Writing about food – Me?

When I sit down on quiet nights to reminisce about my childhood, all I can think about is food. The little time that I got to spend with my father when I was a kid was always after dinner. My father would snuck me out, quietly away from my mother who’s rather strict about our diet then, and we would drive 20 minutes into town just to get satay.

It wasn’t particularly amazing satay. We would stop by to get a stick or two, happily munching away in front of the stall while getting smoked smelly. On the way back home, I would fall asleep in the car and my father would willingly carry me back home and tucked me in for the night.

Nowadays, when I obsessively jot down my day in my journal, the first thing I need to write down is my meals. What did I have? At where? Was it good? I even started a little notebook filled with recipes and notes about my little experimentations with baking. (More flour to add chewiness to my chocolate chip cookies.)

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When I began my journey as a photojournalist, one of the projects that caught my eye was this photographer who went around documenting people who ate alone in our society that can’t seem to stomach ‘being alone’. And I started documenting bits and pieces about everything related to food – markets, stalls, recipes, people dedicated to food.

Throughout the years, my observations and experiences in documenting people showed me how easily food brings people together – just like the satay excursions. Almost every major festival has a symbolic dish of its own. Think eggs on Easter day, pineapple tarts on Chinese New Year, turkey for Thanksgiving, the list goes on and on. Families spend ages in the kitchen cooking up a huge homey meal during these festivals. Some families have their own secret recipes for certain dishes, and they have to have those dishes every year!

When dating a guy whose background was completely different from mine, I found the easiest way to introduce him to my culture was through food – my mother’s fried rice, fried mee hoon that I love, a warm bowl of porridge that will cure anyone’s homesickness.

Never would I have thought there will be a day I have to write about food for a living. Some truly happy moments that I have experienced involved me rolling my eyes back in satisfaction as I savoured food that tasted out of this world. But how do I translate all these feelings into words? How can I make people who are sitting behind a screen, taste?

I feel severely incompetent in expressing those moments. The people that I see talking about food are experienced brash chefs who spent years and years toiling away in the kitchen (think Anthony Bourdain, Gordan Ramsay). To be honest, on some days when I write about food, I feel useless. How can I make someone eat something with just words?

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How can I convey the happiness that I feel when I eat something so tasty that it washes away all my stress from work that day? Or when I need a pick-me-up, I huddle in a corner with a tub of ice-cream or a simple chocolate bar and that would cheer me up instantly?

Seven years in the news industry, and I have chosen this path. I have made quite a few turns, far away from what I envisioned myself to be five years ago.

I have chosen this path. I know that I love documenting everything about food, especially the people who work so hard creating them. I love food – and here’s to hoping I am able to be my truest self when writing about it.

 

Night markets

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Night market started in Taiwan due to scarce commodities and poor roads in the agricultural societies. People tend to travel around and sell their goods rather than staying in the same place.
Night markets really grew in the during the late 70s they were well received due to the oil crisis. People scavenged night markets for cheap goods.

I often wander around mindlessly in these places whenever I can. The excitement of finding something good while not expecting it definitely grew on me.

Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Baked Chicken Drumsticks

I like drumsticks. I like them fried.
However, I don’t like frying in my apartment and I don’t own a deep fryer.
So a better and healthier alternative would be baking them!

Ingredients as follow:
1 &1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
5-6 drumsticks
2 tablespoons of butter at room temperature (soft)
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/2 tablespoon of curry powder
1/2 tablespoon of chilli powder
1/4 tablespoon of sweet basil
1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450F
2. Mix flour and seasonings together
3. Brush butter all over drumsticks
4. Roll drumsticks in flour mix
5. Put into oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Homemade Chili

Homemade Chili

I was lazy. Well, actually, Logan was lazy. So, we settled for simple.

He went on BudgetBytes and looked for something that might just suit my mood. After going through four or five recipes, he finally found one that I liked and I made one or two slight changes. Food that can be prepared in less than 20 minutes! YATTA!

Recipe:
1/2 lb ground lean beef
1/2 bag of corn
12 oz of V8 juice
1 medium yellow onion
1 can of diced tomatoes (with green chilis)
1 can of black beans (drained)
1 can of dark red kidney beans (drained)
1 packet of chili seasoning

1. Brown meat in pan until meat is no longer pink.
2. Add in can of tomatoes.
3. Add in diced yellow onions.
4. Followed by packet of chili seasoning, V8, black beans, kidney beans, and corn.
5. Stir for 10-15 minutes or until warm (or blazing hot).
6. Serve on a bowl and add some shredded cheese! (Mine was left over mozzarella cheese from the quiche. oh and speaking of quiche, I might make some soon)

Yummy food indeed!

(Also, we were out of town for a couple of days last week. We went to IKEA and I bought more plates/bowls. I plead to go to a thrift store and I bought more plates/bowls. Definitely happy to have choices now!)

Baked fries

Baked fries

There’s been a lot of potatoes in my diet lately. That’s because I bought a 5 lb. bag of potatoes during Superbowl weekend when it was really cheap.

Also, a recent post about soaking potatoes in water will make them crispier prompted today’s attempt.

Recipe:
Parsley
Thyme
Salt & Pepper
Butter
Paprika

There’s no amount for the ingredients because I really like coating them with a lot of those herbs, and I think I used about 3-5 tablespoons.

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cut potatoes, soak in water for about 15 minutes.
2. Dry potatoes with a towel.
3. In a mixing bowl, put in ingredients. Mixed potatoes in in batches.
4. Spread potatoes on baking sheet. Put in oven for about 30 minutes.

Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats are probably the easiest snack to make. I do find munching on the mini marshmallows a little bit distracting though.

Recipe:
3 tbsps of butter
4 cups of mini marshmallows
5-6 cups of Rice Krispies

1. Melt butter in a pot on medium-low heat and put in marshmallows.
2. Stir till melted (3 minutes).
3. Remove pot from stove. Pour in rice krispie.
4. Put in glass pan in a thin layer.
5. After it is cooled down, cut in into small pieces and roll them up if you like.

ISU dining center Seasons adds variety

By Karuna Ang, karuna.ang@iowastatedaily.com

Ever wonder how the recipes get created for the food courts and cafes? Many of them are the creations of our chefs, and some are submitted by students.

“I have a couple of students who are from the southern states like Georgia, all they want is sweet potatoes and fried chicken,” said Bethany Landon, Seasons marketplace manager. “Their mother had a special sweet potato recipe, they brought in the recipe and we had our chef play with it.”

Landon said the recipe will be on the menu this coming fall because it received really good reactions. Recipes submitted will be reviewed by nutritionists.

“Some of that stuff also has to deal with nutritional value,” Landon explains. “Some of that has a ton of salt, a ton of fat in it.”

There was a competition for students to submit their recipes; however, many of the managers that judge the competition didn’t have time for that this year.

“Students had to submit a standardized form of recipe by a certain date,” Landon explained of the competition’s process. “A panel of judges which ended up being our culinary team throughout ISU Dining as well as our nutritionist went through and chose a number of recipes.”

Portions of these dishes are created and then they had them sampled, critiqued and judged.

“It was a way to see what people liked,” she said.

Food science and human nutrition interns are creating recipes for ISU Dining as part of their course, Landon said.

Other students working at dining locations noticed what they are doing and Landon encourages them to submit recipes as well.

“Some recipes from FS HN 104 class will actually be implemented in the menu coming fall,” Landon said. “We have one that is garlic orange chicken.”

FS HN 104 is an introductory culinary class offered at Iowa State.

Sous chef Torin Munro at Seasons received high praises from Landon.

“My chef is extremely talented,” Landon said. “He worked with our executive chef Everett Phillips to combine a lot of flavors and figure out what we can do to make it more of a fresh concept on this side of campus.”

The spicy sweet potatoes and the roasted cauliflower are both recipes submitted by students.

Landon likes to try new foods and she always welcomes new recipes from students.

“If students have some recipes that they love from home and they want to see it, give them to the manager at food operations,” she said.

Landon has also taken a liking to ethnic food.

“The Yakitori Skewers Chicken during International Food Fair is amazing,” she said.

“I tried to implement them into our menu, but it is so labor intensive. Sadly, I can’t make 2,000 portions of it for one meal.”

Some of the challenges they usually face is trying to prepare the food in smaller batches and making them not so labor intensive.

To show a variety of flavors, the department is always working on new recipes.

“Chef Torin is working on some Thai recipes right now,” Landon said.

She hopes to bring more choices for students to experience without having to travel far for them.

A new addition to Seasons next fall is a fresh fruit smoothie bar.