Allison Day
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Archive for the ‘Other’ Category


Bowl of blueberries

I only just realized that… I like blueberries.

I’ve never been much of a fruit person. I’m horribly opposed to anything that even hints at sour. (I’m getting better.) For years, the only fruits I would touch were bananas.

Of course, I always loved blueberry muffins. You know, the kind that came from a box mix, with little blue bits that seemed only vaguely related to the plump, juicy blueberries that you find at the farmer’s market. (I’ll admit it – I still prefer those types of blueberry muffins over all others. I can’t help it, I grew up with them… they’re comfort food.)

But real blueberries? Bleh. Ew. Ick. No thank you.

And then, the other day at the farmer’s market, a vendor offered me a taste of the blueberries she was selling. I tried to politely turn her down, but she insisted: “They’re very sweet…” Not wanting to be rude, I popped one in my mouth, expecting to have to suppress a scrunched-up sour expression.

Imagine my shock when I realized I actually liked it.


Needless to say, I bought a basket of blueberries immediately.

It seems my tastes have changed over the years. The biggest, sweetest blueberries that don’t have even the faintest hint of sour or tart? Those taste like crayons to me. (Not regular crayons, more like a specific scented crayon that I had when I was a child. The most obscure comparison ever, I know. …which is not to say I’ve ever eaten a crayon…)

But those blueberries that have just enough sour to make you sit up and notice… those are the best. The tang brings out the flavor of the blueberry, and makes you want more. It’s not sleepy-boring, but also not so sour as to make your face scrunch up into a pucker.

I’ve been putting them in my cereal, eating them plain… but I’m thinking it’s time to actually make something with them. A crumble or crisp is sounding really good right now… but I’m curious – if you had a basket full of blueberries, what would you make with them?

Trying too hard

I’ve realized lately that I’m trying too hard.

Breakfast at a diner in Berkeley
Bags of homemade peanut butter cookies for WCLA

Sometimes that’s okay.

Steamed clams for my birthday last year
Tons of homemade sushi for New Year’s 2011
Papaya salad at the 2011 Tet Festival

For example, for my family’s little Memorial Day BBQ (which you’ll get to see next post), I made quite a few dishes that I had never attempted before. That’s a lot more effort than what normally goes into our barbecues, but… that’s okay. Everybody enjoyed it, and the work was well worth the effort.

Sandwich from the Manila Machine food truck
Nem nuong (Vietnamese pork) sandwich

On the other hand, I definitely try too hard when it comes to blogging. I want every post to be perfect and have an amazing recipe and gorgeous photos. (Don’t we all?) But then that just results in me not blogging at all, because I don’t know what to say, or I don’t have a recipe, or maybe the photos were merely taken with my iPhone.

Saltine topped with sliced tomato and tuna salad
Clam chowder in Santa Barbara
Deep-fried red and white bean-filled mochi balls

But I do eat.

Apple pie on a stick

A lot.

A whole lotta bacon
Munchies at trivia night in Monterey with my family

(Every day, in fact!)

Fried rice topped with a fried egg
Toasted sandwich thin with Nutella

It’s not always fancy…

Fried egg, bacon, and kimchi sandwich
Bacon-fried rice (a New Year’s tradition)

But that’s okay, right?

Red bean-flled taiyaki (fish-shaped mochi cakes)
Food from the Flying Pig food truck

(I mean, just look at all these food photos you’d have never seen if I hadn’t decided to write this post!)

Shredded zucchini for zucchini bread
Japanese donut with adzuki bean filling

I have a lot of food stories that I could share with you… even if it’s of a day that consisted of other people’s recipes (like our Memorial Day BBQ), or a visit to a restaurant, or simply a sandwich I made that I thought was fantastic. But you guys never get to hear these stories, because they’re not… well… they’re not perfect.

Food from The Counter Burger at Fiesta Hermosa
Mother’s Day tradition: salmon from Otani’s
Tempeh and spicy daikon from the farmer’s market

Why the sudden change? I’ve been reading Shauna’s blog, as part of a job that’s requiring me to go through all the posts she’s ever written there. She’s an amazing blogger, a wonderful writer, with great photos and well-tested recipes.

Shauna’s daughter Lucy at IFBC 2010
This is how you know you’re eating with food bloggers
Not an unusual sight

But if you read from the beginning, you see that she doesn’t try to force herself to be perfect. Some days she didn’t have the words, and posted nothing more than a photo. Sometimes there was no recipe – she just needed to write… about celiac disease, about her wedding, about where she went that day. (And with all due respect – and I think she’d agree – her photos from the first year of her blog weren’t all too great.)

Tortilla soup from The Soup Bar
Slicing the turducken at Thanksgiving 2010
Layered cherry, coconut, and spinach gelatin

Now, this woman is a very, very well-known blogger, with multiple cookbooks (and another on the way), articles about her in all sorts of well-known publications, and (from what it sounds like) a TV show currently in production. (I’m so honored to be able to call her my friend as well.) So if someone like her is allowed to be imperfect, and just post whatever she wants, whatever moves her… then why on earth am I trying so damn hard? (After all, this blog is hardly anything… it can’t even hold a candle to my sushi blog, never mind to a blog like hers – and that’s okay. It’s not like I’m trying to get a cookbook deal or a TV show out of this… it’s just here for me to talk about my food, nothing more.)

Blueberries never try too hard.
Neither do tangerines.
California strawberries don’t have to try at all
Kale chips – amazing. Hardly any effort.

So I’m not trying so hard anymore. No more waiting for the perfect recipe with perfect photos and a perfect essay to accompany them before I allow myself to put up a post. That’s just silly. Nope… now you’re going to get to see what I’m eating, when I’m eating it (more or less)… no more silly perfectionism for me, thank you.

Pasta w/sauteed bacon+onion+garlic & a fried egg.
Taco time!
Flourless chocolate cake. Decadent.

Vietnamese-Style Fruit Tart

Vietnamese-Style Fruit Tart

This isn’t exactly a new recipe – it’s essentially this banana cream pie, except with slices of mango on the bottom instead of bananas, and topped with strawberries, kiwi fruit, and peaches. But it turned out so wonderfully well, I just had to share it with you.

…with mango, kiwi, strawberries, and peaches.

In Son’s family, and in many Vietnamese (and other Asian?) families, this type of fruit tart is traditionally eaten at all sorts of celebrations. I made this one for his mom’s birthday. The verdict? Even better than the ones they used to buy from the bakeries in Little Saigon. Success!

Everyone loved it!

Herb Garden

Baby Basil

Recently, I’ve really been wanting to start a garden. This desire to grow my own herbs, fruits, and vegetables began a couple of years ago when I really began to take an interest in cooking, and was only exacerbated when I was introduced to Diane and Todd’s amazing garden. Seriously, that’s my dream garden.

Skinny Chives

Problem is, my apartment isn’t exactly overflowing with free space, and I have, er, less than a green thumb. I’ve tried growing things before, and everything but some very hardy bamboo has died. Kaput. Gone all too soon. Heck, I’ve even managed to kill a Vietnamese herb that is supposedly considered a weed. I unintentionally killed a weed! This gardening aspiration was not getting off to a good start.

Itsy-Bitsy Sweet Marjoram

So when my brother got me a Chia Herb Garden for Christmas, I was understandably excited. Finally an opportunity to grow herbs in an easy, compact way that even I could do correctly. I mean, come on. It’s a Chia garden. I couldn’t possibly kill that… right?

The herbs have been growing for almost a month now, and they aren’t dead yet! In fact, they’re starting to look like the herbs that you buy from the store. These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago, and since then the cilantro has begun to grow those spiky leaves that you normally associate with Mexican or Asian food, and the basil and chives are getting bigger by the day. And even though it’s still itsy-bitsy, I have high hopes for the sweet marjoram!

Graceful Cilantro

And the winners are…

Mandy and Jay! Congratulations to the winners, and your garlic sauce will be on it’s way soon!