after i finished eating, my parents and i went out on a walk to the mt.auburn star market to get some beef for my sister. it was an opportunity to admire the various houses and planted yards we passed along the way.
the mt.auburn star market is the least shopped supermarket in our market circle. having said that, it is by far the most well-stocked supermarket, including a large selection of beers and wines. the prices though leave much to be desired, more like whole food prices with the whole organic natural designations. nevertheless, it's a nice place to browse, see what's out there, and then go buy at a different cheaper supermarket.
one of the most interesting thing i saw at star market were $80 bottles of old forester bourbon advertised as barrel proof, which meant 65% alcohol; i have seen spirits that strong since china. my father was searching chipotle tabasco but it was one of the rare times when they didn't carry it. we finished buying by 1:50pm and walked home via belmont street. i ended up carrying all the groceries, two tote bags strung from both shoulders, as my father said it was too heavy and uncomfortable.
when we got back to the house, we discovered my sister had left hailey at home. we let her outside while my mother and i worked the backyard.
while my mother was busying harvesting chinese celery and hot peppers, i was digging up all the tomatoes, eggplants and most of the pepper plants. there's not enough warm weather for those fruits to mature, and it's better to clear the space so i can grow some cold season crops, like more chinese celery, or daikon radish greens. i tilled the soil in the raised beds, but the weather turned dark and started to sprinkle so i went back inside.
my father had gone to take a nap during that time and woke up to move the sunroom sofa into the living room. moving furniture of that size in our small doorway house is like a puzzle with large moving objects. how to tilt and lift and rotate the furnitures in such a way that it can pass through the doors. we moved the couch into the kitchen but then we got stuck. the secret was realizing if we stood the couch on one end, we could swing it through the doorway. after that it was an easy move into the living room.
our eastman outdoors 90411 portable XL kahuna wok burner also arrived today, and my father and i assembled it after we were done moving the couch. my mother continued scolding us for buying it, said we already had a propane burner (that's true, but it's not designed for wok cooking), and that we were wasting money. i saw the price on the burner had gone up - now selling for $150 - when we paid $118 for it on saturday.
when the burner was assembled, it resembled a war of the worlds martian tripod. the adjustable legs were splayed wide enough that there was zero change of tipping over. at first it seemed slightly short, but once the three brackets were put in place, it was just the right height for outdoor cooking. it came with a propane attachment hose that had a piece from the 10psi regulator (the "cap") fall out. we took it outside to test to see if everything was working or if we needed to replace it.
with the propane tank attached and the control dial on the hose turned to on, my father lit the burner with a lighter. he pulled his hand back just as the burner ignited in a ball of fire. later he showed me his singed arm hairs, which was from lighting the burner but came after he brushed his arm too close to the open flame. everything seemed to be working okay, including the previously broken regulator. the flame initially was orange, which my father said meant it wasn't getting enough oxygen. once he adjusted the baffle and the on/off dial, the flame became a hissing blue jet, which meant it had reached the optimal temperature for wok cooking.
next my father got out a wok and placed it over the grill. i couldn't find our infrared temperature gun so we didn't know how hot it got, but the wok heated up enough that it started turning a nice iridescent blue. my father was getting back all the memories he had when he used to be a chinese restaurant cook. i poured some water into the wok and much of it turned immediately into the steam, the rest boiling off so there was just a few drops of water that surprisingly continued to dance inside the wok without evaporating. my father turned off the grill and coated the inside of the wok with some canola oil. even though the flame was already off, the wok was still hot enough that the oil started to smoke immediately.
i'm trying to imagine the things we can cook with the wok. like chinese-style salt and pepper shrimps. previously my father tried cooking it both on the barbecue side burner and the wood-burning tent stove, but neither could reach the temperature required for proper wok cooking. we also can make double-fried fried chicken. i'm excited to see what kind of wok dishes might be in store for thanksgiving.
my mother made a chinese celery tofu stirfry. she was excited about the hidden batch of thick-stemmed chinese celery, but less so once she tasted it, since they were very fibrous and tough from being so old. she also made another stirfry of peppers with chicken.
after dinner i returned home. i finally managed to download my NYC photos from last week as well as the honkfest photos i took yesterday. i also sorted through the images, discarding any blurry or repeat photos, picking the best ones for weblog inclusion (whenever i can get around to updating my posts). i had the raiders-chiefs game on in the background. i was rooting for the las vegas because of josh mcdaniels. raiders had the lead initially, but in the second half kansas city started the quarter with 2 touchdowns while las vegas didn't score any points. the ending was a nail-biter, with the raiders going for the 2-point conversion to take the lead but once they failed, the chiefs just basically ran out the clock. a tough loss for the raiders, who are now 1-4 with their new head coach.