Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blog Birthday

Today marks exactly one year since I started this blog. Though I still don't think of it as a particularly impressive blog by any means, it has been viewed over 2,000 times by people from 39 countries during that time. Kind of crazy...

Looking back at my first post, it's obvious a lot has changed since I started. For one, the picture I used is so poor it borders on offensive. These days, a shot like that would be deleted before it even got uploaded onto my computer. At the time, I routinely got off work by 7 or 8-ish most days, so I had plenty of time to spend putting together dinner. Obviously work has gotten busier and now getting out of the office before 8pm is a fairly rare event, which has contributed to the significant decline in the number of posts here. I also spend most of my weekends out and about with Yuki, meaning less time gets dedicated to putting together Saturday and Sunday night dinners.

But, if I'm really honest, those are mostly just excuses. I reread that first post and realized the root of the problem is not all that far from what I described as cause of failure for my first blogging attempt: the feeling that every post has to be something epic. I have put together a few posts that I think are outstanding (usually travel related), but it really is unreasonable to expect every entry to be of that caliber. Not every meal is a classic and not every weekend is full of some fabulous adventure. Sometimes you just have to work with what you've got. Jake and Mike's friend Brian, who I met when we all climbed Mt. Fuji together, recently started trying to post a single picture every day on his blog. While I obviously am not about to try to do the same thing with my food, I really like the idea that not everything you do will be a masterpiece, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth sharing.

To be honest, it's been a while since anything particularly impressive has come out of my kitchen. It's ridiculously hot in Japan this summer and I'm still looking for good summertime recipes to help get through it. With a lack of ideas at the moment, I cooked two very ordinary dinners this weekend. The first, General Tso's Chicken, is a dish I've tried on numerous occasions but have never been able to get quite right. To me, it should be sweet and spicy, with a strong kick from the vinegar as well. In Ann Arbor, I loved to get it from Panda House in their lunch special. I know it's hardly authentic Chinese food, but's it's just so freaking good. My rendition once again fell short, I think mostly due to an overuse of soy sauce and a fear of using too much vinegar.

The second dinner was Kung Pao Shrimp, which also failed to impress. Normally, when I want my food to be good and spicy (which is most of the time), I use a generous dose of red chili sauce. This recipe called for 10 dried chilies to provide the heat instead, and for some reason I decided to do as told. I don't know why I thought it would work: cooking dried chilies in oil is essential a very basic way of making chili oil, which I never find to be particularly spicy anyways. The failure of the chilies to make things interesting meant that the sauce was essentially a poorly constructed teriyaki sauce. That's not to say it was bad, but nobody is gonna get patted on the back over this one...

I've got a couple of other recent meals that need writing about in the pipeline, so hopefully it won't be too long until my next post. Thanks to all who have followed this blog for the past year and I hope you continue to enjoy it in the coming year as well!

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