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I’m slowly getting back into the groove. Too many things happened all at once – first I was recovering from my trip where I crammed way too many things in (as usual), and then some personal things came up that required my attention. But expect more here soon.

It took me 2 1/2 hours just to catch up on my blog reading. Either I’m following too many blogs or people write posts way too often!

And just to show you all that I truly have a boring life, tonight’s big plans are a trip to the newly opened 2nd location of T & T. Sad, I know. Maybe I’ll spend enough to get a free set of “Japanese multi-function bowls” or a clay pot….

bento box and carrot salad

I made myself a little bento box for lunch using a Lock & Lock container that came with little dividers and a couple of silicone muffin cups. I actually bought this container in Hong Kong last year because I couldn’t find them here at all, but now I see them in the stores all the time. From left to right is a portion of gallo pinto (recipe posted yesterday), a quick carrot salad (recipe below), dried cranberries and some Kashi Honey Almond Flax cereal.

bento box

bento box

Quick carrot salad

Ingredients
1 carrot, shaved with a peeler or shredded with a grater
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
dash of white pepper (black would be okay too)

Directions
Shaving a carrot with a peeler with give you more delicate pieces but grating would work just as well. Mix all ingredients together.

In hind sight I think I should have used fish sauce or maybe some black vinegar instead of the lemon juice. Ah well, something to try for next time!

Oatmeal convert

I didn’t mean to double post today but I’m just so surprised at this revelation that I have to share.

For years and years, I’ve always thought the only good oatmeal was the kind that you ate in cookies or bars. Baked with lots of sugar, yum.

I’ve tried eating oatmeal for years (instant, non-instant, with dried fruit, with maple syrup, with brown sugar, with milk, and so on and so on), and every time I would shove it down reluctantly, repeating the mantra – “it’s good for me” until I was finished with the bowl.

Last month Serious Eats posted an article about Mark Bittman’s savoury oatmeal. It’s something I’ve kept in mind since, but since I really don’t like oatmeal I have been reluctant to try it. Well today, I finally did. Holy cow does it taste good with soy sauce! Why didn’t I think of this years earlier! Why didn’t my Chinese parents force feed me this before?!

You can click on the above link for specific instructions but basically you make your oatmeal like you regularly do, then add some light soy sauce and some green onions/scallions for garnish and a bit of crunch. The dish ends up tasting more like a brown rice jook (a.k.a. congee) than any oatmeal I’ve ever had before. (And by the way, I’m actually using a 5-cereal blend that includes oats, but now I think I’ll  a bag of steel-cut oats to my grocery list.)

Doing a quick Google search reveals that there are many other suggestions to make savoury oatmeal interesting. Adding a cooked egg, with the yolk dripping into your oatmeal, adding ginger and/or garlic to the water during the cooking process, using soup stock to cook the grains, making an oatmeal risotto… there are so many possibilities. I feel like yelling “Eureka!” as new world of breakfast has been opened to me. Excuse me, I think I’m going for a second helping.

Soy sauce marinade

My stepmother has this magical marinade recipe. It is a fairly flexible seasoning, and gives food like chicken wings or pork chops a wonderful flavour. I made pork chops with this marinade last night, but was too busy eating to take photos.

My stepmother’s soy sauce marinade

This recipe is for a large amount of meat such as 8 pork chops or 30 chicken wings; adjust as necessary for the amount of meat you are marinating. If you are preparing pork chops, beat them up with a meat tenderizer first. The marinade can also be customized to fit different flavours. My stepmother recommended adding various items like galangal, lemongrass, fresh garlic, etc.

Ingredients
1 cup of light soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
small pinch of salt (She claims it’s a requirement but I think the soy sauce is fairly salty already.)
white pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste (can substitute minced or pressed garlic, but the powder will integrate better with the rest of the ingredients and give a more even flavour)
water, if necessary

Directions
Place meat in a large, sealable plastic bag (easier for shaking) or in a large bowl. Add in all the ingredients and mix. If there is not enough liquid to cover the meat, you can add water. For a less salty marinade, substitute part of the soy sauce with water instead (no more than half of the cup).

The meat can be marinated for anytime from 1/2 hour to overnight; the thicker the meat the longer the marinating time needed. If you are marinating your meat in a bag, make sure to turn the bag over every so often to make sure all the meat has equal marinating time.

Remove the meat and discard the marinade. The meat can be barbequed on a grill or broiled in the oven on a baking sheet. Serve with your favourite carbs and veggies.

Soft-boiled eggs

The excellent Cooking for Engineers blog has posted a step-by-step guide for the boiling time needed for different consistencies of soft-boiled eggs: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/249/Soft-Boiled-Eggs. They also have a guide about how to soft-boil an egg: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/recipe/239/Soft-Boiled-Eggs.

If you haven’t been to Cooking for Engineers before, it’s a great place to find recipes that lays out EVERY step needed to complete the dish. Fantastic for beginning cooks, and for those who need detailed instructions.

For my soy sauce soft-boiled eggs, I would say that the photo at the 7 minute mark is probably closest to the consistency that is needed for my recipe, although I know some people in Malaysia eat them when the egg whites are still soupy.