I don't know when my mom got into looking at recipes on the internet, but she has been raving about Made with Lau. They have videos on how to make a lot of classic Chinese dishes with good explanations on how restaurants make certain dishes that are hard to replicate at home.
One night during my usual youtube browsing, Made with Lau's recipe for Salt and Pepper Tofu showed up in my feed and I figured this was a good time to see what all the hype was about.
Okay, it looked really good. I had to try making it. It also looked like a lot of work. I'm sure any one of their videos could have shown up on my feed and I would have had that same reaction, so maybe I could have picked something simpler. But I watched the salt and pepper tofu video so salt and pepper tofu went on my mental list of things to make, and when something goes on my list, I have to make it.
I looked at their website and it lists 30 minutes as the total cooking time. This recipe requires you to boil, deep fry, AND stir fry the tofu! There is no way I could get this done in 30 minutes. I guessed it was going to take me 3 whole hours to finish it, so I needed to do this on the weekend when I had plenty of time.
Some parts of the recipe used such small amounts of ingredient that they seemed a little ridiculous to me. It requires 0.5 egg. What am I supposed to do with the other half?! I'm not going to waste half an egg! I'm also only supposed to use the white part of the green onion. Why would I do that when the green parts add so much nice color? During the stir fry step, I'm supposed to put a few dried chili peppers in the pan, stir around for 8 seconds, and then remove them. At least I already had a lot of dried peppers in my pantry, because I wasn't going to buy some just for this recipe.
But I guess this guy really knows what he's doing. The tofu turned out really well, and it only took me 1.5 hours to make! Half as much time as I expected (: Coating the tofu in cornstarch was kind of a mess, and I got cornstarch all over my kitchen, but overall, not too hard to make.
I couldn't just eat tofu though. I made some rice and a Korean spinach side to go along with it. And I still kind of wanted some actual meat, but this was already way too much work, so I went to Aldi and bought some precooked Hawaiian chicken thighs that I could just heat up in the microwave.
It was a very, very good meal.
Happy Thanksgiving! It's December 31, and my family is having Thanksgiving dinner, and tomorrow we're celebrating Christmas. Because that's just how my family rolls.
Remember that incredibly large portion of mac n cheese I made last last Thanksgiving? Remember how I deep fried some of it a week later? And then deep fried more of it in February but still had some left over? Well, I finally finished deep frying all of it. In April. But I had these photos on my Pixel and I only just got my app in a state where it's able to upload photos.
I don't remember much about this, but I do remember taking the photo on the Pixel and thinking "Whoa! This picture quality is waaay better than my old iPhone"
I think I finally figured out how to make fried mac n cheese without flailing. And I also think I won't be making any more fried mac n cheese for a very long time.
At work, I'm a team lead, so I have to write two management updates every single week. Some of the other team leads at the company write their updates in the same exact format every week. I've tried to do that in the past, but I find that I just get bored or things change and the format makes no sense anymore. Some weeks I use paragraphs, others I use bullet points. Sometimes I have headers, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I write project updates, and other times I focus on people. It's just...whatever feels the best each week. And I feel the same way about these blog posts.
So, no whiteboard picture this week. Maybe no whiteboard pictures for a while. I'm still feeling the grocery store pics though.
Recognize that "Good and Gather" brand? That's Target. That's right, I did my grocery shopping at Target because I needed to buy some non-food items and in these COVID times I figured I should limit my shopping trips.
Grocery shopping at Target is terrible. I don't know why anyone would willingly do their grocery shopping here. Also, note to self, never buy ground meat from a tube again.
You might be wondering why I bought a 5 lb bag of potatoes. Well, I wanted to make some beef stew (post to come later!), and yeah, I could have just bought two individual potatoes, but then I thought of other potato possibilities and the lower price per pound and the fact that I bought a single lemon three grocery trips in a row. So here I am now with way too many potatoes.
Even though I said I would limit my shopping trips this week, it just happened to snow way more than I expected it to on Tuesday, and for that reason I decided it was the perfect time to walk a mile to Trader Joe's to buy ice cream.
And I was right! There was no line when I got there. That's practically unheard of during these COVID times.
I'm of the opinion that Trader Joe's isn't a real grocery store (they didn't even have veggie oil!) but their ice cream is 👌 and for that reason I'm forever a
sucker loyal customer. And those mini cones are so good! They're like tiny little drumsticks, but even better!
As far as what I ate this week, I'm also going to ditch the table of my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and just mention some highlights.
It was Chinese New Year and I missed being around family. I didn't even plan to make any Chinese food! But I figured I could eat something Asian and cook some more 腊肉 (lat bhat).
Hey, I really am getting better at this deep frying thing! I didn't overcook the meat this time!
I also had some leftover Dim Sum from last week, and I made some cucumber salad to go along with it. Normally I don't take pictures of food that I didn't make, but the salad looked so sad by itself.
I gotta get back to making more Asian food next week!
If you read the table in my last post closely, you'll notice that I had mac n cheese a few times. As you know, I made a gigantic batch of mac n cheese last Thanksgiving and I still have way too many frozen mac n cheese blocks sitting in a bag. So I decided to fry up some more of these.
I reread my old fried mac n cheese post, and I had suggested to myself to dip the blocks in flour before dipping them in egg. So I tried that this time. Did it make a difference? I have no idea.
But you know what? This deep frying experience was...much less flail-y than I expected it to be. Maybe deep frying food isn't that scary. I just had to not turn the heat up so much. That must be the cause of so much of my cooking anxiety growing up. My mom always insisted on everything being cooked on high heat, but you know what that resulted in? Flying pieces of cabbage and a huge oil burn on my leg.
But not this time. This went surprisingly well.
Normally I would start with a picture of my whiteboard, but there's a ridiculous amount of
photoshopping MS Paint-ing involved to get the image to look the way I want. So, I actually went and re-organized the whiteboard to make it a little easier on me. But you'll have to wait for next week's meal plan post to see it.
I will show you my groceries, though! This week I made shrimp scampi florentine and BBQ chicken pizza, which you already know. I bought ingredients for those meals, and I also bought a few extra things for snacks, like getting chickpeas to make hummus. I spent a little over $30 on groceries.
Well, I impulse bought tilapia. (Frequent readers of this blog should not be surprised.) It was on sale for $6! It's normally $12 for the 2 lb bag! And that was from Giant Eagle, not Aldi. I know, it's always $6 at Aldi. But maybe this brand is better.
Also, Aldi was out of chickpeas! I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Aldi runs out of chickpeas a lot. I really didn't want to make another grocery store trip, so hummus will have to wait until next week. I really should just keep a constant supply of chickpeas like I do with eggs.
If you're wondering why I bought kimchi, it's so I could eat it with some meat that my grandparents prepared while I was visiting them.
My grandpa has the best recipe for both beef jerky and 腊肉. Deep frying things kind of scares me (but not as much as dough does) and I think I overcooked the 腊肉 a little, but it still tasted great.
I also asked several members of my family what 腊肉 (lat bhat) actually translates to. I know 肉 (bhat) means meat but what is 腊 (lat)?! No one was able to tell me! As I was looking things up in a Teochew app, I realized that 腊 is the same 腊 as in 腊肠 (lat chiang) Chinese Sausage. And then I looked this up in the Wiktionary and I learned 腊 basically means dry or dried meat. Now I know.
Okay, Chinese lesson aside, I only cooked two meals this week because I was still going through the leftovers in my freezer. It was my full intention to actually keep track of what I ate this week, but I realized I haven't written down anything since Monday. It was just bagels every morning, while rotating between the scampi, pizza, and leftovers during lunch and dinner.
And I did add pineapples on my leftover slices of pizza. I love leftover pizza. It's the best leftover.