This year I received the adult/blogging equivalent of that homemade Valentine’s just you know someone’s crafty mom had worked all night to make perfect. An invite to participate and share recipes from bloggers all over the world for our best Valentine’s Day recipes. Organized by the super talented Laurence Makano (check out her strawberry pancakes below), all twelve of us came up with what we thought to be the best of our arsenal for showing love. Check it out below and follow the links to your newest Valentine’s inspiration. Continue Reading…
Top 5 Reasons to Buy a Pressure Cooker
- 9-minute chicken legs, need I say more? Seriously, the speed of the pressure cooker is mindboggling.
- Close to no evaporation. No evaporation = fewer lost nutrients.* (updated 3/8/17 as a result of better research)
- No-soak beans are super easy in the pressure cooker.
- Super tender braises, stews, and soups in a fraction of the time of other methods.
- Pressure cooker cheesecake. I know I mentioned it before and I haven’t made it yet, but I’ve had others make it for me.
To wrap up the series, I’m going to share a roundup of all of our pressure cooker recipes to date. Hopefully, you find something new to try! Continue Reading…
What are you doing for Valentine’s day?
We initially didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but suddenly I saw a cute blog post about an idea for Valentine’s day. Next thing you know, I’m buying gifts and making arts & crafts. Damn you, Pinterest! Naturally, this means I also started thinking food. There is nothing better than a decadent, boozy French beef stew, ala Boeuf Bourguignon, for a romantic evening. In initial testing for this recipe, the husband confirmed this.
Pressure Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon
I’m going to give you instructions for both a slow cooker and a pressure cooker boeuf bourguignon, but I’ll give you a tip: they’re nearly the same. I first starting making boeuf bourguignon (the French name for the same dish known as beef burgundy) after receiving a copy of America’s Test Kitchen 2001-2013 seasons cookbook. In it, they had a recipe for a slow cooker version that was pure genius. Continue Reading…
Chinese New Year meal – top left: noodles with meat and veggies; top right: steamed dumplings; bottom: mian bao, steamed and then fried dough with sweet condensed milk
The husband hasn’t celebrated Chinese New Year in a long time, but the last two years I wanted to celebrate it with him. So far, we’ve only eaten out. I’m too intimidated by the preparation of such a grand feast to do it myself.
Pressure Cooker Mongolian Beef
Our first year together, I asked to celebrate Chinese New Year with the then-boyfriend. We weren’t really sure where to go or what to do, so I searched Chinese New Year in our city. It turns out that P.F. Chang’s was having an affordable deal for the holiday. He laughed, said it was somehow symbolic of his background and we went. It was delicious! One of the dishes we had was a Mongolian beef that he really enjoyed. This pressure cooker version is our copycat version. Continue Reading…
3 surprising uses for your pressure cooker
We absolutely hate clutter in our household. In fact, just last night I had a nightmare revolving around clutter. So, of course, we also hate one-use products. When I first got into sous vide, I set out to prove to myself that it can do so much more than just cook a good piece of salmon or steak. Luckily, pressure cookers carry their weight in the kitchen, and not just the aforementioned Instant Pot.
All pressure cookers are capable of being multitaskers and don’t feel limited to just doing braises. Here are our favorite uses for the pressure cooker:
- Cooking dried beans without the usual 12-hour presoaking.
- Throw away your rice cooker…unless you have a Zojirushi. Pressure cookers make wonderful rice cookers.
- Pressure cooker cheesecake, anyone?
The Pressure Cooker: Just Another Trend
Or is it? For what feels like decades the hot kitchen gadget has been the slow cooker. And why not?! The slow cooker has been every busy adult’s saving grace by basically giving us another hand in the kitchen. Just throw some ingredients into a pot in the morning and dinner is ready by the evening. However, the slow cooker has had some misgivings. 1. It’s slow. Yeah, that’s kind of the point, but sometimes we haven’t planned a meal. Sometimes we need something we can pick up on the way home from work or school and throw together–quickly–to feed our families; 2. not all models of slow cookers are created equally which sometimes leads to failure via too much evaporation of cooking liquid or, even worse, burning of dinner; and 3. all that evaporation = loss of valuable nutrients.
This is where the pressure cooker comes in. Pressure cookers work magic by trapping in the moisture in your food via a very tight seal. Since the moisture, or more accurately, water can’t leave, it’s forced to stay inside the pot as the heat rises and the water molecules get very excited building up heat. This brings the temperature in the pressure cooker to skyrocket beyond the boiling point even within the food itself. Because of all this, pressure cookers are one of the fastest methods for cooking out there. Imagine an 8-hour braise taking just 20 minutes or less. The science behind pressure cookers is not as simple as all of that, but that’s the general idea of them.
The modern marvel: the Instant Pot
And, if you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of the Instant Pot, the multitasker electric pot that has a resume of skills most of us can’t boast. In fact, NPR just ran a piece on the sudden rise of popularity of this new kitchen gadget. For full disclaimer, I don’t own one of these and honestly, don’t know that I would. I wouldn’t tell this to Instant Pot fans, though–they recently tore into America’s Test Kitchen for giving it a meh review on Facebook (I can’t find the thread, or else I’d link it for your viewing pleasure). But I have been cooking with a pressure cooker for years and definitely can tell you it is worth the hype.
Just don’t take grandma’s secondhand one. These things haven’t always been perfectly safe.
But first…about balancing school and work
The new semester has started, which means my time has become a little more pressed. As you may recall, I’m taking a full-time schedule this semester. This is on top of my full-time work schedule. I’m trying to find some way — any way — to fit more hours into the day. I’ve failed. However, what I have done is found ways to be more efficient in other areas of my life. So far, these are the things that have saved me the most time and hassle: Continue Reading…
All Under Heaven: The many cuisines of China
I bought this book after searching for a resource for Northeastern Chinese cuisine. In a country as large as China with climates that vary wildly, the cuisine of the Chinese is far from homogenous. All Under Heaven is the only cookbook I found which included this oft-overlooked region of Chinese cuisine. In fact, it purports to have recipes from all 35 cuisines of China. Obviously, this is an ambitious project and I am not qualified to speak to how close she comes to properly addressing these cuisines. However, I can say that the husband and my in-laws agree it’s probably the best they’ve seen.
Going through the recipes, my husband repeatedly would stop me, excited to see some dish he remembers (names of the dishes are in both English and Mandarin).
All Under Heaven: Structure of the Book
Phillips divides her book into 5 regions of China. She also includes a section on Fundamentals, where she gives in-depth coverage to basic recipes, techniques, and suggested menus. Any novice to Chinese cooking should start in this section, which is near the end of the book. Continue Reading…
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5 Helpful Phrases in Arabic/French to Know
The two most common languages in Morocco are Arabic and French, although many are conversationally fluent in English and Spanish, too. The husband knew a few phrases in Arabic and understands French (he went to school in Canada). However, I came in somewhat ignorant of Arabic and only know the common French phrases (Bonjour, Merci, etc.). Here are the top phrases I ended up learning and finding most useful:
- Shukran/Merci (Arabic/French) – This means “thank you.” Even if you flub it a little, this one word will score you points with the locals.
- La (Arabic) – Meaning “no,” this is a must to know when going through the souks. La, Shukran was our most used phrase as the merchants are so persistent.
- Salama ‘laykum/Bonjour (Arabic/French) – Salam-oo ‘laykum is the standard greeting in Arabic. Some may greet you with the French, “Bonjour!” (especially if you look western), but the Arabic was received better by the locals for us.
- Ma’a as-salāmah (Arabic) – There are a few ways to say “Goodbye” in Arabic, but this is what we heard used the most.
- La afham (Arabic) – “I don’t understand” is always a practical term, where ever you are.
Aside from these terms, we mostly spoke broken English. We laughed because it started to become our standard way of speaking, even when we were alone in our room. If you want to use more Arabic, Maroc Mama has a great list of useful phrases.
5 Tips for Female Travelers in Morocco
If you’re female, you might want to know what to expect when traveling in Morocco. I never felt threatened, but here are a few tips. Continue Reading…
But if I had made any New Year’s resolutions, this is what they would be:
- Prioritize travel. If I learned anything from our honeymoon to Morocco, it’s that we need more adventure in our life.
- Let go. Let go of toxic people and let go of worrying about what others think. It’s none of our business what they think, anyway.
- Learn to listen. The best thing you can do is stop talking about yourself and ask people about themselves. Listen to their story. You’d be surprised how much you learn by listening to others. For example, that we are not alone.
- Be less judgemental. You never know what someone else is going through. Besides, our judgments of other people are more likely to be a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.
- Never indulge in self-pity. It’s not productive and no one wants to go to a pity party.
- Take better care of my body. Whether it’s that we need more exercise, less food, or to stop drinking, we need to take care of our bodies first.
Let’s be clear, though, these are not my resolutions. They’re my goals. Repeat after me: not. resolutions. (That should get me off the hook, right?)
New Year’s Resolution-Proof Vietnamese Pho
This is a carb-free and low-calorie tweak of pho. Using spiralized zucchini and daikon in place of the traditional rice noodle, you cut the calories by almost 40%. It doesn’t hurt that the broth takes only 30 minutes and requires no special equipment!