went down to the community garden this morning to collect some nigella seed pods. bumped into gail, who was pruning her out of control cherry tomatoes, some of them taller than her. we chatted a bit, i showed her the praying mantis i saw yesterday.

i watched a bit of news (wanted to hear the latest about trump's FBI raid) before heading into boston for haymarket and chinatown. i stopped by the beacon street whole foods to return a pair of shoes for my sister. i switched my usual order by visiting haymarket first, because i didn't have too many things to get there, and most of the stuff i was going to buy was from chinatown. i bought 4lbs of bing cherry ($12, nobody had rainier charries), 3 bags of baby cucumbers ($3), sleeve of garlic ($2), 1/2 lbs. of ginger ($1), and 9 cayenne peppers ($1).

with sudbury street now a two-way street because of the on-going haymarket parking garage demolition, it's now an easy ride from haymarket to chinatown, just a straight-shot via cambridge-tremont street. i went to ming's market, wanted to get some ingredients for making korean kimchi. unfortunately the 68¢/lbs. napa cabbage that i saw last week were now $1.29/lbs., nearly double in price. instead i made a last minute adjustment and decided to make sichuan paocai instead. taiwanese cabbages were still on sale for 68¢/lbs.

from there i biked home via charles street onto the arthur fiedler footbridge, along the river river bike path, across the mass ave bridge through MIT back into cambridge. it was a good day for riding, temperature in the 70's, dry and pleasant.

i took a quick shower when i got back home by 2:15pm, before loading up my saddlebags with produce supplies and dropping by the cafe. my mother wanted me to get her a taiwanese cabbage but told me too late, so i decided to let her have half of one of the cabbages (i bought two for a combined 8lbs).

next i went to the watertown best buy to check out the breville countertop ovens. i remember they looked kind of "flat" when i saw them more than a week ago, and sure enough, they're not as tall compared to the ninja foodi oven or the oster oven. in fact, i did some comparison, and the breville is 4" shorter than the ninja foodi. what the breville lacks in height though, it makes up for in features. i'm still leaning towards the breville. i also went to target next door, to check out the ninja and oster. i noticed they didn't carry any breville products, maybe breville has an exclusivity deal with best buy.

i went straight home, getting back by 4pm. i started making the brine solution for my sichuan paocai. the last time i made it (january 2021) i mixed 18 cups of brine (with 6oz. of salt), so i followed the same recipe. while the water was boiling, i washed the 7L paocai jar and a 4L fido jar, standing them upside down to dry. i also washed my vegetables: taiwanese cabbage, carrots, daikon radish, ginger.

trump didn't contest (he couldn't anyway, without looking guilty, though he could've released the warrant on his own, no law against that) so the warrant to search his mar-a-lago home was unsealed in the late afternoon. the FBI took away 11 sets of classified documents (more than 20 boxes). some of them were marked as SCI, which is one level above top secret, documents that has to be viewed in a secured location. why trump would have these is quite a mystery, it's not like something that can be "accidentally" packed together with some other regular documents. last night i heard that some of the documents might pertain to nuclear secrets, that's why there was such urgency to get them back. possessing these documents meant that trump violated the espionage act, which could lead to a fine or possibly prison time.

i made some early dinner - around 7pm. i decided not to go ramen since i had some last night, but instead finish the last of my quorn patties. the frozen quorn could keep indefinitely, but i needed to use up the lettuce but it goes bad.

sichuan paocai (四川泡菜)
(7L paocai jar &
4L fido jar)

6.53 lbs. chinese cabbage
2.61 lbs. daikon radish
1.61 lbs. carrots
2.65 oz. ginger
4 dozen thai chili peppers
18 24 cups boiled water
6 8 oz. salt
1 handful sichuan peppercorns
1/4 cup chinese baijiu
6 tbsp rock sugar

i started assembling my sichuan paocai by 9:30pm, once the brine had cooled to room temperature. i had to dunk the stock pot in cold water a few times to quickly lower the temperature. i quartered the cabbage, then peeled the carrots, daikon, and ginger. next i chopped the carrots, daikon, and ginger into smaller pieces, before cutting the cabbage. since the cubed cabbage has a tendency to fall apart, i'd divide up one quarter of cabbage and then start layering them into the jars. a layer of cabbage, followed by some hot peppers and peppercorns, then a layer of carrots and daikon and ginger, and repeat. the 7L paocai jar took a whole cabbage (4 quarters) while the smaller 4L fido jar used up half (2 quarters).

once everything was layered, it was time to pour in the brine solution. the 7L paocai jar used up 13 cups, leaving just 5 cups for the 4L fido jar, so the water level only came up to half. i had to quickly made some more brine: decided to make 6 cups with 2 oz. of salt. once i got the brine to a boil, i used the stock pot in cold water several times to lower the temperature. i also stirred the brine to increase temperature transfer. i got it down to about 88 degrees before i started adding the brine to the fido jar.

the 4L fido jar ended up using about 9 cups of brine. the 7L paocai jar used 14 cups, because after it had time to settle, i had to add about another cup of salt water to submerge all the vegetable ingredients. i saved the remaining brine (2 cups worth) in case i needed to top off the liquid. i also added some rock sugar as well as a dash of chinese baijiu. i was 11pm before i finished.

it was good i saved some brine, because later in the evening i noticed the water level on both jars had gone down. i added some more salt water to each jar to make sure the vegetables were submerged.