February: Sichuan Slaw

I found this salad on a list of 101 salads in the New York Times. It’s light, crunchy and easy to make – the perfect addition to any Asian-inspired meal. You can even store leftovers for a day or two afterwards because the bean sprouts, carrots and celery won’t get soggy and wilted when left in the dressing.

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February: Coconut Shrimp Curry

In a Sunset Magazine that I picked up somewhere, I found this coconut curry recipe that is easy to make, and easy to customize with whatever ingredients that are handy. You could even make it vegan by substituting the shrimp with potatoes and other vegetables. This recipe is a good introduction to basic curry, and it’s great to build and learn from.

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January: Lentil Soup with Cumin and Lemon

I have a huge 3-ring binder filled with recipes that I collect: magazine pages from the doctor’s waiting room, labels torn from a can of beans, online articles and printed for inspiration or written down on scraps of paper. Some I have already tried and loved, but the rest I keep “just in case” of… what? The next time someone asks me, “Can you please bring this very specific dish that you’ve never made before?” That’s never going to happen. So in 2019, I’m going to dig through my binder and finally try all the recipes that I’ve been saving up.

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The Epic Saga: the Beginning of the End

As early as 2001, after the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually earthquake hit the Puget Sound area, officials have been discussing what to do with the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The double-decker roadway, which separates downtown Seattle from the waterfront of Elliott Bay, has been an integral part of people’s daily SR-99 commutes since it opened in the 1950’s. But the Viaduct sustained significant structural damage during the earthquake, and Seattle residents have been hearing about various plans and budgets to replace the Viaduct for almost 18 years ago. Now that it has been closed permanently to road traffic earlier this month, this officially marks the beginning of the end for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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December: Pralines

“There’s no other treat that’s more Southern, definitely none that’s more New Orleans than pralines.”

At this very moment, I am sitting on a plane heading New Orleans, getting ready to eat all the flavors that the city can offer. Pecans are native to the Southern United States, and New Orleans is the city where the American recipe for pralines originated. So what better was to celebrate my time in the Big Easy than with Louisiana’s favorite candy?

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December: Shrimp and Grits

“Grits are hot, they are abundant, and they will by-gosh stick to your ribs.” – Janis Owens

I wanted to explore Southern cooking, but I’ve never actually spent time in the region. With the help of my sister-in-law who was raised in Alabama, I’ve been learning the finer points of how to cook foods that you’d find in kitchens from Texas to Virginia. In fact, that area is referred to as the “grits belt” of the United States because the food has become such a vital part of the region’s cultural identity, and Georgia has even named it the official “prepared food” of the state. Grits are typically a breakfast food, although shrimp and grits became popular for dinner sometime in the 1980’s.

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November: Pan de Muerto

Quien con la esperanza vive, alegre muere.

Translation: “He who lives with hope dies happy.”

Pan de muerto, or bread of the dead, is traditionally made during the Dia de Muertos holiday celebrated in Spanish-speaking communities. Families make offerings of food, marigolds, calavera sugar skulls and pan de muerto to their deceased loved ones and eat their favorite foods to honor and remember them. The sweet bread differs slightly by region and is often shaped to look like a skull and crossbones, and is believed to help give the spirits strength after their journey back to the world.

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