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Miso soup

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

My mom was a great cook who made excellent soups and stews. But when I was sick, she always heated up a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and brought it to my sickbed on a tray, with buttered toast.

I’ve been fighting a cold, and I’ve taken to bed recently. Steve has been pampering me, bringing me breakfast in bed and cooking all the meals.

But yesterday, what I really wanted was soup. I no longer crave canned chicken noodle soup, but I got up and made myself some miso soup; it has some of the same comfort food magic of my childhood, and it takes not much more time and effort than opening and heating a can. Continue Reading »

Bento

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I’ve read that there’s a lot of pressure on Japanese mothers to make kawaii (cute) bento lunches for their kids. I’m sure you’ve seen photos of some of the more elaborate creations.

As grandma of a 3 ½-year old preschooler, I’ve started to make my granddaughter a bento lunch every Friday. Her mom stops by to pick it up on the way to school.

I’m not in it for the glory.

Little Miss T, a delight in every other way, is a picky eater and prefers to play at lunchtime rather than sit down to eat. Her lunchbox, packed with a sizable quantity of food, returns home daily with most of it untouched. Continue Reading »

Chocolate Decadence Cake

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

This year, I’m thinking of skipping the time-consuming Bûche de Noël for Christmas Eve dinner and making a simpler dessert, instead. One idea is to go with a recipe that I helped to promote for Ghirardelli 20 years ago. Chocolate Decadence Cake—even the name of the recipe seems retro today—used to be one of my favorites, but I’d forgotten about it with the passing of years.

This is a fairly easy recipe and it’s nice and chocolatey, which would please my granddaughter. The cake is topped with drifts of whipped cream, fresh raspberries and chocolate leaves. (I skipped the raspberries for this test.) Continue Reading »

The Doll Party

the-doll-party

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Anticipating that our three-year-old grandchild would be lonely, with grandpa and grandma off to Japan for 25 days, I promised the little girl, “When grandma gets back, we’ll have a doll party!” Her eyes lit up.

Last Thursday, I made good on my pledge, working from early morning until the afternoon of the party, preparing some yummy little tidbits. I washed all the doll dishes (mismatched—maybe I should buy her new ones for Christmas) and set the coffee table in our family room with the tiny plates, cups and utensils.

I cut out stars and circles from bread for little tea sandwiches—ham and cheese, egg salad, and cream cheese and chutney. I made tiny chocolate cupcakes in mini-muffin tins, frosted them with chocolate frosting and decorated with little candy canes. Continue Reading »

Salmon Rice

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

While I am of Japanese heritage, my grandparents emigrated to Hawaii over a century ago, and like most Japanese immigrants of that period, they were poor farmers. So, emerging from a time warp and bridging a considerable economic distance, I took in Tokyo, Kyoto and towns large and small in a 25-day vacation that ended two weeks ago.

Although this was not my first trip to Japan, it was my longest, and gave me a chance to reflect upon Japanese cuisine with a little more insight. I’m no expert; I’m merely generalizing about my own experiences. Continue Reading »

smoked salmon spread

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

After Thanksgiving, I begin preparations for the holidays, looking through cookbooks, food magazines and my own recipe files for inspiration. In the days when we threw big holiday parties for nearly a hundred people, Thanksgiving weekend was the kickoff for preparing appetizers and desserts that could be made ahead and frozen.

I start thinking about how to theme my Christmas Eve dinner table and what will be on the menu. I start baking cookies to freeze and planning any food gifts I want to make for friends. Continue Reading »

roasted-squash-soup-2

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

This Thursday, we’ll be feasting on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. And on Friday, we’ll have a fridge crammed with leftovers.

If you decorated your table as I did mine, link to last week’ story with a bounty of produce, you’ll have those fruits and vegetables to deal with as well. How to manage it all and avoid waste?

Here are Five tips to get you organized. Continue Reading »

thanksgiving table closeup

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I’m teaching my three-year-old granddaughter to set the table. We have a family dinner every Friday night and she lays out the dinner plates, glasses, napkins and flatware. This feat is accomplished on tip toes, since her head barely clears the tabletop.

Thanksgiving and other special occasions are grandma’s turn to set the table. These days I no longer use my good china, silver and crystal. I feel it’s an imposition on the family because everyone pitches in to clean up, and I know they’re secretly happiest when we use everyday china that can be loaded in the dishwasher after dinner.

That doesn’t mean my table has to be ordinary. For Thanksgiving, I like an edible centerpiece as a celebration of the harvest. An extra benefit is that nothing goes to waste afterwards, since all the table decorations can be consumed later. Various kinds of squash, persimmons and pomegranates, interspersed with votive candles and bunches of grapes, make a beautiful table “runner” on my glass table. If I have time, I bake sugar cookies cut in turkey shapes to use as place cards. Continue Reading »

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