27 February 2012

Italian Cibo Weekend!

Last Saturday, my dorm house had Italian food catered to us for the Lucid Dinner. Lucid was our first house Dean, and he made a bunch of cool traditions that carry on to this day (e.g. study break!!).

 Last Sunday, my GA invited all of us (about 15 showed up?) to make Italian gnocchi! I have failed at making gnocchi once before, and this time, I got to learn from an Italian!! It was great, and I had a lot of fun!! I skipped half of my organic chem workshop for it, but who cares?! I even learned how to roll a properly shaped gnocchi using a fork!
 First we all peeled potatoes. 5lbs?
 Then we cut the potatoes and boiled them.
 We all mashed them directly on the table!
 And added a lot of flour to it, and rolled them out and cut them. We made a LOT OF DELICIOUS GNOCCHI!!
 My GA made some vodka + cream + tomato sauce. I've had vodka sauce once before, and it wasn't great at all! This time, it was great - fresh, creamy, tangy.

26 February 2012

Spaghetti & Cheese (Again)

Spring break is next week and I think it would be wise to use up as much stuff in the fridge as possible. Well, there is no way I can do that (Actually...I can. I really can eat all the food in my fridge within a week). So, I'm starting with the perishable stuff. Cheese, chili peppers, onion, and milk = spaghetti and cheese.
Ingredients with missing weight amounts because I just kinda threw them together...makes something like 5-6 servings.
250ish ml milk
200ish ml water
Mustard if you have it  (but I don't :( )
Rest of the chili peppers
Small red onion

300g (?) Monterey Jack cheese
2 tbsp flour

A lot of cooked spaghetti

1. Throw first bunch of stuff onto stove and wait until bubbles. Unfortunately, the milk curdled for me, but in the end the sauce turned up smooth enough.
2. Throw in flour and stir until lumps have sort of disappeared.
3. Throw in cheese, mix, turn down heat.
4. Turn off heat, throw in spaghetti.

*I usually throw the dry TVP into my cooked pasta+water. This way, the TVP gets evenly distributed throughout the pasta, it rehydrates rapidly (because it's hot water), and I save heat/water! Yay! Neat trick.

25 February 2012

Omelette Thing

It is so pleasant spending a day doing homework with SP, because it means that
1. I'm more relaxed.
2. My desk actually has space now!
3. We can have delicious bubble tea anytime.
4. Homemade brunch!
We made a (roughly square shaped) zucchini tofu omelette with two kinds of tofu (the brown spicy one and the white plain one). SP miraculously cut the zucchini, so let's give him a standing ovation! We initially had 2 eggs mixed with spicy sauce, which didn't fill the pan, so we cracked in another egg. That's why the top right corner looks yellower and less well-mixed than the rest of the omelette.

24 February 2012


The Penn Vietnamese Society had Pho Night, complete with club members having cute "Got Pho?" shirts. For those who don't know, Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup, usually with cow pieces, and it's supposedly DELICIOUS. It's one food my brother's tried before I have, because I don't generally eat cow pieces. However, TJ told me that they would serve vegetarian pho, so, of course... OFF I GO!!
The Penn Vietnamese Society came up with an ingenious way of serving some 240 bowls of pho. They had those quart-sized plastic tubs, each filled with cooked rice noodles and a choice of raw beef slices, tofu, or chicken(...?? not sure). Huge metal pots of broth were brought upstairs (into the Rooftop Lounge) from the kitchens on the 24th floor. This broth was then scooped into the tubs when we customers chose our tubs. Plenty of people turned up, and even though we got there a tad early, the line was already pretty long. They also hadn't got the vegetarian broth ready, so TJ and I waited for a bit. They also apparently dropped a pot of beef broth, which is really unfortunate.

The vegetarian pho was pretty delicious; there was a hint of lime juice (which was COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED).

23 February 2012

Leftovers Sandwich!!

I absolutely love sandwiches! I made a sandwich with (some leftover) stuff in my fridge:

1. super toasted bagel (leftover from work)
2. spicy tofu (ok, not leftover)
3. spinach in the process of wilting
4. spicy peppers (leftover from a meeting)
5. cheeeeeeese!! (not leftover)
6. sour cream and onion dip
So delicious!... and it only took about 5 minutes to assemble (but I ate it disassembled)! This was taken at about 4:30pm, when I had my lunch-dinner-snack. My meal timetable is quite skewed now. It used to be something like 7:15am, 10:10am, 5pm, and maybe 9 or 10pm. Now, because I get up every day at 9 and usually have class or Monell until 5 or so, my schedule goes something like 9am, 5pm. Actually, sometimes I have lunch at around 12 or 1, but other times, I just eat during class. For example, yesterday I had bagel at 9:40am, a banana muffin at 11am, and an apple at 12:50pm. I then went to Bio lab, came back to my dorm at around 4, had a sandwich, and took a 3 hour nap. As it was a Wednesday, study break provided some $80 worth of junky food, so I had a bowl and a half of cereal.

Today, my eating schedule was: peanut butter sandwich at 9:15am. Orange at noon. Sandwich and carrot and peanut-butter-dough at 5pm.

During certain exam periods, I eat even more hectically! Let's say I get back to my dorm at 11pm from the library (another problem with spending a lot of my time away from cooking is that I never get the chance to eat my multivitamin). Of course, that day I would've had breakfast at 9, and perhaps some carbs around 5pm. So, I cook some pasta, eat some fruit, and as I panic about all the information I've yet to learn, I start eating more food. The food isn't necessarily unhealthy -- peanuts, fruit, eggs, okay, and candy, but out of sheer stress, I just eat. And eat. And then it's 2am so I stop eating, and at 4am or so, I promptly go to sleep.

I'm also quite sure it's unhealthy to consume a (283g) bag of Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses in 4 days.

I acknowledge that my eating habits and desires are huge problems, and they contribute to a negative self-reflection and serious adipose tissue buildup. Therefore, I figured I should start using my other senses to enjoy the world. So, I went to Lush, got a bath bomb, and now I can enjoy the redolent scent of roses whenever I sit at my desk (provided the smell of food isn't in the air), and I can have honey-scented clothes.

12 February 2012

Sour Cream and Onion Dip

I don't super enjoy sour cream but I LOVE SOUR CREAM AND ONION flavoured chips. So, what do I do with some leftover sour cream? Make delicious sour cream and onion dip (with a purple onion)!! I tried to follow this recipe but I didn't really follow the weight amounts... let's see, I used one medium purple diced onion thrown on the stove at 200 degrees F for about 10 minutes, maybe 250 g of sour cream, 3 self-serving packets of mayonnaise, a lot of garlic powder, a bit of salt, and some herbs.
TASTES LIKE SOUR CREAM AND ONION POTATO CHIPS.... without the potato chip part.

05 February 2012


The first floor had a nice study break last week in my GA's room. She's Italian, and went to Rome over winter break and brought back an absolutely gorgeous set of espresso cups and saucers. Unfortunately, my picture was blurry due to dim lighting, but you can see my espresso with a tiny spoon that has a bent handle (so that it can dangle off the rim of the cup). Fancy fancy.
She also brought back some Orzo, an Italian barley drink that is drunken hot and with cream/sugar/milk. So, of course I had to try it!! I think that one of the best experiences at Penn is meeting people from other cultures because they can tell me about their cuisine (and possibly feed me). I had it plain first, and then with some sugar. It doesn't taste like coffee or tea, and I keep thinking "hot sugar cane juice..." but I KNOW that's definitely not right. It tastes a little like burnt sugar (which I guess is due to the barley). Either way, it was quite delicious and I do want to buy oat or barley or rice drinks. On another note, I miss Horlicks (and Hong Kong in general), and I've been drinking black tea with dried rose pieces nearly daily.
Another great thing about Penn is that it's right next to Monell and lso, at Monell, I got a can of sparkling grape juice by The Switch (they have a really pleasing website with bubbly backgrounds, by the way). The marketing: "Drink this. It's tasty and healthier than soda and gives you nutrients."
Yet, who will chip out $1 for ~240 ml (roughly "one serving" of a beverage, according to the FDA) of this juice when soda is $1 for a litre? Also, sure, there may be a silo of vitamin C in a can of this drink, but a clementine will give you all the vitamin C... in fewer calories. I could go on about all the negatives... but I suppose the goal is this:
Exploitation of health misconceptions in the general population in order to earn money (with the facade of gearing towards making humanity have healthier junk food choices).

Also, I managed to flatten the can, bend it, and rip it with my bare hands. Pretty neat.

04 February 2012

Crêpes from a French guy & Koja

Ok, so he's not French, but he lived in France for a bit and speaks fluent French -- I present to you:  my boyfriend SP (in the process of rolling a crêpe)!

Our shopping adventure was fun too! As we walked towards Trader Joe's, SP saw a falafel food cart driving into the city. "No! You're driving the wrong way! I want food to come towards me, not away from me!", he said. We bought eggs, milk, and flour, but not Nutella, because Trader Joe's doesn't sell any (they sell cocoa almond spread, though). On the way back, though, we walked past a Rite-Aid, and they had exactly ONE JAR left! Coincidence! I'm not a huge fan of Nutella (in early 2007, I had an obsession with it and ate it every day. That may be why I haven't loved Nutella since). Nutella has many uses, one of which is lathering it onto a homemade crêpe.

On the way back, we stopped by Koja (THEY WERE OPEN!) to get dinner, even though I had been under the impression that crêpes were going to be dinner. Koja sells Korean food, and I realised that I'm never going to be able to have bulgogi :( It turns out that every Friday after 3pm, meals are $4.50 instead of the usual $5 or $6. This makes sense because Koja isn't open over the weekend, and they have to sell off all that steamed rice and marinated cow and pig chunks.
SP got beef bulgogi and kimchi, and I got tofu rice noodles. Although I have have pickled cabbage before, I'm not sure I've ever had official "kimchi". I don't think I like it tremendously -- I prefer cucumber pickles, pickled bak choi, or zha[4] cai[4] (榨菜), a pickled Chinese mustard stem (this is my favourite).
I tried some of the vegetables in the bulgogi, and they had a really strong beef flavour. The tofu and rice noodles were really spicy but still delicious and had a great texture, and there was also some white sesame!
SP told me that he'd never actually made crêpes by himself before. Apparently he'd just lounge around and "prepare the Nutella", which instantly reminded me of whenever my mum makes fa[2] gao[1] (steamed cake), my sister just lounges around and "prepares the chocolate syrup" by taking it out of the fridge.
SP used the recipe that he and his mum use for crêpes, which calls for 1 cup of milk (we used a bit more than that), 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of oil (we used peanut, which .wasn't the best idea), 1 tablespoon of sugar (we used 2), and 1 cup of plain flour (we used a bit less). Basically you just mix the wet stuff, add sugar, and then sift in the flour. We ran into a bunch of problems though, because I'm a college student with no kitchen.
1. No big bowl --> borrowed one from TJ.
2. No sifting capability --> some lumps (but SP got rid of them!)
3. Square pan --> squarish crêpes.
4. When the first crêpe was done, SP exclaimed "No one prepared the Nutella!!" I guess it is important to have an official Nutella-jar-opener, hm?

Above: SP cooking. The first crêpe was a little thick, about the same thickness as these ones I made before.
Below: thin crepe!
We made 5 in total, although if we had made thinner (read: better) ones, we would've ended up with 6.