Category Archives: Food

My Love for George Foreman

Hello everyone. Meet my new best friend…

Mr. George Foreman! Whoever this guy is who invented the best foodie machine on Earth, I hope you’re single because I freaking ADORE you!

Okay, that didnt come out right…but seriously. No, seriously— I’m hitting myself over the head for not having made acquaintance with this little fella eons ago.

I remember once when my dad went to home depot to pick up some necessities and ended up coming back home grinning with a big box of George Foreman grill. My mom and I berated him for spending money on “frivolous and extravagantly unnecessary” things and ordered him to return it back. Chastened for being wasteful, my poor daddy reluctantly obliged. Little did we know we were making the most foolish mistake in our life!

I’m amazed at what this $8.88 thing from Wal-mart can do. It’s so quick and simple, too! I’ve been playing around with it any chance I got, and wheeee! What fun! Let me just share a two things I’ve made with this guy, though. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much amazing food, lol.

What I love most is that you don’t have to just grill hamburgers in this thing. And why the heck would anyone want to get a separate panini grill when this works just as well? It’s so versatile!

Check this out:
Fresh Fig and Brie Panini

One side smeared with honey-mustard sauce and topped with fresh figs, the other with thick slices of brie and topped with balsamic-caramelized onions.
Slapped on a thick crusty ciabatta (cut into 3/4 because apparently that’s the way to do it?)…
Grilled for about 2 minutes in the George Foreman!

Ooh~ Hot and crusty and chewy!
Some figs crept out, but that was okay because they got nicely caramelized by the hot grill pan!

And then, grilled sandwich #2:

Raspberry preserves, cheddar cheese, pickles, smoked turkey

Don’t look at me like that. It’s freaking good, I swear! The sweet preserves, the gooey sharp cheese, the sour pickles, and the smoky turkey…
Awesome midnight snack. I reckon it’s great for hangovers, too. I tell you, this George Foreman is perfect for college students, both the nerds and the party-ers!

By the way, I can’t believe a week has already gone. Things are really heating up and I’m getting bombarded by assignments and essays and readings, but yeah, I’m still enjoying it.

I love mingling among the busy students, participating in discussions and pretending to be smart, texting my friends at 2am in the morning, and being pressed on a tight schedule constantly. I seem to thrive in such an academic environment, and actually relish the pressure! I’m actually able to finish college in three years, but I think I might just drag it out a year more…hey, USC is paying most of my tuition fees anyway! 😉

Psst! By the way, many of you seemed astounded that I managed to take a picture of my professor in class…Well, I’d like to think that he’d be honored to be featured in my blog! Haha! But honestly, he is pretty cool and I don’t think he’ll mind. 🙂

Oh, and tomorrow is another special day…I’ll be having a small LA blogger meet-up! I won’t reveal the special people yet, though some of you might already know. I’ll update about our blogger date soon! >.< P.S. I had no idea it’s National Panini Month! How appropriate and just in time, eh? 😉

The Worth of the Grill

Turns out life doesn’t just hand you bad peaches. It hands you bad figs, too. Horribly expensive and horribly bad-tasting figs. Seems like my fruit-picking skills are failing me.

Figs are one of my favorite fruits. It’s just so juicy and luscious and chewy and…figgy. But the bag of lovely-looking figs I brought home was a total dud. Dry, tasteless, spongy. I thought I was munching on a dish sponge. I spit it out, cursed the damn fig, but couldn’t bear to throw it away. Why? Just for its beauty.
figsJust look at it. Damn this fat pouch of sweetness. Stop being so pretty! (The picture above is not mine, by the way)

Anyway. Point is, my bag of figs deserved to be tossed out, but I ended up keeping it deep in my fridge. Because it was pretty. Because I had great expectations for it, and I paid big bucks for it. The deceiving little conniving fruity fatales.

Today’s second meeting with my editor to edit my article for the Daily Trojan reminded me of this bag of figs.

I have had high expectations for journalism. It seemed so glamorous, so exciting, so thrilling. I once saw a journalist interviewing someone in the streets and I had to refrain myself to skipping over and fawning over him. I wanted to find out what shoes he was wearing, what notebook he was using, and what pen he liked to use for interviews. I wanted to gush about how cool his job was, how much I want to be like him, blah blah blah.

Yes, I would rather meet with a good journalist than— say, a star like Edward Cullen (darn, did I get his name right?).

But now…I’ve realized that as exciting as journalism seems to be, behind-the-scenes, the majority of my time seems to be sitting next to my laptop and cellphone, obsessively checking on emails and waiting for phone calls that are 4 hours late. Oh, dear.

Journalism is hard work. I have to have skin as thick as a rhinoceros, I have to be constantly up-to-date, I have to dig out “juicy” angles, I have to be hip and knowledgeable and aggressive and creative. All those stereotypes on annoying, obnoxious journalists? It’s true. Because I am being taught to be like that. And all I am is a little news writer for my college newspaper!

Glamorous journalism? It’s a facade, like that bag of deceivingly-pretty figs. In fact, I doubt there is any job/career in the world that is as glamorous as it seems to be. Behind the glamour are buckets of tears and perspiration.

Which brings me to this key question: Is journalism worth all that hard work?

Well, this is my answer: Am I going to stop buying figs because of this one bad buy? Hell NO! Am I going to quit my dream just because some hard work is involved? No freaking way!

In fact, this just brings in my topic for my previous post: When life hands you a bad peach fig, GRILL it!

Grilled Fig Pizza

3 fresh figs
1 whole wheat pita
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup kabocha (or pumpkin) puree
salt and pepper
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/4 red onion, diced
small bunch of spinach, torn
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
spoonful Parmesan cheese
drizzle honey (or maple syrup)
drizzle balsamic vinegar

Set out your dearest friend Mr. GF and grill the figs.

Meanwhile, mix the cottage cheese, kabocha, cinnamon, salt and pepper together, and spread it on top of the pita. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fry up the bacon and the onions until cooked and fragrant. Nibble on a piece of bacon to make sure it’s crispy and delicious. Scatter the bacon and onion over the pita. Top with the grilled figs and both cheeses.

Bake in oven for about 10 minutes until the pita is nice and crisp, and the cheese is melted and you can’t stand the amazing tantalizing aroma anymore.

Take the thing out, drizzle with honey and balsamic vinegar. DIG IN!
Holy Fig! If a bad, spongy fig produces such a result each time, I wouldn’t mind it! Every penny that I paid for these turned out well worth it!
Ack! It just is absolutely gorgeous with all the colors!
But the taste is even more beautiful. Oh my GOD! The base of the cottage cheese and kabocha was perfect with the grilled figs and the acidic balsamic vinegar and the intense sweetness of the honey…
Damn fig. Grilled with a permanent black mark. Serves you right. But soooo good in my tummy!
Oh my God. Do you see that little oozing honey? Sweet nectar of the gods!
And pita sure makes for a lovely, thin and cripsy base!

Okay, I’m babbling. I don’t even know what the heck I’m saying, but seriously, this was one big ecstasy in my mouth, so no wonder I’m losing coherent and rational thought.

But I haven’t forgotten to say this: Whatever path you chose, you’ve got to undergo some intense grilling in order to achieve the best possible result. Good things don’t come in a breeze.

First, you’ve got to determine whether it is worth it. And if it is, don’t just give up and toss all your work away; keep on at it. The result may not be what you exactly expected, but you can be guaranteed that it is always worth it.

I may groan and complain as I work to achieve my journalistic dreams, but every sweat I break, every time I spend working on it, it is not to waste. Because I am improving. Because I am learning. Because honestly, the process of that is even more significant and meaningful than the end result.

Question of the day: Is there something for which you are busting your ass? Do you think it’s worth it, and how is the process of achieving it?

I Love Cheese

Having been brought up in an Asian culture, one thing that really impressed me when I moved to America is how shameless the people here are— and I mean that in the highest form of compliment.

Self-confidence and self-promotion is kind of frowned upon in Asian society. Instead, silence about one’s achievement and even self-deprecation is encouraged so as to display an appearance of modesty and humility.

If someone compliments you, don’t say “Thank you”. That’s rude and arrogant! No, you’ve got to first reject the praise, saying, “No, no, I’m not…” and then go on to downplay whatever compliment you received by saying something like, “I’m actually not that smart/pretty, blah blah blah…”

On the other hand, if someone criticizes you, you are discouraged from defending yourself, especially if that person is older than you. No, you’ve got to bear it with silence and dignity. But often times, those who just endures it ends up holding a nasty grudge that eventually poisons the relationship.

Imagine my surprise when I first came to America. I thought I was surrounded by a bunch of swollen-headed, disrespectful kids! I was shocked when the majority of the kids in class raised their hands when a teacher asked a question. That never happened in Singapore! Or when most kids seemed to have no problem stating that they are good in something, or the fact that nobody stuttered when speaking in public; in fact most seemed to relish the attention. Or when these kids faced critiques, they actually spoke up for themselves!

And you know what? I absolutely loved it. I loved the air of confidence, and the way everybody spoke out in class, even if some basically spoke a gabble of bullshit just so she/he could be heard. Until now, I’ve never really met anybody here who is truly “shy” the way some people are in Asia.

I have to admit, I still instinctively downplay any compliments given to me. But I’ve become less shy and self-depreciative over the years. I love to raise my hand in classes, and I don’t mind showing off my talents, or speaking about my achievements.

I think to a certain degree, being shameless is a good thing. It just means you are thankful for who you are and what you have, and it’s always nice to share that with others.

And now, I’m going to be completely shameless by bragging about this freaking awesome dish I made with Mimi, and by basically begging to win a giveaway. Because when it comes down to cheese, I have no face!! 😀

You see, one of the sister bloggers is having a fantastic giveaway…a whole $60 dollar gift basket to Cabot Cheese!!! The rules to enter is simple: Come up with a recipe using cheese.

Biz suggests using Cabot Cheese, but unfortunately, I’m dreadfully 1) poor (remember my measly bank account?) and 2) I’m frightfully, dreadfully low in cheese supply: I only have three kinds left! Which is another reason why I need to win this giveaway.

So without further ado, let me introduce my mind-blowingly, brazenly brilliant cheesy recipe…(see how shamelessly self-advertising I am?)

Kabocha Mac & Cheese with Bacon and Zucchini

2 cups dry pasta
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced
4 strips bacon, diced
1 small zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup kabocha puree
1/2 cup cottage cheese
about 1/3 cup milk
cheese packet from Annie’s Mac & Cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
handful of feta cheese
cracked black pepper

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to box directions.

Meanwhile, cook together garlic and onion, and add in the bacon, and stir until cooked, then stir in the zucchini and cook about 2-3 minutes more until zucchini is cooked but not mushy. Grate in some black pepper.

In another bowl, whisk together the kabocha, cottage cheese, milk, cheese packet, and cheddar cheese. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain, and immediately mix into the cheese mixture. Stir in the cooked vegetables.

Pile everything out into a casserole dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and feta cheese, grate black pepper on top, and pop into a 400 degree oven.

Cook for about 20 minutes until cheese is nice and melted.

Ta-da!! I should have cooked it a bit more to get that toasted cheesy top, but the fragrance from the oven was driving me crrraazy!!

By the way, I had to borrow the cheese packet from Annie’s:
Why? Because I didn’t have enough cheese. You reading, Biz? 😉
Anyway. Obviously, casseroles aren’t pretty. But let me tell you, this was one explosion of flavors in my mouth!!
Who hasn’t deigned to let a bite of Mac & Cheese touch her lips in forever, loved it! (It’s true! Ask her!)
By the way, bacon, kabocha, and zucchini goes PERFECT together. What a fantastic combo! What a genius I am! (Again, in with the shameless self-promoting)
And of course, cheese will go with anything and everything. I would eat my own liver if it was smothered in good cheese.
So. I gobbled up half like a barbarian. Mimi nibbled up almost 1/3 like a dainty Southern belle. And we generously left the teensy bit left for my roommate:
There. I’ve gone all out and shamelessly done whatever I could to underscore the point that I must win this giveaway. And I’ve shamelessly established myself as a cheese-whore. But maybe that isn’t really news…?

But of course, part of being a good shameless person is also being thick-skinned, so I won’t be too…uh…devastated if I don’t win. May the best cheese-whore win! (Pick me! Pick me!)

Question of the day: So, I’m a shameless Cheese-Whore. What are you shameless about?

P.S. No blogger meet-up yesterday…The blogger I was supposed to meet got stuck in the road because her car broke down! T__T;;;

P.P.S. I’ve got a mid-term tomorrow. WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING writing about cheese?! Somebody smack me!

Grilling peaches

I recently bought a bunch of peaches which were on sale at my local grocery store. Well. No wonder they were on sale. They were under-ripe: sour and hard and horrible!

So. What to do?

There were roughly three options:

Whine and bitch about it while forcing myself to eat it
Throw it away, and feel immensely guilty about the starving kids in Ethiopia
Call up the store manager and demand a refund

I’m sure most of you have been in the same situation as me before, and I’ll bet the majority would be doing #1 or #2 (If you ever did #3 and succeeded, please let me know).

But there is yet another option…You can keep the peach, and make the most of it by taking advantage of its disadvantages…and thus actually being able to enjoy it fully.

You know, life is the same way. It ain’t all peachy like a fairytale, and all of us have something we grumble and moan about. It could be our appearances, or our family background, or our whatever irritating circumstances that hits us in the face from time to time.

People who succeed in life didn’t get to the point they are now because they had a wonderful life. No, they probably have had more obstacles and hardships than the average person; in fact, it’s their ability to manipulate whatever shortcomings they have to their advantage that they were able to get to the point they are now.

Here comes Preacher again: It really doesn’t matter what circumstances and situations we are in. The truth is, whatever you are dealing with right now is there for a reason. I truly believe that God has His most perfect plan for everything. Whatever you are facing right now, God has a reason and purpose for it; therefore, it is the most perfect thing for you right now. As long as we accept what we have right now with this perspective in mind, God will give you the wisdom and the strength to not only endure it, but to prosper through it.

So, I reject all three of the above options, and decided to go with the option #4. I took my sour and under-ripe peach, and transformed it into a stunning dish.

Grilled Peaches and Blue Cheese Pasta

1 firm yellow peach, sliced into wedges
3 oz dried pasta (your favorite)
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/4 small onion, chopped
1/2 small zucchini, sliced
1/4 small green bell pepper, sliced
3-4 shitake mushrooms, sliced
balsamic vinegar (about 1 tablespoon?)
dijon mustard (about 1 teaspoons?)
chicken broth (about 2-3 tablespoons?)
squeeze of lime juice
salt and pepper
blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)

Heat up your grill (my dear Mr. GF!) and grill your peaches.

Bring some salted water to a boil in a pot and cook the pasta for about 8 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, fry up the bacon and onion together in a pan. Toss in the other vegetables with the balsamic vinegar, mustard, chicken broth, and lime juice. Play around with the flavorings to taste, then season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are lightly cooked.

Toss the bacon-vegetable mixture with the pasta with blue cheese. Sprinkle with more blue cheese, and arrange the grilled peaches around.
Now, ain’t I glad I took home a bad peach! This dish was freaking impressive!
Ah, under-ripe peach is sour, but when grilled, the sweet juices are forced out, and it doesn’t get soft like a ripe peach. It’s still slightly sour, but it works marvelously in a savory dish!
Blue cheese, of course, works amazingly well with grilled peaches! I must make this combo again sometime!
Bacon is so delicious with peaches, too!

Love all the fresh vegetables in there. I hate soft vegetables, so I made sure they retained their slight crunch!
Don’t you love the pasta I used? It was from Ikea for just about $2.60:
ILove the cute moose shapes! It
’s whole-grain, too!

Well, I hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday…The weather here is perfect right now! Unfortunately, I can’t really enjoy it right now because I’ve got an interview lined up for my Daily Trojan article. Wish me luck! I hope I’ll be able to understand my interviewee this time! 😉

Question of the day: When life hands you a bad peach…What do you do? Options #1, 2, 3, or 4? Any other advice for myself and my dear readers?tt

My University of Life

It’s been more than a week since I received my acceptance letter from University of Southern California. The high from the excitement and exhilaration has slowly cooled down. My wish has become a reality. I no longer have to dream about attending USC. Instead, I now have to think about it…and you know where thinking leads to…

Worry. Anxiety. Fear. Doubt. Apprehension.

It’s been three years since I’ve last been in school…three years since I’ve flipped open a textbook, three years since I’ve read anything but chick lits and diet magazines. So far, the only workout my brain ever got was from obsessing and calculating weight and calories, and devising crafty tricks and ways to uphold my ED habits and activities.

Suddenly, I was in a total panic. I thought: Oh, dear God. I am so ill-prepared for college. I bet half my brain cells are in a coma from lack of activity! How am I gonna adjust to all the stressful workload and hectic schedule of a college life? What if I don’t even remember how to study anymore? What if…*gasp*, I get (God forbid) a B?!!

You see, I’ve always been a perfectionist. Anything less than an A irks me. In high school, I made sure nothing blemished my perfect 4.0 GPA. The day I got a B+ on my Driver’s Education class, I was seen screaming and slamming lockers in the hallway. I’m not kidding.

So you see where the source of my worries is: my drive for perfectionism. I want to get good grades. I want to do everything, achieve everything. I want to be the best.

As I was worrying about this, a friend whom I had not seen for awhile suddenly sent me an email. In her email, she confessed to me that she has been dabbling with an eating disorder…and she was getting scared…but she did not know who else to turn to. The only person she could think of was me because she knew I was struggling with the same problem. It was a long, heart-wrenching email, and I was cut to the heart for several reasons.

First, I was once again shocked by how prevalent eating disorders are in this world. I’d never even dreamed that this friend would have ED! Second, I was enraged at how conniving and cruel ED is, as my friend poured out her pain and struggles to me. How dare ED rob her potential and happiness like that? And third, I was ashamed.

I was ashamed because I’d let my own selfish dreams get ahead of myself again. What did it matter if I got straight A’s in college? What did it matter if I graduated with honors, or with a prestigious internship? Will I be able to take my report card and trophies and accomplishments with me to the grave? What truly mattered in life?

My parents have always ingrained this to me ever since I was young: There is nothing as important as life. What matters most is my life, and other people’s lives. To be happy, and to make others happy. To treasure and love myself and others.

I believe that I experienced ED for a reason. Through my ED, I learned so much more about life. I gained precious insights and revelations about not only human pain and sufferings, but also inner peace and happiness that comes from God. I may not have gone to an academic university, but I have gone to Life University. And there is much more to learn, much more to experience.

College is so much more than grades. I don’t want to put my #1 priority on my academic achievement, but on my life achievement. The people whom I meet and bless, the real-life lessons that I learn outside of the classroom. I want to put my first priority on becoming not the best student, but the best person.

I’m still learning to be a good person. I guess attending Life University isn’t just a four-year course, it’s a lifelong course.

Sorry for the long-windedness again. But I just had to write this down before I forgot again, and I wanted to share these thoughts with anyone who can understand.

Anyway, I have yet another kabocha recipe for you today! Here’s something about kabocha you ought to know: Whenever I buy kabocha, I get two types. When roasted, one is really moist and mushy with soft skin, just like pureed pumpkin. The other is really dry and firm like baking potatoes with a thick, hard skin. (Maggie, did you ever experience these differences?)

This time round, I got the dry kind, which is perfect for dicing and stir-frying because of it holds its shape well after being baked. So, stir-fry it was!

Kabocha-Lentil Stir-fry with Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

1/4 cup black lentils, uncooked
2 sundried-tomatoes, chopped
1-2 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup baked kabocha, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped green onion
handful crumbled goat’s cheese
spoonful of Parmesan cheese

Cook the lentils with about 3/4 cup water with the sundried-tomatoes.
Meanwhile, mix together the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Set aside.
Once the lentils are cooked, heat up another pan and cook the garlic, onion, and bell pepper until soft.
Toss in the kabocha, stir-fry until heated through. Add in the cooked lentils with the sundried tomatoes and the vinegar mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in green onion at the very end, remove from heat. Dish it up into a bowl, go crazy with the cheeses.

What a lovely bowl!

The acidity of the vinegar and lemon juice contrasted really well with the sweetness of the kabocha and maple syrup.

I loved how the sundried-tomatoes infused its deep flavor into the lentils. No other seasoning other than salt and pepper needed!

How can
you say no to this? It has cheese and kabocha in it!

And I can just sit here singing odes to the wonderful kabocha and goat cheese all day. Tra la la~

Question of the day: What, in your opinion, forms the best person you can be?

Cutting the Cheese

Wahahahaha!!! Aaah~ I love my brother. Sorry, little bro, but I just had to share this little scene with everyone…

My brother was watching the television this afternoon after church, and I was cleaning up some mess around the living room. All of a sudden, I heard a LOUD oinky farrrrrt.

Well, it wasn’t me. I glanced at my brother, and he was lying on the couch in an unnaturally rigid position, his eyes glued to the TV screen, pretending as if nothing happened at all.

He was watching the History Channel, so I knew it wasn’t from the TV, unless the channel was featuring the History of Obnoxious Farts. Now, considering how much I burp, I would usually let a fart go unnoticed, but seeing my brother so desperately holding on to his integrity…I started cracking up, and exclaimed, “Oh come on! It’s just the two of us…who else can it be? A ghost?”

My brother started protesting that it wasn’t him, but then gave up and started laughing as well. I’m still chuckling to myself as I’m writing this.

But it got me thinking…why is burping and farting in public such taboo? Isn’t it such a naturally incurring thing? Is there any human being who have never farted or burped in his/her life? Even Obama farts! And I’ll bet so does that famous vampire…what’s his name? Robert Patterson? (Sorry, not a Twilight fan)

But anyway, I digress…On to FOOD.

Today was another quick and simple wrap before heading out to church. I had some shiitake mushrooms needing to be used, so I based my creation around that. Shiitake mushrooms have a rather bold, earthy, Asian flavor, but I didn’t want my wrap to be too Asian. Thankfully, I had other ingredients in my fridge that would go well with shiitake…

Say hello to my friend, the roasted red pepper-artichoke tapenade, adopted from Trader Joe’s. You might remember him from this pasta I made before. I haven’t touched him since, but it was nice to have something ready-made in hand when I was in a rush like today.

Sautéed Shiitake, Goat Cheese, and Tapenade Wrap

1 rosemary wrap
TJ’s roasted red pepper-artichoke tapenade
olive oil
shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
red onion, sliced
orange bell pepper, julienned
fresh dill, chopped
fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
lots of fresh goat cheese

Spread as much tapenade as you would like on the wrap. Meanwhile, heat up a pan with some olive oil. When the pan gets hot enough, sauté in the mushrooms, garlic, onions, and bell pepper. When the vegetables get soft and fragrant, sprinkle in the dill, lemon juice, and seasonings. This is how the shiitake stir-fry looks like:

And then, just spread the shiitake mixture onto the wrap, pile on the goat cheese, and wrap it up. I like my wraps toasted, so I heat both sides on a skillet.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure the flavors would work out, but it did! It was absolutely purrr-fect.

I loved the succulent meatiness of the shiitake…didn’t miss the meat at all! It married extremely well with the sweet bell peppers and onions, the tapenade, and the tangy goat cheese.

The last squeeze of lemon juice and the fresh dill really kicked it up a notch. Though, I think this would be 100 points if I had thought of adding a tiny sprinkle of crushed red pepper.

Anyway, guess what today is? The LAST DAY for submissions!!

Please, send them in as soon as possible so I can give your recipes my full attention and contemplation. If you send them in at 12:01 midnight, I guess I will still accept it, because I’m a generous soul and at least you’ve still submitted. So don’t be shy, submit, submit, submit!! I shall announce the winner tomorrow by evening, as well as the next host.

Question of the day: Sorry if this is gross to you, but I’ve got farts in my mind. Have you ever farted in public before? What did you do?

Here’s my fart story: I’m more of a burpy person than a farty person, but I remember once when I was in fifth grade. The kids were all lining up for recess, and I “accidentally” let out the stinkiest fart ever. But I was smart and wicked. I immediately sniffed the air, wrinkled my nose, and said in a loud voice, “Okay, who cut the cheese?” Everybody started blaming each other, and finally, the big sweaty boy beside me ended up getting all the blame. I felt really bad, but promptly forgot about it until I was reminded of it today. Aren’t I just evil?

Time to Get Corny

I really think now is the perfect time to really appreciate seasonal produce…especially with all these fresh produce piling up in your local grocery store! It’s the end of May now, a particularly exciting time for me because each time I visit my supermarket, I find new and fresh produce on sale…makes this cheap Asian girl very very happy!

I visited Whole Foods this morning in search of inspiration for this week’s BSI. I wanted something that was versatile so that it would be open to myriads of different creative ideas, one that is seasonal and tasty, one that wouldn’t be a problem for those on a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free diet. Oh, and it had to be cheap, of course.

I have to admit, my eyes always automatically zooms to any sign that has the “On Sale!” tag on it. My brain has been inherently trained to magically sense the sale items, and my body mechanically starts moving towards that area. It’s a gift, and a curse. Anyway, one particular ingredient that stood out to me.

What’s golden, crunchy, sweet, and delicious, yet horribly neglected, misunderstood, and thrust into the middle of many controversies?

You guessed it. CORN! Yup, this week’s BSI ingredient is CORN.
Here are a few facts on corn:

Corn is the third most important food crop of the world measured by production volume.
In the U.S., corn production measures more than 2 times that of any other crop.
Peak season for corn production is May through September.
Sugar content in corn starts converting into starch as soon as it is picked, so it is always better to consume fresh corn.
It is a good source of many nutrients including thiamin (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese.
It is rich in phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron and selenium, with small amounts of potassium.
Supports cardiovascular and lung health.
It is good for skin care, boosting nervous system, digestion, and maintaining low cholesterol levels.

And here are the rules:
And to start this off, here are how I used corn for my lunch today:

Corny and Cheesy Bacon Pizza

Base: Corn and cottage cheese blended together with a splash of milk and black pepper
Toppings: Sliced red onion, turkey bacon, green onions, Four-cheese blend, and Parmesan cheese

Corn as a pizza base? Sounds weird, but trust me, it works. Loved the naturally sweet and cheesy base!

The bacon on top works really well with the corn, too.

Visually appealing, too, with the rainbow of colors.

Next up, Mexican-style Corn and Sausage Pizza

Base: TJ’s Habanero-lime salsa and cottage cheese mixed together
Toppings: Corn, Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, Andouille sausage, Four-cheese blend, and Parmesan cheese

Now this time, I used corn on top of pizza. You don’t see this much in America, but it’s a very popular pizza topping in Asia!

Papa Johns and Pizza Hut needs to get some corn onto their pizza, now. It is such an amazingly sweet and crunchy and juicy addition.

And the natural sweetness of the corn works so well with the spicy sausage, and the spicy-sour base of the salsa and cottage cheese.

All right, stop drooling, and don’t feel intimidated by my fantastic corny pizzas (Hee). I’m not gonna be submitting them to my own BSI! And I’m certain and excited that you guys will come up with something much better! So, get your culinary juices flowing!

Because…there are great prizes to be won as well! I picked this up at Korea on my way back to USA. I was saving them for a giveaway, but decided to use them as prizes for BSI instead.

Cute, adorable socks…
And another cute hand-stitched case! (Perfect for cell phones, or cards, coins, etc.)
Be cool…submit a BSI recipe, and you can prance around in cute socks like me!

P.S. Please tune in again tomorrow for another AWESOME announcement…you don’t wanna miss it!!!

Crazy for Carbonara

Some things just go together. In fact, sometimes they complement each other so well, any other addition becomes redundant and excessive. Take a good, crusty bread just baked out of the oven, for example. You’re not going to want to overcrowd its fresh-baked goodness with a whole lots of toppings. No, just good-quality butter, or a hunk of nice artisanal cheese, and you’ve got yourself the perfect combination. Think, also, of cinnamon and brown sugar. Peanut butter and jelly. Butter, sugar, egg, and flour. Garlic, onions, olive oil. And then of course, the classic breakfast combination, bacon and eggs.

You know I love my breakfasty meals. I love them so much that I unconsciously base my meal creations around breakfasty themes, like my Eggplasta Pudding that I have almost every night (It’s that good!). So when I heard of a pasta dish called Pasta alla Carbonara that uses minimal ingredients while spotlighting bacon and eggs, I was hooked.

I’ve never tried Pasta alla Carbonara before. I’ve seen them on menus of restaurants, but never bothered to order them since I never cared much for pasta. But ever since I found out what this pasta dish was, I’d had carbonara on the brain. After enduring several days of little Italian men singing “Carrrrr~bonarrrrrra~” in my brain, I decided to shut them up by trying out this dish.

Unfortunately, I am very much broke, especially after that Penang trip. But I was pretty sure this would be an easy dish to create at home. I mean, come on, the key ingredients are bacon and eggs! I looked up on recipes for Carbonara online, and was glad to find out I was right. This dish was freaking easy to make.

Now, you know I can never resist tweaking a recipe to my own tastes and preferences. All the recipes call for long thin noodles like spaghetti, but I decided to try a different route and substitute some kind of grain. I wanted something distinctive and chewy, something that did not stick together in lumps or become nushy, something that held its shape well. I chose pearled barley.

So here’s my version of carbonara, Barley alla Carbonara:

Cook 1/3 cup pearled barley in salted water at a 1:3 ratio until desired doneness.

Meanwhile, cook some minced garlic and a small finely chopped onion until soft, then add about 2 tablespoons of chopped bacon (I used a fatty back bacon) and fry until fragrant.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons yogurt/ sour cream/ whipping cream (I used yogurt), an egg, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, and black pepper.

Toss the barley into the bacon mixture, stir to mix.

Turn off heat, then stir in the egg mixture and mix to coat each grain.

Add more cheese on top, and sprinkle on some chopped spring onion or some kind of herbs for color and extra flavor!

And here’s the result:

Okay, I have no idea how a real Carbonara is supposed to taste like, but oh my freaking god it was freaking good! You might be a bit wary about using raw eggs, but the heat from the barley cooks up the egg mixture ever so slightly to form this really creamy and flavorful binder.

How can just the simple combination of bacon and eggs be so…intricately and elaborately delicious? The smoky, salty background of the bacon was so subtle, yet so striking.

I loved the each individual grain of barley! Can you believe this is the first time I’ve tried cooking barley? What took me so long to discover the joy of barley? I remember my mother once saying that poor farmers in Korea used to eat barley all the time because they couldn’t afford white rice, but if this is the poor man’s grain, poverty sure sounds darn tasty to me!

Each bite sent me moaning with ecstasy. I was like Romeo, serenading and wooing my sweet Juliet. Like Casanova, I have fallen head over heels in love with this simple dish, and I wanted to compose love songs and poems about the great Carbonara.

I plowed my way through this little mountain of scrumptiousness with luscious enjoyment, loving all the textures of crunch from the crisp bacon, creaminess from the eggs, and chew from the barley. I felt quite heartsick by the last bite…

But like Casanova, I got over my lovesickness pretty quickly come dinner time…

Monte Cristo sandwich again! What can I say? If Casanova is an womanizer, I’m a food-izer. Go
d made everything taste so good!

So that’s my little food romance I had today. I hope you guys have some great foodie flings this weekend as well! Now, I bid you farewell with the usual question of the day: What are some of your favorite classic food combos?

Happy Yet Broke

Sorry I haven’t been able to post yesterday…I’ve been busy with my brand new MacBook! I’ve been wanting a MacBook for the longest time, after hearing about how MacBook is so much more convenient and user-friendly than PC, and especially since my laptop’s hard disk was going haywire these days. It just so happened that Singapore was holding a huge IT expo last week, where many technological gadgets were on sale with great promotional bundles!

Anyway, I finally got the MacBook I always wanted, except I was forced to get the better (and more expensive) version! When I reached there the model I wanted was all sold out, and there was only one model left, and it was the new 2.4 GHz aluminum MacBook. I took it as God’s sign that He wanted me to splurge a little bit more on the better one…because I’m just that precious to Him. So, I obeyed His obvious will. Who am I to ignore Divine wishes? Everyone, say hello to my new shiny friend!

Anyway, so far I’m really liking the Mac, though I’m still trying to get used to switching from PC. The only thing the Mac lacks, though, is Windows Live Writer! It’s such a pain to blog without this blogging software, and I can’t believe Apple is superior to PC in all areas except being blogger-friendly! It’s so messed up. Any Mac-users out there know of any good blogging software compatible to Mac? Please help! I need my blogging tools! Right now, I’m still using my old PC right now to blog 🙁

Anyway, now that I have my shiny new MacBook in front of me (which I can’t help smiling and fondling it with adoration all the time), I am seriously broke. Like, SGD$2,700 (US$1763) broke. How fitting that I’ve been writing about economical eating in the last few posts. Now I’ve got to take my own advice. So be ready to see a lot more “Mix-it-up” bowls and many more variations of barley, beans, pumpkin, etc.

I had another “Mix-it-up” bowl yesterday for lunch. Same steps as the day before, just a slight change in the components to create this:

Cheesy BBQ Pilaf

The base: 1 cup cooked pearl barley

The mix-ins: 1/4 cup black beans and 1/2 cup chopped roasted winter squash

The dressing: homemade BBQ sauce (a mixture of my homemade ketchup, soy sauce, fish sauce, maple syrup, black pepper)

The topping: tablespoonfuls of red and white cheddar cheese, green onion, soft-boiled egg

This bowl was freaking amazing, even better than the one I had before. I loved the sweet and bold kick of the homemade BBQ sauce, and how the runny yolk of the egg soaked into each grain!

And oh, the cheese! I just plopped them on top of the fresh-out-of-the-skillet ingredients, and they slowly melted by itself into ultra-gooeyness…

Heh heh, I couldn’t resist taking tons of pictures, even though I was drooling from all the wonderful smells…

I had dinner out with last night, as we were going to the IT expo together afterward. And guess what? I was the one to suggest dining out together myself. I even surprised myself, because I normally shy away from social and public dining, but I suddenly was just in the mood to really challenge myself that day.

They asked me where I wanted to dine, but I relegated the choice to them as I did not want to give ED any chance to worm his way into my decision. Truthfully, I was afraid I might chicken out and choose someplace familiar and safe.

We ended up going to out neighborhood Kopitiam (outdoor food stalls prevalent in Singapore and Malaysia), and chose this place called Piccolo, which sells pasta and pizza. I have a feeling they purposely chose this place because they knew I did not really care for Chinese food.

Anyway, this being Singapore and a Kopitiam, nary a dieter’s entree like salad in sight! I was actually relieved because that meant I had to choose something outside my comfort zone. No, really. I don’t know what was going on with me yesterday; I was in such a gung-ho spirit to fight ED. Hey, I’m not complaining. ED, bring it on!

Thus, to spit on ED’s face, this is what I ordered:
Crepes stuffed with chicken-spinach filling in creamy cheese sauce

Aren’t they cute delicious-looking things? I loved how they formed them into three little towers of cones.

The filling was a mixture of ground chicken, spinach, and mushrooms. The sauce around it was very rich and creamy, cheesy from the melted cheese inside and tangy from the tomato sauce. Very, very tasty, except it was not really a crepe, those liars. The wrapping was not your basic crepe, but really more like pasta. I think they used lasagna noodles. Oh well, it was still very good.

I actually finished them all! Even the cream sauce! I moped every bit of the uber-fattening cream sauce up with my refined white pasta. I even stole bites out of their dishes.

Ordered the Spaghetti di Mussels:

This was just okay. I don’t really like mussels and clams so much. They’re stinky and slimy. Anybody agree?
She ordered the Salmon-baked cheesy rice:
This was a dish of seasoned white rice, topped with chunks of pink salmon and finished off with lots of mozzarella cheese and baked till golden-brown. Very yummy, but I found it a bit too greasy…I wouldn’t be able to finish it, and neither did she.

After dinner we marched off to get us some great bargains at the IT expo, where I got my beautiful, shiny MacBook. It came with a great promotional bundle: Microsoft Office:Mac, keyboard cover, laptop case, notebook cooler pad, and a mouse. I totally burned a hole in my credit card last night, but I take this as my reward for being victorious against ED that night!

Following my own advice in economical eating, I cooked up a big batch of black beans this morning. I have another tip on leftovers: you can always use them up to create innovative omelets!

But! Today’s omelet was ultra-special…I decided that even if I’m going to have simple dishes, I’m going to jazz it up as much as I can! So I made a soufflé omelet with vegetarian curry-filling:

I separated two eggs, and whipped the egg whites until they formed firm, opaque peaks:

I whisked the egg yolks together with a tablespoon of water, seasoned it with salt and pepper, then folded them into the egg white cloud:

Then I just heated and oiled a skillet over medium-heat, and spread the puffy egg mixture over. Meanwhile, I made the curry filling, following the same recipe which I used to make the chicken-tomato curry, except I
substituted black beans, roasted eggplant, and pumpkin for the chicken. Oh, and a squirt of maple syrup at the end, just for fun. When the bottom of the omelet was done, I scooped in the filling over half the omelet, added 2 tablespoonfuls of cucumber-garlic cheese spread, and folded the other half over. Ladies and gentlemen, please applaud Soufflé-Omelet with Vegetarian Curry-Filling:
Isn’t this amazing? This was humongous, and I couldn’t believe I got so much out of only two eggs! All that air beaten into the egg whites really maximized its volume.

This method of omelet really kicked it up several notches. The egg is so incredibly fluffy and fat and thick and delicate! It was like eating protein pancakes!
The filling was awesome, too. Both sweet and spicy, with the added cool tang from the cheese.
A very odd and intricate combination of flavors and textures indeed, but the result was just phenomenal. I’ll definitely be trying another variation of this souffle-omelet sometime…Maybe a sweet version?

Hee hee hee! I’m just so giddy with excitement and pleasure over my new MacBook! This has been a good day. I spent the entire afternoon hunched over my new notebook, getting Mac tutorials online and just touching, touching, touching my lovely Macbook! Okay, how many times have I repeated that word “Macbook” in this entire post? No wonder the logo is an apple. This notebooks is like my Eve’s apple, beckoning and seducing me with its smooth, sleek screen and shiny finish…

Okay, sorry, I’ll stop. Another reason I’m so hyper right now is because I finally got my eating disorder series article posted at Not Another Omnivore’s blog! Please, check it out and let me know what you think! I’m very curious about your opinions and feedbacks.

Oh, and today’s question of the day has nothing to do with food: Mac or PC? For me, if Mac had its version of Windows Live Writer to rival PC, it would be just perfect.

Stop Talking to Me!

It’s sure been a battlefield the last couple of days! I had to eat out both lunch and dinner yesterday, and I had lunch out again today. Tomorrow I’ll be eating out for dinner also, and again on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!

I’m not going to lie. There has been two clear forces battling within me. There is my ED, going ballistic about all the unknown calories that I’m ingesting, and then there’s my conscience, berating me for all my stupid fears and anxieties.

My ED side is malicious and sneaky and bitter, trying to entice me to resort to his manipulating ways and deceits, encouraging me to order the “safest” item on the menu, coaxing me to eat as little as possible. Meanwhile, my conscience is snotty, critical, and judgmental, telling myself I am stupid and selfish and weak for having such struggles in the same place.

I hate either sides. I hate how both of these two battling voices in me make me feel guilty, weak, frustrated, and hopeless.

I have never been too comfortable with eating out, because obviously the food will be richer, and ED freaks out over not being able to know the exact nutritional information in each bite that I put into my mouth. Anorexia, as I once mentioned, is really all about control, about following my own (but really ED’s) set of rigid rules and calculated numbers, and being faced with a dish prepared by somebody else freaks the hell out of me. Who knows how much freaking oil or butter the cook ladled in there? Who knows what other sort of sneaky, disgusting, high-caloric and super-unhealthy things they slipped into even a simple thing like a baked potato? Nothing can be trusted, nothing is safe.

I can deal with eating once in a while, but eating out consecutively, most of the time with me having no idea exactly where we will be dining and what the menu will be like…that requires a ton more concentrated effort and motivation and fighting spirit.

The thing is, I can always take the easy way out. I remember when I used to only order salads. Dressing on the side, no croutons, no cheese, no meat, actually, why not just bring a mega bowl lettuce and tomatoes, thank you very much. Man, I’m really splurging today, aren’t I?

At times when I was really forced to eat something I did not want, I would resort to even more desperate, shameful attempts like hiding my food in my napkin, pretending to chew my food then spitting it out secretly, and yes, at times even rushing to the bathroom to puke anything I could out.

But I’m no longer at that stage, thankfully. I’m at a weird conundrum, actually. I’m at the point where I desperately want to get well, yet I’m still deathly scared of the process, the necessary steps I have to make in order to recover. I try my best to order something that will be challenging, but not that scary enough to send me into an anxiety spasm.

That’s where the battle between my conscience and my ED comes in. One says, “You’re actually going to eat that you crazy fat hippopotamus? Have you forgotten you are anorexic? ANOREXIC?! ANOREXIC!!” The other says, “That’s the best you can do, you stupid cowardly rat? Do you still want to be anorexic? ANOREXIC? ANOREXIC?!!”

Please…just shut the hell up. ED, I’m not anorexic anymore, and you’re the one who has no place in my heard. Now shoo, I have better things to worry about. Conscience, you need to tone down and give me some space, girl! I’m trying my best, and constant self-criticism won’t help the least bit.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a bit about what was going through my very messed up head during these last three meals that I had recently.

For lunch yesterday, I went to Eatzi Gourmet, a family-style steakhouse and bistro. They wanted to go to a Chinese restaurant at first, but I begged them to reconsider because I detest Chinese food and I’m still not comfortable with eating foods I truly find unappealing.

I order the set lunch, which included soup of the day, main entree, dessert, and coffee.

The soup of the day was cream of mushroom soup and garlic bread:

It was very rich and creamy and the mushroom taste shined through. I could only manage half of it though, as I did not want to fill up on soup before I got to the main course, which was…

New Zealand sirloin steak in brown sauce cooked medium-rare, with french fries and cooked vegetables

I was disappointed that it came with french fries, because deep-fried foods is not something I am ready to handle yet. Especially when my friends’ executive set lunch came with this!

A loaded baked potato! Topped with loads of sour cream, fried bacon bits, and chopped spring onions! Thankfully, she did not like her potato, so I switched my french fries for her lovely loaded baked potato.

The steak was really juicy and tender, though a bit more cooked than I would have liked. I ate almost all of my steak, plus a few bites of a NY steak and a rib-eye steak. I didn’t touch the vegetables, because I knew they would fill me up too much.

We were all stuffed by the time coffee and dessert were served, which was a good thing, because dessert was horrendous.

Horrendously sweet, that is. I don’t even know what this is supposed to be. Some sort of coffee cream cake? All I could taste was the sugar! Blech! The bottom yellow cake layer was okay, though, so I just ate that part. She didn’t even touch hers, she only ate the cake part like me, while she ate all of his and stole a few bites off hers. And I thought females liked desserts more than males!

For dinner I met up with a church friend. After discussing some options, we decided to dine at Swensen’s, a family restaurant known for its ice-cream.

I ordered the Chicken Ratatouille:

Baked chicken roll topped with tangy tomato sauce, with authentic French ratatouille and roast potatoes.

I have no idea what that green thing in my chicken is. Anyone familiar with French cuisine who knows what it is? It tasted like some kind of meat, but I couldn’t detect what kind of meat. It almost tasted sort of like…offal…especially since the French loves their sweetbreads and such! But it was actually pretty good, and I polished off all of it.

And the ratatouille…Oh my God, it was freaking amazing!!! That was the first time I tried it, though I’ve been wondering what it tasted like ever since I watched the movie Ratatouille (one of my favorite movies, by the way). It was definitely really oily though, but its incredible taste made me forget about the amount of fat in it.

The potatoes were quite nice, it was creamy in the inside yet crispy on the outside.

Vivien ordered the Beef Rouladen:

German recipe of stuffed beef rolls braised in herb sauce, accompanied with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.

I had half of one of her beef rolls, and unfortunately found it rather tough and stringy, though the sauce was quite superb. And of course sauerkraut is always awesome! The mashed potatoes were a little too creamy and buttery for my liking, though.

Our dishes also came with the soup of the day:

Creamy corn soup. It was quite good, but only because it was laden with MSG. I could tell right away this came from a package or box or something. I had half of it.

We also had a cup of Lipton tea:
Lunch today was with her at Cedele, a bakery and deli. I was the one who suggested this place because I was craving sandwiches for some reason.

And I think I spiked my craving for sandwiches even more, because mine was freaking delicious!

Smoked turkey with cranberry sauce and brie cheese in Wholemeal Linseed Loaf.

Holy…freaking…good!!! One slice of bread was slathered with spicy mustard and mayonnaise, the other with a thick slab of brie, and they sandwich a luscious layer of thick cranberry sauce and smoked turkey slices and crispy lettuce and fresh tomatoes in the middle.

At the first bite, I was so disappointed that the bread was so hard and dry! But after a while, the bread soaked up all the acidic-sweetness from the cranberry, the smoky juices of the turkey, and the pungent, rich fat from the brie…

The cranberry sauce was tangy with whole bits of cranberries in it, and not at all saccharine. The turkey was smoked to perfection, so flavorful and yummy! And oh my gosh the brie!! My only response to it is groans of ecstasy.

As you can see, I’ve definitely been indulging a bit more. The food is richer than my normal fare, and most of them I have never tried before. I’ve walked this battle path, and I will be walking several more for this week. I think it got easier and easier for each meal. The voices are still loud in my head, but that doesn’t mean my actions towards recovery have been seriously disrupted.

It’s emotionally and mentally draining to have these struggles battling within me all the time (before, during, and after meals, so pretty much the whole day) but I can feel myself getting stronger and braver at each step, in each bite, with each satisfied burp. I think this is another necessary and beneficial training process towards recovery, and I shall do my best.

Plus, I’ll never ever forgive myself if I ruined all my last moments with my precious friends worrying about the little additional weight that I desperately need to gain anyway!

Question of the day: How often do you dine out? Do you check up on menus beforehand? Do you get nervous when you don’t know what restaurant you’ll be dining in beforehand?