I’m back! With about thirty new mosquito bites and one PhD!
As you can imagine, I’ve had an eventful break from blogging…
After 7 years (!) of grad school, last Friday I passed my dissertation defense. (You may now call me “Dr.” but you might be one of the only people calling me that, since my PhD is in linguistics.)
The weekend before that, my little sister Jess got married.
Her wedding was beautiful. The ceremony was on a sunny hilltop in the countryside, and Wisconsin was looking greener than ever. (Or at least I thought so anyway, coming from drought-stricken California.)
A note to my dear readers: I haven’t missed a single week of posting in over two years, but it’s finally happening — I will be taking the next two weeks off. I’ll be back on Thursday, June 12th! (And if you’re wondering why: One week from today, I give a talk about my dissertation, then fly to Wisconsin for my sister’s wedding. The following week, I fly back to CA to defend my dissertation. Wish me luck!) I’ll miss you while I’m away!
Remember back when I wrote about how sauteed kimchi is like the gateway drug to raw (fermented) kimchi? Well I’m giving you one more recipe that uses cooked kimchi to really win over anyone who still has any doubts.
That’s how passionate I am about the combination of kimchi + heat.
And yes, I know you lose the probiotic benefits of kimchi when you cook it, but what better way to use up that really sour kimchi in the old jar, before you open up a new one? (Although I’m pretty sure you could justify this to any skeptics with the taste alone.)
Kimchijeon is a crispy, savory pancake, packed with tangy kimchi.
Note from Allison: I stopped introducing each of Paula’s guest posts a long time ago, since she’s written quite a few of them by now. I just wanted to point out that my theory continues to ring true: we make icy granita, and the temperature drops; we plan to share this cozy, comforting, delicious Albóndigas Soup with you, and California finds itself in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave.
(Yesterday it was 99 degrees in Santa Barbara, and today the heat continues… So, yes, this is the last thing we want to eat right now.)
If you live somewhere with rising temperatures and have long since declared Soup Season officially over, just do us a favor and bookmark this recipe for sometime next winter or spring… it’s worth it.
Albóndigas Soup is one of those few Mexican dishes that I’ve rarely come across. Even though I was a fan, I would never see it provided or made anywhere around Los Angeles.
Menudo and pozole are usually the most popular Mexican soups made by family and friends (and most easily found in restaurants). I doubt I’d had albóndigas more than 10 times in my life… until recently.
Albóndigas are basically meatballs that can be made with ground chicken, pork, beef, turkey, or really any ground meat. (I’ve only had ground turkey albóndigas, though.) The meatballs are packed with spices, mint, and uncooked rice; the rice grains inside the meatballs cook and puff up as they simmer.
I am so excited that it’s rhubarb season. And I wasn’t expecting to be excited about anything this month other than counting down the days until I finish my PhD. (30 days until my dissertation defense!)
Despite my looming deadline, and feeling overwhelmed and anxious because of it, I’ve bought every nice-looking stalk of rhubarb I’ve come across so far this year, and haven’t let a single one go to waste.
Lately whenever I open the fridge door, the jumble of rhubarb stalks stuffed onto the top shelf reminds me to bake. So I’ve been baking. And I think the baking is therapeutic. I’ll probably owe a good chunk of my degree to butter, sugar, and flour. (And, of course, to all of the home cooked dinners Paula and I have made in this kitchen, where I’ve lived for 6 of the 7 years of my PhD program.)
If I hadn’t set aside time and money to cook (and eat) my way through the stress, I think I would have dropped out of grad school long ago. Restaurant take-out and quick frozen dinners are fine every once in a while, but I’m sure I would have been miserable if I hadn’t started reserving evenings and weekends for the therapeutic, money-saving, healthy, and wonderful act of cooking.
This got me thinking. Besides the obvious people I’ll acknowledge in my dissertation (my advisor, my professors, Paula, etc.), there are also many… let’s say entities I’d like to acknowledge, even if these won’t make it into the official dissertation.
I give you, in no particular order, My Unofficial Dissertation Acknowledgments:
We all have our weaknesses. Some foods inspire an insatiable hunger slash lack of control. (And some foods are even designed to do just that.)
Paula and I invented/discovered this pizza a few weeks ago and — although it says below that it “serves four” — we practically polished off the whole thing, just the two of us.
Not that this is a quality you should look for in your food, but rarely have I felt such little control in the face of something that I’ve cooked myself.
Lack of control when facing down an open bag of Cheetos? Yes. Orange flavored tic tacs? Also yes. A homemade dinner that’s at least 50% kale? There’s a first time for everything.
I love sandwiches and toast—they are the perfect compact foods. Since renouncing store bought bread because I was learning to bake for myself, I haven’t been able to eat sandwiches or toast at all; I just wasn’t good at making tall, airy loaves of sandwich bread.
For the longest time, I only had sandwiches or toast if I bought them while out. When Allison and I go out for brunch, I tend to order things that come with toast. (I think I can count on one hand the number of times I didn’t get toast when out to breakfast.)
Back when I used to make baguettes quite often, I would slice them thinly and have tiny turkey or peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, but baguette bread is a sad replacement for the whole wheat loaves that would call out to me whenever I walked passed the bread aisle in a grocery store.
I have a secret strategy when I don’t want it to rain on my vacation: I pack an umbrella. Then I carry that umbrella with me everywhere—fully prepared for the rain that never shows up—and I usually end up having to splurge on supermarket sunblock the first chance I get.
Once my parents and I were caught, umbrella-less, in a San Francisco downpour. We had no choice but to keep on slogging through it, until we got to a drugstore on Market Street and bought an umbrella. And just as we left the drugstore, the rain stopped.
I’m sure this was only memorable to me because it proved my oddly superstitious conviction that the weight of an umbrella in my bag is often enough to ward off the rain. I’m sure there are thousands of counter-examples that I’ve failed to remember, since they didn’t support my theory… but I still can’t help but think it tends to be true.
I’ve recently discovered a similar phenomenon, also weather-related, but in this case the question is not to pack, or not to pack, an umbrella. The question is what to have for dinner.