Sweet and Sour Pork

Hello friends,

I realize it’s strange to post about my weight-loss and then immediately post about deep-fried pork, but everything in moderation! ūüėõ

I recently married a Chinese-American man.  His dad is renowned for his bbq pork buns (cha siu bao), and his grandma makes the absolute best chicken curry.  I want our kids to grow up and learn Cantonese, understand the traditions, and eat the delicious homemade cuisines of Hong Kong.

Which is why I have been attempting to create fabulous Chinese dishes at home.

After I stocked my pantry with a few Asian staples, I found that cooking was not as intimidating as I thought.  (Keeping soy sauce, chili sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, and oyster sauce on hand helped a lot.)

This recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork came from Easy Chinese Recipes.  The pork was restaurant-quality, but it was also very easy to make.

To start, cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and marinade in 1 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. corn starch, and 1/2 tsp. rice wine or sherry.

Then chop up your veggies and set aside.  I used onion, bell peppers, green onion, garlic, and pineapple.  You could easily add snap peas, carrots, or whatever your little heart desires.

Kitchen trick: If you place a paper towel behind your cutting board, you can scrape the yucky bits off of the board for easy cleanup!

Jonathan’s heart is easily won over by pork, so this recipe was an instant hit!

While your 2 inches of vegetable oil is heating up to 350 degrees in the pan, whip together the fry batter.  (Fry batter=1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 egg white, 1/3 cup water, 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, shake-o-salt)

Make this step look really good.

Making kitchens sexy since 2012.

Everything tastes better deep-fried.  Amiright?

Kitchen tip: If you want to keep your fry oil for future frying adventures, put it in a mason jar in the fridge. Then bring it to room temperature before your next sweet and sour pork dinner!

Deep fry the pork until golden brown, turning¬†occasionally. ¬†Babysit that pork with love. ¬†When it’s done, drain off the excess oil on a paper towel, just like you would with bacon.

My babies.

Grab another pan and heat up 1 Tbsp. of oil.  Get to stir-frying those veggies!  Once the veggies are slightly softened, add the sweet and sour sauce.

Sweet and Sour Sauce = 2 Tbsp. ketchup, 1 Tbsp. plum sauce, 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire, 1 tsp. rice vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp. oyster sauce, 1 tsp. sugar, 4 Tbsp. water, 1/4 tsp. sesame oil, 1 tsp. cornstarch

Once the sauce starts to thicken, add the pork and toss to coat.  Serve over rice.

What is your favorite ethnic cuisine?  What is the most intimidating cuisine you have attempted to make in your home?  Did it work or did you have a kitchen disaster?  

-Mads

p.s. You can substitute a lot of the ingredients for sweet and sour pork¬†if you don’t have a lot of Asian sauces. ¬†This website is a great resource for food substitutions:¬†http://www.foodsubs.com/

 

 

A Welcome Distraction

Remember me? ¬†I have been off the grid for over a month, so I’m sorry for my disappearance. ¬†I’ll be posting with a little more frequency soon. ¬†In the meantime, enjoy this guest post from my eloquent friend, Dik. ¬†ūüôā ¬†-Mads

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Friday evening. Barreling through the mountain ridge ten minutes west of Victorville, jettisoning past the smog and the fetid stench of the work week. Behind you, the sun quietly descending through the hills. A palpable sense of excitement seeps in through open windows. Wind in your hair, tickling the back of your neck. It feels good. And one word is on everyone’s tongue.


Vegas.


Whispered at first, it becomes kinetic as the excitement grows. The lights, the city – the feeling of unbridled recklessness. And then Tears for Fears plays on the radio. A moment passes. Furtive glances exchanged as no one touches the dial, each waiting for the other to start. Finally the car is filled with a chorus of jubilation: “…everybody wants to rule the world.” Grins become laughter and the first inside story is born.


Vegas is more than a place – its an idea. Its a tocsin that pierces the doldrums of a Wednesday afternoon with daydreams of possibility. You ask yourself: “It’s been too long, why haven’t we done this sooner?”


Each successive gas station has its own unique blend of charm – and Redbull – from the Shell in Barstow to the ARCO in Baker across from the giant thermometer. You feel the need to take pictures of it all- anything you can do to preserve the moment. Capture it. Hold on to that feeling – tonight is yours for the taking.


And just as the last vestiges of daylight slip away, a new dawn appears on the horizon. You can see it just as you pass Jean – that solitary beacon of light nearly forty miles away. The Luxor calls to you – it calls to everyone. All windows are down and the car is silent. Everyone lost in their own reveries – memories of past excess, hopes of future abandon.


And then you see the lights unfurl before you like Christmas. Turn off the GPS – its time to get lost…


Date Night: Recap

A few weeks ago, I asked for your help planning date night.

Go to a sporting event. It is highly unlikely I will do this for date night with Jonathan, but it might be right up your alley! ūüėČ

Here is the collective list of date possibilities:

Art events
Restaurants offering a kitchen tasting to showcase a new chef  (How do you find out about these??)
Concerts
Bike ride
5k and 10k races
Long walk holding hands
Surprise date night- trade off planning
Lasertag
Kite flying
Ding dong ditch or TPing houses
Building sand castles
Reading aloud to one another
Board games
Picnics
Day trip adventure
Go-Karts
Mini golf
Cooking together
Buy an adventurous Groupon and try something new
Walks in the park
Aquarium visit

Visit a new bar and try a new drink. For example, this awful habanero shot.

My additions:

Comedy club
Hiking
Wine on the porch/balcony/lawn during sunset
Drive-in movie
Jazz club or any nicer cocktail lounge
Get your palms read (a riskier move for new couples haha)
Bowling
Dive par with pool or darts
Museums
Plays or interactive theater (Jonathan and I did this interactive theater and LOVED it. ¬†Plus, it was produced by Neil Patrick Harris, so what’s not to love?)
Wine tasting at a local wine bar
Play video games together
Find out what’s going on in your neighborhood (Local fairs and events happen here all the time.  I’m getting super stoked for the Garlic Festival!)
Surprise romantic dinner at home for 2
Troll your local bookstore
Build a fort together
Visit the zoo (Although, there’s probably not a zoo I hate more than the LA Zoo.)
Shooting range
Find a tea tasting room for brunch

Rent a boat and cruise around during sunset. Bring a fancy captain's hat and talk in a "yacht accent" (it usually involves pretentious words and a fake British twang. Say things like "Daaahhling".).

For the more expensive date nights:

Indoor sky diving
White water rafting
Horseback riding
Couples massage
Cooking class

Hike it out! I swear I'm taller than most shrubbery. And what's happening to my left boob? This picture is awful haha

I’m really looking forward to reading this list again if we get into another dinner/movie rut!

What was your favorite date of all time?

-Mads

Camping in December

Hey team,

A few friends decided this weekend would be the perfect weekend for a camping getaway. ¬†I know California is warm year-round, but my first thought was, “Camping in December?! ¬†Are you guys out of your damn minds?” ¬†In fact, they were out of their minds, but I went ahead and drank the kool-aid anyway. ¬†So we headed up to Lake Elsinore, CA.

Upon arrival at our campsite, we were greeted with a pile of human hair.

I have seen enough episodes of Criminal Minds to know that does not mean good things.  Either that, or Bigfoot decided to get a quick trim before traipsing back into the forest.

Moving along…

The weekend started out with a hike through mountain lion infested trails. ¬†I’m used to bear country, where you play dead or make loud noises. ¬†Apparently mountain lions will eat you if you play dead. ¬†The trick is to stand tall. ¬†Uhmmm…sure…that will definitely help me.

No matter, the view was way too incredible to care.

Ok, so we’ve got human hair and mountain lions. ¬†I’m feeling pretty confident that I’m going to die at this point.

Then we found this on our hike:

WTH???

Luckily, the only thing that almost killed me was the freezing cold temperatures at night.  I have never shivered for so many hours on end.  Unbelievable.

Lake Elsinore was incredibly beautiful! ¬†I had an absolute blast, but I can officially say that I won’t be camping in December again. ¬†At least, not without a space heater ūüėČ

Have you ever camped in the winter?  What is your best camping advice for the chilly weather?

-Mads

Snozzberry Pie for PIE WEEK!

 

 

 

‚ÄúCome join Love the Pie with¬†TidyMom¬† sponsored by¬†Cherokee USA,¬†Le Creuset,¬†Wilton,Bags by Bloom¬†and¬†¬†Harvard Common Press‚ÄĚ

Folks, one of the few things keeping my spirits up this week has been the constant pie-babble on the blogosphere and Twitter.  Thank goodness.

For those of you who haven’t been around, 6 blogger ladies decided to team up and do something about the lack of pies on the internet.

The rules were simple:

-6 bloggers. 1 dream.  6 days worth of pie.

-Use Kirsten’s No-Nonsense Pie Dough recipe

-Post pics that make you drool or force you to cheer out loud in triumph

Ya’ll voted last week on what kind of pie I should make.¬† The winner was…

…drumroll…

Snozzberry Pie!

I have successfully made several cream and custard pies, but have been paralyzed with fear at the thought of baking a fruit pie.  I think my fear stems from the second topping crust and the fancy business there.

But fears be damned during pie week!  I shall make that berry pie and it shall taste of magic and wonderment!!  Like unicorns smooching in the enchanted forest.  Ok, that got weird for a minute.

Moving along.

This recipe was INCREDIBLY easy to do.¬† Kirsten’s pie dough was a snap (flakey, buttery goodness), and the berry mixture whipped together in under a minute.

We had a moment of touch and go when the oven started billowing smoke, but just remember to put a cookie sheet on the rack below the pie in the oven. ¬†My house did not start on fire. ūüôā

You will need:

Kirsten’s dough recipe

2 cup raspberries

1 cup blackberries

1 cup sliced strawberries

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. flour

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

6 pats of butter (approximately 1-2 Tbsp.)

sprinkle of sugar

Roll out your pie dough and place in a greased pie tin and pierce dough with a fork to prevent air bubbles.

Combine berries, sugar, cinnamon, flour, and lemon juice.

Pour berry mixture into pie crust.

Top with 6 pats of butter.

Gently cover with the second pie crust and press edges together.

Make a few slits in the center of the pie with a knife.

Sprinkle the top with sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Let cool for another 20 minutes, if you can help yourself.

And it’s true, the snozzberries tasted like snozzberries!

Don’t forget to check out my internet buddies to ooo and ahhh over their pies:

Monday-Comfortably Domestic-Apple Tart with Cheddar Streusel

Tuesday-Inside NanaBread’s Head-Bananas Foster Fried Pies

Wednesday-Tenaciously Yours-Pumpkin Pie

Thursday-La Petite Pancake (that’s me)-Snozzberry Pie

Friday-Wanna Be A Country Cleaver-Nutella Pecan Pie

Saturday-Decadent Philistines Save the World-Mushroom Red Wine Pie

Thanks for playing,

Mads