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 »


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 »


By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

We’re getting to that time of year when there’s more to do in the kitchen—baking cookies, making potluck dishes for parties, and hosting or contributing to family celebrations.

So I’d like to propose a simple meal idea when you’re too busy to cook: micro-baking potatoes to use as the basis for quick family meals. Once cooked, you can split the potato and top with leftover chili or spaghetti sauce and a sprinkling of shredded cheese. Serve with a green salad and you’re good to go!

If you have a little more time, make these Spicy Curry Potato Boats. They’re fairly quick to fix and you’ll love the Indian-inspired flavors. The recipe may look complicated, but really, all you do is microwave potatoes, scoop out the insides, make a simple stuffing, stuff the potatoes and bake to heat through. Continue Reading »

Fiery Thai Eggplant SoupBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

You can lead a horse to water…but you can’t make it drink! I’m reminded of that old idiom when trying to encourage more people to eat more healthfully.

We all know that what we eat impacts our health. And we can all agree that eating more whole grains is part of the solution. But people eat what they’re accustomed to, and it’s hard to convince them that nutty, chewy and sometimes bitter qualities of whole grains can not only be palatable, but downright delicious!

Enter Everyday Whole Grains, New Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice by Ann Taylor Pittman, published by Oxmoor House, ©2016 Time Inc. Books. Continue Reading »

halloween baked appleBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I was toying with an idea for a simple, fairly healthy, after-school Halloween snack. So I made a jack-o-lantern from an apple, stuffed it with granola and microwaved it until it was cooked through.

Truth be told, my three-year-old granddaughter, a rather picky eater, was charmed with the appearance but not keen on the taste. While she loves fresh apple slices, she’d never had a baked apple and the taste and texture were unfamiliar. If your little ones like baked apples or if you’re looking for an adult snack, I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. (I ate the whole thing!) Continue Reading »

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