A mission statement

Hello, and welcome to My Kitchen and I. Every year I choose a cuisine to explore. This year, it's the year of the Snake! And I'll be continuing to cook mostly Asian foods, particularly Chinese dishes. Have I finally found the best cuisine in the world? Come explore and cook with me and let's find out. Please feel free to share your stories and comment on anything you see here, and thanks so much for visiting. Hope you enjoy the Year of the Snake in food!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Persistence Pizza

The pizza I made at the Kitchen Conservatory.
It was indeed as delicious as it looks!

In my family, dad's stubbornness is legend.

Grandma often told us the story of how the willful toddler hadn't gotten his way and held his breath until he passed out!

Yes, my dad is that stubborn.

And I have inherited this persistence.

Which I refuse to call stubborn, actually. That word has a negative connotation, and I believe this is a powerful gift. No, we don't give up when others would. Is that truly bad? Society needs a few people like that don't they?

I have actually been trying to bake bread since my 20s. Back then, I baked a lot of bricks instead. So many that the ex purchased a bread machine for me, presented with the words, "You'll never be able to bake a decent loaf of bread on your own. So I got you this for Christmas. Just use it instead."

But of course I don't give up that easily ...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Winter Melon Soup 冬瓜汤 — Wonderful!

My sister gave me a wonderful book exploring the cuisines of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia called Culinaria Southeast Asia. She knows how interested I am in Asian cuisines, so this was almost the perfect gift for me. There are so many interesting pictures and stories in this book, I know it's going to be a fascinating trip!

The first recipe I made from the book did not disappoint. This was a very interesting soup, traditionally made with winter melon and flavored with ham. The book lists it under Singapore, but the Chinese friends I spoke with knew about this soup and say it is more widespread.

According to Chinese medicine, winter melon
is a cooling soup and should be eaten in summer.
Properly prepared, it is a "detoxifying" soup.
Winter melon itself has no flavor, but has the intriguing ability to soak up whatever flavors you cook it with.

In fancier restaurants, the winter melon serves as its own soup tureen. The seeds are scooped out of the inside and the outside is then carved with beautiful figures and symbols for good luck and fortune. These carvings are so elaborate, they can take an entire afternoon or more to finish. The soup is then steamed for five hours. So it is very labor intense and must be ordered in advance. I'm told it can cost a few thousand dollars for this soup!

But you can enjoy the same flavor at home for much less, even if it doesn't come with elaborate carvings of fantasy creatures on the outside. The key ingredient ...