Mighty as a Dragon



In terms of sheer physical size, Boston is not really that big of a city. Its well-known neighborhoods, in actuality, span a few blocks in any given direction. I’m not sure what my friend Julia and I were expecting on the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Boston’s Chinatown. A big, gaudy Western-styled parade? Probably. It’s not what we got, though.

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Midnight Amaretto Cupcakes

Midnight Amaretto Cupcakes

This weather, you guys.

Last weekend it snowed six inches. This week it has been in the high 40’s. Sometimes balmy. Sometimes that balmy day ends in “a wintery mix” of snow and sleet. Or, the old New England standby: rain.

I have three overcoats in operation, each of a varying thickness, warmth, and permeability (this last is now more important than ever since my umbrella gave up the ghost during Boston’s last rain-and-furious-wind storm, may it rest in peace). Choosing which coat to wear before I walk out the door is tantamount to planning a military operation. This is weather in New England.

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Chocolate-dipped Marzipan

This past week, I spent less than 24 hours in New York for work, which translates into getting up at 4am for a 7am flight and flying home at 5pm to collapse in my bed at 7pm and remain dead to the world until the next morning. Can I tell you how exhausting that was?

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Almond Joy

Almond Milk

In spite of my love for baking and an incurable sweet tooth, I generally tend to stick to a pretty strict, no-sugar, low-carb diet (…that went totally awry during the holidays, but let’s forget about that).

It’s actually pretty easy to eat nourishing, healthy meals, but when I find myself in the mood to snack, the choices can be pretty limiting. (Who wants to munch on a pork rind?) There is, however, a perfect snack food that fits my low-carb diet and satisfies my need to crunch on something: almonds.
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Chocolate Cocoa Nib Pecan Bread

Chocolate Cocoa Nib Pecan Bread

I have a few confessions to make.

  1. I recently stopped washing my hair with shampoo, and now I just use conditioner. My hair looks a frillion times better as a result.
  2. I am pretty neat in all areas of my life except my workspace. My workspace is a hopelessly cluttered mess, full of objects that do not have any meaningful relevance to each other save for the fact that I had, at one time, placed them there. For example, my workspace (which is to say, my bedroom) currently has, on the bed: A bunch of empty boxes I want to recycle for gifts, some full boxes of things I’ve received in the mail from Birchbox (Have you gotten one of these subscriptions? Delightful!), piles of unopened letters, Michael Rulhman’s Ratio, my Nikon D80 with USB cord still attached, a book on learning Korean, a menu for an Ethiopian restaurant, a half-finished baby blanket, some expired Loft coupons, the Verizon information packet to my iPhone, Amnesty International address labels, a cutting board, cupcake wrappers, black onyx cocoa powder, some Valrhona chocolates, and so many other things.
  3. Sometimes all I will eat for dinner is a spinach and mushroom omelet. EVERY DAY. FOR A WEEK. SOMETIMES TWO. This often happens because I am so doggone exhausted from work and don’t want to spend a lot of energy in putting something fancier together. Also, I really love eggs. A lot. They are nutritious and filling. I can’t seem to get sick of them. Omelets are the perfect food for us low-carb eaters. Sometimes I have an omelet for breakfast AND dinner. So there.

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Banana Nut Bread

Banana Nut Bread

There comes a point in your baking experiences where you loosen your tight clutch on a recipe and learn to relax. Maybe even take a slightly-out-of-focus photo (see above).

You begin to experiment a bit. Substitute ingredients. Sometimes it all turns out disastrously wrong. Sometimes you create a pleasant new recipe. Sometimes you decide, on a whim, to bake something and are just too lazy to go to the grocery store to buy all the ingredients a recipe calls for.

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Rich’n’Charlie’s Salad

Rich'n'Charlie's Salad

So, the holidays are over.

Are your pants a little…tight?

Mine are. It sucks.

Why can’t eating bread and cookies and rice cake soup be slimming? Alas. I’m going into damage-control mode post-holidays, which means no carbs, no sugar, lots of protein and lots of veggies. Fortunately, I have a salad recipe that is awesomely delicious and perfectly slimming. Sometimes good things do happen.

In my family, there is a particular dish that traditionally makes its appearance at holiday dinners. In fact, it’s such a huge favorite that it often makes its way into many ordinary meals throughout the year as well.

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Korean Rice Cake Soup

Korean Rice Cake Soup

New Year’s is sort of, kind of one of my favorite holidays. Though I suspect this is not a unique line of thinking, everything just feels like a new start. Tabula rasa. New Year’s resolutions and all that.

(I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore–I’ve been down that road too many times before.)

When I was little, holidays always meant presents, presents, presents, materialistic little creature that I was (and still, just a little bit, am). These days, holidays are all about food, food, food, and New Year’s just so happens to serve up my favorite holiday meal.

All of my best food memories seem to involve my mother, who is still the best cook I know. Growing up with a mixed Korean-American heritage, I got to sample flavors and spices that most of my peers did not, so the most memorable dish of my mother’s that stands out to me is, naturally, a Korean one: ddeokguk, or, simply translated, “rice cake soup.”

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