Navajo Tacos & Dreams

In the fall of 2019, I went to visit one of my dearest friends in the Midwest. It was an eye-opening trip, as I got to learn more about the Native American population. I instantly became interested in their culture and values. In 2020, I enrolled in a doctorate course on cultural psychology, where I wrote my final paper on the Native American culture. As soon as I learned about the final assignment for the course, I instantly thought of the Indigenous People. I was excited for this assignment and couldn’t wait to start my research. I learned even more about these marvelous people. I have much respect for them. My paper covered the reasoning behind my interest to research about Native Americans, their history, family structure, immigration, acculturation, assimilation, incorporating cultural dynamics for therapists, and suggestions for family therapists.

While in my girlfriend’s hometown, I got to try Navajo tacos (featured image). It was very delicious AND filling. It was very similar to eating a taco salad, except the ingredients were on a fried bread. I found a recipe link from Allrecipes.com: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/247201/navajo-tacos/. I plan to replicate this dish and share it with my loved ones. I would also love to try more Native American foods when it is safe to travel again. While Hawai’i has a melting pot full of diverse people and food, we do not have many Native Americans who reside here, nor have any American Indian restaurants.

A few years ago, I’ve been intrigued by dreamcatchers, which originates from Native American culture. My dad introduced them to me many years ago as he had a collection of them in his bedroom. I began a small collection of my own around my house. I even have a few pairs of earrings! They’re such beautiful talismans. It is said that the dreamcatchers protect people from nightmares and bad dreams: https://www.onetribeapparel.com/blogs/pai/meaning-of-dreamcatchers. Let us all have happier dreams!

Happy March and almost spring! We’re one-forth into 2021. It’s mind-blowing!

FS x

Lunar New Year Celebrations & Good Luck Wishes Continue…

Happy Sunday! As previously stated last week, today’s ethnic food feature is a popular dish eaten to celebrate the Lunar New Year (LNY). LNY or Chinese New Year (CNY) is celebration across 15 days. Yea!

This week, I’m taking a trip down memory lane to Singapore. I’ve been to the country twice. This year marks 10 years since my first trip to Singapore. Time truly flies. Feels like I was there yesterday. Singapore is a beautiful country- and clean. Smaller than O’ahu, believe it or not, but is more populated by an additional three million people. I can’t fathom the thought of Singapore having more people than O’ahu. O’ahu is pretty crowded with about one million of us residing here. The two times I traveled to Singapore, I hardly saw any people while I was out in public. Although, I traveled to the country before and during the Lunar New Year, respectively. So, maybe a lot of citizens took a holiday and traveled out-of-country.

I learned that during this huge holiday celebration, this is the one and only time families get together and celebrate. It’s a BIG deal! It’s the once-a-year party/reunion everyone looks forward to. I’ve been to one celebration in 2011 with a friend’s family. It was wonderful to be in another country, experiencing a holiday that is so important to them. Their Chinatown was beautifully decorated and multiple festivities were occurring. A much different feel from how LNY is celebrated in Hawai’i, even though we have a huge Asian population in our state.

One of the popular dishes that is eaten during the LNY celebration is yusheng (see featured image). It’s a must-have. All the restaurants offer this on their menu. Yusheng is a mixed salad that includes ingredients symbolizing good luck, that are neatly organized on the plate. Everyone participates and mixes the salad. It’s been said that the higher you toss the salad, the greater the good luck. I was fortunate to experience eating this delicious salad twice, in 2011 and 2015. It was truly memorable.

I found a website that lists all the ingredients needed to make this salad- and its meanings of why it represents good luck. Very fascinating. I love what individual foods represent for different cultures. In many ways, this is what brings people together. Moreover, this is how we learn about and from one another. Through culture, through food, through history, and through story-telling. It’s so wonderful.

Yusheng ingredients:

  1. Raw fish
    • Abundance and prosperity.
  2. Pomelo, which is a very big grapefruit
    • Good luck. Optional to add.
  3. Pepper and cinnamon powder
    • A wish for prosperity. Optional to add.
  4. Oil
    • Drizzled onto salad in a circular motion. This is to symbolize that money is coming in from all directions.
  5. Carrots
    • Good luck.
  6. Green radish
    • Eternal youth. Optional, but recommended to add if serving salad to elders.
  7. White radish
    • Brings good business opportunities.
  8. Crushed peanuts
    • Hopes that your household will be filled with valuable possessions.
  9. Sesame seeds
    • Hopes for your business to flourish in the coming year.
  10. Golden crackers
    • Great wealth.
  11. Plum Sauce
    • Poured all over the dish instead of just one spot for the desired stronger ties with loved ones.

Happy celebrating! Have a wonderful Year of the Ox!

FS x

References:

Giant Singapore (2021). Yusheng ingredients you need to use for luck & prosperity. Retrieved from: https://giant.sg/yusheng-ingredients-you-need-to-use-for-luck-prosperity/

Shaloha with Love

It’s a long weekend packed with three big, diverse holidays- Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day! How cool is that?! I don’t think I’ve ever experienced three back-to-back holidays in one weekend. I find it so exciting!

Today is Valentine’s Day! One of my fave days to celebrate. I love the colors, especially the reds, pinks, purples, and whites. I love the balloons, hearts, flowers, candies, and cards. Everything about V-day brings a smile to my face and warms my heart. Affection and appreciation shouldn’t be celebrated just today, but everyday! Furthermore, Valentine’s Day isn’t only a day for couples to celebrate their love. It’s for everybody! Singles, family, friends… To my gal pals, it’s Galentine’s Day! Let us all celebrate in a special way. Love, appreciate, and self-care!

Did you know that V-day originates from the Roman priest, St. Valentine, back in ancient Roman times? There’s a long history of how V-day became to be the day we know today. A lot of has changed over the many centuries. I found this article explaining the history: https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2. There’s also some other links that lead to other articles about V-day in that link, such as interesting facts about St. Valentine’s and Cupid.

The other week, I finally tried the food at Shaloha, an Israeli joint in Kaimukī, across my alma mater. I had the privilege of returning to campus and spending the day there while I took care of some car issues at a repair shop nearby. It brought back a lot of memories to be back on campus again. I felt like a college student again. During lunchtime, I had planned to get a sandwich at Subway, which I hadn’t had in a long time. It was also the only place I knew that was nearby the my university. But then I saw Shaloha, which was in the same plaza as Subway, and was determined to try some new food. There were so many good choices off the menu at Shaloha. I decided to try the shawarma pita sandwich (see featured image). I instantly thought of the post-credits scene in “The Avengers.” That was the what they ate after fighting a crazy battle. Haha! It looked so good, I wanted to try it. Boy, was that sandwich packed with so much filling and taste. I was so full by the time I finished it. It was delicious, too. Their pita bread was made fresh, from scratch. So hearty! I could feel the love that was put in the entire sandwich. I need to go back again. I want to try the plates next. I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. It’s in my top five faves.

Shaloha made it into the Urban Dictionary. Too funny! https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shaloha. It’s basically a joint Jewish and Hawaiian word put together to mean “hello,” “goodbye,” and “peace.” Genius!

Shaloha is located at:
3133 Waiʻalae Ave.
Honolulu,, HI 96816
https://www.shaloha4u.com/
808-744-4222

Next week, we’ll feature a dish celebrating the Lunar New Year. Can’t forget about welcoming the Year of the Ox. LNY is celebrated over 15 days. Whoo!

Until then, be safe and have a glorious holiday weekend.

Peace,

FS x

Fish Tacos in Cabo San Lucas

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I’m looking forward to seeing Inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, recite another original poem at the pregame show. She’s gonna be amazing!

It’s terrific that 7500 vaccinated healthcare workers were invited to an all-paid expense to the Super Bowl. What a treat! I honor them every day! There will never be a day where they’ll go unappreciated. They’re our every day heroes, forever and always. THANK YOU!

In 2014, I went on a South American cruise. Our last stop on the cruise before heading back to the U.S. was Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I was so excited to try some authentic Mexican food. We have a bunch of Mexican restaurants in Hawai’i, but there are very, very few places that have good Mexican food here.

In Cabo, I ordered some good ol’ fish tacos. My fave and go-to Mexican dish… And, some Mexican beer. Yum! What a wonderful pair. It was really refreshing. I’m so glad that we had some time to explore the town and grab some authentic Mexican grinds. That’s what I look forward to most- trying cuisines in the country of origin.

Cabo was lovely. I recall it was a beautiful sunny day, and the temperature was just right. I hope to take a trip in the near future and tour the town more in-depth. And, eat more Mexican food. Perhaps order a margarita. My mouth is watering already.

Next week is the Lunar New Year; the Year of the Ox begins. It’s also Valentine’s Day. Looking forward to celebrating both holidays next week.

Take good care,

FS x

Hallo, Deutsches Eis!

Happy Last Day of January! We made it through the first month of the year. I do hope 2021 is off to a great start for all of you despite still being in a pandemic. I keep reminding myself that better days are ahead.

A few days ago, I received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I was anxious about the side effects, as I kept hearing that the adverse reactions were greater the second time around. Yet, I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad since I had a great deal of symptoms after my first dosage. Boy, was I wrong! Let’s just say I experienced majority of the side effects listed from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). I developed a sore/tired arm, chills, flushed face/body, sensitive skin, body aches, nausea, headache, fatigue, and excruciating joint and body pain, especially throughout my mid-to-lower back. Oh, it was horrible! Thankfully, those symptoms lasted a day. I was significantly better at the end of day two. I’ve laid low this weekend; taking it easy and resting. Today, I’m feeling almost 100% better. Still have some fatigue and now the injected area of my arm is starting to itch, as it did last time towards “my recovery.”

Having said this, I’m grateful to have received the vaccine. It gives me peace-of-mind knowing that I’ll be protected. However, just because I’m immunized, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop following the rules and regulations. No matter what, I’m still cautious and vigilant and will continue wearing my mask (I’ve been wearing two masks recently), physically distancing, and avoiding large crowds. We’re not out-of-the-woods yet.

This inoculation experience made me appreciate listening to my body and to my gut. It took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to have so many adverse reactions to the medication. I’ve realized how sensitive my body is to chemicals. Yet, I reflect on how these symptoms could’ve been worse. Thanks to God that I was able to get through the side effects.

This week, I’m sharing about German ice cream (see featured image). In 2010, I went on my first riverboat cruise along the Rhine River, which is the longest river in Germany. We visited three towns in Germany on our tour: Heidelberg, Cologne, Koblenz, and Mainz. All the towns looked very similar, but were so beautiful and peaceful. I loved the small-town village feel and look. I felt like I was in a movie during the Medieval times.

I remember walking by an ice cream shop in Mainz and wanted to satisfy my sweet tooth. The dessert was really good, and the presentation of the dish was superb. I found a website that has a bunch of German homemade ice cream recipes: https://germanfoods.org/recipes/recipe-collections-homemade-ice-cream/. I’ve got my eye on several flavors I want to try making: lavender, Neapolitan, nutella, peppermint, and vanilla. I’ve seen pictures of spaghetti ice cream that is very popular in Germany. It literally looks like spaghetti. Of course, not made with spaghetti. That would be quite strange and a very interesting flavor. The spaghetti noodles are made with vanilla ice cream and the tomato sauce with strawberries and raspberries. Meatballs are made with chocolate ice cream. Sounds so yummy just describing it.

I was disappointed that I didn’t eat too many German dishes while I was there. For some reason, we kept returning to the ship to dine. I think our tours were cut short. We did go to a pub to have German beer and German coffee (see below). That just means I need to return back one day when it’s safe to travel again.

German coffee at a pub called Drosselgasse in Mainz, Germany.
Krombacher, German beer, at a pub called Drosselgasse in Mainz, Germany.

Happy new week and Happy February! Be safe and take care of one another.

FS x

Uniting Good ol’ Biscuits and Sausage Together

What a week it’s been in the United States. The changeover of power and new leadership to steer our nation towards unity, tackling climate change, and ceasing this pandemic (just to name a few). It was a sight to watch history being made over and over on Inauguration Day. Lots of tears of joy!

Can I swiftly mention the youngest inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman? She was amazing! She quickly became an overnight sensation. Such a mature, poised, intelligent, humble, articulate, and stylish young woman. She recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” so beautifully and with precision. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz4YuEvJ3y4. I can’t wait to hear more from her. She’s going to move mountains. Madam President Gorman has an exquisite ring to it! 2036, here we come!

This week’s featured ethnic food is American. How fitting to the events that occurred in America several days ago. The highlighted dish is biscuits and sausage gravy (see image). According to an article from CNN, biscuits and sausage make up the top 50 greatest American food dishes: https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/american-food-dishes/index.html.

In the fall of 2019, I traveled to visit my dear friend who lives in the Midwest. She took me to a beloved, warm, and hearty mom-and-pop restaurant in her hometown called “The Prairie Dog Cafe.” The food was exceptionally scrumptious and the people who worked there were so delightful. I heard they recently closed last year. I was so sad to hear. However, I was greatly blessed to have dined there.

My dad first introduced me to this savory dish some years ago. He disclosed that he used to eat this in the military. I appreciated that he shared this dish with me. A dish he ate while serving his country. How incredible is that? I’m sure it brought back a lot of memories. I instantly enjoyed it and when I saw biscuits and sausage on the menu at The Prairie Dog Cafe, I had to order it. It was delicious and absolutely filling. The plate was filled with biscuits, sausage, and lots of gravy. It was also served with eggs and hash browns- another CNN top 50 American dish.

I’m inspired to create my own version of “biscuits and sausage” very soon. I’ve got some ideas in mind to make the dish accordingly and adhere to my dietary restrictions. Be on the lookout for a post on my social media platforms in the near future! Also, keep watch for new things happening with Foodnista Soul later this year.

Now, onto the notion of harmony and unification. I believe that with an open heart and mind, we can come together as one. We don’t need to have similar beliefs and values to attain this. God made us all different for a reason. Having said this, we should embody respect and impartiality towards dissimilar viewpoints and opinions; not be judgmental and fault-finding. It doesn’t have to be complicated. We can still connect and create peace despite our differences.

Happy last week of January. Where did this month go?! Golly! Get ready for 2021 to zoom by!

Together,

FS x

Meditating on Escargot

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend! We’re midway through the first month of the year, and what a month it’s been so far! I hope you’re taking care of yourselves. Brighter days are coming. There is a glistening light at the end of what seems like a very long and dark tunnel.

Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to apprehend the practice of meditation. I have to admit, meditating is plain hard. It takes a lot of focus and discipline to really master this exercise and reap the benefits from it. I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near understanding this. I’m still in the very beginning stages. Maybe even in the pre-beginning period. One day soon, I’ll get there…

I found this article on the web and I hope it’ll help with becoming proficient in meditation and mindfulness. https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/

I’ve enjoyed the following apps that have meditation features:

  • Calm
  • Insight Timer (there’s a lot of free features on this app)

Onto this week’s cuisine: French. I loved dining at these three restaurants that have now all closed: Café Miro, Le Bistro, and Le Guignol. So sad that these places closed, but happy to know there’s still some French places remaining on O’ahu that I’ll one day try.

My favorite dish I always order at a French place is escargot (featured imaged)- cooked land snails. Sounds gross (I’m not a fan of snails in general), but it’s so delicious, especially when cooked in garlic butter and pesto. Yum! Our family friend’s relative once gave us a bag of escargots. Not sure where he had gotten them from. Nonetheless, we were so thankful and excited! My dad cooked them with some garlic and butter, and oooh, lala, it was onolicious! Tasted like fine dining restaurant quality! It was a special treat for us. Once in a lifetime.

Wishing you a great week ahead. Be safe and stay healthy.

FS x

Bruschetta Memories

Happy Sunday! I have to admit, it was a very long first full week of 2021, despite being so busy. Felt like the weekend was so far from reach. Now it’s the weekend and surprisingly, it actually felt long. We need “longer” weekends. They always tend to zoom by. Before we know it, it’s Monday morning again. We need our days off to fully recharge and refresh our mind, body, and spirit for the new week ahead.

On Friday, my coworkers and I serendipitously received the first dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine. We weren’t planning to get inoculated until later this week. I’m glad we had an opportunity to get it a week earlier, especially on a Friday, so that we’d have the weekend to recuperate. It’s interesting how the medication effects everyone differently. I instantly felt my injected arm feel heavy and sore within five minutes after being immunized. The pain soon moved to the side of my neck. By bedtime, the injected area was throbbing. On Saturday, I still felt pain in my arm and neck, as well as a pounding headache, and flushed face. It’s unknown if I had a fever. When I was finally able to take my temperature, it was normal, though, I still felt flushed. Today, my arm is slightly sore. The headache pain is dull. Briefly felt flushed, but again, had a normal temperature. I’m now experiencing nausea, but it’s tolerable. Though, I’m considering taking a rest after submitting this post. I’m monitoring the symptoms, recording them as they come, and will report them to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

I’ve taken so many digital photos over the last 18 years. I received my first digi camera in 2003. As I was browsing through my photos, to choose an Italian dish to blog about, I was taken down memory lane. I love to reminisce about the past and the adventures I’ve encountered and experienced. When I view the pictures, I’m reliving that particular moment. It’s a pleasant feeling.

In 2013, a friend and I were invited to a card-making party and the host had made bruschettas (featured image). I loved how she made the tomatoes in the shape of roses. So dainty and cute. Bruschetta is an Italian appetizer dish that involves bread. There are many variations to creating this lovely dish. There’s no right or wrong way of making this appetizer. In the featured image, this bruschetta is made with mozzarella cheese, tomato, and basil. Simple and delicious! …And that card-making party was so much fun! That evening, we made a bunch of cute greeting cards for various occasions: birthday, thank you, and every day cards.

As you might’ve guessed, this week’s ethnic post is about Italian cuisine. Usually, pasta is my go-to dish whenever I dine at an Italian restaurant. My eyes immediately find the pasta section of the menu, every time. But now that I incorporate dietary preferences to my nutrition intake, I don’t eat as much [white] pasta as before. Because of this, it’s sometimes difficult ordering pasta at a restaurant because they don’t always have whole-wheat and gluten-free pasta. Therefore, it’s easier to make my own pasta dishes at home. I have access to the kinds of pasta that would comply with my diet. In addition to eating whole-wheat pasta, I also found brown rice pasta and love it. I’m amazed to see all the different kinds of pasta on the shelves at the grocery stores: chickpeas, edamame, red lentil, and corn. I haven’t tried any of the non-grain pastas yet. They look very interesting. I’m curious to see how they’ll taste. One day, I’ll get around to making dishes with those pastas. I’ll let ya know.

Have a productive new week, All. Until next time.

Peace,

FS x

Indian Lamb Curry & Self-Love

Happy second week of 2021! It’s only the third and we’re heading into the second week of the new year. The days are going to fly by! This supposedly “long” weekend of 2021 zoomed so fast. I got to hang out with friends I haven’t seen in a while due to the pandemic. It was interesting that the friends I saw this weekend all had a running theme of self-love. I believe it was a sign for me to incorporate more self-love into my life. That’s what I intend to do this week.

Here’s a powerful article I found on self-love: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201706/8-powerful-steps-self-love. The saying goes, you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself first. Give yourself A LOT of love! You deserve it!

Ethnic foods are simply wonderful. Whenever I’m introduced to a new cultural food, I get super excited. Being from Hawai’i, we’re so fortunate to be blessed with a melting pot of different ethnic foods. This week, I’ll be sharing my love for Indian food, specifically curry (featured image). Indian food is on my top five fave list. I could eat this every day! Plus, the benefits of the spices that make these delicious curries are so healthy for us.

I found this article online that shares the 15 Indian spices and their health benefits: https://www.boldsky.com/health/nutrition/indian-spices-and-their-health-benefits-132215.html

I’ve had the pleasure of eating Indian food in both Hawai’i and in Japan. The featured image is a lamb curry dish I ate in Tōkyō a few years ago. Believe it or not, there are a lot of hole-in-the-wall Indian joints in Japan. This place was really good. It tasted like the curry I’ve eaten in Hawai’i. Can never go wrong with Indian food. I wish we had more Indian spots here.

Have an extraordinary new full week of 2021. Until next week…

Ciao,

FS x

Welcome 2021 with Resolutions and Traditional Japanese foods eaten during New Year

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and fun celebration ringing in 2021. It was a fun and loud evening, filled with family, lots of food, drinks, and beautiful and booming fireworks in my neighborhood.

Good riddance, 2020! However, lest we forget what happened and what we encountered over the last year. A year that woke me up, and made me stronger, resilient, and a conqueror because of it.

I love how the first of each new month and year gives us a chance to reflect on ourselves and how we’ll do better and be superior from the previous year.

2021 will be ours to own! I welcome the new year with open arms. I’m ready to rock n roll!

Lucky 21 New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Reflect on positive thinking and affirmations
  2. Be open and accepting to change
  3. Make self-care a daily habit
  4. Choose healthier foods
  5. Hydrate with water
  6. Exercise regularly
  7. Be kind to self and others
  8. Listen wholeheartedly
  9. Forgive
  10. Give from the heart and soul
  11. Keep learning and expanding new horizons
  12. Take care of physical, mental, and emotional health
  13. Stretch
  14. Dream and take risks
  15. Take deep breaths
  16. Meditate and quiet the mind
  17. Dance, dance, dance
  18. Keep setting goals- small or big
  19. Believe, hope, and pray often
  20. Take breaks
  21. Keep loved ones close

Each week of this new year, I’ll be sharing ethnic dishes from around the globe. This week, it’s Japanese cuisine. Specifically, traditional Japanese foods eaten during the New Year.

The featured collage image from L-R:

  • ahi chu toro (tuna belly) and hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi
  • nishime (Japanese stew)
  • fried ebi (shrimp)
  • homemade mochi (with kinako (roasted soybean flour) and azuki red bean)
  • kuromame (black beans with sweet syrup)
  • ōzoni dashi (mochi soup)
  • ōzoni with soba (buckwheat noodles)
  • homemade mochi
  • hot soba with homemade konbu (seaweed) and pork broth. These are some of the foods my family and I eat on New Year’s Eve and Day

When my paternal grandmother was alive, she made a slew of Japanese and local Hawai’i dishes for NYE and NYD celebrations. These are the dishes I remember her making:

  • nishime
  • saimin (local Hawai’i noodle soup) with assorted veggies and char siu (Chinese pork)
  • kazunoko (herring roe)
  • konbumaki (knotted kelp/seaweed)
  • kinpira gobo (braised burdock root) and carrots
  • namasu (vinegar salad)
  • hasu (lotus root)
  • tazukuri (dried sardines)

Gram made everything from scratch and by taste. She didn’t write down any of the recipes. I wish she did. Since she’s been gone, we don’t eat half of the dishes she used to make. I would love to continue the tradition of making her exquisite dishes one day…

Perhaps 2021 may be the year to resurrect these old traditional dishes and put Foodnista’s touch to them. I was able to make my late paternal grandfather’s/grand-aunt’s holiday butter cookies a few years ago. There was no clear instructions to the recipe; only the ingredients. So, I had to experiment and create the recipe on my own. I knew that those cookies would have a different taste to them since they weren’t made from my grand-aunt’s hands. Now, they have my own twist to them and I can call these cookies my own. I hope to do that with the New Years dishes my late gram used to make.

Thankfully, we were able to continue making Gram’s saimin and ōzoni. We put our own touch on these dishes overtime. Our famous local restaurant, Zippy’s, started making nishime a few years ago, so we started ordering from them. My family says it doesn’t taste quite like Gramma’s, but I think it’s close enough!

The significance of eating these Japanese dishes is that they are to bring us good luck, prosperity, and long life for the new year. My family really believes in this. Also, the food is just absolutely savory, and it brings our family together to enjoy the meal as one.

Have a glorious first weekend of 2021!

Peace!

FS x