Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crunchy Food Texture...the Amazing Sprouts

We often only discuss food flavors (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, spicy...), but the texture of food is just as critical to our eating experience. There are probably tons and tons of adjectives you can use to describe food, but as a starter, I'll begin with some:
"Soggy, crispy, crunchy, slimy, al dente, hard, tough, fibrous, delicate..."
Well, the list goes on and on. Of course, certain food pairs well with a particular texture, such as a crispy French fry, or al dente linguine; simultaneously, we try to avoid or prevent certain food that reflects a texture that contradicts its nature, like a soggy pizza, a hard chocolate chip cookie or a slimy steak (gross!)

At the end of the day, if I had to pick my favorite food 'texture', I would have to say crunchy, hence my default fruit is always an apple, my favorite meal is always a plate of fresh, raw greens with carrots, and recently, I've been very into eating sprouts. They are a nutritious powerhouse because they're basically beans and seeds and we know how healthy they are to our diet. I used to buy them from the health market, but they can be quite expensive. So, I ordered some seeds online and decided to sprout my own. It's really not that difficult. It's like caring for a plant. You soak them, rinse them and watch them grow! The process takes about 3 days (depending on the seeds/beans), but it's so worth it. They are a wonderful addition on salads, in sandwiches, or just as a snack!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Something not food-related.

Although I love to bake, I don't consider baking as one of my hobbies. It's just something I do when an event comes up or if I just 'felt' like being in the kitchen (and to remember to scrub down the kitchen really well afterward). I have (or had) other hobbies, such as photography, painting and music, but the first two became too expensive for me. Another art that I wished I had more time and money for is ikebana. I don't want to be great in it, just something I can do to ground myself once in awhile. There's a certain aesthetic element to a floral arrangement. It's not all spontaneous, but particular attention must be given to maintain balance and harmony. I came around a school that offered a free class (while I just had to pay for the material). I jumped at that chance to have my first ikebana experience. During that hour and a half of class, my mind focused only on how to beautify the space of the flower pot. The instructor showed me the different styles and certain 'rules' that one has to follow, but they all made sense because in the end, the arrangement came out beautifully. Although I couldn't carry the final product with me, I took a photo of it as a memory before I headed out of the classroom, down the stairs and out into the real world.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Konnyaku Jelly

Another name for "konnyaku" is "devil's tongue". No, it's not a voodoo delicacy, but rather a healthy block of jelly made from konnyaku potato and calcium hydroxide that's commonly found in Japanese dishes. It has recently gained popularity due to its fiber value and it's low in calories and contains no fat; hence, it's also considered a 'diet' food. But I don't like to think this way. I love its texture (a little slimy, yet firm) and I love to decorate it to beautify my meal. Because it has no 'taste', you can dress it up anyway you like. Pair it with your favorite sauce or flavor, stir fry it with chopped vegetables (I like to use slivered carrots, sliced celery, mushrooms and diced scallions) or add it to your raw salads. Yes, you can eat konnyaku raw too, just remember to rinse it before eating it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Special Kind of Salad That Needs "Pampering"

I admit, I've been addicted to reading food blogs lately. I have a few 'go-to' ones that I comb through daily since there are just so many out there in cyberspace. To me, food blogs can be categorized into two sides - the 'cooker' and the 'restaurant-attender'. Of course, there's a gray area, but in general, you see this trend.
I like to read the 'cooker's' blogs for recipe inspirations and practically 3D-liked photos of food. But I also like to read the restaurant reviewer's writings to prep myself for times I need to pick a place to dine out. Albeit I don't dine out often, but I think my vocabularies actually improved just by reading these posts!

Most food blogs are either dedicated to dessert or the 'health' road, you know, the cooked oatmeal, the Lara Bars, or the obscene variation of salads. Last year, I was obsessed with steel cut oatmeal, but I have passed that phase. Not a big oatmeal morning person afterall (and you?) But recently, I'm embracing the incredibility (is there such a word?) of avocado. Yea, it's high in fat, yadda yadda yadda, but a little goes a long way and I think it's a much healthier spread than butter or cream cheese. I'm even thinking of subbing it in some baking recipe. Just to experiment with it. So many foodie blogs are featuring this so called 'massaged' kale salad. Yes, you actually put you hands into the chopped greens and rub it like you would to marinate a chicken or a turkey. The 'massaging' helps to break down the cellular structure of this difficult to digest raw kale. Most recipes ask for a bit of salt, olive oil and of course, avocado, but I omit it (not a salt person, sorry) and just use avocado and good olive oil. I let the combination sit overnight and I think my kale salad still softened enough for me to eat. I also 'massage' in some diced tomato and black pepper, but basically, you can add any vegetables you like. I love this salad. I just can't imagine how refreshing this would be on a hot, summer day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another Birthday Treat - Chocolate Hershey's Kiss Mini Cake

When i finished my academic work study, the department I worked with presented me with a mug full of Hershey's kisses. Unfortunately, I'm not a chocoholic (Gasp!), so I've been brainstorming how should I deal with these mini sugary seductions. Then, my friend's birthday was this last weekend and since I'm on a tight budget (tuition is really expensive...), I usually bake goods as a birthday present. So far, nobody has complained...yet. This time, I baked a chocolate cake adored with a kiss...a Hershey's kiss. This recipe is really for cookies, but I used a toaster instead of an oven, so I had limited heating space.

I always recycle the aluminum tart tins from the Chinese bakery's egg custard tarts. My mother always complains that I collect so much 'garbage', but instead of 'buying' the tart bases, I'm reusing the old ones. Isn't that more environmental and economical? :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Diner Food

How did your new year start? Mine wasn't too pleasant. First, I didn't sleep well last night, then I had a bad lunch experience at a supposedly 'fancy' restaurant. I had confirmed if the lunch prix-fixe was available even on New Year's Day, but when I arrived, it was a different story. Also, when I ordered some take out from a Chinese restaurant, instead of what I paid for, I received a carton of cabbage instead. Apparently, someone else took my 'more expensive' order. Well, luckily, the restaurant will replace my order when I go back to get it tomorrow (which I've to purposely travel there) and the man over the phone was very polite and courteous. So guess it didn't end up to be so bad...

Anyway, on a more positive note, I haven't had a creative outlet lately, so I went on a photo shot this morning. I love vintage buildings, especially old-fashioned diners. If I had to choose, I still prefer the elbows on the table dining experience over a 5-star one. I savor casual things over elegant ones I guess. When it comes to diner food, I looove the toast. Don't know why, but it always come out perfectly crunchy and well...toasty. It's probably a shocker to you, but I often order the 4 steamed vegetable plates. Yea, it's probably frozen vegetables, but I always get a baked potato as my 'starch' on the plate and I just adore it since I've no patient to bake one at home. Who has time to wait 45 minutes for a meal? :) What's your favorite diner food?