Thursday, August 31, 2006

Green bean salad

Now here's a simple one. You can do it in the microwave.

You need:
Green string beans. (I get the foot-and-a-half long, really dark green ones from the Chinese market. I got no idea what they're called. I guess any will do though.)
Peanut butter
Soy sauce (I use Chinese dark soy. Japanese cooking soy is too sour.)
Toasted sesame seeds (Optional. I make these in advance and keep them in a jar.)

1. Wash and break the green beans into 2 inch segments.
2. Put the beans in a big bowl, add a bit of water in the bottom, cover with a plate and nuke on high for 3 or 4 minutes.
3. Pour off a little of the now hot water into a smaller bowl, drain the rest. Run the beans under the cold tap.
4. Melt a small dollop of peanut butter in the hot water. Add an amount of soy sauce equal to the amount of water in your bowl, a couple pinches of sugar, and the sesame seeds. You may have to fudge with the proportions a little. You're going for not too salty, not too sweet, not too bland. It should taste good on its own. Pour it on the beans.
5. Put in fridge until cold.

I read on some website that you should bruise the beans with the back of a knife first to speed their absorption of the dressing. But leaving it in the fridge for an hour accomplishes the same thing.

Incidentally, the same sauce goes pretty good on noodles.

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Food at 8/31/2006 10:53:00 AM

Greatest Fish Ever

We got one of those mini toaster ovens with an adjustible temperature setting so now I can bake! yay! My digicam power cable's gone missing, so I don't have any photos, but I devised a really awesome way to bake fish last night. This is without a doubt the best fish I've ever made. It's like the typical Cantonese steamed fish with ginger and scallions, but with a twist. Best thing about it is that you don't even need to add any oil since you seal the moisture in with aluminium foil.

1 largish sole fillet (I guess any fish fillet will do, but I like sole. It stays soft and flaky and it's hard to screw up. Also, it's cheap. And most likely environmentally sound to eat. What more could you ask of a fish?)
1 scallion, chopped
A handful of chopped coriander
2 slices of ginger, chopped finely
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (Chinese)
1 tablespoon lemon juice*
2 teaspoons Tianjiang You. That's a really unusual sweet soy sauce. It tastes almost like pancake syrup. Bought it by accident, now use it for glazing meat. I guess honey's a good substitute.

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius (390 F).
2. Place fish fillet on a large piece of aluminium foil in a baking dish.
3. Spread the ginger, scallions and coriander on top of the fish.
4. Drizzle the lemon juice and soy sauce on top of the fish.
5. Dribble the Tianjiang You evenly over the fish.
6. Take up the corners of the foil and wrap the fish, sealing all the juices and seasonings inside the package.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until white and opaque.

* I used that fake lemon juice you buy in little bottles at the supermarket. It's not very sour. I suggest using less if you squeeze real lemons.

(Question for Lana: If I find a recipe in the book, but then modify it, can I post it up on this blog? Or is that still copyright infringement? No, it's not this one. It's for sponge cake.)

Posted by Kea to Bumbling Bees - Food at 8/31/2006 10:15:00 AM

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hidden Treasure

I've been so busy - and so tired - lately that I haven't had the time or energy to do much knitting. I've been working 40 hours a week at my day job, and another 10 to 16 hours at night at a restaurant. Thank God I quit the restaurant job (conflicts with one of the managers - a woman), and since the semester is starting soon I've finished up my temporary assignment at my day job, too.

Today was graduate student orientation for the Biology department. Tomorrow, all day long, will be the general graduate student orientation. Then, Friday morning, will be the first TA meeting for the introductory biology course I'm going to be a TA for.

But it feels good to be going back to school. I was in such a positive mood that I decided to try and locate some local yarn shops, something I've been meaning to do since I moved up here in April. Well, the first one I couldn't find, after driving around for half an hour.

The second address I had was for Eastside Weavers, in Troy, NY. The directions were simple enough, but they landed me at a little dead-end street in front of a huge house with a lovely garden, and no signage at all. I didn't want to assault unwitting homeowners with, "Do you sell yarn?" so I was hesitant to try the doorbell. Not a person in sight to ask, either.

Then I noticed a "Come In, We're Open" sign on the garage door. I finally plucked up the courage to ring on the doorbell. I was about to leave when an elderly gentleman opened the door. As he was telling me, "She'll be right with you," the garage door started sliding upwards, and rows and rows of colour greeted my eyes. Yes, I had definitely found it.

Pat Bohrer - who, dyes her own rovings and yarns, spins, weaves and paints silk scarves - taught herself to spin almost 16 years ago. She went to a fiber festival where she saw someone spinning, and wanted to learn. Then her husband bought her a spindle for Christmas, and the rest is history.

Lining the walls of the garage and basement of the house, she has cottons and cotton blends, wools, alpacas, silks and even the hunk of wonder I bought, camel!!! Well, it's a 50% silk, 50% camel laceweight yarn in lovely shades of purple and grey. And Pat is so kind; she took me on a tour of her house to see her looms, and let me play (i.e. try to spin) with a drop spindle while she wound up the yarn into a centre-pull ball for me!

I'm hoping to squeeze out some time in between classes, TA-ing and research to learn how to spin, because Pat offers lessons. This yarn is so special (and a birthday gift to myself), I'm going to have to be on the lookout for an interesting shawl pattern to do it justice. I'm thinking I'll go look at A Gathering of Lace again; I seem to remember them having some spectacular patterns. There's almost 1600 yards in this ball, which should be enough for most shawl projects.

I have tried out a couple of interesting recipes lately, so stay tuned for that!

Posted by Lana to Bumbling Bees - Girls with Purls at 8/30/2006 08:34:00 PM

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hummous recipe

In search of healthy foods, Boyfriend and I decided try making our own hummous. This is because it costs something ridiculous in Hong Kong, so it's actually cheaper to make it ourselves. I also like to be able to control what goes in it. I like a stronger tasting hummous than most people as I don't like the taste of plain chickpeas all that much. Here's a recipe we made up:

1 can 'o chickpeas.
1 tomato
1/2 a bell pepper (or 1/4 red and 1/4 green)
2 cloves garlic
Basil/Italian spices to taste
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon crushed toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons medium spicy salsa

1. Chop the vegetables into chunks
2. Drain 2/3 of the liquid out of the can of chickpeas, save the rest.
3. Put chickpeas, liquid, and olive oil into the blender and blend until mashed.
4. Bit by bit, add the veggies, garlic, and seasonings to the blender until everything is all pulped and mixed together.

Okay, I thought the salsa would be weird. Boyfriend suggested it. But I tried it, and I swear it's good. It gives the hummous a slight tangy kick. It's also a bit of a pain to toast and crush the sesame seeds, but it's well worth it. I like to do a whole bunch in one go and store them in a jar. They're good on noodles, too.

It's probably easier to use a food processor, but I don't have one. My blender can handle it if I add the ingredients bit by bit and put it on a low setting. Sometimes things get stuck and I have to stop it and give the pitcher a bit of a shake.