Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions

I usually don't make resolutions because I consider the entire year ripe for self-improvement. Also I can't remember them past Jan. 2.

But change is good (and large bills are better), so in the spirit of David Letterman's Top 10 list, I will now share my Top 10 Resolutions for 2011.

Resolution #10: I will keep the jokes about writing "2010" on my checks to a minimum. No one finds them amusing.

Resolution #9: I will jot down the names of books that I really enjoyed reading, so the next time I inform someone I am an avid reader, and they ask what I've read recently, my mind won't go blank and I won't appear to be an idiot/liar/dementia candidate.

Resolution #8: I will avoid offering unsolicited advice and I highly recommend that you do the same.

Resolution #7: Floss daily. Oh, wait, I already do that -- RESOLUTION COMPLETED! (It motivates me more to cross at least one thing off the "to-do" list.)

Resolution #6: I will stop asking my children and husband, "Are you really going to wear THAT?" when I already know the answer. The husband will change if it's for work; for any other occasion, he'll laugh as if I made a funny. The kids will look at me, mystified, as if they no longer speak English. Needless to say, they will continue to wear THAT.

Resolution #5: I will stop making Wal-Mart jokes. This one's gonna be hard to keep.

Resolution #4: Speaking of shopping, when going to Costco and Target, I will only buy the necessities on my list, no matter how good a bargain something is. However, this resolution is null and void during the month of December and in the event that something really is a good bargain.

Resolution #3: I will eat healthily to reap the benefits of a nutritious lifestyle and set a good example for my family. However, if I do end up having junk, I'll wait until the kids go to bed so I don't set a bad example (or have to share).

Resolution #2: I will not wait until Super Bowl Sunday to ask of football fans, "Who's playing again?"

Resolution #1: I will not cringe at the thought of hot yoga. This one's gonna be hard to keep.

What are YOU resolving to do in 2011?
(Note: Thanks to the sharp-eyed readers with fully functioning brains who pointed out the year discrepency in my original post. Apparently when I'm tired I forget what year I'm in. So here's an addendum to my resolutions: I will not blog when brain-dead. Happy New Year!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jook for a Cold Winter's Day

Last weekend my husband roasted up some delicious Cornish game hens. After we had stuffed ourselves silly, we were left with a few carcasses that still had attached to them a lot of delicious, hard-to-reach meat.

What to do with them? A hot bowl of jook immediately came to mind, prompted, I'm sure, by the cold winter weather that has hit the Northwest. Jook is a Chinese rice soup/porridge that consists of some very basic items: rice, liquid and any meats or vegetables that the cook wants to throw in there.

In Seattle, you can find jook (also called "congee" in some areas) at the more authentic Chinese restaurants. Some restaurants will offer it during their weekend dim sum service, pushing a large pot of plain jook around on a cart with bowls of sliced green onions and other accompaniments offered on the side.

There's no one correct way of making jook. When I was little, my mom would fill a large stockpot with rice, water, ground beef and finely shredded carrots, and feed the pretty, orange-tinged product to my toddler sisters. It was a nutritious, teething-friendly dish.

With my jook, I threw the game hen carcasses into a stockpot and added two cups of jasmine rice (short-grain white rice makes for a smoother consistency, but I only had jasmine on hand and it worked fine), two cups of water, about 6 cups of organic chicken stock, and three carrots, shredded. I simmered everything for about an hour (some of the liquid I added near the end when the jook looked a little dry), removed the bones/cartilage while leaving in the meat, and added a little soy sauce and pepper.

The resulting warm jook is flavorful, comforting and has a pretty carrot-orange tinge to it, just like my mom's concoctions. We've eaten it for breakfast in lieu of oatmeal, lunch, dinner, snack, etc. There's no wrong time to eat jook. Even my kids (who claim they don't like restaurant jook) have had a few bowls of this.

This would work really well with some white pepper and a few salty peanuts sprinkled on top, but we enjoy it plain, too. I think the big pot of jook will disappear soon, and then it'll be time to roast more birds.