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Mandy Lee creates fun Asian-Western mash-ups such as Mochi Brownies and Sichuan Peppercorn Peanut Brittle for her blog, Lady and Pups.
Here, the blogs you should be reading right now with recipes and tips from their creators.
The Blog: Mandy Lee uses Lady and Pups to help her survive living in China.
Why are you in Beijing and why is it so miserable for you? Where would you rather be?
We moved to Hong Kong from New York about five years ago because of my husband’s job, then a year and a half after that, we relocated to Beijing for the same reason. In the spirit of keeping this article light and appetizing, let me just say that if you’re an extremely happy, laid-back human being who has no particular stance on political issues, environmental issues, health issues, human/animal rights issues, and/or if you simply feel downright indifferent between Mordor and the Shire... then, only then, you’ll thrive in Beijing. Unfortunately, that’s not me.
I have come to believe, after traveling to many different cities, that New York is my one and only happy place.
What is your ultimate comfort food when you’re feeling particularly miserable?
Despite running a food blog that’s supposed to imply that I make fresh and respectable foods all the time, the stuff that I eat when I’m by myself is sometimes absolutely disgusting (and it’s starting to show on my new Instagram). But to be truly honest, most of the time I just default to my secret passion, which is finding delicious ways (if only to myself...) to jack up all different kinds of instant noodles. My recent favorite is Thai tom yum-flavor noodles with homemade calamari balls.
Is there anything redeeming, foodwise, about Beijing? Or about China?
Yes, it’s the only redeeming characteristic about Beijing I believe. Not just Northern Chinese foods but in Beijing—being the capital and all—there’s a good assortment of cuisines and restaurant from all parts of China. I wouldn’t have many of the insights on authentic, regional Chinese foods that I share now on my blog (things like shaobing, Chongqing chicken wings, dan dan noodles and such) if I’ve never lived here. Always two sides to things, I guess... Even though sometimes it can be tricky sharing something that requires ingredients that are common only in China, I try to keep the recipe as authentic as possible.
You share recipes for both traditional dishes, like Ma Po Tofu and fun Asian-Western mash-ups, like peanut brittle with Sichuan peppercorns. What are some of your favorite mash-up recipes?
I made this in the beginning of the blog and I thought it was pretty awesome, curry hot wings. And then I don’t know if this is a mash-up, but this sandwich is pretty wrong and irresponsible. I almost forgot my favorites, mochi brownies and salted duck yolk cookies.
Anything else you want to share?
Life is too short to eat white meat.
What food blogs are you loving right now?
There are some new blogs recently, run by girls with Asian backgrounds as well, that I really like. Two Red Bowls, My Name is Yeh, to name a couple. And of course, when I want to feel really bad and sorry about myself, I read fantasy blogs like Manger. She’s an elf and I’m a hobbit.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.