Saturday, August 27, 2011

Summer Squash: Mama's Sauteed Squash

There are two foods that I associate with summer:  watermelon and Mom's sauteed squash.  That squash was on the table nearly every night throughout the summer.  I can still see those squash, draped over a fork and served up next to a steak fresh from the grill.  Aaaahhh....summer!

Mama's Sauteed Squash

4 squash
1/2 vidalia or other sweet onion
2T rice oil
1 T salt
1 t garlic powder
  1. Cut the squash into thin circles.
  2. Julienne the onion.
  3. Heat 2 T rice oil in a skillet.
  4. Add onion and toss to coat.
  5. Cook onion until it begins to soften. 
  6. Add squash and toss to coat.
  7. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder.
  8. Toss again.
  9. Cook squash on medium heat for 7 minutes or until it begins to brown.
  10. Stir and cook again until lightly browned.
  11. Serve alone or over rice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Her breath steady, a gentle wheeze from her nose ...
The quiet roar of the AC keeping time ...
Golden lights dance off the haze, decorating the night sky...

Her breathing slows.
I watch.
A dream.

What are other mothers are doing now ... tonight?

I sleep.
Each sweet breath, a lullaby.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Artichokes: The Heart

The easiest way to get to the heart of the artichoke is to cook the whole thing and eat your way in.  But, sometimes, this just isn't an option.  So, for those of you who just need the heart, this post is for you!

Artichokes:  The Heart

Using a knife, cut off the top 1/3 of the artichoke.  Discard those leaves.  Remove as many outer leaves from the center as you possible.  Using a paring knife, cut around the outer edge to reveal the edges of the "heart". 

Hold the stem and cut off the next section of leaves to reveal the "beard".  Using a spoon, scoop out the "beard" and discard.  Cut off the stem where it meets the heart and discard the stem.

The remaining part is the artichoke heart.  Saute, steam, or boil for your desired use.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Artichokes: How to Eat Them

Once your artichoke is steamed for boiled, remove from the pot and serve in a large bowl.  Each person can pull the leaves from the artichoke to serve themselves.  However, for those who have never eaten an artichoke, this can be intimidating.  So, here is how to eat your artichoke.

Artichokes: How to Eat Them

Gently pull the outer leaves from the artichoke.  Place the end of a leaf in your mouth and gently bite down.  Pull the leaf through your teeth scraping off the soft outer layers.

The leaves farthest from the artichoke "heart" will be the toughest.  These leaves won't have as much edible flesh.  However, the leaves will soften as you eat toward the center of the artichoke.  Be careful, though; the leaves closest to the center will be sharp and often inedible.

Once you have reached the sharp center leaves, remove those to reveal the artichokes "beard".
Using a spoon, gently scrape away the "beard" from its tender "heart".  Discard the beard.

Cut the heart from the stem.  This is the most prized part of the artichoke.  To prevent a fights over who gets to eat the heart, I often save this part to cook on pizza or toss with pasta.

The stem is mostly inedible.  However, it also has a small heart, and, depending on the size of the stem, is often worth removing.  To eat the stem, remove the fibrous outer layer to reveal the delicate center.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Artichokes: Steamed

Growing up, my family rarely used a steamer.  I am not sure why but that holey basket never saw the light of day.  Now, in this age of new, healthier lifestyles, we know that steaming food preserves its natural flavor and vitamins.  So, I find myself steaming more foods as I cook for my precious angel.

The artichoke is one that I find tastes better when steamed.  So every since my angel could eat solids, we were steaming artichokes for dinner. 

Steamed Artichoke

1 artichoke
  1. Prepare the artichoke for cooking.  For instructions, see How to Prepare an Artichoke.
  2. Fill the steaming pot with about 2 inches of water and place the steaming basket on top.
  3. Put the prepared artichokes in the steamer and close the lid.
  4. Bring to a boil and cook for about 45 minutes or until the leaves pull easily from the plant and the heart is soft.
  5. Remove from the fire and serve hot.

NOTE:  Although my angel is allergic to dairy, I still find it difficult to enjoy my steamed artichoke without a helping of clarified butter for dipping.  I guess you can say that this is one of my guilty pleasures!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Artichokes: How to Prepare

Artichokes are a member of the thistle family.  It is a fairly large plant which produces a thorny bud at its center.  This thorny bud is mostly edible when properly prepared.  At the center of the artichoke, a "choke" or "beard" grow atop the artichokes center, or "heart".  While the "heart is the most prized part of the artichoke, the "beard" is only edible in very small blooms and usually discarded before eating the "heart".   If the artichoke bud is left to grow, the inedible "beard" will bloom into a beautiful, though indigestible, purple flower.

The first challenge to preparing an artichoke is finding a good one to eat.  Artichokes usually begin appearing in grocery stores late spring and remain available throughout the summer, with prices increasing late summer.  I usually find the prettiest and largest artichokes early summer.  They have larger heads with tight leaves, a pretty green color and almost no blemishes.  As the season progresses, the quality of the artichokes decrease but you should still look for these same qualities to find your ideal artichoke and you never want to buy artichokes that have large blemishes and molding spots.

To prepare an artichoke, you must first decide if you will be eating the whole artichoke or just the heart. In this post, we will be preparing the whole choke for boiling or steaming.

Preparing a Whole Artichoke
  1. Wash the artichoke.
  2. If the stem is long, remove and cut to a size that will fit in your pot.  Set aside.
  3. Place the artichoke on a cutting board.  Holding it tightly at the bottom, use a serrated knife to remove the top 1/3 of the artichoke.  Discard these leaves.
  4. Using a pair of kitchen sheers, cut the tips off of each of the remaining leaves.  Be carefull here since these leaves are often quite pointy.
  5. Rub the cut tips with lemon or other citrus to help prevent browning.  If allergic to citrus, no worries; the browing is not harmful.
Your whole artichoke is now ready to be steamed or boiled.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Prize

I just love surprises and nothing is more fun than getting one in the mail. I recently competed in a blogging contest through the Korean Department of Tourism's website (  During the contest, I contributed posts about Korean food.  These posts were then judged by a panel and voted on by you.  In the end, I placed third among so many great writers that I feel as though I have won a Pulitzer! 
The Third Place competitors received a prize and so, I eagerly waited for my "trophy" to arrive.  Last week, the prize commmittee (aka the mail lady) arrived with a package from was here!  I proudly took the package as though I were receiving an Oscar, shouting the,"Thank you. Thank you," which is part of any great acceptance speech.  Then quickly shut the door.

I  placed the box on the counter then stared at it with curious excitement. Can I open it? Should I wait for my family? What is the protocol for such an honor? Momentarily glancing at reality, I tell myself that this is just like all of the other mail that I open every day and begin to delicately pull back the shipping paper.

"There it is!  How pretty!"  A lovely box with a gold bow shown through the wrapping.  "This is so exciting." I grab the camera and begin snapping pictures like the paparatzi.

"My readers will want to see this!" I tell myself, and I quickly snap a few more shots. Many layers of packaging and a few seconds later, I lay eyes upon a small object wrapped in pretty tissue. It is a stand  to cradle my trophy. I continue digging until .... I see it - a shiny, black plate covered in mother-of-pearl, with its inticate patterns glistening in the light. "How beautiful!" I pull the plate from its box and stand it upon its throne.  I stare in awe as the sunlight rains down upon this symbol of greatness -its cranes, flowers, and waterfalls shimmering like diamonds.  It is prettier than I imagined. I can't believe that I won something for my writing.  Wow!

As I return to reality, I know that my plate is not an Oscar and I am not silly enough to think that I compare to a Pulitzer author.  I know that my recipes do not qualify me for IronChef.  I only won third place and they only gave me a plate.  I know this truth.  But, for me this recognition is much more. In the midst of my daily routines, as I struggle with the challenges that are part of living life with severe food allergies, this plate is my reminder, my encouragement.  I was recognized for what I do.  Someone valued the time that I spend documenting this labor of love called motherhood.  And, each day,when I see this plate, it reminds me to keep going, to persevere. When days are tough and I am tired, it reminds me that I am more than just the maid or the cook.  This plate reminds me that I have a voice.  It reminds me that what I do stretches beyond these walls, now and in the future.  It reminds me that, to my angel, I am Mom.  And to her, Mom is everything!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Veggi-full August

The heart of summer is here and, with it, all of the fresh vegetables ready for harvest!  I have discovered that while we don't eat the most rare of the unusual veggies, my angel does like veggies that are less typical!  This month, amidst the back-to school posts, I will be sharing some of our families favorite vegetable recipes.  I hope that as we share our favorite vegetables, you will also share your favorite way to eat them.

I can't wait to take advantage of this month's bounty and post some long overdue vegetable recipes.  Let the harvest begin!