Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Project 365 Abandonment // Chilaquiles de Catalina

The first time I ever had chilaquiles was during a student leadership conference in high school. We were at UC Santa Barbara, where we got a taste of dorm living and commons eating. And those first chilaquiles have always stuck with me. During a trip to Catalina Island last year, I decided to try my hand at making them myself:

Leftover tortillas, eggs, cheese, leftover salsa.
And I've decided to abandon my 365 project, at least until this period of transition and absorbing new surroundings is over. I'm still cooking, eating, and growing, and it is all delicious.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Project 365 - Day 12 // My Favorite Khmer Dessert

It involves durian. I don't understand what the fuss is about regarding the supposed scent. Durian has never smelled foul to me. I guess I'm missing that gene? While I didn't always like the texture of fresh durian as a child, I hardly reacted to it the way so many people in popular culture do. 

My favorite Khmer dessert dish involves durian, sugar, coconut milk, and glutinous rice:

The Khmer word for it is something like "sohn-schia." At least, that's the best I can do to anglicize it. The sauce is creamy and sort of aromatic. My mother knows I swoon when she makes this. It's definitely a comfort food for me. One of these days I'm going to attempt it myself. Glutinous rice intimidates me. I'll have to get over it. The older I get, the more I realize I have to really start learning how to cook Cambodian food myself, or I'll have to depend on restaurants whose food will never be quite like (or quite as good) as my mama's.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Project 365 - Day 11 // Tomato Legacy

This picture of last year's tomatoes is blurry, but I don't care because they were amazing. They were so good that people were devouring them like mad.

I was quite proud of these because they were so tasty; they actually impressed my parents, which is no easy task considering how well they grow things. For some reason my tomatoes came out much sweeter than theirs last year. This year's tomatoes have a lot to live up to.

To be honest, these tomatoes grew from seeds I saved from grocery store tomatoes, so I'm not sure whether they're genetically modified, but the difference is that these were all allowed to ripen on the vine rather than picked while green and gassed to redness.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Project 365 - Day 10 // The Park's Finest-Glazed Catfish

I love catfish. I love The Park's Finest barbecue sauce. They were meant to be. 

I took a catfish filet, massaged some of the sauce into it, then pan-roasted it. Delicious with brown rice and a pseudo-succotash.

Read about The Park's Finest BBQ: BBQ That Hits Home:

Overall, The Park's Finest serves up damn fine BBQ, and it's almost a relief that the food lives up to the moniker. Because at a time when even food trucks have well-oiled public relations machines, you can't help but want to root for a truly homegrown place, like this one, that unabashedly posts up homages to labor leader Philip Vera Cruz at its entrance, serves its own version of soul food and digs deep into its own roots to potentially become a neighborhood safe space of sorts.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Project 365 - Day 9 // Do You Polish Your Blueberries?

My friend Claire's favorite way to eat blueberries is to carefully wipe them, one by one, before popping them in her mouth. She was passionate about the difference it makes. It's true!
Shiny blueberry, shiny rings.
Loving effort makes food taste better, or at least more satisfying. This reminds me of the way I used to eat bananas: I'd nibble away the first layer of flesh, then chomp down the center, which I'm convinced is much sweeter. Bananas' center has a nicer texture. While eating them this way may look weird, it makes Cavendish bananas taste much better. The small Asian bananas taste better, too, but their texture is so good and they're so sweet that the difference isn't as significant.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Project 365 - Day 8 // My Apple Tree at 14 Months

The apple tree lost nearly all of its leaves over the winter, and I thought it was a goner.
I was wrong.

I moved it from the spot by my door where it received 3-4 hours of full sun to a spot where it received 6-8 hours of full sun, and it loves it. 

I'm so glad the tree is doing so well; I'm afraid of whether it will survive my transient lifestyle, and I'm also wary to leave someone with the burden of caring for it. But my parents are good candidates.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Project 365 - Day 7 // Deadly Cute Basil

I had a late start with spring planting this year. Meaning I didn't plant anything, just watched as seeds from last year's fallen tomatoes sprouted up, then died from lack of care. I admit it; having a full-time job does take energy away from being able to garden. Especially when the garden's in an area like mine: outside of my apartment, downstairs in the parking lot, where perils abound.

So, I've taken most of my gardening indoors. This was also necessary since I'm afraid of the seedlings drying out too quickly and dying. 
I've never planted Greek basil before, and I squealed to myself when I saw these sprouts first pop up. The cotyledon leaves are so adorable, like something out of a cartoon. (These aren't the seeds I gathered; these are bought. I thought it'd be nice to have a variety of basil. Those are rolling about my apartment somewhere... my poor roommate.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Project 365 - Day 6 // It's My Birthday & I'll Cook If I Want To

I turned 27 this year. It felt like a good time for a change; meaning, instead of my parents cooking a birthday meal for me, I cooked for them. It felt only right to thank them for bringing me to this sweet life where there are so many delicious things to eat. Also, mothers are always dubious about whether you can actually cook for yourself even if you tell them that you do it all the time.

The birthday dish I concocted was a massive amount of salmon (I bought enough for about 8 people when there were only 4 of us), and about a quart of spinach, cooked. 

Salmon, spinach, sesame seeds. 
I baked the salmon in a sort of pseudo-teriyaki sauce: 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part sugar, three or four cloves of minced garlic, and a tablespoon or so of grated ginger. The spinach I just washed, tossed in a pan with a little extra water, and let it wilt down, adding a pinch of salt. I piled the spinach in the center of a big plate, then splayed the salmon on top. Sesame seeds to garnish just felt right since I was already channeling Japan. 

My parents made the rice; I didn't feel the need to prove that part. And of course, because I have the reputation of impoverished artist/community-person in my family, they sent me home with all the leftovers. Salmon and spinach and sesame seeds for days. I didn't complain. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Project 365 - Day 5 // I Need More Cubans In My Life

This is the Cuban sandwich and french fries I had at the Trolley Car Diner when I visited Pennsylvania in 2009. 
The roast pork was oh-so-good. I wonder whether it's still as delicious. I don't remember whether I used Yelp in 2009, but it has good reviews there

I want fries all the time. All the damn time.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Project 365 - Day 4 // Overcrowding Does Reduce Growth

My pot of who-knows-how-many chamomile seedlings is a fine example of overcrowding inhibiting growth. After a year, they were still tiny. The small container probably had something to do with it, too.
I finally re-potted them and one of the plants seems to be taking off a little bit. Once it fluffs up a bit more, I'll post a picture of that, too.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Project 365 - Day 3 // Tangerine, Neat & Clean

A year or two ago I got into the habit of peeling my tangerines & clementines in a sort of star / flower petal pattern.
I like starting at the flavedo end. There's something so satisfying about having that star-shaped peel in my hand at the end.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Project 365 - Day 2 // The Pea that Didn't Make It

Ah, Pea, we hardly knew ye.

I neglected this poor, sweet pea plant during our February heat wave. Alas, Los Angeles.

I want to plant another in a pot indoors but I know it's too warm and I'd just be setting myself and the seed up for another heartbreak.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Project 365 - Day 1 // Gua-cado

The goal: to post a photo a day until June 14, 2013. Today's as good a day to start as any.

Guacamole made in an avocado. A byproduct of how hard I try to avoid washing dishes.

Chopped red onion, salt, lemon

Chopped serrano chile

Mish mash mosh, nosh.
Previous avocado post here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Art of Leftovers // Shortrib Taco

Inspired by a combination of my mama (who is the champion of making leftovers new again) and Roy Choi.

The situation: Leftover shortribs from my roommate's Memorial Day barbecue, toasted sesame seeds, my mama's home-pickled mustard greens (home-grown by my papa), sriracha sauce, and tortillas that desperately needed to be eaten.
I chopped the shortrib into little pieces and tossed them into a hot pan to get those crispy edges I so love a la carne asada. I threw the bones into the pan, too, in hopes of getting some marrowy flavor out of 'em.
Toasted the tortilla directly on the gas flame until tender and just barely starting to char, added chopped meat, chopped pickled greens, sriracha, and sesame seeds. And didn't even have to log on to Twitter, drive anywhere, or stand in line. Nom.