24 February 2015

Sometimes "Good Enough" Is Good Enough

It's been a while since I've posted anything other than book reviews--sorry for the repetitiveness, guys.

These last couple of years have been insane, stressful, and traumatic. There have been major losses. Plans fell completely apart. Dreams were shattered. Reality has left me emotionally battered. But things are slowly starting to feel okay again.

I keep having this conversation with a friend of mine about whether it's ever okay to accept something is "good enough." He's pretty adamant that you either do it right or don't do it at all. That's an excellent attitude to take if you're, say, a brain surgeon or a structural engineer. For the rest of us, though, I think we should cut ourselves some slack. Because if we don't, life will make sure to do it for us.

When our house was destroyed in the ice storm of December 2013 the day after we sold it, we had to spend the next several months (most of the year, actually) fixing it again before the sale could be finalized. It demanded so much of our time and attention, we could barely accomplish anything else. Should we have spent even more time and energy fixing the house to the buyers' preferences (that is, rebuild it with the upgrades and renovations they wanted as opposed to way the house was when they bought it) or was it okay just to restore it and make it livable again, or "good enough," so that we could finally move on with our lives? They bought it the way it was before the damage (which wasn't exactly horrible), so that's what they got again in the end. Good enough.

When our sale finally closed, we started looking for a new house for us, but the search wasn't going at all well. Rather than buy something out of desperation, we decided to temporarily rent a house while we keep looking. Renting got us out of the tiny, dreary condo the insurance company had stuck us in, gave us a place to call home again (with our own stuff back!), and gave the cats space and light. This house is far from perfect (in fact, it's got tons of issues), but for now, it's good enough.

When I'm too tired or stressed to continue the seemingly endless task of unpacking and setting up the new place (sadly compounded by all the damaged items we keep finding; damage caused not by the ice storm, but by the movers and restoration people who were supposed to be taking care of our things. Maybe they should also be part of that select group for whom "good enough" shouldn't be an option). At those times it's good enough for me to just read or cook or do something crafty. And that's perfectly okay.

In the spirit of Good Enough, I've decided it's better to post something rather than scrap a post because the timing is off or some part of it didn't turn out perfectly. So, I present you, somewhat late for the lunar New Year for which they are a traditional treat, pictures (taken with my phone because I wasn't up to dealing with the fancy SLR) and the recipe for Chinese Tea Eggs, or Cha Ye Dan, based on this recipe. It was an enjoyable process and resulted in smokey, slightly sweet, subtly spicy eggs (and not as salty as you would expect, given all the soy sauce). They didn't look as pretty as the one in the original picture, but they were good enough :)

Spices, sugar, soy sauce, and lapsang souchon tea are the basis for the marinade

The eggs needed a good, long soak to attain the marbled look

Chinese Tea Eggs

[My comments/changes in brackets]

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. whole black peppercorns
½ tsp. fennel seeds
8 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp. loose-leaf smoked tea, such as lapsang souchong [I got mine from a local tea shop, but you can try a good supermarket, or get it from Amazon or another online store]
8 eggs

Bring soy sauce, sugar, peppercorns, fennel, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, and 2 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan; remove from heat and add tea. Let steep for 10 minutes. Pour marinade through a fine strainer into a bowl and keep warm. [You'll need a deep bowl that can hold all the eggs. It's also not necessary to keep the marinade warm.]

Place eggs in a 4-qt. saucepan; cover by ½″ with cold water. Place saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. [This is where I started diverging from the recipe. I found the instructions somewhat unclear, and the comments also indicated that they didn't work well. I ended up hard boiling the eggs. I used tongs to remove them from the water, placed them on a plate, and used the handle of a butter knife to gently crack the shells all over. I then placed the cracked, *unpeeled* eggs in the bowl with the marinade. I then placed the bowl in the fridge. After a couple of hours, I checked one of the eggs by peeling it. The colour hadn't really penetrated. So I left the eggs in the marinade overnight. The next morning I peeled the remaining eggs and had the results you see in the pictures above. You can marinate the eggs for a shorter period if you don't want the marbling to be so dark. Serve cold.]

Makes 8 eggs

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