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Food and cooking

This summer some of my friends are teaching me how to cook – I can now stir-fry most leafy vegetables without any help or supervision! It’s usually pretty easy to get fresh produce since Safeway (Pavilions/Vons), Trader Joes, and Fresh & Easy are all within walking distance of Caltech, but getting Asian produce and food is a little harder. However, I recently found out that there’s a Metro bus route (267) that picks up on the edge of the Caltech campus and goes to Arcadia right past Ranch 99, a large Chinese supermarket. Ranch 99 also happens to be in a shopping mall with lots of Asian restaurants and stores, too!

While at Ranch 99, I bought lots of baby bok choy, which taste great when stir-fryed with garlic. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring a cooler so I couldn’t get any frozen dumplings. (It was pretty hot outside and I wasn’t sure how long I would have to wait for the bus back.)
Although Chandler, the main cafeteria on campus, has dinner this summer during the weekdays, most days I cook with my friends or by myself. Last week, we bought dry active yeast, and so have been baking different kinds of bread every few days. I’d never made bread before, but it involves lots of waiting overnight for the bread to rise, then beating it down and waiting for it rise again, etc. It’s pretty neat to see how much the bread expands after baking it though. Recently I’ve been playing DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) on the machine in the south house basement in the evenings, so haven’t been around that often when my friends start the bread dough.

Often we don’t plan what we are going to cook on a certain day (we always have lots of flour and vegetables that we can cook), but today we planned ahead of time to make Chinese food. We made "cong you bing" ("green onion pancakes"), which you can normally get at Shanghai food restaurants. They’re actually pretty easy and quick to make compared to other foods. The receipe is very similar to the receipe for flour tortillas, just with green onions and no baking soda. Shaping the dough is a little different too, since it involves rolling the dough into a cylinder and then forming a snail or spiral shape before rolling flat. After flattening the dough, all we had to do was pan fry it for a few minutes to finish it! We also made fried rice and cooked some of the baby bok choy, which were also relatively quick and easy to prepare.

cong you bing

fried rice

Laura Santoso