Spicy Basil Tofu


This hot little number is frequently requested in this household.

There’s no such thing as too much basil.

Yield: 4 servings


  • cooked white rice
  • 1 package of medium tofu, diced and patted dry
  • oil for lightly frying
  • a lot of basil, washed and sliced

Stir fry

  • mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 sliced bird’s eye chili


  • chili oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fermented black bean sauce
  • 1 tbsp chili bean sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar


  1. In a small bowl, stir the sauce ingredients well. Set it aside.
  2. Heat some oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Lightly fry the tofu and set it aside.
  3. In a hot skillet or wok, fry the ginger, bird’s eye chili and garlic until they become fragrant. Don’t let the garlic brown.
  4. Add the diced onions.
  5. Once the onions become soft, add the bell peppers and mushrooms.
  6. Mix the sauce, stir fried vegetables and tofu together. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Let it continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
  7. Fold the basil into the mixture, and allow it to wilt for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve with white rice, topped with a little more chili oil.

Inari sushi with mushroom rice

My sweet sister sent me a recipe via email with the subject line, “10/10 Mushroom Rice,” and only one sentence in the body: “If you make this with sticky rice and wrap it in shiso/sesame leaves, you can make little rice balls for lunch. I like to stuff mine with sautéed garlic-chili spinach or roasted carrots and toasted sesame seeds.”

The email also included this video:

Of course, I had my own ideas (obviously we need a replacement for Dashi).

Serves: 12 Inari sushi


  • 1 package of Inari sushi tofu pockets (can be had from your local Asian grocer, look in the Japanese section)
  • 1 cup of sushi rice, uncooked
  • cleaned and sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (add more to taste)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • shredded nori
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil


  1. Make the rice. Two options:
    1. Use a rice cooker. Rinse the rice, dump the water, then add the vegetable broth. The cooker does all the work.
    2. [how I do it] Cook it over the stove top. Rinse the rice, dump the water, then add the vegetable broth. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. When the liquid has been absorbed, turn off the heat. The stove does all the work.
  2. Separately combine the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. While the rice is cooking, sautee the mushrooms in a pan with sesame oil.
  4. Once the rice is done cooking, fold the sugar mixture into the rice. Then add the mushrooms and sesame seeds.
  5. Fill each tofu pocket with the mushroom rice.
  6. Optional: add wasabi or pickled ginger and wash it down with some Kirin beer.

Thoughts on knitting

I thought I’d try to channel my grandma’s spirit – I pulled out her old knitting needles and found some yarn. Growing up, I spent lots of time sitting next to her while she knitted. Scarves, hats, sweaters, blankets… you name it, she could do it. Her knowledge was self-taught, too. She used to tell me stories about how she learned by watching other women knit in the marketplace, and then practicing on her own with a pair of chopsticks. Talented woman.

My stitches are nowhere near as even, neat or nice as hers. I gave this scarf my best shot, and I can tell where I held the yarn too tight, too loose, and sometimes just right. I should have spent more time picking her brain about proper knitting technique.

This scarf took me about four or five days of work. I found it to be a meditative and therapeutic experience. There was something about getting into a certain rhythm of knitting that I liked – the consistent tink-tink of the needles hitting each other, feeling the texture of the yarn in my fingers, getting lost in my thoughts while my fingers worked, admiring my progress as I went along… It was calming. I find that I enjoy doing activities whose results are tangible; it’s a nice break from my abstract, mind-numbing  regular duties.

Note: There is no image of this scarf because it is 100% hideous.

Oatmeal with Caramelized Pears à la Rote Grütze

Photo 04.06.18, 10 07 30 AM

The title of this post is misleading. To explain myself:


  • 4 pears, peeled, cored, and halved
  • 30 g butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • cooked oats
  • Greek yogurt (Mine is about 10% fat, and this is the best part about it. When I’m feeling daring, I might upgrade to Crème fraîche.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 205 C.
  2. Put the butter in a large baking dish, and put this in the oven while it preheats. We want the butter to melt.
  3. Combine the sugar and vanilla extract.
  4. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the butter once it’s melted.
  5. Place the pears face down on the sugar, cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for 40-50 minutes. Poke a pear with a fork to test whether it’s soft enough – we want the fork to slide in and out easily.
  6. Uncover, and bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Broil for 5 minutes.
  8. For each serving: place a halved pear on a bowl of cooked oats, and generously spoon some of the pan drippings over the bowl. Top with a dollop of yogurt.

Carrot bread


What do you get when you cross carrot cake with zucchini bread? Well, well, well… look no further. I was looking for something sweet with carrots, but not overpoweringly cake-y, and certainly no frosting (as is the norm with most carrot cakes). Not that I have anything against frosting, rather I wanted to let the natural carrot sweetness come through (although I was told this carrot bread is suspiciously tasty and tastes nothing like carrots). I added a handful of dried sour cherries on a whim (thinking they were actually raisins), and what a serendipitous surprise it was! The chewy tartness from the cherries perfectly offset the sweetness from the carrots and played well with the crunchy nuttiness from the walnuts.

By the way, every time I think of zucchinis, one of two thoughts come to me:

  1. Zucchinis are a great starter vegetable for the beginner gardener. I have enjoyed so many great zucchinis in my brief foray in community gardens.
  2. The French word for zucchini is courgette. I learned this from watching My Life as a Zucchini.

Yield: one bread loaf, as pictured.


Dry Bits

  • 1 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon (I think it’s sweeter than the Cassia variety, but honestly, I don’t think it makes much of a difference in this case)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Wet Bits

  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 100 g melted butter

To be folded into the batter

  • a handful of dried sour cherries
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 4 carrots, peeled and grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry bits well.
  3. In another vessel, mix the wet bits.
  4. Grease and flour the loaf pan.
  5. Gradually incorporate the dry mix into the wet mix in thirds, stirring well to prevent a lumpy batter.
  6. Fold the cherries, walnuts, and carrots in the batter.
  7. Pour the batter in the loaf pan and tamp it.
  8. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick/chopstick comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes before attempting to unmold.

Vegetarian pasta carbonara

Photo 10.05.18, 9 31 07 PMPhoto 10.05.18, 9 31 40 PM

If this is the first time you are making pasta carbonara, save yourself the anxiety and resign to the reality that you will soon be enjoying pasta scrambled eggs. After comparing notes with a few other carbonara-enthusiasts, we reached a quorum, determining this must be fact: the soonest you can enjoy pasta carbonara is on the second attempt. It’s worth the trials and tribulations, though. It’s another great example of the versatility of the egg. Indeed, I, too, would choose the humble egg as my desert island ingredient. If you have 30 minutes, treat yourself: Essential Pépin: Egg-ceptional

Tip: Don’t make more than you can consume in one sitting. This dish doesn’t reheat well.

Fun fact: I have actually followed a number of the food bloggers featured in this video.

Yield: 2 servings


  • 250 g dry pasta (I used spaghetti noodles)
  • 2 eggs
  • 75 – 100 g grated hard cheese (e.g. pecorino, parmesean, asiago, or some such blend thereof)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • freshly crushed black pepper
  • your choice of smoked tofu or mushrooms
  • olive oil or butter
  • chopped parsley, as garnish
  • salt, to taste


  1. Fry the tofu in some oil, or sautee the mushrooms such that they brown slightly. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until it becomes fragrant.
  2. Take the skillet off the heat, letting it cool with the tofu or mushrooms. This is the most important step if you would like to avoid the pasta scrambled eggs scenario.
  3. Beat the eggs, pepper, and cheese together (but not too much). Set aside.
  4. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water (it usually takes me about 10 minutes).
  5. Drain the pasta, setting aside a bit of water (about 1/4 cup).
  6. Mix the pasta with the tofu/mushrooms in the skillet.
  7. Pour the egg and cheese mixture in the skillet and turn the pasta so that the egg coats each noodle well. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water to make it saucy.
  8. Turn the heat to medium low and continue to swirl the pasta around, watching carefully. You want the egg to thicken and become creamy, but not overcook.
  9. As soon as the consistency has changed to being creamy, take the pasta off of the heat and plate.
  10. Garnish with a bit of parsley and cheese.