Archive | April, 2013

Chicken, Rice, and Kale Skillet

21 Apr

Well, I don’t know what to tell you.  I’ve had a very busy weekend, but not a particularly eventful one…  I’ll save all of that for next weekend when I go to some gallery openings and see some folks.



(i got a new camera!!)

Mostly I’ve just been quietly settling into the quarter, getting acquainted with a new paper on Japanese avant garde fashion and feminism and continuing work on my sustainable architecture piece because it blossomed into a fledgling career path when I wasn’t looking.  Instead of doing a new paper for my Chinese politics class I’m expanding the old one into a writing sample fit for grad school.  Or something.  And discussion of the Federalist Papers abounds.  Bet you’ve never heard anyone say that before.

So enough non-news.  This recipe is insanely good, and actually adapted this time, not just followed to the letter like usual.  The original recipe is from How Sweet It Is and is a bit different in some fundamental ways.

You can make this vegetarian by substituting tofu for chicken or skipping the chicken completely, in which case it will be more of a side than a main dish.


  • 1 lb chicken, breasts or thighs
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-ish cup rice (basmati works really well) or cooked pasta
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of kale (I don’t actually know how much that is), chopped
  • 12 oz mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (I love all of these action verbs)
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce



Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet at medium-high heat and throw in the chicken after seasoning with salt and pepper.



This is me standing on a chair, by the way, trying to avoid being splashed by the oil which was shooting off EVERYWHERE.

Cook until golden brown on both sides, or about 6-7 minutes per side.



I am so afraid to cook chicken because I’m paranoid about undercooking it (I do not have this problem with beef, which I like rare), but look how gorgeous that turned out!

Anyway, put the chicken on a plate somewhere, reduce heat a tad, and sauté the onions in the skillet for a few minutes.


Then add the mushrooms and kale for 5-6 minutes.



Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add sauce and cook until it gets hot.



Stir in the rice and mix until everything is combined.  Then put the chicken back on top, reduce heat a tad, and cover until the chicken is heated through (a couple of minutes).



Isn’t it lovely??  I don’t cook as often as I bake, so this is still thrilling for me.



So good!



Okay, so.  There’s a movie that you should absolutely see if it’s playing near you, and it is called Upstream Color.  I will only tell you a little bit about it because it’s sort of a special film that needs to be seen in isolation.

So the guy who did this movie did a stunning sci-fi movie 9 years ago that he wrote/produced/directed/starred in/composed/etc. and that was insanely excellent.  He disappeared for a bit and came out with Upstream Color, releasing teasing tidbits little by little that revealed absolutely nothing but got a certain group of people beyond excited.  He also did just about everything on this movie, which is part of the reason why it’s so good–it’s totally independent, it’s totally in his control, and it’s totally sublime.

The score is my favorite part.  Sometimes I lay down somewhere and just listen to it the whole way through, all 45 minutes of it.  I hesitate to recommend the movie because most people won’t like, but like the director said, the people it’s made for will come to it eventually, and if you’re one of those people… what an experience.


Coconut Almond Scones

13 Apr


I’ll say.

Today is actually one of the longest days ever.  Especially if you count before I went to sleep around 1:30 am after watching Farewell, My Concubine.  Who let me do that?  What a tragic fucking movie.  Made even more tragic by the fact that Leslie Cheung was one of the stars, and his character killed himself at the end.  Christ.

But then there was the waking up at 6, the presenting a goddamn paper at 10, the wandering around ISU looking for stuff to do, the drive back to Chicago, the making of brownies (non-negotiable event), and the finishing season 2 of Girls finally, sadly.

I love that show.  So.  Much.

I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open, yet here I am blogging and watching Batman because… I don’t know, but here, enjoy these scones I made a week or so ago.


The recipe is, as usual, from Joy the Baker, adapted in the slightest of ways.

Oh my god i love batman if you haven’t seen the dark knight trilogy then gtfo and get thee hence okay.


(and maggie gyllenhaal (sp?) i love her too)


  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp milk (i used almond)
  • 1/3 cup shredded, toasted coconut
  • 1/3 cup slivered, toasted almonds

Recipe (the imperative of the Latin word recipere, meaning “to take”):

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, not including the coconut and almonds.

Add the cold butter and incorporate with your fingers until the mixture becomes crumbly.  This may be very frustrating and seem not to be working, but bear with it.


Whisk the eggs together with the milk, and then add the coconut and almonds to the flour mixture.


Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk/egg.


I don’t know why you’re supposed to do this, but I trust Miss Joy so whatever.

Mix all of that together with a fork until it just comes together.  The original recipe notes that the dough will be “shaggy”.  So then dump this shaggy dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a disk about 1 1/4 in thick.


With a biscuit cutter–or, say, a jar–go to work.


Luckily I save all my jars.


Place the biscuits an inch apart on a baking sheet and bake for 14-18 minutes at 350.


Now, the best thing about scones is that, somehow they know to puff up in a way that allows them to break easily in two.  Without you having to do anything special!  Don’t you just love dough and the science thereof?

Well, I do, I can’t help it if you have no sense of curiosity or wonder.

I know I recommended Xinran last week, but dude, you have to read her Sky Burial.  The Good Women of China is very enlightening and a great and important read…

But Sky Burial?

It’s a true story of a woman who, in the early days of the Communist rule of China, got married to her university sweetheart only to see him shipped out to Tibet by the PLA as a doctor for troops three weeks after their marriage.  And a few weeks after that?  She gets a notification of his death.

Not believing he’s really dead–due to the mysterious circumstances the PLA reported and the lack of skirmishes where her husband was located–she joins the PLA as well and goes to Tibet.

From the east cost of China.  By herself.  Back when travel was not easy, especially in China, and when, even after the Communist revolution, it was unusual for women to be so independent.

She ends up staying in Tibet for many, many, many years, living with nomads, never giving up the search for her husband.

It is such an absolutely tragic story, and all the whole you still want to know what happened to her husband even though that quest takes a backseat to the woman’s travels and growing up, and when you find out it makes the story even more beautiful and sad.

Dutch Baby

5 Apr

Well, classes have started again and I have been watching Girls instead of doing homework.  I am so obsessed with that show, it’s not even funny.  I was trying to read the letters of Brutus yesterday before class and got completely side-tracked by season 2.  Luckily the seasons are 10 episodes and there are only two of them, so this shouldn’t be too much of a disaster.  Here’s hoping…

But classes are actually going well, aside from the Girls thing.  For the first time ever the majority are on East Asia, although two out of three are on Japan, but that’s whatever.  It’s still Asia as opposed to some silly gen ed.


But none of you reads this to hear about Asia probably, so I will tell you about this miraculous breakfast thing I made after 4 hours of sleep between the hours of 7:30 and 11.  I got this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Tumblr, and luckily saved it into a Word document before they removed it from free access.  So, take that!


  • 2 tbsp of oil of some kind
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (I used almond and it was fine)
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • toppings, savory or sweet

To do:

Now, usually I am fairly willy-nilly about recipe directions, though not as much as some people i know, but this recipe is important to follow step-by-step.  America’s Test Kitchen is extremely legit, and they know what they’re talking about.  So when they say to do something a certain way… just do it.

So, oil a skillet and stick it in an oven heated to 450 degrees for about 10 minutes.  This will help the dough puff up.  I think…

While that’s heating, mix the flour, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, froth the eggs up.



Whisk the milk and butter into the eggs, and then add that to the flour mixture in thirds, mixing well after each addition.



Pour that into your skillet.  I actually used a pie tin because I don’t have a skillet, and it was shockingly big enough.



Bake until the edges are “deep golden brown and crisp” and it’s puffy and delicious looking.



The awesome thing about this is that it’s like a mutant crêpe–you can eat it savory or sweet. I think it would go really well with goat cheese, but I think everything goes really well with goat cheese…



It’s goo with jam, sugar, speculoos, Nutella…  You name it.  It also keeps pretty well, so you can keep having it for breakfast or for a quick snack.


I want you to savor this book recommendation, okay, because it’s the last you’ll get for a while.  The only thing I will be reading this quarter is the Federalist papers, and a book on Japan that I have to pick out eventually since my friend took the one I was going to do.  I’m torn between the two I read over break, but since I suspect no one else cares about urbanization in China, I will go with Xinran’s The Good Women of China.

I have been continually frustrated by the lack of books by and about women in China, particularly as someone who reads a hell of a lot about the country.  But this one….  This is good stuff.  It’s by a woman who hosted a radio show about “women’s issues” in the 80s, back when no one was allowed to talk about anything.  She collected all these horrible stories about women getting gang raped by emergency crews in the aftermath of earthquakes, child abuse, and the awful, awful consequences of female repression in China after the Communist revolution.  It’s dated, but it’s such an excellent book, and so important to read for people who study China and people who want to be Decent Human Beings.  I’m about to try to start another of her books, which will also probably be seriously excellent, but I recommend starting with The Good Women of China.

Spring Break in New York

2 Apr

So it’s been a while, and the reason is that I went home for spring break and brought only my iPad, which I still can’t use as well as a computer.  I have a couple of new recipes to post in the coming days, and more to follow soon after, but for now, here’s what I’ve been up to outside of my kitchen.


Catching the train to get to the airport.


First stop: Chelsea.  I had lunch last week with a really good friend who’s going to Japan for a long time, and one of her friends, a guy we went to high school with, came by as well.  Turns out he’s also studying Chinese and we’ll be in China at the same time for  few weeks next January.  So naturally we made plans to hang out over break, and went into Manhattan to see art galleries and go to Chinatown.  And Tribeca, and Central Park…  anyway.


The architecture in Chelsea is so excellent.


Now, Chinatown.  I love Chinatown.  In Chicago and New York, but really Chicago doesn’t compare once you’ve spent any time in New York’s Chinatown.  We spent so much time here.  First, lunch at a dim sum place, then walking around.

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I love graffiti.  Also, since David can read Chinese, he tried to decipher all the signs with varying degrees of success.



We stopped in a park, listened to some musicians…



Went to a bakery, and walked up through Tribeca all the way back to Houston.

Having no other ideas for what to do, we got gelato in Central Park.



And found a guerilla haiku.




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And then we headed out.



As you can see, this is all from one day, so I’m debating posting the other photos I have since it’s such a pain.  We’ll see!