I came across blue cheese and black pepper biscuits for $1 at a bar in Portland. They were so good I knew I’d have to recreate them when I got home. Yes, I used Bisquick. For some reason, I have a box in my pantry and because I am my mother’s daughter, it will not go to waste. Once that box is gone, I’ll truly make biscuits from scratch. Until then:
Blue Cheese & Black Pepper Biscuits (makes 4)
- 1 cup Bisquick
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- Heat oven to 450F
- Mix all ingredients together
- Spoon biscuits onto baking tray (up to you on size but this yields 4 good-sized biscuits for me)
- Sprinkle tops with fresh cracked black pepper
- Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown
My family shows affection through food. We aren’t a chatty family (Asians!) so we show our love more through actions than words.
On the 2nd anniversary of my mom’s passing, my cousin brought me a big bowl of gia cay (not pictured, but a rare dish and a story for another day) and a large vat of bun rieu that she’d made with her mom. Bun rieu is one of my favorite Vietnamese noodle soups. I love the varied ingredients (shrimp, egg, ground pork, dried shrimp, crab, fried tofu, steamed pork cake…sometimes cubes of pork blood…or in my family’s case, quail eggs). Everyone makes it a little differently but it is almost always great…
My mom made this for us often and once even taught me to make bun rieu. Unfortunately, I never wrote it down and have never made it on my own…I was just using cooking as an excuse for us to spend time together.
In 2004, we lost my grandpa, grandma, aunt and uncle. It was an especially tough year for my mom; she had spent the last several years caring for my grandma who was bedridden after a stroke, then my grandpa as he slowly got the scrambles and finally my aunt, who had advanced epithelial cancer. It was a lot of work that took almost all of her time and energy (as well as the rest of my extended family’s). At the end of it all, she was lost. She had forgotten her previous life. So I went home and asked her to show me how to make bun rieu.
As we cooked, we remembered everything she did before all the illness. Besides driving my brother and I to school, games and lessons, she also volunteered as a translator for the Red Cross at Stanford Children’s Hospital. She worked at the Kiwanis’ Farmers Markets on the weekend. She visited with friends and family in the South Bay. She rarely did anything for herself but gave greatly to others. My brother and I were both out of the house so I encouraged her to find somewhere new to give her time. The following week, we volunteered at St. Anthony Padua’s Dining Room, where she could combine her love for feeding others with her need to serve. She volunteered there weekly (sometimes more often) until just a few weeks before she died. After she died, my dad took her place.
Lung cancer survival rates haven’t improved in 40 years.
Help me change this appalling statistic:
When I eat Mexican food, it is almost always from a truck or a taqueria. Sitting down at a Mexican restaurant is a rare…and ordering chile verde has never happened. I must have taken a delicious bite off of someone’s plate long ago because last week, I was suddenly craving chile verde.
I mostly used Simply Recipes for ingredients but also consulted Food Network for spices and technique. For the chiles, I used 2-3 roasted Anaheims, 2-3 roasted Poblanos, 2 Serranos and 2 Jalapenos. I only had 2.5 pounds of pork, but would keep the same amount for next time–extra sauce is good! I had enough chicken stock left over from my Khao Man Gai, and added cumin, coriander and oregano to the mix. Originally, I had intended to add masa towards the end of the stew but the texture seemed fine. Now I have extra masa harina so I guess I’ll try making my own tortillas at some point.
For the Spanish rice, I again consulted Simply Recipes, also using leftover broth from the Khao Man Gai. I added some plum tomatoes that were going bad in the fridge, halved the onions, sauteed the onions & garlic, and threw it all into the rice cooker. Next time, I would use less oregano…or even try cilantro lime rice…or chile verde tacos!
I thought I’d posted about Korean tacos before, but I guess not. Whoops! Had I realized this, I would have taken better pictures the dozen other times we’ve eaten this. Instead, I just snapped a quick photo with my Blackberry last week and shoveled everything down.
Korean fusion isn’t entirely new. I often had bulgogi sandwiches at a Korean-owned sandwich shop while an undergrad at Berkeley (well over ten years ago, yeesh). When I moved a few cities north post-college, there was a Korean-owned Mexican restaurant between my house and my office that served bulgogi burritos.
These days, Korean taco trucks are a “thing.” I haven’t really been impressed by them: I have to keep up with my Twitter feed to figure out where they are, the lines can be ridiculously long and frankly, the ones I’ve tried just haven’t been worth the hype. After visiting LA and realizing how long the lines at the Kogi truck would be after we braved traffic, I decided to abandon the mission. I could just make these at home! I’ve been buying pre-marinated meat at Korean markets for years and I can definitely figure out how to make my own taco.
We’re heading to Hawaii in about a week for some much needed sun. To get in the mood, we made ahi tuna poke. I picked up this packet of poke mix at Nijiya. A couple days later, I cubed two sushi grade ahi tuna steaks from the butcher, soaked & chopped the seaweed, mixed in the seasoning packet with some sesame oil and a little extra kosher sea salt & red pepper flakes…and it was done. Couldn’t have been easier!
As many of you know, I lost my mom, Huong Thi Phan, on May 14, 2009 after a blessedly brief battle with lung cancer.
Only recently did I learn the appalling statistics associated with lung cancer, which is why I am committing myself to raising funds for lung cancer research and awareness.
- Lung cancer is the #1 killer. It kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, melanoma and kidney cancers combined!
- For every $9 spent on breast cancer research, only $1 is spent on lung cancer.
- 60% of those diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. My mom never smoked.
- The overall lung cancer survival rate (5 years after diagnosis) is STILL only 14.5%…the same as it was 40 years ago!!! Due to successful awareness campaigns and research funding, breast cancer survival is 89% and prostate cancer survival is 99%
- More appalling statistics…
Please help me bring awareness to and increase research funding for lung cancer so that fewer people lose their loved ones to this terrible disease.Join my team or sponsor my run in honor of my beloved mom.
Huong Thi Phan (1938-2009)
The beautiful euology given by my brother on one of the worst days of my life:
Any conversation about my Mom will inevitably segue into the same kind of story. The story will start with “The first time I ever met her, she gave me…” and end with any number of gifts, ranging from cookies fresh from the oven to a squash the size of a small child. It didn’t matter who you were, it didn’t matter where you came from, and it didn’t even matter if she remembered your name. My Mom welcomed everyone the same way – with an open smile, a friendly greeting, and a surprisingly large parting gift.
She was so generous, she never thought of anything as being her own. The fruits and vegetables from her garden, small odds and ends she picked up throughout her day, and even her free time, which carried no value to her unless they could be given away—as a volunteer at the Red Cross and St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room or as a room parent at Mt. Carmel.
It took me years to understand the magnitude of what my Mom gave me and my sister. She spent her entire life working to make our lives better. Every hour she worked, every penny she saved, everything she did, she did for us. The thought of spending money on herself never crossed her mind; if it did, she quickly pushed it aside and concentrated on making sure we were happy. I can’t count how often she would buy us toys, or books, or candy, but I can’t for the life of me remember a single time she splurged on something she wanted.
There was a downside to her self-effacing generosity – it was incredibly hard to buy birthday and Mother’s Day presents for her, because she never told us what she wanted for herself. Year after year, we’d ask her what she wanted, and she’d reply “Whatever makes you happy makes me happy.” For the longest time, I thought that was a canned response, but now that I think about it, she was probably telling the truth.
That was how she lived. Mom didn’t find much appeal in wealth, or luxury, or personal achievement. She found all the happiness she ever wanted in every smile on the face of a friend. She found satisfaction in every good day my sister and I had at the schools she worked so hard to send us to. She found joy in every “thank you” and “I love you.” She shared in the joy of everyone around her, and thanks to her selfless nature, she never found any shortage of happiness in the world.
In the end, her greatest gift to her children, as well as the many people whose lives she touched, was her example. She gave without complaint. She gave without any expectation of a reward. She gave without a second thought. Charity was built into her very being, and all of our lives have been enriched because of it.
If we can take just a fraction of the kindness she showed us and share it with our friends, our neighbors, and our families, then they will all be truly blessed. And somewhere out there, my Mom will smile, knowing that she brought a little more happiness into their lives.
A few weeks ago, we spent the weekend in Portland for Joel’s birthday. It is the perfect city for us: a laid back craft beer paradise for him and a plethora of food carts for me. By the end of the weekend, I was brainstorming ideas of how we could sustain a low-key, non-corporate life for ourselves (and still pay my crazy student loans). A baked potato cart like Spud’s in Berkeley, circa 1999? Maybe bicycle soup delivery? Crap, someone’s already doing that. How about selling hemp bracelets at the farmer’s market? Pulling from my past wandering around Grateful Dead parking lot…but that market is saturated and low profit. I will continue to try to come up with my One Great Idea. In the meantime, I made a mean Khao Man Gai, inspired by one of Portland’s Top 10 Food Carts, Nong’s Khao Man Gai. Read more…