Sweet Habanero Tofu Salad

The journey begins. She rolls forward without hesitation, a new experience lying in wait, a prowling tiger ready to pounce and capture her in the thrilling jaws of the new, the unknown. Daunting though it is, there’s definitely excitement and joy in setting up a new home in a new locality with new resources and a new pursuit. But then the cavalry arrives, charging past like a drove of raving dogs. If she looks hard enough she can see the saliva dripping from the growls of each unnecessarily raging engine. Sigh. Perhaps this is a generalization (a very loose one) but the typical San Diego driver is INSANE. These astounding people blow the speed limit out of the galaxy everywhere I go, and then come to screeching halts at the very obviously looming red lights beyond. Maybe I just like to save my gas, my sanity, my life, but I can’t understand why everyone has to fly on wheels, especially when the roads are splattered with cracks, potholes, unevenness, and just about every bane of your tires’ existence. Why torture your car? Why? tell me. Why, why do it?

Ok my rant of the day is done, I can move on now having relieved my mind of that. I’m sure there are San Diegans who will revolt to this assessment but I speak with my eyes and my nerves. I know you aren’t all bad, just … a lot of you. But I’m done.

As you can see, I’ve set up the home base now, and am actually acclimating myself to the experience of graduate school at this moment (meaning I’m sitting outside with my laptop counting down the minutes until my next class commences while looking ruefully at my Literary Theory text and worrying about when I have to decide between writing a thesis or developing a portfolio). It’s only the first day! Yikes!

So instead, I return to my beloved baby, my comfort, my responsibility and my joy and am writing up this blog post for you all. It’s been a bit of a culture shock moving here, I won’t lie, and if it weren’t for the awesome program and all its promises, and the cool breeze that juuuust hit me as a blessing amidst the sun-spitting heat, I’d high-tail it back to MD, back into my uber-sheltered cocoon. But life is unfolding in an exquisite array of colors, the myriad of which I will enjoy witnessing. And despite feeling a bit out of place and more than a little overwhelmed, the husband and I are carving out the paths (least-trafficky ones at that) which lead to good living and of course good food. Case in point, organic markets and farmers markets abound here. In fact, if I wanted to drive, I could come across at least four farmers markets every day within a 30 minute radius of my home. Naturally I’ll stick to the one closest to home but the existence of such possibilities warms me. So for the first week I scoured food sources ad nauseum, and came across gorgeous produce like the largest and softest okra I had ever seen as well as the silkiest super firm tofu my eyes and mouth ever tasted. Not to mention the freshly ground and richly aromatic spices at my fingertips. And the SPICIEST jam ever. Good stuff. I’m happy. Continue reading

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Plum Vinaigrette and Summer Salad in tow

Between the husband and I, salads have become a much more frequent main dish of the dinner (and/or lunch) time. I have to give the boy some props for being open to trying new flavors and realizing the salad is so much more than just some lettuce tomato and cucumber tossed in lemon and olive oil. There aint nothin’ wrong with that, but… it’s boring. Thankfully he married a culinarily curious food lover who likes to try and learn new techniques, resulting in such beauties as the orange vinaigrette and soy ginger and chili lime dressings. We have discovered that he prefers the tangy and spicy versions more than the fruity but as I am the predominant cook I get to decide. And lately what I wanted was something that spoke of summer, of sun, of the fruits of the season.

As it happens, I have seen plums everywhere and naturally surmised the most obvious and pleasant route would be to endeavor a taste of the plum vinaigrette. I’d never tried anything like this, and while it wasn’t heard, it certainly took more labor than my dressings usually require, but I daresay for the eyes alone it was worth it. The colors I was left with took my breath away. I’m only disheartened I had to leave this beautiful concoction in Maryland when I moved this week. Did that come as a surprise? Yes I am currently in CA now, temporarily with la familia before I settle down in San Diego. It is with a heavy heart that I must bid adieu to all the great food and great people I encountered, along with the lush majesty of trees galore, but new adventures await! One cannot sit idly by and moan about the past whilst the present offers a smorgasbord of delights.

Anyway, here I am now reminiscing about the bright, sweet, and rich homemade vinaigrette which really was worth the effort! I am ready to explore with other fruits soon, now that the basic technique has revealed itself to me with delightful clarity. I implore you to do the same, lest the fruits of summer pass you by with nary a glance from your direction. What better than an ideal summer salad to live through this horridly hot days? Continue reading

Thai Basil Turkey Kabobs

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Technology, she laughs at me.  In spite of the heavy week I have had, and the ridiculous struggle between  stomach bugs and long fasts, this tempestuous maiden of the modern world prefers to kick me where it hurts and completely erase an entire draft of this post, nearly finished but evidently not backed up.  Alas. I had this brilliant post marveling in the magnificence of human athleticism that is the Olympics, leading to the trials of fasting through Olympics, and if you can believe it I had some kind of delicate turn oh phrase that led quite seamlessly to these kabobs.
Humph.  You don’t get to read that now. But that’s okay, what does it compare to the mind-blowing skills of the amazing US women’s 4×200 m Medley.  Olympic records being broken left and right.  Wow!  I guess you could say my personal Olympic challenge would be in the realm of cooking–that is, trying to make the tastiest kabob out of the medley of ingredients found in my sister-in-law’s kitchen with nary a taste to guide me! (Not quite as seamless, but good enough) Continue reading

Fennel Spiced Daal and Brussel Sprouts

The perils of fasting: exhaustion, wonky sleep schedules, possible indigestion from eating so early and so late, abnormally delusional behavior at work, Charlie horses, massive stomach aches and unseemly consequences that render one unable to fast for a day or two…

Oh, those last two aren’t very common, at least not to the level of severity that keeps one from completing her fasts. Ohh but life ain’t a bike ride through the park. More like a merry go round, without the merry and more of an abundance of ups and downs to make your inner self disoriented at best, nauseated at worst. My inner self let my outer self feel that too closely today, which is why I stayed home to weather the after effects. Finding time to rejuvenate my strength, replenish my stomach’s acceptance of food, and banish the pain from a stupid charlie horse (or muscle spasm in the calf for the unawares) that had to hit at the same time. Continue reading

Ginger Soy Sunrise Salad

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Greetings and the best wishes for a fruitful and blessed Ramadan to you all!  So begins the holy month of Islam, whereupon lengthy days of fasting (yes that does mean no water either) are coupled with nights of prayer, gratitude and reflection (and some eating as well). At first glance you might say this comes at the most inopportune of moments, while I am in the midst of transporting my self and my worldly belongings to the opposite coast, a time that would by general consensus require a great deal of energy. Oh but how can we find energy when we can’t have a morsel of sustenance throughout the day?? As exhausting as it is (and as grumpy, curmudgeonly, demonesque, slightly irritable as I get), this is the time for utmost reflection and strenghtening of what lies within, and that type of strength far outreaches the mere physical variety (well, it should, at least). In other words, I’m hoping to be blessed with more peace of mind and a heart full of gratitude and calmness, the better to attend to the next few weeks of encroaching madness. In the process I also hope to extend that level of gratitude in sharing with those less fortunate. What better place than a food blog then to share the hopefully eventual food-giving exploits of charitability?  I do hope I have the chance to write up on something of that nature when the time comes.

But I digress. We begin Ramadan, so I begin with a recent salad the husband dubbed something along the lines of Ginger Soy Sunrise Salad (Unfortunately the full cheesy title escapes me now, but you catch the drift).  Because we get up to eat before the sun rises, this thematically falls in line with that. However if you’re to enjoy it in the evening, you might choose to dub it a Sunset salad, since that’s when the breaking of the fast commences. No matter the title, the salad is refreshing and sharp with just the right crunch and kick of spice. And it truly is a wake up call for your energy, with the hint of ginger and the morning-esque value of boiled eggs.  Plus, sunflower seeds just kind of fit the title all the more. I’ve made it a few times since, each with variations which I will include below.  And so, Ramadan Mubarak and consider this salad for a protein rich but light dinner piece. 20120716-211331.jpg

Continue reading

Sundried Tomato Hummus

The mission: empty out the pantry.  The challenge: don’t buy anything else to fuel the possible recipes gallivanting through your head. The struggle: but what the hecks do I do with cream of wheat, curry leaves, and light brown sugar? (answer: nothing… yet).

While certain combinations won’t see the light of existence, some other medleys worked out far better. Although every minute that I spend inside my apartment is overlaid with the mantra, I need to pack I need to pack I MUST NEEDS PACK, I find myself cooking instead.  Call it stress relief. Or denial.  Whatever. I need to get rid of my groceries too, okay? (technically it’s not that big of a deal, as we are moving into his sister’s place close by first, and then the ALL IMPORTANT MYSTERIOUS SHIFT SHALL OCCUR IN THE MIDST OF RAMADAN AND FASTING. Nevertheless, would rather clear it all out now.) Continue reading

Cucumber Cheesewich

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Oh good lord! I was  so antsy with hunger when I got home from work that I just whipped this up and decided to share it with you ASAP. A quick and easy sandwich when you need something QUICK! The brevity of this post directly correlates with the brevity in which it was conceived, created, and consumed. Absolutely nothing special here except I made it, ate it and wrote about it in less than 30 minutes. Nothing else to say.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bread (I used a cheddar garlic loaf I bought from a farmers market)
  • Chilled cucumber, sliced (8-10 should suffice)
  • Artichoke-garlic cream cheese
  • Black pepper

Toast up your bread of choice something proper, then slather both slicrd with the cheese. Ok don’t go overboard because your first layer will melt a bit. Layer the cucumber onto one slice, and crush black pepper over the cucumbers. Add an extra layer of cheese to the other slice of bread before completing the sandwich. Slice your sandwich in half and sink your teeth into the incredible crunch of fresh cucumber (also from the farmers market).

The warmth from the bread contrasts harmoniously with the cool cool cucumber. I don’t have any other words for this. The flavors are fresh and perfectly suited for one another and I could eat this all day…

Unfortunately I have a lot of clean up to do because my pops is visiting tomorrow for the weekend. Woo hoo! As such I might be delayed in posting for the next few days. Patience however is a virtue, and I do have some special treats to share with you if you’ll but wait.

Hmm. I think I have time for one more sandwich. I mean, the ingredients are inviting me to indulge. The husband isn’t home yet. He need not know, right?

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