Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter Vermicelli, a mung bean fiasco and a mystery...

I have a problem where my eyes are bigger than my tummy. Last week, I went grocery shopping and spent £40 in one go. Yes, £40. That's $60+. Most of the things were of the snack variety. One of them was a package of mung beans because I wanted to make honey mung bean soup for snack (recipe to come).

So per the instructions, I rinsed the beans three times and then let them soak. And soak. And soak. And I guess I forgot about them because everywhere I turned there was something else to eat before it went bad, so by the time I remembered those poor little mung beans again, they were emitting bubbles in the water.

Not a good sign when your mung beans start farting.

But I'm not one to waste things, so I optimistically put them in a pot and let them stew. When I got back to the kitchen, a smell of poop reached my nose. Oops.

So I had to dump them out the window. Lesson learned. Hopefully.

In other news, there's a thief on the loose in our kitchen. When I first arrived, the students of this dorm warned me to keep any yummy foods in my room (although given my mung bean fiasco I'm not sure this is a great idea either). One girl had bought 3 cheesecakes for a friend's going away party and put them in the refrigerator. When she got back, 2 of them were gone. Two whole cheesecakes. The chocolate she had bought in Switzerland was gone as well. Another girl had bought a carton of Ben and Jerry's...gone within a day. And she had apparently hidden it in a bag deep inside the freezer so someone has been pawing through our stuff regularly. Another guy found that one of this red peppers had been reduced to half a red pepper. Gone the way peoples' meatballs, bacon, cheese, etc. have gone.

I haven't head anything stolen yet because all my stuff is usually raw, but I'm sitting on pins and needles. I want to buy some nice things to eat once in a while, but if they're going to get stolen...we're going to have to do some Home Alone style kitchen thief napping.

Winter Vermicelli (guaranteed to warm you up!)
1 bunch of baby bok choy, chopped
1 tablespoon of ginger, minced
3 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp of sesame oil
2 stalks of spring onion
100 grams of vermicelli
Salt and Pepper to taste

To Cook:
1. Add mushrooms, ginger, and garlic to 1 liter of water and bring to boil.
2. Meanwhile, soak vermicelli in freshly boiled water for 5 minutes.
3. Add bok choy and salt to vegetables. Let simmer until vegetables have softened.
4. Drain vermicelli and add to pot of vegetables. Let simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Add spring onion.
Serves 1-2.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Flirty Lamb Stew

When I first moved in to my room at the University of York, I was exhausted. I hadn't gotten any sleep for 42 hours, had to sit next to and talk to a guy who justified the actions of the Virginia Tech killer on the plane, and had to drag my two suitcases across town (a walk that took about 45 minutes).

So when I open the door, I was hoping for home sweet home. Or at least home sorta home. What greeted me was a tenement style house, with a kitchen where clean dishes were extinct and a window that was covered in greasy fat.
Welcome to England!

Of course, I soon learned that England is NOT all like this at all. Apparently, the guy who used to live in my room was teased so badly that he had to move out. The other kids in the house, in wild partying mood no doubt, threw food at his window. (Incidentally, I learned that this was not an anomaly in this house. Apparently the boys subscribed to a "If it sticks to the wall, it's done" rule for cooking. So there are noodles on the walls of the kitchen as well.)

Then one day, I walked in and found my chopping board out of its cupboard in the middle of the kitchen, with a knife through it. The handiwork of one Mike who carried around a huge beer mug bearing the image of Mr. Grumpy. Needless to say, I was freaked. I went straight to the college administrator and begged her to move me out. I went back to my room and triple locked my door.

So in this harrowing experience, as most harrowing experiences do, a romance began to blossom. Ok, so maybe not blossom. Maybe not even feebly poke its head out of the ground. But I like to pretend it did.

He was always smiling. When I walked in, he'd say "Hiya!" as if it were the first time I saw him. When I walked out, he'd say "See ya!" with a smile that would charm the paws off a cat.

One weekend, when everyone else had either gone home or were sleeping, he and I talked in the kitchen for a long time. He was from the Lake District, the beautiful English countryside famed for inspiring poets and writers. He had an older sister and he played the guitar. He loved slack-lining and rock climbing and had a boyish charm. And when I confided in him that I was going to move out because Mike was freaking me out, he shook his head and said "Do you want me to have a go at him?" That did it for me. I fell for him hard.

And when I bought some organic lamb to make some lamb stew and he happened to be hanging around the kitchen, I offered him some. He was properly amazed and grateful and said that it was the best meal he had eaten since he had arrived at college. Not surprising, given how full of frozen foods the refrigerator seemed to be.
Alas, I moved out of that room to a much bigger and safer one elsewhere in the college. Now I have my own bathroom and shower and don't have to deal with knife wielding Mr. Grumpies.

As for my fling? I like to think that the taste of my lamb stew still lingers upon his tongue and that on lonely weekends, he still thinks of me.

Flirty Lamb Stew Recipe
2 lb lamb chops
3-4 cups of water
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 vine ripe tomato
1 tablespoon of ginger, finely minced
1 spring onion, chopped

To cook:
1. Bring water to bubble in a dutch oven and let lamb chops simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain, and refill the pot with water, lamb chops, and ginger. Let stew for half an hour.
2. Add onions, celery, carrots, tomato, salt and pepper to taste. Let stew for another half an hour on low-medium heat.
3. Add spring onions and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Serves 4

(Photos to come, as soon as I can find out how to upload photos on British computers!)