Life is pretty good right now.
Work has been relaxing, but productive. Summer is approaching and I'm not getting anxious about it. I'm still cooking, but I'm doing it for fun--planning out one dish at a time, going to the grocery store four times a week, buying just the amount that I need, and not worrying about how much money I'm spending.
I planned to write a post like three weeks ago, but I bought a new laptop, and I had to put that together, and then I had to figure out how to move over all the code for this blog onto the new laptop.
But I did it! And now I have some food photos to share (:
I was at Aldi and I saw that their ground pork had $1 OFF stickers on them, and I learned that seafood and ice cream are not the only things I impulsively buy. It was one pound, so I used a tiny amount of it for some stir fry and saved the rest for dumplings.
It had been a while since I made dumplings, so I wanted to put my not-yet-published dumpling recipe to the test. I decided to buy thicker wrappers this time so I could try using the leftovers for scallion pancakes. I think I prefer the thinner ones though. And it turns out I pretty much used exactly one pack of dumpling wrappers for this, so I really could have just bought one pack of thin wrappers and one pack of thick wrappers.
...but I'll get back to the wrappers later. I think I spent about two hours prepping and wrapping and cooking, and probably another hour eating and cleaning. Yup. That was a Tuesday night. You may think that three hours spent on dinner is way too much time, but it was relaxing and it was delicious.
A few days later, I made the scallion pancakes at my friend's house. My original plan was to make them with her, but she was busy with work, so I did basically everything except make the dumpling sauce. Not quite as time consuming as dumplings, but still pretty time consuming. I really enjoyed it though. There is something so nice about working with your hands and being in motion and not having to think or stare at screens. And then I have something I can eat as a result!
The thicker dumpling wrappers were definitely a good choice for these. I thought they were delicious, and my friend thought they tasted pretty good too. I'll have to make these more often.
If I had the time and energy, I think I'd spend three hours cooking every day.
I feel like I cooked so much this week, and yet didn't cook enough at the same time. This must have been why I took a break from the blog for so many months.
So, the good thing about this Creamy Mushroom Herb Pasta was that it was easy to make and tasted good. The bad thing is that it's pasta, and pasta leftovers are not great. 5/5 right after I finished cooking, 2/5 the next day. It definitely had a different texture after reheating. Less creamy, more...sticky? It also kind of lost some flavor, so I was sprinkling some garlic salt on it when I ate the leftovers.
I had actually bought those mushrooms to put in a green bean casserole, but you know I got sick of Thanksgiving food, so I never ended up getting to it. However, the sauce for this basically tasted like a more refined cream of mushroom. So it was like I ate green bean casserole without green beans. Which is...a little disappointing when you think of it that way.
I also totally forgot that I had thyme in my freezer, and I used dried thyme instead. Missed opportunity there. Will I make this again? Maybe. Maybe if I just happen to have all the ingredients for it, which is what happened this time.
I think this okonomiyaki turned out a little better than the pasta though. I actually think the pasta tastes better right after cooking, but these pancakes held up better as leftovers. But maybe that's just because I reheated it in the pan. I didn't give the pasta the same treatment.
My sister made okonomiyaki earlier this year, but she used a much more authentic recipe than the Budget Bytes one. I am not at her level, so making a Japanese dish from an American blogger is more at the level I can handle. I did make the okonomiyaki sauce from Just One Cookbook though. I also put shrimp in these! (I know you can't tell from the pictures)
Pancakes from a box are already a lot of work, so making these cabbage pancakes was a little draining. It's just so time consuming when you have to cook them one at a time. I don't think I quite got the hang of it. Why do pancakes always look nice on one side but bad on the other? I think I was hoping it would turn out a little crisipier, but it still ended up tasting good.
Finally, I made some candied bacon. I've done this once before, and I think it turned out better the last time. I think I need to make sure I'm really applying pressure on the bacon while it's cooking. I also used thick cut this time and that probably added to the cooking time.
But candied bacon is always delicious, whether that's right out of the oven, or eaten the next day.
So I've been verybusy at work lately, which is why I haven't posted an update in a while. When I start working on a project at work my mind is just in this "I NEED TO FINISH THIS" mode and I can't work on other things. Anyway, I've found a stopping point, so it's time to catch up on blog posts.
Day 24 (Saturday): I have decided to take inventory of all my food. That's right. Everything in my kitchen.
I had already been doing this, but I finally took inventory of my herbs, spices, sauces, etc. Yes, this is what I stare at every day when I decide what to cook and what leftover to eat for breakfast or lunch.
Before I get to the dinner portion of this, check out this super aesthetic coffee my sister made.
So tonight's dinner was Nam Sod (Thai pork salad). I had about a pound of ground pork sitting in the freezer, but what I really needed to use up were some super sad looking limes.
We ate it both with rice and in lettuce wraps. I thought it was great, though my sister prefers something sweeter. Adding some Thai basil would have made this even better though!
Day 25 (Sunday): We decide to go grocery shopping. On a Sunday. But we didn't think about what Sunday it is. EASTER. That's right, all the stores are closed except Whole Foods. And Whole Foods has a line that wraps around the building. We decide to head back home. We'll survive.
Since we have about half a head of cabbage in the fridge, we decide to make Okonomiyaki. It was delicious. We also had some green beans that seemed like they were going to go bad soon, so we fried those up as well. Of course at this point we're starting to struggle a little with what ingredients we had left. We used up the rest of our eggs for this meal!
Day 26 (Monday): We also wanted to go grocery shopping this day, but for some reason my stomach wasn't feeling so great, so we stayed home again. It's okay. We had some salmon in the freezer and some broccoli in the fridge so we made a quick meal out of that.
Unfortunately I didn't let the salmon thaw all the way before putting it under the broiler so that was a bit of a struggle to get it cooked completely. I'm still learning how to use that broiler properly. But the rub we added to the salmon was great, and the meal overall was delicious.
At this point, we were out of garlic, soy sauce, milk, fruit...we absolutely needed a grocery trip.
So, my sister's school got canceled for who knows how long, which means she's back with me! And since she's back, you know what that means. We make lots of food and take lots of pictures.
So, when we got home we went grocery shopping, and my mom told us to buy two week's worth of groceries. So we bought a lot of food. But, there is zero chance that we managed to get enough for two weeks. I don't even think we bought enough food for one week. We went through a whole pound of broccoli in one meal!
We're trying really hard to not go grocery shopping again until all our veggies are used up. I think we can last a couple more days. Maybe. But I will not sacrifice healthy, well-balanced meals for this. I know eating veggies with dip might seem like a weird thing to have for lunch, but look at the different flavors! I have all the food groups represented. And I can use up my whole thing of celery, which is great because I don't really like celery.
And we bought so much fruit! Which is crazy for me, since I don't really like fruit that much. But my sister can turn that fruit into delicious smoothies, and I love smoothies.
Of course this means we have to be a little creative. Out of limes? Let's use lemons instead. Out of cilantro? What else do I have that's green? Have the wrong kind of cheese? Doesn't matter, I'll just use what I have.
Yes, I made tacos and replaced limes with lemons, green onion with cilantro, and queso fresco with feta. And it was better than any other taco from a hipster restaurant that I've ever had.
Yeah, we're now officially out of fresh green things to use as garnish. Lesson learned? Buy way way way more vegetables next time.
I'm not really a huge fan of yellow squash. It just reminds me of college cafeteria vegetables because for some reason "mixed veggies" always meant a bunch of sauteed diced squash. But I saw a recipe for Summer Squash and Chive Pancakes on Skinnytaste, which sounded cool since I could just turn the squash into something that doesn't resemble it at all. I didn't actually have chives, but I always have green onions stocked, so I just subbed that in.
No matter how many times I make pancakes, the first pancake in a batch never seems to turn out right. I think I get impatient and don't wait for the pan to fully heat up. And then I try to flip it, and it completely falls apart.
I don't know what it is about "fake" pancakes, but they always taste like egg to me! My aunt used to make paleo pancakes, and all I could taste was the egg. I put exactly one egg in this batch, and if I didn't know what ingredients were in this, I would just call it scrambled eggs. They tasted just like scrambled eggs with chive that my family makes. I feel like there's a genius idea somewhere for making vegan scrambled eggs using yellow squash. But...I'm not vegan so I'll never think about that again.
You'd think I would love this, because I love eggs, but egg-y pancakes just taste like overcooked scrambled eggs to me, and I think overcooking the egg completely ruins the texture and flavor. And yet, these pancakes were incredibly liquid-y on the inside. Even if I kept it on the stove for 10 minutes, it was still liquid-y. So this was just weirdly undercooked and overcooked at the same time. I think it might be better to roast the squash instead of boiling it.
I threw sour cream, feta, and cilantro on top to make this more palatable to me (and also to possibly make it look prettier?). I'm sure the flavor profile is all wrong, but it made it seem less like eggs, so I thought it tasted decent at the end. My sister liked it on its own though!
Not sure if I'll ever make this again. Pancakes are way too much work.