Saturday, 31 December 2011

My Final Post for the Year and 2012 Food Resolutions

In just a few hours, my blog will receive a new year on the navigation side bar's Blog Archive: 2012. Almost a year ago, I began this blog as "Ukonwabele Ukutya Kwakho" (Let's Eat) in homage to my voyage to South Africa when I first chronicled my foodie experiences in photos. As 2011 nears its end, I have altered the title to emphasize my overall approach when it comes to food. It's not only that I learn about food, but even more so what it represents to individuals (including myself), societies and cultures, as well as how these groups are perceived by outsiders looking in. Now 117 posts into this blog (at the time of me writing this, I still have five to complete), I'm already looking forward to the new food memories and challenges that await me after the clock strikes midnight. In this final post for the year, I offer the final dishes I prepared this New Year's Eve. Before these, I'd like to present my new year resolutions as they (of course) pertain to food.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

When "Chopped" and "Iron Chef" Combine in F.H.

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of cooking alongside one of my college roommates Tony in Farmington Hills. Another avid Food Network and Cooking Channel enthusiast, he and I brought together our culinary minds in a challenge that once again brought together "Chopped" and "Iron Chef". Though we didn't quite make five dishes in 60 minutes, four in 90 wasn't bad at all, especially given our required ingredients of red bananas, Grāpples and young (whole) chicken.

Another Quick Review: Qdoba (of Southfield)

A few days ago, I posted a review of Lafayette Coney Island and its next door Detroit rival American Coney Island. Though I'm not much of a connoisseur when it comes to Mexican-type food, I was just yesterday introduced to the rivalry of Qdoba vs. Chipotle. Unlike the Island rivalry, it was rather difficult to find a video talking about the differences between the two (outside of food eating contests), but the above video serves a good introduction to this "burrito battle" of sorts. (Click here for another analysis.) I had eaten before at a few Chipotles but my visit to the Qdoba located in Southfield marked my first-ever visit to the family-friendly restaurant chain. (Ironically, though perhaps unsurprisingly, there's a Chipotle located nearby, also in Southfield; in any case, the Southfield Qdoba was certainly friendly. Whether or not this is a tribute to Qdoba's employees, the Southfield workers' vibe, or a combination of both, remains to be determined.) Luckily, one of my high school classmates and former Qdoba employee Chuck (who I apparently haven't seen for three years!) was available to offer his perspective on the different dining experiences.

And Back to Frankenmuth We Go!

What can I say? Just as much as I adore Franco-Italian cuisine, I remain an avid fan of German food. A short post, I did want to comment briefly on our post-Christmas Day visit to Birch Run and the Bavarian Inn Restaurant.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Cooking at Home for Christmas

When it comes to the holidays, there are one of three things you can now expect from me (if you don't already): I'll be eating, I'll be cooking or I'll be doing both; this Christmas season was no different in the way of doing both. In addition to the rest of the food being prepared for my family's Christmas Day dinner, I made some homemade chicken stock to be added to pancit and as the base for my chicken noodle soup; my green bean and red skin potato salad with bacon; and red- and green-coloured Christmas butter cookies half-coated in chocolate and nonpareils.

Regions of Choice?: German and Irish Meals

As I continue to ponder which areas bordering France I might prefer to work in, my natural leaning falls to the southeast and the Italian border. However, German and Irish meals are subtle reminders of northern comfort food; on Wednesday and Thursday evening respectively I was able to get to both and just couldn't decide which I'd preferred. Then again, why not make a life of sampling regional cuisine?

Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Quick Review: Lafayette Coney Island

For those of you who are very familiar with Detroit (or at least for those in the know whether by word of mouth, a visit or watching one of many food vlogs or television programs), you may know of the food feud between next door neighbours and friendly rivals Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island. A few weeks ago, my mom had told me that she, my sister and one of my godmothers had gone on a foodie quest to the Islands to see for themselves what their preference was. In my previous post, I wrote about Toni's 21st birthday celebration; after an evening Mass on her actual birthday, we went to the chosen Island. Unlike Adam Richman in the video above, Lafayette was chosen as their clear favourite-- and so to Lafayette we went.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Celebrating Toni's 21st

This past Sunday was my sister (Toni Rose)'s 21st birthday. Without question, I had to make something for her and, after editing out the idea of a cake in the shape of a duck, somehow settled for some kind of checkered cake. I remember a few months ago seeing on The Best Thing I Ever Ate the creation of a Mondrian Cake (favoured by Chris Cosentino and created by the folks at Blue Bottle Coffee at SFMOMA) and used that as my point of reference. In addition, I created a gluten free option to go alongside the rest of the food (as if we needed more), the recipe of which I also share below.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Dining, Listening, Learning: Community at the Dinner Table

With the go-ahead to continue campus-wide conversations on campus this academic year, I have been part of the steering committee that leads this charged. Now known as "Listening for a Change,"  the way I've understand the work we've been doing is through the underlying lenses of community building and cross-cultural understanding through open and honest dialogue. End goals defined or not, there is a recurring theme that dialogue in itself is action and, as such, a worthwhile endeavour. This evening, I had the absolute honour to dine with most of our small group dialoguers; and where there's food, there also exists continued community development. All the theory and rhetoric aside, we were able to take a true break from the campus environment and spend some quality time together as an extended family. Before I continue, I would like to recognise the fact we were down one member, but for a very understandable reason: she recently welcomed a new baby into the world.. perhaps another dialoguer in the future? Indeed, I can't imagine the dialoguing and the dining would stop here, and I'm already looking forward to the next time we meet!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Food and Culture Programme #3: Low-Budget Cooking

Last week, I received a request for a food and culture programme in one of the residence halls. As fate and timing would have it, Wednesday happens to be a Top Chef night and by default a cooking night, albeit the already packed week of multi-course prep. In the end, however, the fact that students were willing to take time out of their finals study time to actually take a break and talk about food is motivation enough. I offered the resident assistant a choice of three dishes per course (appetizer, main course and dessert), all of which I was convinced could be prepared under a budget of $70 for potentially 10-15 people. What I would consider staple ingredients aside (flour, sugar, salt, eggs, oil, etc.), the total for additional ingredients ended up $22.96. For our group of 10, the menu included: mixed salad served in an Italian cheese bowl; crêpes served with mozzarella, ham and/or Parisian-style vegetables; dark chocolate microwave cake and Nutella-filled strawberries.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Celebrating Marilyn's Birthday & the Start of Another Cooking Week

As of late, it seems, it's a rather rare occurrence for me to be writing (let alone beginning to write) a blog post shortly after a meal; with a string of cooking evening's ahead of me, I know it would behoove me to get a strong start on these postings. After a few weeks of solidifying a date and a few hours of actual time in the kitchen, the staff of the Center for Cross-Cultural Engagement (along with special family guests) celebrated one of our colleague's (Marilyn's) birthday this evening with quite a few food experiments gone right. On the menu: roasted caprese salad with balsamic served on biscotte; bacon and fried corn chowder; grilled salmon served with a mango pineapple salsa and rice pilaf; homemade raisin bread served with brie en croûte and smoked provolone; faux brown butter lemon pound cake with limoncello glaze.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Dining with Drummers

following our final performance as a drum ensemble...

And just like that, the end to another semester draws near. Before we get there, though, there remains an entire week full of final exams and papers, the anticipation of next term's events, and of course holiday gatherings and food. On the list of "finals" that have recently passed was the final dance concert of the semester; titled "3 plus 1," this year's concert brought together three Denison colleagues and one guest artist, three men and one woman, and three dance pieces and one drum piece. I, and eight others, throughout the course of the semester had taken lessons from the brilliant Terrence and the dance concert provided us with a great opportunity to put into practice what we had learned. Unfortunately for us and for Denison, Terrence will be moving further north for the next chapter in his life. Indeed, gratitude abounds for his unselfish willingness to teach and ultimately inspire. Especially in recent weeks, our group of drummers has become a relatively close bunch and we definitely have Terrence to thank for that. All of this said, we gathered in my apartment on Thursday after the show for a special drummers dinner.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Couldn't Find the Cocoa: Microwave Oven Day 2012

I remember waking up one Sunday morning and catching an episode of "The Hungry Girl" on the Food Network. Admittedly, I'm not much into focusing my food in a health-conscious way, but one recipe as part of Lisa Lillien's chocolate-focused episodes caught my attention. Similar to Rocco DiSpirito's Now Eat This! which sits as part of my library collection, Lisa presents healthy, guilt-free alternatives to dishes you'd otherwise crave but try to resist. The recipe I'm specifically referring to is "Mississippi Mug Pie" not because of the health component, but because of the use of hot cocoa mix as part of the recipe. All this being said, in celebration of Microwave Oven Day on Tuesday, given the opportunity to try a microwaved dessert, and because I (thought I) couldn't find my regular baking cocoa (which I naturally found a little too late), I successfully made a mint hot cocoa microwave oven cake. But before I get to the cake itself, I would like to point out that I thought it wise to try out the recipe beforehand and good thing, too!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Celebrating Two Holidays on One Day: Apple Fritters

Especially for those of you who don't typically keep track of the national food holidays, perhaps you didn't know that last Thursday was "Eat a Red Apple Day" and Friday was "National Fritter Day." Indeed, my response came in the form of none other than red apple fritters, cooked and tender gala apple slices enrobed in a batter much like funnel cake which provides a nostalgic fair-time crunch. While many fritter recipes called for small cubes of fruit to be mixed into the fritter batter and fried up in rounded scoops, I had first envisioned and eventually carried out fritter slices, as exemplified by Paula Dean.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Nothing Left Over: Thanksgiving Leftovers in the Form of Shepherd's Pie

After much time spent with family, friends and of course food, I headed back to campus and the inevitable return to daily life at Denison. With me I brought back leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner and leftover beef sautéed with peas and onions so I could put together a proper shepherd's pie and, eventually, this relatively short blog post.

Thanksgiving Break 2011, Part IV: Farmington Hills

I think it's safe to claim the number three (and, in most cases, all other odd numbers but the number one) as one of the more common numbers in gastronomy. For example, plating involves three main elements (plate, food, and arrangement); basic multi-course meals include an appetizer, entrée and dessert. And further still, the typical healthy plate (2) contains an organisation of three foods: 1/4 protein, 1/4 starch, and 1/2 vegetable (check out this site for healthy meal planning). Carrying on with this trend, my Thanksgiving break included a trio of cooking days, the third of which took place in Farmington Hills. From grade school and high school to the college years, my Saturday evening was spent with friends I met while at Albion-- Tony, Christina, and Andy. Tony had also been among the group of us who met for early Friday shopping after Thanksgiving and after back and forth discussions for a few days prior, we settled on a rather ambitious menu (yes, I know there are only four dishes...) which in total took about 90 minutes to complete. Now if we could just master five in 60...

Thanksgiving Break 2011, Part III: Southfield

Out of (now) tradition, the Friday after Thanksgiving is a special time to hang out with friends on one of the most commercial days of them all. Arguably still tired from the tryptophan and late night following a day of food festivities, the early morning caffeine fuel was in full force and clearly apparent at the shopping centers, with adrenaline kicking in at the sight of a great holiday deal. I eventually made it to the evening hours (midday I had brunch with Tom and Hua, two classmates and lifelong friends since grade school) and was presented with an interesting cooking opportunity. Having never cooked with Hua before, but knowing of his shared appreciation for the tv series, "Friends," I set forth to create a special dessert befitting this time of the year.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Thanksgiving Break 2011, Part II: White Lake (The 100th Post!)

Well, here it is... Post #100! Okay, actually, if you're paying close attention, at the time of this post, I've only written 96 others, but the remaining four are still backlogged from my summer voyage in France. But knowing I'll eventually get those caught up, this post has destined to become my 100th chronicled foodie experience. While this in itself is a personal landmark, I find this to be a quite timely one at that. Indeed, what better way to mark another blogging milestone than to feature one of the most quintessential food holidays: Thanksgiving?

Monday, 28 November 2011

Thanksgiving Break 2011, Part I: Detroit

Just when I thought I was all caught up with my blog posts, a string of foodie opportunities seems to good to pass up. Alas, with the holiday season officially now underway following Thanksgiving, I find myself in need of having to get everything in line before December and the cooking month approaches. I begin, then, with my foodie experiences, relegated in large part to the eating (definitely nothing wrong with that!), in Detroit.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Food and Culture Programme #2: French Food Fare

Happy day-after-Thanksgiving! Alas, an upcoming season full of food and the company of friends and family has officially begun with Thanksgiving now seeming to have passed ages ago and the hectic shopping schedule fills the air. But, before I get to my Thanksgiving break posts, I still need to catch up on my second residence hall food and culture programme. Last Wednesday, in consultation with the RA of a female-only building, we went with one of my favourite cooking themes: French. (No bias... well, not much anyway.) For about $2.75 per person, some of the students helped me in preparing four dishes from four regions of France for our menu: ratatouille (Provence, southeast), poulet à la crème (Bresse, east) with an apple-based cream sauce (Normandie-inspired, northwest), brie en croûte (Île-de-France, central), and a play on brochettes de fruits frais served over vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Farmers Market, Cooking and Boxing: A Saturday in (Metro) Detroit

Following a rather strange work week and, most recently, on and off again electrical issues, I find myself now ready to blog about my food experiences in Metro Detroit last weekend. It seems like such a long time ago I was last at home, but already I'm now gearing up for the same drive this upcoming Tuesday for the Thanksgiving holiday. And so, before I get too bogged down with missing posts, following is a synopsis of last Saturday's foodie adventures.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

My Second Dine Originals Week in Granville: The Oak Room at the Granville Inn

 Granville Inn on Urbanspoon 

Twice a year, a consortium of independently-owned Columbus area restaurants hosts a week long prix fixe menu(s) in their respective locals. As Katharine Moore wrote, "We go all out with this twice a year, because we believe that the surest way to turn a stranger into a customer is to get them in the door…so we turn our chef’s loose with unique menu items and persuade the business managers that the affordable price point is an investment. Then we just sort of sit back and watch it unfold." My first experience with one of these opportunities was back in March; indeed, until it's unfortunate closure, the Short Story Brasserie became one of my favourite staples of life in Granville, for both the food and the attentive and personable staff. For this season's Dine Originals week, I went with two fellow foodies and colleagues to The Oak Room at the Granville Inn to experience its lunch time prix fixe menu set at $10 per person. And with three people and three second course options, we were able to try everything!

National Vanilla Cupcake Day 2011

Greetings, dear Reader! Nearly already halfway through the week, I find myself once again catching up on blog posts. Up first is a quick and easy recipe I whipped up for National Vanilla Cupcake Day last Thursday. This time around, and unlike what I had done for National Chocolate Cupcake Day in mid-October, I went with mini cupcakes, and combined three separate recipes which can be found here, here, and here. This recipe makes about 3.5 dozen individual servings of deliciousness.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Do Have Homemade Doughnuts...For Breakfast!

Whew! It's definitely been a busy set of days following Jill & Sam's visit last Thursday in Granville. On Friday, I went with my supervisor and twelve students to Allegheny College for the 2011 GLCA Students of Color Leadership Conference. Without question, it was (as it always has been) a great experience; not only did we get to learn about diversity efforts from peer institutions, but this year's theme of "New Decade, New Challenges: Access, Justice, Leadership and Sustainability" was both fitting and eye-opening for all of us. To read more about the conference's impact on some of our students, check out this week's diversity newsletter which I published on Monday. But before all of this took place, and before bidding farewell to Jill & Sam as they traveled onward to Kentucky, I made a fresh batch of dough for breakfast and in celebration of National Doughnut Day on Saturday. [Edited 7 June 2013, given this important spelling distinction and this confirmation]

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Another Road Trip, Another "From Scratch" Dinner

Prior to the academic year starting its full swing, I had a wonderful visit from road trippers Trevor and Helena. Within a span of 14 days, their goal was to make it to L.A. and put B.U.'s academic training into practice. Just a few days ago, two more B.U. Paris Internship Program classmates--Jillian and Samantha--embarked on a ten day road trip journey of their own from the northeast with sights set on Myrtle Beach. (Check out their awesome road trip blog linked above.) Having safely arrived from their earlier stop in Cleveland earlier today, I had presented one of two choices: hibachi-style steakhouse in Columbus or cooking in my apartment... like I even had to ask. We went to the Granville market to buy ingredients, though there was no plan prior to entering (other than for sure wanting to have chocolat chaud at some point during their visit). My prompts: what are you in the mood for, and name a region in France. With cheese and the Alps in mind, and without much thought as to the (in)accuracy of what would be proposed, I eventually ended with the following menu for dinner: breaded pork chops with a freshly grated Swiss Mornay sauce served atop chunky garlic mashed potatoes with a red wine au jus gravy, a side of crispy green beans and onions, and baked brie with toasted baguette. Whew. And for breakfast in the morning, freshly made donuts.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Buy a Doughnut [/Donut] Today... or Make One Yourself!

Today we celebrate "Buy a Doughnut Day," but as the folks at CDKitchen suggest, why not modify this day to be "Make a Doughnut [/Donut] Day"? In honour of the donut, I finally got around to making Chinese-style donuts which fed perfectly as a dessert to a dinner I had last night with four Denison students who live in my residence hall. Just as these recipes suggest (links 1, 2, and 3), the easiest way to make homemade donuts is to shape them out of the pre-made buttermilk biscuit canisters you can find in the grocery store. But with successive failed attempts at working with yeast, I was determined to finally master its use in creating homemade, from-scratch, donuts fit for celebrating. By combining these recipes (here and here) along with the brilliant recipe found at the Pioneer Woman's blogsite, I got around to making light donuts that were warm with doughy goodness. I have made donuts before using the pre-made stuff, but with a little patience, the from-scratch variety is much more meaningful. Along with my Chinese-style donuts with spiced chocolate sauce and whipped cream, the rest of the dinner menu included a Vienna pizza bread on my part, and by Joy (one of the students), soy sauce chicken and mushrooms, spicy sliced pork and cabbage, and "real" rice(!).

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Tribute to the Aztecs: National Chocolate Day 2011

Yesterday was, in my opinion, the food day of all food holidays: National Chocolate Day. As you may know by now, I try my best to celebrate food holidays with dishes that give me a reason to try (synthesizing) a new recipe, bring me back to something I've made before, or are inexpensive and easy to make. Yesterday's celebration was no exception and this time around my celebration dish was one that covers all three of these areas. The simplest recipes of what I made involve three principal ingredients: heavy cream, chocolate, and something to serve as a coating (more chocolate, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt, etc.). I first recall making these in high school and so it took me quite some time to resign myself to the fact that this was as simple to make now as it was back then. I'm talking about truffles. No, I'm not talking about truffles as in the fungus, but rather the chocolate version that resembles those expensive delicacies best found by pigs.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Celebrating National Potato Day 2011 with a Potato Gratin

I don't know what is so different about this week, but it certainly hasn't been difficult finding dishes to make in celebration of national food holidays. Today of all days is the celebration of one of the easiest and most versatile starches to work with: National Potato Day. From the potato soup to potato puffs, poutine to potato salad, many easy dishes can be pulled together and under a very acceptable budget. To celebrate this year's day of the root crop I'm most familiar with, I made a potato gratin (also recognised as scalloped potatoes) with a Swiss cheese Mornay sauce (i.e., béchamel with shredded Swiss cheese). And I don't know about you, but it's tough to cook with potatoes and not have some sort of pork around; to that end, I also discovered my own way of making bacon bits... by twice frying them.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Bacon and Black Bean Quinoa Cakes in Honour of National Food Day: A Healthy (Gasp!) Alternative to National Greasy Foods Day

For those of you who are not aware, today is National Greasy Foods Day. While I would typically be categorised in the "let's eat greasy food" to celebrate this national food holiday (and I may very well do so later today), I have decided (at least for my midnight snack) to go a healthier route, given that yesterday was National Food Day. Established this year by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, this year‘s theme is "Transforming the Way Americans Eat: Focusing on Healthy, Affordable Food Produced in a Humane, Environmentally Sustainable Way." Certainly a timely theme given that of Saturday's farm to table program, a Food Day collection of recipes by prominent chefs and food writers sparked me to consider what I could make in honour of this inaugural year. Bearing in mind the six Food Day principles--the first among them being the reduction of "diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods"--I settled on a trio of quinoa cakes (using smokey maple bacon and black beans) for my midnight snack to balance the fine line between the two aforementioned holidays. When it came time to actually cooking them, however, I found that what I ended up actually accomplishing was the ability to test out the cooking technique of this truly amalgamated recipe. An "America's Test Kitchen"-approach, I'm pleased with the final result, pictured above and described in greater detail below. [Servings:] The recipe and process is good for nine quinoa cakes, six of which contain bacon.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Columbian Cuisine and Home Cooking à la Ayalas

Just as I thought I had finished blogging today, another wonderful opportunity found its way to me that (unsurprisingly and fittingly) needed to be added to the blog. After Mass this evening, those who could attend were invited to the home of the Ayala family. As it turned out, a small group of us joined the Ayala family at their home for dinner and were treated to a beautifully home cooked meal by Mónica's mom who is here in the States visiting from Columbia.

It Finally Happened!: Farm to Table Cooking Class 2011

Shortly after my arrival to Denison's campus last autumn, I received an e-mail soliciting event ideas for the 2011-2012 campus-wide theme of "Migrations." Now a year later, months of planning, an intensive three weeks trying to pull everything together, and cognisant of both yesterday being the last Farmers Market day of the fall season and Monday being National Food Day (ironically, this year's theme is "Transforming the Way Americans Eat), my fall food and culture program "Farm to Table Cooking Class: An Experiential Food Adventure" finally came to fruition. When all was said and done, our group of 21 registered participants and crew of 10 (myself, Ana, Dave, Lauren, Marilyn, Marlaine, and Susan, as well as Jen, Monica, and Nicki of PEAS--People Endorsing Agricultural Sustainability) somehow pulled off a truly ambitious menu. Before I share with you our program and menu, I should note the coordination of a large group of over 30 (with plans to feed at least 40, if the farmers/vendors were to have joined us) was a script I had been dreaming and rerunning multiple times in my head over the past week and, while a rewarding challenge in the end, it would have had no meaning were it not for the participants and crew that took part in the challenge. I would be remiss to not also acknowledge the wonderful support from both Denison (especially our respective offices, and in particular the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life for providing the Open House as our wonderful venue) and the Granville Farmers Market community. With this said and with much gratitude, and in the words of the Iron Chef America chairman's uncle, let us now turn to yesterday's event... à la cuisine ! [Side note: As those who are familiar with this blog should know, and as I mentioned to the participants yesterday, all of the recipes I have made have all been written out here in an on-traditional recipe style. You are encouraged to read the blog from start to finish, taking note of your mise en place (i.e., preparation, organiation and knowledge of the location of especially measured ingredients). In addition, I would also like to note that I have made most of these dishes and the recipes I've shared are my adaptations of a variety of others; if this is the case, the dishes will be linked to additional posts on this blog.]

Chicken Piccata for Two: Lauren's Visit to Granville

Without question, this has been one of the busiest weeks so far since I first started working at Denison; and as many may know, I've had some busy ones! Yet despite all the work, it's been wonderful to share this part of my daily life with Lauren over the past few days. She arrived on Thursday and as I'm writing this post, I'm also getting ready for my last commitment for the weekend (greetings from our department and taking part in a diversity workshop for prospective students) before Lauren has to return to her daily life at Notre Dame. So often are we (and I'm speaking in general terms here) bogged down by work and activities that by the time we're able to spend any time together with friends and family, all of that is pushed aside. This time around, completely setting aside work has been particularly difficult as the hours approached for my Farm to Table program, and so to have her support through this time has been especially meaningful. Speaking of meaningful, after a very long drive from Indiana, Lauren cooked one of her burgeoning specialties for dinner on Thursday, chicken piccata.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Celebrating National Chocolate Cupcake Day 2011 with Dark Chocolate

If you didn't know, today is National Chocolate Cupcake Day and quite naturally I had to celebrate this unofficial food holiday that's nevertheless recognised this time of you. Combining my adapted dark chocolate cake recipe (based off of the recipe found on the back of Hershey's dark cocoa powder containers) and this one offered by online specialty foods magazine The Nibble, I woke up this morning prepared to bake some cupcakes in acknowledgment of this 19th century treat. The one issue I faced was the fact that I don't have any cupcake pans in my apartment and so I baked two cupcakes in ramekins and poured the rest of the batter into a baking dish; by definition, a cupcake is typically a cake made as a single serving and so at least the ramekin versions fit the celebration. On the menu: Dark Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Orange and Almond Cream Filling and Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Monday, 17 October 2011

From Scratch and Supporting Local Sustainability: World Food Day Weekend, Part II

As I've noted over the past few days, yesterday was World Food Day; in the U.S. alone, 300 events marked this day which, since 1979, is meant "to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty." While food concerns are certainly rampant throughout the world, the inequity, mistreatment, and mismanagement of food does not help to alleviate very glocal issues. We don't need to be Goodwill Ambassadors to initiate and bring about change in our communities; for those who are fortunate to be part of the food market (as producers and consumers), we have an obligation to give back, learn from, and support to the extent we can, local food, global and regional influences, and each other. On day two of my celebration of World Food Day weekend, I focused on preparing homemade food, with a common (and local) autumnal ingredient: butternut squash. On yesterday's menu: Monterey Jack and Roasted Squash Tomato Ravioli with Nutmeg and Brown Buttered Almonds.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A Brezel in the States: World Food Day, Part I

World Food Day (which will officially be recognised tomorrow), and according to World Food Day USA, "is a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed, year-around action to alleviate hunger." There are certainly many who are quite far away from wherever you may be reading this blog post who lack food, let alone clean water and shelter; on the other hand, there are perhaps even those near you who may also be in a similar situation. Indeed, while food is a means of exploring identity and bringing people together, it can also give rise to exploitation, inequity, and division. If it's in your power to affect change on a grander scale, such as this video may suggest (and there are examples within that which could be adaptable), I've found this video to relate to the work I already do around food on this blog. And so, let the conversation continue; following is my first day of World Food Day weekend 2011.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

An (Un)intended Food Migration: Texas, Germany, Northern India, and Back to Ohio... All in One Night

Yesterday, I noted my excitement for tonight's Northern Indian dinner in one of our campus dining halls, under the direction of visiting Sodexo and Executive Chef Sathish Kumar. Well, as we press on with on-going post-pre-orientation programming and gatherings, and continuing to build on this year's "Migrations" theme with a truly inspirational and powerful play which concluded this evening, the stage seemed to have been deemed from the very beginning as set to translate the message of food identity, culture, and migrations this evening. In fact, I felt particularly moved when I heard many times over in the food line today, "Can I have a little bit of everything?" What courage, what bravery, what culinary gastronauts! And what a great day and series of events to celebrate my one-year anniversary with Denison!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Sodexo's International Flavours Make Their Way onto Campus: a Northern Indian Lunch

For some reason or another, it seems that food has recently taken on an evolutionary meaning for the Denison community. From searching for locally sourced ingredients to artistically representing sectors of the food industry and opportunities for food and culture programming (such as my farm to table cooking class in two weeks) as a direct correlation to our campus-wide theme of "Migrations," the interrogation and study of food seems to have been welcomed to Denison's table. This wonderful trend continued this past weekend with the arrival of Executive Chef Sathish Kumar who shared traditional preparation techniques with the cook staff over the weekend and is also on campus to direct the preparation of two authentic Indian meals for the campus community. In addition, Chef Sathish was available to meet students, faculty, and staff at the first of two Indian meals today for lunch, and naturally I had to meet him in person.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

National Taco Day and National Frappe Day, In Celebration of

Alongside maintaining this blog, there's one other publication that I maintain on a regular (weekly) basis: "Diversity @Denison." This online newsletter is a central hub for information regarding diversity efforts on campus, as well as a medium for conveying issues regarding diversity in its varied identities and cultures. This year, I added a special section on food and cultures; just as there exists national holidays to celebrate specific cultures, so too do there exist ones to celebrate the gastronomic world. One resource I turn to each week is the online food magazine about specialty foods, The Nibble. If you navigate via the attached link and get to October, you can see that this past Tuesday and Friday were National Taco Day and National Frappe Day, respectively. Both of these were on my list to celebrate this year, and we (my colleagues and I) did just that.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Empanadillas à la Puerto Rico: A Latin Cultural Cooking Experience

On Denison's campus, Preston House is the residential site for language students. With language at the core of cultural exploration and identity, students are organised by target language and meet regularly to celebrate cultural dimensions of the language. During my Filipino food and culture program, I was invited to join the Spanish language students on a Latin cooking venture of their own. Little did I know beforehand that I would soon be learning so much from the starting point of a dough-filled pastry and its culinary (and cultural) variations. On the menu: empanadillas of chicken and pizza; yellow rice with turkey sausage; potato salad; and chocolate chip cookies.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Textural Tastes in Bacon, Apple, and Brie

For the past week or two, I have been especially craving bacon (in actuality, when is this never the case?). And with an apple I still had sitting around from Bloomington, and leftover brie and puff pastry from last week's Paving the Way dinner, I finally got around to mixing all the textural tastes of bacon, apple, and brie in a tartlet form on two days ago.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Food and Culture Programme: Finding a Part of Self in Filipino Food

Last Saturday, I received an e-mail confirmation stating approval of my proposed research titled "Students at the Table: Stone Soup and Undergraduate Food Culture on a Liberal Arts Campus." And what proper timing! On Tuesday, I held my first formal food and culture programme of the year which incorporates the research questions I am studying. For the time being, the research is for my own personal inquiry but I hope to transform it into presentable conference and/or publishable material. Until that latter part comes to fruition, I see this as an added bonus not only for a new programming module of my design but as a means of critiquing already existing programmes and creating a space to talk within a field of study (or rather an activity of being) I find incredibly fascinating. (NB: I do recognize my first food and culture programme, however, as the Stone Hall potluck.)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

An 8-month-old Blog and Birthday #23

It dawned on me as I began to write this post that this food blog turned eight months old on the 22nd, with my Bloomington post. And speaking of a turning of age, the end of my 22nd year and the start of my 23rd occurred on Monday. My sister (Toni) had made the drive from Metro Detroit to visit me in Granville and quite naturally (though this point could be argued) food became a focal point of her visit and my birthday celebration.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

A Five-Course Dinner for 16 for Less than $5 Per Person: Paving the Way Ambassador Dinner

Happy National Cherries Jubilee Day! And happy second day of the fall season! Unfortunately, I don't have a cherries jubilee recipe for you today (though that would be an appropriate dessert for this cooler fall weather today), but I do have a meal you can prepare for less than $5 per person (given a sizable group). This past Tuesday, I cooked a five-course dinner for our office's pre-orientation program staff, the dinner of which was gastronomically themed "fall flavours and the last bit of summer." On the menu: TAB (turkey, apple, and brie) tartlet, Italian-marinated chicken with bow tie pasta, roasted vegetable salad, s'more brownies, and lemon-nectarine granita with lemon and berry garnish.

Stone Hall Potluck Kicks Off Food and Culture Programming

Good morning! If you're reading this and didn't know by now, I'm embarking on new programming here on campus focusing on food and culture. In the last few months, I've learned there are faculty on campus that teach about food but not much has been done by way of non-class-related programming... until now. Certainly a means of getting residents to meet each other in a more pseudo-formal structure, the Resident Assistants in the residence hall I'm living in organized a potluck for the building, with our charge that residents who participate in the dinner need to bring food that somehow represents the residents in the room in some way. Not only was there a great turn out, but there were great explanations and conversations that joined the eclectic mix of identity represented in food.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Visit to Bloomington

One week ago today, I headed over to Bloomington, Indiana. Granted I'm a fan of the Midwest but I had a very specific reason for making the journey to this foodie-friendly city: Bloomington is where I foresee this potential food anthropologist's physical training ground for the intersection of food, research, and travel.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

School Is Most Certainly in Session

Greetings, dear Reader! As you may have recognised, the start of the academic year has arrived and gone, bringing out the anxiety and excitement of a new year of possibilities, as well as the expected lack of time to take a break and cook. In the midst of these seemingly long time away from the blogosphere, it's surprising to realise that my last post was only three weeks ago (though I assure you I feel like I haven't sat down to write in at least a month). As can also be expected, the new year also brought about many food gatherings which resulted in me not necessarily needing to cook. To bring you all up to speed--because I have an even more exciting post in the works--I wanted to share some photos and short stories that have been filed away on my computer for far too long. ps/ The above photo is the salted caramel bacon brownie variation of the salted caramel brownie I made in late August.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Just Another Day of Cooking

Today in the village of Granville--and in much of the Midwest, it seemed--the weather was near perfect and incredibly motivating. With road trip/fall type music playing, I took a brisk walk back and forth to church. On my return journey, food found its way to the foreground of my mind (it didn't hurt it was also lunch time) and I conceived the notion of cooking some carbonara. When I got back, I turned on the tv, set it to the Food Network, and pulled up my last go at this simple dish. This time around I used lemon-lime soda instead of white wine and somehow came up with my best attempt to date.

Discover a Taste of the Caribbean for about $1 a Person... and for Another Dollar, Try Some Salted Caramel (/Bacon) Brownies

Unlike past weekends on campus, this particular weekend has started out exceedingly well. Perhaps it has to do with the fact I had absolutely no work obligations to attend to or because I spent the majority of my day cooking... or perhaps it is a bit of both. In any case, I just returned back to my apartment on campus (and with a parking spot during move-in weekend!) from a colleague's housewarming party, having spent many hours prior in the comfort of my kitchen. On Thursday evening, I asked her what type of regional cuisine may be of interest; Friday morning, I got a response back which loosely abbreviated to Caribbean and anything with sweet potatoes. I don't think I felt any more removed from my culinary comfort zone as in the moment I read her response. Alas, if it weren't for challenges such as this, how else can one learn? As I aimlessly searched for what it meant for a dish to be "Caribbean," I was able to find this site which in the end taught me there is no distinct flavour (apart from the use of spices) within this rather larger regional cuisine. And indeed, this is certainly true elsewhere. I continued searching until I found a very well-received and well-rated recipe from the November 1999 issue of Cooking Light hosted on myrecipes.com. In reading the recipe, I noted the use of hot Italian turkey sausage which begged the question of whether or not I should be taking a vegetarian spin on this dish. The answer, as I should have expected, was yes. As a self-proclaimed and apparent carnivore, I must say that cooking vegetarian food is not exactly my forte, but I am certainly up for such a challenge. With a dessert already in mind (which also necessitated a protein subtraction), I tested my culinary and impromptu skills on Caribbean sweet potatoes and black beans served over yellow rice, as well as salted caramel brownies... all for about $2 a person.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Back to Basics (with Jazz Included)

Finally settled into my apartment on campus, I was fortunate last weekend to make it to the Granville Farmers Market located just a few blocks away. I had gone on a dual mission: first, to find initial contacts for a food program I'm organising in relation to our campus theme of migration; and second, to purchase fresh, local, and organic, produce from the area farmers. I wasn't sure what I would find exactly, but I knew I somehow had to feed it into my menu planning for a dinner I had been anticipating the week prior: my former roommate in Paris, Trevor, and his girlfriend, Helena, are on an amazing across-the-country road trip from Pennsylvania to California, and Granville, OH, made it on their list of stops. Both aspiring film makers, they are also wonderful photographers. Following below are the meals I prepared for them but if you'd rather see their great photos first, head over to their blog post here.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011