Coming in from the Cold

I see the whining about the length of these Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has begun, but I think what we're really seeing here is an impatience with our lingering medal drought. For all the "spirit of the Games"-business and "bringing the world together," I imagine it's much easier to feel warm and fuzzy when you're Norway, wondering how you're going to get all that hardware through the metal detectors on the flight home. The length of the Games has also helped me decide which shows I never want to see (Good Girls) and which vehicles I never want to buy (that one that the guys says looks "better than 99% of the SUVs out there") because I'm so sick of the ads for them. (And I don't even know what that one other guy is selling, who talks about the power of the technology in our hands, because I change the channel the second I see his face.) But--I'm whining.

Photo by  Mira Kemppainen  on  Unsplash

If we can't go for the gold, we can at least come in from the cold. And nothing warms us like some good food and drink. When I asked her this morning, our not-very-bright Alexa told me this morning that it was "27 degrees Fahrenheit." I appreciated the "Fahrenheit," which she didn't use to specify, because, if she'd only said "27 degrees" like she used to, I might have thought she meant 27 degrees Celsius (= 80.6F) and I should put a bikini on, or 27 degrees Kelvin (= -411.7F), and I was already frozen to death. 

But no, 27F we can deal with and even enjoy, if we can put something warm in our bellies. This weather has my husband craving hot chocolate from Ladurée in Paris, something I never ordered because it was too rich for my blood.

Gateway to goodness

Gateway to goodness

And by "hot chocolate," I mean "hot pudding" -- it's that thick.

[Thanks for the pic, bigoven.com]

[Thanks for the pic, bigoven.com]

Imagine his delight when, for Christmas, our youngest gave him the ingredients and recipe to make his own Ladurée-style chocolat chaud! He's made it at least four times already and swears it tastes just like the real deal. Concoct some of this for yourself, and you'll float through another week of fifth-place finishes without the least urge to complain.

Ladurée-Style Chocolat Chaud

(Makes 2 servings)

1 cup whole milk (don't use nonfat or 2% --what's the point)

2.5 ozs high-quality "bittersweet" or dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 Tbsp light brown sugar

Heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan. Once it's warm, whisk in the chocolate, stirring until melted and steaming hot. Cook at the lowest possible boil about three minutes to thicken, whisking constantly. Taste, and add brown sugar if desired.

Be My Korean Valentine

Am I the only one who likes to watch Olympic medal ceremonies for the first time because these gals are so cute?

Where can I buy one of these robes?

Where can I buy one of these robes?

I'm beginning to think South Korea should always host the Winter Olympics. Why? Because, windy weather on the slopes aside, they do everything so nicely. I love the little groups of Korean girls in purple who applaud the events (even curling, for Pete's sake), sponge down the ice while the Zamboni cruises around, and pick up any bouquets and teddy bears that were hurled. I love the medal-ceremony ladies, as I mentioned. I even love the segments on Korean food because Korean food is awesome. I love how everyone has been bundled up because, unlike in Sochi, it's actually been freezing.

And then, of course, there's Chloe Kim, whom both Americans and South Koreans happily claim.

(Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty Images)

(Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty Images)

So, in honor of both South Korea and America, here are two recipes we've cooked in our house.

Bulgogi (Korean Stirfry from Skagit River Ranch)

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
salt to taste
3 Tbsp sugar or honey
1 bunch scallions, cut in 1" pieces
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp Mirin or sherry
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
1 lbs thinly sliced beef for stir-fry
1 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil.

Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt, scallions, garlic, wine, and red pepper flakes in medium bowl or Ziploc bag. Add beef and marinate at least one hour or up to overnight.

Bring to room temperature. Stir fry over medium-high in the peanut oil until the meat is browned but not overcooked! This might be as little as a minute. Don't overcrowd the pan--do it in batches, if necessary. Serve with rice and lots of seasonal vegetables.

And then, on a completely different note, we had chicken soft tacos last night, with roasted chicken from Korean-American Chungah Rhee's new cookbook (and blog) Damn Delicious. (I had to get over the fact that I thought the titles of both should be "Damned Delicious," in order to be grammatical, but whatever. The food is good.)

cookbook (1).jpg

All-Purpose Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2" strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet and toss with all other ingredients. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Serve immediately or refrigerate or freeze.

Enjoy, and let's hope our Speed Skating team gets out of its doldrums!

Hosting Your Olympic Party

Oh, eons ago, back before marriage and kids and moving up to Bellevue, a friend and I took a couple quarters of Brazilian Dance from the City of Palo Alto. Why? Well, why not? And, thanks to the magic of the internet, I here insert a photo of our instructor, in full regalia: The illustrious Anita

If you've never samba-ed or seen or done any Brazilian parade dancing, I'm sure the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Rio will get you up to speed. I'll just say that, even without sparkly bikinis and feathered headdresses and rhinestone-studded thongs and live drummers and whistlers, it's super, super fun.

I mention this because surely you plan on throwing an Olympics-viewing party at your house sometime in the next couple weeks. Who could resist turning your next get-together into a Brazilian-themed fest, complete with themed food, background music and a few competitive events?

Main Photo

I can't be the only one getting bored with Rio's bad press. Zika and robberies and corruption and sewage and Australians having all sorts of problems--yawn. I'm over it. What's life without a little adventure?

Next week we'll be down visiting my side of the family, and I'm thinking I'll get all the kids off their phones and everyone off the couch and put together a little decathlon with the items and venues on hand. Each event could play to a different person's strength, and we would keep a running total of points. For example:

  1. Lemon "shotput." (My mom has a lemon tree in the backyard, from which 99.9% of the lemons go to waste because no one picks them.)
  2. A round of hearts (with points counting negatively, of course).
  3. Frisbee "discus."
  4. A round of Ticket to Ride Europe.
  5. Nerf gun 10 meter shooting.
  6. A round of croquet.
  7. Badminton mini-tournament.
  8. Chicken-in-a-Minute. (How many times can you pick up one of my mom's chickens in one minute? Heats will have to be very spaced out, so as not to stress out the chickens unduly.)
  9. Limbo, since no one can high-jump or pole vault.
  10. Dodgeballoon. Run a 100m dash through the rest of the family chucking water balloons at you.

If I encounter more than the usual amount of whining or resistance, we could reduce the decathlon to a heptathlon, but it'll still be fun.

Winners get treats and the song of their choice played while they stand on a chair. Then we all plop down in front of the television again to watch the real Olympics and maybe enjoy this traditional dish from Rio de Janeiro, courtesy of the Palo Alto Junior League cookbook:

Feijoada Completa [pic credit: receitaereceitas.com.br]FEIJOADA COMPLETA

1-1/2 to 2 lbs black beans

3-1/2 lbs smoked ham hocks

2 pigs' feet (optional)

5-6 Italian sausages, cut in 1" pieces

3 large garlic cloves

4 bay leaves


5-6 navel oranges, peeled and sliced 1/2" thick.

Rinse beans. In a large soup kettle, combine all ingredients except rice and oranges. Cover with two inches or so of water. Bring to boil and skim off foam. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3-3.5 hours. Do not stir. You may need to add more water to keep the mixture soupy.

This is definitely a party-sized recipe, as it serves 12-14, so you could safely halve it for a smaller group. I bet you could also combine the ingredients in a large crock pot and cook for 6 hours on high or 8+ on low.

Bon appetit, and let the Games begin!