Somen Noodle Bowl

Somen Noodle Bowl

i finished two books recently,
which isn’t very remarkable
when i think about the period of time
in high school when i was able to knock out
a book a day.
sure, school work likely suffered,
but damn if i couldn’t just open
up a book at 1:38pm after 7th period
and lose myself.
if i find myself in a particularly
engrossing story
i tell dw it’s his turn to make dinner
or i throw something very
quick and easy together
and call it dinner.
either way,
i’m able to put my nose back into the pages.

Somen Noodle Bowl

fyi, for those interested,
i read:
me, earl & the dying girl
me before you
i know, so depressing
but they’re fast reads
and available as movies as now.

Somen Noodle Bowl

somen noodle bowl
makes enough for 2

*note: the way japanese noodles are packaged makes life easier. it’s usually already been divvied up into servings so i can tell dw how much to cook up. in this case: 2 servings. somen noodles also don’t clump, i’ve only ever used them cold and they are still really good the next day.
**note: this is ridiculous fast and easy, i may have been reading while i was making this.

2 bundles of somen noodles, cooked according to package instructions

2-3 TBL tamarin or soy sauce
2-3 TBL rice vinegar or mirin
2 TBL sesame oil
splash of maple syrup, optional (just for taste)

seaweed dressing:
2 sheets of nori/seaweed, shredded by hand
2-3 TBL toasted sesame seeds, very important to toast!
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
pinch of salt

topping options:
sliced cucumbers
fried or boiled egg
kim chi or shredded cabbage
2-3 scallions, sliced thin
sesame seeds
nuts, like crushed peanuts or cashews
carrots, matchsticks

essentially, for every component of this recipe: the noodles, the sauce and the sesame dressing, make/mix ingredients accordingly.

divvy up the noodles into two bowls. you can either pour the sauce and mix throughout the noodles and then top with whatever.

or you can assemble your bowl with the noodles and topped with whatever and then pour in the sauce.

either way, it works and it’s easy.


Somen Noodle Bowl

3 years ago: strawberry sweet biscuit
2 years ago: strawberries & cream pavlova
1 year ago: yarn cupcakes

vietnamese bò kho – beef stew

Vietnamese Bò Kho

i finished a book last week
it took me awhile
i had to re-borrow
it from the library
because it was taking me so long
there was a time
oh, 20 years ago
when i could finish a book in a day
— A DAY!
now i take snatches of time
to read a few pages,
maybe a few paragraphs
there is always something else to do
stirring the pot
yarn stitches
washing dishes
kissing my husband
now i find that i actually
read all the words
i don’t gloss over the text
i formulate the words
in my head
until they string together
into coherent sentences
and if there’s a word i’m unfamiliar with
i ask dw what it means
(he’s always so good to me,
he always answers,
he always helps me)
i guess the best way to describe
my reading is:
i savor it,
i relish the story
(unless the book sucks,
and then i just move on)
it takes time to sink into a book
rushing through it
doesn’t do the story justice
anything worth reading
is worth reading slowly, yes?

as new year’s resolutions go,
i’m doing damn good
with this reading thing

what books have you been reading?

Vietnamese Bò Kho

vietnamese bò kho – beef stew
adapted from secrets of the red lantern and wandering chopsticks
makes 4-6 servings

*last spring dw & i traveled with some friends to nashville to run a half marathon. we found a random hole in the wall viet joint outside of the city and they had the best bò kho i have ever had. we went there 2x. this is my attempt at recreating that dish. i have failed. however, this version is still pretty good and perfect for the vicious winter we’re dealing with. it takes time for the flavors to meld. i made it one day and didn’t eat it until the next, because like all good stews, it’s always better as a leftover.
**i used two recipes for reference, though on the day of cooking, i winged it completely, in regards to measurements and method. the links i’ve referred have the exact details you might need.
***Luke Nguyen’s recipe intrigued me because it uses beef pho broth as its base. i love me some pho and the spices used in the stock really does add a layer of flavor. for cheater’s version of pho stock, heat up some homemade beef/veggie/chicken stock (store bought is fine too, though shoot for organic and low-sodium) with a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves and anise pods. let it simmer for an hour or so, allow the spices to infuse the stock. BAM! if you’re too lazy or time pressured, regular stock is fine, even water is fine, though the depth of flavor might be lacking.

2lb beef brisket, rump, stew meat, grassfed & cut into bigger than bite size pieces
olive oil or veg oil
1 TBL annatto seeds
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 QT pho stock*** note above
1/2 lb carrots, skinned and chunked
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
1 cinnamon stick
1 onion, studded with cloves and charred
knob of ginger, also charred
2 cloves of garlic, charred
2 bay leaves
basil, for garnish
rice noodles, cooked, to serve

beef marinade
6 hot bap, which i researched is the seed within a cardamom pod
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
2 tsp rice wine

start off with the marinade – dry fry/roast the hot bap, star anise, cinnamon stick and cloves until fragrant. grind them up in a spice grinder. add the ground up spices and rice wine in a bowl. add the beef pieces and mix well. you can marinate it overnight, i let it sit for the time it took me to assemble the other ingredients and heat up the pho stock, which was about an hour.

in large pot, heat up the oil along with the annatto seeds. this is for color, i’ll be honest, i don’t think it imparts much flavor to the over all dish, so if you want to skip this, i won’t judge you. when the oil reaches desired redness, discard seeds.

pan fry the beef pieces until brown. do this in batches.

add in the lemongrass, ginger, clove studded onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and prepared pho stock. mix in the tomato paste, stir well to incorporate. bring pot to a boil and the lower the heat and simmer on low for anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours. during the last 30 minutes, add in the carrot chunks. this should sufficiently soften them, but they will retain their shape and not get mushy. season with salt to taste, though i will say i didn’t add anything and it came out so lovely & perfectly seasoned.

to serve, pour over white rice noodles (cooked according to package instructions). steamed rice is fine, as is baguette to dip is appropriate too. garnish with green scallions, thinly sliced onions, chopped cilantro, or basil.

best the next day, and then the next.

Vietnamese Bò Kho

lychee jelly hearts

Lychee Jelly Hearts

just days ago
dw & i celebrated our
3 year anniversary
celebrated is kind of a strong word
unless it’s defined as
hanging out on the couch
with lap blankets
chocolate chip cookies
and airbnb options on the tv screen
then yes,
we whooped it up good
on sunday
we are such party animals

all i know is:
we finally FINALLY
booked accommodations for our honeymoon
i made tentative plans with
high school
AND middle school classmates
researched where to find the best
khao man gai
and cried my eyes out when
we put down a deposit to visit the elephants

and during my melt down,
very similar to our 2nd date!!
when we saw biutiful
and i SOBBED during a scene,
dw comforted me
only this time
i was totally crying in happiness,
in part cus of the elephants
and cus
damnit, my eyes have been really dry
since the lasik surgery
and i’ll take extra moisture
anywhere i can get it

Lychee Jelly Hearts

for vday this year
i made jelly candy
my beloved enjoys snacking
and these are the best kind

i love you
more than pho
more than there are stars in the sky
more than seven jeans that make my ass look great
more than tom hiddleston
let’s be each other’s mushy gushy valentines

Lychee Jelly Hearts

lychee jelly hearts
adapted from the jewels of ny

1/3 cup lychee syrup (canned, cus i wasn’t about to juice them fresh, THEY’RE NOT AVAIL HERE ANYWAY)
1/3 cup water
2 packets gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup lychee, chopped up nice & small (the original recipe calls for the use of store-bought jam. knock yourself out, just use a mild/neutral flavored jam, like apricot)
2 TBL a red jam, i used wendi’s cherry jam (optional, for color only)
2 tsp lemon juice
zest of lemon, optiuonal

lightly oil 8X8 baking pan

in a bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup of water. ignore for 5 minutes, let the gelatin soften.

in saucepan, combine syrup with sugar, stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. add in the applesauce and lychee bits, and red jam if using, and mix until well combined. add in the gelatin mixture and bring to a boil. at this point you can vitamix it smooth, or keep the chunks if you want. pour mixture into prepared baking pan, allow to cool to room temp and then transfer to fridge until firm, 3 hours.

cut into squares, or if you’re being cutesy, use 1/2″ cookie cutters. i had dw fashion small hearts for me made out of strips of aluminum from a soda can, like when i made goldfish crackers.

dredge in some sugar to coat. BAM.

store in airtight container in fridge for up to a week

Lychee Jelly Hearts

happy heart day, friends.