Thursday, February 01, 2007

There's a honeymoon in my yarn!

Last night’s pre-Chinese New Year dinner went splendidly well. Here are some pics of the feast:

Panfried noodles with moose sausage and gai lan in black bean sauce. I serve the noodles on the side of meat and veggies so the noodles stay pan-fried crunchilicious!

The hot and sour soup:

And of course, the potstickers (BTW, Gina, anytime you're on the Rusty Coast, you're welcome to join my potsticker sweat factory)

The pork was locally raised and the moose sausage was from the stash that DH’s uncle so generously gifted us with. Pretty much all the veggies from the gai lan to the carrots to the mushrooms were all BC, if not locally grown or from the backyard.

Hot & sour soup is one of my favorites. It’s super-easy-peezy to make. It does call for a few non-local items but it my version is also chockfull of local veggies and meats. It’s a great soup for the chilly weather and it certainly warmed up the crowd. It’s actually nothing more than a stir-fried dish souped up.

Traditional hot & sour soup calls for bamboo shoots, lily buds and black fungus. I don’t like bamboo shoots, especially canned bamboo shoots which resemble waterlogged woodchips IMO, so I don’t use them. Instead, I add carrots and parnips cut up into matchsticks to add some crunch to the soup. Lily buds and black fungus can be found in most Asian food aisles in the dried food section. They don’t so much impart a taste as much as they are there for texture. Quite frankly, you don’t have to have them (stop throwing those chopsticks at me!). While at the Asian food aisle, pick up a bottle of the red vinegar. It’s not red wine vinegar but traditional Chinese red vinegar. You’ll need it for dipping for potstickers. I actually used Marley Farm’s blueberry vinegar since I had it on hand. Now that I’m completely pissed off all the Chinese food traditionalists, here’s my recipe for a Fast & Dirty Hot & Sour soup:


2-3 oz of shredded or coarsely ground pork

2 teaspoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Mix all these together and set aside to let the pork marinade.

The rest of the crap:

1 cake of medium firm tofu – cut into cubes

1 coin of ginger – smashed and minced

1 carrot peeled and cut into matchstick size

1 parsnip peeled and cut into matchstick size

1 onion sliced thin

3-4 handfuls of mushrooms (white, brown, shitake) sliced thinly

1 small handful of dried lily buds – soaked in hot water for 20 mins. Cut into thirds

1-2 pieces of black fungus –soaked and sliced thin

6 cups of chicken stock – preferably homemade but who’s kidding who?

1 teaspoon cane or brown sugar

3 tablespoon red vinegar

1-2 tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon white pepper

1/2 to 1 teaspoon sambal oelek or similar hot sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch – mixed with some water to make a slurry

-In your soup pot, over medium high heat, throw in the marinated pork. If you’re using good pork, there ought to be enough fat in it so enough oil renders down to provide enough cooking oil for the whole recipe. If you’re using anemic, super-leaned up supermodel pork, throw in some vegetable oil. Let the meat brown up a bit before you start stirring it around.

-Push the meat to one side of the pot and drop in one layer of mushrooms. Let those brown in the pork fat. Once golden brown, just shove them aside with the pork and lay down another layer of mushroom. Continue until all the mushrooms are done.

-Toss in the rest of the vegetables. Stir fry for a minute.

-Throw in the stock. Then toss in the seasonings, tofu, lily buds and fungus. Bring the soup up to a boil.

-Pull the pot off heat, stir in the slurry. Put back onto the stove and bring to a boil. The slurry will thicken up the soup a bit. Ready to serve. You can toss in some chopped green onion or cilantro to make it pretty.

Oh yeah, there’s supposed to be a beaten egg in there. I don’t like egg in my hot and sour soup. I like egg drop soup, just not egg dropped into my hot and sour soup. If you want you can add a beaten egg. Make sure it’s a local and free range, dems the rules. Simply slowly drizzle a beaten egg into the pot as you slowly stir the soup. The residual heat with cook the egg.

Warning: Knitting jabbering ahead.

Now that I’ve finished my Midsummer Night’s Dream sweater and the MIL sweater, I’ve had a moment to throw some new projects onto needles. I’ve got some small stuff, a pair of fingerless mitts for my sis and a pair of socks for DH (who wants to bet that the socks never get done??). For myself, I’ve started on a cardigan that I’ve been dreaming and scheming about since 2005: The Honeymoon Sweater.

No, it’s not Jackie Gleason bus driver sweater. It’s a sweater inspired by our honeymoon in Kyuquot.

(Yep, dat's me)

We spent 10 brilliant and adventurous days kayaking along the Northwest coast of Vancouver Island. The days were filled with huge waves and hot sun. The nights were kissed by gorgeous sunsets. The water was the blue of Hawaii postcards and the horizon was our next waypoint.

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for the right yarn. My sketchbook has a number of scribbled ideas for designs and motifs. Finally, I found a yarn that contained all the colours of our honeymoon. Wouldn’t you know it, it had to be a Noro yarn:

It’s Kureyon yarn, their wool yarn. It’s not as elegant and luxurious as the Silk Garden but its colours are so rich and intense. Since the honeymoon was more rustic than elegant, this yarn will do fine. I was able to pick up a small stash at the local yarn store on sale. Since the price of Noro yarn is a bit dear, I picked up a more reasonably priced Paton merino yarn in Peacock to help ‘stretch’ the fancy stuff.

So far, I have much of my first sleeve done. Don’t ask me about the torso. I haven’t planned that far ahead except to say that I’m thinking about throwing in some sort of beach landscape silhouette thing along the bottom. Or maybe a wave/ripple effect. Don’t know, I’ll get back to you once I figure it out. Or have the yarn figure it out for me.

I’m going to listen to Serena Ryder all day so I can sing along with all her songs at her concert on Sunday. I can’t wait!!!



1 comment:

Gina said...

*snort* Pot Sticker Sweat Factory -- definitely a good book or chapter title.

The dinner looks absolutely delicious, and you make Noro yarn look so appealing! I'm not a fan of the thin and thick of it.