Category Archives: Vegetables and Fruits

Summer Squash Pancake with Dill Yogurt Sauce (Gluten-free)

Recipe VERY scientifically experimented from: various zucchini fritter recipes 

squash fritters

Have you seen a dead cactus?  I have, because I managed to kill one before. And it’s truly one of the saddest sights you would ever see. It was given to me as a souvenir from my co-worker’s Santa Fe vacation – The entire office was horrified and dismayed when they discovered a brown shriveled shell looping over a tiny Mexican clay pot on my desk months after. I was immediately declared to have “toxic black thumb”, never to care for any living things EVER.

squashesThe fact that I now live with 3 dogs and grow vegetables is not because I am sufficiently rehabilitated, but because animals let me know when they need to be fed, and also I have, over the course of years, haphazardly yet continuously developed a catalog of plants that can survive my gardening skills (or the lack of).

Squashes definitely make the cut in my short list, and every year I plant at least a couple of different kinds – This year I settled with yellow crookneck and pale green pattypan types.  They did not disappoint, and in my opinion, now deserve to be made into something spectacular – Like these yummy fritters.

Of course they are hardly my innovation but rather traditional and popular Mediterranean snack. But I did tinker with various recipes to find the balance that would strike a sweet spot for me every time. Continue reading

Unseasonal Goya Champloo (Sautéed Bitter Melon)

Recipe inspired by: Lucky byproduct of my complete negligence

goya champloo

Nothing says summer like goya, “bitter melon” which is one of typical ingredients used in cuisines from Okinawa, the most Southern and hottest island in Japan.

So imagine my surprise when I finally stepped out to the yard to check up on my vegetables this past weekend after a particularly busy month, and found a bunch of shiny bitter melons hanging behind the thick, green vines in a plot (where they self-seeded themselves from the previous year) that I haven’t even watered after summer squashes were all gone.

Amazed, both by my own obliviousness and the resilience of the plant, I decided to pay unseasonal respect to these survivors that they deserve with probably the most well-known Okinawa dish. After all, I feel strange affinity towards this relatively unknown vegetable – Seriously tough, seriously Asian and, seriously and unforgivingly, bitter. It’s basically like all the old people in my family (and I suppose I’m on my way to get there – Mean, crazy cat lady who never takes sick days. Wait. I kind of AM there already).  Continue reading

Purple Yam Soup

Recipe as a result of: My attempt to make something Halloween-ish that is spooky and sweet but does not require baking (and I got it)

purple soup

I was in elementary school when my dad took us with him from Tokyo to San Francisco, while he was invited to attend a 6-month business training program at the headquarters of the American company he was working for. It was the first time for all of us to live outside of Japan, even for a short term. We arrived late summer, spent a hectic few weeks getting settled in, then October came around.

Halloween is fairly established and enjoyed by many in Japan nowadays, but at that time not many Japanese even heard of it unless they had been in the States. So, imagine you are in the 3rd grade, never had Halloween before, and your mom (who probably just learned what it is, too) explains to you what will happen.

This is EXACTLY how it was processed in my 8-year old brain:

Wait – Let me get this straight.

… I get to dress up.

… Then I go around neighborhood, while still being dressed up, knocking on everybody’s doors.

… And they give me candy?

NO. FREAKIN’. WAY.

I’m in!!!!!

We went back to Japan in following winter after dad completed his program, but this miraculous event was thoroughly ingrained in my memory. To this date, Halloween is my favorite holiday – It MAY be somewhat responsible for the fact that I now live in US. Continue reading

Avocado Chocolate Ice Cream

Recipe inspired by: My determination to resolve dilemma with mushy avocado

avocado chocolate ice cream

With the ridiculous amount of avocados I consume, I would say I have become quite proficient in projecting when they will reach desirable ripeness.  However, occasionally under rare and unusual circumstances, I miscalculate and end up with ones that are too mushy to use in salad – like this summer in LA when it was 250,000 degrees with heat wave and they went from green and firm to black and super ripe in a flash.

Fear not, though, fellow avocado lovers!  No avocados shall be wasted on us. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my chocolate ice cream rich and creamy with full dairy fat and full sugar (and whatever it is Häagen-Dazs puts in – If they said there is baby octopus in it, I would probably be OK with that).  And I would have been happily settled with making guacamole if this was less than decent.  Well it is actually more than decent.  As a matter of fact, I totally nailed it. Take THAT, heat wave. Continue reading

Roasted Delicata Squash with Honey, Pomegranate Seeds and Pepitas

Recipe with more sensible amount of toppings from:  Sunset Magazine (on myrecipes.com

roasted delicata squash with pomegaranate seeds and pepitas

I was cutting into one of these squashes when my roommate Kerry walked into the kitchen.  “Hey there!  Oh, what kind of squash is…*GASP*  Is it… Is it THAT one?”

Yes, Kerry. It’s THAT squash – It’s that squash I became completely obsessed with last year.  It’s that squash I planned the whole Thanksgiving dinner around, then disappeared from the face of freakin’ planet a week before, which sent me to frantic trips to 3 Trader Joe’s, 2 Whole Foods and 1 Sprouts on one desperate evening.  It’s that squash I then ended up finding at Vons nearest my house (don’t ask me why) and kept secret stash of throughout winter by returning to the store weekly and digging through that big barrel of mixed harvests until I bought every single one that was sold.

It’s delicata squash.  It is back in my life again. Continue reading