Thoughts and Ideas

A NEW season! Welcome Spring.

happy spring

Spring has sprung! So happy to say that after the incredibly LONG winter we had this year in Michigan. I’m tired of all the white stuff (snow). I want to see colors, hear birds chirping, think about all the new produce that is coming into season and making the plans for my bigger and better garden. This is a beautiful and uplifting time of the year. Turn your face to the sun and enjoy this rebirth of nature around us.

Never Stop Learning!

cheesecake brownies for web

As most of you know, Asian cuisine is my forte. Although I do cook many other things, Asian fare is certainly my specialty. That being said, I haven’t been satisfied by just that. I have spent the last year researching, reading and preparing things I never thought I would make. I think too often we find ourselves staying in the safe zone of cooking. Yes, it’s great to have your specialty dishes, but why settle there? For example, desserts are not really a big deal in the Asian culture – sure we have them, but it isn’t that prevalent. I decided it was time I learned how to make desserts – from cookies to shortcakes, pies and layered cakes – I did it! I can’t believe how much I learned – and if I do say so myself, I’ve gotten pretty good at it! My point is, if you want to be a good cook, chef, or whatever title you want to give yourself, the key is to NEVER stop learning and honing your skills! Here I am at 45 just really learning to make desserts. So I challenge you to pick one thing you have never made…but secretly wanted to, research it and MAKE it! I promise you that you will feel so accomplished and proud when you are done! Let me know how it goes!

Holiday season upon us

Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year where we come together as family and friends to celebrate the holidays. If you think about most any get together, there is always food involved. Food is a constant in our lives and it is something that unites us and something we can share with one another. One of my favorite things is to get as many people as involved as possible in the kitchen – now I know some of you may groan and say that you don’t like everyone hanging out in the kitchen, but I think it is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy cooking (and usually some laughs too!). Dividing up the tasks, giving each person “ownership” of their assigned job, and watching it all unfold like a symphony. Beautiful! As you head into this season, don’t stress out about the cooking – yes, it can be a lot of work, but think of the wonderful opportunities to spend time with your loved ones and to appreciate all the blessings you have in your life. Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

I love the Farmer’s Markets!

pic of big gourd

I have such an appreciation for the corner farm stand and local farmer’s markets. There is nothing like the fresh produce and products they offer! We buy from them regularly…..here is a picture from a little stand we visited on Sunday. Like I’ve said before….nature’s artwork!

1,000,000 ++ Thank you!

Hello,

Last weekend my Youtube channel exceeded 1 MILLION views. As I said on my Facebook page, that is a significant number for me. All I wanted to do is help people learn to cook and expand their reportoire of dishes. Who knew they’d watch my channel that much? Thank you to all my supporters, comments, requests and thoughts!

Chef Tom

 

Teaching:

aa comm rec cover with chef

It has been an amazing year! Last summer, teaching was just a wish of mine. Both of my parents were teachers, so I think it must be in my blood! Since that time, I have had some tremendous opportunities to teach for some of the greatest community education programs in the area (I even made the cover of one of the fall catalogs)! I have also taught for some public schools, done TV news demonstrations, trade shows, farmer’s markets and taught for private parties. WOW – I would have never guessed this would all happen this year. I feel blessed and honored to be able to teach my culinary experience and knowledge of Asian cuisine. Thank you for all the support and I look forward to another wonderful year of TEACHING!

Sushi

sushi pic for web

Sushi (すし, 寿司, 鮨, 鮓, 寿斗, 寿し, 壽司?) is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice sushi-meshi (鮨飯, “sushi rice”) combined with other ingredients (neta [寿司ネタ]), usually raw fish or other seafood. Neta and forms of sushi presentation vary widely, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is vinegared rice. The rice is also referred to as (shari [しゃり]) and “sumeshi” (酢飯, “vinegared rice”).

Raw meat (usually but not necessarily seafood) sliced and served by itself is sashimi. Many non-Japanese use the terms sashimi and sushi interchangeably, but the two dishes are actually distinct and separate. Sushi refers to any dish made with vinegared rice.

I have several videos on Youtube if you would like to see how to make it – it’s easier than you think!

 

How is your garden growing?

garden pic 3

We expanded our garden from two beds to 6 beds this year. Last year was a “test” year for us, as we have a lot of deer around. It did well, so we decided to make it bigger and better! It was a family experience,  as we had the kids start almost all of the garden early in the year from seed. We used our cardboard egg cartons and made a day of it. It was so much fun watching the seeds grow indoors for the weeks leading up to planting day. Planting day was also a group effort – the kids seem to take such pride in what “they” have grown. The garden has really taken off in the last few weeks, and we are on our second harvest of herbs and veggies. Tomatoes aren’t quite there yet, but there are a LOT on the plants. I see canning in our future! Hope your garden is as happy and that you are enjoying yours as much as we are enjoying ours! Happy Harvesting!

Ingredient Highlight: Chinese Cabbage

pic of bok choy

Did you know that there are over 30 kinds of Chinese Cabbage? Obviously it is a very popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. Just thought I’d share some information about this that you might not be familiar with. It is terrific in soups, salads, and stir frys (and more!) Give it a try!

Chinese cabbage - As many as 33 varieties of Chinese cabbage have been identified in Asia, and the most common varieties in the West are celery cabbage or pe-tsai, pak-choi or “bok choy”, and “choy sum”.

  • Celery cabbage or “pe-tsai” is native to China , where it hasCelery Cabbage been consumed for thousands of years. Also known as Chinese celery cabbage or Napa Cabbage, it is eaten on a daily basis in northern China . Celery cabbage resembles a Romaine lettuce. The leaves are crisp and delicate with a faint cabbage taste. Use the crinkly inner leaves for salads and the outer leaves for stir-fry. Also called Chinese cabbage.
  • Pak-choi or bok choy also known as “Chinese white cabbage”, Chinese chard, or Chinese mustard, it is a leafy vegetable similar to Swiss chard and celery. The leaves are dark green and its whitish ribs are crisp and thus frequently is used to give stir-fry dishes a crunchy texture. There are many varieties of pak-choi, some of which are short-ribbed while others have long ribs. A popular variety is baby pak choy or ” siu pak choi “, a Baby Pak Choy smaller version of pak choi. Pak-choi is available year-round in most supermarkets. Select bunches with firm, white stalks topped with crisp, green leaves and refrigerate in an airtight container for no more than three to four days.
    Another variety is called tsai shim,” choy sum ” , ” bok choy Chinese Flowering Cabbage sum ” or ” Chinese flowering cabbage “. The light green leaves, pale green stems and clusters of tiny yellow flowers on the tips of the inner shoots are edible.