his dish is a perfect potluck dish — it’s vegan (or not, depending on your additions), dairy-free, egg-free, and not too starchy. You can make it gluten-free by replacing the ramen noodles with rice noodles fried in a little oil. It’s also easy and quick to make, can be scaled up or down, and can be adapted to suit your tastes and your audience. With no mayonnaise, it will hold for a few hours without refrigeration (it also makes a great brown bag lunch dish). And did I mention it’s delicious? Flavorful, kid friendly — it even features healthy vegetables! [...]
With Labor Day weekend coming up, and outdoor parties and barbecues on the horizon, it’s good to have a classic guacamole recipe in your back pocket. Although I don’t have brothers or sisters, I never felt lonely when I was growing up. My mother and father had siblings to spare, and my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins gathered often — to celebrate birthdays, holidays, half birthdays, television events. One of the main reasons I wanted to move back to Los Angeles from New York was to give the Nuni (then just a twinkle in her parents’ eye) that family and community that I grew up with. The menu varies — my mother makes mean spare ribs, my aunt often grills sausages. My grandmother’s fallback is barbecued chicken, and the sweet spicy taste of her favored brand of barbecue sauce takes me immediately to childhood summer evenings, shivering in a wet bathing suit while the scent of charcoal smoke fills the air. But whatever the main dish was, we always began with guacamole. [...]
New Year’s Day is really a strange holiday. Everyone celebrates hard on New Year’s Eve, leaving the holiday itself as a day to lie around, nurse your hangover, and watch the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl on TV (which is an excellent hangover nursing activity, though perhaps I’m a little biased towards the Rose Parade since I grew up in Pasadena).
But New Year’s Day has some lovely traditions, most of which are associate with the idea of beginning the New Year as you mean to go on. My friend Rebecca spends all of New Year’s Day doing activities she hopes to do throughout the year — spending time with her family, doing the things she loves. This is a tradition I try to aim for, but I’ve already spent more time doing dishes this morning (a byproduct of the fancy New Year’s Eve dinner I cooked, which I’ll tell you about at some point) than I would like to for the rest of the year. Still, I’ve also spent time reading, talking to my husband, exercising, and calling old friends on the telephone. Later, I plan to go out to lunch with my husband and spend some quality time with my daughter and my parents, and of course, cooking.
There are also traditional foods that should be eaten on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, which are supposed to bring luck and prosperity in the New Year. Greens (to represent money) and pork (to represent progress) are often named, but it’s black eyed peas that are most often thought to bring luck, in a tradition that dates back to 500 AD. My New Year’s Day tradition, then, is to make a variant of this dish to bring luck in the New Year. It also has the added advantage of being healthy and delicious, so if I begin as I mean to go on, this is a great beginning. [...]
It’s the Monday before Christmas. You’ve baked your fruitcake, braved the mall, passed all the shipping deadlines and if you’re anything like me, are more than ready to settle down for a long winter’s nap. Then your neighbor drops off a “small gift”, or your Aunt Phyllis comes and tell you she’s bringing her boyfriend’s son to Christmas dinner, or your company IT guy marches into your office with a tub of popcorn. You need a gift, homemade is always nice, and you want it to be easy. No crazy specialty ingredients, no weeks of maturing and no multi-step elaborate processes. You need pecan brittle. [...]
I like to pack my own lunch. Yes, I’m giving up the social hour at work, but frankly the lunch offerings in my neighborhood tend to pale in comparison to what gets produced in my own kitchen. I wish I could say that it’s because I’m an amazing cook, but really it’s just that corporate lunch spots tend to be that uninspiring. Too unhealthy, too bland, too expensive, too time consuming. All I want for lunch on a work day is something to eat (at my desk, in the office kitchen or outside near the fountains) that gives me a jolt of flavor and wakes up my palate without making me want to sleep for the rest of the afternoon. And, surprise surprise, that usually comes from home.
The question then becomes what to bring. Once you’re freed from the time constraints of a one mile radius of your office, the world really becomes your oyster, with certain limitations. Not for me are the lean cuisines heated up in the communal microwave by my coworkers, the aroma of Fiesta Grilled Chicken or Oven Roasted Beef Burgundy permeating the floor. Leftovers can be nice and quick, but they’re not always available and I hate reheating for the above mentioned aromatic reasons. A sandwich only reaches its pinnacle of sandwichness when it’s freshly made, and doesn’t spend at least four hours curled up in your purse or desk drawer waiting to be eaten. What I really want is something that can be made in advance (because who has time to cook lunch every morning?), holds well (preferably at room temperature) for several hours and still tastes and looks appealing and fresh.
Enter this salad — roasted vegetables, beans for protein, and a bright salsa verde to lend color and flavor. It’s satisfying (all that fiber!) without being stultifying and will wake up your tastebuds without earning you dirty looks from your coworkers. You can make it on Sunday and eat it for the next three days and the flavor stays fresh. Just don’t get too intimate in a meeting — the garlic may scare people off (this may, however, be a bonus). [...]