“Omg, this kitchen is totally empty!!! I need pots, and pans, and spices, and produce, and…”
Not driving can be a huge hassle in Silicon Valley. While I am pretty sure that I CAN drive, although my examiner in Romania refused to give me my license when I sat the driving test, I had to resort to getting to Trader Joe’s and CVS by bike. The lack of baskets on my bike testifies to my laziness and simultaneous unwillingness to pay 30 bucks for a basket at the Campus Bike shop; I have a wonderful 30L backpack instead. In CVS, I am confronted for the first time with the problem of how to carry my purchases back home, as I try to figure out which is the biggest pan that will fit into my backpack. Not wanting to end up arrested for what would look like shoplifting, I decide to try to fit pans in my backpack in front of the cashier. My purchases from CVS just barely fit into what I thought was a huge backpack, with the family-size box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch tucked tightly in the laptop compartment.
At Trader Joe’s, after asking a sales assistant what “giblets” were because I am a total noob when it comes to shopping for actual food, a stranger kindly approaches me : “I hope you are not going to try to fit anything else in that backpack!!!” I leave Trader Joe’s with chicken breasts, milk, eggs, and a few other yummy, yet really heavy, things, but with no time to spare. I needed to meet a friend and catch a train with him for dinner very very soon. Biking arduously to put the perishable food in my fridge at home, I realize I will not make it to the apartment in time to catch the train. Momentarily regretting not living on-campus for the summer, I remember that amongst all those “NO FOOD” labelled, enzymes and viruses-full fridges in my lab, there is one fridge in the kitchen reserved for food. I get to lab, I put my shopping in the fridge, and bike back to the train station. Telling myself “You can do this! You can do this” in my head at first, then out loud as disbelief took over me, I hear the train pulling into the station as I bike through the last crossroad before the relevant platform. With no time to spare, I text my friend where he was, he tells me to board the train, I try to board through the accessible car, get yelled at by the woman next to the bike car, but do get to board the bike car. Phew; I was the last one to get on the train. Bzz–I get a text from my friend: “Are you on the train? I just got off…” A wonderful moment of miscommunication 🙂
All ended well, and we met up 40 minutes later at our destination. We ate dim sum, and tried our best to choose adventurously, but after a few unappetizing results, we stuck to BBQ pork buns and Egg custard buns. I hope the results of my adventurousness in the context of food will yield much yummier results when it will come to my cooking.
I reluctantly made scrambled eggs with turkey breast and green onions, accidentally dropped a ton of salt in my food, and found out the true size of the eggs Trader Joe’s advertises as ‘large’.
Slightly more ambitious. Made a chicken schnitzel with a side-dish of white rice. The schnitzel, which is extremely popular in Transylvania, probably as a result of the region’s history with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is very simple and tasty to make. You first tenderize the meat a bit (I used half a chicken breast which I cut along in order to have it become thinner, and, improvising, tenderized it with a jar of jam wrapped in plastic wrap), put bread crumbs (which my mum had shipped me from Romania, since there you can buy at any supermarket these super fine bread crumbs packed up under the name of “pesmet”) on one plate, and beat an egg with salt and pepper in a bowl. You put the chicken in the egg, take it out, put it in the bread crumbs plate and cover it with crumbs, then once again in the egg, then again in the crumbs, and then in a previously heated pan with oil (preferably not Canola oil, it makes schnitzels taste funny for a reason I have yet to discover.) You fry the chicken at medium-low heat, so as not to burn the crust without cooking the meat through.
I won’t tell you how to boil rice, although I learned something from this experience; rice takes much longer to boil than I previously thought.
Went to the Shopping Centre to window-shop, but was immediately lured by 99c, fabulously-smelling strawberries at the front of a farmer’s market; I learned from Quora some time ago, that strawberries that smell great, taste great.The market was AMAZING. While the people around me might have wondered why on earth I couldn’t stop smiling and “OMG”-ing, I thought I had died and reached Heaven: English clotted cream, butter lettuce, Bulgarian feta, this store/market sold almost EVERYTHING I wanted. I bought a ton of groceries, already thought of what to buy next week as I biked back (now having more experience carrying a bajillion kilos of groceries on my bike due to Day 0), and arrived home shining with happiness.
Armed with fresh produce and all-round amazing groceries, and wanting to use the extra-rice I had boiled yesterday, I improvised a dish, which ended up tasting very good. I started taking seriously the idea of blogging about my summer of cooking as the smell of what I had reluctantly thrown into the pan pleasantly surprised me. Upon having the first bite of the chicken, I decided to go through with the blog. Hence, forgive me for the not-so-great-looking picture of my already cut food… It took me at most 15 minutes to get this yummy food done, even though the heat was on low when I cooked the chicken; the low heat makes the chicken stay juicy, and if you have made your pieces of chicken about half-a-finger thin, they will quickly cook all the way through.
Pofta buna! (Romanian for “Bon appetit!”)
1 chicken breast
some white rice
canned tomato sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 of a bunch of dill
15 minutes total time
1. Heat up a pan with a bit of oil, to medium heat.
2. Cut the chicken breast along the middle, then tenderize it.
3. Chop two cloves of garlic, and throw them in the pan.
4. After 2 minutes, add in the tomato sauce.
5. Chop the dill and add it in the pan right away.
6. Add the already-boiled rice.
7. Add in the meat, switch the heat to medium-low. Cook until done, then season with salt and pepper.