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Double Down

9 Nov

It starts out as four of the world’s best ingredients: chicken breasts, pepper jack cheese, smoked bacon, and an emulsion of the freshest ketchup, mustard, pickles, mayonnaise and secret ingredients (I think they use the tears of angels). Then, prepared expertly by master chefs, the components are combined into what KFC calls the Double Down sandwich – two fried chicken breasts surrounding melted cheese, crispy bacon, and special sauce.

For one of the major players in fast food, I never expected such innovation. It’s pure genius. I can’t even begin to describe the perfection that is the Double Down; other than comparing it to pure godliness, my best effort would be to rank it as so:

  1. KFC Double Down
  2. Curing Cancer
  3. World Peace

I get it, I get it – at first, it does sound a little disgusting. Critics are appalled by the sheer amount of fat, sodium, and calories in the sandwich. But before you take their side and just write it off, take a moment and just think about what is actually wrong with it? Have you ever tried one? Weren’t you taught, as a child, to be a good person, to never judge a book by its cover?

I think the main reason the Double Down isn’t getting more praise is the lack of bread. It’s called a sandwich, after all. But people are complacent. We have a hard time accepting change. Where is the bread, they ask? Please, people! Are you really complaining about a sandwich that gives you double the meat? And removes the worst part, a dry and bland bun?

Give it a break. Quit being unreasonable, start trying new things, and you’ll learn more about yourself and the world.


Dragon Boat Festival

18 Oct

Food is an incredibly important part of the Momotaro myth. Momotaro is created from within a giant peach, and his birth gave him a divine purpose. As he leaves to fulfill his destiny of defeating an island of ogres, his mother gives him millet dumplings, which he uses to convince the spotted dog, the monkey, and the pheasant to help him in his quest. The dumplings help the group conquer the Ogre Island and achieve a mythical status within the story.

In the Chinese myth of Qu Yuan – the wise scholar from ancient China – food also plays an important role. The myth goes that Qu Yuan was a minister in the court of King Chu, but was exiled because other court officials were jealous of his wisdom and ideas. He warned the King of impending attacks from other states and provided strategies for defense, but was paid no attention.

Though a hero to the people, Qu Yuan drowned himself instead of facing a life in exile. The Chu people searched for him in Dragon Boats, and threw Glutinous Rice “tamales” wrapped in bamboo leaves to prevent the fish from eating his body. They loved Qu Yuan and knew he was unrightfully removed from the court, and began the tradition of Duan Wu Jie, or the Dragon Boat Festival, every year to commemorate his death.

I grew up celebrating the festival and eating the “tamales.” I never learned of the purpose of the myth, but to this day people celebrate the day by teaching their kids the myth and unwrapping both savory and sweet rice “tamales.”


Photos from the Soba Class, 10/7

7 Oct

Little Dragon Dumplings

28 Sep

Food to foodies isn’t just nourishment to support their bodies. They’re relationship with food is more exciting, like the bold tastes and mouth-watering smells bring. Extreme foodies like Count G and the members of his Gourmet club spent every moment thinking of food, and they devote their lives towards discovering new, more complex flavors. Perhaps that’s why Chinese food is so alluring to foodies – the sheer number of different dishes is mind-boggling… almost magical.

One of my favorite memories involving Chinese food began on a hot summer day in Shanghai. It’s a city famous for one particular food called Shiao Long Bao, or “Little Dragon Dumplings,” and my family and I were on the hunt for the best in town. After navigating through a maze of smaller streets in the older portion of Shanghai, we arrived at a small restaurant packed with customers; a sure sign we were at the right place.

The aroma of pork and fresh crabmeat struck us as we opened the door, but this amazing sensation was only a clue of what was to come. Just a few minutes after ordering, the waitress brought out the bamboo steamers filled with dumplings. It became clear why these were the best – everything was perfect. The soup inside each dumpling was incredibly rich and not at all greasy, a clear indication that it had been cooked down for many days and strained to remove any impurities. The blend of ground pork and crabmeat was just right, allowing the two ingredients to play off one another in equal balance. And the wrappers were rolled so thinly and delicately to package everything up without overpowering any of the flavors.

This sheer attention to detail made these dumplings more than food. Each one was a little bit of heaven, a little bit of perfection, and something that carried us away from the sweltering weather and towards ecstasy.

Garden Update 9/24

24 Sep

Garden looked about the same today – everything is growing well. It was quite hot today so I watered the garden a bit more, especially the half that’s further away from the house since the sun hits it more.

Garden 9/17

17 Sep

Garden looks great! Everything’s growing very healthily, and I think we can wait until Thursday to move and replant the sprouts.

We should also remove the sunflowers and pumpkin plants then.

Fukuoka the Foodie

15 Sep

Masanobu Fukuoka.


That’s right – in many ways, Fukuoka was a foodie. Foodies are hobbyists, and most are amateurs that don’t rely on food to make a living. They eat, cook, and read about food as a form of pleasure. They care deeply about food at every step in the process, from initial planting to ultimate consumption.

In much the same way, Fukuoka started his experiments with natural farming as an amateur, only having experienced a moment of enlightenment, without much knowledge toward caring for the land and his crops. He took pleasure from devoting his time towards his ultimate goal of perfecting the natural way of farming and living in tune with the Earth. And along the way his methods produced the best tasting foods: sweet mandarins, rich eggs, and even flavorful rice.

Obviously, Fukuoka wouldn’t agree with everything a modern day foodie believes in – in fact, he condemns their continuous search for new flavors and foods: “Modern people have lost their clear instinct… They go out seeking a variety of flavors. Their diet becomes disordered, the gap between likes and dislikes widens… people begin to apply strong seasonings and elaborate cooking techniques, further deepening the confusion” (Fukuoka, 136). His philosophy takes the natural food diet extremely stringently, but his beliefs are so radically different than the average persons and require people to concede so much in their daily lives that very few would ever “convert.” Instead, we need to find a solid medium between our lifestyles, combining his natural farming methods to produce raw ingredients with deep flavors with modern cooking techniques to develop and create more variety. We can have the best of both worlds.

Garden on 9/10/10

10 Sep

Great sunny day, not too warm or cold. Watered the garden around 1:30pm, but the house shaded most of the plot. Sunflowers are drooping down considerably and need to be harvested.

Soil was pretty dry and absorbed water quickly. I watered twice – once before taking photos and once after.

I think the Crimson Giant Radishes are starting to sprout.

Red Stewed Pork

6 Sep

I’ve enjoyed cooking all my life, watching and learning from my parents in the kitchen and various professional chefs on TV. I find it relaxing and love seeing raw ingredients transform into delicious and enticing dishes. But when I cook, I prefer to keep things simple and use a couple of techniques I’ve learned through the years – stewing or roasting meats and roasting or stir-frying vegetables. One of my favorite recipes, which I picked up from my mother, is an Asian-inspired stewed meat dish, which consists of pieces of pork shoulder meat stewed in a blend of soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, ginger, and sugar. Called “Hong Shao Rou” in Chinese, the dishes name literally translates to Red Stewed Pork in English.

But now that I’ve experienced the demands of college cooking, I’ve realized that this technique of cooking meat is extremely versatile and easily prepares meals enough for an entire busy week. I rarely have time to cook on weekdays, so I prepare an entire pot full of some sort of meat stew on the weekend and eat it throughout the week. I’ve already made the dish with pork shoulder, but I’ve also experimented with a beef pot roast, which I made into a more traditional American pot roast dish, and beef shortribs, to which I added a tomato, some carrots and potatoes to make into an entire meal.

Everything so far has turned out great, and I’m very happy to have found a simple and adaptable “recipe” that I can use to feed myself this year.