A Paradox

Last week, as I tenderly  bundled my baby up–all 300-some pages of it–and pushed it gently into a USPS Priority Mail envelope, I was overcome by a mix of emotions.  I felt like weeping with both joy and sadness: joy and relief that these pages, my final edits, marked the end of a long and arduous process; and sadness and longing because I was almost at the end of this amazing journey of discovery, learning and sharing.

It’s not the end, however. Far from it, in fact. I hope to grow this blog into a forum for us to share family recipes, ask questions, give each other tips, and keep traditional Asian recipes alive.  Another bit of good news is that I’ll have more time to post stories as well as devote to other projects.

I admit, my blog posts have slowed down to an embarrassing trickle 😦 and I do apologize. My blog isn’t the only project that has languished while I’ve been working on my cookboook manuscript. It’s been an amazing opportunity but I haven’t been able to pitch and write many stories either. 

On the other hand, word spread about my project and I was interviewed for a few articles including this Pacific Northwest Magazine article last fall, Eating the Asian Way, by Matthew Amster-Burton. We discussed oxtails (yum!) and how the traditional Asian diet may be the answer to a sustainable yet omnivorous lifestyle. Matthew also gives his adaptation of nikujaga, a dish that will be featured in The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook.

Jennifer Bagalawis-Simes and I also chatted about sustainable seafood and the Asian American community for her story “Sustainable Seafood Consumption: Will Asian Americans take the bait? ” published in the latest issue of  Hyphen MagazineHyphen is a hip Asian American publication that explores culture, the arts and politics amidst the modern multicultural world we live in.

hypehn

Pick up Issue 16 of Hyphen magazine at your local newsstand or subscribe on their web site: hyphenmagazine.com

And last but not least, find out more about cooking whole fish in my NPR Kitchen Window story entitled  Taking on the Whole Fish.   There’s a tasty Korean roasted fish recipe on the Web site as well.  

date_stuffed_fish4_edit

Date stuffed trout

I hope you’ll enjoy reading some of these stories and I’ll be back with more soon.

As grandma always says, please share !

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My meme, finally

Marvin of Burntlumpia tagged me for a meme aeons ago but better late than never, eh? 

Here goes:

What were you cooking/baking 10 years ago?
10 years ago, I had just graduated from college, was still unmarried and living at home with my parents in Singapore. Hey, don’t laugh, hardly anyone moves out until they get married–it’s too expensive!!

What were you cooking/baking one year ago?
A year ago, I was cooking roast chicken with herbes des Provence, toad in the hole, jambalaya, teriyaki chicken, spaghetti with anchovies and chilies, my mum’s spam mac and cheese and banana bread. Yup, before I started working on my cookbook and this blog, I hardly cooked Asian food (OK, maybe a stir-fry or two). I guess I’m spoiled, my mum lives 10 minutes away.

Five snacks you enjoy:
1. lumpia (the Indonesian kind with bamboo and ground pork)
2. Krupuk (Indonesian prawn crackers)3. Fruit (boring X2)4. Wasabi peas5. Kroket (potato, chicken, vegetable balls, breaded and deep fried)Do we really only get 5??

Five recipes you know by heart:

  1. spam mac and cheese
  2. jambalaya
  3. bakmi (noodles with chicken and mushrooms)
  4. cabbage and eggs
  5. Whatever is in the fridge a la Pat

Five culinary luxuries you would indulge in if you were a millionaire:

  1. My own sustainable farm, including organic free-range chickens, pigs and for my husband, cows.
  2. Monthly trips to every country in turn I’ve never been to plus a knowledgeable culinary tour guide
  3. Start my own food and culture magazine
  4. Two decked out kitchens–one indoor one outdoor with all the accoutrements
  5. My own bakery that churns out my favorite breads and pastries when I want them

Five foods you love to cook/bake:

  1. banana bread
  2. jambalaya
  3. spam mac and cheese
  4. Spekkuk cheesecake
  5. clafoutis

Five foods you cannot/will not eat:
I’m game to try just about anything as long as it’s not a bug and doesn’t smell too foul.

Five favorite culinary toys:

  1. Microplane grater
  2. My new Staub 6 quart Dutch (or is it French?) oven with a rooster knob
  3. My red hand-held mixer (I haven’t been converted to a KitchenAid) and matching bowls 
  4. My yogurt maker (it’s just a vacuum flask but it makes perfect yogurt, well, most of the time)
  5. OK, this is lame but I’m not gadgety–my colander collection?

Five dishes on your “last meal” menu:

  1. My husband’s pancakes (that’s about the only thing he makes but at least it’s made with lots of lurve!)
  2. My mum’s pastel panggang (kinda like a shepherd’s pie)
  3. My mum’s fried chicken
  4. My mum’s es teler (avocado, coconut, jelly etc in a sweet milky drink)
  5. My mum’s chocolate pudding (it’s actually more of a jello-like consistency) with custard

Five happy food memories:

  1. Christmas dinner with my friend Anna and her family in the Dolomite Mountains, Italy. First time I had baccala … mmm … washed down with Fragolino … mmm …
  2. Dinners at Pig Finca, a Mediterranean restaurant in Kingsbridge, the next town over from where we were living in Dartmouth, UK for 2 years.
  3. Making mini cupcakes (kue manggkok) with my mum when I was a little girl.
  4. All my meals at Chomp Chomp hawker center in Serangoon Gardens, Singapore, the neighborhood I grew up in. In my teenage years, this was my favorite hangout with friends. The food was/is fabulous–barbecued stingray, fried Hokkien Mee, fried carrot cake, ice jelly cocktail, the list goes on …   
  5. Squatting on the floor and eating durians on newspapers when I was growing up. My dad would only bring home two to three small ones and we’d have to share (sheesh, what a concept!).

I’m passing this meme on to Jon, Andrea, Jess, and SweetRosie but no one should feel obligated. If anyone else wants to particpate, please join in the fun! 

My initiation into the blogosphere

Yay! I’ve done it, I’ve started a blog!

Thanks to my cook book deal with Sasquatch Books titled–what else?–The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook, I’ve finally gotten off my duff and done it.

Who would have thought that securing my first book deal would seem like a fairy tale? Honestly, I truly felt like Snow White (or insert fairy tale princess of choice), only instead of Prince Charming, I met the editor I was destined to work with.

 It happened like this:

I was interviewing said editor for the NW Asian Weekly, which incidentally is the publication that gave me my first break in Seattle, about his new promotion to publisher. We got started talking about eating, food and cook books (like most conversations I get into) and he let slip that he’s always wanted to publish an Asian grandmothers cookbook. As a writer with a keen interest in how food, history, and culture intersect, it was a dream assignment come true! I offered to send him a proposal, I did, he loved it and the rest, as they say is history.

Now I have a cook book deal … sweet :).