Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Tag: cooking

Cooking Frenzy

I’ve been cooking a lot in anticipation of starting a new job, which means I won’t have much time for cooking anymore.  Unfortunately, I haven’t taken a lot of pics because I’m increasingly feeling a bit foolish and self-conscious taking photos of food.  What happened to the simple joys of cooking, enjoying the process, and then eating with friends and family?  Well, then again, we weren’t blogging, Instagram-ing, Facebook-ing back in the day.  We’ve become such a visual culture.

But enough on that.  Here are some of my cooking adventures with links to recipes I used.

Mom’s Kimchee

I’ve made this and posted about it before.  It’s always a wonderful feeling to make some kimchee, jar it up, and then wait a few days for it to ripen.  This time I think I didn’t use enough salt.  I shared some with friends (though I worry about that a bit because it wasn’t the best batch I’ve made).  Already, I’m waiting to make another batch.  But I’ll need to wait for another free day.  kimchee copy

Homemade Pizza

This was one of my cooking highlights.  I’ve been hunting for a good pizza dough recipe for years.  I’ve tried all kinds.  For awhile, I was using Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe, but one thing I always found lacking was a yeasty, springy texture.  It was more cracker than dough.  Good for thin crust, but not great.  I finally came up on this recipe.  Easy to make.  You just have to make it a few days in advance (or make it way in advance and freeze it).  But it’s so worth the wait.  Soooo good.  And so easy to make the pizzas once they’re ready.  Something about the slow-yeast-rise adds amazing flavor.  This is definitely going to be my go-to.  And I hope the next I make it, it’s just as good.

The other part of the amazing pizzas were the toppings I chose.  I was cooking for my cousin and his wife who are big foodies (especially my cousin).  So I knew I wanted to do something simple, classy, and super-tasty.  I bought all my groceries at my beloved Berkeley Bowl for under $30!  That included fancy mushrooms (including chanterelles), arugula, bacon, buffalo mozzarella…

I chose not to use a red sauce or any kind of sauce for the pizzas.  I feel that sauces tend to drown out the flavor of the dough and the toppings.  So here were my combos, in order of deliciousness (top listed first):

  • brussel sprout leaves (not pre-cooked), caramelized red onions, bacon (chopped and pre cooked), dollops of buffalo mozzarella, scattered roasted garlic (roasted in whole cloves), dusting of grated parmesan cheese on top.  I drizzled the pizza dough with some olive oil before putting on the toppings.  And the brussel sprout leaves crisped up so nicely.  This was heavenly!
  • mushrooms (three types – portobello, shiitake, and chanterelles– all sauteed with some garlic and a squeeze of lemon), bacon, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and a heaping of arugula (kept fresh, tossed with some olive oil and salt, spread on the pizza right after coming out of the oven).  Oh so good.
  • prosciutto, roasted garlic, mozzarella (dry form, grated), caramelized onion, ripped fresh basil.
  • heirloom tomatoes (thinly sliced), basil, mozzarella.

I didn’t take any photos, but trust me that each pizza was delicious!  I’ll be making this again for sure!

Butternut Squash Soup

I don’t really use a recipe for this, I just throw things together and it usually turns out great.

  1. Roast butternut (or any kind of squash) squash along with some garlic cloves and other root vegetables like potatoes and carrots.  Use your favorite method– with herbs or not, with olive oil, cut up in cubes or not…
  2. Make chicken stock.  (Or use pre-made stock that you have in your freezer.  Or use store-bought stock.)
  3. In a big pot, saute some leeks until nice and fragrant.   You can saute them in butter or olive oil or both!
  4. Throw the roasted vegetables into the pot.  Toss that around with the oil and leeks a bit.
  5. Pour in stock.  Whatever amount you would like to make a soup.  I’d say err on less at first in case you want a thicker soup.
  6. Add a bay leaf or two or three.
  7. Cook it up.  Since the vegetables are roasted, this shouldn’t take long.
  8. You can add some nice warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, curry, turmeric, ginger, paprika, black pepper…  Any or all of these!
  9. Using an immersion blender, a potato masher, or a fork, mash up the vegetables when they’re soft enough.  (Take out the bay leaf(ves) first.)
  10. Puree, mash until the soup is the texture you want.  You can add some cream if you want at the end to cream-ify it.  Or just leave as is.
  11. Add salt and pepper to season.  This can be done earlier on.
  12. Serve with some nice crusty bread.

butternut squash

OK, that’s enough for this post.  I don’t want to overwhelm you!  And now I’m back to being a working girl.  And I’ll just be eating stuff like this (haha, no really, this was the simplest thing ever to make):pork belly

Pork belly (pre-sliced, bought from the Korean market), marinated in red pepper paste + sesame oil + sugar + mirin, with a sesame leaf wrap, homemade kimchee (see above), and Chinese broccoli (see previous post).


Taking a Break

I've been spending quality time with family the last almost two weeks that I've been back in the U.S. This is the longest I've spent with family (parents, siblings, little 'uns of the next generation) since… summer vacation when I was in college, I think! What's strange is that my family no longer lives in Maryland where I grew up. Now half of them (my parents and a brother and his family) are in Arizona. So I'm in a town and state that I'm not familiar with, and I don't even have childhood friends around that I can reconnect and hang out with.

My main activities have been

  • hanging out with my niece and nephew, laughing at their antics and their silliness. They're 3 and 5, and they're a lot of fun to be around. They have such distinct personalities, and they're fun to talk to and play with.
  • cooking and baking sporadically. It's always a little weird cooking in someone else's kitchen where the pantry and cabinet contents aren't the same, and the equipment isn't the same. But I'm getting back into the groove. I've made some different cookies (glazed lemon shortbread, pumpkin-chocolate chip). My mom and I made 김밥 (kim-bahp, or Korean nori rolls) for dinner one night. I could eat 김밥 everyday. I love it! We used deli meats, but I usually use Spam. mmmmm.

  • experimenting with a sourdough starter that I brought back (shhh!!!) from New Zealand from one of my WWOOF hosts to make sourdough bread. I made one loaf already which was a little dense but still tasty. And I'm now working on my next loaf, waiting for its 12-18 hour rise (till tomorrow morning).

  • taking walks and hikes around the neighborhood. The Arizona landscape is so different from my New England part of the world or even the world that I was in for the last three months. Cacti, lots of mountains, brush, sand…

I'm trying to take each day for what it is and to relax and enjoy this free time. And trying to read some books. I'm in the middle of reading Barbara Kingsolver's newest book Flight Behavior. I'm a big Kingsolver fan. I most liked The Poisonwood Bible, a fascinating read about a missionary family living in the Congo. She's a great developer of characters and plot, and I was especially interested in the political bent to that book. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral is also great, a nonfiction almost-autobiography written by Kingsolver, her husband, and daughter about their life in southern Appalachia, living off the land. It was really inspiring to read that after Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma.

The latest is about a woman and her family living in rural Tennessee. An unexpected natural phenomenon happens in the hills in their backyard and it totally changes her life (I'm not going to say what it is here because it's just too cool. You should read the book!). She goes from being a young mother and wife who's not very happy with her life to immersing herself in this occurrence and getting a job with researchers who are investigating the phenomenon. Two months after the chain of events begins to unfold, we read, “Two months ago. Impossible. Her world had been the size of a kitchen then. Now she had a life in which…” and Kingsolver proceeds to explain the changes that have expanded Dellarobia (the main character)'s life.

Our world is only as big as the prior experiences we've had– places where we've been, people we've met, information we have gained, food we've tried, languages we've heard. It's amazing how much our world expands as we learn and experience new things. And the size of our world affects how much we really SEE.

For example, before I started recognizing edible plants (herbs, vegetable leaves, fruit trees before the fruit has grown), I just saw green leaves on stems and trunks and branches. So all of that green just looked the same, and I could easily see it as all the same– plants. But now, I recognize, for example, rosemary bushes, basil plants, lavender plants, and on, and a garden is no longer just lots of greenery but is a bunch of different things we can eat. I'm still learning so much about edible greenery, but once my eyes have been opened to the different kinds and colors of even just the leaves, I see garden landscapes with a whole new consciousness.

Broccoli, cauliflower, and purple cabbage (I think)

Travel has expanded my world. But also just taking the time to observe and reflect. Observing my family members. Observing new plants that I don't recognize. Observing the sky at different times of day. Observing my body's reaction to the REALLY dry air. Observing, reflecting, drawing conclusions, adding to my brain's file cabinet of consciousness.

#6: Leftovers Frittata

I had a bunch of random foods in my fridge, and I decided to make a frittata.  Inspired by a co-worker who brought it up as something she was going to make today.  Zucchini, kielbasa, caramelized onions, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Yum!


I love when I can make something just with the ingredients in my fridge.  No shopping.  Ingredients don’t go to waste.  And it all tastes delicious.

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