Wednesday, January 22, 2014

joanne chang's hot and sour soup

I know, it's another soup! Feel free to stop reading here if you just can't take any more.  But I just can't help it. I've been down the research rabbit hole lately and the only way I've been able to survive is by making meals that provide me with leftovers that last a few days. Since soup usually improves over a few days, this has been my compromise. 

When I was a kid, my family used to go out for weekend lunches at a Chinese restaurant in Kearny Mesa. It was a tiny place that went through numerous renovations and name-changes over the years but the owners - and the terrific food - stayed the same. I still make a point to go there when I'm back in San Diego over the holidays because it's just that good. My family used to order a big  tureen of the hot and sour soup because everyone loved it. Everyone except me. I found the sourness off-putting and the texture odd. But apparently change is possible because now, years later, I love the stuff.

I'm sure - very sure - that there is excellent Chinese food to be had in or around the Palo Alto area, but I have yet to find a place that has great hot and sour soup. So when I saw this recipe on Food52, I thought I might try it out myself.

Joanne Chang's soup is both hot and sour but lacks some of the viscosity of many other soups of this kind - there is no corn starch in the broth - which I ultimately ended up liking. My soup didn't look as pretty as hers did (the hot sauce floated to the top in mine) but it did taste good. Anyway, it was exceptionally easy to make and I believe it will tide me over until the next time I make it back to San Diego.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

merrill stubbs' lamb stew with butternut squash

This is definitely the time of year for stews and braises. It's chilly here in California (Wunderground is telling me that it is currently 40.7F outside) but that doesn't hold a candle to temperatures in the Midwest and East- the front page of the New York Times trumpets that the temperature has "plummeted to a record 4 degrees" today. Sounds pretty terrible, no?

With the cold post-holiday weather, there's nothing more satisfying than making a pot of something warm and comforting and Merrill Stubbs' lamb stew fits the bill perfectly. I decided to make this after we had friends over for dinner last week and I made a winter risotto that included a bit of butternut squash. Having a lot of leftover squash on my hands, I was looking for a good way to use it up and this seemed like the ticket. I'm not generally a huge fan of butternut squash because so many recipes seem to pair it with sweet things- but lamb with butternut squash is lovely. The mellowness of the squash marries well with the "muskiness" (as Ms. Stubbs terms it) of the lamb, resulting in a tasty, well-balanced stew. It was the perfect dish for a cold winter's eve and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who is feeling chilled to the bones this week. Enjoy!

Since I followed the recipe exactly (though I found that the lamb was totally cooked in 2 hours), I didn't write it out. It can be found here

Sunday, January 5, 2014

two days, tahoe

As a sort of final hurrah before the official end of the holiday season, we spent the weekend in Tahoe. Tahoe is one of those places that's wonderful basically all year round but I was a bit nervous about visiting this time because there was so little snow- so little that I ultimately decided not to even bother bringing my snowboard with me. But Daniel and I decided that we'd rent snow shoes and chance it, which ended up working out beautifully. One New Year's resolution down!

We went with our friends Dave and Lindsay who took us to a good snowshoeing spot, bringing their snow-loving golden retriever along as well.

Alarming though it is that there's been so little snow, I have to admit it was a gorgeous day. We hiked a few miles and then headed in to Truckee for hamburgers and beer. In the afternoon, Daniel and David went fly fishing and afterwards we stopped in at Northstar for an apres-ski (in spite of the lack of skiing) cocktail followed by dinner at Fifty-Fifty back in Truckee.

We ended up heading out fairly early on Sunday (some of us wanted to watch the 49ers/Packers game) but managed to fit in a quick hike beforehand in the Martis Valley area. Really just a nice last escape and a wonderful start to 2014. Hope everyone had a lovely weekend and is looking forward to (or at least not dreading) jumping back into things this next week!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

new year

I have always liked making New Year's resolutions- a new year, a clean slate, a chance to spend some time mulling over what you'd like to do more of (or less of) or try for the very first time. With that in mind, here are a few things I've thought of that I'd like to accomplish in 2014. Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's Eve and wishing you the best for the new year!


  • Go on an overnight backpacking trip
  • Experiment more with my camera
  • Make a souffle
  • Be more generous with everyone, including myself
  • Read The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit)
  • Visit a new state (Louisiana? New Mexico? Texas?)
  • Compost
  • Have dinner at Chez Panisse
  • Learn some basic coding
  • Stop swearing (except where truly appropriate/necessary)
  • Try snow-shoeing 
  • Subscribe to a print magazine
  • Run more
  • Watch The Bicycle Thief
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