Pasta Carbonara


Since our bacon-curing adventure gave us a beautiful chunk of homemade bacon, Nathan and I have started brainstorming all the different ways we can use it. As I mentioned before, our bacon turned out quite salty, so we can’t really eat slices of it for breakfast. But fear not, because as our friend Brian likes to say, everything tastes better with bacon!

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Homemade Bacon

Wow, sorry for the lack of posts in over a month! I’ve been away on three different trips since the middle of May, so you can imagine that doesn’t leave much time for cooking or blogging. The only cooking I got to do while I was away was with Nathan for a double-lasagna dinner for all the relatives in Wyoming, which ended in a smoky kitchen but relatively happy diners. (Hi Mary! Hi Jodi! I forget who else from Wyoming might be reading this – Hello!)

Before Wyoming, I was on this whirlwind tour of China, Singapore, and Taiwan for work. Even though the schedule was literally packed with talks and meetings, I ventured out to eat as much delicious local foods as I could. Perhaps there’ll be a future post about this … although I won’t have any recipes and will thus violate rule #1 of this blog. Before Asia, we went to Banff for our friends’ Brian and Michelle’s beautiful wedding!

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Vegetarian Pot Stickers

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for a long time, but until now, I’ve avoided trying to figure out how to embed a video into a post. Apparently, it’s way easier than I thought, so now it seems silly I waited so long.

If you know me, you probably know that I absolutely love dumplings and have been known to spend hours wrapping them by myself without complaints. When I was growing up in Hong Kong, I was recruited to help wrap wontons every time we made them at home and I prided myself on being fast and efficient. Once I got good enough at wontons – which let’s face it, it’s not that hard because you just sort of bunch the wrapper all together around the meat – I wanted something a little more challenging. So I sat down and tried to figure out how to make pot stickers.

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Olive Oil Orange Cake

Woo woo! Summer’s almost here!! Hello tomatoes! Hello berries and cherries! Hello assorted melons!

I have four trips planned this summer, three of which will be in May and June. First up is Brian and Michelle’s wedding in Banff. Then, a still-tentative trip to Asia to help the organizers of a conference promote said conference at the end of May and start of June. Right after I get back, I immediately head to Wyoming to visit (and meet) a bunch of Nathan’s relatives. Then finally, in August, a trip to Boston for Elio and Anne’s wedding. So if I go MIA for long periods this summer, you’ll know why.

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Mac and Cheese

There are two benefits to getting a sourdough starter going. One: you have a working starter and can bake yummy breads when you like. Two: you can stop talking about the starter all the time. OK, so I cannot guarantee that I won’t post about making bread with the starter again, but hopefully, you’ve seen the last of foamy, frothy starter pictures. And I know at least one of you is happy to hear that!

I’ve been looking around for a good mac and cheese recipe for a while and have even attempted a few. So far, I would say that this recipe, adapted from one by the always-trusty Ina Garten, is the best I’ve tried and will probably be the basis of all my future mac and cheese endeavors. It’s got an excellent bechamel sauce, a decent sauce-to-pasta ratio, and a really crunchy breadcrumb topping.

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Sourdough Loaves

Sourdough Loaves

Finally I’m going to tell you about how I used the Sourdough Starter I started over a month ago!

First off, I have to be honest that I didn’t really think the whole thing would work because it just seemed to me that so many things can go wrong: didn’t use the right amount of flour or water, temperature not optimal, contamination by other yucky organisms, etc etc. I literally thought of every possible thing that could have gone wrong, just to prepare myself to not get disappointed when it failed. But the sourdough gods must have been smiling on me because not only did I manage to get a decent starter going, but the bread that I eventually made with the starter turned out quite good!

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Sourdough Starter: Part 3

Sorry it’s taken me so long to finish the Sourdough Starter saga, but I’ve been busy with various grad school matters, including preparing for a thesis committee meeting. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the details of that and get right to what really matters. And that would be my lovely starter.

In Part 2, we left off at 10.5 days. I had missed the feeding at 10 days due to getting home too late from Nathan’s thesis talk celebration and figured I would wait until the morning (10.5 days) to feed it. The next morning, we were scheduled to leave for an overnight camping/barrel-tasting trip, so I quickly fed the starter and took off for sunny wine country.

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Sourdough Starter: Part 2

Part 2 of the Sourdough Starter saga begins with hope but ends with possible tragedy. Sounds exciting, no? Well, let’s get to it.

If you remember, we left off the story at 3.5 days, after the first feeding. At the end of the 4th day, I fed the starter again, switching to white bread flour this time. I’ve found what works best for me is to first pour all of the starter out into a bowl, which then allows me to rinse off the starter jar well with hot water (to semi-sterilize it) followed by a quick, cool rinse (since we don’t want to kill the yeast). Next, I add in ¼ cup of the old starter and ½ cup of lukewarm water, stir it well with a wooden spoon, dump in about ⅔ cups of bread flour, and stir until the whole thing looks like thick pancake batter. I use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the jar, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and leave the whole thing out on the counter.

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Citrus Tart

Part 2 of the saga that is the Sourdough Starter is forthcoming, I promise. But having just gotten back from a weekend of camping beneath redwoods and barrel tasting at wineries in Russian River Valley — I know, what a tough life I lead — I will instead tell you about one of my favorite dessert recipes. Besides, you probably need a break from looking at pictures with jars of foamy liquids anyway, no?

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Sourdough Starter: Part 1

I have a giant list of projects I keep saying I’ll do one day, but the truth is that list only seems to grow longer and never all that much shorter. Here are a few select items off that list: learn to crochet, make a bunch of pretty origami boxes for strings of Christmas lights (stolen idea after visiting a friend’s house), turn our coffee table into a light-table (joint project with Nathan), etc.

Last Tuesday, in an attempt to cross another thing off The List, I finally decided to stop talking about starting a sourdough starter and actually do it. After sifting (ha! get it?) through my cookbooks, the forums over at The Fresh Loaf and multiple random websites courtesy of Google, however, I was filled with contradictory advice and information. Should I use white flour, wheat flour, or rye flour? How often do I need to feed the starter? Do I need to use bottled water? Can I stir with a metal spoon? Do I need to use a kitchen scale to weigh out everything? Ahhh!

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