Monday, January 31, 2011


Today is unfortunately the last day of a brief vacation from school, produced by a series of snow-days and intersession. I was so excited to take a break from working and start new projects to finally use my wide range of artistic abilities. I decided to dedicate this overextended weekend to the arts, and to the arts only. I also sadly realized that with so many things to do, I had no time to have a legitimate social life. Well, one can't have everything.
But I was thinking: aren't all "arts" essentially the same? They all involve creating, and applying unique techniques and skills to make the product the best it can possibly be. Delicately folding egg whites into a flour mixture takes the same dedication and patience as it does to paint a tiny daisy with a size 0 brush. One can thus assume that if he can apply the creative process to one area, then it is possible to apply it to many other areas that require imaginative thinking, and produce flawless results.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Last week I went on a simply extraordinary culinary journey to London and Paris. Both of these cities are filled to the brim with intriguing history, gorgeous lights, and cheesy tourist attractions. However, my main goal for this trip was, basically, to eat. I must say, my expectations for the food in London were relatively low. England has been known in the past for horrible food. Yet my expectations were by far surpassed with spicy, flavorful Indian food, magnificent mushroom risotto, and the best fish and chips in the entire world. I was sort of disappointed that I didn't get to try a "pasty," though, an indigenous pocket of pastry filled with meat, cheese, and/or vegetables. I definitely did feel like a true Londoner, though, when I had tea at the hotel Claridge's, where we stayed. The delicious sandwiches and quaint little pastries subsisted as my entire dinner, and the mild tea in the U.S. can't even be compared to theirs. I believe that I ordered their seasonal tea, with citrus, vanilla, almond and chamomile. They gave us boxes of it to take home, though, so I'm quite sure I won't be disappointed after switching back to American tea for quite a while.
Parisian food is...indescribable.The French cheeses alone are so extraordinary that when I had brought a wedge of brie to my hotel room, it had perfumed the entire area with its lovely, strong scent in just two hours. The unique experience of strolling through the cute, old-fashioned marketplace on a Thursday evening just couldn't have been missed. I loved listening to the gobbledygook of the French language, and though I could not understand most of it, I enjoyed every word. One of the things I love about Paris is that they honor their food. The Parisians adhere to my belief that a meal is not just a half-hour of feeding the body, but a pleasure and a privilege that should not be taken lightly. And they certainly did not take their food lightly. The French believe in cream and butter so loyally that I could not take more than a few bites of a meal before being satisfied. And it's a good thing those meals were rich: I don't think I could have afforded more than one or two meals a day!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Some say that to be qualified as a "real foodie" one must not only love to eat and cook, but love the very idea of food itself, even simply reading about it. Last night I read several chapters of a very intriguing book: "My Life in Food" by Judith Jones. Ms. Jones is the very witty "legendary editor" who published Julia Child's famous "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." In this vivid autobiography, she relates of her serious love for food, exciting romance, and the many capable chefs who came to her for help. This book is teaching me so much about different types of food, and how to look at food in general, it's hard for me to put it down. I would definitely recommend it.
There are some books in the world that are called "classics," and are timeless examples of flawless writing ability and interesting plot. Yet when one thinks about the word "classic," they often think of a mystery, a romance novel or an adventure story. People rarely think of cookbooks as "interesting." I deem this stereotype wrong. Many writers agree that one's writing style determines his personality. In reading his or her work, people can hear the author's voice and imagine him saying his words, and create pictures in their minds. Why should this be different for cookbooks? Before every recipe, there is a little paragraph that most people don't read, describing the origins of the recipe, its place in the family of the author, and tips for preparation. What many people don't realize is that these comments aren't merely random blurbs only slightly related to the recipe, but they are part of a story: the story of the author, and his love for food.
Cookbooks can not only be a source of recipe inspiration and delicious food, but additionally a source of entertainment to experience just like any other book. There are points of history, humor and sincerity. In fact, when bored, why don't you just sit down with a favorite cookbook to read? You might find that there are many other tips in there besides how not to curdle the cream for a creme brulee.


Today is Friday, which is unanimously agreed to be the best day of the week by far. Many people see Friday as the "day of relaxation" because, at the end of the long week, all one wants to do is take a nap. Although I do see the strong point this expression makes that the week is hard to bear without much free time, I simply make the public's opinion stronger by saying that not only is Friday a day of free time and rest, but it is also a day of culinary adventure to be explored in the time slot usually designated for work. Even admitting this fact alone produces some satisfaction.
Today I satisfied my craving for cooking and baking by assigning myself the duty of creating, according to some, the most important part of a meal: dessert. Since it is fall, I searched "ginger cookies" in, a recipe search engine, and came up with a recipe for "ginger spice cookies," which had maybe one negative review out of hundreds of positive ones. I decided to try it because it was seasonal, popular, and was a light finish to the main course: garlic and tomato braised chuck roast. Later I realized this wasn't enough for a night's magnificent close. I decided to make individual pumpkin pots de creme, which would be creamy and delightful along with the ginger cookies. The results: fantastic! The ginger spice cookies were fluffy, moist and heavenly straight out of the oven. They were even better later when their edges crisped, and the bold flavor of the crystallized ginger came through. The pumpkin pot de creme was delicious too, and surprisingly refreshing, while its mixture of spices made it taste exactly like pumpkin pie. I'm so glad I made some extras for snacking later...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Okay, here's the first real entry. First thing's first: I love to cook. I'm not just one of those tiny wrinkly old ladies who puts a pinch of this and a handful of that into the oven and calls the result food. No, for me it's an unavoidable obsession that controls every aspect of my life. The strange thing is, although I would consider myself a gourmand, most people would not, due to those sinister villains who stereotyped us as snobs. Gourmands are generally considered by the public as haughty and rude people who turn up their noses at any ingredient or cooking method of less than superior quality. In truth, they are simply knowledgeable and in favor of new and exciting flavor palates and techniques, and in eager hunger to consume more knowledge. Take Alton Brown, for example. Yes, not only am I a complete foodie, but a devoted Food Network fan as well. Alton Brown is definitely one of my most favorite television personalities because not only does he make cooking fun (and scientific, with his various models, my favorites being his famous yeast sock puppets), he takes indigenous flavors and cuisines and turns them into simple works of art. The results are always flavorful, yet not overpowering in their number of ingredients. I also like that he makes things one generally would not make at home, such as mustard.
Food Network is not only my culinary teacher, but it continues to inspire me in improvising and creating my own recipes, a creative talent definitely possessed by moi. For instance, last week, my mother found a lone brussel sprout in the refrigerator. She was about to throw it out when I interrupted her wasteful deed, and said that I would take control of the situation. I gently washed it, took it to the cutting board, and then deftly sliced it into tiny little strips. I also took a small shallot and minced about a quarter of it. I then took out a wide, flat sauté pan (a wok would've been better, though) and heated up a 3:1 ratio of extra virgin olive oil (or as Rachael Ray would say, EVOO) to sesame oil. Once the oil sizzled, I threw the shallots and brussel sprout into the pan and fried the mixture it until it was golden brown and crispy, and then sprinkled the finished result with kosher salt. All I can say is, my stomach is glad that brussel sprout did not wind up in the garbage.
As us foodies know, once we start cooking often, it can be hard to stop. When it's been four or five days since I've made an omelet, or even cut up a stalk of celery, an itch starts to form in my stomach that does not warn my body of hunger, but of its need to "create," a joy to which I have become addicted. There's something soul-warming about making something new out of boring ingredients, especially since it comes with the satisfying "mmm's" and "OH MY GOD THAT'S SO GOOD!'s" of the family and friends. So I promised myself to cook or bake at least one dish or dessert every week, to satisfy my addiction to "creating." Because this week is ending soon, I'll be making cookies tomorrow: the ultimate snack, dessert, and comfort food. I simply can't wait for those chewy, decadent ginger spice cookies I'll be baking up tomorrow: the perfect light end to a long Friday night meal. It does call for a lot of crystallized ginger, though, so we may not have enough in the kitchen. Luckily, for those last-minute disasters, we have a supermarket right around the corner that sells one's basic pantry items. Alternatively, I'm also sorely tempted to quote Alton Brown on this one: "Fine. I'll make my own."


First post to the blog! I would just like everyone in the great wide world of the internet to know that this blog's purpose is for me to share my mind with you. I know that by not knowing my name, it's hard to make a personal connection, but in the end that shouldn't really matter because all I want is for someone to listen.