Lentil Soup and Roast Okra

Happy Black History Month 2018. I’m using this opportunity of celebration as an opportunity to promote self care by reminding visitors about the importance of seeking professional medical assistance. Here’s my story:

One sunny summer day, I walked into my dentist office to complain about the pain of my shifting teeth and to make sure there wasn’t an underlying problem. I walked out with an autumnal schedule for a root canal and an appointment with a gum specialist who would later require surgery to be done in two phases. The dentist said I was a few months away from having one tooth swell with excruciating pain. It may sound like horrific news, but if I reframe my experience, I’m relieved to have caught these problems early, and lucky to have pretty good dental insurance to help pay for the work (I’m still broke).

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Chicken Soup with Farro

The doctor said to eat bland food for about one to two weeks. Hopefully, my minor stomach ailment will work itself out in that time period. She recommended rice, pasta or bread while avoiding spicy, heavy protein and/or dairy-based meals. After all, the goal is to eat easily digestible food, such as chicken soup.

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Rosemary Chicken Stew with Stir-Fried Collard Greens

Besides being known for its Italian style-New York pizza, Saraghina recently opened a new bakery. Essential Italian pantry items, such as bread, morning pastries, olive oil by the pound, spices, cheese, candy and more, are the shop’s speciality. It’s freshly made pasta by the pound is the star. Having access to fresh pasta close to my apartment is a game changer in my menu planning. It means serving dinners made elegant with fresh pasta, and the meals aren’t time consuming. Ironically, the first recipe using Saraghina Bakery’s pasta was a time-consuming Rosemary Chicken Stew with Stir-Fried Collard Greens.

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Wonton Soup with Bok Choy and Edamane

Dad’s recipes start with making broth by scratch before proceeding to the actual preparation of a dish. We have playful arguments about whether homemade or store-bought stock makes a difference in recipes. Of course he’s right, but when it comes to time, the quality of ingredients are sacrificed. As his nine-to-five working daughter, it is my duty to rewrite his recipes starting with organic, low-sodium store-bought broth (preferably from a box, instead of a can or powder to avoid a metallic and salty taste). Such changes encourages people to attempt Dad’s recipes. After all, most beginning cooks are intimidated at the thought of staying in a kitchen for a long length of time.

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Ecuadorian-Inspired Chicken Stew

African-American Southern dishes are my soul and Latin-American cuisine is my heart. I grew up with the guacamole, tortilla chips, salt-rimmed margaritas, rice and beans, refried beans, tacos, tamales and more. However, as I learn more about authentic Latin-American food, my excitement is similar to a kid discovering an adult menu of larger and more flavorful dishes and ingredients.

When Bren of FlanboyantEats.com invited me to share a recipe representing a Latin-American country in her annual Hispanic Heritage Month series, I was cautious. Demonstrating another culture’s gastronomic pleasures—especially when I love Latin-american cuisine—is intimidating. Since there was leftover hominy corn from another recipe, I chose Ecuador because of its pozole stews. Learning more about Ecuadorian cuisine, achiote paste aroused my curiosity.

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