"Order Up" at Calle Ocho, NYC

A couple weeks ago, Calle Ocho, an Upper West side New York City restaurant, organized a tasting for New York City food bloggers. I’m still dreaming about the Bacon Wrapped Almond Stuffed Dates. The Cured Salmon, Aji Amarillo, Sour Orange and Pineapple ceviche lingers in my mind. Their Colombian Sweet Corn Arepa reminds me of an airy version of my Grandmother’s hot-water corn cakes. Read more

Chicken, Roast Eggplant-Tomatoes Tacos with Turnip Salsa

It’s quite sad that vegetables are considered boring and bland. Truthfully, that’s how it’s presented. A former co-worker and I were at a buffet. It had fried and barbecue chicken, rice and peas, mac and cheese, and all the delicious ceremonial dishes. In the midst of the buffet was the notorious tasteless vegetable platter with grape tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and green bell pepper. Usually, there’s a gooey ranch dressing in the center of the platter. Honestly, I skip over the vegetable tray. The dry taste is not worth the “must-eat-your-vegetables” guilt. As my co-worker grabbed a few pieces, she said, “…Must take a few ‘feel good’ vegetables, but no one ever wants to eat them.” As predicted, the lightly nibbled vegetables were scraped into the garbage when she was done eating. Read more

Saucy Enchiladas with Amaranth Greens and Corn
Saucy Enchiladas with Amaranth Greens and Corn

What smell reminds you of your mom? I have memories of spicy perfumes that linger in rooms long after mom has left for work. My love of floral scents comes from memories of her rose garden. The scent of sweet roses would drift into my childhood bedroom on a breezy, spring morning. Lastly, the smell of corn tortillas frying in oil is one of the few food memories associated with mom. Mexican dishes, especially tacos and enchiladas, are one of my comfort cuisines. When my mother moved with my father to the east coast to raise a family, they would discover Mexican food was only served at a fast food restaurant chain. Although, my father did most of the cooking in our house, he stepped away from his kitchen for mom to make her famous enchiladas. Back then; her version was stuffed with ground beef, cheddar cheese, onions, canned black olives and sour cream. The enchilada sauce would start with an envelope package of a Mexican spice mix.

If you’re familiar with My Life Runs On Food, the recipes posted are mostly from scratch. I’m familiar with both the artificial flavoring of fast food and the slow cook from scratch methods of cooking. Most people grew up with fast food, in which we now know about their unhealthy side effects. My love of cooking inspires a curiosity about authentic ingredients to avoid using artificial flavorings, pre-made spice mixes and bottled sauces. Making the Spicy Enchiladas with Corn and Amaranth Greens is a recreation of Mom’s version. They’re closer to being authentically Mexican, too. The process of making enchiladas from scratch, especially making the sauce, is a labor of love. Read more

Gazpacho with Shrimp and Cucumber Salad
Gazpacho with Shrimp and Cucumber Salad

Casey Angelova of the food blog, Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria, is sponsoring another cultural cuisine event. This time it’s honoring Portugal on their National Day. The Portuguese call it “Dia de Portugal.” It’s also a day honoring their national hero, Luís de Camões, for he’s the author of an epic poem, Os Lusíadas, that tells the history of Portuguese exploration.

A few centuries ago, Portugal had vast empires in Africa and Latin America. With a foundation of Mediterranean flavors, it’s a cuisine with a global influence. Tomatoes, chocolate, vanilla and chilies from the “New World” are now important ingredients in many cultures, including Portugal. Read more

Turkey Empanadas
Turkey Empanadas

Black, rounded, sans-serif characters spell out the title, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. A medium image of a single, red splattered drip in the shape of a bird’s wing protruding out of a young boy’s profile is easy to recognize because of the book’s popularity. A few years ago, every reader on the subway train was engulfed in this Pulitzer Prize book by Junot Diaz. The novel is about a Dominican family’s immigration experience via generations. An intriguing story, it has the adult cartoons, bad boyfriends, childhood memories, teenage love stories, lecherous dictators, college drama, the Dominican Republic’s 20th century history and a nerd boy descended from a curse many times evil because of the sincere actions of his grandfather. A friend, Danny Rodriguez, wrote a serious book review on his blog, The Cultural Critic Who Carries a Kampilan….

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