Congee (or xifan) is my go to winter comfort food — it’s super easy and quick to make, and it’s highly versatile and customizable. So when the weather turned cold and I had the urge to make some, I thought it would be fun to riff on the toppings and see if I could come up with at least 12 different variations. Here are the results (and here’s the Twitter thread, if that’s more your speed):
The toppings, from left to right, top to bottom:
- Shitake mushrooms, thousand year egg, spicy fermented bean curd, furikake, sesame oil, and scallion (which covered EVERYTHING)
- a la Mulan: two fried eggs and bacon. But then I added a bunch of furikake. And then more fermented bean curd and scallions (not pictured) before eating.
- Vietnamese meatballs, shitake mushrooms, furikake (I was very much on a furikake kick.)
- Braised turnip greens, Italian sausage, katsuo fumi furikake (a different kind this time!), and scallions
- Sauteed purple cabbage, fermented bean curd, scallions
- Roasted kabocha squash, gochugaru, soy sauce, sesame oil
- Kimchi, thousand year egg, katsuo fumi furikake, scallions
- Chinese sausage with onions and collard greens, pickled radish, fermented bean curd, shiso fumi furikake (I bought so many varieties…)
- Not made by me, but a variation I had when visiting my mom in Houston. Congee made with red bean, black rice, and white rice, then topped with a little brown sugar. With a side of youtiao.
- So beige. Scallions, fried garlic, fried shallot, rousong.
- Ground pork and mustard greens, fried shallot, duo la jiao
- Scallions, fried garlic, a poached egg, and lao gan ma
Var 1 is pretty classic, and I really enjoyed 7, 8, and 9. The Mulan variation was fun to make, but difficult to eat. The roasted squash variation was the most different of the bunch (I have been very into roasted squash this season), and I think it looks the most interesting.
Main lesson? You can never have enough scallions. Or enough variations of furikake.
I am 33 years old, and I have ADHD. I was diagnosed at the beginning of December.
But we need to go a little further back than that.
When I left medicine, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do, but I was lucky to have the circumstances to be able to take some time and figure it out. What I settled on was this: I want to write and tell stories full time. And with any luck (and a whole lot of hard work), I’d manage to get published at some point. I wanted (want) to be an author.
So I threw myself into it at the tail end of 2017, reading craft books, figuring out metrics, setting up daily goals. I’d be able to do it consistently for a month, two months, and then there would be an emotional and mental slump that would last anywhere from a couple weeks to a stretch of months. A slump during which it was so hard to get started and put even one word on the page. I didn’t understand what was happening.
It must by my processes, I thought. My systems. After all, the shift from externally driven structure and goals to purely internally driven ones is a difficult one to make. I had a lot of learning to do.
So I read more books. I read process book after process book about hustling, about struggle, about passion and productivity. I heard over and over again, if you can’t do this every single day, you don’t actually want it. Because the flipside to the message “If you love something enough, you’ll just do it,” is that if you can’t, it’s your fault. You didn’t love it enough. You didn’t want it enough.
We don’t talk much about what is hidden in that “just.”
I accidentally picked up a new thread crafty hobby.
If I’m going to learn embroidery, I’m obvs going to start with swears.
Things I learned: Satin stitch is hard (and this thing was mostly satin stitch). French knots are kinda fun. Stabbing yourself with a needle is startling no matter how many times you do it.
Finished most of this while listening to MRK copy edit.
I can’t believe I haven’t yelled at you yet about Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. It is about a skeleton cult disaster lesbian swordswoman who gets caught up in a murder mystery romp in a gorgeously gothic palace. There are skeletons and swordfights and creepy necromancers and skeletons and weird doors and also more skeletons. (Seriously. There are a lot of skeletons.) The contrast between the beautifully rendered prose and lush language and Gideon’s trash (hilarious trash, but trash nonetheless) sense of humor is surprising and fun.
I highly recommend this book. It is delightful and also creepy, action-packed with a strong emotional core in the characters. I was sold on the premise and the cover (it’s such a perfect cover), but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. Go grab a copy, read it, and then impatiently wait with me for the sequel about Harrow which comes out next year.
I spent the last week and a half or so in Taiwan on a family trip. We spent a few days in Hualien, visited Taroko Gorge National Park, and then spent the rest of the time wandering around Taipei. A ridiculous number of steamed buns were consumed. (Also, shaved ice. So much shaved ice.)
Now I’m back home and jet lagged and looking forward to not taking another 16 hour plane ride for a long while. That’s entirely too long for any human person to be on a plane.
But! If you’re looking for a fun place to vacation, I’d recommend checking out Taiwan. The geography is interesting, the food is great, and it’s surprisingly affordable to tourist in.
Now, despite the fact that it’s around 8p, I’m going to go to bed. I managed to not take a nap today though, so I count that as a victory.