Wednesday, October 17, 2012
A few weeks ago I wrote a story for The Kitchn about learning to live with a tiny, tiny freezer. You see, European apartments tend to come with comparatively small refrigerators. People here just stock less and shop more often, so they don't need our monster American refrigerators. But the tiny freezer was something of a shock to my system. But no more! Because not long after that post went up, I became the proud owner of a new refrigerator with ample freezer space. And the best part is that it's bright red!
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Going out with vegetarians was a little difficult in Beijing, because they kept wanting to have the meat taken out of all the dishes. (I like those little crumbled bits of pork in my dry-fried string beans!) The one bright spot when dining with vegetarians was that someone always ordered di san xian 地三鮮, or “three treasures.”
The three treasures are eggplant, potato, and green pepper. They’re each stir-fried separately, then cooked together in a semi-sweet, savory sauce with a bit of darkly smoky awesomeness from the caramelized edges of the vegetables. It's one of my favorites, but it tends to soak up a lot of oil in the prep stages, so I've always worried that it was a secret calorie bomb despite being just made of vegetables. (I normally don't like to fret about calories, but China did a serious number on me, so now I play it a little more cautiously with Chinese food. (Which I honestly think may be the best food in the world.))
But then last week I was working on an article on how to roast eggplant for The Kitchn when I found myself thinking, “I have an oven now … could I roast the vegetables first instead of stir-frying them individually?” It turns out I could! I wound up using a lot less oil than normal, and it tastes just the same. (If you want a more authentic version, the instructions for that are in here, too.)
Monday, October 15, 2012
The best decoration is a massive wall of books (or four massive walls of books).
I adore huge, wall-to-wall bookcases. But they're expensive and permanent, and Nick and I rent and tend to move around a lot, so they always seemed like a "someday" thing. But a couple years ago I saw a brilliant post on Centsational Girl about making a wall of "built-in" bookshelves from IKEA Billys. Basically, she set up IKEA bookshelves and then put wood molding around them so it looked like they had been built into the wall. At first I was skeptical, because Billys were those wobbly bookshelves that had followed me since college. But her results were completely amazeballs. (Seriously, go check them out at her site. I'll wait.)
See? I've been wanting to try my hand at a set of those since I saw them, but was never in a space that would accommodate them. Until now.