Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

It's weird, normally the fourth Wednesday afternoon in November is a really exciting time. Oh the schoolday buzz of rushing out of school and hopping in the car to drive (through bumper to bumper traffic) to either Phoenix or Moraga to see the grandparents. But I finished work, dodged a couple complaining students and headed home to an empty house (M's on her way home from the airport).

But there is some anticipation too, since we were able to get our hands on a good ol' American turkey. Our small group is crazy enough to attempt all the fixin's too. Cooking a 14 pound turkey, who we've named Kanye (since he's the biggest turkey I know), in an oversized toaster oven should be exciting. We'll let you know how it turns out.

On a random note, I discovered a street vendor outside our house who makes chow mein and chow fun to order. For less than $1. So awesome.

And by way of plug, we're not sure how many of our readers are Beijingers like us, but we wanted to spread the word about the coolest thing in Beijing:

On Demand Pie Delivery Service from the Pie House

Basically, one of our friends is starting a pie baking business. If you live near enough, you can call and have a pie within like 5 hours. That's just freaking awesome. These pies are tasty too, head on over to their site and take a look at those bad boys. So anyway, if you're in town and need a pie in a few hours, who you gonna call?

Saturday, November 21, 2009


So, I've decided that this is as good a time as any to break my blogging hiatus. Why? Because I'm in Taipei (to see my parents), and I don't even have to use the VPN to post on our blog! Whoohoo!

I am also extremely full right now. I stepped off the bus from the airport, dropped off my luggage, and was quickly ushered into a hot pot restaurant that was deeelicious.

Then, four hours later, I found myself having some of the best Thai food I've had in AGES (since, you know, I have lived in Ann Arbor and then Beijing for the past 2+ years...not exactly Thai food meccas).

In those between hours, we walked around the area we're staying in and passed by dozens of places I would want to try... and my dad and I were plotting to not eat too much at dinner so we could come out late at night for noodles at a streetside shop that had us salivating. But that plan failed as soon as the platter of fried shrimp cakes was lowered before my unsuspecting, slightly rotund face at Sukho Thai. Foiled again! Oh well. We'll have to fit the noodles in somewhere. Like in the third stomach I feel my body developing in that lame, unnecessary space between my spleen and pancreas.

Too bad I didn't think to bring my camera cable, so I can't show you pictures of my day here so far. Maybe next time.

Right now, the woman we're staying with is watching that creepy and horrible (15% on Rotten Tomatoes?) Halle Berry flick, Gothika, which appears to be missing its dialogue track, which makes it extra horrible and creepy. That is another reason I've decided to post on this distract myself from otherwise setting off an unfortunate chain of events wherein I end up wetting the bed.

Oh also, part of the reason I titled this post thusly is because just before I left for Taiwan, I sent off the COMPLETED draft of my Thesis ('Are you STILL working on that?') and the forms for my readers to fill out. Now all I have to do is cram and try to get a 5 on the HSK... Do you think I can pull that off if I try to ace the listening and fill-in-the-blank stuff, do mediocre on the reading, and just bomb the writing? Your opinion matters to us. Please wait until the next available associate can take your call.

Sorry this was so random. Too much pressure. And not enough sleep.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thank Goodness It's Fryday

M and I have this not-so-secret dream to start food and/or travel blogs. Which we know sounds kind of lame, since just about everyone else I know dreams of making money from eating and traveling. And the blogosphere is inundated with people who think they are some combination of the following: foodie, good writer, good photographer, good cook. I'm actually only so arrogant as to believe two of those. Nevertheless, we have a bunch of food posts we've been saving up from all the rando stuff we've been making lately. So sit back and enjoy.

The first off is a tradition that goes all the way back to Creston House in Berkeley. Eddy and I made some deep fried sesame balls for Chinese New Year a couple years back, and we didn't want to waste the oil, so we decided to have a Thank Goodness It's Fryday party and fry up some chicken in our extra oil. I love me a good fried chicken. The awesomeness of the idea was further confirmed the following day by a full write-up in the SF Chronicle on how to fry up the tastiest fried chicken. Eddy won the hero award for carving up a total of something like 8 whole chickens. TGIF's breakout success led me to register for a deep fryer when M and I were getting married. And we are very grateful to M's second-cousin-once-removed for gifting it to us. Suffice it to say that the first year we were married, M and I gained a lot of weight.

So when we moved here to Beijing, I was very sad to leave my trusty fryer and the multitude of accessories and gadgets that made it possible. I'm realizing now that part of the reason M and I had such a rough year last year was because we didn't really have an outlet to cook at our tiny studio apartment (which mostly meant we just weren't willing to purchase the stuff we needed because we thought we were staying less than a year). We'd actually end up going over to a friend's house to cook and make a mess; the poor things must have wondered why we were such over-achievers.

So I'm sure you can imagine the abounding joy I experienced when our friends here pooled together for my birthday and bought me a frying kit:

Rather than the cheater electronic fryer I had home, I'd have to get back to my roots and fry up the goods with an aluminum fry pot, basket, and thermometer. Our friends were super generous and rather than buying a rusty wok and a camping stove, like most of the street vendors use to fry up their endless stinky tofu), they went to Pantry Magic. For Beijing prices, Pantry Magic is a little pricey, but these are seriously high quality goods here. M and I can't resist wandering in there whenever we're in the area; it's actually a pretty painful experience because we walk through the store and point out all the stuff that was on our wedding registry and is now in storage back in the States. Oh the pain.

But I digress. After a couple test runs with the fry pot, I was ready to kick off my first International TGIF Party. I wasn't really up to finding a whole chicken to fry (especially since M and I got used to frying up Amish chickens while we were in Ann Arbor. I doubted I could find them here), so I diddled around on the net for some recipes, and finally settled on Wings, Rings, and the requisite fries, for which I usually combine recipes from Alton Brown and America's Test Kitchen. M thought I was crazy because I invited way more people than this little pot should be able to cook for, and she had to go out to her internship studio for a film festival during the day, so I'd be sous-chef-less for the day. Thankfully a few friends were able to come over early to help out, otherwise I would have bitten off way more than I could chew!

I told some people to bring salads so we didn't die that night.

Here are the onion rings, pre-gloriousness:

Brian Chew had the freaking brilliant idea of making a blooming onion. Hellooo! Why didn't I think of that earlier? So he ran downstairs to find the biggest onions he could find:

And subsequently proved that if you want to attract the ladies, all you need is to batter and deep fry a gigantic onion. Notice the creepy dude skulking in the background? He's jealous of the magnetic power of the blooming onion and is plotting to steal it and take over the world.

At this point, I'd like to point out that sometimes there are moments in our lives where we accomplish something so great, so revolutionary, that we realize we've finally 'made it'. Making this blooming onion was one such moment. Of course, Marissa's homemade roasted red pepper aioli definitely helped with the euphoria.

I don't have any sweet pictures of the wings; mostly because they kept disappearing the moment we set them down anywhere. That and whenever we thought of it, our hands always had sauce on them from nibbling on the wings. Thankfully CC had the presence of mind to wash her hands and snap a few shots. Here's an action one for you:

We went with a garlic tabasco buffalo sauce and a tequila barbecue sauce. I believe (the aptly named) Mr. Chew has here the garlic tabasco kind.

Things were getting late, but we had one more trick up our sleeve:

Good donuts are so hard to come by in Beijing. So we finally got fed up and decided to make our own, courtesy of Allrecipes.

We ended up with chocolate glazed, cinnamon-sugar, and powdered donuts. These were tasty little guys and a fantastic end to a wild high-calorie night. The next time I make them, I'll have to be careful with the flour ratios, though, because they were pretty dense. I've seen some recipes for Krispy Kreme textures, so I might just have to try those next time.

All told, we spent over 8 hours frying together: the wings of 50 chickens, several potatoes, three large onions, two humongous onions, and 4 dozen donuts. Another smashingly successful TGIF.

Anyway, I'm sorry I wrote such an epic-poem of a write-up. I promise not every food post will be this involved.