Friday, August 10, 2012

Friends of the Steak

To make up for my lack of reading during the summer, I have started searching for books my advisor suggested I read. It excited me that I would have an excuse to buy books at Ukazoo again, yet of all the titles I was only able to find Alice Munro's work since he didn't give me any specific titles of her short stories. So finally I read Friend of My Youth, an interesting story written in a interesting way about interesting people. A story told by the main character's mother about a friend of her youth and how the young woman now begins to protray this friend in her own head in a different way from what she was told. If it's just about the friend, then you would think about whether you have a friend like that, who at one time in your life fascinated you so much yet then faded away as a mystery to you forever. Then there's more to this story. While Flora was this wonderful, innocent woman who never had anything she deserved but slaved her entire life for others' benefit, she was conceived by the daughter as a woman who was just as black as she was white. She had her own flaws, and she was just as responsible for her misfortunes in life as other people who had seemingly caused the misfortunes. In her mind, Flora was a total different person from what her mother believed she was. In a way, she saw what her mother really was through her memory of Flora. Then you wonder, what friends are, why some people become friends, and if you are friends, does it mean that you match one another? Does it mean that you go well together? Does it mean that you love one another?

I then wonder why in cooking certain foods only go with certain foods, and whther there is a limit to the combination. I have to confess I tried once the mixture of avocado with kiwi and bacon, and it didn't turn out so well. But last night, I embarked on another one of my own recipe endeavors and created something very interesting: A steak bruschetta. The original recipe is from the magazine Taste of Home, but I almost never really followed it except for the idea. All the time I was wondering if these vegetables would be friends of the steak.

Steak Bruschetta with BBQ sauce
three stalks of celery
one container of cherry tomatoes
one red bell pepper
three cloves of garlic
one package of steak
cheddar cheese
parmesan cheese
BBQ sauce
slices of bread, baguette prefered

Chop the vegetables and sautee them in the pan, season with salt and pepper.
Grill the steak and cut into small pieces if you can, or you can cook them in a pan as well, season with BBQ sauce.
Mix the vegetables and steak, set aside.
Grill the bread with cheddar cheese on one side.
Spread the veggies and meat mixture on top of the cheese and sprinkle with parmesan cheese on top. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Return of the Cook

After a long a lazy vacation, coming back to the blog seems to be a wake-up call that pulls me back into reality. The blog site is blocked in China, so for two months I had no access to my lovely blog. Don't ask me why it's blocked, probably for the same reason that Facebook and Youtube are blocked and the same reason that diabetic patients should be completely shunned from sugar. But it's good to be back, it's always good to be back, no matter where I am. I have grown so used to having two lives in two countries that moving from one to the other doesn't cause me any discomfort at all; in fact, I don't even feel the difference any more. The countries have blended so well in my head like an all-berry smoothie that there's no way for me to tell exactly how many berries there are any more.

Before I bring out today's plat du jour, I do have one confession to make and hope that my advisor doesn't see this, or if he does, would forgive me nonetheless. I finished perhaps only three books this entire summer: one from the Hunger Games trilogy and two Chinese collections of proses: none of which were on the reading list that we had discussed before. Although I did get started on a collection of short stories by Ha Jin, which was interesting and very educational. I now have tons of questions about the very little English reading I have done, and they keep piling up as I'm catching up now with some Garcia Marquez.

One thing I did get from having two cultures coexist in my head is a combination of two flavors in writing and in cooking, which I greatly appreciate.

Last night's return to the American kitchen dinner was a big failure according to Chinese standard, but according to American standard it was perhaps only different, and according to my endearing boyfriend Chris's taste, it was pretty good. Oh what can I say, someone who thinks eating fried fish with its head and tail is weird should not be considered a valid judge for food, haha.

It may give the impression of purely Chinese stir-fry, but true Chinese would tell you they normally don't stir-fry potatoes with red bell peppers, and they would not recognize that zucchini in the left plate. All in all, it was a culturally merging dinner, mixing the Americna ingredients and Chinese cooking style together. The failure was that I had lost some touch with the flavoring and the spices. It seemed that Chinese dishes are usually much more flavored and have more tastes while a lot of American dishes would consider rather blend; of course, the western habit of adding salt and pepper is a totally different habit whereas in Chinese cuisine the dishes are always well seasoned enough before they are brought out on the table. So, it turned out that although I felt like I shook the salt dispenser more than enough it still was blend to my taste. Oh well, my cooking skill needs just as much time to adjust as my jet lag.