Hot and Sour Soup (with Hand-cut Noodles)

What happens when your gas runs out for your gas stove? One answer is that you could find out how to use your rice cooker in more efficient and variety-filled ways than you ever have before. Our version of this, was to make Chinese hot and sour soup. The soup can be optionally served with hand-cut noodles, which I’ll also describe how to make below.

10 cups water
about 1/2 kilo of ground beef, pork or chicken
large bowl of cold water
3/4 cup dried Shiitake mushrooms
1 and 1/2 cups lettuce or Nappa cabbage, chopped into slivers
3/4 cup dried orange flower (optional)
1/2 cup dried Chinese wood ear mushroom (optional)
4 slices ginger
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
red pepper flakes or rooster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons corn starch, mixed in a little cold water
2 eggs, beaten
a bit of green onion (optional)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
salt to taste
1 cup carrots, cut into slivers (optional)
1 cup bean sprouts (optional)
3/4 cup bamboo (optional)
3/4 cup baby corn (optional)
1/2 block of tofu (optional)

Soak the Shiitake, the orange flowers, and the wood ear mushrooms in the bowl of cold water. Let sit for half an hour.

Chop up the lettuce, ginger, garlic, and any other vegetables.

Bring the 10 cups of water to a boil in the rice cooker. Stir in the ground beef. After stirring briskly for several minutes, the meat should break apart into pieces.

Pour in the soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar. Mix in the sugar.

Chop up the wood ear mushrooms into large pieces, and cut the Shittake into slivers.

Mix all of the vegetables into the pot. Let cook for about 10-15 minutes.

Pour in the beaten eggs, stirring the pot while pouring. Then mix in the red pepper flakes and white pepper. Add salt to taste.

Serve the soup on top of hand-cut noodles. Sprinkle a bit of chopped green onion on top.

Hand-cut Noodles
(if you only have one rice cooker, pour your prepared hot and sour soup into another pot, and wash out the rice cooker pot in order to cook the noodles)

2 cups flour
1/2 cup water

Stir and knead the flour and water together until a dough is formed that’s not too firm and not too soggy. Add extra flour or water as needed.

Knead the dough for another 2-3 minutes. Then split the dough into halves.

Roll out a half into a large, flat piece. Sprinkle flour over it generously.

Fold the flat piece into thirds. Then cut up the piece into slivers. Unfold each sliver. The result should be long noodles.

Boil a pot of water. Throw the noodles into the pot while boiling. Do not overfill the pot with noodles.

Stir slightly while the noodles are cooking, so they don’t stick to each other or to the pot.

After 10 minutes of cooking, take the noodles out of the pot. Serve immediately. For more noodles, use the other half of the dough, or save the other half for leftovers.


Jennifer’s First Post: Mold Fighting


So we have a few projects going on here, one of which I’m particularly excited about. This winter has been particularly hard on us health-wise, as we were both sick for about a month without stop. We just couldn’t get over the coughing, the aches, throat pain, stuffy noses and sinuses, and headaches. Around the same time, we found some black mold growing on our walls, in certain corners of the house. Then we found more mold, and then more. We’d spray it with bleach, and in a week or so it would come back – sometimes in full force (like a resistant strain or something)…

So I found out online, that there are a few natural ingredients that you can use to get rid of mold in your house. Particularly, vinegar is helpful with this, and also baking soda. What happens when you combine the two together? Well, it starts to fizz like crazy, but it also becomes a (purportedly) excellent mold-killing solution. It’s because vinegar and baking soda both can kill mold on their own, but they each kill different strains of mold. When you combine the two together, you can target a broader range of mold types. Vinegar by itself can tackle about 84% of all mold species out there.

I made a combination of 1 tablespoon baking soda with about 1 and 1/2 cups straight-up apple cider vinegar. Most websites suggested using white vinegar, maybe on account that it won’t stain. However, we have a large stock of apple cider vinegar left over from trying to treat our throat bugs, so I figured I’d try it on the mold bugs in the wall. We’re also particularly treating wooden panels, so the color of the ACV actually won’t make a difference here. After mixing them up (and watching the FIZZ, which did not die down at all while I was using it), I dipped a sponge in it and coated the walls thoroughly with the mixture. The other thing that’s great about this concoction is that it can penetrate porous materials such as wood and certain ceramics, and attack the mold at the roots. You’re supposed to leave the mixture soaking in for about an hour. … I’m going to leave ours overnight, and see what happens.

One last thing that I’m a little worried about is that the ACV I got (which had 7% acidity, the highest I could find in the store) also contains a little sugar and honey. We can get trails of ant sometimes when we leave out sweet or sticky foods, so I’ll have to wait til tomorrow to see if our walls have turned into giant panels of swarming ants or not. Hopefully not.

EDIT: IT works!! Mold is disappearing from the panels, and there haven’t been any ants :D. Also, the vinegar smell is almost gone now. The only thing is… after a lot of fizzing, the vinegar and baking soda eventually deactivate each other. Which means that you can’t store the stuff — I tried to reuse the mixture the next morning, and it was no longer fizzy or acidic. So it’s better to mix it up and then use immediately.