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Congratulations to gingerroot, who won this week's contest for Your Best Radish Recipe with her Roasted Radish and Potato Salad with Black Mustard and Cumin Seed.
Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
I was fortunate to have two wonderful grandmothers who were both amazing cooks. They both expressed love through cooking and feeding their loved ones. I have vivid memories of helping each of them at an early age, maybe around 3 or 4, in the kitchen.
For my paternal grandmother, I was always in charge of grinding the pecans for her pecan pie in a hand mill. I remember sitting right on the kitchen floor to do this. At my maternal grandmother’s house, I was in charge of opening the can of Libby’s corned beef for her corned beef hash. I remember thinking it was a big deal, getting to use the “key” attached to the can. The fact that they both welcomed me into their kitchens and immediately made me a part of the production definitely instilled in me an early love and curiosity for food and cooking.
What's your least favorite food?
Hmm…I do not really care for the canned clam that is in Ozoni, traditional Japanese New Year’s soup. I always gulp it down though, for the good luck. I also do not really like or eat processed fast food. That said, hot fries from McDonalds are my best hangover cure.
What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
This may sound corny, but ever since joining food52 my food has been better, my ideas grander and more inspired, thanks to everyone in this community. I owe A & M a debt of gratitude: My mind is often whirring to try things I have never imagined making before thanks to food52, and I feel fortunate to be a part of it.
One example is the Fresh Fig Custard I made during the basil contest – I had never made my own custard before but was very pleased with the result and flavor combination (and ate two in a sitting on two separate occasions).
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
Thankfully I have not had any spectacular ones to date (spectacular to me connotes fire and blood). There was a time years ago when I lived in Boston and worked at a preschool. Being from Hawaii, I decided to make ice cream mochi brownies for a class potluck. This was just when I really started getting interested in cooking and I was missing an ingredient or two but figured it would just work out. The sticky brownie soup I served was nearly inedible, although the parents and teachers were nice enough to taste it and smile.
What is your idea of comfort food?
Definitely some variation of hot Asian soup with or without noodles -– Chicken Pho, Vegetable Tan Tan, my mom’s after-Thanksgiving Turkey Jook, or just a simple bowl of Miso soup.
Apron or no apron?
I would love to say apron, but as my wardrobe attests, no apron.
What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
So many great movies involve food! However, I am a big Scorsese fan and I love the scene from Goodfellas where they are cooking in prison –- especially Paulie slicing the garlic with his razor blade. Just because you are in the big house doesn't mean you should sacrifice the quality of your food, or what you eat!
If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
My grandmothers because they helped shape the cook/food lover in me and never got to really experience my cooking.
Paul Newman, because he is my oldest (meaning he has been it the longest) movie boyfriend, and he went to my alma mater, Kenyon College. I figure we could talk about the beauty of Gambier, Ohio in the fall and make pasta!
You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
At home it is usually alone, although I can cook with my mom and aunt really well and happily; we all get into our own little groove and know each other’s rhythm around the kitchen. I also love cooking with my siblings.
When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
Definitely try to clean as I cook, especially since I am a pro at getting a lot of dishes, pots, bowls, spoons, etc. dirty in no time flat when cooking.