with my biannual physical tomorrow morning, i wanted to eat something healthy tonight. as if somehow that would make up for 6 months of giving zero care regarding proper nutrition. i went to the backyard to retrieve my bicycle but paused momentarily as i noticed all the large melting icicles hanging from gutter up above. i could hear them all day, crashing down to the ground, and the alleyway was littered with broken icicle pieces. i quickly made my way down the narrow path, didn't want to be standing there if another chunk of icicle came falling down.

this was my first time biking since our 3 snowstorms. road conditions were not ideal, but i've seen some diehard bikers riding around, so i knew at least it was doable. the sun was out and temperature in the upper 30's. i wasn't going far anyway, just to market basket, and it was all back roads, hardly any traffic. there was a sale on asparagus ($1.99/lbs.) so i got two bundles, as well as a package of spinach & cheese ravioli. i felt healthier already! but i also bought 2 packages of pretzel crisps, so that offset everything.

back at home i put the bike in the basement because i heard it might rain tomorrow. i did some more shoveling, clearing a bit of the snow from the empty parking spot in front of my house. the snow was all hard and compacted, and i ended up having to use a metal spade to chisel out the snow. if we do get some rain tomorrow, it might soften the snow enough that i could try clearing some more of it. otherwise it will all refreeze in the evening making it even harder to clean. while i was shoveling, my next door neighbor walked by and wished me a happy valentine. i wished her the same as well. this is my neighbor which i'v yet to introduce myself even though she and her roommate moved in back in september.

whenever there's a sale on eggs at the supermarket is a good time to make tea eggs. i bought these eggs 2 weekends ago so they've been sitting in the fridge for 10 days. old eggs are better because they're easier to peel. something else i wanted to try this time around was leaving the eggs outside so they reach room temperature before i boil them. this is in the hope that they'll reach the boiling point faster.

use room temperature eggs eggs will come to a boil faster when they're already at room temperature versus straight from the fridge
use old eggs old eggs (in the fridge for at least a week) are easier to peel than fresh eggs from the super market

because there was so much residual cooking oil on the burner (thanks to karen), it actually made the house smell all oily. not so much in the kitchen, but the smell permeated into the living room. after a while it eventually dissipated.

in all the times i've made tea eggs, i've always used store-bought flavor packet kits (茶葉蛋滷包) (when my parents make it they mix their own spices). they don't cost too much ($1.55 for 2 flavor packets and 2 tea packets), and if i were to assemble the ingredients separately (cumin, cinnamon, licorice, anise, bay leaves), it would end up costing me more (but maybe one day i might like to try making my own flavor). i had a tea egg kit in the cupboard, but when i looked inside the box, there was only a flavor packet, no tea package. fortunately the flavor packet is the more important item, since i have plenty of teabags. i ended up using 10 black teabags tied together.

boil eggs in cold water on high heat boiling from cold water instead of dropping eggs into already boiling water prevents eggs from cracking on their own
enough water to barely cover eggs more water means a longer time to reach boiling. use just enough to cover the eggs.
add 1 tsp of salt to the water supposedly helps with the peeling
boil eggs for just a few minutes just hard enough to crack the shells; eggs will continue simmering/cooking in tea egg brine solution

the eggs didn't come to a boil any faster using room-temperature eggs, still approximately 20 minutes before the water came to a boil. i also wasn't sure how long to boil it, my notes said just a few minutes, but to thoroughly cook an egg until it became hard-boiled requires about 10 minutes. i ended up estimating about 4 minutes of boil time before i took the eggs out. i won't find out if the eggs are cooked or not until i try one of the eggs. since the eggs will need to simmer in the brine for another hour, i figured that's more than enough time to cook the eggs.

rinse hard-boiled eggs in cold water so they're cool enough to handle and crack
crack eggshell with back of spoon don't be afraid to really hit the shell to get a nice spiderweb pattern, but not so hard that the shell falls off (a few loose shell pieces is okay though)

i've seen some tea egg recipes that call for soy sauce, which is added for both its salt flavoring and coloring. but the tea eggs i make (and the ones my parents make) use just tea for the coloring. i feel it makes for a more natural tea egg.

simmer cracked eggs in tea egg brine solution on low-medium heat for 1 hour with cover on for 30 eggs: 10 black tea teabags, 1 tea egg flavor packet, 4 tbsp salt, handful of sichuan peppercorns

keep the cover on so the liquid won't evaporate as quickly

let eggs sit in brine for 3 more days the longer the eggs are in the brine solution, the more flavor/coloring it gets

i wasn't sure about the amount of salt. the last time i made tea eggs (last month) it ended up being too salty. that was with 3 tbsp of salt. so i figured i needed to use less this time around, but the last time i made 30 tea eggs, i used 4 tbsp as well. i think the amount of salt has less to do with the amount of eggs (20 eggs 3 tbsp, 30 eggs 4 tbsp) and more to do with how much water i use for the brine solution. when i made 20 eggs, it was with less water (maybe about 1/2 less), so adding 3 tbsp of salt to the mix would definitely make it saltier. when i tasted the brine this time around, it was salty but not crazy salty.

after an hour of simmering, i turned off the stove and let the tea eggs soak in the brine overnight.

for dinner i boiled my spinach ravioli, heated up some tomato sauce with some additional frozen chopped spinach (double spinach), and sautéed the asparagus (half a bundle). i've only recently come to the realization that i really like asparagus. i love the taste, and i love how my pee smells afterwards. i rarely cook it myself however. the last time was back in 2013, when i made a super healthy smoked salmon & walnut & asparagus salad. and before that, i remember one time i made an asparagus recipe that involved a tangy mustard sauce (don't remember the date). and a long time ago (2008) julie came over and made an asparagus chicken wrap recipe. but i think i will start working more asparagus into my diet. and really, i should be eating healthier to begin with. it all depends on what my test results say when i get my physical tomorrow.

i sautéed the asparagus in a large flat pan, cooking it dry without any oil or seasoning. once the stalks began to soften and look cooked, i added some salt and drizzled some olive oil. that turned out to be a mistake, as mixing oil and some residual oil caused a little bit of splattering and a whole lot of smoke, stinking up the house immediately. i also added some chopped garlic.

dinner was pretty good, i would eat asparagus every day if i could. i could still see the smoke hovering in the kitchen so i ended up putting a fan in the window and another fan trying to blow out the smoke.

karen didn't get home until 8:30pm. she told me she walked back from longwoods, which took her an hour and a half. she said she did it because she hasn't been exercising in a while. during the winter, it's hard to exercise. i thought she was late getting home because maybe she went out to dinner with coworkers. she made something quick to eat in the kitchen (i didn't see what, maybe some soup, maybe a sandwich), then retired to her room. she went to bed relatively early, around 10:30pm.