Week #1.2: Lack and Compensation

One of the things I am constantly kicking myself for is the fact that I don’t know how to cook the food my parents make. Y’know, food of the Motherland. Honest-to-goodness, no-lie, the traditional Vietnamese and Chinese dishes (and I’ll be honest, sometimes their lines are too blurred for me to tell where one ends and one begins, but maybe that doesn’t matter because it’s the influences of one upon the other that makes it great) that I took for granted when I’m at home. I’m talking the sweet and pungent and aromatic and light and subtle and exotic flavors of fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic-chili pepper paste, ginger, sesame…and that’s not even a fraction of it.

I think it explains the reason why I don’t cook Asian myself very often– I can’t do it like momma. So I don’t even try, and I just dance and flit around every other cuisine that would never be seen at home.

But this week, I think miss some of those flavors. It’s a far cry from the traditional foods, but maybe I’m just looking for something that will get me through until the next time. So this week, with some tofu left in the fridge, I made a stir fry of this, but instead of wrapping it up in lettuce, I opted for some kale. And then I found raw kale to be a little intense, so I wilted it for a little bit before adding it to the stir fry. Oh, and since I had some old leftover ground beef (previously purposed to fill dumplings), I added that in, too.

Because I am impatient and an idiot, it turned out a little more watery than expected, but that’s okay. The taste was still great (smelled great as it cooked, too), and there’s nothing a little Sriracha can’t save.

Photo Jun 22, 3 22 08 PM

 

Along with the theme, I also tried to make curried beef dumplings from here, but the flavors just weren’t there– kind of muted, actually. I think it might be because I subbed out the soy for tamari sauce, and it being by first time with it, I wasn’t sure exactly how it’d taste. In any case, I only made a few, and froze the rest of the filling to play with for another day.

And of course, for dessert/breakfast, paleo banana bread. I’ve been most impressed with this recipe. I haven’t really done much paleo baking, but out of what I have tried, I liked this one enough to try again.

Photo Jun 22, 3 21 57 PM

We’ll see how long this food lasts me– I still even have leftover zucchini lasagna from last week(!).

Week #1 – I don’t miss you.

You know what, cheesecake?

I don’t miss you. Because really, fuck how grossly decadent you are. When I used to eat you, the only thing I felt afterwards was guilt and the desire to curl up into a ball and die. Signs of a healthy, well-balanced relationship for sure.

The fact that I made a raw almond “cheesecake” (recipe modified from here) says nothing about anything.

Did I get a little worried that my blender wouldn’t be able to mash the almonds that I had soaked for a night into the right consistency? Maybe. Was it laborious to do? A little. When I had sampled the mixture before freezing, I had a few reservations. It had a slight by unmistakable grit of almonds, but at the same time, it had the richness of the cheesecake without even needing cream cheese, and at that, I was a little impressed. Impressed enough to not totally stamp and pass it off as “healthy shit I don’t think I can get used to”.

I even tried to properly make layers– on top of the crust, which was made from ground up paleo chocolate chip cookies that well, turned out less than ideal, with some coconut oil, a layer of plain vanilla, the second being a layer blended with raspberries and blueberry, and finally, the top being blueberry and mango.

It’s freezing in the fridge now, but I got impatient after two hours and cut off a portion.

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Interessante. Too soon to say if I would try again, but for now, I can still say that I don’t miss cheesecake.

Edit (23Jun2013): I…don’t think I like this. Maybe it’s because it hadn’t blended it enough, but even though it initially feels like biting into cheesecake, I can’t get past the fact that I am essentially eating really, really ground up almonds. The flavors aren’t really there, and the crust only tastes like coconut oil– my bad. I’ll think of this as more of a failure on my part. But for now, no more raw vegan “cheesecakes” will be seen from me.

I’ll uh, find a way to dispose of it. I might even have to enlist the help of the Mob…

For now, I think if I really ever do want cheesecake, I’d either a) pretend I didn’t care about my health or calories that day– and it’d have to be a very special day, b) share it with five other people, or c) maybe try a greek yogurt one. I think this option seems the most feasible.

Until then, I still don’t miss you, cheesecake. You, nor your abhorrent Factory.

I am going to follow my gut!

I, and a few others close to me know that I spend entirely too much time in front of the pantry.

Besides the fact that it oftentimes harbor tasty morsels and a plethora of ingredients that can be made into tasty morsels, I really think that what people choose to put in their pantry says a lot about who they are. On that note, let me try to recount what’s in my section of the pantry: dried sweet potato noodles, some oatmeal. Dried shiitake mushrooms, raisins, canned tuna, and granola. Three kinds of peanut butter, and too many types of tea and coffee for a single person.

They each have their own story, a phase with myself that went through, or still am in. The oatmeal? Untouched for several months, because apparently, being full of “heart-healthy seeds and oats and nuts!” left little room for much else (I imagine it’s the embodiment of Mother Earth in a little cardboard container– tastes and feels like wet soil in your mouth). Tea and coffee, because I like class and sophistication. A lot of goods in there are organic, because I’ve got only one body, and I think it deserves fuel of the little-less-shitty kind. I like to think of it as an investment on my health.

Oh– and also, chocolate chips. Because who isn’t down for a little instant gratification? And even then, it’s dairy, soy, and nut-free.

So, at the end of the day, I eat with taste and health on the mind. And that’s going to mean that I keep an open palate, and cook and try new things. And inevitably, that’s going to mean what I make will have their own story, their own ups and downs.

I am going to chronicle them all here. I am going to try a new recipe every week (as I have been doing), and I am going to do it pans flying, knives slicing, ovens firing. Blood will be spilled (though hopefully not too much, they don’t impart much a flavor in addition to being quite painful to get, I hear), and frustration will mount.

But at the end of the day, I’ll admit it– it is what I look forward to doing every week.