cooking, home cooking, huzhou, recipes, Singapore, travel

In My Head I’m Gone

03.17.10 | 3 Comments

One might think that after 5 weeks of non-stop travel, and not the resort kind, that one would be ready to get home and get back into the groove, back to the familiarity and the friends and beds and bathrooms of established quality.

Well one might be wrong.

There. I said it. WRONG.

Because actually, I didn’t (don’t?) want to be back—back in school, back in Huzhou, back in China. Coming back from vacation really bites the big one. I know, I know, be grateful I even got to go on vacation at all, and I AM, but coming back was such a let-down. It was so frustrating that immediately upon arrival at the Kuala Lumpur airport for our return, I got really really grumpy. Not necessarily because we were going home, but because everyone in the line was Chinese, and, I’m sorry, but the Chinese do not know how to queue.

22 z_dusk city

There was the requisite shoving and cutting and mayhem, and it instantly soured my mood. This is what I was going back to? And I had nothing but lines to look forward to: lines to get on the plane, off the plane, retrieve baggage, and get a bus ticket.

My mood was further fermented when, trying to exchange 800 RMB (over $100) worth of Malaysian Ringgit, I was informed that nowhere in China could I exchange such silly currency. And since I came back to a bank account with little more than $100 left, I kind of needed that money.

24 z_palm trees

I was not happy with China. I wanted to be back in Singapore, where the weather is sunny and warm, the food is delicious and I can eat Indian any time I want, and where I have many new (and old) friends.

23 z_mike crab

Back in Huzhou it is cold, damp, and rainy, and there were lesson plans to make.

Being somewhere I don’t want to be causes my creativity to wilt like week-old lettuce, hence the extreme dearth of posts. I feel like I’ve covered Huzhou to nearly its fullest extent. I feel like there’s not much left to take pictures of, like there’s not much I’ve left unexplored. Of course I’ll slowly get back into a groove, and I’ll try to put up pictures from the remainder of my trip, but the fact is, I want to curl up in my bed until summer.

It doesn’t help matters that I’m in full-on job-search mode, which, as most people know, is also good at wilting the soul. But, it must be done! I won’t hear if I passed the FSOT for another 2-3 weeks, and even if I did, I have to go through so many other steps that even if I were to succeed at all of them and get close to hired, it wouldn’t be until 2011. That means I need a new job, because as of July 5, I will be visa-less.

But no one wants to hear about my job woes—there are more than enough of those to go around in the US, and most of those woes are far worse than mine.

The other really crappy thing about coming back from vacation is the weight loss. I’m sorry, but if you went on vacation and didn’t gain some buffet-cocktails-fried-food-carby pudge, I question just how much fun you had. (Or I really really want your metabolism.) I mean, how is prawn mee not the biggest bowl of fun ever?


I also realize this and the next two pictures are way huge–that’s me trying to get used to editing photos on a PC. It’s late and I don’t want to re-upload, so huge they shall stay.

Or the Murtabak?


My first time with this, it was heavenly. Soft pieces of dough, ground lamb, onions…all of the reasons I’d rather be in Singapore.

I gained just enough weight to make my clothes, while still wearable, a bit snug. No big deal, but most of us know that weight loss is not only difficult, it’s also usually a bit unpleasant, especially if you’re a perpetually hungry foodie like I am.

So in that spirit, I will share with you my just-developed-yesterday recipe for Mian-less Chao Mian, or No-Noodle Fried Noodles. I was surprised by how good this tasted—but the pork is an absolute must for this one.


No-Noodle Fried Noodles for Losing that Vacation Pudge (hopefully)

Serves one Ellis, may possibly serve two people with normal appetites and rice on the side

Fresh green bean sprouts, a few handfuls’ worth
¼ pound-ish pork, cut into long, thin shreds
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper
Some Shiitake mushrooms
Splash of soy sauce

First, cook the pork. I have a non-stick wok, so knowing that the fat would render from the pork, I didn’t add any oil, but feel free to do so. Cook the pork until it’s white, then add in the rinsed sprouts, garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Sprinkle in some salt. Stir things around, let it cook about 2 minutes.

Turn up the heat—you want to cook those bean sprouts so they’re crispy but the really sprout-y flavor mostly cooks out. Add in a splash (maybe a few tablespoons) of soy sauce. Stir everything around until the bell pepper is soft and the sprouts are done. At this point I think a little drizzle of sesame oil would taste nice—I forgot to do so. If you want some extra protein, crack an egg in this and stir it around. This would probably also taste good with beef, maybe chicken, maybe tofu if you add in extra seasonings and oil, or you could add in a dash of ginger, a toss of hot chili, a sprinkling of scallions? The beauty of fried noodles (noodle-less or not) is that you can throw in anything. So fry away, and let me know if you happen to come across any heavenly combinations.

And then eat it. Though it be ‘Low Carb,” it tastes good, I promise.

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