Often, I find myself needing some time off. Time off from the world, from long work days followed by longer dinners, from my computer(s), from my cell phone, from happy hour cocktails, and just from the world… I was seeking a break where I could nourish my body and empty my mind. So I did a lot of research and asked around, considering various options from yoga ashram in India to a Chinese medicine retreat in Northern Thailand. In the end I discovered the best of both worlds in Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand.
The hubby and I are hoping to lose a few, seeing as we basically haven’t stopped eating since the Christmas season last year. Soups have been our go-to lunches since the amount of liquid in them deceive us into thinking we are full just after one big bowl. To my surprise one day, the hubby requested for cauliflower soup. Some time back, I cooked a roasted garlic and cauliflower dish with cheddar cheese melted over. It got him loving the veg, and he has since been on kind of a cauliflower bender.
I recently stumbled upon the joys of kinako latte at a miniscule cafe in Arashiyama, Kyoto called kyo no cha no nagomi. We had stopped to taste their fluffy little squares of fat-free green tea and soy milk cakes (incidentally, our toddler, T adored their strawberry version). And since I was slightly obsessed with tasting matcha lattes on this trip (mostly thanks to my culinary goddess of a sister-in-law’s frequent mentions of how she loves having them at Starbucks in Tokyo), I decided to be adventurous and try a kinako latte. Before I knew it, I was hooked!
Like most people who love eating, I also love reading about eating. And sometimes, a particular chapter from a book or an article would trigger a very specific craving, one that begs to be scratched. So when I came across this article last year about bun thit – cold Vietnamese rice noodles – it became the immediate trigger for more research into this healthy and delicious recipe that can be easily adapted to whatever meat, seafood or veggie option you happen to have in your fridge.
A very bizarre thing about my hubby, is that he slathers peanut butter onto his cheese burgers, nestling it between the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayonnaise, melted cheese, ketchup and pickles. It’s apparently the way things are done in a family diner called Triple XXX in West Lafeyette, Indiana (where he spent six years, as a young and impressionable student). The Duane Purvis All-American is a house favourite among Triple XXX’s avid followers, and after all these years, the hubby still deems it the best burger in the world. We could be eating the most sumptuous Waygu burger, and he would still woefully lament that it lacked creamy peanut butter (never chunky!), preferably a ¼-inch thick.
You’ll ditch store-bought options once you realise how little it takes to make a seriously yummy tomato sauce of your own! This is my favourite tomato sauce recipe. It’s easy to make, incredibly tasty and relatively inexpensive. I’m a firm believer of layering flavours. And with a jar of this tomato sauce sitting in the fridge or freezer, part of the work of throwing a meal together is already done.
Popeye owes much of his strength to spinach, and I fondly remember my three young nephews scarfing down entire plates of sautéed and creamed spinach after watching the cartoons. If spinach was absent from dinner, they would collectively rain hell and fury like you’ve never seen. I don’t blame them, and their allegiance is well-justified, because apart from being delicious, spinach features on most superfoods lists.
Kinpira carrot, stir-fried grated carrot seasoned with soy and sugar, was one of the dishes I learnt to cook at the Haru Cooking Class on our last trip to Kyoto. I know it probably isn’t high on your list of dishes to master, but it’s a delicious, quintessentially Japanese vegetable side dish which has opened my eyes to how home cooked Japanese meals are actually put together. And I simply love it.
Root vegetables are a firm favourite with my kids. My son particularly loves parsnips and raw carrots, and the baby girl adores beetroot and sweet potatoes. I usually cut an assortment into batons, toss in olive oil and simply roast in the oven until crispy and crunchy (best with parsnips), and they really enjoy them that way. But with my little ones, it’s important to keep things interesting so they don’t get bored and start rejecting the food (as much as they liked it before). Cooking the humble but nutritious veggies this way is a fun and novel alternative, and my cheeky daughter thoroughly enjoys getting dirty and messy eating the patties with her hands.