Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cats

Just wanted to show off our cute cats...

You can't see super clearly, but this is often the view from the street when I come home:

Look for a brownish black blob on the left, and orange blob on the right
Whether they are waiting for my return, or watching the birds and wishing they could catch them, is debatable ;)

Taro-Coconut Tapioca Dessert (xi mi lu 西米露)

Things have been pretty busy around here! Practices for the Mendelssohn Club choir have begun, I've been to New York City and Staten Island just in this month, and we've started to pack for our move to a smaller but less expensive apartment. It's been 5 years since I've lived at the same place for more than a year, so I've gotten into the habit of cooking from the pantry and freezer the month or month and a half before we have to move. Tim was also working late most of this past week (and got free breakfast/lunch/dinner), so I had no one to help me eat all the food!

Today, I pulled out some taro I had frozen a while back. Taro is another ingredient that freezes quite well.  So, the next time you see pretty taro in the grocery store, buy it, freeze up what you don't use, then make this easy Chinese dessert soup. Even though I call it a soup, it's thicker* than a soup but thinner than tapioca pudding or a custard. You should totally make this dessert because it only requires using one pot! The version I make is not super sweet, and doesn't skimp on taro or coconut milk taste. I hope you will try it out sometime :) My neighbors had it- the parents loved it, but the 3 and 10 year olds had one spoonful each and decided they didn't like it at all! Hopefully y'all will enjoy it like the parents did. Oh yeah! I also made this for our pastor's ordination ceremony in a huge 16 or 20 quart pot, and there was none left at the end. :d
Taro Coconut Tapioca xi mi lu


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Strings Beans and Pork (gan bian si ji dou 干煸四季豆)

I hope you will forgive me for making not totally dry and not totally flat string beans. Let me explain...gan bian si ji dou is a standby dish that my sister and I would order because we were confident that it would be on a Chinese restaurant's menu 95% of the time. Whether it was the plenty of garlic in the dish, morsels of ground pork, or the salty string beans, something kept us coming back! My mom would judge this dish based on how gan (dry) and bian (flat) the string beans were. Restaurants most often deep fry the beans to save time, but for the dish to be true to its name, you were supposed to stir-fry the beans in  until they slowly dried out and flattened.

The string beans from the CSA were amazing, and I couldn't bear to cook the string beans silly, so I erred on the side of less dry and more plump.





Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer's Bounty Salad

With fresh and local produce abounding, I made an extremely simple salad of just vegetables, oil, salt, and pepper.


Homemade Soy Milk (dou jiang 豆漿)

Growing in southern California, I definitely took soy milk sources for granted. When I talk about soy milk, I mean the kind that made from just soybeans and water. I am not referring to soymilk like Silk, which adds carrageenan (for thickening) and "natural flavor".
 
At 99 Ranch Market, a huge Chinese grocery store chain, there would be a few types of soy milk from local stores, and you could buy it in half gallons in the sweetened or plain varieties (we always bought plain, then added our own sugar). You could get hot or cold soy milk as part of a Taiwanese breakfast. My dad also went through phases of making soymilk. He would buy big bags of soybeans from Smart and Final to make oodles of soymilk. Eventually, he decided that he craved soymilk enough to invest in a soymilk machine. I sometimes wondered why he would make it, when we could buy it from the store!

Now that I'm older and enjoy drinking (plain, even! *gasp*) soy milk even more, plus the fact that soybeans are really inexpensive, I see more eye to eye with my dad on making soymilk. Another incentive is that the soymilk I make won't have carrageenan or natural flavoring in it.

Also, for some math: I got some (organic) soybeans for $1.53/lb. For one batch of soymilk (Depending on your preference of thickness), it requires 1 cup of soybeans, which costs roughly 67 cents. Not bad, right? Read on to make EASY homemade soy milk!
Soy Milk dou jiang
Soy milk and Pepper wanting to be famous