Wednesday, February 24, 2010

fruit, dessert, and chai

last weekend, we went to H Mart with G's parents. it's pretty far away, but it's fun. even though it's a korean market, it feels like there might be more chinese people than koreans there! also a lot of cambodians too.

now that i'm getting to the end of my pregnancy, i have been craving sushi! i am sooo ready to binge at Minados once they're born! but i've been craving other things too like durian. they had some at H Mart so we bought it. it was so yummy, i was really in the mood for it. some annoying guy was laughing about how bad durian smells to his girlfriend when they were walking by, but i think if you think it smell bad, you probably got bad taste!

G was too lazy to eat it because he doesn't like the way the stickiness feels on his fingers so i got to eat almost the whole thing, thanks honey!

then the next day, we went to Russo's and bought this napoleon tart. So yummy! of course G didn't have a problem eating this one.

To go along with the dessert, we made some chai based on Sham's secret recipe. she sent this whole package for my birthday, but being the kind of person i am, i couldn't wait for my birthday! here are some chai making supplies: tea, cinnamon, cardamom, and lots of love.

It was a very yummy weekend for us! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day = Day to make braised pork belly

When I was younger, I didn't really like pork all that much. Or at least I thought so. The reason is because American pork is all over-salted or tasteless - bacon, ham, chops. Even SPAM - probably the best American pork is almost like not really pork. And I never made the connection between the Chinese pig meat I loved - char siu, feet, shoulder, and especially double-layered fat belly - and "pork." As I got older, I made the connection that these were in fact all different parts of the same animal. I mean...I knew that, but I didn't KNOW it. (Until this day I have a similar confusion over the difference between sheep, goat, and ram because they all have the same word in Chinese. It's not even like I'm fluent in Chinese, I'm just very easily confused.)

But it gets me upset when I think about the way we in America disrespect the meat we eat. People don't want to eat pig feet or ears or chitterlings or anything that is easily identifiable as part of an animal. We don't even call it pig, but pork. We don't want to eat cow, but want to eat beef and steak and burgers and Rocky Mountain oysters. And of course it's veal instead of calf, or more accurately - infant cow.

In my mind, when it comes to eating meat: stakes is high.

I can stand eating vegetables that aren't cooked that great because they are vegetables. But human beings do not need to eat meat in order to survive or even to thrive - so there is no reason we should ever eat meat that is not cooked to perfection. When we eat meat, we should make it worth it. You know what I'm saying?

Pork is - to me - the perfect meat. I could live without beef or chicken or even fish - but I don't think I'd ever stop eating expertly-prepared pork. So that having been said I used the snow day from work as an excuse to make some braised pork belly with ALL the fat still attached. Mmm. (Read this article about why eating lard is not as bad as you thought it was.)

Step by step. (Oooh baby.)

This is some pork belly cut up into pieces maybe an inch (?) thick. Marinate it in dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and a little sugar plus a minced bulb of garlic. The dark soy is the key. We also ended up throwing some pig ears in there too.

S has this really clever technique when braising meats - that's to put sugar on the bottom of the pot and burn it until it's a deep brown color - that gives the deep rich color to the final product and probably lends a little bit of smoke to the taste. Unfortunately, i did it wrong and the sugar liquefied instead of burned - I guess I should have used a different pot - regardless, after it became syrup, it browned a little so I just kept going.

After that, you throw your pork and marinade into the pot and saute a little. No need for oil because of the thick layers of lard. Mmmm. After it's cooked a short while, dump in some water. S's style would be to fill it halfway and continue to refill as necessary. I am lazy so I just basically filled the pot. But my mom always braised stuff starting with a full pot so I wasn't concerned; although she would do it starting in the morning - not in an hour.

After the water has basically boiled down all the way, it will look like this. Notice we threw some hard boiled eggs (shells removed) in earlier, and see the whole pig ears on the bottom of the photo. At this point, you might as well taste the liquid in the pot and see if the flavor feels right or not. If it's too strong, then add some more water and cook it down a little more; if it's too weak, you'll need to add flavoring.

As I sliced up the ear, I listened to "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Steeler's Wheel.

This is screaming to be eaten with white rice. But given that it's basically eating straight lard, I opted for the slightly healthier brown rice.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

you're just being shelfish

Shelf-ish. Get it?

We forgot to take a "before" picture of our empty babies closet. But all these shelves (except the top white one) are brand new. Originally, I was just gonna put 3 shelves up and call it a day, but S nixed that.

She said she wanted the shelving to be dynamic, and came up with this layout plan: four foot-high shelves on the right, two extra large shelves in the middle, and a ladder leading down to the floor on the far left with shelves of varying sizes.

As usual, S was the lead designer and I was the lead engineer. She had a great vision to make it as functional as possible. I was a little concerned about there being too many shelves, which would make it too crowded in there. Turns out it's perfect as usual.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

reupholstering fever!

This is a chair from G's childhood. When we first moved in, G was thinking about throwing it away because it was so tore up, but I thought is has a beautiful shape and wanted to hold on to it. I saw potential in the chair and also I don't like to throw things out from his childhood. I knew that someday I want to do something with it and since we're working on the nursery, it was a great opportunity for another challenge.

we spent an afternoon at jo-ann's and picked out this fabric to reupholster it. but we needed 6 yards, and they only had 4! we were already thinking about going to the joanns in natick until my husband came up with the idea of using white fabric in areas that are hidden from view. so instead of driving all the way to natick, we just bought a little more plain white upholstery fabric.

So we started to take the whole thing apart! Here's G trying to figure out what pieces can be cut out of what part of our two different fabrics. he's good at geometry.

This is a lot of the materials laid out on the floor. it was a mess all week!
After the pieces were cut, I sewed them together.

Our new best friend: a staple gun

I didn't know he was taking pictures or else i would have wore something instead of a bathrobe! i'm using his patriots hammer to put the arm together.

It's starting to look like a chair again...

G says he never thought about how furniture was put together before this.

Revealing some of the white fabric we're keeping hidden.

close-up view

Now I just want to reupholster everything in the house! next project will probably be our media room sofa...another piece from G's childhood. probably even before he was born...even before people started to talk about "clean lines"!