Recently, N and I celebrated our favorite friends’ birthdays. R and C have birthdays a week apart and last year, had a great party to celebrate. This year, they decided not to celebrate with a party, but I couldn’t let their birthdays pass without some kind of celebration!…
A few weeks ago, I made a cake for N’s mom’s birthday. I had been waiting to make this cake for her for a while, since the flavors were right up her alley. Before I went to the market, I reviewed the recipe to see what ingredients I was missing.
As my eyes scanned down the list, my heart skipped a beat. “1 cup buttermilk.” Crap.
For those of you who bake a lot, you understand my pain. For those of you who don’t, I’ll break it down. Don’t get me wrong, buttermilk is delicious. It adds a creaminess and lightness to baked goods that I love. But here’s the problem: Buttermilk is only sold in two quantities. 1 quart and half a gallon. So, whenever you need only 1 cup of buttermilk, you’re forced to buy another three cups that you don’t need.
This leads to throwing away curdled, long forgot buttermilk after a few weeks, or, like me, you begin to scour your cookbooks, Pinterest, and the internet for ways to use up your buttermilk.
My go-to buttermilk recipe is banana bread, but I decided to go with some breakfast muffins I could grab on the way out the door to work. They’ve got oats in them too for some extra heft and longer satiety.
Eat More Greens, my 2014 motto, has become a little person sitting on my shoulder, saying “You could add greens to that.” This recipe is a perfect example of that. I first threw this dish together for New Years when I had R and C over for our annual Roast Chicken and Twilight Zone dinner (third year strong!). I usually just make rice to go with the roast chicken, but I decided to mix it up with our otter grain staple, quinoa. I added beets because we had them in the house and C loves beets.
The first time I made this, it was just roasted beets and quinoa. It was good, but something was missing. So when I was making this to share with you, I was thinking, what will make this dish better? The little greens cheerleader said “More greens!” and this incarnation was born.
Not only do you get vegetables and protein-packed grain, but when you make this, you’re using the whole vegetable. Most people throw away the beet greens, thinking the magic is only the root. Wrong! The magic is the entire thing! Beet greens have a mellow flavor, so they’re pretty versatile in any dish that calls for cooked or raw greens.
Maybe my greens cheerleader is getting a waste less friend…
It’s that time of year again: resolution time. We’re constantly barraged with people, social media, companies, and newsletters asking us about our resolutions or trying to sell us more workout equipment we may or may not use.
I’ve set resolutions is the past, like most, and like most, they never stick. They seem too big, too overwhelming, and ultimately disappointing when they’re not made.
I prefer something smaller, more actionable. Something I can do everyday that won’t make me throw up my hands if I forget about it that day.
This year, one of my main focuses will be to eat more greens.
I already make pretty vegetable-centric dishes, but I’m going to kick this up this year. Greens are good. They’re loaded with vitamins, low in calories, and they’re damn delicious. I hope you’ll enjoy the greensplosion in 2014, because it’s coming 😉
Today marks two weeks since my grandma’s passing.
In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that someone dear to my heart was in the hospital. I didn’t want to say that it was my grandma, my last grandma, my last surviving grandparent. I didn’t want people to know because I wanted her to get better. I wanted this to just be another thing that would become a distant memory that my grandma and I would briefly mention the next time I saw her.
It didn’t happen like that.
My grandma couldn’t beat it this time and passed away on December 12th.
Betty saw a lot of things in her long life. She moved out of Chinatown. She and my grandfather moved up in society. They lived in a beautiful house built by my grandpa and my dad that was the place for celebrating. She saw a lot of wonderful things and had a lot of great memories. But she also had struggles. She lost my grandfather to cancer and had spent the last 20 years without him. She had health issues. She attended a lot of funerals as time went on. Aging made things different and more difficult.
Grandma and I weren’t very close as I was growing up. She lived in San Francisco and I grew up mostly in the South. I saw her every other year for Christmas and talked to her briefly on the phone around other holidays, sent her cards for her birthday. I knew she was proud of us, but we didn’t really have a deep relationship.
My relationship with her had changed over the years partially due to my other grandma, Gloria. Like I’ve mentioned before, Gloria passed away my freshman year of college. It became very clear to me that I needed to give my last grandma, my last grandparent, more attention and love.
I was now in Los Angeles and started to visit her on my own, rather than with my family or other family around. I sent her more cards, just because, to say hi, to wish her well. I sent her cookies for the Christmases my family didn’t spend with her. I started going up for Chinese New Year. I wanted her to know that I cared about her and I appreciated her.
While I got my love of baking from my grandma Gloria, I got my love of cooking and food from my father and grandma Betty. My great grandfather worked in the restaurant industry in San Francisco. When we visited her, we always indulged on good Chinese food and dim sum.
I got stuck trying to find a recipe to honor her memory. Out of the eleven Chinese cookbooks I own, most of the dishes had no connection to her, to the things we ate together. I eventually found a kind of dish, jai choy, that will probably be served at the memorial lunch I’ll be attending soon. It’s a vegetable dish that would traditionally be left at a loved one’s grave to bring them into the afterlife and also served at the memorial meal for the family. While our family isn’t extremely traditional, I thought it would be the best way to remember her.
I modified this Buddha’s Feast recipe I found to have the vegetables that my family most commonly ate, so if you’d like to substitute or omit any, feel free.
Goodbye, Grandma. I love you. I miss you.
When it rains, it pours. This has been a rough week for me. On top of the stress of life, work, and the holidays, someone I hold close to my heart is in the hospital. Knowing that she’s not doing well and that I couldn’t travel to see her right now is hard to accept.
At one point, the rain was so torrential I had to stop and zoom out. Look at things beyond this week, this moment, these feelings. Looking at everything from way up above, I saw that I wasn’t taking care of me. It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and let seemingly little things drop. But most of the time, those little things add up to some peace, some balance, some sanity.
As I work on listening to myself again and restarting those little things, I turn to the kitchen to make miso soup. Miso soup is a simple thing that give me great peace. The comforting flavor of miso paired with the nourishment of seaweed, tofu, and dashi is a breath of much needed fresh air, a sigh of relief.
There are several ways to make miso soup, but I prefer the traditional way. It’s simple and I know exactly what’s going in my soup. The traditional way means you make your own dashi broth from scratch. You’ll need to buy kombu seaweed (it’s also often called dashi kombu seaweed) and shaved bonito flakes for the broth. Kombu seaweed is a larger and flatter seaweed that comes in strips. Bonito flakes (or katsuobushi) are dried and smoked shavings from the bonito fish. Bonito gives the broth a great depth and umami.
Once you’ve made the broth, you can add shiitakes, tofu, and wakame. Feel free to add more ingredients, like bok choy, green onions, soba noodles, even rice. At the last minute, you’ll swirl in dissolved miso paste and the whole soup comes alive. Miso soup is one of my comfort foods, so make it as comfortable as possible.