Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Instasnacks.

Remember when food wasn't popular? I do. PBS had Julia and Jacques teaching you basic French techniques while drinking cocktails. Martin Yan was awing us with crazy butcher knife tricks and chef Justin Wilson was teaching us how to make a roux and yell like a Cajun. On many afternoons I was put to sleep by the calm humming of the kitchen vents and soothing jazz of the show Great Chefs. Then technology happened and cable arrived. The cooking channel came and chefs that actually looked like the sleepless trucker-speed abusing chefs they were cooked recipes for you to try at home. Then suddenly, Emeril happened. Now I actually like Emeril. He seems like a really nice guy, but I always hated his show (I didn't like getting yelled at when he had a hard-on for garlic or some other asinine ingredient). With his growing popularity he made people food crazy. People filled stadiums to watch the man toss a salad. Food culture was changed forever.

The Good:
People started supporting restaurants that weren't awful chains. Small farms started to flourish. People started to care about where their food came from. Locality and sustainability were no longer words that only hippies used when lecturing you about peace and love and something something... sorry I wasn't listening. Food brings people together. Food is life. Obey food.
 
The Bad:
Everybody became a food expert. Foodies (can we please just let that term die? It's stupid.) came crawling out from their couches and people at home were calling themselves chefs because they new how to cook spaghetti that wasn't from a can. And I swear if I see another cooking show where these poor bastard have to cook using only their feet and fight to the death with a raw piece of chicken to be recognized I'm going to stick my head in the oven.

The Ugly:
The gentrification of food. The gluttony of mediocrity. "Upscale" comfort food troughs. The raw food movement (I bet with all that raw fiber).

So I follow a lot of food peeps on the Instagrams. I love looking at delicious food. It inspires me and make me feel all funny inside. I use my Instagram as a diary of sorts. The thing I ate or made. The days I feel pretty cute. Adorable pics of my loved ones on our adventures. But mostly the delicious things I stuffed into my mouth. Anyways, I guess this post was just a shameless excuse to show you my not-the-greatest but-oh-so delicious food pics from my phone. You read all this so you might as well look at the photos. Yeah, thanks.

Oh yeah, follow me on Instagram.



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thai Soup Is Good Food.



The first time I had Thai food was when I moved to Seattle over 20 years ago. I remember I had spicy green curry with fresh basil and lemongrass, a bowl of jasmine rice, and some tofu fresh rolls with peanut sauce. It blew my mind a little bit. Truthfully it took me a few minutes to comprehend the amazing complexity of flavors I was ingesting. The sweetness of coconut milk, the savoriness of the curry spices, and the heat from the chilies and ginger. I went back to that restaurant pretty much every day for lunch the next few weeks and tried everything off their menu. The staff was grumpy as hell but their food was so good so I didn't care. Red curry, massaman curry, pad Thai, pad see ew, larb, tom yum, tom kha gai... it was all delicious. I decided I needed to learn how to make Thai food at home so I bought a few Thai cookbooks and checked out the entire Thai selection at Uwajimaya. After many years of practice I slowly but surely I built up my Thai cookery skills. I am by no means a master of Thai cooking but I can make a pretty mean tom kha gai.

Tom Kha Gai
1 lb. boneless and skinless chicken thighs, sliced
1 cup oyster mushrooms
1 13.5oz can coconut milk
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
3 cups chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 3" pieces and bashed with the back of your knife
4 kaffir lime leaves
3" knob of galangal (or ginger) sliced into thick pieces
4 Thai chilies, sliced
3 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
fresh cilantro or fresh Thai basil, lightly chopped for garnished
Method:
In a large pot over medium high heat add a little peanut oil. Add the onion, garlic, chilies, to the pot and saute until soft but not caramelized. Add the chicken thighs, season with salt, and cook through. Add chicken stock, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves into a pot and bring it to boil. Simmer over medium heat for a 15 minutes. Add mushrooms and coconut milk and simmer for 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat and add lime juice and fish sauce to taste. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and chopped cilantro to garnish.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Joy (and sometimes drudgery) of Cooking.

I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes cooking is just not fun. Says the girl with daily migraines, vertigo, painful arthritis, and other fun chronic illnesses that I do not wish to bore you with. Then again, sometimes having fun is just not part of the equation. We all do the things we need to survive. I take care of my family whether I am sickly or not. It's my job. I make sure everyone is taken care of and has what they need to be happy and healthy. If I take a day off my family turns feral. Next thing you know the kitchen is on fire and someone is eating out of the trash. That's just no fun.

So I thought I would write a post on how to make life easier for those of you cooking for your family or yourself when you're busy or tired or sick or sick and tired of being busy.


Step 1. Preparation
The most important thing that makes cooking easier is having a stocked pantry. Nothing makes cooking harder than not having ingredients to cook with. Try making pasta without pasta or flour. Try it. I dare you. Take a few minutes and make a list. Stock up your pantry and it'll save your butt on many occasions. Check out my Keys to Having a Bad-Assed Pantry series.

Step 2. Shopping
Build up good shopping habits. Such as:
a) Figure out your budget prior to shopping.
b) Plan meals for the week. Make sure you have back-up meals and snacks planned too.
c) Make shopping lists. Don't look like a lost child taking up the entire bread aisle because you can't make up your mind.
d) Eat something before you go. 10 boxes of Hamburger Helper Nacho Beefaroni and a 24 pack of Hostess Ding Dongs looks pretty damn necessary when you're hangry.

Want to save some money? If you actually have a choice of where to shop see who's got better prices. Shop around. If you have the time split up your grocery needs into more than one place. I buy my veggies and meat (and Asian ingredients) at a small family owned Asian grocery nearby. Super fresh and super inexpensive. Then I go to the regular big supermarket for American/Euro items, canned goods, frozen junk, bread, dairy, etc. They both lie on a direct route to my house so it's not really that big of a deal stopping off at both. In the end, it saves us quite a bit of money.





Step 3. Make Extra
Even if you're just cooking for one person cook extra so that you have leftovers. You can bring the leftovers to work for lunch or for your kids school lunch or for next day's dinner. Heating up leftovers is super easy compared to cooking something from scratch. Sometimes a dish or soup tastes even better the next day.

Step 4. No Waste
If you get tired of your leftovers you can re-purpose it into something else. Chicken Parmesan easily becomes chicken enchiladas with just a few extra ingredients. Cooked rice can become congee or fried rice. Soup can become a sauce and vice versa. Use your imagination. My uncle taught me a dish when I was little called pizza eggs. Yes, it's as easy albeit strange as it sounds. Diced leftover pizza cooked with scrambled eggs. It's actually super tasty. Lol. Use what you've got. Nothing needs to get wasted.


So yeah, you can save yourself a lot of headache and money. It just takes a tiny bit of your time and a little bit of planning. Don't be that person that's all dead eyed and starving in the grocery store staring at $10 boxes of frozen chimichangas.

Here's a few ideas to get you started:


Buy a whole chicken. 
Roast it. (Or if you're in a real pinch, most supermarkets sell rotisserie chickens. It'll do.)
Day 1. Eat the cooked chicken breast with salad/chicken Parmesan/chicken salad sandwiches/with rice pilaf and veggies.

Day 2. Use the legs and thighs for Arroz con Pollo/gumbo/enchiladas/chicken fricassee

Day 3. Make a roasted chicken stock out of the bones and add leftover scraps of meat to soup. I make a mean matzo ball soup out of scraps.


Buy a large pork shoulder roast.
Roast it.
Day 1. Pork roast sliced with pinto gallo/adobada tacos/with mango salsa and veggies

Day 2. Pork and beans/pork chili/pork roast sandwiches

Day 3. Pozole verde soup/pork quesadillas/pork fried rice


Buy a bunch of bulk dried chickpeas.
Soak them overnight.
Day 1. Grind some soaked chickpeas in a food processor to make falafel sandwiches or with salad.

Simmer them with herbs until soft.
Day 2. Chana masala/Cuban chickpea and potato omeletta/Moroccan chickpea stew

Day 3. Chickpea and tuna salad/fried chickpea fritters/hummus and flatbread

You get the idea. Make your life easier. You don't have to eat canned soup and microwave pizzas if you don't want to. Eat well by planning out your life. A little organization goes a long way. Now go take some aspirin and cook yourself something tasty. xoxo