flailing in my kitchen v3

How can I be sad when I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Home cooked meals

Man I have been so busy with work and various trips that I have not been doing much cooking. And I can feel it. So much eating out and eating junk food. But it is now February 2023 and I am finally feeling a little less busy.

I don't have a nice theme to tie these all together, but here are a few meals that I cooked this past week:

Spring roll salad
Featuring my permanently stained chopstick

I had four pieces of rice paper left in my cabinet, and while I don't have a picture of the spring rolls I made, I do have a picture of the salad I made with all of the same ingredients. I cooked some pork butt, and tossed it in toasted rice, which is something that my aunt taught me how to do. One day I'll post a recipe for that pork.

Savory bread
This is...kinda sad looking

One of my friends has really been in the mood for "savory bread" lately, but I was definitely not prepared to make bread. She looked up a recipe to see if she could find something easy, and we decided to make this savory quick bread with cheese and olives, which is bread in the same sense that banana bread or zucchini bread is bread. Basically, it's cake in the shape of a bread loaf.

We added a bunch of extra things that the recipe didn't even call for, like green onion and sun dried tomatoes. I think we went a little overboard. This recipe also called for four eggs, which is way too many eggs, especially considering how expensive eggs are nowadays. But what we didn't add was salt. Bad decision. You always need salt. The recipe simply said to "salt to taste", but how am I supposed to salt to taste when there's raw flour and eggs?! I can't taste that!

I was a little worried I was going to hate this because I don't like egg-y things, but it turned out to be...okay. Not great. Would not make this recipe again. I'd probably try a different bread recipe though.

Coffee and rice with beef jerky, a soft boiled egg, and some cucumbers
Featuring my chopsticks that got ruined from sitting in hot oil for too long...from a previous meal. They are just my designated deep fry chopsticks now.

And finally, here's my breakfast from this morning that I spent way too much effort on. It was worth it though. My family gave me some beef jerky, and I just love the combination of beef jerky and white rice. I also added a marinated soft boiled egg and some cucumber slices to trick myself into thinking this is a well balanced meal.

A very involved beef stew

Last week, after a very exhausting 4 days of work, I was excited to have a Friday off so I could spend some time doing some slow and chill cooking. I had a few bay leaves in my freezer that I wanted to use up and the cold weather has made me want some beef stew. I've made beef stew in the past, and I've been pretty successful, but this time I wanted to kick it up a notch.

Kenji's beef stew recipe came up in my youtube feed, and even though the video itself is a whole 37 minutes and 54 seconds long, I decided to watch it and I decided to make it. The recipe states that it takes 3 hours 10 minutes, and at my pace, I need to double all recipe times, so I know this is going to be an all day affair.

Me holding up the handwritten beef stew recipe
This is only the first page! There are three more steps!

Well, I woke up on a very, very cold Friday and saw that my power was out. 😧 I paced around my apartment, wondering what to do (I couldn't even make coffee!), but then...the power came back on. Okay, I'm making this beef stew.

(Had I known that the power would flicker off and on at least 20 more times during the day, I may have decided to do this a different day)

So in the video that I watched, Kenji cuts up all the veggies while his steaks are searing, and he still has time left over to just wait for it to finish searing. That was not my experience. I definitely should have cut up all the veggies in the beginning. I think it took me at least half an hour to cut them all up. Maybe an hour. I also should not have seared them on HIGH. My kitchen very quickly became a smoky mess.

And then when it came to blending up the broth, I realized that my little nutribullet is too small! (And I wasn't gonna use the food processor after what happened when I made those beef tacos) So I blended up a small amount of the chicken broth with the other ingredients and just mixed them all together in a saucepan. I attempted to add gelatin, but it all immediately clumped up. (Apparently I should have "bloomed" it first. Whatever that means)

Oh, but the worst part was dealing with the pearl onions. Kenji recommends just using frozen ones. I really should have listened to him, but I was at Whole Foods, and they only had fresh pearl onions, and I didn't feel like going to another store. So I'm standing at my counter, cutting off the nubs of the onions and peeling them and tears are streaming down my face.

Beef stew in a pot on the stove
It's so weird how stovetops turn pink when you take a photo using your phone

Anyway, I got everything prepped and I figured the bulk of the actual cooking part would be easier. I threw some veggies in the pot, and I threw my cubed beef into the pot, and I threw in some wine, and...the power went out again 😑

Fortunately, that didn't last too long, maybe five or ten minutes. Unfortunately, this would happen at least twenty more times while my stew was cooking. I managed to eventually get it to a simmer and into the oven, but this was no set-it-and-forget-it experience. I had to sit in my living room the whole time, making sure I was aware every time the power went out so I could turn the oven back on 😣

But I did it. I let it cook for a while, and then I took the pot out of the stove, and it wasn't tender enough, so I let it cook for even longer, and eventually the meat got to a consistency I was happy enough with. I started prepping at about 1pm, and it was finally done around 6:30pm.

I was exhausted all over again. I was so exhausted I forgot to add the peas. And then I forgot to take a picture!

Beef stew in a bowl with my laptop on the side
This was taken several days later. At least I have natural lighting here!

It did taste really good though. Was it worth it? Maybe. Would I try making this again? Honestly, I would. But only if I know I have stable electricity. And frozen onions.

Filed under: beef stew flailing

Spring rolls

So, I made spring rolls about a month ago. Two months ago? Who knows at this point. I had this whole blog post planned out in my head about how I was making these fancy lunches, but now it's many weeks later and I don't remember any of it. But I'm looking at these food pics that I took, and I'm like, man, I really want some spring rolls.

This probably made my lunch take twice as long. Worth it.

Why did I wait so long to make this post? Well, I've had ideas brewing in my head about revamping the layout, and I didn't want to make another post until that was done. Turns out that web design is hard, and I still have things I want to change. But I think I need a break from tinkering this layout.

I don't know why I thought making spring rolls for lunch on a weekday was a good idea. Spring rolls are so much work! And then I decided to make this even crazier by seeing if there was a way I could wrap these so the shrimps were on the outside to make it all aesthetic.

I realized that I should have sliced the shrimp in half so they weren't awkwardly sticking out and ripping the wrappers.

Okay, I know, it's not about how it looks. It's about how it tastes. And spring rolls are delicious. But I think I actually prefer pork over shrimp. I mean, I prefer having both pork AND shrimp, but if I have to choose one, I think I go with pork.

But it doesn't matter if I add pork, shrimp, chicken, whatever. Spring rolls are always good. And even though it is freezing cold outside, I could really go for some spring rolls right now.

Yeah, I made spring rolls for lunch twice!


Hello friends. I'm still here. Still cooking. My sabbatical ended about a week ago, and I've been trying to get used to working again and figuring out what work life balance means.

I was pretty exhausted from my sabbatical. Even though I wasn't working, I had so many things that I wanted to do, and I didn't even have time for my food blog! And now that I'm working again, well, that would seem to mean even less time for the food blog. But like I said, I'm figuring it out, and I'm taking it easy right now.

One thing that I am really trying to do now is save money and not eat out. I don't really need to save money, but I kind of find it a little exciting and fun to see myself spend way less on food. I know I've done "$30 a week" challenges in the past, and I'm not going to do that now, but I'm going to keep track of my spending and see how it turns out without eating out.

So, today I made burgers.

Burger, some toppings, fries, a salad, and a book to read

Why burgers? Well, my sister was here last week and she made me some pretzels with cheese sauce, and we ate all the pretzels, but we still have some cheese sauce remaining, and I thought "maybe I can dip some fries in this", and then "burgers go well with fries".

I know, my thought process is weird.

I did bookmark a cheeseburger recipe a few weeks months ago, and this seemed like a good time to try it. Except it really isn't much of a recipe. The burger patty is literally just ground beef, salt, and pepper. The recipe also includes a burger sauce, but I didn't even bother making that.

The burger tasted good though! I mean homemade burgers always taste good. I cooked the patties in a cast iron skillet that I haven't touched in many months. The process was pretty simple, but my whole kitchen got super smoky, which meant my living room got super smoky and I had to turn on the vent and open the windows for a while. It was also kind of a pain to clean and re-season.

I also bought some frozen fries and made a salad to use up some leftover carrot ginger salad dressing I made a couple of weeks ago. Honestly it's not that great with green leaf lettuce. Iceberg would have been better.

Closeup of the burger and fries, with ketchup for dipping

While I was eating, I read a little bit of James and the Giant Peach. It was a very filling meal, so filling that I couldn't even finish it all.

Will I be able to stick with only having homemade meals? Will I make another post soon? Will I have any time to write about the endless amounts of food thoughts in my head? I don't know. We'll see how I'm feeling in a week.

Filed under: burgers

Chipotle beef tacos

I'm going to take a brief pause from my Teochew work to show you these tacos that I made last night.

Two tacos on a plate, with some guac on the side and cilantro sprinkled on top
You know I had to sprinkle extra cilantro on top

They were so good. Also so much work. So so much work. I used this crispy braised chipotle beef taco recipe that I found on Half Baked Harvest (my co-workers rave about this site). I opted for the slow cooker version of this, which I think is less work than using the stove and oven, but it was still a lot.

I had planned to go play DDR that morning, but I wanted to get the beef cooking first, so I got up early and bought ingredients, prepped the sauce, and cut up the meat. The recipe says to use a blender to blend up the ingredients, but my only blender is a single serving size Nutribullet, which definitely was not big enough for this. I used my food processor instead, and it made me wonder why this recipe specifically called for using a blender.

Well, I hit the "LOW" button and suddenly a bunch of sauce spilled out of the container and went flying everywhere! 😱 And then when I went to pour the sauce into the slow cooker, it was splashing all over the place!

Okay, I guess that's why they say to blend liquids in a blender.

It all turned out well though. If I ever make this again, I'll want to use a fattier cut of meat, and I would probably forgo the blending altogether. Just dump everything in the slow cooker, and I'm sure it would taste just as good.

Filed under: flailing tacos

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