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Great book deals

For the past two days I’ve been at the University of Alberta taking a 3-day course. And this means I’ve had easy access to one of my favourite places in the city, The Book Cellar in HUB Mall. This store is the U of A’s book remainder store and they have a surprisingly large selection of children’s books, non-fiction and fiction. And food-related books.

(Remainders, by the way, are those never-been-read books that publishers have sold to bookstores for dirt cheap because they’re older books and they’re taking up valuable warehouse space. Those “bargain books” with the red and white price tags, sitting in the front section of the Chapters/Coles/Indigo store? All remainders and almost pure profit. You’d be shocked at the profit margin.)

l bought a lot of books. So many that the cashier gave me an extra 25% off my purchase. It’s probably a good thing for my wallet that I don’t go there very often. I hope I didn’t giggle in glee too loudly while I was immersed in the stacks. Some of these were books that I had on my to-buy list already and I saved a nice amount by picking up these copies instead.

So which food books did I get? Everything was in hardcover, prices not including the extra discount:
Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop – $7.99
My Grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Lo – $7.99
The Seventh Daughter by Cecilia Chiang – $7.99
My Life in France by Julia Child – $5.99
Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch – $5.99

They also had a Charlie Trotter cookbook that I looked over, but I decided that it was probably something I’d never cook from and that I had already picked up too many books.

Let’s see if I can resist going back there tomorrow during our class break.

Side note: while I was typing this out, Alton Brown made candied ginger, ginger cookies and ginger ale. Mmmm. Too bad it was only on my TV and not in my kitchen.

Chinese New Year – part 3

The second recipe that I tried from Fuchsia Dunlop‘s Land of Plenty, was a green bean dish. This doesn’t necessarily have any specific meaning for Chinese New Year, but I thought it would be an interesting one to try. The fresh green beans at the grocery store were unfortunately in horrible shape, and I had been so frustrated by the crowd at T&T on Friday that I didn’t end up buying any vegetables from there, so instead I ended up using some frozen green and yellow bean mix that I had lurking in my freezer.

Haricots verts in ginger sauce

Haricots verts in ginger sauce

The taste was much lighter and cleaner than the lettuce, and I think I preferred this dish over the previous one. I did screw up a couple of times on this simple recipe. Unfortunately my knife skills suck (I probably need to take a cooking class at NAIT), and I did not slice the ginger finely enough. I also really overdid it with the amount of ginger. Whoops. I think if you wanted to, you probably could even reduce the amount of ginger listed in the recipe as the raw ginger taste is pretty strong.

One change I made to the recipe was that I doubled the amount of vinegar so that all the beans were nicely coated and had a bit of tang to them. I would also recommend making the sauce a little earlier and letting the ginger soak in the liquid for a little bit, so I moved the order of the directions. Continue reading

Chinese New Year – part 2

For Chinese New Year, there are a number of traditional foods that you are supposed to eat to ensure prosperity, good fortune and wealth for the coming year. These include items such as fish, oranges and chicken.

This is the first year I have volunteered to contribute to the meal, and I decided to test two recipes from Fuchsia Dunlop‘s Land of Plenty, a Sichuanese cook book. The first was a lettuce dish; the Cantonese word for lettuce sounds close to “rising luck and fortune.”

I couldn’t find my sesame seeds… and I was lazy and dumped everything into a bowl, then went ahead and mixed the sauce and lettuce. Tasted fine, but made for a lousy photo! A really, really lousy photo. This would be a good dish for someone who loves the taste of sesame. I found it a little rich for my taste however, and would probably use less sauce on my lettuce if I made it again. The second recipe will be in my next post.

Lettuce in sesame sauce

Lettuce in sesame sauce

Continue reading

The Alice Waters of China?

Intereesting article by Fuchsia Dunlop in The New Yorker.

Garden of Contentment
In a toxic era, a Hangzhou restaurant pursues purity.