Saturday, November 30, 2013

Turkey and Hominy Soup

This recipe is legend among our family and family friends. Every fall and winter, my mother makes several giant batches to dole out with crusty bread on cold nights. My mother refers to it simply as "Turkey Soup," but in reality it is so stuffed with ingredients it's hardly a soup anymore. The way my mother cooks is to generally clear out her fridge, chucking things in until she thinks it "smells right" so this isn't exactly a recipe that was easy to write down, but it is certainly one that it is tailor-made for alterations.

Don't like hominy? Well I think you're nuts, but feel free to replace them with some kidney beans, or whatever strikes your fancy (or you have in your cupboard).

I happen to love hominy in a big way, it's always been my favorite part of this soup. For those of you not familiar with hominy, it is corn that has been treated with lye making it puffy and delicious in a process called nixtamalization. It is the precursor to masa, the ground corn dough that makes up tortillas, tamales, and papusas. The name "hominy" comes from the Powhatan tribe of American Indians, and many traditional American Indian diets included hominy.

Look how big that can is! IPhone for size comparison.
This recipe is very typical of my mother's cooking, almost spartan in its preparation. No added salt, no added fats, no giant mess of spices. While the stock is made in a French manner, with the classic mirepoux of celery, onion, and carrots, one could see a lot of Japanese American influences even in her Western-style cooking. The mottainai "waste-nothing" attitude behind using the leftover turkey bones to make her own stock and clearing out the cupboards and fridge for a soup that is always changing depending not only on the season but the very day she cooks it, for example.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Green Tea Pomegranate Popsicles

That's it. I totally jinxed myself by posting an ode to fall weather. It was 94°F last week and I've got the air conditioning back on. 

Last week I was studying for my veterinary technician licensing exam, and I decided I would pop out for a break and get a hot tea and a bit of a change of scenery at Starbucks. My pooch loves hanging outside Starbucks, I could get some fresh air and some studying tackled, it'll be great right?

Yeah, no. Sweating is not conducive to studying.

So I took the pooch for a short walk, and came back inside to make myself a cool treat. With a bunch of pomegranates on my counter courtesy of my grandmother's tree, I was envisioning the pomegranate juice ice pops that my grandfather would make for us every year. But then I realized that I have no way of extracting the juice besides the old-fashioned and very messy way. 

Here's what I came up with instead.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall Fruit Salad

I love fall. I love finally getting to put on a sweater, drink hot tea, and slurp ramen without the aid of air conditioning. Hailing from Southern California, our seasons aren't as distinct as other places. Especially these days, the seasonal drinks from Starbucks seem to guide people through the year more than anything; coconut frappuccino in the summer, pumpkin spice latte for fall, and peppermint mocha in the winter.

I never grew up with explosions of sunset-colored leaves falling from the trees, stepping out in a pea-coat with a hot cocoa and my breath showing in the crisp frosty air. I've never experienced a snow day; I don't own a scarf.

I wear flip-flops year round.

Okay, so maybe fall weather is a little boring here.

Thankfully, our fall fruit is far from boring. Persimmons from my great uncle, pomegranates from my grandmother, fall is hailed here in my family by the arrival of some of our favorite fruits.

I really enjoy this fruit salad because it has a lot of different textures, from the crunch of the Asian pear, the pop of the pomegranate arils, and the persimmon with a softer bite. With a bit of lemon and mint to keep everything bright, it's a very refreshing fruit salad perfect for fall.