Archive by Author

Last Harvest Photos

29 Nov

Here are the pictures from our last day in garden. The photos of the post-harvest are especially revealing as to how much we planted and harvested this semester.

Garden Update 11/12

14 Nov

I’m always amazed by how well our garden is doing when I visit. This time with the new hose nozzle I was able to get a good watering in and take some pictures. The garden is clearly in need of some mass harvesting and even the transplants seem ready. The micro-greens I helped plant last time have sprouted, but I don’t think it’s been enough time to harvest them yet, despite the “micro” name.

The Forbidden Fondue

10 Nov

Something we don’t think of often are limits placed food, specifically age limits. We all know about 21 for alcohol, but more importantly what about fondue? Cheese fondue, meat fondue, seafood fondue and chocolate fondue have their place in the delectable niche in the make-your-own-meal-table-side cuisine. We even just had a chocolate fondue party in Webb Tower hosted by building government. Who could dare to try and take away this pleasure from alleged “underage” humanity?

I was sitting in the car when a golden pot caught my eye. My dad seemed indifferent, eyes focused on the road, but what could it be? Sticks poked out from the shiny rim and flame burned beneath it. “Geja’s Cafe” was written on the sign on which it was adorned on. Puzzling to my young and curious mind. “Dad, what’s that pot?” I excitedly inquired. But the pot was gone. My dad turned the corner and had no clue as to how to decipher my nine year old cryptic descriptions of a floating golden pot. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that they explained the wondrous “fondue”… and I wanted it.

Well Geja’s Cafe in Chicago could. Their arbitrary minimum age was set at ten years old. Thanks to insurance policies meant to police children, I was prevented from experiencing fondue at a young age. Fondue does have it’s merits as a weapon of destruction: hot oil, open flame, and sharp skewers. Recipe for disaster indeed.  I was devastated and a mere few months later elated when the first hot skewer of meat hit my tongue. Ahhh forbidden pleasure.

Garden Update 10/29/10

31 Oct

I went to the garden this past Friday, but the hose nozzle was broken. After emailing Professor McKnight she was able to find a replacement nozzle and all is well.  The plants are doing well as usual. We should be ready for another harvest soon.

Oct. 22 Garden Update

24 Oct

Many of the vegetables look ready for harvest (my group’s mustard greens look especially ready), but it doesn’t look like the transplants have progressed much.

Sorry, I wasn’t able to get the pictures off my phone until today.

Mythic Food Education

19 Oct

I work at the California Science Center street doing graphic design and have recently been working on a traveling education show called “SuperKids Academy”. The goal of the show is to educate kindergarten through 5th grade students on healthy lifestyles. My task has been to update the SuperKids Academy to adhere to Californian health education policies. All sorts of puzzling changes had to be made in the show-related literature such as references to “junk food” becoming “salty, sugary, fatty food”. This odd alternative to such a colloquial term for unhealthy food raised my eye brows. Even just from a graphic design standpoint, “salty, sugary, fatty food” is an awkward phrase to work with. In some ways the term is more specific and could be construed as a more accurate teaching tool then the ambiguous “junk food”. However, the weight that the latter phrase holds in the way it conjures images of chips, candy, etc is extremely poignant.

The show features a mythos of two superhero kids as they battle various “BLAHs” or monster which try to encourage unhealthy behavior. The encounter with the “Salty, Sugary, Fatty Food BLAH” is especially dramatic in the battle that ensues. However, I believe that this new version of the myth drastically changes the feel of the story. Yes, one could argue that the differences arise from simple changes, but wording is everything in any story. Each Momotaro version had it’s own peculiarities that made them unique while remaining distinctly Momotaro. The new SuperKids Academy is still super, but decidedly different from the original.

China In My Japan?

28 Sep

Exoticism forms the main notion of magic in Tanizaki’s The Gourmet Club as Count G embarks on a quest to find new cuisine completely unfamiliar for him. Much of the magic that other foods used to have for the Count have long since worn off as their exotic tastes became less foreign to him. This sense of magic that Count G indulges in can be described as fickle at best and Count G seems less concerned about the food (although he does offer salivating descriptions of his foodie endeavors) and more about any newness that can be offered to him. The Count’s hunger for fresh experiences therefore instantly enamor him with  foreign visuals, smells, and tastes.

During the summer between my junior and senior year of high school I participated in a short two week homestay in Japan, first for a week in Osaka and then the last week in Yokohama. It was in this last week that my group ventured to Yokohama’s Chinatown, one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world. Japan was already a magical place for me in terms of Tanizaki’s exoticism and being thrown into an inner exoticism was a complete sensory overload. The streets were laden(read: sparsely compared to the US) with trash – unthinkable in urban Japan – and seedy basement video rental/grocery stores were all over the place. We loved it. This new sub-layer of Japan provided an entirely different magic than what Osaka offered the week prior. Yes, Yokohama Chinatown is undoubtedly Japanese, but it sure was convincing enough to wide-eyed tourists for a few hours.

Let’s go Somewhere new…

16 Sep

Often times I’ll contemplate with friends on where we should head out to lunch. Pizza? Burgers? Our usual Thai place? I protest these choices always. Originally from Chicago, I’ve always wanted to take advantage of my city’s vast food cultures and try everything. My friends on the other hand are much less appreciative of their options and tend to shy away from anything too adventurous. My most relevant to class example would be when we ventured out to an authentic comfort food-style Japanese hole in the wall. “No Sushi” a sign loudly exclaims from the store front window. My friends are disappointed–they love getting grocery store bought sushi. We all sit down and I’m immediately drawn to the simple, yet tasty sounding dishes. I order Oyakodon (a bowl of rice with egg and chicken on top). Granted, this may not sound like a strange or adventurous dish, but it’s definitely authentic and I wanted a taste of authentic home Japan, not fine dining. My friends order chicken teriyaki, a dish they’ve certainly had before. We all enjoy our meals and head out.

Kanagaki Robun dismisses the Western-o-phile as a cultural elitist whose tastes have been altered by powerful Western influences. Cwiertka’s writing on Western Food and Imperial Japan in the Meiji era supports Robun’s exaggerated prose , but qualifies it by saying, “the introduction of Western food into the lives of Japanese elite meant much more than simply a change of menu” (p.20). While the Meiji era foodie was not appreciated until much later, I hope my constant prodding to get my friends to try new foods eventually opens them up to foreign experiences that they can appreciate and enjoy.

No Wine, No Problem

6 Sep

I’ve grown up with the Food Network being an easy fall back when in need of entertaining television during those mundane, non-prime time hours. Sadly most of my favorite shows involve recipes too creative and varied for me to follow through with, but I count exposure as always a good thing. This exposure goes hand in hand with my experience cooking with my dad who loves to come up with new recipes and ideas for cooking to shake things up now and again. However, for college he taught me his staple dishes and suggested using garlic powder instead of fresh garlic cloves, dried herb oregano instead of fresh oregano, etc. to make things easier for a sophomore with their own kitchen for the first time.

There was one key ingredient that proved hard to substitute for an underage student: wine. Even a half decent wine is great for cooking and is a trusty staple in my dad’s repertoire for making tasty sauces.  So early this week when I wanted to make his delicious meatball recipe I was stuck without any wine to use. Still I was not discouraged from making my meatballs and decided to follow through with it, wine or no wine. Thinking back to my dad’s resourcefulness and my long time obsession with the Food Network I worked up the courage and headed over to Superior grocery store. Realizing the need for a sauce, I purchased beef stock and vegetable soup in an attempt to create a base flavor. I also decided I should use as many fresh ingredients as possible instead of taking the easy route of garlic powder etc. After preparing and cooking the meatballs I added the beef stock and and some soup to the pan to let simmer. Still not satisfied  with the consistency of the sauce I added a bit of flour to thicken the liquid. Once my roommates wandered into the kitchen lured by the smells of my efforts I knew I had a chance at a getting by without my dad’s trusty wine. The meal itself proved my thoughts correct and now wine is no problem.