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!


Friday, August 10, 2012

Sweet and Sour Salad #letslunch Farmer's Market Post

As I write this, I am actually on a plane heading to see a friend, and then off to Paris, which I like to think of as the Farmer's Market of the world. I have heard so much about the food in France and particularly the Farmer's markets, I cannot wait to at last see them for myself, and of course I will post some pictures once I return.

Farmer's markets are a wonderful thing, regardless of which country or community you are in, and my local Farmer's Market right now is all about the tomatoes. They are literally at every table, and they all look so gorgeous.

But tomatoes are one of the last things I think of when I think of Asian cuisine!
So I was surprised — pleasantly — a couple weeks ago when a Chinese friend presented me with a nice bag of garden grown tomatoes from his garden.

Ooo la la! It is nice to have friends, and it is even nicer to have friends who have garden tomatoes.

We both agreed that store bought tomatoes aren't worth eating, and that it was only garden-grown for us.

And so, inspired by this gift, I started reading about tomatoes and China, and discovered that after all, Chinese people do know and like this vegetable, even though their term for it is, quite literally, foreign eggplant.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Julia Child's Kunming Connection #Sundaysupper #CookingforJulia

A post in honor of Julia Child's 100th birthday written for #sundaysupper #cookingforjulia ...

Everyone knows Julia loved French cuisine, but Julia's first culinary love was not French. Julia's first romance with food was in fact, nowhere near France. Her first love affair with food was in Kunming, China, where she and her future husband Paul slowly but surely fell in love.

Julia served in Kunming during the latter part of World War II, arriving in the city shortly after Paul. They were both in the OSS, the precursor of the CIA. The agents serving in Kunming were actually forbidden to travel out of bounds, but that did not stop Paul and Julia from seeking out new culinary adventures every chance they got.

The city's name by the way, translates roughly to the City of Eternal Spring, and the weather is mild year-round, similar to California, where Julia grew up. There are, in addition, many interesting cultural sites in hiding amidst the blue mountains and eucalyptus trees.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chinese Soup — 中国汤

I'm not really sure if I understand what makes a soup truly "Chinese."

Is it just the ingredients put into it?

Or more the philosophy behind it?

Do Chinese people ever get in a hurry and just make soup on the fly out of whatever's on hand?

Or is it always a slow-simmered yin-yang affair?

Would they be adverse to a pre-made broth, as long as it was a homemade broth of the slow-simmered variety?

Or is that idea too Western to be authentic?

I've always got a few jars of slow-cooked stock in my freezer. There's some in quart jars for soup and some in pint jars for sauces. They're perfect when I have run into a challenging week. And this, my friends, has indeed been one of those weeks.

I've been moving furniture since last week. Then on Sunday, a few wonderful people came over to help me get rid of my carpet. The previous owners, you see, had cats and I'm allergic to cats. And I was allergic to the carpet those cats had left behind. But now the carpet is gone and things are much better for me and that little thing called breathing.

But, I've still got boxes and furniture stacked to the ceiling of my dining room. And my clothes are hanging in the bathroom whilst I patiently await floor refinishing and painted walls. The arrangement is OK. The stuff I have to have I can get to for now. But it's a bit like living in some sort of weird hotel with no room service. I feel like I should order a pizza and eat on the floor, not cook in the kitchen.

So when I glanced at the fridge this week and started thinking of what to make for my lunches, I was really looking for something simple. Something easy.