DIY Chinese 5-Spice Powder

chinese 5 spicesMy kitchen spices are some of my most prized possessions. I’m delighted when I open an Indian cookbook, notorious for long lists of unusual spices, and can prepare any meal within. We enjoy frequent relocations overseas. My primary concern is whether the movers will ship my spices, and if not, where can I hide them in our belongings? After that, I start to worry about getting our cat, Skeletor, to his new home. Priorities.

As a spice collector, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never had Chinese 5-spice until I made it this week. So obviously, I am now an expert. It’s delicious! I’m generally not a fan of store-bought spice blends; I feel like it stifles my creativity. This seemed like a mystery blend, and I wasn’t sure how it would taste. What is a Sichuan peppercorn anyway? Continue reading

Fujimame Stir-fry

fujimame stirfry bowlI’m enamored with the array of purple vegetables that I find in Okinawan farmer’s markets. One such delight is the fujimame, but it is also known by several other names including hyacinth bean, dolichos lab-lab, pharaoh bean, Egyptian bean, Indian bean, and Chinese flowering bean. It’s no surprise that this bean gets around, considering its beautiful appearance and crisp texture. Continue reading

Yuzu Sesame Salad with Flowers

yuzu sesame salad dressingOur garden is overflowing with lettuce, so I brought salad to a recent bbq. People suspiciously eyed the flowers on top, but this salad was a hit! Expressions of doubt were replaced with delight, thanks to the edible nasturtium flower.

Nasturtium imparts a spicy flavor to a dish, similar to watercress.  It best complements a sweet lettuce, and contrasts nicely with the bright citrus notes of yuzu. Let’s get real though, nasturtiums are here to look pretty; they make salad sexy. Continue reading

Turmeric Milk

turmeric milk mugsI’m not a milk drinker, so the idea of combining turmeric and milk was the furthest from my thoughts, but I was missing out.

It’s very tasty, and something that I now enjoy each night before bed. In ayurveda, this golden milk is helpful for calming vata and clearing mucus from kapha. Milk increases our ojas, or immunity, and we want all the ojas we can get! It keeps away coughs and sniffles during the winter months and between seasonal shifts. We enjoyed the cherry blossom festival last weekend on Okinawa, so spring has already sprung and it’s not even yet February (try telling that to the trapped motorists on snowy Atlanta roads last night or anyone who survived the 2014 “polar vortex”). Continue reading

Okonomiyaki – Japanese Pancake

okonomiyaki templeWe spent New Year’s Eve in Kyoto this year with my sister-in-law and her beau. It was beautiful and busy, but most restaurants were not open. It seems to me that Japanese people take their holidays very seriously.  I mean, where are people going to eat? Options limited for dining and drinking, we made the best of the situation and bought kimonos to stroll around the streets of Gion, greeting passersby with “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!” During our stay, we ended up eating at an okonomiyaki place twice… in one day. Yes, it was that delicious, but our hand was a little forced by the occasion.

okonomiyaki kyotoKyoto is in a region of Japan that is well known for its okonomiyaki. The name for this savory, grilled “pancake” translates as okonomi, for “whatever you want,” and yaki, for “grilled.” I particularly like how easy this is to throw together. I think it’s a great, last-minute meal for cleaning out the refrigerator, which is appealing to my frugal senses. I purchased a gigantic head of cabbage for fewer than two bucks and had to make plans for using it up. After Mexican and Vietnamese inspired coleslaws, I still had a lot leftover. Okonomiyaki is the perfect vehicle for hiding lots of veggies into a quick and delicious dinner. Continue reading

Ayurveda and Lemon Water

lemon water juicerOhayou gozaimasu! Good morning from Okinawa, Japan.  It’s January, the month of new beginnings and changes. It also began with a new moon, which is interesting even if you don’t think so.

Did you make any resolutions this year? If so, tell me about them. If not, I suggest that you add warm lemon water to your morning routine, known as dinacharya in ayurveda. It’s uncomplicated and effective, valuable attributes in resolutions if I do say so myself. Continue reading