Hector is a Menace

Hector is an adorable, lovable, absolute terror. I had to give him a bath a few days ago and he was distinctly not a fan. Afterwards, he chewed up my iPad charger as revenge. He started going crazy over a package of crackers I was eating and actually stole one from my hand. When I tried to take it back, he growled like a tiny rottweiler. He also tried to steal part of my peanut butter jelly sandwich yesterday. He’s learned to jump up on my bureau and now if I leave my door open, he’ll come in and try to play with all my makeup and jewelry.

I’ve been on a bit of a cooking spree this week. I made a spice rub flank steak with sauteed veggies and smashed baby potatoes. The spice rub is pretty simple: cinnamon, cloves, a dash of hot peppet, cumin, cardamom, and ginger and garlic mashed up with a pestle and mortar into a paste. Rub in into the steak and let it marinate for at least 8 hours. Grill, or broil if you’re in China without a grill, for 7 minutes a side. Boiled the baby potatoes for 15 minutes, smashed them with a cleaver, tossed in olive oil and pepper, then baked for 15 minutes.

A friend of mine from Taiwan rolled into town on Wednesday, and we went to Baoyuan Jiaoziwu. It’s the first time I’d had to order by myself, since usually I go with crack-dumpling addicts. We got purple crispy rice dumplings, green eggplant, sweet potato and wild pepper, and orange corn and zucchini dumplings. Delicious, as always.

We went to Apothecary, in Nali Patio, after, on the recommendations of some friends. The whiskey cocktails were delicious, although a tad on the pricey side. He had lived here a few years ago, and we talked a lot about how Beijing had completely changed in just 3 years. I sort of felt that way going back to Taipei last summer after 5 years, but I think Beijing is much more drastic in how it tried to constantly overhaul and modernize itself. I dragged him out to Kro’s Nest for trivia on Thursday, and to our surprise, he knew some of the same people I knew. Sometimes, Beijing is a really small city.

Saturday I made it out to Summer League frisbee at the Para-Olympic fields. The fields were so nice-lush grass and even and perfect, until these bright yellow speckled centipedes started emerging and crawling up my cleats. I’m not very squeamish, but insects make my skin crawl. Our team lost, but we played well, and against a team that had most of Beijing’s better players. It was a good time, and much less intense than normal Ultimate (no one yelling at me!). Unfortunately, as I was standing around after talking to some people, this girl accidentally nailed me in the crotch with a Frisbee. It literally knocked me on my ass. And that apparently was a sign from the universe that all projectiles that evening would be magnetically drawn to the same area. Seriously, we went to dinner at the usual Shanxi place and like always people started playing “caps” by throwing beer caps into each others’ cups, and most of the time, even when not aiming for me, the caps hit me instead.

Some people went to watch some big soccer game but, well, I’m not quite a fan of sports watching. So i got some sleep and cuddled with hector and woke up bright and early to make Gambas Al Ajillo and stuffed mushrooms for the Frisbee ladies’ tapas afternoon.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any frozen raw shrimp, so I had a package of pre-cooked shrimp. De-veined them and seasoned with salt and pepper. Browned several crushed garlic cloves in olive oil, added chopped up dried red chilies and butter to the oil, a liberal splash of a dry white wine, then sauteed the shrimp.

Stem the mushrooms, place them flat side down on a baking dish and bake to get some of the moisture out. Mix bread crumbs, finely minced mushroom stems, celery and half an onion with an egg, a dash of oil, garlic ginger and salt and pepper. Pat the mushroom caps dry and stuff them, bake for 30 minutes at 160 C.

I am looking forward to an afternoon of sangria and crusty bread and cheese and chocolate fondue.

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