Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Month: November, 2014

Bay Area Travels

In addition to cooking and eating, as usual, I’ve been going on hikes and biking excursions around the Bay area. This is one of the amazing aspects of living in the Bay Area – the weather is consistently so pleasant that one wants to be outside as much as possible. This is especially true of me: after working a full week where I rarely get outside except for my regularly scheduled 10-15 minute walk (yes, I do a regular walk a few times a week that I have scheduled as a recurring task in my Outlook calendar. Sad but true. Otherwise, I would sit at my desk for the full eight hours, lunch included, and not get out!) and being as solar-powered as I am I am always itching to get outside by the time the weekend rolls around.

A fun outside excursion we did a few weeks ago was a bike ride on the Stevens Creek Trail and the Bay Trail. Stevens Creek Trail is a multi-use trail that runs along, you guessed it, Stevens Creek in Mountain View, CA. It connects to the San Francisco Bay Trail, an amazing 500 mile multi-use trail that wraps around the San Francisco Bay. The part we cycled around follows the shoreline near Mountain View. It was a beautiful November day, breezy, partly sunny. And we ended up cycling 22 miles, roundtrip, on a tandem bike!
Bay Trail tandem

Riding a tandem bike is an interesting experience. As someone who yearns and needs to be in control (I’m the first child of three; I’m a Virgo; I’m the only daughter: just a few reasons for my need to be in control), sitting in the back where I couldn’t see anything in front of me, needing to follow the lead of my bike partner on the pedals, not being able to shift gears myself, and not leading the way was all a bit challenging at first. Kind of like dancing and needing to follow the lead of the male partner, something I was never good at, any of the times I tried ballroom dancing.

But with a little bit of good communication and a lot of trust, I was able to let go and enjoy myself. I could even ride without hands and just enjoy the scenery since I didn’t have to lead the way! What a new experience! It helps, of course, having a good pilot who knows where we’re going, is comfortable riding a bike and maneuvering tight turns, and is calm under pressure. Someone should write a book about the ins and outs of riding a tandem bike. It sure is a good test of any relationship!

Good Eats Returns!

It’s been a long while since I last posted. Life just took over! But I’ve missed blogging for a few reasons:

  • it helps keep me writing
  • I can document places I’ve been, food I’ve eaten and cooked, books I’ve read, thoughts I’ve had
  • it’s a good space for reflection

So I’ll start up where I left off, with some food and some travels.

Thanksgiving 2014 has come and gone, but not without some great eating! One highlight of this past few days of cooking and eating was having Dungeness crab, Vietnamese style. (At least, I think it’s Vietnamese style – the recipe comes from my Vietnamese friend!) It’s Dungeness crab season in the Bay area, and I hope to take full advantage of it.

Having grown up in Maryland, I’m still partial to Maryland blue crabs; but I’m learning to love Dungeness crabs, too, which isn’t very hard!

We got two big crabs for $6.99/ pound at 99 Ranch, the big Chinese supermarket out here. And then we used this video to kill the crab as humanely as possible. One adjustment to this video was that we left the crabs in the freezer for more like 30-40 minutes. I think even an hour would have been better. This was another good supplemental video that was helpful.

So here’s the recipe from my friend that we used:

Ingredients

  • 4 dungeness crabs = 6 pounds
  • two fist size knobs of ginger
  • two heads of garlic (small or medium size)
  • two bunches of scallions
  • 2-3 tsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar

Dungeness crab ingredients

Preparation

  1. Crabs – take off the shell.  Put the innards into a bowl (keep!!)  Cut up the body part into halves or quarters.  Keep all parts for cooking.
  2. Ginger – cut into 2 inch matchsticks
  3. Garlic – rough mince
  4. Scallions – 2 inch chop

Cooking

  1. Use big pot (wide bottom is better) with a lid.
  2. Heat oil.  Add garlic and ginger.  Saute for a minute or two.
  3. Add crab pieces.  Cook for a minute or two.
  4. Add fish sauce and sugar (may need to add more – taste the broth that develops from all the ingredients).  Toss crab to coat with developing sauce.
  5. Add crab innards.  Cook a few minutes, tossing if possible.
  6. Add scallions.  Turn heat down to medium.
  7. Cover with lid.  Check every so often, toss to makes sure all crab pieces get flavoring.
  8. Total cooking – 7-10 minutes, check that meat turns white.  Don’t overcook!

IMG_6886

We made the recipe with two crabs, and that would have been enough to feed three people, probably. Super simple and easy – the hardest was probably butchering the crab, but luckily I got someone else to do that (thanks, D!).

It’s good to have a filler to go with this since not everyone can eat enough crabs to fill themselves up, so I made some kimchee-bacon fried rice. I don’t really have a recipe for this, but I’ll write a narrative description here:

  1. Chop up well-fermented kimchee, bacon, and anything else you want to throw into the fried rice.
  2. Cook up the bacon to get it crisp.
  3. Add the chopped up kimchee with some kimchee juice and cook that up until the kimchee has wilted pretty well. Add some sugar, sesame oil, and soy sauce for some extra flavor.
  4. Add day-old rice. Stir it all around.
  5. Add an egg or two and stir well.
  6. Serve!

IMG_6887

Good post-Thanksgiving eats!

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