Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sunshiny Saturday With Only a Little Rain

The weather this week really got to me; for the first time, I understood what people meant when they said that it rains a lot in the Northwest. I don't know if I was lucky or maybe I was traveling too much to notice, but I didn't find the rain too bad this winter. Sure there was always drizzle, but the sun frequently peeked out and there were many days of perfect dryness. This weekend I decided not to go to lab at all but to spend my time being domestic instead. Before I can dive into cooking though, I had to finish my leftovers. So you see above, my last bowl of broccoli cheese soup. It's hard to cook for one person sometimes because my enthusiasm for a dish wanes considerably once I've had it more than 3 times in one week. I didn't quite finish this bowl, but it was enough to assuage my conscience.

For an early lunch I had my last piece of chicken and fixed a bowl of noodle soup from the drippings. I was completely out of vegetables (yay! no waste!) and my bowl of soup looked very sad without any green for company. Fortunately I did have a bunch of scallions and one sliced thin was the perfect addition. This was eaten with a great deal of hot chili garlic paste of course. Perhaps it's the weather, but I've been leaning toward my own version of comfort foods this week. That means noodle soup and chicken roasted with soy sauce and garlic and the simple pasta in my last post. I like noodle shaped things.

Fueled by my leftovers, I was ready to tackle Fubonn supermarket. The first time I went (was it a month ago? more?) I spent a lot of time just walking around and staring. So many things I'd never seen before (and I am no novice when it comes to the Asian supermarkets). This time though, I was shopping for a purpose and therefore took a more focused approach. My goal this weekend is to make zhong zi (recipe from use real butter) and kimchi (recipe from the kitchen wench). Very excited about both.

Sometimes I think the reason I became a scientist is because I enjoy working with my hands. I love making things and doing things and therefore enjoyed benchwork. Cooking from scratch fulfills a similar need and has the added benefit of generating delicious things you can't buy. I don't like very persnickety recipes (boil this tablespoon of what have you in one pot, another cup of something else in a different pot and three other things in three other pots, etc), but I don't mind cooking things that take time. Spending a couple of hours making dumplings is time well spent; if the outcome is tasty the process feels satisfying. And even if the outcome is not perfectly tasty, if the potential is there, then you make a note and adjust the next time. I like that part too, of putting my own stamp on a recipe. Cooking is an ever-evolving skill for me and it's exciting to go new places, as I become more practiced and more confident in my abilities.

Broccoli Cheese Soup (adapted from all recipes)

2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
8 oz processed cheese food (eg. Velveeta), cubed
4 oz or more extra sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
salt to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, simmer the broccoli in the broth for 15 minutes. In a separate skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, add the onions and saute for 5 minutes, or to desired tenderness.

Add the flour to the onions and stir well, forming a pasty substance. Gradually add the milk and whisk until thick. Add this mixture to the broccoli mixture in the pot and stir well. Then add the cheese, stirring until melted. Finally, add the salt. (Note: Be careful not to let the soup boil or the cheese will break down).
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  1. yay! i would eat all your leftovers if i were there

  2. Those noodles and all your staple cooking ingredients bring me straight back to college days... I miss being your nextdoor neighbor:-)