On Value and Self-Worth, and a Porchetta Recipe

As you all know, I’ve been “working on myself” a lot, this year. What this means, tangibly, is that I’ve been trying to identify the sources of my self-deprecating/loathing tendencies. For example, I mentioned in a previous blog post on cooking for one, I have historically never cooked just for myself essentially because I don’t believe I’m worth the trouble or that I deserve my own love. Therapy has helped me to both be a little kinder to myself, and to hold myself accountable for some of my own unhappiness. But, I still have lots of work to do. My self-reflective question for the fall is this: who determines my value and worth, and why?

I work hard. I do lots of things for people I love. And I do this partially because I personally want to excel at what I do, and I desperately want to be a good and kind person. But, let’s be real. I also need lots and lots of external validation in order to feel fulfilled – without it, I slide down that slip-and-slide of self-doubt and confusion. I hate this about myself. I have incredible admiration for people who seemingly don’t rely on validation from others. My husband is really high achieving, super smart, and is good at tons of stuff. But unlike me, his strength appears to come from within, not from other people. How does that even work? How do I get that? Can I buy it? Please?

It's entirely possible that my soul is nourished only by external validation because my life as a child was consumed by piano, flute, singing, and dance competitions. Or maybe not.

It’s entirely possible that my soul is nourished only by external validation because my life as a child was consumed by piano, flute, singing, and dance competitions. Yikes.

In any case, I’m working on it. In fact, I have experienced one major improvement in the last 6 months: I am actually sometimes capable of being proud of myself. Sometimes. At this time last year, even if I had exceeded a fundraising goal for work, I became unnecessarily angry at myself for not exceeding the goal by even more. But now that I have the ability to feel proud, I’ve noticed that I still need other people to be proud of me, too. Annoying. I know. So I’m trying going to try a new thing where I allow myself to feel happy about achievements, but won’t share it with others until it feels real to me.  Wish me luck? (read: please tell me I’m doing a good job at not relying on others to validate my life.)

How does this relate to food and cooking? You know by now that I show my love for people by cooking for them. I need them to know, very concretely, that I care about them. I think this is quite nice. But, I have also found that I attribute my value as a friend, as a wife, as a daughter-in-law, as a human, to what concrete things I can offer, and whether those things are of high-quality. I’m afraid if I offer a bad meal that I’m actually very accurately depicting my poor value as a person. Dramatic? Yes. Unnecessary? Yes. Easy to change? No.

But change can come in itty bitty baby steps. About ten days ago, I made a pretty fucking inedible meal. I had a long day at work, had several other meetings/events to attend, and got home late. Feeling uninspired and tired, I refused to look for recipes and ended up lightly fried some chicken breasts, throwing in some white wine and broth, and braising it for about thirty minutes. I ended up putting some lemons in there, too. Mistake. The chicken ended up being incredibly bitter, like the rind of a lemon. And…I laughed. I laughed! I didn’t get angry, or lock myself in the bedroom to berate myself. Progress!

All this to say: I have a lot of work to do, and I’m excited that I can use cooking and eating to help me measure my improvement. Yea, yea, yea…maybe I should stop trying to quantify and measure everything, but that’s a goal for another season/year.

And now, here’s a recipe for a considerably more edible porchetta.

Porchetta, slow roasted for 5 hours

Porchetta Recipe
Recipe taken from I am a food blog
Serves 8-10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 5 hours


Salt Rub
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of toasted fresh rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons of toasted fennel seed, crushed
2 teaspoons of chili flakes
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon

Herb Rub
2 tablespoons of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary

12 inch slab of skin-on pork belly, skin lightly scored
Pork tenderloin, around 2-3 inches in diameter, 12 inches in length



Combine the ingredients for the salt rub in a small bowl. Lightly sprinkle the inside of the pork belly with half of the salt rub. Sprinkle the herb rub on top and place the tenderloin in the center of the belly. Tightly roll up the belly around the tenderloin and tie together with kitchen twine. Rub the skin generously with oil and the rest with the salt rub. Place your porchetta in a dish, cover and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

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Heat the oven to 275F. Place the porchetta on a rack in a deep roasting pan. Lots of fat will be rendered out of the porchetta, so make sure your roasting pan is deep enough. Roast on the center rack of the oven for 4 hours. Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal termperature is 160F. Blast the heat up to 450 and continue to roast for 35 minutes, keeping an eye on the skin. You want the crackling golden brown and crispy, not burnt.

Remove from the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes, slice and enjoy!

Porchetta, ready to be eaten

Salsa Verde Recipe

1 bunch of parsley
1 cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons of toasted fennel seeds, ground
2 teaspoons of toasted coriander, ground
2 teaspoons of chili flakes
salt (to taste)
2 cloves of garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice from 2 lemons


Puree all salsa verde ingredients until smooth. Put on top of sliced porchetta, and enjoy! The porchetta can also be sliced for sandwiches and topped with the sauce. Delish!

Coming Up…Our States, Our People, Our Food: Chinese Immigration to Mississippi and a Recipe for Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Happy Things, and a Vegetarian/Pescatarian and Somewhat Gluten-Free Menu of Meals

It’s been a while! These last few weeks have been so full and happy, but exhausting all the same. In fact, I write this after taking a sick day to nurse my irritatingly fragile constitution. One, my husband’s amazing parents were visiting for Italy for a couple of weeks. I really struck gold with them – they are brilliant, supportive, energetic, and loving people. Also, I’ve recently been voted onto the Steering Committee of a remarkable organization called KALCA (Korean American League for Civic Action), which works to encourage Asian Americans to become more civically and politically engaged. I’ve found myself an Italian language tutor to help me structure my learning so that I no longer have an excuse to lazily try to “learn” the language via osmosis. Finally, I’m en route to finding a gym. Though I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy on my emotional and mental health and well-being, I’ve still ignored the real importance of physical health (I probably walk 1-2 miles/day in NYC, but clearly that isn’t enough to strengthen me against sickness, back and neck pain, and other boring ailments). With all these new and exciting endeavors, I have been hard pressed to find the luxury of time I experienced over the summer. And this has definitely impacted my energy-level and desire to cook with my usual gusto. And I feel super guilty about that. Womp.

Anywho, while Nico’s parents were here, we ate incredibly well. Combining Nico’s family and mine, we all spent a four-day weekend in Vermont. There, we saw a huge surge in consumption of cheese, pasta, meat, alcohol, and fatty things, which makes me really happy (and definitely made me a bit rounder). However, too much of all of this goodness has resulted in a more fatigued body and mind, and I’m going to have to get used to having other activities beyond work and cooking/eating, so this week’s meals are going to be about balance. Please enjoy this uncharacteristically vegetarian/pescatarian and somewhat gluten-free menu of meals:


  • L: Vegetable soup
  • D: Fish in a bag (cod steamed in a pouch with potatoes, fennel, olives, cherry tomatoes, and lemons) + salad
    *make pickled eggs and egg salad


  • L: Pickled egg salad sandwiches with avocado and lettuce
  • D: Quinoa & chickpea patties with tzatziki sauce, cucumber salad, and roasted lemon potatoes
    *roast fennel/stem, potatoes, shallots, and beet and


  • L: Leftover quinoa & chickpea patties
  • D: Olive oil poached salmon salad with roasted veggies, potatoes, and mustard vinaigrette
    *make cherry and dark chocolate cashew granola bars


  • L: Leftover salmon salad
  • D: Eggplant and stringbean stir fry with rice and steamed egg custard


  • L: Leftover eggplant and stringbean stir fry
  • D: Bibimbahp (with farro)


  • L: Pickled egg salad sandwiches
  • D: Leftovers

Coming Up: On evaluating my value and worth, my indedible meal of the year, and (a considerably more edible) porchetta recipe

For those of you interested in our trip to Vermont, here are some photos!

The house we rented in Vermont for 4 nights

The cabin we rented in Vermont 

Failing at pool (both feet were considerably off the floor)

Failing at pool (both feet were considerably off the floor)



Looking more uncomfortable than badass on my dad's motorcycle

Looking more uncomfortable than badass on my dad’s motorcycle

The best kind of selfie

The best kind of selfie

Grilled vegetables for sammies

Grilled vegetables for sammies

Da sammie

Da sammie

Pond relaxation

Pond relaxation

Porchetta prep

Porchetta prep

Porchetta, slow roasted for 5 hours

Porchetta, slow roasted for 5 hours

Late night fire pit fun

Late night fire pit fun

We didn't forget about Mandu

We didn’t forget about Mandu

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My baby