On Physiological Introspection and a “Clean Slate” Six-Week Diet

Happy 2016, beloved readers! With support from my phenomenal therapist, friends, and family, 2015 was a year of intense emotional and mental introspection. It’s been a mess, but the awesome kind – the sort where you throw all the junk from your drawers onto the floor and see all the ridiculous and wonderful things you’ve been holding onto for years. To supplement this ongoing work, I thought it would be great to pair this work with a more physiological self-analysis. For years I’ve been rather unkind to myself, and I’m curious about how I can be more thoughtful about my body’s needs.


My husband recently read a book called Mangia che ti passa: Uno sguardo rivoluzionario sul cibo per vivere piu sani e piu a lungo by Filippo Ongaro, who is an Italian physician and expert in functional medicine. Basically, the book discusses nutrigenomics, a multidisciplinary science which studies how food affects our genes, and how individual genetic differences can impact the way we respond to nutrients (and other naturally occurring compounds) in the foods we eat. Essentially, what we eat gives our bodies messages, and these messages contribute to making us feel good or feel bad. Ongaro suggests that it’s important for people to understand how different foods affect our bodies, and recommends we do this by: (1) creating a clean slate for our bodies through a 6-week elimination diet; (2) slowly reintroducing principal food allergens; and (3)  following 10 simple rules. I’m not sure how interesting this is to folks, but I thought it might be helpful to share these three strategies.

Elimination Phase (6 week diet)

This elimination phase helps one to create a baseline in order to determine food allergies and intolerances.

  • What to eat
    • Fresh fruit (except citrus)
    • Vegetables
      • Especially good: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, artichokes, spinach, cabbage
      • To eliminate: tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants
    • Legumes
    • Spices in natural form (e.g. curry, ginger, wasabi, cinnamon, peperoncino, rosemary)
    • “Milk” – coconut, rice, almond
    • Whole grain rice
    • Olive oil
    • Fish (especially salmon, sardines, mackerel)
    • Meat: chicken, turkey, or lamb (avoid red meats)
    • Nuts and seeds, unsalted
    • Green tea, herbal teas, no caffeine
  • Principal allergens to eliminate:
    • gluten, milk (and derivatives), eggs, products with yeast (wine, vinegar, bread), corn, peanuts, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, oranges, lemons, grapefruit
  • Additional foods to avoid:
    • grains rich in gluten (oats, rye, semolina, malt)
    • processed foods, bread, crackers, toasties, potatoes, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, hydrogenated fat, marjoram, caffeine, beef, peanuts, booze, cold cuts, sausage, meat with skin, fruit juice, liver and organs, olives

Reintroduction Phase (after 6 weeks)

  • Foods to reintroduce slowly after 6 weeks
    • Eggs
    • Whole wheat bread and pasta
    • Oats
    • Red meat
    • Peanuts and peanut butter
    • Olives
    • Milk and milk derivatives
    • Coffee (2-3 / day)
    • Wine (3-4 times a week)
    • Etc.
  • For reintroduction, start with gluten. The day you reintroduce bread, eat a lot of it. Wait 48 hours, but without introducing anything else. Observe possible symptoms (headache, nausea, diarrhea, cramps, slouchiness). If symptoms occur, eliminate this food forever. On the contrary, if no symptoms occur, you can eat it regularly. After 72 hours, introduce another element.
  • Reintroduce things one at a time.

10 Rules

  1. Reduce glycemic load (sugars, jam, honey, soda, pasta, alcohol)
  2. Eat breakfast
  3. Distribute calories throughout the day (eat every 2-3 hours)
  4. Reduce stress
  5. Use breathing to reduce hunger and eat more slowly (take five breaths before eating to activate parasympathetic nervous system)
  6. Do not eat 2-3 hours before bed
  7. Aim at reducing abdominal circumference (belly fat produces tnf alpha and other inflammatory things that slow metabolism)
  8. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  9. Speed up your metabolism through exercise
  10. Conduct a liver detox (green tea, artichokes)

So, basically, for the next six weeks we will not be eating gluten, dairy products, red meat, and sugar.

It sounds terrible, right? The point of course is not to lose weight or to permanently eliminate delicious things from my diet. That would make me so very sad. The purpose is to better understand how my body works, and how it reacts to things that I love. I will diary my experiences, and will pay particular attention to how I respond to the reintroduction of principal allergens. If, for example, I find that bread makes me lethargic, I will avoid it during times of great stress. As you may know by now, I LOVE having parameters when planning my meals. The secondary goal for me is to learn how to make my food delicious in spite of the sad face limitations of this diet.

For now, I plan to share my weekly menus with you, but if that becomes too annoying, feel free to let me know!

Menu of Meals for Week 1 (January 3rd-9th):

Sunday, January 3rd

  • D: Mooshu chicken with brown rice & garlic bok choy and miyuk guk (Korean seaweed soup) with mussels
  • Make:
    • Chicken broth for week
    • Roasted broccoli
    • Roasted cauliflower
    • Big batch of brown rice
    • Make miyuk guk
    • Make juk

Monday, January 4th

  • B: Miyuk guk with brown rice
  • L: Juk (Korean rice porridge) with shredded boiled chicken and roasted vegetables
  • D: Rice noodle and vegetable stir fry with broiled salmon and sauteed spinach

Tuesday, January 5th

  • B: Spiced quinoa porridge w/ cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, dried fruits, and nuts
  • L: Leftover rice noodle stir fry with broiled salmon and sauteed spinach
  • D: Steamed Spanish mackerel  w/ soy, ginger, and scallion sauce & jasmine rice & roasted cauliflower and broccoli

Wednesday, January 6th

  • B: Leftover jasmine rice, steamed fish, roasted broccoli
  • L: Leftovers
  • D: Italian wedding soup with turkey meatballs, kale, and escarole and steamed brussel sprouts

Thursday, January 7th

  • B: Sliced apples with almond butter
  • L: Leftover Italian wedding soup
  • D: White bean, shallot, and cabbage saute w/ quinoa and steamed brussel sprouts

Friday, January 8th

  • B: Pumpkin quinoa porridge
  • L: Leftover white bean, shallot, and cabbage saute
  • D: Lentils & brussel sprouts with brown rice

Saturday January 9th

  • B: Sliced apples with almond butter
  • L: Leftover lentils & brussel sprouts with brown rice
  • D: Roasted butternut squash, chickpea, and coconut curry w/ brown rice

Sunday, January 10th

  • B: Fruit
  • L: Leftover roasted butternut squash, chickpea, and coconut curry w/ brown rice

Coming Up…Meal Planning 101: A week of meals for those moments when cooking seems like the worst thing ever, plus Week Two of the elimination diet

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

Menu Series: Forcing Myself Out of a Funk

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I was feeling unmotivated and uninspired, and that I was going to try to embrace a less coordinated approach to meal-planning and cooking.

I lied.

I’m not sure what happened, but after the weekend, I felt inspired again, and created a somewhat intense menu for the week. To be honest, I feel a bit ashamed that I couldn’t hold onto my public commitment to embracing a more nebulous mode-of-being. It would likely be healthy for me to learn how to not plan every day of my life with a high standard of precision. But maybe I’m not ready to embrace the possibility of a new Yejin.

In any case, I was lucky to spend time with lots of loved ones, over the weekend. A part of me wonders if love and good people give me life and inspiration (call me Needy McGee). Strangely enough, my soul’s reaction to being around my ridiculously talented, brilliant, and kind friends vacillates between (1) being driven by love and inspiration to do/be better (in a positive way), and (2) feeling totally unworthy of their friendship (definitely not a positive experience). I’m going to spend the next few weeks thinking about why that is.

In the meantime, here’s the week’s menu, and some pictures of stuff that I’ve cooked, so far:

Monday, August 3rd 

  • D: Broiled Maryland crabcakes, steamed corn, and a cabbage/carrot/edamame salad
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Tuesday, August 4th 

  • L: Pasta salad w/ mozzarella, cheddar, olives, cherry tomatoes, tuna, and basil
    Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetD: Whole snapper stuffed with lemon, herbs, and shallots, pan-fried and then roasted w/ bread and steamed asparagus
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Wednesday, August 5th

  • L: Pasta salad
  • D: Black bean tostada topped w/ lettuce, avocado, roasted corn salad, and sour cream, and a cabbage/carrot salad
  • Des: Double chocolate butter cookies

Thursday, August 6th 

  • L: Leftover black bean tostadas
  • D: Pesto pasta w/ green beans and potatoes, and an arugula salad

Friday, August 7th

  • L: :Leftover pesto pasta
  • D: Kimchi fried rice w/ tofu, and garlic sauteed bok choy

Saturday, August 8th 

  • L: Fried green tomatoes BLT w/ garlic aoili
  • D: Dine out

Sunday, August 9th 

  • B: Sour cream and orange coffee cake with dark chocolate chips
  • D: Homemade steamed buns w/ pickled cucumbers and braised pork belly

Coming Up: On White Chefs and Ethnic Restaurants: the Fetishization, Commodification, and Appropriation of the Other (plus a recipe for Chinese steamed buns)

Pairing TV Shows with Three-Course Meals: Part I

Because I am a gigantic dork-bucket, I sometimes find myself coming up with menu-planning etudes. For example, I’ll think about what types of dinner I could create with only one cast-iron skillet and 25 minutes to spare. Then, I’ll make a list of options, pick the yummiest choices, find some recipes, and happily identify the winning dish. I don’t end up cooking any of this, which seems absurd. But, really, I want to keep my mind “sharp” so that whenever I’m in a food or cooking pickle, I have some practiced and seasoned muscles to push me through. Perhaps this is a ridiculous exercise, since I likely will never find myself in some kind of meal-planning apocalypse, but it’s fun for me, and I feel like it provides me with the tools to continue making my weekly food schedule.

ANYWHO, based on the poll from a previous entry,  I’m starting a blog series where I’ll pair my favorite TV shows with three-course meals (dishes I can cook). If you know anything about me, you probably know that I love TV almost as much as I love cooking and eating. So, this is great.

Let the games begin!


Photo taken from Vanity Fair

Why I love the show
Though I was initially very critical of this show for its rather dichotomous dealings around race and gender, I could never deny that The Sopranos was expertly written, directed, and acted. Of all the shows out there that demonstrate the emotional and psychological complexities of (criminal) white men, this one is definitely my favorite.

Thoughts for a Three-Course Meal
Obviously, Italian/Neapolitan food is the way to go, here. I’ve excluded a dessert because there is very little about this excellent show that leaves me feeling sweet. I wanted dishes that could be construed as both hearty (masculine) and delicate (to demonstrate the fragility of masculinity). HA. Also, each dish is named after some of my favorite quotes from the show.

The Paulie: Can I just get some macaroni and gravy?
Frittatine (deep-fried pasta balls stuffed with minced pork, bechamel, and peas)

The Tony: I can’t find pussy anywhere OR The Ralphie: She was a whoooooore
Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

The Anthony: So what, no fucking ziti now?
Carne alla Pizzaiola (pizzamaker’s beef)


 Image taken from HBOWatch

Why I love the show
Duh, I love the show. Painfully obvious comparisons between vampires and marginalized communities, hot supernatural creatures, delightful sexual fantasy sequences, kind of progressive politics, and insanely stylish femme villains…what isn’t to love (besides the downward spiral the show took after the third season)? Plus, my somewhat embarrassing love for the Sookie Stackhouse novels makes it impossible for me to dislike the show. Quick aside, I made a book cover for the first Sookie Stackhouse novel since I was slightly ashamed by the cover illustration (and the content). On it, I scribbled “OLD MAN AND THE SEA” and felt so very smart. I sat on the subway, took the book out with great confidence, and started reading. The man sitting next to me smirked at me (I fucking hate smirks from men) and said, “That is clearly NOT Old Man and the Sea.” I realized that he was reading over my shoulder, and sadly, I was on an especially smutty part of the book. After that incident, I decided to read my books loud and proud.

Thoughts for a Three-Course Meal
I think it’s important to utilize very seductive and bloody food for this meal. Think: bloody/decadent chic. The name of each course is based on episode titles.

Dead Meat
Steak tartar with quail eggs, horseradish yogurt, and a bright lemon-dressed arugula salad

You Smell Like Dinner
Chateaubriand (cooked RARE) with a red wine sauce, baby potatoes roasted in duck fat, and garlic sauteed julienned vegetables

Plaisir D’Amour
Dark chocolate cake w/ Irish cream buttercream, spiked mascarpone whipped frosting, and whisky ganache

Nothing is sexier than constipation and gout, which are likely outcomes after eating this meal.


Why I love the show
For those of you who don’t know about this wonderful webseries, it follows the life of weed dealer in NYC/Brooklyn as he interacts with his customers. It is a surprisingly tender and loving show, and occasionally reaches some incredible emotional depth. Also, it’s hilarious and sometimes VERY Brooklyn specific.

Thoughts for a Three-Course Meal
I’m basing these dishes off of my initial reaction to some of my favorite episodes. Each dish is named after the episode that inspired it.

Ruth: The Guy sets up Ellen with Victor. The date goes from awkward to funny to great. I came up with an appetizer that is awkward to eat (especially on a date), but ends up being great once you get comfortable enough with the messiness to enjoy the taste.
Rachel: A cross-dressing author struggles with writer’s block, which puts a strain on his marriage. The Guy makes a delivery to him and is introduced to Rachel. The big reveal at the end is unexpectedly sweet, so I picked a dish that starts salty, but ends with a sweet aftertaste.
Matilda: The Guy struggles to entertain his teen-aged niece who is visiting from out of town. He doesn’t want to conduct business in front of her, but when their plans to see “Matilda” get complicated, one of his customers offers to help out. During a DIY “TED Talk” in Brooklyn, the niece has a great time. The episode walks a wonderful line between irony and sincerity, so I chose a dessert that I would both mock and love.

Korean fried chicken wings in a spicy/tangy sauce

Shanghai-style braised pork belly with jasmine rice and garlic sauteed bok choy

Assortment of cronuts

I hope you enjoyed! Write in the comments section if you would have made a different menu. Also, if you want a hand in selecting the next three TV shows to pair with three-course meals, vote below!

Lastly, I know I’m long overdue in posting a recipe, so I promise that the next entry will include one.

Announcing Monday’s Poll Winner, plus this Week’s Menu

We have a winner from Monday’s poll! The next entry will be the start of a series where I’ll pair my favorite TV Shows with three-course meals. Shows to be paired are: The Sopranos, True Blood, and High Maintenance. Check in this weekend for the post!

Now, onto this week’s menu.

Having already posted a very long entry earlier this week, I’m going to keep this one short. A few factors have gone into planning the meals for this week:

  1. Hubby and I ate an insane amount of food while we were in Maine, and, in particular, consumed a great deal of meat. So, we wanted to keep our meals light, flavorful, and satisfying.
  2. Our vacation helped to remind us that we love seafood, so I picked a dish with shrimp, and another with salmon.
  3. I wanted at least one dish that is easy to take to work as lunch.
  4. As much as I love cooking, I wanted things that were easy and quick to make, especially after that culinary marathon in Maine.

So, without further ado, here is the menu:

Dinner: Chipotle shrimp w/ rice, beans, grilled corn, and a salad

Dinner: Miso-glazed Alaskan salmon w/ rice and roasted lemon asparagus
Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetDinner: Farro bowl with roasted sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, broccoli, corn, and red onion, dressed in lime/maple syrup vinaigrette, and served with pickled soft-boiled eggs  (leftovers for lunch)
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Dinner: Egg noodle pappardelle w/ peas, lemon, butter, mint, and grana, and a salad

Lunches: Roast beef, caramelized onions, asiago, fig jam, and mustard sandwiches

This week is short since we’ll be going to NJ to visit my father over the weekend.

As always, if any of these meals look particularly interesting to you, let me know in a comment and I’ll be sure to provide the recipe in a later post!

On Breathing and Eating: Our Time in Maine and a List of Meals


My husband, dog and I were in Maine for a whole week, and though time moved slowly, steadily, and beautifully while we were there, the moment we were back in Brooklyn, it felt like it all passed in the blink of an eye. Sigh.

Our vacation camp in the Frye Mountain Game Preserve

Our vacation camp in the Frye Mountain Game Preserve

We stayed at an amazing solar-powered camp located in the Frye Mountain Game Preserve, 15 minutes from Belfast, the cutest town of all time. The view was nothing short of breathtaking (literally), the silence was ever-present (the kind that rings in your ears from shock), and, importantly, the kitchens were incredible. Yes, plural. The cabin had an indoor and outdoor kitchen. WHAT.

A wonderful kitchen in the cabin

A wonderful kitchen in the cabin

The outdoor kitchen had a commercial range, wood fired pizza oven, and a manual wood fire ‘grill’, and the cabin was equipped with three differently sized and shaped cast iron pans, seasoned to perfection, and three dutch ovens. Oh, and there was a delectable herb garden, with basil you could smell from inside the camp.

In the outdoor kitchen

In the outdoor kitchen

For the first time in a long while, I didn’t schedule our meals in advance of the trip. I approached this vacation as a sort of experiment, to see whether I could even stand the idea of not planning every element of the vacation. I did it! Sort of. Because we were close to a wonderful food co-op (apparently the oldest one in Maine) and had access to delicious and local meat, dairy, produce, and seafood, it was easy/easier to play it by ear. And by ‘play it by ear,’ of course I mean that I scheduled our menu in two day increments. Baby steps, people. Baby steps. Here’s what we ended up cooking and/or eating*:

*If you want a recipe for any of the dishes below, let me know in a comment.

Dinner: Marinated and grilled flank steak, sticky purple rice, and a salad (red leaf lettuce, carrots, radicchio, fennel, cocktail tomatoes, and radishes)

SUNDAY, 6/21

Breakfast: Fried eggs, apple smoked bacon, and toast (all local)

Lunch: Salad with sliced flank steak (all local)

Dinner: Boiled lobster, twice baked potatoes stuffed with yogurt, herbs, and cheese, and clarified butter with garlic and herbs (all local)

MONDAY, 6/22

Breakfast: Toast, butter, and blueberry jam (all local)
Lunch: Tarragon lobster rolls on butter-toasted rolls (all local)

Dinner: Wood fired pizzas (all local)

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Brunch: Lemon yogurt pancakes, scrambled eggs, and apple smoked bacon (all local)

Dinner: Pappardelle with a tomato cream sauce (cocktail tomatoes were roasted and then stewed with caramelized shallots, garlic, goats milk, basil, and parsley) and a salad (all local, except for pasta)

Breakfast: Toast, butter, and blueberry jam (all local)
Snack: Boiled lobster

Dinner: Bruschetta (w/ grilled bread, fire roasted cocktail tomatoes, and basil), salad, and lobster & pea risotto (made with roasted vegetable, chicken, and lobster carcass stock) (all local)

Dessert: Maple walnut oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Breakfast: Toast, butter, and blueberry jam (all local)
Lunch: Fried clams and haddock (our first purchased meal)
Dinner: Tagliolini w/ sweet peas, shallots, lemon, butter, mint, parsley, basil, and cheese, and a salad

Friday, 6/24
Breakfast: Maple almond scones

Lunch: Boiled lobster and steamers (second purchased meal) at Young’s Lobster Pound (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

Dinner, the last hurrah: Wood fire grilled rib eye steak; pan seared hake with lemon, butter, and herb sauce; scalloped potatoes with caramelized onions, cheese, chicken bone broth, and parsley; wood fire grilled eggplant and zucchini; and a salad (all local)

I’ve never really given much thought to cooking and eating local, but it was a particularly easy endeavor in Belfast. And, I have to say, I’m hooked. To be frank, however, I was less cognizant of my spending on groceries because we were on vacation – I’m not sure we can eat with the same kind of accidental commitment to local eating here in Brooklyn.

We didn’t spend ALL of our time cooking and eating. Just most of our time. Usually, we justify the mass amounts of food consumed by hiking and swimming. We did go on some beautiful walks and hikes, but definitely not enough to adequately combat the mild and happy plumpness that overtook my body.

Hiking with Mandu is one of the best things ever

Hiking with Mandu is one of the best things ever

My boys

Finally, I want to mention how excited I am about the week we’ve had with SCOTUS. Obviously, as a married person, I believe there is something wonderful about marriage, my marriage, and I’m pleased that this country has finally made a commitment to some form of equity. However, I will not yet say that I am proud to be an American. Until anti-LGBTQ violence, murderous transphobia, homelessness, deportation, state-sanctioned anti-POC violence, and the invisibility of POC women are also on the forefront of our national consciousness, enough to change institutions and culture, I won’t say that I am proud to be an American. We have work to do. I will say that I take great pride and joy in knowing and loving people and organizations committed to the transformation of this country. And I will say that to fight against the systemic cruelty and oppression practiced by this nation is to believe in it, and to love it.

Maine, thank you for bringing me some peace, sanity, and deliciousness.

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Weekly Menu Series: On Warming Weather, and Trying to Crave Salads

Ah, Spring. The great season of pollen.

Welcome, pollen!

Welcome, pollen!

In the last couple of days, I’ve found myself mourning the loss of crisper and cooler weather. Why? Because I love cold-weather food more than I love warm-weather food (with a notable exception of watermelon – I could eat that all day, every day, duh). I am fond of all things stewed, roasted, broiled, baked,  and braised, and find it a bit difficult to do these things in hot temperatures without feeling like my apartment has become a really fragrant and unbearable sauna. If I had to choose between meals that are comforting and meals that are refreshing, well, you probably know where I would land. But I suppose those things aren’t mutually exclusive, and perhaps this season can serve as an opportunity for me to learn how to make exceptional spring/summer foods.

To make sure that I am not the only one to blame for a potentially lackluster spring/summer menu for the week’s meals, I sent to my husband a survey, where he had to choose his top seven lunch/dinner selections, top three side dishes, and top dessert. I already harbor a ludicrous level of anxiety about not enjoying these meals as much as I’d like to (how many salads can I bear?), so it is important for me to redistribute the blame for the potentiality of mediocre food. Thanks, husband!

Of course, I’m not going to entirely stay away from the oven – I would definitely rather eat vegetables roasted than raw. But, I want to minimize the amount of time spent on the range and oven, so that my adorable apartment doesn’t become a sweat box. I thought it would be nice to incorporate a calzone into the mix because elements of each can be prepared at different times. Then, when the apartment has been purged of all cooking-related hotness, I can stick those babies in the oven.

For the record, I’m not anti-salad. Salads can incorporate so many things, like grains (farro is a favorite of mine), pasta, rice, vegetables, cheese, etc. I just don’t find myself craving salads the way I crave a hearty porkchop, braised beef, or miso ramen. I’m hoping that an exploration of new recipes will help change this attitude.

So, without further ado, here is the week’s menu:


  1. Chard, mushroom, and burrata calzones
  2. Quinoa salad w/ cherry tomatoes, edammame, artichokes, peppers, chickpeas, and parsley
  3. Spring greens bibimbap (Korean mixed rice dish) with fried egg
  4. Bibim guksu (Korean spicy mixed noodles) with cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, and kimchi, topped with slices of marinated flank steak
  5. Halibut with summer squash & roasted potatoes
  6. Roasted cherry tomato pasta
  7. Pickled egg salad
  8. Pasta salad with roasted cherry tomatoes, tuna, mozzarella, cheddar, olives, and basil


  • Arugula salad with roasted asparagus, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, and lemon vinaigrette
  • Roasted potato wedges
  • Sauteed zucchini
  • Garlic sauteed swiss chard


  • Blueberry maple scones

And my first Mandu+Me selfie of the season:

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Menu Series: I’m still alive, and I’m back!

I know, I know – I really fell off the face of the food-making/eating/writing planet over the past two months. Those who know me are well aware that I had been chin-deep in gala planning for my (now former) organization. Though the Benefit went superbly, these events suck my time, energy, soul, and spirit, so I’m terribly happy that it’s all over.

Looking smart as hell as I hustle at the Spring Benefit

Looking smart as hell as I hustle at the Spring Benefit

For the past few weeks, I’ve been unable to cook and eat the way I like to cook and eat, which is decidedly the worst thing ever. An unmitigated disaster. For example, my stomach shrunk so much in the last month that I couldn’t even finish my egg, bacon & cheese croissant sammich, the other day (see photo below). Who am I? WHO AM I?

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Anyway, I’m pleased to say that I’m entering a new era of my life and career, as I’ve accepted a role as Director of Development at a wonderful school in Brooklyn. The new gig starts on May 18th, so my plans for the coming week’s staycation are to cook, eat, relax, and repeat.

Because I’ve been eating small portions of junk for the last month or so, I really need this week’s meals to be both light and delicious. Without further ado, here’s the menu:

  • Steamed whole sea bass with ginger, garlic, and scallions + jasmine rice + spicy sauteed swiss chard
  • Nicoise salad (w/ arugula, tuna, German potato salad, olives, string beans, and hard boiled eggs) + rye bread
  • Kimchi fried rice w/ spam + arugula and roasted asparagus salad
  • Farro salad w/ roasted sweet potato, roasted carrots, radishes, pickled shallots, and crumbled feta cheese
  • Porcini mushroom risotto (w/ homemade roasted vegetable and chicken stock) + roasted brussel sprouts
  • Ddak bulgogi + jasmine rice + butter-braised brussel sprouts
  • Miso ramen w/ charred chicken, bok choy, mushrooms, and corn
  • Beef, olive and raisin empanadas (w/ homemade dough)
  • Plus: my very first attempt at making blueberry pie!

Coming up…On Trying Something New: Self-Doubt as Motivation, Plus a Recipe for Blueberry Pie

Weekly Menu Series: On Soups + Leftovers

As I’ve previously mentioned, my anxiety around unused food and leftovers was, at least initially, the primary motivation for creating an obsessive menu of meals. Looking at wilted/slimy greens and gray meat in my fridge would really bum me out, so I decided that I had to know exactly how much of everything I needed to buy, which necessitated a full schedule for the week (since I didn’t want to do grocery shopping every day). One thing that brings me great joy is strategically using leftovers for another meal – it transforms my reactive obsessions/compulsions into a proactive process.

This week’s meal menu was inspired by my need for soup. Though winter is starting to melt (thank gods), when I created this schedule, the cold was settling in my bones and all I wanted to do was bathe in simmering stock. The great thing about making broth is that several meals can stem from it and its leftovers. I usually make broth with a whole chicken + roasted vegetables (I find that roasting the vegetables makes for a deeper, richer, and warmer experience, which is what I want when we’ve had the winter from a frozen hell), and it leaves me with enough for three separate dishes plus loads of boiled chicken for a yummy chicken salad. For this schedule, the stock/chicken is being used for: white bean, escarole & sausage soup; pasta e fagioli (pasta fazul); radicchio risotto; and chicken salad.

Here is the week’s schedule.

Sunday, March 8

  • To Do: Make stock
  • To Do: Make chicken salad (from the stock)
  • Lunch: n/a (in NJ)
  • Dinner: White bean, escarole & sausage soup + bread + farro salad w/ roasted onion, toasted pine nuts, currants, and mustard greens 


Monday, March 9

  • To Do: Make double chocolate biscotti
  • Lunch: Chicken salad sammies
  • Dinner: Leftover soup + bread + swiss chard salad with lemon, grana & homemade breadcrumbs
  • Dessert: Double chocolate biscotti IMG_0251IMG_0253

Tuesday, March 10

  • Lunch: Leftover farro salad
  • Dinner: Chicken legs baked with white wine + french baguette + salad with prosciutto & pear IMG_0237

Wednesday, March 11

  • Lunch: Leftover chicken
  • Dinner: Pasta e fagioli + salad with prosciutto & pear

Thursday, March 12

  • Lunch: Leftover pasta fazul
  • Dinner: Crispy pork belly + white rice + sauteed bok choy in garlic sauce

Friday, March 13

  • Lunch: Leftover pork belly
  • Dinner: Pizza two ways (margherita + speck/onion)

Saturday, March 14

  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: Radicchio risotto

Coming up: On Authenticity, plus  recipe for my Pasta e Fagioli

Note: The “brevity” of this entry is either a disappointment, a relief, or nothing. The week has been a bit crazy because of family stuff and work, but I promise to make the next entry a doozy!