Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine for Family

There are so many ways to approach life.

For the most part our tendency is to approach life the way in which we were brought up.

Not everyone, some people live their lives in contrast to their up bringing...sometimes almost as if they are running away from it.  I can relate.

There are lots of times in my life when I have been running away from the way I was brought up, struggling to be my own person, pushing away from the values I grew up around.

But as is often the case in my life and maybe yours too...the more I ran and pushed and struggled, the more I became what I was trying to resist.  Who would have thunk?

Lucky for me I have had lots of therapy from some really good people and I also have some really great friends.  Friends are the very best, cheapest therapy out there.  Honest...

Once I finally got over my resistance to who I was and where I came from, I was able to appreciate it and build upon it.  One might call this maturing.

What I found out along the way is that I have this family for a reason.  I have this family because they are perfectly suited to challenge me to be a better citizen of the universe.  And they have me in their lives for the very same reason.

So on this Valentines Day...I am celebrating LOVE... a love of those and for those who helped make me who I am.  And while the people that are in my life now hold no less of a cherished place in my is the four members of my early years that I am celebrating today.

On February 26th we will all be together again doing something we all love doing ART.  It might be said that this is what we do the best.  
 As my sister Nava would say...this is in our wheel house.

(It is misleading to say we will ALL together again for this event, we are missing one person.  And really, we miss her every day, not just at big events.  Can I get an AMEN for my mother Roz Padilla?)  

Although it is never easy being a family, it sure is good to be one.

Hope to see all my CA peeps out on the 26th!  Free gift in it for everyone who let's me know you are coming and then shows up...SERIOUS!  Ask me about it...

Happy Valentines Day!

And remember...a day of love isn't just about our life's about everyone in our lives that we love.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mana from Heaven

Bread is the very substance of our human life, the foundation of all civilization.

Every culture does it a little differently.

There is naan bread from the india, pita from the middle east, the tortilla  south of the boarder.  All variations on one theme.

Wherever it is from and whom ever makes it,  I love it.  Unless it is rye bread and then I can't stand it even for a Ruben Sandwich, and I love rubens!

Every other kind of bread I love.

And pasta for that matter.  Give me a carb and I am a happy woman.

I have recently fallen in love with No Knead Bread, a trend that is sweeping the nation...for us foodies that is.

It is a miraculous thing this No Knead Bread.

I have taken to making it with rasins and walnuts using whole wheat.  And I don't knead it, ever!

It is so easy, anyone can do it.

All you need is:

3 Cups flour-I mix it up with adding whole wheat flour sometimes, especially when I use walnuts and     rasins
1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 2/3 cups water
Cornmeal or flour for dusting
***Any add in you want; walnuts and raisins, olives, roasted garlic, rosemary, black pepper, jalapenos...

You will also need a bowl, plasitic wrap, a non-terry cloth dish towel and a cast iron or glass dutch oven,      a heavy oven safe dish with a tight fitting lid.

Start by stirring together flour, yeast, salt and any of your accouterments together in a large bowl.

Pour in water and stir until a ragged dough forms, this will not take very long at all.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let is sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.

The dough will rise and be a bubbly wet dough.

Dust one side of a dish towel with flour or cornmeal, turn out dough onto towel.  Let it rest for 15 min.

Form dough into ball with your hands and place seam side down on the towel.  Sprinkle the dough with more flour or cornmeal and cover with the other side of the dish towel.
Seam side us up here.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

Half an hour before your dough is finished rising, heat your oven with your oven proof lidded dish in it @ 450 degrees. (oven and pan should preheat for half an hour.)

Two different dutch ovens...both work, as would a glass casserole dish with a lid.

Carefully remove pan from oven and turn out dough seam side up into the pan and cover with lid.  Place back in the oven and bake for 20 min.  Remove lid and bake another 15-25 minutes till crust is brown.

This is all white flour with roasted garlic.

Remove from oven and cool bread on a wire wrack.  Leave it too cool as long as possible before cutting into it.

I could make one of these every day my family eats it so fast.

I hope you try this will feel like a real rock star when you see that bread come out of the oven!  I feel like that every time without fail.

Walnut Rasin-2 Cups all purpose flour, 1 Cup whole wheat.  It is outrageous toasted with a little butter and jam, or no jam at all.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

 Happy Chinese New Year!

I am  chinese.  I always have been.

My mother was chinese, as was her whole family.

Yet my mother was so different from her family that I never really connected her or myself with that side of our heritage.  I connected with my Mexican and Native American heritage much more.

Growing up, my mother wove into our lives little of her own culture, the bulk of my understandings about chinese culture came from my grandmother.  And even what I did glean was just skimming the surface.

My brother sent me an article a few weeks ago that was an excerpt from Amy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

If you haven't heard about it...look it up.  Controversial stuff.

Attached to the email, my brother wrote, "Good thing mom and dad were slackers!"

In her book, Amy Chua (I haven't read the whole thing, just the excerpt) outlines the reasons she feels that the values of chinese mothers have of rigorous and strict academic values are far superior to the western mothering style of fostering independence and free will.  Her excerpt starts with a list of things her daughters have NEVER been allowed to do.

They include, play dates or sleepovers, be in a school play, complain about not being in a school play, watch TV or play computer games,  have anything less than an A in a subject that wasn't PE or drama, choose their own extracurricular activities, play any other instrument than piano or violin.

My brother's email also said..."Think of waldorf think of the polar opposite."

I am grateful that my mother was no Tiger Mother.

She may not have been June Cleaver...but what mother is?

What was outlined in the article was so different from what I experienced growing up.  Some of what the article outlined I could vibe with...the majority and the tactics...not so much.

The article further supported the distance I feel from that aspect of who I am.  Yet in an odd way, it explained so much about aspects of my life, my upbringing, my relationship with my mother, her relationship with her mother, and myself.  Like the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, I didn't want to connect with it or understand it...but in some deep uncomfortable way I did.

We have this life given to us by our parents, and their parents and their parents before them.  This is no accident.  We have these people as our heritage for a reason.  What that reason is, is up to each of us to figure out or not.

And while I may not understand or connect with the ways of my chinese lineage, it is none the less a part of me.  It is an aspect of myself I may or may not choose to delve into further.

In the meantime, it is chinese new year and I DO know it is the Year of the Rabbit, my zodiac sign.

According to my most recent restaurant placemat, I am the kind of person other people like to be around.  I am kind, pleasant, affectionate and obliging.  Apparently Michael Jordan is also a Rabbit.  I have always thought Mike and I were very's the jump shot.

 I liked the old place mats better...those ones said I was attractive, creative, and a free spirit. I think they also said...prone to spend freely. well those place mats know me.  Amazing those place mats!

I don't know much, but I do know that a bowl of rice is supposed to bring good luck.

Traditionally a bowl of tangerines or oranges is placed out for  prosperity.   I didn't have any of those, so I used felted beads.  The red envelopes are filled with money for prosperity as well. Usually those are given to unmarried folks from the married ones.  I think I will use this money to buy a danish from the bakery down the street instead.

We always had these from my grandmother for chinese new year.  They are ever so yummy!  I used to take them into school and give them to all the kids in my class.  Okay...I think I only did it once.  
There isn't anything good for you in these candies.  I hope there isn't any lead either.

Gung hey fat choy!
(Happy New Year!)