The Secret Life: The hidden struggles of culinary hobbies

We all have talents. Sometimes it is a hidden talent. Sometimes it’s not.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but my family is a foodie family. Our talents lie in the culinary field; we are a family of cooks, hobby chefs, and bakers. If you are one of the few who can’t whip up a nice meal yourself, then you at least have the taste for one–we know our foods. When it comes to family gatherings, my family is the one to celebrate with–there is good food, and lots of it. I think this is why I (and my siblings) have become such a food brat.

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Mixing it up on Valentine’s Day (recipe included)

Love is in the air!


As Valentine’s Day creeps just around the corner, there are those of us who are planning dates with our loved ones, and those of us who are, well, planning dates with ourselves. I am of the latter group.

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Fooding Anew

We’re all familiar with the Food Network, with culinary giants Geoffrey Zakarian, Giada de Laurentiis, Ina Garten, etc–and it’s always exciting to watch them construct new and delicious-looking creations on all of their cooking shows. Their food is delicate, sophisticated, and carried out with expertise and confidence that average people like me can only admire. But it’s also great to look at cooking through other lenses–through people who are not celebrities, but give us the same amount of satisfaction and inspiration with their ideas. Their ideas are simple, but amazingly fun and interesting. I love learning new recipes through looking at videos, and thought I would share one with you all today–it’s a series I discovered last year, but they’ve updated it considerably since then, and I thought you would all enjoy it (I definitely did). It’s super creative, fun, and a really cute way of sharing recipes.

Enjoy!

Reveling inside boundaries (recipe included)

Coming up with new ideas always involves looking back on familiar ones.

There have been too many times in which I have failed in creating new recipes and resorted to remaking those already in my collection, but that’s not always a bad thing. People always say, “think outside of the box!” but sometimes, revisiting the things you know and love is the exact inspiration you need.

Some time ago, I tried my hand at lychee ice cream. For those of you who love lychee like I do, you probably know what I mean when I say I was excited. I wanted a result on par with the lychee ice cream at Double Rainbow in SF (mmmm…or so I remember). Having failed at following conventional recipes for ice cream (mine always turned out hard and icy), I bought two large cans of lychee and set out to make my own. It was simpler than I had expected–using my experiences with melting sugar down into caramel and referencing more familiar recipes (that I had more success with), I reduced the lychee juice into a thicker syrup and chopped the fruits into bite-sized pieces to produce the defining lychee flavor (for these, I referenced caramel and strawberry ice cream).
And it wasn’t a complete failure! True, it was a little icy and strangely sour (I concluded that this was a result of the citric acid in the canned lychee juice) but it was one step closer to reaching my goal. I have yet to try it again, I’ll post the recipe when I perfect it.

So anyway, what I’m trying to say is you don’t always have to beat yourself up trying to be unique and attempting to venture into unexplored areas. Use your resources! They’ll help you more than any “spark of imagination.”

On another note: recently, my mother has become infatuated with some almond-pear bars she discovered at Nordstrom Cafe. She insisted that I try to make some, so here I am, nibbling at a pastry and scouring the internet for cake and tart base recipes, attempting to calculate the proportions of flour and other ingredients necessary for a successful imitation of the pear-bar’s texture. Alas, I am lazy, and I am not in the mood to complete my research, but thinking about the flavor of this almond-pear bar really reminds me of a dessert I grew up with, called almond jello. It’s probably the flavor of almond extract; I’ve always loved the smell and taste of it. Of course, it’s completely different from what I’m looking for, but I think reacquainting myself with familiar flavors and using them as references will really help me to pinpoint the taste of my final almond-pear bar.
Anyhow! I thought I’d share the (jello) recipe with you all today. It’s super easy, simple, and really delicious. Continue reading