Weekends

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

Weekends – short and precious. I figure if I am busy working during the weekdays, I need to spend my weekends relaxing and recharging my mind. We need something more exciting than the routine house keeping tasks and grocery shopping. A couple weeks ago, we went on a snowshoeing nature walk with the US Forest Service’s rangers. It was a hike through the Commonwealth Basin in the Snoqualmie region. The weather was not too cold with light snow that day and it was just beautiful. The trip outdoor motivated me to enter the lottery to obtain a permit to hike and camp at The Enchantments in the Central Cascades this summer.

beautiful back country
beautiful back country

Last Friday I took a day off from work to spend some time with my son who has the whole week off from school. We went to a local diner for breakfast then we picked up my daughter who is in college and walked around University Village near her school. If you are visiting Seattle, this is a great place to walk about and try the different restaurants. We stopped by Delfino’s Chicago Style Pizza for lunch. It took about 30 minutes to get our pizza but it was worth the wait. My son and I later went to see ‘Lion’ in the movie theater. I think this is the year that we have watched the most Academy Award’s nominated best pictures. Other than ‘Lion’, we watched ‘La La Land’, ‘Arrival’ and ‘Manchester by the Sea’. Next on our agenda is ‘Moonlight’. My son is aspired to be a film maker and I try my best to watch some movies with him but his ideas and understanding of films are just way beyond my comprehension. My daughter brought us to Sharetea for some bubble tea the following night. It was probably the best bubble tea I have in the Seattle area.

During the week I received some pictures from my mom showing my dad’s newly rented farmland. They live in a downtown area condo in Taiwan where land is most coveted, let alone a farmland. He has to take a bus ride and walk a short distance to the place but he is now happily tending his vegetable garden. This news has inspired me to start planning for my own vegetable garden. The weather here has been less desirable lately but we are hopeful that spring will come soon. To utilize my time more effectively, I plan on growing most of the vegetable that I can sow the seeds directly into the ground, eliminating some of the work to replant. Here’s a list of seeds I ordered so far, Chinese cabbage, pea, carrot, lettuce, broccoli, string bean, choy sum and gailan. I am also planning to get some herbs and tomatoes later. I think this list will keep me busy for a while and provide us with a variety of produce in the summer.

I made Chinese beef noodle soup for the first time this weekend. Here’s my recipe and I hope you’ll have fun making it. This can be made in slow cooker, instant pot or stove top. I made mine in a slow cooker (7 quart crock pot), high for 5 hours. Instant pot may take 1 hour and stove top 2-3 hours. It is best to use a larger pot or your soup will be very concentrated and you can dilute later with more water or beef broth.

Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef shanks or other preferred cuts, diced into 2 inch cubes
  • 4 stalks of scallions, cut into sections
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1 small whole garlic, press with knife and take out cloves
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 carrots, 1 inch rounds
  • 1 small daikon, 2 inch size
  • 1 or more 32 oz clear beef broth
  • 1 pack of Chinese herb bag (find one with star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds, peppercorn, five spice)
  • water enough to cover ingredients or per herb bag instruction
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 4-5 tablespoons soy bean paste (Chinese ‘douban’ paste, with or without chili)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup Chinese shaoxing wine or sherry wine
  • Cooking oil
  • Noodles, any kind you like

Directions

  1. Heat a pan or wok on medium-high heat, add oil and brown the beef in two or more batches. Drain and place into crock pot.
  2. In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and add scallions and ginger. When caramelized and fragrant, add garlic and onion. Cook for another few minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add tomato paste and bean paste. Saute until fragrant.
  4. Add soy sauce, rice wine and shaoxing wine and let it boil.
  5. Pour mixture into crock pot. Mix in tomatoes, carrots and daikon.
  6. Add clear beef broth or water. I add about 4 cups at this point to the max level of my crock pot. Add the herb bag.
  7. Turn crock pot to high for 5 hours. It may be different depending of the cuts of meat you have. Some may require shorter cooking time.
  8. When ready to serve, boil the noodle according to direction. Dilute the beef soup with either clear beef broth or water according to liking and taste. Usually 1 cup of beef soup to about 1/2 to 1 cup of water/beef broth. Add some vegetable, scallions, cilantro and beef soup to the noodles and serve.
  9. The undiluted beef soup can be frozen for later use.

I hope you find some ideas and inspiration for your weekends.

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