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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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.


Fallen Eggs

If you haven’t already, you will at some point in your life experience the incredible despair of carelessly placing an egg on a table…only to have it roll off the edge and fall to its death. Not only is it a pain to clean up, it’s a complete waste. Such a pity, really. That egg could have been poached for eggs benedict or whipped into the heavenly batter of chocolate chip cookie dough. And of course, let’s not forget the possibility of it feeding a hungry, underprivileged child. But you just wasted it.

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It’s not me, it’s you

Anosognosia: a deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers certain disability seems unaware of the existence of his or her disability.

To the general public, anosognosia is nothing more than a complex-sounding medical condition. Actually, most people don’t know what it is; they’ve never heard of it.

In reality, we see variations of anosognosia everywhere in our daily lives. People don’t know that something is wrong, either with them or their work. There are things that we just don’t know we don’t know–in other words, unknown unknowns. It’s a common thing–the only way we can solve the problem of “not knowing what we don’t know” is through other people.  That’s why it’s so important to communicate and share ideas, to be open to new perspectives; we need to receive feedback so as to improve on ourselves. We can’t live our lives in denial, only looking at things through one pair of glasses.

Just think about it. We all know one person in our lives (maybe) that is a terrible chef, but everyone assures them that their cooking tastes just fine. These little comments, no matter how well-intentioned, only perpetuate any confidence in their culinary talent. No matter how much you might not enjoy their food, you just don’t have the guts (or heart) to tell them, “Wow, can you put this back in the oven? Because I think you’re feeding me tapeworms.

If you ever find yourself in this position, there is probably a reason why your friends keep rejecting your dinner invitations

Or maybe you have tried; they just don’t get it. “There’s no butter or sugar in these butter cookies because I’m trying to go the healthy route,” they say, and you have no choice but to leave them wallowing in their puddle of denial.

It’s definitely a difficult thing to overcome, but that’s why it takes a lot of effort from both parties–people need to want help from others who are willing to give it. Think of it as something like wanting to cook for a friend who loves your food.

In essence, the key is to want to learn–in order to be successful, you must have an open mind.


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