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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gung Hay Fat Choy

January 23 marked the start of this year's Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dragon.  This celebration of family, friends, food, and good fortune will continue through February 6, giving us all plenty of time to enjoy our favorite Chinese foods and learn more about the rich culture of the Chinese people.  You might want to visit Chinese Master Chef Martin Yan's facebook page for insight and inspiration

Pekin House - Chicago, Illinois
As many of you know, there is a long-standing connection between the Chinese and the Jewish cultures, especially when it comes to a certain major non-Jewish, non-Chinese holiday, and I recall many wonderful family dinners at the Pekin House Restaurant on Devon Avenue in Chicago.  This is where I had my first taste of egg foo young, which remains to this day my favorite thing to order for eat-in or take-out.

For some reason I never imagined I could recreate this dish myself, which is pretty silly when you break it down and realize that egg foo young is really just a kind of omelet with Asian veggies.  Plus that yummy, thick, rich, sauce on top turns out to be super easy to make too.  So using a recipe from as a guide, here's my easy egg foo young.  May you become prosperous.

Easy Egg Foo Young
5 large eggs, beaten                                       

1 cup fresh bean sprouts                                               
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup shredded carrots                                                 

1/3 cup minced green onions
1/2 cup shredded Napa cabbage
2 tsp. light soy sauce
veg or peanut oil
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tsp. light brown sugar
2 tsp. black vinegar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water

1. First make the sauce - in a small pan, heat the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and water until simmering.  Toss in some of the chopped green onion if you'd like.
2. In a small bowl, blend the cornstarch and water, then add to the sauce and stir until thickened and bubbly.
3. In a bowl combine the eggs, veggies and 2 teaspoons of light soy sauce.
4. Heat about 2 teaspoons of oil in a saute pan then add about 1 ladle full of the egg/veg mixture, guiding it on the pan with a spatula so it remains in the shape of a large pancake.
5. Heat until egg is about 2/3 cooked through, then turn the omelet/pancake over and cook until browned on both sides.
6.  While you cook remaining cakes keep each finished one separate and not stacked to avoid sogginess.
7.  Give the sauce another brisk whisk.
8.  Serve up your egg foo young,
9. Confucious say accept praise with modesty if you can.

Note: If you compare the original recipe from with mine you'll see that I've made an addition (carrots) and an omission (water chestnuts) but the foo young was fine.  Use your own imagination, what's in your pantry, or get inspiration and information on Asian vegetables from Melissa's Produce Company:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Best Thing I Personally Ever Ate At Samosa House

Best Spinach Pakoras I Ever Ate
My favorite Indian restaurant happens to be vegetarian (yeah), has a grocery store attached (yipee), is super affordable (thank you), and has what I'm sure are the best spinach pakoras on the planet (hallelujah).  When you visit their website ( or more better go there asap you'll find out that the Food Network actually filmed a segment there not too long ago and the best thing Aarti Sequeira (Aarti Party) ever ate is the Samosa House's namesake samosas.  So actually Samosa House has 2 best things someones ever eaten.  Are you going now?

My own Indian culinary creations are limited to a coconut curry tofu dish I make, and the last one featured fresh butternut squash, frozen (that's right) Italian green beans, Melissas's Red Fresno chiles, coconut milk, and some spices from friends Kaumudi Marathe' of  Un-Curry and from Patty Erd's The Spice House.  I used a bit of K's Bengali 5-Spice + More and quite a bit of Patty's Sweet Curry Powder which is "ideal for those who are new to the distinctive flavor of these Indian spices".  The 5-Spice Blend was whole spice so this went in the pan first for a light toasting, and the Sweet Curry Powder went in later for wonderful flavor and color.  Kaumudi had also recently given me some of her special Fresh Mango Mustard Seed Pickle and Spice Road Cashews, both of which perfectly garnished my coconut curry concoction.

The moral to this story is that if you want the best spinach pakoras on the planet visit Samosa House
If you want the best spices in the world visit The Spice House
To take an amazing cooking class or enjoy one of Kaumudi's fabulous pop-up dinners get in touch at
For the best fresh chiles, dried chiles, and every other produce item you'll ever need (until they discover something new) visit Melissa's Produce Company at

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Russell Stover, Russell Stover, Can You Please Come Over?

Growing up in the Midwest, I ate many Fanny May and Dutch Mill chocolates.  After moving to Southern California I was introduced to See's Candies and their chocolates are delectable and affordable too.
Dutch Mill is no longer in business, Fanny May is now part of a very big company, and lucky for us See's is still going strong.

While I've enjoyed chocolates from many, many other companies, all price points, domestic and international , for some reason one company was not on my radar.  Thanks to my thoughtful friend May, who gave me a box of their assorted dark chocolates for Christmas, I'm now in love with Russell Stover - well not Russell himself, but the dark chocolate covered caramels, nuts, and chews that filled that gift box from May.

From the first bite of the first caramel  I swooned and saw my happy future with the rest of the box.  Since I took this picture I've eaten a few more and there are more to be eaten but I'm savoring them one (or two) at a time.  Seriously, this box of chocolate is a little bit of chewy, chocolate heaven.   Thanks again May for bringing Russell over.

Russell Stover:

Fanny May:


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Boxes on the Hillside

You don't have to make specific resolutions in order to resolve to do something or other.  In fact, if you keep your intentions on the hush-hush then no one but you will know that you've failed.  But no one but you will also know when you've succeeded, and what's the fun in that?

Horse-Ranchy Home Facsimile
So on Saturday, in front of my art & craft friends at Amy-E's comfortable horse-ranchy home, I blurted out an art/craft project that I planned to launch in the near future.  My a/c will be decorative boxes, the kind you want to keep for yourself, but that you also know someone would really like to get as a gift.  They'll be beautiful inside and out, in different sizes and shapes (while still remaining a box), and will call out to be filled with special treasures. 

I Love Breakfast!
With the encouragement of my a/c group to go forward and make boxes, I woke up Sunday morning full of both big ideas and a big appetite.  Isn't it funny how our appetites seem to be bigger on the weekends?  So I made myself a fresh spinach, green onion, and cheese omelet - a term that I use very loosely since I don't bother to try and put the fillings on one side and then flip the other side on top, etc., etc.  Along with the egg creation I had sliced Roma tomatoes with a dash of extra virgin Greek olive oil from Arianna Trading Company*  with a splash of vinegar, plus English muffins topped with homemade orange** marmalade. 

Treasure Box #1
Re-enforced, I sat down at one of my creativity tables and finished up box numero uno.   I hope you like it.  More coming soon. 

 Now if I can just get this song out of my head:



Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for visiting my blog again.  It's a new year, and I have a new, updated focus for my blog.  Yes, there will be food, but not always an intro, recipe, and photos - that's so 2011. 

My Granola
Sometimes there will just be culinary ideas, suggestions, recommendations,  and maybe sweet and/or savory streams of consciousness.  Plus links to other blogs who I think you should check out, because their food is delicious and creative too, and their pictures are usually way better than mine.  (Recipe adapted from*

Green-eyed Gracie from up the street on my deck

Food is super important to me, but so are other things.  Like the world around us, in general, and around me in particular.  Places to go, people to see, nature to enjoy.   Reaching out to those less fortunate, both the 2 legged and 4 legged varieties. 

Creative pursuits are up there at the top of the list too.  Trash to treasure.  Repurposing with imagination, ingenuity, and of course on a budget.  Today I found a fantastic wrought iron chair and small chest of drawers curbside down the street, and these will both be featured in a future post.  Plus I'll share ideas/posts from creative friends and bloggers near and far.

Just honest, sincere, mostly hopeful, and hopefully inspiring ideas from me  to you.  Food and otherwise.  And since we're being honest, although I've made many successful batches of the aforementioned granola in the past, this batch was a bit on the charred side from too long in my not great oven.  But that didn't stop one of the big, fat, local squirrels from occupying the bird feeder and scarfing down the crunchy stuff.

 I hope you all enjoy a very healthy and happy new year and I look forward to sharing lots of ideas with you!

*Add Melissa's Chopped Crystallized Ginger
for the last 10 minutes or so of cooking.