We made pretzels!
Here they are prior to cooking. We had a lot of trouble getting them not to fall apart when we stretched them out.

Here’s the recipe (makes 4 pretzels):

  • 240g (1 cup) milk
  • 3g (1 tsp) yeast
  • 32g (1/6 cup) sugar
  • 28g (2T) butter
  • 6g (1 tsp) salt
  • 370g flour

Heat the milk, butter, and sugar in the microwave until warm (~1.5 min), and mix until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Let it cool to 95F (important so that the yeast doesn’t die), then add the yeast. Mix the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients. Knead. Let the dough rise for an hour. Divide the dough into four. Roll each into a rope about ~36in long (this was really hard) and attempt to make it into a pretzel.

Boil 4.5 cups (1080g) of water and add 60g (1/4 cup) of baking soda. Boil each pretzel for 20 seconds. Sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt.

Bake for 8 min at 450F.

If you do this, hopefully your pretzels will turn out better than ours. We skipped the baking soda bath (and instead just brushed baking soda water on them) and it didn’t turn out quite right. I think it’s probably important. Good luck.


We tried making silken tofu, essentially a fresh, high-moisture cheese (think fresh mozzarella or ricotta) where you use soy milk instead of dairy milk. The coagulant is gypsum (calcium sulfate)  – flavorless and a good source of calcium.

Looking good so far…
But then it ended up with a ricotta-like texture. Not sure what went wrong 🙁

J ate it anyway.

Good, quick bread

I made bread this week from a recipe recommended by (not-college) friend S, whom we met on a Japanese hike in the Bay Area! I share a lot of interests with non-college friend S, like homemade and fermented food, gardening, and sustainability!

This bread has a good neutral flavor – it’s not the most amazingly yeasty, savory bread ever, but it’s good for all your normal bread needs.


  • 3 cups (390 g) flour
  • 2 tsp (7 g, 1 packet) yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp (9 g) salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (338 g) water
  1. Mix dry ingredients. Add water. The dough will be quite wet. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, gently stretch and fold the dough several times until firmed up into a loaf, being careful not to deflate completely. Cover and let proof for 15 min.
  3. Bake for 45 min at 450°F.
You can cut the top with a razor if you want.

Sicilian sun-dried zucchini salad

A recipe I found when trying to determine if this dish, a favorite from Mandola’s in Austin, is a Thing or not. It is.

Slice zucchini (or other summer squash) thinly. Salt and let sit until a lot of water has come out of the zucchini.

Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible.
Dehydrate until leathery but still pliable. Currently I’m using my stove’s pilot lights to dehydrate.
Stirfry with garlic, basil, mint, pepper, and chili pepper. Add lots of olive oil to make a dressing.


  • If you don’t have a dehydrator or ever-burning pilot light, you can dehydrate the zucchini in the oven at a very low temperature or outside if it’s hot. Be careful of squirrels!
  • If your dehydrator/heat source is powerful enough, you don’t need to salt the zucchini beforehand. Add salt to the dressing at the end instead.
  • To make shelf-stable zucchini for later use, dry the zucchini until very dry, thin, and crunchy. Before stirfrying, rehydrate slightly by soaking in water for 5 minutes until pliable.

Dried radish

Our stove has ever-burning pilot lights that I like to use so that the energy’s not wasted. They’re good for drying plates really fast, fermenting yoghurt, and dehydrating food!

1 radish, before and after drying
Maangchi’s recipe for mumullaengi-muchim using the dried radish

We have a teensy garden

Our front windows are quite sunny – they face southwest – so I’d hoped to be able to grow some veggies. I planted lots of things, cilantro, peas (for pea shoots), various greens. Peas are the only thing that really took off, and (amazingly, considering they’re inside) actually made peas!

Various seeds from sibling C’s collection!
Pea shoots, with some small crucifer sprouts in between.
Pea flowers!

We got a handful of pods from the peas. Maybe I’ll save them to plant next year?

I also have a houseplant (Aglaonema) that I got for free! from work. It’s doing well. I might expand the houseplant collection. Ferns sound nice 🙂 It’s also possible to grow some tropical and more unusual foods indoors (see Growing Tasty Tropical Plants). I’m considering figs.

Sichuan boiled fish (Shui Zhu Yu, 水煮鱼)

This turned out really well! Dare I say restaurant-quality?

We put inedible whole spices in a tea strainer so that we don’t have to fish the spices out later, kinda like a bouquet garni.

Fish and Marinade

  • 1 lb fish fillets, thinly sliced (white fish, such as tilapia, catfish, cod, flounder, carp, etc)
  • 0-3/4 tsp salt (less if your doubanjiang and douchi are really salty)
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper (white preferred)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch or other refined cooking starch (potato, tapioca, arrowroot, etc)
  • 1 Tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine (substitute with sake or sherry)
  • 1 egg white (optional, not really sure what this is even supposed to do, we didn’t use it)


  • ~3 cups broth or water
  • Oil
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp doubanjiang
  • 2 tsp fermented black beans (douchi)
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp Sichuan chili flakes (optional, depending on desired spiciness)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (optional, depending on desired saltiness)

Veggies (12-16 oz total)

  • Soybean sprouts
  • Napa cabbage, cut into squares or strips
  • Mushrooms
  • Cucumber, cut into sticks
  • Celery, cut into sticks
  • Whatever else you want!


  • 2 Tbsp chili oil
  • 1 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorn powder or oil concentrate
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Sesame seeds
  1. Marinate fish for 30 min in cornstarch, cooking wine, salt, and pepper.
  2. Fry the ginger, garlic, douchi, doubanjiang, star anise, cardamom, and chili flakes in oil for a minute or so. Add broth or water. Taste for saltiness before adding soy sauce.
  3. Boil each veggie one at a time in broth. Once done, remove all of that veggie to the serving dish. Lastly, do the same with the fish, being careful to avoid breaking the slices.
  4. Move fish and broth to serving dish. Top with garnishes.

Chili oil

We use up chili oil really fast, so we thought it’d be more cost effective to make our own batch. Past chili oil attempts haven’t turned out particularly well (basically red oil that doesn’t taste like anything…), but I did more research this time 🙂

This recipe combines various online chili oil recipes plus everything on the ingredients list of the last commercial chili oil we bought (Blank Slate Kitchen has great chili oil). We get our Sichuan spices from Mala Market.

  • 1/2 cup Sichuan chili flakes (spicy Korean chili flakes is an okay substitute)
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder (substitute with any or all of: whole star anise, a cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, cardamom, and cloves)
  • 1 tsp freshly toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorn powder (or 1 Tbsp toasted whole peppercorns)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced thickly
  • 1/3 cup minced shallot (substitute with green or white onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cooking oil (peanut, canola, avocado, etc)
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  1. Put chili flakes, five spice, peppercorn powder, and salt in a heat-proof jar.
  2. Fry shallot, garlic, ginger, and any whole spices (cloves, etc) in cooking oil until crispy. Remove the ginger and any whole spices. Heat oil to 275°F. Pour into the jar of chili flakes – they should sizzle.
  3. Cool to room temp. Add sesame oil. Store in fridge for maximum shelf life.
  4. When the oil is gone, you can reuse the sediment (chili flakes, etc). Just pour more hot oil into the jar.

You can add other delicious things to your oil, like fermented black beans (douchi) or peanuts or sesame seeds.

A Sichuan-adjacent tofu-mushroom dish

This is our take on this recipe, which is the author’s take on a restaurant beef/tripe dish (apparently mushrooms have a similar texture). The final dish, with tofu included, is similar to mapo tofu.


  • Oil
  • Salt
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms
  • 1 container soft tofu (optional; if using double all following amounts)
  • 1/2 cup stock
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder (or 3/4 tsp fennel seeds and 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground into a powder + 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup shaoxing cooking wine (substitute with sake or sherry)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 2 Tbsp chili oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 handful peanuts, crushed
  • 1 handful chopped cilantro

Cook mushrooms in oil. Salt lightly and add all ingredients tofu through soy sauce. Cook until sauce is reduced and thickened somewhat. Remove from heat and add garnishes (celery through cilantro). Eat hot or cold.

Chicken adobo

This is a popular Filipino dish. I’ve never had it before, but J has fond memories of it. We actually have a Filipino cookbook, The Filipino Cookbook by Miki Garcia, so we used that recipe.


  • 2.5 lb chicken pieces (preferably skin-on)
  • Oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup cane, apple cider, or rice vinegar (or white vinegar diluted with water)
  • 1 cup soy sauce

Sauté chicken and garlic in oil until browned. Add everything except the onion and simmer until chicken is done (about 30 min). Add the onion and cook 5 min more.

I would describe the original dish as “aggressively tart”, to quote Cook’s Illustrated, and the chicken overcooked and chalky, so this version makes some changes. Originally, you were supposed to marinate the chicken overnight, include lime juice, and cook the chicken longer.

I might even decrease the cooking time more. You’re supposed to braise the chicken to make it tender, but we don’t have much success at that in general. Maybe this is one for a slow cooker.