“Why should eating be different from any of the other ethical realms of our lives? We were honest people who occasionally told lies, careful friends who sometimes acted clumsily. We were vegetarians who from time to time ate meat.”
- Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals
Yang and I are attempting a little experiment. We are trying to be vegetarians, who from time to time eat meat. 
Why do this? Because we just read Eating Animals by JSF, and, despite all efforts to remain “neutral,” we were convinced. The trouble is, we love meat. So short of eschewing it entirely, we’ve decided upon a set of finely tuned (not really), intellectually watertight (not really), agonized over (yes actually) rules for being vegetarians who eat meat.
So actually… not all of China was bad. In fact, the food was excellent. It is excellent every time I visit China, so I’m not sure why I am still surprised by this. It may be that since our last trip there, I’ve developed a better appreciation for the culinary arts. But in any case, I was very much floored by nearly every meal we ate there. I tried but failed to take pictures of everything we ate there (failed because sometimes people would eat everything before I had a chance to whip out the camera), but here you go: a Picasa album, with pictures individually captioned (click):
I’ve made pork tenderloin before many times, but it was always hard to tell when it got done, and whether it would be juicy or a log of shoe leather by the end. I also could never seem to get a nice crust on the outside. So finally I decided to get down to learning how to do it right. The recipe I used tonight came from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, which is a sizable compendium of classic French recipes generously annotated by both Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. The recipe is simply called Sautéed Pork Filet or Tenderloin. It was pretty standard, following your classic “sear, bake, and make sauce” procedure. However this time around I made sure to follow the recipe to the letter. And when I deviated, I noted what went differently, why, and how I fixed it. As a result I think tonight’s pork tenderloin was the best I’ve ever made.
I learned a bunch of things in the process, so I shall write them down here in case you too might find them useful. What follows is my version of the recipe, adopted from and even more thoroughly annotated than J&J’s version (if such a thing were possible).
I love French onion soup in restaurants, the way they come in a little clay bowl all bubbling over with melty cheesy goodness. They can do that because they can stick the whole bowl in a hot oven and let it broil the bejesus out of the cheese. But we can’t, mostly because my mom and Yang teamed up against me to prevent me from purchasing 4 ramekins for $3 at TJ Maxx.
But it’s okay, I’m not bitter. Because I figured out another way to get practically the same delicious result.
Yumbox started off as a complaint. “There are no decent recipe managing websites out there,” I whined. It’s true. All of the popular ones are too bloated with so-called community features. Now I’m not a bah-humbug recluse type of Tina, but I do want to keep things simple. I simply want to be able to collect, catalogue, and organize recipes, without having to field ads on the left, comments on the right, and watch out! a seasonal feature coming right at you overhead. On the other end of the spectrum, we already have many super pared-down, personal-recipe-collection types of web apps, which initially seemed more to my taste—there was even a mobile version of some for iPhone!—but ultimately none of these were completely satisfactory. They either lack essential features, have an inflexible organizational scheme, or just plain don’t look good.
Yumbox seared all of these flaws with its laser vision, plus it has all the lovely corner-rounding CSS that you could ever want.
Today I tried to make a roll cake again.
I think I know now why the cake wreck blog took off so quickly, and why it’s actually gotten popular enough to be made into a book. Cakes are immensely prone to wrecks. At every stage of the process, from mixing the batter to baking to getting it out of the cake pan to frosting can go disastrously wrong. It’s also that many things normally considered excusable in other forms of food-making suddenly seem heightened in their awfulness when you’re making a cake. People have high standards for cakes. Not only must it taste good and have good texture, it must be structurally sound and beautiful. No one cares if a stir-fry or a spare rib doesn’t stay stacked in a three-layer tower, or crumble when you try to roll it. No one cares if it looks disheveled and thrown together, which often actually adds to its devil-may-care culinary appeal.
Right around this time of year, Yang always gets these intense midnight cravings for a “cold treat.” This would be a good excuse to put those ice pop molds we bought last year to good use. So anticipation of future cravings (and hopefully warmer weather), we are compiling a list of ideas for ice pops. Here are a few to start:
Berry Banana Yogurt Popsicles
Banana, any kind of berry, vanilla yogurt, honey or sugar to sweeten
Mango/Coconut Pineapple Popsicles
Mango chunks and/or pineapple chunks, coconut milk, small bit of lime juice, sugar or agave nectar to sweeten
Strawberry Sour Cream Popsicles
Strawberries and sour cream (roughly 3:1 proportion), lemon juice, and sugar or agave nectar to sweeten
Cherry Almond Vanilla Popsicles
Cherries, vanilla yogurt, apple juice, honey, and a few drops of almond extract
This is a hard one. Ready?
Really this is quite an amazing discovery, because cocktail sauce is something I always thought you had to go buy because it had some patented top-secret ingredient to it. Except it turns out that it’s just ketchup and horseradish (or, in this case, wasabi).
What if tonkatsu sauce turned out to be the same way!? Life would never be the same again. There might actually be room on the fridge door!