Reason For Not Eating Out #64: To Cook Things You Didn’t Think Were Possible

Cooking is empowering. And it’s unique, in that this simple exercise provides you with one of the few daily necessities for survival—food. You can’t say that for going to the gym, or writing a brilliant essay, as empowering as those activities may be. It’s not always the case that whipping up a plate of dinner gives you a great sense of personal accomplishment. But when you cook something that surprises, impresses even yourself (and as a bonus, your friends or … Read More

Apple and Roasted Hakurei Turnip Salad with Hot Honey-Mustard Dressing

I’m a big fan of two-ingredient “salads”—if you’ll allow me to call them that. What makes a salad a salad? It’s not uncommon to see a “tomato salad” with just tomato and dressing. So is the imperative on fresh vegetables? (Not so! What about chicken, egg or grain-based salads?) Does it need to be cold? (No! Warm or room-temperature salads are a typical Moroccan side, like with carrots, for instance.) To me, it seems the word “salad”—and especially if we look at … Read More

Roasted Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon

There’s evil starches, then there’s good-for-you starches, from a modern-day health perspective. White potatoes are roundly shunned as one of those bad, rotten, festering ones of the bunch, bound to metastasize into a gummy tube of fat around your waistline. Refined white flours are bad, too, if you can even eat them without experiencing painful gluten intolerances! Now, I will never call either of these types of food “bad” entirely, but the bright side to these diet trends is discovering a … Read More

Granola with Ginger, Almonds and Hemp Seed Hearts

I’m not much of a granola-eater unless I get around to making it myself. Something about most store-bought granolas, crackling with sugar like crisp toffee, makes the whole eat-healthy endeavor seem fruitless. But I do love some oats, nuts and other whole grains and whatnot in the morning. And the fact that you can use any combination and ratio of them when you’re making granola yourself.

Chilled Potato, Leek and Parsnip Soup with Asparagus

Recipes are a lot more flexible than you may think. Soups are especially welcome to additional ingredients, adaptable to changing seasons, and open to subtractions in the case of allergy or just preference. I’m of the opinion that in most cases, a recipe is a mere guideline for a certain idea rather than a strict set of instructions. And as such, I usually don’t follow them too closely. But to indulge one early-morning’s random obsessions about vichyssoise, I cracked open Julia Child’s Mastering … Read More

Carrot Salad with Cumin, Mint and Preserved Lemon

Good winter carrots are like a good idea left alone for a while as it silently, snugly, digs deeper. At least, I think this is what happens with ideas that I leave beside for a whole season—or year perhaps. They develop and grow more legs—or roots—as time goes by, so that when you’re ready to finally pull them up, they’ll be more matured and robust. Even if you did not consciously think about them.

Vegetarian Turnip Cake with Shiitake Mushrooms and Fried Shallots

The Lunar New Year is upon us—tomorrow marks the start of the Year of the Rooster. This is my year. I’m a rooster, and if you’re familiar with the Chinese calendar, you could deduce that I will be turning 24, 36 or 48 this year. I’ll let you figure it out. In Chinese horoscope theory, it’s supposed to be an unlucky year for you when it’s your year. Funny, it seems that it’s been unlucky for a lot of folks … Read More

Roasted Squash, Broccoli & Lentil Salad with Raspberries

File this under Stupidly Simple Seasonal Salads with A ‘Lil Bit of Something Cray-Cray and Not-So. And that’s a pretty good general formula for making a tasty, cheap, healthy and hopefully delightful meal. The cray-cray-not-so in question here are the raspberries, since they’re A) Not in season in my part of the world and B) Not usually found in savory bean or grain salads even if they were. But for some reason I woke up one morning recently thinking about raspberry … Read More

Curried Sweet Potato Dumplings

The All-American meal is upon us: Thanksgiving. Apple pie, turkey and cranberry sauce; mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing. I have always been intrigued by this holiday meal because even though I was born and raised in America, none of these things were really familiar to my palate except for once a year, on Thanksgiving. (A phenomenon also discussed by Andrew of the blog Beyond Chinatown, who compiled some great interviews on the Chinese American Thanksgiving here.) But as I’ve learned through the years, … Read More

Stuffed Delicata Squash with Kale and Pinenuts

It is strange seeing winter squashes beside watermelon at the farmers market. Eggplant and enormous turnips. Sweet corn and cabbage. Winter and summer mixed with colorful abandon—that’s what early fall is for. I couldn’t resist plunging for the pumpkins and winter gourds while picking up some tomatoes, too. We won’t have the latter in-season in the Northeast for much longer, but it’s a warm welcome to squash season, having the best of both worlds.

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