When it comes to personality, I’m a planner, I don’t like risks, and I’m extremely organized.If that sounds not very fun, that’s sometimes true!One thing I’ve noticed is that I often have a long list of things I feel should do, although no one expects me to do them except for me.
The past month or so I’ve been trying an experiment of anti-should.If I feel I should do something, but I don’t really want to, I don’t.If I feel I really shouldn’t do a thing, but I want to, I give it a try. Continue reading But I shouldn’t…→
Today we have a pretty straightforward entry: spaghetti sauce!
I don’t remember what initially led me to reject jarred spaghetti sauce from the grocery store, but I’ve been making my own exclusively for years and now the store-bought stuff tastes weird to me. Although this could be cooked “Italian grandma style” of simmering it all day (as my own Italian grandma did), I am usually a card carrying member of the “I’m hungry and that takes too long” school of cooking. Continue reading Marinara sauce→
My first experience with Japanese pickles, tsukemono, was at a family restaurant in Kyoto, definitely nothing fancy. I don’t even remember what the pickles were except that they were kind of slimy, strong tasting, and definitely gross. Even though I try to be open minded and adventurous with new foods, I kept a wary distance of tsukemono after that.
Many years later, a friend recommended a Japanese cookbook to me, Washoku by Elizabeth Andoh. She had met the author and also knew that my favorite kind of Japanese food is more “home cooking” style, not sushi or tempura. It’s ended up being my favorite Japanese cookbook and makes just the kind of food I love in the from-scratch style I like to cook in. Continue reading Quick Pickles→
I began studying Japanese in 2000 and one thing I heard as a recent-ish current event about Japan was that there was a craze for tiramisu. A lot of my information about cutting edge Japan was influenced by books about Japanese culture written in the early 90s or late 80s when Japan was a big mysterious deal. Lots of business etiquette, flashy hair bands, street fashion, and tiramisu. Turns out tiramisu really hit its peak of chicness in Japan in 1991, so my information was more than a little behind the times and the hair-band-and-street-fashion scene was pretty drastically different when I went there a few years later in 2003. Continue reading Tiramisu cupcakes→
As I mentioned in my first exciting post about Limefest, I have a very small piece of land and a lime tree on it that grows honest to goodness fruit. This year I made a lot of lime-related dishes, but still was left with about ten limes that I didn’t know what to do with. So I juiced the limes, resulting in about 3/4 of a cup of lime juice. I tossed it in a glass jar and then into the freezer. Limes on demand.
One of my regular recipes is a gumbo recipe written by a friend of a friend. The only name I knew him by was Fluffy. I never met him and he lived in Seattle and wrote a gumbo recipe. I had never had gumbo before, so making it at home from this recipe was my first experience with it. I’ve since lived in the South and visited New Orleans and had Really Good Authentic gumbo and it isn’t really like what I make. But this recipe remains on rotation in my house.
The first iteration of this recipe was made with actual peas instead of black-eyed peas because I didn’t know what black-eyed peas were, my grocery store in Hawaii didn’t have any, and I basically had no idea what I was doing. And I have made it with green peas for years. But making it with black-eyed peas is a lot more authentic and is also more delicious.
The spiciness of this recipe can be adjusted by adjusting the cayenne pepper. I also often leave out the onions (or substitute onion powder) because my dedicated food audience (a.k.a. my husband) doesn’t eat most onions. Alas, for onions! It can be made with less chicken. Or more. Or more celery or less, etc. The recipe is quite flexible.
This is a get-all-your-pots-and-pans dirty kind of recipe and it takes a little while to make because of all the things going on at once. I can make it in about half an hour now, but starting out it was a “this takes a long time” recipe for me. And really it’s most delicious if you can let it stew for a while.
I’ve changed the recipe slightly from the original, but with credit to Fluffy, the mysterious friend of a friend I never knew, here it is. Continue reading Fluffy Gumbo→
A few weekends ago, after seven years living in Houston, for the first time I finally had a truly Southern dish: chicken and waffles. We got up early because there is often a line and had breakfast at a famous Houston breakfast joint, the Breakfast Klub. I was shocked by how awesome it was! I’m not a fan of fried chicken, particularly wings, but these were tasty. Spiced perfectly and somehow they stayed hot for our whole breakfast. This was truly masterful frying in action.
It wasn’t really ideal summer food, but other project for the weekend was: homemade horchata.
If you’re not familiar with it, horchata is a sweet rice/nut milk sort of drink that is a part of many cuisines, but in Houston it typically is associated with Mexico. I had never had it until recently when a friend gave me a taste of an alcoholic version and then I wanted to try the real thing.
It has a milky texture, is very sweet, and is spiced, usually with cinnamon. It’s super delicious and perfect for hot summer weather. Once I had real horchata for the first time I immediately thought — I wonder how this is made?
The past few years I’ve stepped up my study of Japanese and along with it I’ve also tried to become better at cooking Japanese dishes. I tend to enjoy “homestyle” Japanese food or things that aren’t the iconic sushi. Unadon, okonomiyaki, onigiri, mabodofu, ramen, curry rice, omuraisu, zarusoba… All of them are way above sushi on my list of Japanese food I love. And there’s also a wide array of “Oh that’s so good, but I can’t remember what it is…” type side dishes and salad I’ve yet to conquer.
I’m fortunate that Houston has a Japanese grocery store, Nippon Daido. But it’s a long drive for me and a little expensive, so it’s not somewhere I go outside of specially planned trips. I get key ingredients there (mirin, konbu, katsuobushi, miso, special soy sauces, etc.) and then make a lot of the various sauces I need at home. I can make my own dashi, mentsuyu (a.k.a. dip for zarusoba), and eel sauce.
My house is on about .05 acres of land, so that means I have two flower beds and that’s about all. But I do have one lime tree and once a year that means…agriculture! All year I’ve been looking forward to my summer lime harvest.
In the past I’ve made limeade and not-key lime pie. This year I decided to really get creative, particularly because I had more limes than ever, about 30. Continue reading Limefest 2015→