about & thanks

Why Tangstein, when my name is Liza Baker? Thanks (apologies?) are due to Jerry Seinfeld for the inspiration – Donna Chang nee Changstein (“The Chinese Woman“) – and to my husband, Xiaobing Tang, who did NOT decide to reinvent/rename himself but has loaned me his name though I didn’t take it as my own!

I came to this site by a long and circuitous route, involving time spent studying Chinese language and literature, learning the culinary arts, working in the restaurant/catering business and as an office administrator. Now if anyone knows of an administrative position in a culinary school that specializes in Chinese cuisine, you know I’m looking for it….

This blog is a collection of recipes and menus that I have developed for teaching the Changsteins among us how to cook simple, healthy Chinese food for busy weeknights using readily available (and hopefully locally, organically/sustainably grown) ingredients and a minimum of kitchen gadgets. Along the way we’ll detour to look at some useful resources, meet some inspiring people, and have some fun cooking together.

I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions, which can be left on any page.

Before we get started, credit should be given and thanks expressed where they are due:

Where to begin? Perhaps at the beginning. I’m sure to miss someone, but unlike a cookbook, a blog is a work in progress! Thanks to…

  • My mother and grandmother for laying the foundations of my culinary knowledge and skills
  • My father, who loved good food
  • My husband, for his unwavering support and encouragement AND for his fantastic photography
  • My kids, for eating all kinds of things kids “aren’t supposed to eat”
  • My mother- and sister-in-law for letting me look over their shoulders (but never touch anything!) in their kitchens
  • My friends, many of whom said, “You should write a cookbook…” never knowing how much they inspired me to do so
  • My Chinese teachers, especially John Berninghausen – the first word we learned in Chinese 101 was “daozi”, cleaver!
  • My culinary arts instructors, who explained not only the hows but the whys and why nots
  • Many many food writers and cookbook authors, especially: Fuchsia Dunlop (Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook) and Jack Santa Maria (Chinese Vegetarian Cookery), both of whom prove that you don’t have to be Chinese to cook Chinese food with a true Chinese flavor; Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Small Wonder), Michael Pollan (The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Nina Planck (Real Food), all of whom have taught me the economic, ecological, and health reasons for starting every recipe with whole, wholesome, local ingredients whenever possible; Deborah Madison (Local Flavors and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) for helping me to expore and make full use of the local farmers’ market.

17 Responses

  1. COOL!!! I will look forward to this site being fully up and running. Thanks for sharing.

    Love ya,

  2. OK, I’m hooked, I’ll look up some recipes and actually try and cook Chinese rather than take-out – perhaps during the Beijing Olympics.

  3. Thanks for sharing–and for something that will keep you with us (virtually)

  4. You’ve posted some of my faves! Keep up the good work!

  5. Liza,
    How wonderful to have your brilliant cooking available on-line, albeit in DIY form!
    The cucumbers in our back yard are destined for great things, I see.
    All the best and keep writing.
    Kathy Sarah and Lia

  6. This is amazing, Liza!! But I did drool all over the computer. Love the Tangstein moniker, too (like the Seinfeld episode)!

  7. Wow! How wonderful – this is so you my dear! I’m very proud to have studied side by side with you and to call you a true “foodie friend” forever!

  8. Hey Bridget – thanks for visiting! I’m so looking forward to being closer to Chicago again so we can “do food” again. You’re one of my inspirations!

  9. OK, I am back on checking for some new recipes! You are my mentor for healthy, sustainable ,organic eating…we are moving that way!

  10. Hey Liza,

    I’m finally checking out your blog and it looks fantastic. I’ll try the sesame noodles tomorrow. Wouldn’t you know it, Botany of Desire is on my reading list…I’m looking forward to reading it even more than ever now! Thanks and kudos for a great blog.
    Kathy (Liam’s mom)

  11. Liza, we share the same philosophy, you used practically the same words about weeknight cooking using readily available ingredients as I did on my site! I developed a recipe-free approach to wok cooking and have been teaching in S. Florida for over 18 years. I was introduced to using a lightweight cast iron wok by my mother. Thin walled ones, only 3 lbs, so no heavy lifting. I’m pleased you wrote such great things about cast iron woks because they are the BEST! Visit my site with my findings on woks, would love to hear your feedback.

  12. Great site! =)

  13. was cleaver really the first word we learned? my earliest memory is from orientation. you asked why chinese and not russian, and bai laoshi answered, “for the food!” or at least that’s how i tell the story. some day, when neither of us is too busy, we’ll have to compare memories and figure out if we really share the same major!

  14. Nice blog Ms Tangstein 🙂

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