Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday I'm in Love

For seven days, I'm keeping a food journal of what I eat daily. This is day five.

Friday nights are a festive time in my family. My father and sister come home, and we usually eat better than we do on weekdays when it's only my mom and me. Today my mom made xian bing, or Chinese meat pies for dinner.

For the filling we used fresh chives from our herb garden. The chives were really the star in this dish, with their sweet, mild onion taste. Dipping them in Chinese rice vinegar, the xian bing was delicious, as expected.

BREAKFAST: bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and granola
MORNING SNACK: a glass of green smoothie and a piece of dark chocolate
LUNCH: ravioli with tomato sauce and a kit kat bar
SNACK I: strawberries
SNACK II: tortilla chips and salsa
DINNER: one and a half xian bing, or Chinese meat pies and polenta

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Halfway Through

For seven days, I'm keeping a food journal of what I eat daily. This is day four.

I am somewhat beginning to regret having started this experiment of sorts. I eat the same breakfast and morning snack everyday, a light lunch, and stir-fry for dinner. I'm sure some of my readers now read my blog with glazed-over eyes. But now that it's day four, we're halfway through, and it's too late to quit. After all, I started this experiment, and damn it, I'm going to finish it. So hang on with me. I can see the finish line. Here's what I ate today.

BREAKFAST: a bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and granola
EARLY MORNING SNACK: a glass of green smoothie
LATE MORNING SNACK: a French yogurt cupcake, a piece of dark chocolate, and three slices of baked tofu
LUNCH: baked sweet potato
SNACK I: grapes and strawberries
SNACK II: peanut butter and jelly toast; small plate of ravioli
SNACK III: a piece of dark chocolate; tortilla chips and salsa
DINNER: pollock stir fry with broccoli
DESSERT: a piece of dark chocolate

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cheese Muffins

For seven days, I'm keeping a food journal of what I eat daily. This is day three.

I woke up late today and came downstairs to my usual breakfast of plain yogurt with cereal and granola. Then, a while later (okay, ten minutes), I had my usual morning snack of a green smoothie. Since I didn't have a lunch planned, I decided to bake some cheese muffins and see what leftovers I have in the refrigerator to throw together a quick lunch. After the muffins were ready, I dug in. They were delicious, the cheese salty and savory, almost melting into the muffins. So I ate six of them and called it lunch. Here's what else I ate today.

BREAKFAST: a bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and granola
MORNING SNACK: a glass of green smoothie
LUNCH: 6 cheese muffins (recipe below)
AFTERNOON SNACK: a plate of strawberries and grapes; a piece of dark chocolate
DINNER: none (wasn't hungry.)


Cheese Muffins
from Pioneer Woman

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoonsalt
3 cups shredded colby-jack chese
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter (salted)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease muffin tins.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. Stir in cheese.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, and butter together.
5. Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir with a spoon to combine.
6. Bake in greased muffin tins at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Yield: 12

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

For seven days, I'm keeping a food journal of what I eat daily. This is day two.

I have no idea how this happened, but I ate the exact same breakfast, lunch, and dinner as yesterday. And I had four afternoons snacks. That's right. Four. Here is what I ate today.

BREAKFAST: a bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and granola and a baked (in the microwave; I know, I know) sweet potato
MORNING SNACK: green smoothie (recipe below)
LUNCH: veggie grilled cheese sandwich, two almond cookies
SNACK I: a bowl of grapes
SNACK II: a plate of strawberries
SNACK III: a slice of smoked gouda cheese, one sweet potato, and one CLIF kids twisted fruit rope
SNACK IV: a piece of dark chocolate
DINNER: a plate of pork stir fry with broccoli, tomatoes, and onions
DESSERT: a bowl of ice cream and two pieces of dark chocolate



1 banana
1 orange or apple
1/4 cup frozen strawberries
a handful of spinach (give or take)

1. Combine all ingredients in blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The first day

For seven days, I'm keeping a food journal of what I eat daily. This is day one.

Before you read below and find out for yourself, I'll just straight-up tell you: I eat a lot of food. I try to consume wholesome, unprocessed foods, but once in a while, I'll throw the rules out the window and go munch on some candy. Although I am fond of all the meals, I have a special place in my heart for breakfast. On weekends my mom usually makes my family a leisurely breakfast, but on weekdays we all eat our own breakfasts. For the past three months, I've had the same breakfast every weekday: a bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and granola. If it's possible to feel weary of eating the exact same breakfast everyday, I certainly haven't experienced it yet. Monotony, you may be boring but you sure taste good.

Today, I had a refreshing three hour nap, missing lunch, so I ate lunch for snack. Then my mom came home and cooked a delicious meal of stir fry. After watching some "Dancing with the Stars," we called it a night.

BREAKFAST: a bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and homemade granola
MORNING SNACK: a glass of banana berry smoothie (recipe below) and 1 1/2 French yogurt cupcake
LUNCH: nothing
EARLY AFTERNOON SNACK: grilled veggie cheese sandwich (recipe below), a plate of grapes, and a CLIF kids twisted fruit rope
LATE AFTERNOON SNACK: a slice of smoked gouda cheese and a piece of dark chocolate.
DINNER: a bowl of barley bean soup, a plate of pork stir fry with carrots and zucchini
DESSERT: a piece of dark chocolate and an almond cookie



1 banana
1 orange
1/4 cup frozen mixed berries
2 tablespoon ground flax seed

1. Combine all ingredients in blender (I used magic bullet) and blend until smooth.


adapted from Recipes for a Postmodern Planet

1/4 cup shredded sweet onion
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup shredded sweet potato
6 0z shredded swiss cheese
6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
6 slices whole wheat bread
shredded lettuce

1. Combine onion, carrot, and sweet potato.
2. Divide the vegetables over three slices of bread.
3. Top with cheddar and swiss cheese.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Toast the remaining three slices of bread in a toaster oven
6. Top melted cheese with lettuce and top with remaining toasted bread.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What I eat

Here's something I'll freely admit: I love food. I love preparing food, reading about food, dreaming about food, and tasting the textures of good food. And just like how the sun shines down on some parts of Earth more than others, I prefer some food groups to others. Meat for one: never liked it. In fact, I eat mostly vegetarian with the occasional meat and only for convenience reasons. Dairy: I usually don't drink milk, but I love cheese and eat yogurt with granola and cereal every morning. Basically, if you take a look at what I eat, you'll see that I subsist on a diet consisting mostly of fruits, vegetables, and grains.

When it comes to fats and sweets, I have this little quirk: I'm somewhat terrified of butter. I know that it's better than margarine, with its trans fats, but somehow the idea of this stick of pure animal fat makes me break out in a sweat. Once, my family went to Cheesecake Factory to celebrate my father's birthday. I ordered the Mexican tamales, and they were delicious- creamy, rich corn cakes. I went back home to look up the recipe and discovered I had just consumed 3/4 stick of butter. I almost passed out.

It doesn't help that I have a sweet tooth and love desserts. I do make an effort to steer clear of butter, but once in a while we all need to throw caution to the wind and go ingest a stick of butter.

For the next seven days, I decided to keep an online food journal of what I eat. I promise to include everything I put into my mouth from morning to night, but I can't guarantee it's always going to be pretty. I won't be including serving sizes since that takes the fun out of eating, and eating should always be fun. Let the adventure begin.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tastes Like Spring

My favorite day of the year is the first day of spring. Not the official first day of spring, whenever that is, but the first warm day of the new year; the first day after the long months of winter that you can go outside without your boots and winter hat. On that day, I can feel the heat warming into my bones and jolting me awake after the sleepy winter.

Now, in April, after a slew of warm, even borderline hot days the novelty of warm days is gone. The first day of spring has long passed (or feels like it) and is stored in my memory with first-day-of-springs past.

As an ardent lover of spring, I have to admit something: I feel slightly cheated this year. Here in southeastern Pennsylvania, we went from grey skies to brilliant sunshine, from coats to t-shirts, from winter to seemingly summer. It's as if they skipped spring this year. I returned from a short walk and was shiny with sweat. I would expect this kind of behavior from June, July, August, maybe even May and September, but April?

April, I don't know what to make out of you anymore. I wanted you to provide me with strawberries and asparagus, which you did (and thank you), but also sweatshirt weather. I wanted you to come down with your famed rain showers and send a cool wind our way. But you know I can't stay mad at you for long- your beauty and charms are too bewitching.

Even with April feigning summer, I go right on cooking spring foods. I read about rhubarb recipes online. We roast and saute fresh, tender asparagus. And I bake lemon yogurt cake. Since I couldn't find my cake pan, I decided to bake cupcakes instead. Light and airy, the cupcakes taste a bit like spring. You can make them with a lemon glaze, but I just ate them plain and they were delicious.



Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 cup canola oil

Glaze Ingredients
Juice from lemons
1/4 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, sugar, and eggs, stirring until well blended.
3. Add the flour, baking powder, and zest, mixing to just combine.
4. Add the oil and stir to incorporate.
5. Pour the batter into a 9 inch round cake pan or cupcake pan.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Do not over bake.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Almond butter cookies

Yesterday, my mom made soymilk again. Soymilk disappears fast in my family. We gulp down the hot liquid while eating breakfast pastries or pancakes. My family makes soymilk ourselves in our soymilk machine, pouring whole soybeans into it and waiting patiently for it to hum a tune to indicate the soymilk is ready. I know most people in the United States drink soymilk cold from a cup, but the Chinese always drink it hot from a bowl.

My mom pours some soymilk into a ceramic bowl for me. As I lift up my bowl, the steam rises up to my face, sticky and warm. I drink in the warm, earthy taste of the soymilk, and as always I am transported back to a different place: China.

My earliest memories are of my grandparents and of our small, 9th floor apartment in Beijing, China. I lived in that apartment from ages 1 to 5. Those years are now a blur of preschool friends, savory egg custards that my grandma made for me every morning, the playground in front of our apartment with the metal slide, and soymilk bought from a nearby vendor.

After I moved to the states to live with my my mom, dad, and newborn baby sister, our family would visit China almost every other summer. We would stay with my grandparent's apartment, a little crowded but we all managed to fit.

Every morning, there would be fresh soymilk or tender tofu with soy sauce, zha gao, a Chinese doughnut that is made with rice flour and sweet red-beans and then deep-fried, and jiang mi fan, Chinese rice pudding. After breakfast, we would climb down the 9 flight of stairs (we could never remember which door the elevator was operating).

I have felt a twinge of homesickness my entire life, no matter where I go. I credit that to moving so much when I was younger. I have lived in Beijing, Seattle, West Lafayette, and Charlestown before college. Beijing is the place that I have felt the least homesick in, so I guess that makes it my first home.

For a city about the size of Delaware, Beijing is home to 13,000,000 people. Unlike New York City, with its bustling traffic and its glamorous Time Square, Beijing is a bit more humble. It has neighborhoods where you can find people playing badminton, sheets hanging out to dry, the elderly playing chess on cracked, cement tables, and people with wagons selling fresh produce.

The summer after I finished high school, my mom took both me and my sister to Beijing. She could only stay for one month, but my sister and I were free to stay the whole summer, and so we did.

With my mom, we explored the tourist sites: the national parks, Great Wall, Tian An Men Square. When she left, my sister and I wanted to relax and spend the rest of our summer in a quieter fashion. Not to mention we wanted to eat. Eating is so easy in China. Not that it's hard here, but it's just so convenient in Beijing. There would be vendors at every corner selling juicy lamb kebabs, Chinese biscuits, pastries, fried squid, Chinese omelets, etc. You can hear people shouting for you to buy their food amidst the traffic noise of cars honking and bicycle bells ringing.

My sister and I would ride the crowded public bus to Xi Dan Shopping Center and spend the blistering hot day in the cool, air-conditioned stores. We would eat squid kebabs with tomato sauce and slurp the thick yogurt from ceramic jugs. And most of all, we ate Chinese almond cookies. Those cookies were mildly sweet, light, and crispy, so light that I once ate five cookies and still managed to eat dinner.

The almond butter cookie recipe I'm going to share with you isn't the same recipe as the almond cookies we ate in China. In fact, I'm not even sure they're even Chinese. But they're soft and sweet and awfully good. With the light flavor of the almond extract, these cookies do remind me of hot summers in Beijing.



1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl, combine almond butter, maple syrup, canola oil and vanilla extract until well blended.
3. Ina small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, along withch0opped almonds and stir until just combined.
5. Let sit for 5 minutes.
6. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, flatten to about 1/3 of an inch and place onto cookie sheet
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Yield: 18 cookies

Friday, April 2, 2010

Between a french fry and a potato chip

I often feel that potatoes get a bad rep. It's the outcast vegetable that is grouped with pasta, rice, and other starches on the food pyramid. Its lumpy, brown (sometimes blue or red) exterior can't compete with the bright greens of lettuces or the flashy red tomatoes. However, though potatoes may be the humblest looking of vegetables, no one should overlook them: they single-handedly saved Russians from starving to death during their famines. When Russians had no food to eat, they always had potatoes.

Potatoes are the renaissance men of vegetables. They not only dabble a little bit in seemingly every course, but even outshine the other vegetables. They can be cooked in nourishing soups, deep-fried for crispy hot french fries, mass-manufactured into potato chips, baked to eat with cheese and broccoli, mashed with butter to eat on Thanksgiving, and etc.

The potato recipe I'm going to share with you is, as Sarah describes, a cross between a french fry and a potato chip. Called crashed hot potatoes, these potatoes are boiled until fork-tender then smashed, generously slathered with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary. Then the smashed potatoes are put into the oven until the cracks and crevices are crispy golden.

The exterior is perfectly crispy, with a slight herb flavor provided by the rosemary. Inside, the potato is soft and yielding, almost melting in your mouth. I ate six of them for lunch today and would've had more, only there wasn't anymore left.


adapted from Pioneer Woman and Recipes for a Postmodern Planet

12 small potatoes
Olive oil
Black pepper

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Make sure the water goes over the potatoes.
2. Add as many potatoes as you want to cook and cook until they are fork-tender, about 30 minutes.
3. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet. Place tender potatoes on baking sheet with room between each potato.
4. With a potato masher, or a can, press each potato down until the inside cracks out.
5. Brush about a teaspoon of olive oil onto each potato, more if the potatoes are bigger.
6. Generously sprinkle potatoes with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and dried rosemary (or any fresh or dried herbs you prefer).
7. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
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