I'm happy to report we're settling in nicely at our new place, but the work is not done. My project for March (can you believe March is right around the corner?!) is the kitchen. I asked myself what are the essential ingredients and tools for cooking with a twist of Asian flavor no matter where I am in the world. And I made a list of key items, which I am excited to write about in the coming weeks.
Today, I'd like to try something different here by sharing with you some of the links on the Internet that have caught my attention for your weekend enjoyment. I'm also including an easy tea recipe made with an ingredient my kitchen can't do without: dried jujubes. Consider this a precursor of the Asian Kitchen Project series in March.
For as long as I can remember, there were always dried jujubes in the kitchen. Even after moving out of my family home and living on my own, my mum ensured there were always dried jujubes in my kitchen. We call them "hong zao", which means red dates, and they go into soups, stews, teas and desserts. They lend an earthy sweetness to a recipe, and are a common feature in traditional Chinese medicine for their multitude of health benefits, including being an excellent source of vitamin C. I have to admit I'd never seen fresh jujubes (as far as I know they are not common in Malaysia) until I spotted them at a farmers market here in the Bay Area last Fall.
They have an edible green skin that turns red and wrinkly as they ripen. Young jujubes are crisp and sweet like apple, while the flesh of mature jujubes is soft and spongy. Jujubes can be eaten dried too, but the fruitiness really shows when cooked. Or, in this case, steeped in just-boiled water. Add cacao nibs and dried goji berries, another of my pantry essentials, and you have yourself a soothing cup of tea. Now we're ready for some online entertainment...
- February Tidbits -
Grounded Women: Stories of Women Who Farm. Photographer Lise Metzger's curiosity about why women farm led to this amazing project that documents "women who have chosen to create a purposeful life through sustainable agriculture".
The @folkfibers Instagram account is the stuff made of magic: country life, hand quilting, natural dyes.
The Spice Trail project. Follow three talented photographers on a mesmerizing spice journey as they photograph spices commonly used in Indian cooking.
White Rice: A Love Story. "Eating rice, simple and unadorned, can keep you alive through emotional or physical illness," writes Sharon Van Epps.
Everything you need to know about milk alternatives. And how to make them. Nut milks, seed milks, oats, rice, quinoa. All in one place!
A Stranger at the Family Table by Tash Aw paints a vivid picture of what it's like growing up in Malaysia as a third-generation immigrant.
The cookbooks coming at ya in Spring! I already got my hands on one and eyeing 11 others.
Michael Pollan's 'Cooked' is now a documentary series on Netflix. But you already know that. Then read this interview to find out why he's uncomfortable with the foodie label.
This episode of A Way With Words. The expression "put some mustard on it" has more to do with baseball than hotdogs.
It's National CSA Day! We're thrilled to sign up for our first farm share. You can read about my experience volunteering on a CSA farm.
Oh, and don't forget to check out...
The 'Why I Write About Food' interview series. Ever wondered why bloggers write about food? I've learned about so many great food blogs through this series and can't wait to share the other food blogs lined up. New interviews on Monday.
Happy weekend, folks!
Jujube Tea with Cacao Nibs and Goji Berries
I always have dried jujubes in my pantry so I can make this tea any time. Stock up on them the next time you spot them at the farmers market, which is usually during Fall in California, and store them in an airtight container. They can also be found at the Asian grocery store, along with dried goji berries. Cacao nibs are crushed cacao beans with an unadulterated concentration of flavor that some consider bitter but they work like magic in this fruity tea to give it a pleasant hint of smokiness. Find them at the specialty supermarket. Serves 1 to 2.
6 dried jujubes, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon goji berries
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
2 cups water
Honey or maple syrup, to taste (optional)
Begin by boiling water. Put all the ingredients in a teapot, or divide the ingredients into two mugs if you're sharing. Of course you can half the ingredients if you're just making one serving for yourself, but I prefer to have a pot that lasts more than one cup.
As soon as the water is boiled, pour it into the teapot or mugs and cover immediately. Then forget about it for 10 to 15 minutes. When you return to it, you'll have a delicious cup of tea that's good on its own or with some honey or maple syrup stirred in. Enjoy.