You found us! Tantalizing, mouthwatering edibles are just a few clicks, ingredients, and skillets away (not to pat ourselves too much on the back or anything. We like to maintain a healthy sense of humility).
The Woks of Life is a site for anyone looking to try their hand at Grade A authentic Chinese cooking (and any other great recipes, Asian or otherwise. We figure it’s best to keep one’s options open). Whether you’re a noob with an interest in going beyond Cream Cheese Wontons and Sesame Chicken, a college student with a drawer full of wrinkled take-out menus and only rudimentary knowledge of how to boil an egg, a suburban mom looking to make weeknight dinners a little more interesting, or just a fellow foodie, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve been cooking and serving meals for a combined 139 years (Ugh. We’re so old). The fact that we all cook can, admittedly, lead to the odd kitchen squabble or heckle-fest here and there (*scroll down for embarrassing illustration of said phenomenon), but we make it through okay.
Aside: What we’re all doing in these photos:Bill: Grilling steaks for fifty people at a family party, Corona in hand. Judy: Getting ready for BRUNCH time in Beijing. Sarah: Awkwardly stirring cheese curds at a Pennsylvania renaissance fair. Kaitlin: Chillin’ in the way (way) back of the family truck, whilst grandparents and other older (read: higher ranking) cousins chill up front.
Italian, Spanish, Korean, French, Brazilian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Moroccan, Thai, Indian, Malaysian…you name it, we eat it. We overanalyze our food, think about what to make for dinner before lunch is over, and relentlessly criticize any restaurant we walk into (yeah…we’re those people. There was a time when local wait staff couldn’t come within ten feet of the family matriarch without breaking into a cold sweat).
But then half of our group–the parental half–relocated to Beijing three years ago. Kaitlin was (and still is) in college stateside, and Sarah began moving between both China and the U.S. whilst figuring out the meaning of post-college life. Between all the plane rides and intermittent Skype conversations, it became difficult to stay up-to-date on all of our day-to-day comings and goings, let alone argue over the proper flour-to-water ratio for dumpling dough.
We also realized that the kid-parent separation led to said kids eating a lot less of the Chinese food normally served up by said parents. Because let’s face it…though the two daughters of this family can make restaurant-quality thin crust pizza like nobody’s business, they haven’t exactly been studying up as much on certain dishes that are usually left to the older generation.
Our solution? This website and blog, where we could share recipes, kitchen exploits, and other experiences from our lives in a metropolitan city, a college town, and a sleepy suburb/wherever the older kid ends up. We’ll share what we do best…authentic, simple recipes–some traditional, and some reinvented. For all you Chinese American generation X’s and Y’s out there who love to eat it, but have no idea how to make it, welcome to the promised land.
So take a look around. Pour a beverage and find tonight’s meal. Pick up some travel tips, a quick Chinese lesson, or an explanation of what the heck Chinese vinegar is.
(It’s the nectar of the gods, is what it is.)
*An example, just for illustrative purposes. We’re not like this all the time. We swear.
B: “They’re burning!! The heat is WAY too high.”
K: “They’re not burning.”
B: “Who taught you how to a flip a pancake anyway?”
K: “You did.”
B: “Not like that, I didn’t.”
K: “These will be the fluffiest pancakes you’ve ever had in your life. Now go set the table and get some slippers, ‘cause yo socks are about to be knocked OFF.”
J: *wildly gesticulating toward pan* “Hey! Shouldn’t you really be flipping that one now?”
S: “Did you remember to add the lemon zest?”
Yeah, not a dramatization. Want to know more? Check out our bios here:
Bill: Dad/Husband/Dude Who Brings Home the Bacon
Grew up in upstate New York delivering newspapers, shooting marbles, and accidentally crashing questionably maintained snowmobiles into neighboring garages (okay, just the once). Had a couple stints in the restaurant world, rising from modest beginnings as a Burger King sandwich assembler to Holiday Inn busboy and line cook, to cooking at the family’s Chinese restaurant, while also learning the finer points of Cantonese cooking from immigrant parents.
Judy: Mom/Wife/Former Career Woman Adjusting to Life as Lady of the House in Beijing
Born in Shanghai, and arrived in the U.S. at age 16. Pretty much a boss when it comes to languages, being fluent in both English and three separate Chinese dialects. And boy, can she fold a spring roll (the rest of ours tend to just fall apart. It’s sad). Plus, she’s the only one in the family who’s actually good at reading Chinese, so she’s our professional menu-translator when we’re tooling around Beijing.
Sarah: Daughter/Older Sister/Enterprising Gen Y’er Susceptible to Many an Existential Crisis
Born and raised in the Garden State, with a tragically ironic lack of gardening skill. Grew up on episodes of Ready Set Cook and Iron Chef. Writer, piano enthusiast, and daydreamer, figuring things out between continents, from job opportunities in Beijing to occasionally holding down the fort in the suburbs.
Kaitlin: Daughter/Younger Sister/College Kid
Notoriously unable to follow a recipe (usually preferring to freestyle it), Kaitlin’s the family artist, knitter, chunky-sweater-obsessed crazy shopper, and keeper of an unreasonably detailed knowledge bank of Korean pop music. Currently living the college life and blazing her own path off the meal plan.