Single (and cooking) in the City

Food, life, love, and fun recipes



The Life of Leftovers

Approximately 31 days ago… I had hot pot at home. You probably will not remember this because 1) it was 31 days ago, 2) i didn’t post it on my blog, 3) …it was 31 days ago.

It was good, but there was a TON of sliced beef and lamb leftover (since we didn’t give it adequate time to defrost and was only able to peel the top couple of slices off). Back into the fridge it went, until I correctly defrosted it for a 2nd round of hot pot a week later. With still more beef and lamb left, we marinated it and let it sit in the fridge for a later meal…

Yakisoba – the night we lit the Christmas tree! Chock full of veggies, Kel did an excellent job making sure there was stuff I would want to eat in it, besides the chunks of meat and soba. However, even though it was our 3rd attempt at using up the leftover meat, there was still a clump of it sitting in a bowl in the fridge… until last night…

4th attempt! Mixed in with cauliflower, onions, and tomato… it had a slightly funky taste. Good or bad, I’m not sure but hey! Still alive…



I’m tired, by now, to have to whine once again about how hard it’s been to find time to make dinner after work, so here is an image of what often looks like my meal at the end of the day:

some sauteed vegetable (in this case Chinese water spinach) and steamed fish.

Like most of the vegetable dishes I make, I prepare them the simplest way – garlic and olive oil. Chinese water spinach is particularly fun to eat because the stems are hollow, so its like eating straws. (It would be unsurprising that I might be the only one who finds this amusing.) A dinner like that takes about 20 minutes to prepare, which gives me ample time afterwards to do a bit of freelance work for my old job.

And when I’m not busy freelance working or actual day job working, (or working on my cycling tan), I’m working on a side project with coworker Patrick. He’s part of a group of cycling/volleyball enthusiasts, who call themselves Spikes and Spokes, and they will be riding in the MS Bike Tour taking place in October. In addition to riding, he came up with an idea to raise money for the cause, and approached me to see if I would be interested in designing something together. As a follow-up to our first collaborative design effort (2 years ago), we once again explored some jewelry design. The first collaboration, which I wish I had some images and documentation of (if anyone out there does, please send it my way!), was a series of rings laser cut from acrylic, and we sold them during a fundraising event for the earthquake crisis in China. If I remember correctly, the design sessions took place on weeknights after work at Whole Foods and also mostly via emails and AutoCAD. This time, since we’ve now become co-workers, our design session became an extension of our normal workday. Takeout containers and showroom wine stash… not a bad way to spend afterhours in the office.

After a couple of glasses, we were strong enough to wrestle a bicycle spoke into a ring.

Steamed Fish and Chinese Broccoli

Back on familiar territory now… this is what I grew up eating almost every other day when I lived with my parents. My dad, the sweetheart that he is, would always make me my “favorite” dish as often as he could. And he interpreted “favorite” to mean anything I said I liked. Everything became a “favorite” (salmon, garlic shrimp, rack of lamb, plain Chinese buns, almost anything cooked with thai basil) until I’ve had so much of it, the mere thought of it would turn my stomach.

After I moved out, I missed these dishes the most, so after many nights over at my parents’ place just watching them cook (they don’t believe in writing recipes down, and could never give me exact measurements even if I begged for them) I finally mastered some version of it. Seriously, the easiest things I could’ve ever taken forever to learn.

Steamed Fish

  • fish (I’m sorry I have no idea what this type is called, but you can basically do this with anything)
  • 1 scallion, chopped into short strands
  • 2 thin slices of ginger, also chopped into short strands
  • chinese cooking wine
  • soy sauce

In a steamer, heat up a bit of water until boiling. Meanwhile, salt the fish, cover it with the scallion and ginger, and pour a bit of cooking wine and a tiny bit of sauce sauce on top. Place in steamer and for a fish that was about 1.5″ at its thickest, it took about 14 minutes. In my opinion, the fresher the fish, the more likely I’d shorten the time, sometimes it takes only 10-12 minutes. This one was an old old fish. Yes. It is both old in fish age and old in freezer age.

Chinese Broccoli

  • chinese broccoli (I use 4 stalks for one portion, but I could just as easily eat a whole broccoli tree. Do they grow on trees?)
  • chinese cooking wine
  • sugar
  • salt

Is this simple or what? Seriously, that is all you need. The only catch is that the broccoli with the thicker stalks, which are “older” (and in my opinion, more fun to eat, I love to crunch on them) need to be peeled. So, peel the stalks and soak it. Heat up oil in a pan, and add the thickest parts first. Sautee until bright green then add the leafy parts. When everything is bright green, add salt, a tiny bit of sugar (this makes a nice delicious difference), and some cooking wine. Cooking wine has a subtle flavor, so I like to either add a bit more so I can taste it, or use it as a finish towards the end. I am not an alcoholic.