ice and the Adelphia building.

gallery_28660_4106_2133.jpg

Edited by C. sapidus (log)
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I'm having computer problems, and every time I try and reply to anything, the blasted thing shuts down, so I'll try again.

I love omelets like that. And, they are rather traditional in Thailand to "overstuff" them (as opposed to a French omelet with barely anything in it).

The combo sounds oddly good.

Yes, pictures of the Asian market, please!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I've had to cut fish sauce out of my repertoire. Partner has high blood pressure, although I suspect but do not yet know for sure that laying off the sauce has probably brought it down to the point where he might be able to consider going off blood pressure medication. (I'm no longer sober, but my BP is 110/84, well away from the danger zone.) Even so, he probably will still have to limit sodium intake, and fish sauce is loaded with the stuff.

Soy sauce I can get away with, but I buy the reduced-sodium varieties.

Everything else in that omelet sounds like it's right up my alley.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Cooking Asian food used to require lots of planning and a two-hour round trip. Discovering the Asian Supermarket dramatically changed how we cook and eat. The owners, incredibly pleasant folks, are from Burma, near the Indian border. They also have roots in Singapore, Japan, and California. This probably explains the incredible diversity of foods that they offer in a relatively small space. One of the owners at the cash register (she told me her name, but I'm embarassed to say that the information leaked out of my brain on the short drive home):

gallery_28660_4106_16142.jpg

The owners would like to expand the store. Expansion would enable them to carry a wider variety of produce and offer hot prepared foods. I hope it works out – I would love to see more produce, but the store already offers nearly everything I need to cook Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Laotian, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Singaporean food. In the summer, they stock cases of indescribably delicious mangos.

The store has two long aisles, with cash register behind me and produce at the far end:

gallery_28660_4106_6242.jpg

gallery_28660_4106_39041.jpg

Rice and snacks:

gallery_28660_4106_55541.jpg

Gratuitous Pocky shot:

gallery_28660_4106_24086.jpg

Freezer case with fresh coconut and durian:

gallery_28660_4106_10820.jpg

Indian goods:

gallery_28660_4106_10072.jpg

gallery_28660_4106_22305.jpg

Malaysian, Indonesian, and Singaporean supplies:

gallery_28660_4106_26605.jpg

Thai curry pastes, picked vegetables, and coconut milk:

gallery_28660_4106_11241.jpg

Household goods, including granite mortars:

gallery_28660_4106_47007.jpg

Freezer cases – fish, meats, dumplings, wrappers, and frozen chilies, galangal, and turmeric:

gallery_28660_4106_20588.jpg

Canned goods, flours, shallots, pickled vegetables:

gallery_28660_4106_8442.jpg

Produce section – small but well-chosen. I usually buy lemongrass, Thai chilies and basil, mint, long beans, green mango, limes, bean sprouts, Asian greens, Asian eggplants, Napa cabbage . . .

gallery_28660_4106_33293.jpg

gallery_28660_4106_19131.jpg

Fruit purees, cabbage, chayote, root vegetables, noodles . . .

gallery_28660_4106_322.jpg

Another freezer case:

gallery_28660_4106_50517.jpg

Chinese and Korean sauces:

gallery_28660_4106_6484.jpg

More sauces – sometimes I stand here and smile quietly to myself.

gallery_28660_4106_46871.jpg

gallery_28660_4106_2131.jpg

Japanese ingredients:

gallery_28660_4106_3509.jpg

There is also a whole wall of dry noodles from southern and eastern Asia (no picture). Great place!

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Do you peel many layers off the stalk before chopping?

Kouign Aman: Sorry, I missed your last question (which was a good one). For the stir-fry I peeled the outer grungy layers and chopped up the bottom six inches or so of the lemongrass. The recipe stated that one stalk of lemongrass would yield about 3 tablespoons finely chopped. I found that it took two stalks of lemongrass to yield that amount. Perhaps lemongrass grows thicker in California or Vietnam?

For making curry pastes, I peel the lemongrass down to the very tender inner layers. Otherwise, pounding lemongrass to a paste takes quite a while. I just sorta worked this stuff out by trial and error, so I could be doing it all wrong. :wink:

We have heard from the greens experts - would any lemongrass experts care to weigh in on this?

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Cooking Asian food used to require lots of planning and a two-hour round trip. Discovering the Asian Supermarket dramatically changed how we cook and eat. The owners, incredibly pleasant folks, are from Burma, near the Indian border.

. . . Great place!

Your Asian market looks fabulous! What a lot of diversified products in a small space!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Mrs. Crab made borscht and Russian black bread for dinner. The borscht was delicious with a little rice vinegar. We had sour cream for the borscht, and honey or butter for the bread. Mrs. Crab used 18 cups of broth in the borscht; half of the borscht was gone by dinner's end. :biggrin: Good stuff!

5 WW points for one eighth of a loaf of bread; about 1.5 points per cup of the borscht.

The table:

gallery_28660_4106_23611.jpg

Mrs. Crab’s borscht.

gallery_28660_4106_36870.jpg

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Fridge shots, continued:

Besides the main refrigerator, an under-counter dorm fridge in the kitchen holds milk, yogurt drinks, and beer. Storing drinks here makes it much easier to keep the main fridge somewhat organized. The ginger ale was left over from a dinner party several weeks ago – we don't drink much soda. Under-counter fridge:

gallery_28660_4106_14717.jpg

The freezer in the basement holds bulk meats (bought on sale), frozen seafood and veggies, the emergency backup bread supply, and the usual odds and ends. Freezer:

gallery_28660_4106_24074.jpg

Enough about refrigerators - a delightful package showed up today (half-price at Amazon). Our first enameled cast iron pot - I can't wait to try a braise, maybe even some no-knead bread.

gallery_28660_4106_21967.jpg

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Cooking Asian food used to require lots of planning and a two-hour round trip. Discovering the Asian Supermarket dramatically changed how we cook and eat. The owners, incredibly pleasant folks, are from Burma, near the Indian border. They also have roots in Singapore, Japan, and California. This probably explains the incredible diversity of foods that they offer in a relatively small space. One of the owners at the cash register (she told me her name, but I'm embarassed to say that the information leaked out of my brain on the short drive home):

gallery_28660_4106_16142.jpg

The owners would like to expand the store. Expansion would enable them to carry a wider variety of produce and offer hot prepared foods. I hope it works out – I would love to see more produce, but the store already offers nearly everything I need to cook Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Laotian, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Singaporean food. In the summer, they stock cases of indescribably delicious mangos.

The store has two long aisles, with cash register behind me and produce at the far end:

gallery_28660_4106_6242.jpg

gallery_28660_4106_39041.jpg

Rice and snacks:

gallery_28660_4106_55541.jpg

Gratuitous Pocky shot:

gallery_28660_4106_24086.jpg

Freezer case with fresh coconut and durian:

gallery_28660_4106_10820.jpg

Indian goods:

gallery_28660_4106_10072.jpg

gallery_28660_4106_22305.jpg

Malaysian, Indonesian, and Singaporean supplies:

gallery_28660_4106_26605.jpg

Thai curry pastes, picked vegetables, and coconut milk:

gallery_28660_4106_11241.jpg

Household goods, including granite mortars:

gallery_28660_4106_47007.jpg

Freezer cases – fish, meats, dumplings, wrappers, and frozen chilies, galangal, and turmeric:

gallery_28660_4106_20588.jpg

Canned goods, flours, shallots, pickled vegetables:

gallery_28660_4106_8442.jpg

Produce section – small but well-chosen. I usually buy lemongrass, Thai chilies and basil, mint, long beans, green mango, limes, bean sprouts, Asian greens, Asian eggplants, Napa cabbage . . .

gallery_28660_4106_33293.jpg

gallery_28660_4106_19131.jpg

Fruit purees, cabbage, chayote, root vegetables, noodles . . .

gallery_28660_4106_322.jpg

Another freezer case:

gallery_28660_4106_50517.jpg

Chinese and Korean sauces:

gallery_28660_4106_6484.jpg

More sauces – sometimes I stand here and smile quietly to myself.

gallery_28660_4106_46871.jpg

gallery_28660_4106_2131.jpg

Japanese ingredients:

gallery_28660_4106_3509.jpg

There is also a whole wall of dry noodles from southern and eastern Asia (no picture). Great place!

I know how you feel. Everytime I go to one of our asian markets (I am fortunate enough to have 4 within a 6 mile radius of our house) I have to remind myself of just what I came for so that I don't end up with a $100+ bill and not know what to do with 1/2 of it :blink: .I always want to buy 1 of everything just to try it!

Feeling inspired by your blog I ran out to the nearest one and piced up 6 packs of firm tofu, 1Japanese miso marinated tofu and 1 already fried tofu cake.

I have a couple ideas for some of it,curried tofu salad, Japanese tofu salad with sesame,and mapo dofu. How would you handle the rest??

And this old porch is like a steaming greasy plate of enchiladas,With lots of cheese and onions and a guacamole salad ...This Old Porch...Lyle Lovett

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Susan (snowangel) requested a kitchen tour, so here goes. The kitchen and dining room are about 10 feet wide and 20 feet long. These pictures are from last year, so some things have changed. To understand the layout, picture yourself standing in the middle of the room and spinning clockwise while taking pictures. :rolleyes:

The cooking wall: Blue Star rangetop, Vent-A-Hood (could have used more cfms), Ikea cabinets, Ikea shelf above the rangetop, Ikea hanging rails, basic GE oven. The small prep sink near the door is incredibly useful. Mrs. Crab usually preps to the left of the rangetop; I usually prep to the right.

Spices and dried chiles in the glass-fronted cabinets, bulk spices above the sink, pots and pans below the rangetop. The tall pull-out drawer next to the rangetop (where the oven mitts hang) holds cooking oils, fish and soy sauces, and pull-out drawers for cooking implements. More cooking implements to the left of the rangetop.

gallery_28660_4106_6474.jpg

Kitchen overview: the left side is for cooking, and the right side mostly for cleanup. The door leads to the carport and grill. When we add on to the house, the door will lead to a foyer and in-law apartment. The freezer will move upstairs to a laundry room just past the foyer.

gallery_28660_4106_34279.jpg

The cleanup wall from back to front: refrigerator; trash pull-out and compost jar; sink; crappy Whirlpool dishwasher (hidden behind a wooden panel); flatware and coffee drawers with drying racks above; tall cabinet for plates, bowls, glasses, and serving dishes. A new coffee maker is now to the left of the sink. The big single sink hides a lot of dishes when we entertain.

gallery_28660_4106_31053.jpg

The dining room and more Ikea cabinets (we now have a rug under the table). The tall cabinet on the right holds cereal, grains, and countertop appliances. The base cabinets hold pasta, canned goods, plastic bags, and miscellaneous stuff that begs for organization. The tall cabinet on the left holds vinegars, less-used serving plates, and our stash of home-made root beer.

gallery_28660_4106_19165.jpg

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I know how you feel. Everytime I go to one of our asian markets (I am fortunate enough to have 4 within a 6 mile radius of our house) I have to remind myself of just what I came for so that I don't end up with a $100+ bill and not know what to do with 1/2 of it :blink: .I always want to buy 1 of everything just to try it!

Feeling inspired by your blog I ran out to the nearest one and piced up 6 packs of firm tofu, 1Japanese miso marinated tofu and 1 already fried tofu cake.

I have a couple ideas for some of it,curried tofu salad, Japanese tofu salad with sesame,and mapo dofu. How would you handle the rest??

One of the things I love about eGullet is how the members inspire each other to try new things. Rachel’s lyrical description of waking to the aroma of your mapo tofu has inspired me to try Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe. We have some tofu in the fridge, so I will attempt my first mapo tofu this weekend.

I have not tried any Japanese cooking yet. So little time, so many things I would like to do. :smile:

Please let us know what you make with your bounty from the Asian market.

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      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By FoodMuse
      Hello everyone,
      eGullet was nice enough to invite me to write a food blog chronicling what I've made or eaten out for one week. I'm so excited about it! Thanks guys.
      About me:
      I dream about food, I wake thinking what's for dinner and I'm so excited to share it with you. I'm part of the food world in New York. By that, I just mean that I'm so fortunate enough to be invited to great events where I get to eat great food. I'm also a nerd and a part of the technology world. I produce, edit and sometimes host food related web videos and I'm also a part of the tech world.
      I'm launching a website called Please, Pass the Gravy. www.pleasepassthegravy.com We let you create a menu, invite friends and then collaborate on that menu. Never host another potluck with 8 pasta salads. You could use it now, but we're alpha launch, it works but it's ugly. It's my ugly baby. So, if you use it be kind and message me if you have improvement ideas. I thought it would be ok to write about it here because it is food related.
      I live in Brooklyn with a lovely guy who likes to eat and a small corgi mix dog. I cook pretty much every night and do a nice brunch on the weekend. I am not a crazy dog lady, but I do admit to cooking food for the dog. I have an excuse, beyond doting, he had seizures that have stopped since not feeding him dog food.
      Foods I cook:
      Spicy foods! If you look at my blog I have a simple papaya ketchup with habanero that is pretty darn good.
      I love great cheese. This may be the week for Beer Cheese Soup.
      I try to limit carbs, though I do cheat.
      In any given week C. and I probably eat cauliflower, broccoli and green beans as a side.
      Tonight's dinner will be Vietnamese inspired. We'll see how it goes. I'll post about it as soon as I can.
      Any requests? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.
      -Grace
    • By Duvel
      In these challenging times, a full summer vacation is not an easy task. For the last 1.5 years we have been mostly at home with the clear plan to visit Catalonia (or more precise my wife’s family) latest this summer. And it looked good for a while. Unfortunately, the recent rise in case numbers in Spain have resulted in …
       
      OK, let’s skip this part. Long story short - my wife and me are fully vaccinated, as are >90% of the people we care about in Catalonia. After some discussion (after all, Germans tend to prefer to be on the safe side of things) we simply fueled up the car, got each a test (for the transit through France) and started to drive …
       
      After a leisurely 11h drive we arrived at a small fishing town somewhat north of Barcelona around 3.00am. We unloaded the car and my wife an the little one went straight to bed. 
       

       


      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
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