FOOOOD. May 4th, 2019: almost officially listed: Regularly updated

I’ve been trying my best to keep busy, with emphasis on activities that really require my focus and wholeheartedly occupy my time.  The main activities have been alternating between cooking, baking or making ice cream, and playing Mario Kart.  I’ve also been somewhat obsessed with tiny house videos on Youtube.   However, my parents are now marathoning Game of Thrones, partly due to peer pressure and curiosity from hearing about it, and partly because my brother managed to get my mom hooked last weekend when she visited him.  Even though she doesn’t approve of the gore and the nudity, the story is just too good to ignore.  So now we are binge-watching when we can, and it’s nice to be invested in something together.  My parents are also amping up on gardening, and full out mulching, buying plants, a gate for the deck, and decorating the backyard.  I guess it’s our way of dealing with all that’s happening and trying to continue living life as well as we can.  I’ve always had to see the doctor about once a week for vaccine updates (hepatitis b, ugh, 6 doses total), and for my weird hives allergy.

Otherwise, I’ve also been reading up on books I’ve saved on my list for awhile now, especially regarding Pulitzer Prize, or New York Times bestsellers.  I don’t know why, but my curiosity with learning more about the Holocaust has now expanded to other war-related topics, such as Iris Chang’s book regarding the Nanjing Massacre and Chinese history in America, and currently I’m reading “Gulag: A History“, which I had no idea was about Russian concentration camps, but it’s weirdly interesting, although appalling to realize this is real history that happened to people.  How can so much suffering exist?  It’s almost like what’s the point of living a life of constant starvation, imprisonment, and fear?

Back to baking and ice cream making, which are the newest and least experienced activity I’ve taken up.  On the plus side, we have fresh desserts all the time now since I make it a point to attempt one recipe per day, or every other day (cooking counts too though).

I’ve made korean cold somen noodles with the sauce and cucumber and eggs, SO GOOD, my fav new dish to eat for the summer.

Baking:

  1.  Matcha Mochiko Cake:  3.8/5, 3.2/5
  2. Matcha mochi with red bean:  3.5/5
  3. Pound cake muffins:  3/5
  4. Sugar cookies:  4.5/5
  5. Golden raisin oatmeal cookies:  4/5
    • criticism:  not bad, not particularly exciting either
  6. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting:  4.5/5  (2x)  
  7. Japanese cheesecake:  3.7/5
  8. Dark chocolate brownies:  3.5/5
  9. Castella cake (Japanese honey cake):  4.3/5  (2x)
    • https://www.justonecookbook.com/castella/
    • criticism:  slightly dry.  brown sugar visuals isn’t as clean as white sugar
    • made twice, second time used white sugar, and also it took 50 minutes, not 35 minutes for my oven.  Leave oven ajar for about 5 minutes.
  10. Jenn’s chocolate chip cookies:  4.6/5
    • criticism:  inconsistency in choco chips, and too few. a couple slightly overbaked
  11. Chocolate Crinkles II:   2.8/5
  12. Japanese cheesecake again:  3.9/5
    • used springform pan this time, better.
    • criticism:  didn’t rise as much as expected, fluffier than first time, but still not fluffy enough- oven temps are possibly too low, and/or took too much time to set up parchment and pan after whipped egg whites.  sides were overgreased, a bit oily/soggy, and flipping it, it fell apart, but overall success.  Would not do 300-250 degrees again.  Try 320-285 degrees instead.
  13. Sopapilla (Mexican cheesecake pie): 3.5/5
  14. Jjinppang (Korean red bean steamed buns): 4/5
    • https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/jjinppang
    • criticism:  didn’t wait 30 min for buns to rise and become fluffier before steaming, did not close buns successfully, flour slightly got dry
    • very ugly but delicious
  15. Scones + Lemon Curd:  4/5, 4.5/5 
  16. Japanese purin custard:  3/5
    • House brand – Instant mix, uses gelatin, which I don’t eat anymore (animal parts)
    • Just doesn’t look that appetizing, yields 3 mini portions; parents liked it though
  17. Chocolate chip cookies: 2/5 
  18. Pumpkin Bread:  4/5
  19. Quiche with Sweet Onion + Sharp Cheddar Cheese:  4/5
  20.   Tres Leche:  4/5
  21.   Cheesecake (Cheesecake Factory recipe):  3.9/5
  22. Pumpkin Pie Squares: 3.9/5
  23. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies IX:  4.5/5
  24. Sour Cream Muffins: 5/5
  25. Crazy Cake:  3/5
    • Brownie-like
    • Added way too much Bru instant coffee
  26. One Bowl Chocolate Cake III: 4/5 
  27. Martina cookies dipped in orange dark chocolate (sprinkled with pareils): 4.5/5
  28. Grand Marnier Souffle: 3.9/5
  29. Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread cookies:  3.9/5
  30. Pinwheel cake:
  31. Almond Jelly:
    • using agar agar

Ice Cream:

  •  Vanilla ice cream with dark choco chips :  A-
  • Matcha ice cream :  C+ 
    • 3 eggs recipe
    • fatty, with 1 cup milk, 2 cup heavy cream
    • criticism:  failed to temper eggs properly, ruined texture.  overhardened from churning inconsistency, and too much matcha (3 tbs).  Also should not use egg whites
  • Mocha ice cream with dark choco chips:   A-
    • 3 egg YOLKS
    • fatty, very rich, custard-like, creamy with 1 cup milk, 2 cups heavy cream
    • criticism:  not enough chocolate flavor, personally too creamy for me, also didn’t like dark chocolate I used
  •  Strawberry ice cream:  A-/A
    • eggless recipe
    • lowfat, with 2 cup milk, 1 cup heavy cream
    • delicious fresh strawberry flavor!  half pureed, half diced
    • criticism:  not creamy consistency enough, slightly icy
  •  Godiva dark chocolate ice cream:  A                                    
    • 6 egg yolks
    • very rich and creamy
    • added cheesecake and toasted almonds
    • criticism:  slightly too heavy for me
  • Badam ice cream:  A
    • eggless
    • 2:1 heavy cream ratio, less icy!
    • added brownies
  • Coffee milk tea ice cream:  B-
  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream:  B
    • eggless
    • mint extract + vanilla extract
    • criticism:  a bit too sweet (1 cup sugar, less than 4 cups ratio… error)
  •   Red bean ice cream:  A+ 
  • Watermelon Sherbet:  B+ 
  • Vanilla Ice cream II :  B-
  • Cookie dough Ice cream Sandwiches:  C+
  • Mango Sorbet:  A-
  • Ube Ice cream:  A-
    • used 1 cup milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tbsp ube extract, about 5 oz. sweet condensed milk ( I eyeballed it)
    • first batch was burned with coconut milk, dumped 😦
    • deliciousss, even though the ube is imitation and a really small bottle. tasted a bit artificial though
  • Straciatella:  A+

    • eggless
    • used Nielsen-Massey vanilla madagascar bean paste
    • low-fat ratio
    • straciatella technique used with melted drizzled belgian dark chocolate
  • Upcoming ice creams:

Other:

  1.  Shakshuka:
  2. Spiced Naan
  3. Onigiri (spicy tuna)
    • made with onigiri molds
    • spicy tuna = canned tuna mixed with japanese mayo and sriracha
    • sushi vinegar + sushi rice
  4. Gingerbread cookies:  3.9/5
  5.  Pumpkin soup:  5/5
  6.   Fresh Garden Tomato soup:  4.5/5 
  7. Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes:  2/5         
  8. Dakjim (korean braised chicken w/ glass noodles):  4/5
  9. Korean fried chicken: 3.9/5
  10. Soy sauce Noodles:  4/5

P.S.  I hate how insurance companies and random coordinators from hospitals call me up whenever, so it’s like I have to work extra hard to stay distracted and occupied with other things.  They could call me at 8am, 10am, 2:30pm, 5:00pm, really now.  And not that I’m exactly “busy busy” but I’m sometimes in the middle of sleeping, or washing dishes, making dinner, or in the bathroom, and I just have to drop everything and set aside 15 minutes or however long to discuss things.  I should be officially listed Monday.  A part of me thinks I’m insane for willingly sending myself in for this kind of surgery, the other part of me can’t wait.

Food for Thought (Literally)

Throughout the years, I’ve been exposed to a lot of things I’ve grown to care about and follow closely.  I used to live in my own bubble, and my life mostly consisted of my parents, my piano, my books, and the internet, most of which I used to casually stalk other people on facebook, and watch korean dramas.  During my high school years was when I started to pay attention to movies and film music and start a notebook.  But it wasn’t until college that I ventured out of my bubble,  became friends with gay people, started reading up on news and politics, and discovered through experience how wrong it was to assume people thought, felt, or processed things the same way I did.  I made friends, drifted apart from friends, and learned how it was normal for shitty things to happen, but that it was still important regardless to retain my empathy and sensitivity in a healthy amount. I’m proud that I’ve decreased my level of ignorance, even though I’m sure there are still tons of things out there I’m not aware of.

And now it’s come to the chapter of post-graduation life.  In the three years since college, I’ve continued to grow by becoming more aware of myself as a person as well as building on my understanding of different issues globally.

  1.  I’ve struggled with my one-foot-in-one-foot-out stance on Christianity
  2.  One of my passions have become following the representation of Asian-Americans across the spectrum of different things, particularly media (shout-out to BTS and Awkwafina in particular this week!)
  3. I’m really disappointed in the Kavanaugh-Ford result this week, and find it harder to have faith in our government in general.  I also need to read up on what the current election situation is.
  4.  I’m now a partial-vegetarian:  I’ve been such for about 2-3 months now. I consciously avoid beef/cow and pig/pork now.  I don’t buy it, and if there were other food options I would choose the alternate food option.  The only time I still eat it is if for example, my mom made pork soup and it’s already been prepared, or if I’m at a friend’s house and it’s rude to refuse.  The reason being, from a moral perspective I’m not sure I could kill a cow or pig unless I had no choice, especially being aware that a pig is smarter than a dog, and dogs are so wonderful and intuitive.  I think I’d be okay killing a chicken or seafood though, so I still eat those.  I also understand why people consume meat, but the food should be treated with respect.  My mom used to lecture me on starving kids in Africa and never to waste food.  It gave me a lot of pressure especially since I had eating problems as a kid, but as an adult, I fully understand what she was getting at.  From my perspective, eat it if you want, but don’t just eat a bite and throw it away nonchalantly.  This is particularly for meat, because an animal did have to be sacrificed for you to fill your stomach.  And because the meat industry is so industrialized, we don’t think about this when we purchase a slab of steak at the supermarket.  That’s really upsetting to me.
  5. Related, but Americans in particular are so wasteful, and our environment is in danger.  We’re all conscious now about global warming and entire ecosystems being tainted with pollution, and polar bears drowning or starving because of us.  I know the problems are so convoluted and big that I can’t change things alone, but I’d like to rid myself of the guilt of adding to the problems.  So some changes I’ve made are to always use my refillable water bottle, and I haven’t touched a plastic bottle in the past 3 months or so.  I’ve been nagging my parents to do the same, which is ironic since my mom used to be the one to nag us.  It’s really easy to grab a plastic water bottle on the go, but in my opinion, those are there for exceptions, such as emergencies, or for a guest in need.  You don’t need a plastic bottle to use at home.  I also have been trying to put leftovers in containers so we use less plastic wrap.  We have a semi-compost situation where we throw our rotted vegetables and egg shells in a separate bin.  My next step is to buy a refillable bubble tea container, or at least a silicone or glass straw.
  6. I need to organize my clothes and Marie Kondo the old clothes that do nothing for me.
  7. Some mistakes have happened at work this past week, but not even knowing if those mistakes came from me or something else made me realize I needed to have a talk with my boss about receiving additional training.  I needed to understand from a holistic perspective about the company, and he wholeheartedly agreed and supported my thoughts.  My co-workers encouraged me to stand up for myself and have that discussion, so I feel grateful and proud of myself for again, venturing out of my comfort zone.

I guess life consists a lot about making choices that you’re comfortable with.  I can’t keep focusing on upsetting thoughts like where my potential life could be at if I wasn’t held back by my illness.  Even though there are an infinite amount of things happening around me that are terrible, I feel a bit better in the knowledge that I am trying my best to do my part to make a difference, even if it’s just a tiny bit.  At least I can live with myself, knowing I have no regrets, that I don’t have guilt in my hypocrisy, and that I continue to push through, admit to my mistakes and grow.  That’s what’s most important to me these days.

Attempting to Make a Korean Dinner Pt. 5

I followed this recipe to make buldak, aka fire chicken!  It’s a popular dish that I’ve seen on Youtube mukbangs and also on some select menus at korean restaurants.  It’s always piqued my interest, and I wondered what it tasted like, especially with a combination of mozzarella cheese on top. Turns out, it tastes amazing.  I followed Maangchi’s recipe here:

https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/buldak

28208336_10156246513673960_898021416_oFirst of all, the sauce that Maangchi gives is DELICIOUS:  sweet, tangy, spicy.  Also very simple to whip up, although very messy particularly with the vivid bright red color. It also took a long time to control the cooking and baking of the chicken, especially since I had to use what was in my fridge, which was chicken drumsticks instead of 1-inch breast.  I’d say I spent total around 50 minutes in the pan and also in the mini oven.  I also added a bit more water to let it simmer longer, but it could have used a bit more time actually.

In addition, I found mini rice cakes and went ahead and boiled that and threw it in there on top after rinsing in cold water.  Lastly, topped it all off with a generous heap of mozzarella cheese to toast and melt.  The combo is very interesting and surprisingly delicious!   I’d def crave this dish again!  There’s a few more drumsticks marinating in the fridge as I just couldn’t fit anymore into the pan.  This yields 8 drumsticks, and we ate it over plain white rice.  My family enjoyed it very much!  Maangchi is great.

Tomorrow, Korean green onion and seafood pancake time.  My mom also wants me to make Japchae again.  I may also attempt to make korean fried chicken, and red bean buns too next week since my mom loves those.  We’ll see.


P.S.  I was disappointed because my friends are all out in NYC and Jersey City celebrating their birthday, and I couldn’t join, partially because it’s too much walking and cold, and it’s also snowing.  But, as I’ve had to learn many times over, you gotta try to make the best of what you have through your disappointment and try to still do what you can.  It still turned out not a bad Saturday, and I still feel like I can go to bed having accomplished something productive and new.

Attempting to Make A Korean Dinner Pt. 3

My chopping and mincing skills are getting better I noticed! Regardless, I roughly followed Maangchi’s recipe for japchae and it still took me a long ass time to prep everything.  I had to utilize 1 pot, 2 pans, 2 chopping boards, and prep 9 different components of veggies for my japchae cause I’m greedy.  It was fun though, and the result was quite delicious! My parents seemed to genuinely enjoy it which made me happy ^_^

Yields 4-5 generous servings

Ingredients:

(All medium heat unless otherwise specified)

-1/2 bunch of enoki mushrooms (20-30 sec. cooking time)

-1/3 lb beansprouts (20 min. boiled with cover on –> idk why so long but Maangchi said so)

– 1 egg, yolk + white separated (matchsticks)

-5 green onions (2-inch chopped, 40 sec. cooking time)

-1 generous handfuls of baby spinach (30 sec. blanched)

-1/2 cucumber (matchsticks, 20 sec. cooking time)

-1/2 onion (fat matchsticks, 2 min. cooking time)

-1 red bell pepper (matchsticks, 20-30 sec. cooking time)

-1 carrot (matchsticks, 30 sec. cooking time)

-1.5 cloves raw garlic, 1.5 cooked garlic

-16-20 shrimp, deveined (1 min. cooking time maybe, or whenever color has turned orange immediately)

-1/2 lb. japchae (boiled for 8 min, taste test)

-adjust soy sauce and sesame oil, roughly 2-2.5 tbsp each, 1 tbsp sugar

-sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on top


Other mini accomplishments for today:  Used up my spoons on folding laundry and cooking.  Tomorrow will be gym, data science, cooking bibimbap, wash hair.  Hopefully I won’t run out!