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

Twenty of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded + Sashimi

Happy NYE! It’s the final day of 2020. We made it! We survived this incredibly tumultuous year. We conquered!

I wish everyone a safe celebration tonight and a fresh start to 2021 tomorrow. We’re so privileged to have a new beginning every year. In fact, everyday, we’re able to start anew. We learn from our past and move forward to live a better life, and to do better.

Here is the final lesson 2020 has taught and reminded me.

20. It is ok to feel frustrated, sad, annoyed, and angry.

We’re human. We feel and go through all kinds of emotions. Allow those feelings to come and go. Recognize them and reflect on how you will overcome and change those reactions into more optimistic feelings overtime. That’s how we overcome and grow.

I allowed myself to feel all the emotions that came my way- pleasant, unpleasant, and the in-between. Recognition and reflection helped me get through the dark and grey moments. My support system and positive self-encouragement helped me rejoice during the brighter days.

It’s been a blessing reflecting upon the year and recognizing what 2020 has taught me. I’ve enjoyed sharing my life’s lessons here.

Sashimi (featured image)! One of the local and Japanese New Years staples. It’s bite-size pieces of raw fish, usually dipped in shoyu, or soy sauce, and wasabi. Every year, we have ahi (tuna) and hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi. Yum! Hamachi is my ultimate favorite fish. I love how oily the fish is. It’s so tasty. This year, I also bought chu toro ahi, which is the belly area of the fish. Yea! Get that in my belly!! Can’t wait to dive into the sashimi tonight.

I’m ready for 2021. Bring on the new challenges and changes. I’m ready. I’m stronger and more resilient than ever before. I see a lot of good change coming in the new year, not only for myself, but for this world.

Please be safe in celebrating tonight. Catch me here for more blog posts in the new year! Looking forward to it!

Cheers! Happy New Year!

FS x

Nineteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Chicken and Waffles

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! The week has flown by so quickly! It’s been super busy. I’m looking forward to relaxing during the next holiday weekend, and welcoming in 2021.

We’re onto the 19th fact that 2020 has taught and reminded me. Let’s get to it!

19. Listen to your gut and body.

This has been a constant mantra for me. Trust my gut. It knows best. Most times, when I listen to my gut, I tend to be right about certain situations. I feel like it’s a way God’s connecting with me; speaking to me, guiding me, protecting me…

I live with my body and my body lives with me. I need to listen and take care of her too. If I’m in pain or am exhausted, I listen. My body is trying to tell me something. I’ve had history of overworking my body countless times and that results in negative consequences, like sickness, pain, weakness, and exhaustion. We’ve only got one body. It’s important to give him or her TLC, tender-loving-care.

I was first introduced to chicken and waffles (see featured image) when I was in college in Southern California. My resident assistants took my dormmates and I to Roscoe’s in LA at the end of my first semester. I dined there again years later with friends. That place is bomb! I wanted to make my own chicken and waffles at home. I love the strawberry Eggo waffles. It’s my number one favorite. I had baked chicken thighs. Seasoned it with garlic pepper. It was very basic and simple. I served the dish with some good ol’ green beans, tossed with olive oil and garlic pepper. Yum!

Last post for 2020 tomorrow. See you here.

FS x

Eighteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Strawberry/Banana Non-Dairy Ice Cream Pie

Let the New Year festivities begin! We’re nearing the end of the top 20 lessons the year has bestowed upon me. It’s been wonderful sharing this each day with you all.

18. The importance of gratitude, and both positive and negative reflection.

Gratitude is everything to me. There’s so much to be grateful for, even for the things we often overlook and take for granted, like: access to food, shelter, transportation, clean water, education, and work. It’s a daily reminder and practice that I exercise thankfulness and gratitude in all areas of my life. It’s what keeps me going.

I want to extend my thanks to all of you supporters who like and read my posts here and on my social media platforms. I am forever grateful and am so appreciative. I want to continue providing inspiration, fun facts, and sharing my love for food.

It’s been ingrained in my brain to focus on the positive. Yet, our minds tend to dwell on the negative. It’s seems easier to think adversely about something. I’ve heard it said that people can quickly name pessimistic qualities about themselves compared to confident remarks. Nonetheless, I think negative reflection is just as important as pondering on the positive.

This year, I welcomed both the positive and negative views that came to mind. I allowed time to process the negative thinking and ponder about how to move forward with the thoughts. We’re all given choices in life. It’s what we do with them and how we act upon them that matters in the end. I try my best not to let pessimistic thoughts consume me. The mind can be very powerful. Thus, I try to focus on optimistic thinking. Hope, encouragement, happiness, and cheerfulness always triumphs.

I love making non-dairy ice cream no-bake pies. They’re simple and quick, and oh-so-good! Earlier this year, I made a strawberry/banana non-dairy ice cream pie. It was really refreshing! Strawberries and bananas are my ultimate favorite fruits.

Ingredients:

  • Baked pie crust of your choice- I used graham.
  • Non-dairy ice cream of your choice- I used strawberry/banana flavor, made with bananas. Yum!
  • Heavy whipping cream (to make my own whipped cream) or cool whip
  • (Optional) Fresh fruits of your choice- I used strawberries and bananas to match the ice cream flavor.

Happy evening!

FS x

Seventeen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Comfort Food Made With Love

Happy Monday and last week of 2020! We’re in the home stretch! Let’s make the best of our remaining days of the year. I want to end the year strong! Let’s show 2020 what we’re made of!

The 17th fact that the year has taught and reminded me was:

17. Every day is a blessing and gift.

Despite the year we’ve had, I did my best to see the light and optimism in the cards we’ve were dealt with. It was a tough and challenging year, but I was reminded that every day is a blessing and gift. It’s all about perspective and how you view things. I strongly believe that even with chaos amongst us, we can still see and experience positivity in and from it. I was constantly reminded of how much I have been blessed with. The fact that I get to wake up to start afresh every day is awesome. I have an opportunity to make better choices, be more loving to others, and make a difference. Life is a precious gift.

Last fall, I visited a dear friend in the Midwest. We made dinner together one night (see featured image). It was so special and yummy. My gf made her mom’s Swedish meatballs, which I never had before, and mashed potatoes. Double yum!! I had made Indian chicken curry. We also made rice and green beans. It was a delicious treat we, her family included, enjoyed very much. It was simply lovely.

Y’all know about my passion for cooking and food. Cooking with others brings joy and love in my life. We know that food connects people together. So does cooking. I always feel closer with whom I cook with. It creates a special bond I can’t quite explain. Overall, it’s lovely and cheery.

Wishing all of you a wonderful week. Until tomorrow. Peace!

FS x

Sixteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Brick Oven Pizza

It’s sweet 16.

16. Recognizing that everyone deals with crises differently.

We’ve gone through an ordeal of crises in 2020. I came to understand that everyone has dealt with the tribulations differently this year, including myself. While I was feeling motivated and optimistic, others around me were feeling stressed and depressed. As a compassionate person and licensed social worker, it’s in my nature to empathize and imagine myself in other people’s shoes to understand how the certain situations and multiple factors affect their emotions. Things like: familial discord, financial struggles, loss of vocation, lack of socialization and personal interaction, loneliness, and uncertainty of the future… This year’s circumstances immensely attested to our emotional and mental health. But we will rise from this. We always do. We are resilient. We come out better and stronger.

Overtime, I’ve experienced going through the spectrum of emotions this year. I started off feeling positive and driven, but those emotions slowly turned into frustration and despair. I had to practice a lot of self-talk, self-motivation, and self-love to get myself through the year.

I was searching the internet and came across a colorful wheel of emotions. This pretty much explains the entire year, and then some…

Last Christmas, my colleagues and I went to our boss’s house to make pizzas in her man-made brick oven (see featured image). It was a beautiful oven. The pizzas we made were delicious. I made a pesto base with spinach, vegan cheese, onions, and garlic. It was scrumptious. Yum!

Wishing you all the best last week of 2020. Let’s go out with a BANG!

FS x

Fifteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Air Fry Chicken

Hope you all had a peaceful and splendid Christmas. Now, onto preparing for 2021. I’m spending this weekend doing deep cleaning for the new year. It’s a cultural tradition I like to upkeep. Cleaning out the old to welcome the new.

I’ve got five more facts of 2020 lessons. The 15th thing the year has taught and reminded me is:

15. Appreciation of essential items: toilet paper, paper towels, gloves, masks, soaps, sanitizing wipes, sanitizing sprays, and hand sanitizers.

This year we were in desperate need of these in-demand essential items aforementioned that we easily overlook and take for granted. I have such an appreciation for these treasured items. I won’t ever take them for granted again. Across our nation, it was difficult to find TP, paper towels, gloves, masks, soap, sanitizing wipes, sprays, and hand sanitizers for months at the beginning of the pandemic. People would wipe them off the shelves and hoard as much as they could. Stores had to soon implement limitations on how many each household could buy so that there would be enough for others. Now, TP, paper towels, masks, and hand sanitizers are easily accessible again. Yay! However, I still am having a hard time finding gloves, sanitizing wipes, and sprays. Those items are constantly sold-out or not available.

This year, we’ve been very conscientious about germs and bacteria. I’ve always been health-conscious and practice good-hygiene, but since the pandemic, it’s been heightened to a greater extent. I’m constantly washing my hands, cleaning high-touched surfaces, and now, I sanitize groceries and other items that I buy from the store, that are delivered to me, or bought online.

This summer, I hunted high and low for an air fryer (see featured image). Seemed like purchasing an air fryer was on a lot of people’s minds, as it was hard to find. They were sold out in most of the department stores. After a lot of inquiring and driving, I was finally able to get one. I had made fried chicken (see featured image). It wasn’t like the deep fried chicken I envisioned from KFC or Popeye’s. Let’s just say using an air fryer to fry chicken makes it more healthier. The chicken was good. It looked dry, but it taste dry. The texture and the taste reminded me BBQing chicken on the grill. I can’t wait to utilize make more dishes with my air fryer.

Until tomorrow.

FS x