…And a Happy New Year!

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In the beginning of 2014, which feels like just moments ago, it never occurred to me that I would be cooking and blogging about my experience in the kitchen.  This seemingly whimsical idea has unexpectedly taken root in me somehow. I’m not sure what exactly is driving me to do this. Angela and I started this experiment in an attempt to make our family eat more mindfully.  But what sustains me in the daily practice is perhaps my impulse to make things, and my desire to learn things.  I have learned and am still learning how to prepare more healthful and more delicious food.  In the process I have also discovered a deep pleasure in cooking, and in looking at all the familiar edible things with the newness of a baby.

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I have always loved food, but the past two months have taught me to eat more deliberately, and to taste the flavors instead of simply pigging out.  The past two months are also wonderful because the kitchen has become not only a sanctuary for me, but also a warm place where we find joy as a family.  The children are now more involved in cooking their own food — Audrey has turned out to be quite talented in everything breakfast — smoothies, French toast and pancakes, you name it.  As a matter of fact, she is making healthy-fied blueberry pancakes for dinner as I’m writing.  And writing.  I have also been learning to better express myself in the language of my adopted country.  Words and sentences come too slowly and are never adequate enough to capture the grinding of my brain, but the practice does calm and focus my mind.

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Today I want to share with you twelve of our family’s favorite recipes from the blog.  Most of the dishes I have cooked are relatively simple and quick to make — something accomplishable on a daily basis.  I have completely done away with butter, and in most cases with simple carbohydrates.  Almost all of the breads, muffins and cookies were made of almond flour or coconut flour or both — something I hadn’t known one could do before this blog.   

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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

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Sugar-free Grain-free Chocolate Cookies

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Roast Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary, Thyme, Sage & Garlic

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Healthy, Quick and Easy Mushroom Risotto

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Mongolian Beef

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Healthy Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

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Minced Turkey with Basil Lettuce Cup

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Kung Pao Chicken

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Ginger Scallion Sriracha Glazed Salmon

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Yam Casserole with Crispy Top

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Almond Flour Coconut Chocolate Cookies

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Pear Lemon Zest Burrata Crostini

Thank you for reading. Have a happy 2015!

Roasted Garlic Mushroom Barley Soup

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About 10 years ago, Peter asked Angela if she wanted to be a doctor.  Angela said, “No, I don’t want to”. Peter said why not and she responded “I want to spend more time with my family.”  Today, Peter took Audrey to see an electrical cardioversion that he was doing in the hospital in the hope that Audrey might take an interest in medicine.

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Audrey witnessed Daddy at work and “helped” by pushing the button that Peter told her to push for the cardioversion procedure.  She told me excitedly that she and Daddy “shocked” a patient to make her heartbeat normal again.  And after the patient woke up, she told Audrey that Daddy made her feel better.  When Audrey went back to Peter’s office with him after the hospital procedure, she met another patient who told her that Daddy was a life saver because he helped the patient’s father live several years longer after he received a stent procedure from Peter. Audrey came home with such a glow of pride that her Daddy’s long hours at work has real meaning.

Consistent with a heart healthy diet, I made a roasted garlic mushroom barley soup.  By the way, does anyone know how to make a bowl of mushroom soup look good?  I certainly couldn’t.  But the soup was bowl licking good.

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Roasted Garlic Mushroom Barley Soup Ingredients:

1 pound crimini mushroom (sliced)

1 onion (sliced)

1 tablespoon roasted garlic (see tip)

7 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

1/2 cup hulled barley

A dash or black pepper, ground cumin, paprika and oregano

Preparation:

Cook the barley in a rice cooker with 2 cups broth.

Heat oil in a soup pot and sauté the onion and sage until soft (about 6 minutes).  Add mushroom and stir until liquid is released from the mushroom (about 6 minutes).  Take out 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside.

Add the remaining 5 cup broth, roasted garlic and spices and 1/3 cup of cooked barley, bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Puree the soup in a blender and then return to soup pot.  Add the cooked mushroom and the remaining cooked barley into the soup and bring to boil.  Add more broth if the soup is too thick.

Serve hot.

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Tip for roasting garlic:  Preheat oven to 400F.  Slice 1/2 inch off the garlic tops and place them individually on small pieces of foil.  Drizzle olive oil, salt and fresh herbs (if desired) and wrap the garlic snuggly and roast for 35 minutes. 

I roasted 6 heads of garlic and used 1 for the soup.  I will use the rest of them in different recipes in the next few days.  If you don’t want to go through the trouble of roasting garlic, you can sauté a few cloves of garlic with the onion and mushroom instead.

Carrot Ginger Soup and High Heels

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2014 has been a special year for Angela.  She turned sixteen and discovered high heels.  Today Angela walked for four hours in four-inch heels without killing herself. She’s short like me so she likes having the height. I can definitely understand that. Podiatrists may say that heels are bad for you, but sometimes the height is worth the pain. Occasionally we look at pictures of really gnarly bunions and hammer toes to try to get ourselves to kick the high heel habit but in the end we succumb to the need not to look like a little teapot, short and stout.

I look taller than Angela only because I hadn't yet begun enabling her high heel addiction.

I look taller than Angela only because I hadn’t yet begun enabling her high heel addiction.

It’s hard to give up our vices. Heels, web surfing, eating while already full… why must the things that destroy our physical, emotional, and intellectual wellbeing always be so hard to quit? 2015 is coming, and with it the annual “new year, new you!” rubbish. In truth the New Year is mostly an opportunity for gyms and pyramid schemers (cough cough, Herbalife, cough cough) to make some extra coin.

First of all, why wait until the new year to change? Second, why try to make such huge and impossible changes? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to make gradual changes to minimize misery?

Subsist on nonfat cottage cheese and romaine lettuce? Exercise vigorously for two hours a day? More like an exercise in futility. I’m not going to resign myself to sneakers and flats or abandon my bags of salted nuts and my daily dose of staring out the window. No, I’m going to eat lots of veggies…

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I should follow in Angela’s lead. It was always a struggle to make her eat meat, but not veggies!

…and here and there, a few slices of good old-fashioned high-glycemic-index bread as well.

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Trying to be healthy shouldn’t be torture. As the kids say, “you feel?”

So in the spirit of being healthy without having to suffer, let’s drink some veggie soup. I love soup. It’s warm and hearty and delicious, and even though San Francisco winters aren’t exactly cold, soup just gets me in the winter holiday mood. And most importantly (let’s be honest), it’s easy to make. You don’t have to spend forty-five minutes stirring or spend hours mincing.

Today’s carrot ginger soup was absolutely delicious. But don’t take my word for it! Try it yourself!

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Carrot Ginger Soup Ingredients:

7 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 inch ginger root, peeled and sliced
1 small potato, sliced (optional, I omitted)
2 tablespoons olive oil (can use less or omit if desired, I used the full amount)
6 cups organic chicken broth or vegetable broth
A dash of ground cumin, paprika, coriander and oregano

Preparation:

Use a soup pot, heat olive oil on high and sauté garlic, ginger and onion until aromatic, about 3 to 4 minutes. If desired, you can omit the olive oil and use cooking spray or a splash of liquid instead.
Add carrots and stir for another 3 minutes. Add spices and stir for another minute.
Add broth and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. Let the soup cool for a few minutes before pureeing it in batches in a blender. I used my Vitamix.

 

Oven Roasted Cauliflower from the Squirrel Mother

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My cousin Scott and his family came to visit from the Silicon Valley last night.  His wife Jennifer tutors SAT math to high schoolers six days a week.  From my conversation with her, I learned how extremely driven and competitive these South Bay parents are and it made me feel like an irresponsible and clueless mother.  I actually let my kids follow their favorite TV series.  Angela and I read the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and she jokingly called me a squirrel mother because all I do is tell her to eat and hibernate. But she has accomplished so much in her sixteen years of life that whether I’m a tiger or squirrel doesn’t matter.  Or perhaps my cluelessness even made her more self sufficient.

I use Einstein’s letter to his 11-year-old son as an example (or as an excuse).  He wrote: “I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. . . .”

All I want is for them to find something in life that they truly love to do, because otherwise, life would be too much of a grind. I do see that when they are pursuing something they truly care about, they are “doing something with such enjoyment that they don’t notice that the time passes.”  And according to the ultimate expert in learning, this is the best way to learn.

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Cousin Scott is 2nd on the right, between our grandparents. I am 1st on the left.

Scott and Jennifer brought me a few bags of fresh produce from the farmers’ market.  I roasted the purple and yellow cauliflower and they turned out very aromatic and delicious.  Roasting is a relatively simple and quick way to prepare vegetables.  The total prep time for the roast cauliflower was no more than 15 minutes.

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Oven Roasted Cauliflower Ingredients:

6 cups uncooked cauliflower florets cut small

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

kosher salt and fresh pepper

a dash of ground cumin, paprika, oregano and Coriander

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Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine cauliflower, olive oil, garlic, sage, spices, salt and pepper well so all the florets are coated and seasoned. Place in a large shallow roasting pan and place in the center of the oven.

Roast for about 25 minutes, turning florets occasionally so they are evenly cooked. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

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Saturday Brunch with Artisanal Silverware

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There is something wonderful and exciting about receiving and opening packages in the mail, especially when you are not sure what exactly the boxes contain.  I was away on film locations in remote regions of China when I was only fourteen.  My mother used to send me bi-weekly care packages from Shanghai — often times my favorite snacks such as dried plums or a can of spam, which was a luxury item back then.  I can still recall those moments of excitement and anticipation when I opened up the care packages.

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On Christmas Eve, we received in the mail a beautiful set of artisanal silverware from For Such a Time Designs!  We first saw Aly Nickerson’s lovely hand-stamped spoons on SkinnyTaste.com and coveted them for months before they finally arrived, a generous gift from Aly. Each piece of the silver plated flatware is vintage and stamped with antique metal stamps. It is absolutely gorgeous and makes eating even more fun than it already is. “Serve With Love,” “Eat Clean,” my thoughts exactly!

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Smoked Salmon Scallion Omelet Ingredients:

1 Egg + 3 Egg White (beaten)

3 stalks Scallion (chopped)

3 oz. Wild Smoked Salmon (pulled or cut to small chunks)

2 tablespoon 2% Shredded Cheddar & Jack cheese

1/2 teaspoon Dill Weed

1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil

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Preparation:

Heat a flat non-stick pan on medium, add oil, then add most of the chopped scallion. 

After the scallion softens, about 40 seconds, pour in the beaten eggs.

Add salmon, the rest of the scallion and the cheese. 

Sprinkle the Dill Weed.  Roll the Omelet.  Sprinkle with fresh pepper.

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Everyone in the house loved Yam Casserole so much that I made it for the second time this week. It is a delicious and healthy dish that is relatively easy to make.

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Recipe in December 25th post “Empty Chimney Once Upon A Time”

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The Most Delicious & Guiltless Ice Cream

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When I was growing up in China, we didn’t celebrate Christmas; I never even heard of Christmas.  But we did celebrate Dec. 26th — Chairman Mao’s birthday.  We would cook longevity noodles in the kitchen that we shared with our neighbors.  We would bow in front of a Mao portrait and wish him ten thousand years of life.  I realize now that my parents probably only did the celebration for the sake of the kids and the neighbors.  They would not want the neighbors to report them for not loving Chairman Mao enough to wish him a long life.  And they certainly didn’t want to destroy the illusion for their children, who were brought up to worship Mao.  They believed that worshipping Mao as the saint and savior would make their children safer and happier.  Not worshipping Mao would be dangerous to their wellbeing.

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The Mao badge collection was my most valued possession during childhood. This photo was taken in the 80s in LA by my friend, Anchee Min.

Strange how I still wake up on December 26th every year and involuntarily think, “It’s Mao’s birthday.” 

Today, the thought of Mao brought me back to those years of food scarcity and what I was willing to do for a bowl of ice cream. 

I heard from other girls that you would be rewarded with a bowl of ice cream if you were lucky enough to have your tonsils removed. It was a minor surgical procedure performed without anesthesia. I convinced my mother to let me have the operation, but when I was given a bowl of ice cream to soothe my throat, swallowing hurt so badly that I gave my reward to my brother.

Nowadays ice cream is everywhere, and I have had decades to recover from my tonsillectomy so ice cream is once again a great love of mine. However, we all know how overindulgence in ice cream isn’t exactly healthy…

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Guilt Free Ice Cream

I improved on my old guilt free ice cream recipe by using the evaporated milk and adding more dark chocolate.  The result is a much richer and more delicious ice cream. 

Ingredients for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:

1 12oz can 2% Evaporated Milk

2 cup non fat Greek Yogurt (I used Fage)

7 tablespoon Xylitol or other sweetener

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

3 tablespoon 100% Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

3 tablespoon 100% Unsweetened Chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients in a blender.  Add to ice cream maker.  Let it churn until ice cream congeals and hardens, about 25 to 30 minutes. 

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Audrey made the gingerbread cookies to go with the ice cream.  And she typed the following recipe form me.

Healthier Gingerbread Cookies Ingredients:

1/2 cup apple sauce

3/4 cup brown sugar or xylitol

3 tbs. coconut oil

1 egg

1/3 cup maple flavored syrup

3 cups 100% whole wheat flour

2 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

Preparation:

Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry ingredients together and wrap in plastic wrap.  Leave the mixture in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.

Roll out and cut.  Preheat oven at 350F and bake about 12 minutes or until light brown.

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Orange Milk Shake & Broccoli Kale and White Bean Soup

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Peter’s brother brought us two large bags of oranges grown from my in-laws’ garden.  They were the largest, juiciest and sweetest oranges that I have ever tasted.  Peter’s mother loves gardening.  In her small yard there is an orange tree, a persimmon tree and a guava tree.  There are also tomatoes and chili peppers.  Already in her 80s, my mother-in-law still tends the garden herself. 

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Two-year-old Angela in Grandma’s garden

Audrey made the most refreshing orange milk shake with Grandma’s oranges, while I made the  healthiest sweet vegetable muffins for breakfast.  

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Orange Milk Shake Ingredients:

3 oranges

1 1/2 cup milk of choice (dairy is best)

1/12 cup ice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoon xylitol or sugar

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When I first heard about the recipe, I was skeptical. Oranges and dairy? Might there be some kind of crazy acid-base explosion? Chemistry isn’t my strong suit but the idea seemed a little gross. So I was shocked when it actually turned out great. Even if you usually can’t tolerate the acidity of citrus, you’ll be able to enjoy this drink. Not only is it delicious, it’s also healthy. Gotta love those antioxidants and polyphenols! Those pesky free radicals won’t even have a chance.

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San Francisco had another glorious day after weeks of rain and we set out for a long stroll in the afternoon.  Living in this amazing city has made us a family of walkers. We believe not only in the pleasure of it but also the spiritual and restorative power it generates.  It is the best antidote for the daily stresses from work or the distractions from the internet.

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Showing off in front of the girls

One of Peter’s patients gave him a gift of four slabs of Rendezvous Ribs.  They arrived yesterday from Memphis via FedEx, vacuum sealed and packed in dry ice.  We had one slab for dinner and they were quite delicious, very smoky and tender.  All I had to do was to warm it up in the oven with the barbecue sauce that came with it. 

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For the vegetarians in the house, I made a hearty soup that was so delicious and satisfying you wouldn’t believe that it was so healthy.

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I adapted the recipe from the STACY LONDON’S BROCCOLI, WHITE BEAN, AND SAUSAGE SOUP, and made a vegetarian version.

Ingredients:

1 large Onion (chopped)

4 cloves garlic (chopped)

4 heads of Broccoli (florets chopped; stems peeled and chopped)

7 cups Vegetable Stock

1 bunch Kale (stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch ribbons)

2 15 .5-ounce Canneloni Beans (drained and rinsed)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then toss in the garlic, stir for 1 minute, then add onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just translucent. Add the broccoli and again season with salt and pepper.

Pour the vegetable stock over the broccoli and bring up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is fork tender.

Let cool slightly and then transfer, working in batches, to a blender. Cover the blender with a towel to ensure it doesn’t splatter, and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Place another heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beans and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour the broccoli soup in kale and stir to combine. Let cook for one to two more minutes to let the flavors meld. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve while hot.

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Empty Chimney Once Upon a Time

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Angela at four, Photo by Tony Metaxas

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Angela was severely allergic to dust mites and she was always scratching herself. We had to get rid of all her stuffed animals when she was diagnosed.

As I wrapped last minute gifts for the children, I remembered how I told Angela that there was no Santa Claus when she was four years old.  I saw her letter to Santa on Christmas Eve and there was no time to get her a real Magic Wand and a Teddy Bear that wouldn’t give her an allergic reaction.  Having grown up in Communist China, I did not feel sentimental toward Santa or Christmas.  I thought that she was such a precocious child that there was no need to keep lying to her about something as ridiculous as Santa Claus. On Christmas morning I sat her on my lap and told her the “truth.”  Angela was heartbroken.

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Angela at 14 when she wrote about that Christmas Morning

Years later, Angela wrote about this traumatic experience for her English class:  “The tears did not come immediately. It took several minutes for my epiphany to sink in, for the scattered puzzle pieces of knowledge gathered over my four-year-old existence to finally fit together. My world began to make terrible, terrible sense. Santa Claus was a lie. Nearly everything I knew was a lie. I could never have a pink baby unicorn, for magic pets could come only from a magic source. It was more than just Santa. Gone, too, were the fantastical fairies in the garden, the pegasi hiding playfully behind the next grove of trees. Kris Kringle killed them. He buried them with him, down in the unreachable realm of the unreal. The jolly bearded men in the mall were just actors taking a break from waiting tables. And their beards were the same cheap Chinese polyester as their flimsy suits. That broke the dams.

        I wept hysterically and inconsolably, not even stopping to breathe for four hours. It was as close as I could have come to an existential crisis. If something as sacred as St. Nick could be a mere fairy tale, then nothing could be taken for granted.”

How do you console someone like that?

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Bear Bear is his name and he’s been quite a family member for 12 years.

The morning after Christmas I rushed to Ferragamo to buy her the silk teddy bear, which she has kept ever since then. It has survived twelve years of rips, wear, tear, and emergency cleanups, always safe from being tossed into a donation bin or being sold at a garage sale.

On December 26th, 2002, I resuscitated Santa for Angela for a brief period.  I hid the magic wand and the silk teddy in the basement fireplace and then told Angela that we would all go down there to see a film on the large screen TV.  I told her to put a log in the fireplace for us, and that was when her eyes lit up and she gasped, “Santa!”  A few months after that, while we were driving Angela said suddenly, “You know, Santa’s handwriting looks a lot like Mommy’s. Perchance they attended the same grammar school.”

Perchance we did.

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Christmas Eve dinner was made easy by the rotisserie chicken from Costco.  Not only was it tender, juicy and flavorful, it only costed $5.  The racks for the roast chickens were empty when I got to Costco today, and there was a line of people waiting for the chickens to come out of the oven.

After I brought the chicken home, I baked some potatoes to go with it.

Ingredients for the Rosemary Garlic Potatoes:

10 red skin potatoes (quartered)

3 cloves garlic

2 teaspoon chopped rosemary

2 teaspoon chopped sage

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven at 350F.  Toss potatoes in oil and spices.  Bake in baking dish for 40 minutes.

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I also made a yam casserole which had been a family favorite ever since I first cooked it.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE YAM CASSEROLE:

4.5-5 pounds sweet potatoes (5 large) 

1 1/2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil 

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, or to taste 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt, or to taste

FOR THE CRUNCHY NUT CRUMBLE

1 cup rolled oats 

1 1/3 cups pecan halves, chopped 

1/3 cup almond meal or almond flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted

2 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (I used 2 tablespoons)

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Directions:

Place yams into a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to med-high, and gently boil for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and peel the yams.

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 2.5 quart (10 cup) casserole dish and set aside.

Prepare the crumble topping: Pulse the oats in a food processor until coarsely chopped. In a medium bowl, stir together the chopped pecans, oats, almond meal/flour, cinnamon, and salt. Pour on melted coconut oil, melted butter, and maple syrup. Stir until combined.

Place cooked and peeled sweet potatoes into a large bowl.

Mash yams with coconut oil until smooth. Now, stir in the maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Adjust to taste if desired. Spoon into casserole dish and smooth out.

Sprinkle the crumble topping all over the sweet potato mixture, evenly.

Bake, uncovered, at 375F for 25 minutes, until the dish is hot throughout and the topping is crispy. Plate and serve immediately. 

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Sandwiches and the Art of Sauntering

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“Give me a wildness whose glance no civilization can endure — as if we lived on the marrow of koodoos devoured raw.” by Henry David Thoreau

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When I pointed to the sky and told Angela that the bright stars meant we would have a sunny day tomorrow, Angela sighed, “More of your old wives’ tales…”  So I was extra happy to see the glorious blue sky this morning.  I was proven right in the eyes of my 16-year-old daughter who often thinks that I am stupid.

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We took our extended family on one of our favorite hikes in San Francisco — Land’s End, the closest wilderness that we could experience without taking a long drive. The best things in life are free and this hike is one of them.

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When Audrey was little, she couldn’t understand why anyone would take a walk.  She thought one walked to get somewhere, and she’d always be asking “are we there yet?” when we strolled.  That, of course, was a long time ago.  Now she is quite a master at taking walks, or as Thoreau put it – sauntering.

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Thoreau wrote in his book Walking: “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land.”

So, we didn’t just walk.  We practiced the art of sauntering.

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Roast pork shoulder sandwich with fresh basil pesto and mushroom onion gravy

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Roast turkey breast avocado tomato sandwich with mustard and mayo

We walked up a ravenous appetite and had the most satisfying sandwiches and soup made from leftovers.  For lunches, I like to forage in my own fridge for leftovers and reinvent them into something new and delicious.  I never throw any food away.

Ingredients for Turkey Vegetable Soup:

1 Roast turkey carcass

3 cups sliced celery

1 onion

2 cups of chopped carrots

2 cups of mushrooms

2 zucchinis

3 cups of chopped kale

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste.

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Boil the turkey carcass with bay leaves, onion, celery and carrots for about hour and half.  Use a spoon to skim the fat off the top.  Take out carcass, remove meat, chopped it up and set aside.  Discard the bone.  Add the remaining vegetables with the turkey meat and cook for 20 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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The roasted pork shoulder from the night before was made with a similar recipe as the pork tenderloin, except that I brined it for three hours and roasted it at 325F for 3 hours.  I added two 2 onions at the 4 corners of the baking dish to give it a little steam.  Then I added the roasted onion to the porcini gravy. The leftovers made the most delicious sandwiches.

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Peter’s brother roasted the Turkey a couple of days ago, and today we made sandwiches and soup of the leftovers.

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Classic mustard and mayonnaise turkey sandwich

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Sweet and Savory Burrata Crostini

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The whole extended family got together. As a fun sort of game, we decided to all go online and find our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personalities. 

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We read the descriptions of our personality types and it was eerie to see how accurate they were! It felt kind of like looking at astrological charts, except far more accurate.

One of the weaknesses listed under my type is as follows: “Absent-minded – When INTPs’ interest is captured, their absence goes beyond social matters to include the rest of the physical world. INTPs become forgetful, missing even the obvious if it’s unrelated to their current infatuation, and they can even forget their own health, skipping meals and sleep as they muse.”  That explains all the “Chens” that I have pulled through out the years.  The only part that is completely inaccurate is the “skipping meals” description.

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Apparently, Angela has the same personality type as Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling, and Walter White. I can kind of see that. She’s smart but creepy. Peter has the same personality type as Lyndon B Johnson, Andrew Jackson, and “Dubya.” I guess he has that presidential charisma. And sometimes when he’s tired he mispronounces words. But don’t “misunderestimate” him! 😉 Angela has always been Daddy’s little girl, which I guess makes sense because INTJs and ESTJs are supposedly compatible.

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I was shocked to find that I have the same personality type as a bunch of geniuses: Descartes; Pascal; Newton; Einstein; Socrates… that’s where I think the computerized test must have malfunctioned.  Audrey has the same type indicator as Marilyn Monroe and Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m not surprised!

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Though the test questions were too simplistic for creatures as complex as humans, I was happy that we took the test.  If nothing else it was fun. And it’s always good to take a little time for introspection and reflection.  It takes 5-10 minutes unless you’re indecisive like me. I guess that’s an INTP thing.

What is it about my personality that makes me run to Costo all the time?  I couldn’t find the trait listed under either Strength or Weaknesses of my type.

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Costco’s Whole Grain Loaf is better than what you’d expect from a bakery! It was so fresh it was still warm when I bought it.

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Basil Pesto Tomato Burrata Crostini Ingredients:

Balsamic glaze or balsamic cream to drizzle

Basil leaves

4 slices freshly baked whole grain loaf

2 tablespoons basil pesto

2 ball Burrata, drained

1 large tomato (sliced)

Toast the bread slices until slightly golden.  Spread fresh basil pesto on the bread, followed by basil leaves and Burrata.  Add the tomato slice and sprinkle a little salt.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze.

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Pear Lemon Zest Burrata Crostini Ingredients:

Balsamic glaze or balsamic cream to drizzle

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Basil leaves,

4 slices freshly baked whole grain loaf

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 ball Burrata, drained

1 ripe bartlett pear

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Combine sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix together.

Toast the bread slices until slightly golden.

Gently slice Burrata ball in half, then slice into wedges and place on baguette toasts. Nestle pear wedges on top of Burrata. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and sprinkle with lemon sugar.