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Tofu with Peanut Sauce and Soba 300x225 A Healthy, Homemade MealBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Last week when I was in Phoenix, I was excited to experience a healthy fast food restaurant concept from a local chain. The restaurant décor was bright, fresh and airy; the menu was inviting; and the service was warm and welcoming.

After such a promising start, the food turned out to be a disappointment. I ordered some mix-and-match small plates. The sesame soba noodles, the red chile-glazed sweet potatoes, and the quinoa and cauliflower tabbouleh all were drenched with sauces that competed with the natural flavors of the ingredients. In no time, my tongue was tingling from the sodium. Someone had used a heavy hand with seasonings in the kitchen that day. With less of everything, it might have been a fine meal. Continue Reading »

Let’s Stop Food Waste

Food Waste 300x225 Let’s Stop Food WasteBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Last week, I tweeted a disturbing statistic: “If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the U.S. and China.”

When we buy food, there’s the cost of growing, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing and getting it to our tables. So if we buy it, then trash it, we’ve expended energy and resources—for nothing! And to compound the problem, the resulting waste in the landfill further degrades our environment.

Ten or so years ago, I remember interviewing the celebrated chef and cooking teacher, Jacques Pépin, for the Associated Press. At the time, despite the ubiquity of takeout meals, he surmised people were still cooking because supermarkets continued to stock ingredients like fresh fruits and vegetables. If consumers weren’t buying them, does a dump truck go to the supermarket at the end of the day to toss the produce out? That would make no economic sense, he maintained. Continue Reading »

Roasted Strawberries 300x225 Strawberries Thrive, Despite the DroughtCongratulations to JF W. who won our #DaveinAsia sweepstakes! Hopefully he’ll enjoy the food as much as Dave enjoyed his trip.

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

By now, everyone knows that California, America’s agricultural market basket, is facing one of the most severe droughts on record. In San Francisco, our family is doing its part to conserve water—mindfully taking shorter showers, irrigating our plants sparingly and filling the dishwasher to the max before running it.

Since California produces half of all the fresh produce grown in this country, consumers are concerned about the potential of skyrocketing prices. So far, so good.

According to an article by Russ Parsons, food editor of the Los Angeles Times, while some fruit and vegetable prices have increased significantly, produce prices in the aggregate remain stable and USDA is forecasting a nominal increase of 2 or 3 percent. Continue Reading »

IMG 0683 300x214 Now and Then: My History with Food on the Internet

Sandy circa 1995

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Remember this year’s Super Bowl commercial with Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric, where a young Katie asks, “Alison, can you explain what Internet is?”

That would be the year, as Director of the Ketchum Food Center, I initiated the development of a recipe and cooking website for Ketchum, a global PR agency, with the help of Ketchum Advertising’s interactive team. Not only were most educated people clueless about the Internet, marketing pros were still debating whether the Internet was a trend or fad.

In the summer of 1995, we launched recipe.com. It was so groundbreaking in its time, that when I went to New York City to demonstrate the site to food editors of the biggest national magazines, it was the first time most of them had experienced the “information superhighway,” as we called the Internet then. Continue Reading »

Mad for Matcha

Matcha Crepes 300x225 Mad for MatchaBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Last fall, on a vacation to Japan, Steve and I visited Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms, learning how Japanese tea is produced, and getting educated on how to brew the leaves for optimum flavor. Of course, no travel is complete without souvenirs, so we purchased a few packages of sencha for drinking and some cooking grade matcha to experiment with at home.

If you’re like me, you’ve acquired a taste for bitter matcha, a flavor that’s a hot global food trend right now. I remember how I disliked it as a child, when it was whisked up to teach us about the rituals of the Japanese tea ceremony at our Japanese language school in Hawaii. Continue Reading »

How to Cook Fast

Sausage and Grapes 300x244 How to Cook FastBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Recently, I was a guest on a Kansas City radio food show, LIVE! From Jasper’s Kitchen, hosted by Chef Jasper Mirabile and Kimberly Stern. Invited to talk about the story of Special Fork, ten minutes flew by and there was hardly time to get to some practical cooking tips.

Having put some thought to it for the show, I’m sharing some of our best quick cooking tips with you, as an extension of the radio interview. I’d love to hear your best tips, too!

Top Ten 30-Minute Recipes

I culled through many hundreds of recipes in our recipe database to come up with my top ten quick favorites. While all Special Fork recipes take no more than 30 minutes to prep, cooking time may be extra. These ten I’ve identified can each be made, start to finish, in about a half hour total. Continue Reading »

Easter toast 300x225 Bunny Toasts for a Toddler’s Easter Basket

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I’ve been wracking my brains, trying to figure out how to fill Tara’s Easter basket. No chocolate eggs or bunnies for a child who isn’t yet two years old. So, how to delight her?

I didn’t want to make cookies, because I’d rather not give her anything sugary. And homemade crackers could be tough on her teeth. So I came up with…Bunny Toasts!

I packaged the Bunny Toasts in a cellophane bag and they looked as festive and special as any sweet Easter treat. Then I took small plastic containers, filled them with mom-approved snacks (Cheerios, cut-up cashews) and decorated each container with ribbon and a bunny cutout made by tracing cookie cutter shapes. With some Easter stickers, crayons and coloring books, I’m all set. Continue Reading »

Mary Burns’s Irish Scones 300x225 Irish Scones for an Irish DayBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Tomorrow, on St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll be baking up some Irish scones. And I’ll be thinking fondly of Ireland and Mary Burns.

Mary is a resourceful dairy farmer in County Cork who took over the family farm when her husband died, preserving a heritage of more than 150 years. Milk from her Friesian cows goes into Kerrygold dairy products, as well as into her own farmhouse cheeses. Mary is the revered maker of a delicious, handmade cheese called Ardrahan, found in specialty stores and some restaurants here in the U.S. Continue Reading »

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