Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How Time Flies...

12 years ago today I stepped off a plane to live in Austin, Texas.

People in Michigan asked, "Why would you want to move to Texas?"  I would begin by telling that I was pursuing my Ph.D. at The University of Texas, but also added that Austin was kind of like "an oasis" in the middle of the state to see if that might ease their look of confusion/bafflement/pity.  It usually didn't.

But that's probably because that wasn't the answer to their question.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Coconut Caramel Cocoa Nib Cookies with Sea Salt

I never had much of a sweet tooth.  So, it follows that once I embarked on a gluten-free, dairy-free, and now vegan, life, I almost never suffered the mourning, the temptation, nor the bitterness of not being able to have baked goods like cakes, pies, and cookies.  Now, before we go any further, please notice that I have said, "almost never."  For there are times when others are intensely enjoying a dessert: eyes rolling back, giggles bubbling over into ecstatic gibberish, and then the words, "You have to try this!" - when do I feel it.  Not so much because I actually want the dessert(s) in question, but because I wish to share in that experience.

Today's recipe was inspired by one of those times.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Quinoa Salad with Seared Zucchini & Chickpeas

Zucchini squash has been on the menu a *lot* in my kitchen lately.  Along with its multi-colored and often exuberantly shaped zephyr, pattypan, scallop, carnival, and gooseneck heirloom squash cousins, it has been a joy to see the strength of their numbers at the farmers' market and local grocers.  With such a diversity of not only shape, but flavor and texture, I am doing my best to take advantage of the season and try them all.  So, to perhaps help you do the same, I present a simple, yet strikingly flavorful, dish that will hit the spot for any occasion.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rhubarb Ginger Compote

Rhubarb - an ingredient known far and wide, and yet when asked exactly what it is, many are hard pressed to provide an answer outside how delicious it is with strawberries in a pie.  A plant similar in appearance to a cross between Swiss chard and celery with a canopy of large triangular leaves, it is a beautiful herbaceous perennial known for its fibrous stalks and trademark mouth-puckering tartness.  While the crimson variety is best known, rhubarb can range in color from pale green to yellow to a speckled pink.  First appearing in Spring, weather permitting, its growing season can continue throughout the Summer and even into the Fall, allowing this common and yet exotic ingredient to find its way into desserts, mason jars, roasting pans, and happy tummies for a good part of the year.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Chilled Buckwheat Noodles

Today's recipe was inspired by a memory not from my childhood, but from my young adulthood.  Many of you know that I once worked at a place called Eastern Accents in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Chinese bakery and restaurant that also specialized in Korean food.  It was in the years between completing my undergraduate and leaving for Texas to pursue my graduate degree, and allow me to say with no hesitation that they were truly glorious.  The business has since closed, but the owners and I still stay in contact, and they often refer to the time that I was there as their "golden years."  Employees were happy and productive, the business thrived, and we loved and respected each other as a family, creating friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fresh Mango and "Sticky" Quinoa

Allow me to express how much I love mango.  I have many fond childhood memories of my mother coming home from work during the Summer with a bag of beautifully ripe mangoes in tow.  She would deftly cut around the large seed, score the two outer thirds, and present them to my brother, sister, and I.  Our hands would be sticky, our upper lips mustached with orange pulp, and our smiles rife with the fibers as we enjoyed mango after mango until we were stuffed.  My mother saved the middle part with the seed, or the buto as we called it in Tagalog, for herself, unwrapping the sliver of skin around it like a delectable gift and then chewing the more tart flesh around the seed with closed-eyed contentment.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Icy Watermelon Mango Drink:
A Toast to Summer

Well, it was inevitable.  

In Austin, we have been spoiled with weather reminiscent of an actual Spring, with rain, cool, cloudy mornings, water in our brooks, lakes, and rivers, extended wildflower bloomings, and temperatures floating somewhere between 70 and 85 on a daily basis.  Which is totally not normal.  Which is why the extremely tardy appearance of Summer has completely blindsided so many of us here.  Now, temperatures are shackled between the 90s and 100+, and that's before we even take humidity into account, and walking outside during the day is less a recreational activity than a necessary evil.  [wrings out sweat-soaked bandanna]

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Honor, Gratitude, & Remembrance

It all starts somewhere.

Whenever anyone remarks on my kindness, my smile, my compassion, my passion for taking care of others, and my memory for details, I always give credit where credit is due.  And the lion's share would easily go to the two women who raised me:  my Mother and her Mother.