Lunch can be a life changing moment filled with either important interactions and or re-centering respite. Growing up here in the States, lunch has not always been given its time and space deserved for all that it can be. I remember visiting family in Peru and there, lunch was always a main event! It was the main meal of the day where you would get served all courses, soup/salad, main entre, second entre and desert with coffee or tea. Then a short nap before continuing on with your day. This could be going back to school, work or returning to household chores. Here I feel cheated, and I feel like our kids get cheated, too.
Many of us 8-5 workers forfeit our lunch hour to eat a quick sandwich at our desks telling ourselves that we just have too much work to do that we cannot afford to take a real lunch break. Others, might be better at removing themselves from their workspace to get a quick bite to eat, take a walk or a moment to lose themselves in a good read. Yet, we are still pressured by the clock and the pending work. Our school kids are facing a little bit of this as well. Some who choose to get a school lunch may barely make it through the line giving themselves maybe 10-15 minutes to eat then off to the playground for a little stretch before class resumes. I am always excited to hear about some schools who hire in house chefs to provide wholesome foods for children, but even more impressed by programs that integrate the children in the entire process of preparing, setting up for the meal, time for enjoying the meal and cleaning up after the meal. There are life skills along with math, science and cultural studies that can be learned from such a program. I think I have only read about one in such program in Japan.
What can I start doing now? I can make a choice to make the most of my work week lunch hour. With proper planning, I can bring my multi-course meal to work and take the hour to enjoy every bite away from my desk. Or I can start by live up my European-South American traditions on the weekends, by sharing with my family and friends the joy of preparing a full course lunch and then resting afterwards. This would allow for a lighter faire, like “lonche,” also known as tea time in the afternoon and evening.
Time to Eat
- Garibaldi Kiss CocktailIt all started with a sad little orange tree trying to find it’s voice in this world. Never would it have imagined that it’s sweet citrus could cross the boarders of three cuisines to become a romantic statement of the times. I apologize that I tend to get a bit poetic about my recipes. This one speaks to me about possibilities and hidden greatness. Just like the plain oranges from my backyard tree, I too, sometimes forget how much I have to offer. I hope when you make this drink you reflect on all that is amazing about yourself, too! This is an Italian Garibaldi Cocktail kissed with Mexican Tequila and infused with Asian Chai spice. This recipe calls for a garnish of Dehydrated Oranges with Sweet Chai, but you can also use a more traditional fresh slice of orange, too. We all need a little sugar and spice to balance all of the bitterness from this past year. The bitterness of the Campari liqueur blends smoothly with the sweet citrus and flavorful spices. This cocktail is a refreshing combination that just makes you take a deep cleansing breath, leaving work behind and welcoming the evening conversation. Salud and Cheers!
- Dehydrated Oranges with Sweet ChaiAs terrible as COVID has been, I try to focus on the many blessings we have everyday. This year has been a fruitful one for us. Many of our fruit trees produced their first crop this year, just like these oranges used for this recipe. They came from a tiny, unimpressive tree, that sang out look at me and all that I can be. Fruitful blessings. Like a stain glass window these orange slices peer into my bitter sweet childhood memories of driving to the city to visit my great-aunt. I always felt sick to my stomach and she would prepare me a tea with dried orange peels in it. Later as an adult I realized that I suffer from motion sickness. I would not go as far to say that orange peels are a cure for motion sickness, but it is noted in Paul Pitchford’s book, “Healing with Whole Foods,” that the orange peel does have some digestion benefits. Not only that, but you can find that they are a source of fiber, calcium, along with vitamins A,B, and C. If you read up on it, you will find that they have other beneficial properties, too. I would just recommend that you only use non-sprayed oranges. Mix together the chai spice with some coarse sugar Slice as thin as possible Sprinkle the chai spice mix over each slice Lay in single layer slices onto the dehydrator trays I remember my mom would try to peel the whole orange in one continuous swirl and I had fun playing with it like a slinky. She then would let the peels dry up to be used later in our teas. Now, with my new dehydrator that my son gifted me this last holiday, I don’t have to wait days for my orange peels to dry up. I can have a jar of peels in just hours. This time around, I made these dehydrated orange slices that are great in tea, cocktails or even as decoration for a dessert plate.
- Jalapeño Crock Pot PorkThis is the type of dish that anyone can make and it extends itself to many different dishes, which makes it ideal for meal prep. You can use it in a sandwich, taco, a rice bowl or enjoy it with some of your favorite sides. The busyness of this COVID year has had me working more overtime than I could have ever imagined. Even for someone like me who loves to get lost in the magic of cooking, pulling out my old Crock Pot, was like asking an old friend to cover for me as I played hooky. If you are like me, you hate missing a day in the kitchen, where you get to imagine, experiment and create foods that cause you to pause with pleasure at every bite. Let’s be honest, for those of us who spend most of our waking hours working, the thought of cooking dinner for our families can become a daunting chore more than an adventurous escape. When I cannot escape into my spice cabinet, I just keep it simple with just a few flavor notes. Before leaving to work, gather all of the ingredients.
- Sunday Stock-ChickenChicken stock is one of those pantry (or refrigerator) items I like to have on hand at all times. I use it in my rice dishes, soups, stews, and to make sauce. It adds rich flavor to many dishes. When you feel like you have nothing to eat, just add a few ingredients and you’ll have a nice broth soup. My goal each week is to make one batch of chicken or beef stock with a batch of vegetable or Kombu broth. And one weekend replace the one of the stocks for a fish stock. Always prep your ingredients first before you start. Here you see the foamy scum that you need to remove before adding in your greens. Once most of the scum is removed, then you are ready to add in your veggies. And this is what it should look like once its cooked down for about two hours. Beautiful!
- Roasted Frozen Tomato SoupFor those following, you will find that I do not like food waste and so I try to make the most out of what I have. At the end of summer, I start to tire of tomato everything, so I will do a few different things with them to preserve them. I might pickle them, turn them in to a jam, a fermented salsa or a freezer ready marinara. When I do not have time for any of that, I just freeze them whole (depending on the size). When I was planning out this recipe, I wanted a tomato soup that could be filling on its own. This is a challenge in my household of meat-eating men who shy away from their veggies. By adding in the carrots, celery, onion and bell peppers to the soup it created a denser consistency. Also, by using chicken stock verses vegetable broth and adding marscapone in at the end, it gave this soup the protein needed to fill them up!
- Sweet Potato ChancayMy curiosity runs my kitchen. I’m not sure how I decided I was going to create these sweet potato rolls. Growing up I did not care for sweet potatoes. The only time I would eat them is if they were in my bowl of ceviche. My family does not seem to care for sweet potatoes to be on the menu unless they are fried, such as in, sweet potato fries, or a hidden ingredient found in Peruvian Beignets, called Picarones. I guess really for me, the sweet potato lures me into memories of my past. I had made Picarones before, so I thought why not incorporate these flavors into a bread roll. After a few attempts, I was able to find the flavor profiles that matched my vison. As pictured above, you find that these rolls are very versatile. They can be eaten with cheese and jam, or made into a slider, and even just dipped into a cup of coffee or tea (just like a true Peruvian). This recipe makes plenty for sharing. These would be great for a party appetizer or to serve as a dinner roll with an entre. If you are not entertaining, you can also freeze them.
- Cocoa Oatmeal PorridgeIt’s funny how comforting certain foods can be and how they trigger memories in everyone of us. For me oatmeal was one way for my mother to show her love. Sometimes she would regular oatmeal porridge, supper milky and extra sweet and other times she would change it up with some cocoa. My mother never really said, “I love you,” or hugged me for no reason, but I do remember and cherish, moments like when I was postpartum with my first born and she made me a batch of this oatmeal that kept me going those first few days at home. It is an act of love to go out of your way to make food for some else. It does not need to be fancy or hours of labor… it could just be a cup of milky oats. Thank you Mom.
- Poached Pear BudinI imagine my recipe testing may follow a completely different process in a few months. For my early followers joining me in my raw journey, you will be witness to my past, present and who I’m yet to become. Okay that was a little deep…. but really let’s take this recipe as an example, Budin has always been part of my family’s traditional desserts, like holiday cookies might have been a part of yours. It’s one of those foods that really seems to mirror my cooking style, which really is to make the most with what I have on hand. I do not like food waste and since I love to cook, this can be a point of deterance sometimes. In my household, it can be a challenge to get others to eat leftovers, so I find ways to incorporate any leftovers into a “NEW” meal (wink, wink). This mini challenge of reproposing leftovers becomes a game for me. And I love games! For this recipe, I used extra Sweet Potato Chancay Rolls and poached pears left over from my earlier harvest.