Smash ’em!

Headin’ South!

We’re continuing our journey through the Americas, as we discuss South America. There are 12 countries and three dependencies that make up this beautiful country.

  1. Argentina
  2. Bolivia
  3. Brazil
  4. Chile
  5. Colombia
  6. Ecuador
  7. Guyana
  8. Peru
  9. Paraguay
  10. Suriname
  11. Uruguay
  12. Venezuela
  1. Falkland Islands
  2. French Guiana
  3. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Take me back to 2014…

I went on a South American cruise in 2014. I visited Chile and Peru. I forgot to mention in last week’s post on México and Central America that I also traveled to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I loved Costa Rica. My best memory of my time there was going on a beautiful hike at Villa Lapas Skyway.

The one thing I love most about cruises is traveling to multiple countries and cities in one trip. There were so many great memories on this trip. The one sad memory, though, was that I missed the once-in-a-lifetime excursion to Machu Picchu in Peru. I developed a head cold some days after embarking on our cruise from Santiago, Chile. The day we were scheduled to travel to Machu Picchu, I was too congested to go. I was so disappointed, but I ended up traveling the city of Lima, Peru’s capital, instead. That was very adventurous.

Some of our travel mates who visited the historic citadel reported that they were very lightheaded, dizzy, nauseated, and had difficulty breathing during the trip because of the high elevation. Some of them had forgotten to ask their doctor to prescribe them altitude medication. I had mine but never got to use it. I hope to visit Peru again in the near future and experience Machu Picchu, healthy and well.

The hightlight of the week:

This week, I made tostones, plantains that are double-fried. I bought my plantains from Mercado De La Raza, the local Latin American market in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Plantains look like very large bananas, but they are different from the delicious fruit. The three distinctions I learned while working and cooking with plantains were:

  1. You can’t just easily peel a plantain like a banana, especially if the plantain is not fully ripened. The peel is tough. You need to cut both ends off and slice the ridges vertically to peel the skin off.
  2. When making tostones, green plantains are better to work with compared to plantains that are yellow (riped).
  3. Plantains, depending on their ripeness and how they’re prepared, can have completely different tastes.

I found an article that discusses the differences and similarities between bananas and plantains: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/plantain-vs-banana#similarities

This article explains the difference between green and yellow plantains: https://micfood.com/green-plantains-vs-yellow-plantains-whats-the-difference/

First time trying plantains

My first time trying plantains was in 2019 at a Liberian restaurant in Fargo, North Dakota with my dearest girlfriend. It was our first time trying Liberian food. We were so excited. Everything we ordered was absolutely amazing, especially these plantains pictured below. It reminded me of a mouthwatering Filipino dish, banana lumpia. Yum!

Yummy plantains at A&E Liberian Restaurant in Fargo, ND.

A&E Liberian Restaurant
524 Broadway
Fargo, ND 58102
763.898.7144
FB: https://www.facebook.com/AE-Liberian-restaurant-417049628827306/

Tostones recipe/equipment:

  • 2 Green plantains
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Mixing bowls/cups/spoons for mise en place ingredients
  • Cutting board
  • Chef knife
  • Deep-fryer
  • Paper towel
  • Cookie sheet
  • Tongs
  • Parchment paper
  • Spoon (to smash plantains)

Production steps:

  1. Sanitize kitchen (sink, countertops, stovetop/oven, cupboard handles, phone, computer).
  2. Mise en place ingredients.
  3. Preheat the deep-fryer with oil to 325ºF.
  4. Peel the plantains and slice into 1” thick.
  5. Fry plantains until they start to turn golden.
  6. Line the pan with paper towels.
  7. Remove plantains from the oil and place on the paper towel-lined pan to drain excess oil.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. Increase deep-fryer to 350ºF.
  10. Prepare parchment paper and put plantain slices on there one at a time.
  11. Use a spoon to press the plantain slices to flatten- ½” thick.
  12. Place flattened plantain back into the deep-fryer and fry until golden brown.
  13. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined pan to drain excess oil.
  14. Immediately season with Kosher salt.
  15. Serve immediately.

Happy last week of January!

FS x

Bon appétit French baguettes

Halloween greetings!

Happy Halloween! I hope you and your loved ones had a spooktacular and bootiful holiday.

Updates on life

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post. I was away visiting my dear friends on the mainland. I went to North Carolina, North Dakota, and Minnesota. It was a wonderful trip. I love traveling and experiencing life away from home. I’m so grateful for the time I had with my friends and that I was safe from COVID. Thank you, God, and to my guardian angels. I’ve selected some favorite pictures from my trip.

  • L top: Sunset near my hotel in Durham, NC.
  • L bottom: Beautiful day in downtown Durham.
  • R: Sidewalk in downtown Durham.
  • L: Cool chess board/pieces at Babb’s Coffee House in Fargo, ND.
  • R: Downtown Fargo.

Baking my own bread

This week, I baked French bread. I can smell the fresh aroma as I sit here typing this post. Mmm, it smells lovely! Baking this bread was a weekend’s work. I had to re-do my assignment twice. The first time, the loaves almost looked burnt. I describe it as badly suntanned, haha. Thankfully, the inside of the bread was fine. It was actually good. It was just very difficult to cut and bite into because it was so hard. Eesh! Thank goodness I didn’t break my teeth. Ha!

Yikes to the picture on the left, right? Gosh! I learned that we can’t always follow the recipe’s baking time. The recipe said 30 minutes but look at the outcome after 30 minutes. It was not good and unacceptable in my eyes to submit to my chef instructor.

The second time, I watched my oven like a hawk, setting timers every 10 minutes, as I peeked through the oven window. The color I was looking for was golden brown. After 25 minutes, I took the loaves out. It looked golden brown from the oven window. The loaves were so beautiful, soft, and chewy, with a bit of crispiness from the crust. I was so pleased and happy. Yay to baking bread from scratch!

Recipe and culinary equipment for the French bread:

Here is the very simple recipe for this time-consuming process. Make sure you set a lot of time aside to make this.

  • 375g bread flour
  • 262.5g water (may need to use less to prevent the dough from getting really sticky)
  • 9g active dry yeast
  • 7.5g Kosher salt
  • Food scale
  • Measuring bowls for ingredients
  • Mixing bowl
  • Plastic scraper
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Rubber spatula
  • Timer
  • Plastic wrap
  • Big cutting board (for kneading) or counterspace

Production steps:

The production steps to making this fresh and comforting bread:

  1. Sanitize kitchen (sink, countertops, stovetop/oven, cupboard handles, phone, computer).
  2. Scale ingredients.
  3. Mise en place ingredients.
  4. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until the dough forms and it is fully mixed.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and rest for one hour.
  6. Release dough from the bowl with a scraper.
  7. Stretch the dough into a rectangle and fold into thirds (add flour onto the bench (counterspace) if dough is sticky).
  8. Round dough into a ball and put it back into the bowl.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  10. Weigh dough and divide into 250g.
  11. Shape the weighted dough into a ball and bench for 5-7 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap.
  12. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  13. Shape dough into a baguette by shaping dough into a rectangle, folding it into thirds, and pressing the seams with the heel of your palm.
  14. Roll the dough with your hands (spreaded fingers) into 12-17” baguette with tapered (narrowed) ends.
  15. Transfer to a lined baking sheet.
  16. Proof (rest) shaped dough, covered in plastic wrap until it doubles in size.
  17. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
  18. Slash proofed dough through outer skin in an angled cut, covering the length of the loaf.
  19. Bake until the crust is golden brown.
  20. Cool on a rack for at least one hour.
  21. Cut the baguette and serve.

Annual #thankfulchallenge

In 2018, I started a #thankfulchallenge, where I list 30 things I’m grateful for during the month of November. Please visit my Facebook and Instagram each day to see what I’m thankful for. I’ll be listing the recap in my blog posts each Sunday in November. I’m excited! Thanksgiving is coming sooner than we know it! Let the holidays begin!

Cheers!

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

When in Alaska…

…Gotta have them WILD Alaskan salmon.

When I was vacationing in Alaska last summer, I took advantage of eating wild salmon as much as I could. Yum! Nothing like wild fish in a variety of dishes.

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Wild salmon and wild rice pastry from The Roadhouse in Talkeetna, AK. This was pretty good. I’m a huge fan of wild rice. I had to try it!

I loved this small town of Talkeetna. There’s a sense of community there, which I cherish.

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Honey lime salmon salad from the Grizzly Bar & Grill at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. I also ordered a chicken noodle soup, which was homemade.

I loved this lodge. The scenery was beautiful. The featured image above is a few of a creek next to the lodge. It really felt cozy, like I was camping in the wilderness. The air was crisp and brisk.

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Blueberry salmon from 20,320 Alaskan Grill at the Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge.

I also enjoyed this lodge, too. We got to see the Northern Lights one night, too. It was beautiful. Nature is truly amazing.

Go to Alaska if you want to experience some spectacular nature. You will have a greater appreciation for it. I know I did.

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Cheers to a Chilean wine!

It’s Wine Wednesday!

When I went on my South American cruise in 2014 with my travel gang, we went to the Concha y Toro winery in Santiago, Chile. I bought the Shiraz Rosé blend wine from their collection. It was pretty good. I liked the combination of red and rosé.

I’ve attached some pictures of their beautiful winery campus. It was serene and peaceful. I would love to go back one day.

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This winery was beautiful and HUGE!

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So serene. This reminded me of my old college campus in California. Like a walk in the park.

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https://www.conchaytoro.com/?lang=en_us

Av. Nueva Tajamar 481, Torre Norte, P 15, Las Condes, Santiago de Chile

Now THIS is a hearty egg sandwich!

I ordered this yummy Country Dijon Egg Salad sandwich from Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli while I was waiting for my next flight at Denver International Airport. This joint was right by my gate. How convenient! I love egg salad sandwiches. It’s one of my all-time childhood faves! Eggs rock! When I saw this on their menu, and that it was made from SCRATCH, I had to try it. Plus, I’ve never had it with Dijon mustard before.

Boy, this sandwich was THICK! I couldn’t finish it. I tried my best, but it was so filling! Plus, it came with homemade potato salad, which was delicious, and filling in itself. What a great deal!

IMG_0874Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli
Denver International Airport
Concourse B (East End) GATE 89
8400 Pena Blvd; Denver, CO 80249
303-342-6648
Open Today: 6am to 10pm
http://heidisbrooklyndeli.com/

Hiroshima grindz!

Happy #TravelTuesday!

I went on a one-day tour to Hiroshima, Japan last fall, and absolutely loved it there. It was a very moving day when we visited the A-Bomb site and Sadako’s statue at the end of the day/tour. My heart went out to those who lost their lives that tragic day. A couple pictures shared below:

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A-bomb site in Hiroshima. Got the chills… It was surreal to be there in-person.

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Sadako Sasaki’s statue/memorial site. Excited that I was there, but felt so sad.

Before we visited those memorial sites, we took a day tour to Miyajima, a small island in Hiroshima Bay. I was excited to try some Hiroshima oysters. Oh my word! That was delicious! I love oysters- raw AND cooked! Mmm, mmm! The line was super long- everyone wanted a taste of those bad boys! Haha! And it was worth it!

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Whoa!!!!

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My mouth is watering! Take me back!!!!

I found an intriguing article about the benefits of oysters: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/animal-product/oysters.html – it’s not only an aphrodisiac 😉

I also tried the beer that’s brewed in Hiroshima. It was good!

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Before we left the island, I had to get some dessert! Japanese strawberry “shave ice!!!!” Refreshing! Japan is known for their sweets/desserts. There’s stands/shops all over the place!

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“Sadako & the Thousand Paper Cranes,” is a recommended book to read. It’s one of my fave stories growing up. I read this book in elementary school. It’s a touching story- a page-turner for sure!! I’ve never owned a copy of my own, but yet, this story remains in my heart forever… Before leaving Hiroshima that evening, I bought a copy for myself. It’s a keepsake!

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Flyin’ Hawaiian!

It’s time for another review of airplane food. My fave! Haha! Airplane food is the best! I’ve always enjoyed it! I get so excited. It’s the best part of the flight!

I flew with Hawaiian Airlines (Hawaii, represent!!!) to Cali to attend one of my BFF’s wedding. I used to live in Cali for a couple years several years ago and loved it. I always enjoy visiting and have been thinking about moving back again in the future if a good job opportunity arises.

I love that our airlines has expanded their flights to fly across the world. It’s awesome knowing that Hawaii is being represented and known to the rest of the globe. Yea!

Going to California, I had an egg-and-cheese sandwich. It was amazing! Oh my gosh! My lovely neighbor, whom I enjoyed talking story with, didn’t want hers, so I ate hers too, later in the flight- haha! Totally satisfying!

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On my flight returning home, I had penne pasta with meatballs, mushrooms, and a light marinara sauce and a southwest salad. Wine was complementary, so I had a cup of good ol’ Chardonnay! Yummy!

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Can’t wait till my next adventure! Have a great week, all!

~FS x