Meatballs, Aubergine, Tomatoes & Sage

It’s been liberating to not update this for three months. Blogging can come with so much silly stress. It became another medium to measure myself against. I stressed over the material and I obsessed over readership. It felt like such an easy and quantifiable way of assessing myself. Like my target at work. Like my grades in schools. Like the number on the scale.

I started this eight years ago with nonchalent innocence. It was an exuberant exploration of food, of something I was just beginning to love. I had updated my blog so often because I just didn’t give a sh*t. There were no sh*ts given about the quality of the writing, the photos or the recipes.
tomatoes aubergine meatballs.jpg
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Parmigiana Wreath

I’m a little bit tired.

I have a day job that pays the bills, and a side granola business that’s quite literally the opposite. I’m also trying to maintain this blog. Maintain various relationships. Maintain my physique and work out and feed myself.

Today I really felt this longing for baths. I fantasized the luxury of taking 45 minutes to cleanse myself. I also miss books. I’ve shamefully got three unopened and two half-finished books waiting for me across my apartment – on my bedside table, dining table, coffee table – all to punish myself with guilt wherever I go.  See, it’s not that I’m not reading anything, it’s that on top of everything, I also subscribe to three news publications, and I have to get my money’s worth and read them every day. That means it takes me my entire 40 minute commute to my day job to read all three morning briefings.
parmigiana wreath.jpg
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Chinese Sesame Noodles (麻酱面)

Chinese New Year always strikes a sharp homesickness in me. Home is Beijing. And despite the vacancy of my childhood home, the lack of close family ties, and the ever-changing skyline, home is still Beijing. I have no desire to reside there or frequent the place on a regular basis, but around the holiday times nostalgic memories crowd out all the problems surrounding pollution, food safety, and the inability to find adequate cheese.

Every year I tame this longing with trips to the Chinese supermarkets, hours perusing Chinese recipes, and listening to Mando Pop (that is Mandarin Pop, and I’d say only the former two activities are worth indulging in). chinese sesame noodles.jpg
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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Dressing

I had a terrible realization yesterday: I hadn’t written anything beyond emails and text messages and comments on Instagram for two months. I’ve been in between jobs and I’ve neglected this blog. I was about to dedicate this post to filling you in on what’s happened in my life since I last posted in May, but I realized that f*ck all’s happened. I quit my job, I’m doing the cliched Millennial thing of “finding myself”, which for yesterday meant that I spent the afternoon in bed reading a depressing novel set in Japan in the second world war, getting up every 45 minutes to give my baby bread dough a knead. The sourdough turned out quite well, by the way.
sweet potatoes tahini dressing
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Orange Blossom Oat Cookies

Orange blossom is the only floral flavor I can tolerate in food and drink. Maybe I’ve had one too many bad experiences with cheap Turkish delights, but anything rose-flavored is just like shoving a soap bar into my mouth. And lavender brings me back to my mother’s closet, which I’m not sure is what I want to recollect when I consume a food product. But I always keep a bottle of orange blossom in my cupboard for adding a special touch to otherwise mundane baked goods, like oat cookies.
oat orange cookies
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Pear and Citrus Cake

My fondest memories of my mother involve her feeding me, which I guess is normal. I can still visualize my mother cutting pears into segments over a bowl, endearingly slurping them, and passing the bowl to her children. Those were Nashi pears – they’re the crisp, fresh Asian pears that are more akin to apples. I always preferred the buttery, rich william and conference pears as a child, which were a rare and extortionate treat in China back in the days.
pear citrus cake
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Winter Blues Beet Salad

When all is grey and dark in the winter, at least there’s beetroot.

I had tried out a weekly vegetable box when I lived in Scotland. Every Friday I was delivered a box of seasonal produce from local farms, and it seemed like such an exciting idea at the time. I was ticking all the ethical boxes and it was going to be organic and healthier and I was going to challenge myself as a cook as my dinners were based on the mystery box!  Then reality slapped me in the face: weeks and weeks of root vegetables. Of course, what did my naivety think would grow in the harsh Scottish climate? But at least there was also beetroot, the only color that existed in my Scottish winter.
winter beet salad
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