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Hôm nay chợt nghĩ tới một điều, trong phỏng vấn trên mạng Twentine có nói, lúc viết “Hẹn Ước” còn chưa có biên tập viên.  Tức là các tác phẩm trên mạng trước đó, nếu như không bị biên tập viên chạy ngược lại sửa hoàn toàn từ A-Z, thì sẽ mang văn phong thuần tuý nhất của cô.  Tiền đề là biên tập viên hiện giờ không quá hăng hái sửa sạch sành sanh từ truyện chưa được xuất bản tới truyện đang sắp được xuất bản.  Để thử dò sách xuất bản “hẹn ước” với bản trên mạng xem sao……

Me: look, look what I’ve made for May today! Isn’t it awesome? I got bay scallops in it too!
Son: great
Me: taste it, good huh?
Son: yeah, good, yum…. What’s for us? What are we eating for dinner?
me: …uhh…I don’t know… There’s left over rice… Look around or something. Maybe there’s some Pho broth left in the freezer…. and I think some left over canh from last week…
just kidding!! We eat May’s food once the left overs are cleared.
Been busy cooking this weekend because we are moving so I need to stock up. First I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup and froze 3 pints in the freezer. Then today I made some more stocks with ribs and veggies, used part of it to make rice porridge, froze the rest. Also got a nice piece of brisket from the farmer’s market on Friday, so I simmered it and froze the stock. This is because we’ll be busy moving this next week, so I want to make sure we have nutritious food readily available for May. I’m just noting some info here for Trang, the busy super mom, in case she needs some quick ideals for the little one’s dinner:

chicken noodle soup (all ingredients organic)
– 1 small chicken
– carrots
– celery
– chayotes
– onions
– broccoli (crowns and stems)
olive oil and/or butter
pepper, salt, fish salt
pasta of choice

Chop up everything, simmer together in a big pot the following: chicken, carrots, celery, chayote with a dash of salt and a few peppercorns up to 3 hours (can be done in a slow cooker). In a pan, heat up some oil and/or butter, add the minced onion, stir, cook until translucent and then reduce heat to low and let carmelize for up to 1 hour if you have time. This process makes the onions turn really really sweet. Or if you don’t have time, just, you know, whatever. When done, stir the onions into the soup, add just a dash of fish sauce if you like. I cook the pasta by meal so that it doesn’t turn soggy in the soup.

For porridge, I simmered spare ribs (left the whole rack in tact, no need to chop) with celery, carrots, daikon radish, salted radish, onion, a few peppercorns and a small piece of rock sugar. Then I stirred in cooked rice (1 part brown 3 parts white), covered the pot and let simmer over very low heat. When finish, I took out the celery stalks, salted radish and daikon to toss, leaving just the carrots and bits of the onion. I took out most of the soup to save for later use, leaving just a bit over 1 serving in the pot. I added 5 pieces of small bay scallops – caught sustainably off the coast of Argentina (this wholesome shit costed me $9 for 3 oz!) and cooked for a bit, taking care not to overcook the scallops. With a dash of fish sauce and a sprinkle of fried shallots, I served this dish to her highness who promptly inhaled the whole bowl. It should not taste salty like the way we like our food to be salty.

May likes scallops and I prefer to serve it to her over fish, because the quality of fish here in York sucks. It’s considered a pretty healthy food.

I’ll figure out what to do with the beef broth later this week.

Also, Trang, dear, you can make your own oatmeals and that will save you lots of money, if you like. What I do is I guy the old fashioned rolled oats, cooked it in water (something like 2 tbsp to 1 cup of water) stirring every now and then for about 20 minutes. It will turn into congee – same consistency, same appearance. May doesn’t eat much fruits right now, so I typically add raisins or prunes or pear or apples into the pot. For sweeteners I use pure local maple syrup. Molasses would work too. Sometimes I spice it up with ground nutmeg or cinnamon occasionally. I’ve heard that canned pumpkin mixes well too. This would make about 2.5 servings. I save that in a glass jar and reheat in the microwave. You can store this in the fridge for up to 1 week. When you reheat and it’s too hot, just add some cold milk. This is pretty much a staple at our house. May eats it about 4x/week.

this recipe works very well, it kicks many expensive restaurants’ asses that I know around here. It’s a bit painstaking but I guess you can always make candied walnuts in place of caramelized walnuts to save time.

ingredients for salad:

1 bunch of mizuna
1 small crisp and slightly tart apple (pink lady or jazz is best, if not, try a ripe grannysmith) (sliced thin)
2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese (I use the one from Trader Joe’s, it’s very good)
~ 2 handfuls raw walnuts plus the following ingredients for caramelized spiced walnut recipe:

1 tbsp molasses
3 tbsp honey (i use sage honey)
1 tbsp sugar (i use turbino, you can use granulated)
1/8 tsp salt
pinch of 5 spices powder
pinch of cayenne pepper powder

ingredients for ginger vinaigrette:

1 piece of ginger about 1″x1.5″ peeled
2 pieces of shallots (if big clove, use 1)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (i used the sushi rice vinegar)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 or 1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper

to make the caramelized spiced walnut, bring 2 quarts of water to boil, add walnuts, boil for 5-7 minutes, drain, set a side.
melt sugar in a small pot, then add honey, molasses, and salt. When this starts to bubble, toss in walnuts and stir so that the sugar will coat evenly. Add a pinch of 5-spices and cayenne peper. Stir continuously over medium heat until the liquid reduce and everything turn light brown. Turn off fire, carefully put each individual piece of walnut onto waxed paper on a tray, separate from each other. Put this whole tray into the freezer to cool (this process takes about 15 minutes)

while waiting for walnut to cool, start on the dressing:
combine shallot, ginger, and soysauce in a food processor or food chopper, mince, then sift through a sieve to collect the juice. Discard the pulp. Combine the rest of the ingredients with the collected juice into a blender or simply whisk everything until well-mixed. Your dressing should turn mustardy yellow.

Place mizuna into a bowl, arrange apple slices on top, then add walnut. Microwave the dressing for 10 seconds, then add to salad. Sprinkle blue cheese on top last, and serve immediately. If you like you can add a few strands of red onion to garnish, but not neccessary.

The blue cheese really brings out the light and fresh flavor of ginger. Mizuna works very well with this dressing. This dressing is taken from the recipe submitted by Julesong here, modified a bit by me.

My boss taught me this simple recipe for a delicious salad:

1 small bitter melon (chinese type, not the indian one)
3/4 lb – 1 lb ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped red sweet onions
1/2 or less tbsp fillipino shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) – it’s a funky purple color, you can’t miss it
1/2 or less tbsp rice vinegar or sushi vinegar

quarter the bitter melon, core it, and slice into thin slices, the thinner the better. Put the slices into a bowl, add a generous spoon of salt, mix and let sit for 1/2 hr. This will coax some of the bitter juice to come out. If you like your stuffs superbitter, you can skip this step

After 1/2 hour, wash the bittermelon slices in water and squeeze excess water (wring out the water). Repeat this step about 5-6 times, until you taste the melon and it’s not super salty anymore. You wanna wash as much of the salt out as possible. Don’t get impatient otherwise your salad will taste crappy.

Dice tomatoes and red onions, mix with bittermelon slices in a bowl. Add vinegar and toss. Add shrimpaste (less than 1/2 tbsp) and mix. Your salad is now ready to serve. Yum!

The name of this salad is “Ampalaya salad,” you can find an alternative recipe here. As you can see, the ratio of bitter melon to tomato is different than my version, simply because the bitterness in the bittermelon totally kicks my ass, so I have to increase the tomato ratio to save myself. If you like the bitterness, you can always double the amount of bittermelon.

canhchua

1 lb of green beans
1 lb of broccoli crowns
1/5 of a cabbage
1 tomato
2 eggs
fish sauce
Chili pepper

Boil 2 eggs in water. When water comes to a full boil, add green beans and broccoli crowns to cook until softness desired (probably just barely cooked through). Take out everything of water and let sit to cool. Measure out 2 tbsp of water used to boil the veggies, set a side to cool.

Keeping the water boiling, add tomato wedges, a bit of salt, and cabbage. Cook into a soup, turn off heat. Let cool.

Mash 2 eggs in a small bowl, then add fish sauce and 2 tbsp of reserved water. Add chili pepper if you like.

What you end up with is a fishsauce with egg dip, and lots of veggies. That’s what we had for dinner tonight. Just a big ass bowl of boiled green beans and broccoli, eaten cold, dipping in fishsauce & egg. No rice. It’s soooooo refreshing, you should try it sometimes. Whenever the weather is hot, you should give up eating starch & protein, and just kick it with a bunch of chilled boiled veggies, dipped in either fishsauce & egg dip or fishsauce+lime+chili or soysauce if you like. You’ll feel much cooler, and you’ll sleep easier at night too, inspite of the heat. Kiki Rice had her boiled cabbage with fishsauce & egg just last week, you can see her picture here. The water that I used to boil the veggies, I always add a bit of salt, then cabbage and tomato, cook into a soup. When I’m done eating my boiled veggies, I’ll pour the soup into the small bowl of dipping sauce, mixing the fishsauce and the egg into the soup as seasoning. Yum!

The lovely bowl of soup you see up there is what we had for dinner on Friday. The last of it was eaten in my office, by Son, at around 4:00 p.m. That thing didn’t exist at our dinner table tonight.

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