Archive for May, 2012

May 24, 2012

BLTA Tacos!

by Kathryn Baldwin

I doubt the average American knows the significance of Memorial Day, nor that it became an official national holiday in 1868. (Ya. I DEFINITELY had to look that one up!) For me, this particular weekend has always felt like an initial toast to summer: the worst of the allergy season has hopefully passed; salads are back in style; a bowl of watermelon cubes sits free for passersby on the kitchen counter. On my favorite summery days, when I’m not walking around barefoot or holding the hose for babies in swimsuits, I am sitting in the outdoor patio of a restaurant ordering a BLTA.

According to some sandwich history, we have the roaring twenties (1929) to thank for the addition of Bacon to our sandwiches. In a period of U.S. history where thriftiness was respected, it was natural to use every part of the pig and leave nothing to waste. The greasy strips of bacon were easy to roast over a fire and stick between bread. Today, I would argue, summer is incomplete without BLT’s… and BLT’s are incomplete without Avocado.

Considering I love twisting traditions to meet my Melting-Pot-American lifestyle, I recently tweaked the traditional BLTA by accident. My boyfriend had been unexpectedly freed from work, giving me less than ten minutes to prepare a mini-lunch date. Within seconds of reading his warning text, I had the fridge and every cabinet wide open. Ugh! I thought. Of course we’re out of bread! So I took inventory. What DO we have? Hmm. Turkey Bacon. Whole-wheat tortillas. Lettuce. Oh YES: Avocado. And tomatoes. PERFECT! I threw a few strips of turkey bacon in the microwave, whipped out the mayo, and while the tortilla was steaming on the stove, I slapped BLTA on top. By the time my poodles were yapping at the fully suited man on my front porch, lunch was served.

The mayo and the tomato juice ran together to combine with the smoky grease off of the bacon. As the romaine lettuce crunched, I felt like I was eating a fried tortilla. With sun tea in my left fist and a dripping, BLTA taco in my right, this instant meal felt like July 16th.

These BLTA tacos ended up being a new go-to. You NEED to try it. Plus, in my opinion, it’s much more satisfying to turn your head sideways to eat a BLTA, than to occupy your drink hand with a two-handed sandwich.

1) Bake Original Bacon on a sheet pan with either parchment paper or a drip rack: 375 degrees for 20 minutes

(or thick cut at 400 for 18 ish).

2) Lather some mayo on your whole wheat (or regular flour) tortilla.

3) Cut Tomatoes in half-moons, slice open the avocado, and prepare whatever lettuce you have on hand. (We had bagged lettuce in the fridge left over. Romaine or butter lettuce would be best. Keep it mild).

4) Put the BLTA (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado) on top of the mayoed tortilla however you think it looks pretty 🙂 Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5) Place it on a warm/medium heat comal (flat pan on the stove). If you’re rushing, just lay the tortilla on the pan while you’re adding all the ingredients. You’ll be sad if you burn it. Just get it a little warm.

6) Fold it like a taco, turn your head sideways, and chomp!!!!!!

May 16, 2012

Choose Your Fortune…Cookie

by Kathryn Baldwin

Finishing up my final three days of college is like being trapped in a tornado and liking it. Last week I:

1)    Solidified my commencement eligibility.

2)    Was informed about two awards that I will be receiving.

3)    And was hired with a non-profit organization.

As I prepare for a life of full-time employment, I must first reflect on how the heck I survived juggling four years of double-major, collegiate insanity. The answer? FORTUNE COOKIES!

Here’s the story:

Last week Professor Spicher lent me a movie that reveals the secret to success (“The Secret,” also available in Spanish, “El Secreto”). The movie describes that thinking positively about your desires, as well as envisioning your dreams coming true, releases ripples into the universe that will bring the dreams to life. In other words, if you envision yourself graduating with honors and believe it to be the real future, you will graduate with honors; if you envision yourself dropping out of school and developing depression, you will not have a happy future. If you envision yourself being an obese 50-year-old Grandpa, you will be obese; if you envision yourself healthy and riding bikes with your grandkids at age 50, you will likely have a longer lifespan. Granted, it’s not simple as pie, but it is definitely as simple as fortune cookies.

For as long as I can remember, my family has gotten take-out Chinese food from China Gourmet. My sister and I would reach into the wax paper baggie, grab the first cookie we touched, and crack the two halves apart as though the winning lottery numbers sat trapped inside. After reading the message, we decided between two things:

1)    If the fortune was positive, we would eat the cookie AND eat the paper message!

2)    If the fortune was negative, we would eat the cookie and throw away the message.

As we got older, we learned how seriously disturbing it was to eat paper. Instead, I started saving the positive messages. Later, I would unexpectedly find them in jean pockets, in the crack of a seat in the car, in the pencil pocket of my backpack. Considering I always forgot the mini-message a minute after reading it, finding the fortune for the second time was just as thrilling as the first.

Throughout college, I saved my favorite fortunes and posted them in corners of places I see often:

My Car Speedometer:

My Bathroom Mirror:

My Desk’s Magnet Strip:

My Inspiration Board:

Call me a hoarder, but glancing positive words throughout my whirl-wind days brings a constant breeze of happiness. They remind me periodically that life is positive if I allow it to be positive.

Today, when I picked up some take-out Wonton Soup, I pleaded for a few extra fortune cookies thinking I could share with all of you. I sat down at my final essay with my soup and some Yogi Tea, and took the first cookie out with you in mind:

When I looked in the bag, I saw that one had already been cracked during the ride home. Deciding that this particular fortune was destined for me, I pulled it out:

Yes universe, I will certainly be celebrating my graduation this week. Call it good fortune; call it superstition; call it faith; call it chance; call it serendipity; call it whatever you want! If you ask me, I think the something wanted you all to take this positivity thing very seriously.

PS: Please visit the Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco’s China Town. It takes less that one minute to see the entire place, but watching the cookies get formed so rapidly is a necessary addition to your bucket list!

May 10, 2012

Giada and I…

by Kathryn Baldwin

So as you may have already heard, I’m on a first name basis with Giada. Psh. Well not really. She held up a motivational sign for the children I babysit and then retweeted me an hour later (I refuse to admit that I acted like I was a 12-year-old who just got a text from Justin Bieber).

Clearly I have Giada’s new cookbook: Weeknights with Giada(Apparently every girl and her mother are on a first name basis with this food network wonder-woman. Poop.) The first recipe that caught my eye, Apricot Oat Bars, intrigued me for a few reasons:

1) It reminds me of cobbler. Sigh…

2) It is a possible breakfast food, giving us a reason to get out of bed.

3) Since these bars include fruit and nuts, I was reminded of how Mexican culture is obsessed with the ingredients of fruits and nuts. Seriously. Mexicans will sit around a table and describe fruit textures and names for hours. My favorite is Zapote Negro, a black fruit that grew on a tree at my host family’s house in Mexico…I could go on for hours.

4) Tangent #3 led me to think that Giada’s southern-Italian style of cooking is similar to customs in Mexico. Mexican mole has almonds; Italian pesto has pine nuts. The list goes on forever! (I wonder if this has something to do with climate zones. Or price of animal protein products versus availability of fruits and nuts. I’ll have to do research. I’m in the middle of finals at school. Gimme a break.)

Thus, I decided to try Giada’s Apricot Oat Bars. Considering we had a ton of fig jam chillin’ in the cabinet, I used the exact recipe for a separate pan of Fig Oat Bars (just use dried figs and fig jam instead of dried apricots and apricot jam). They are a great gift for a Mother’s/Grandma’s day picnic, for teacher appreciation come the end of the year, and obviously, for an energy booster when you feel like you’ll die if you spend one more minute slaving on homework.

Apricot (or Any Dried Fruit + Jam) Oat Bars with Walnuts

Follow Giada’s recipe:

If you plan on making these as a breakfast or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, I recommend putting half of a cup of brown sugar rather than a whole cup. If you want dessert, by all means, load it up!!!!

You may want to try another nut like almonds. I was also thinking that cranberry with pistachio would be fun to try. Make them any way you wish. Just tell me when you make them so I can tell Giada when we meet for coffee this weekend… (cough).

May 3, 2012

Cinco de Mayo: Paloma Time!!!!!

by Kathryn Baldwin

Are you ready for Cinco de Mayo?! It’s actually ironic how much Californians love to celebrate the fifth day of May. Mexico unexpectedly won a single battle against the French in the state of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. Thus, the day has almost nothing to do with us. I took this picture of that particular battle site while studying abroad in Mexico:

I suppose the U.S. is stoked off their asses that the French didn’t take full control of Mexico. Plus, can you imagine taco trucks being Nutella, crepe stands?! Anywho, I can tell you from experience that Cinco de Mayo is a fiesta that mainly takes place here, considering Mexican Independence Day isn’t actually until September 16th. I took this picture in 2010 of the countdown board for Mexico’s 200th year freedom from Spain in Mexico City:

Still, there is something quite Mexican about this day. Octavio Paz, a famous Mexican writer from the mid 1900s, once wrote an essay about how Mexicans embrace every excuse to party. This is one reason I am thankful for having a Mexican boyfriend:

“C’mon Kat, it’s Friday and I got paid today. Let’s celebrate!”… “C’mon Kat, it’s Thursday and I got an A on my math test today. Let’s celebrate!” …  “C’mon Kat, it’s never this warm out this late at night. Let’s celebrate!”

So, it’s Cinco de Mayo guys…let’s celebrate!!! Give in to the wannabe-Mexican-inspired liquor-sale stands that greet you at the entrance of every single effing store!!!!!!!

Paloma (pah-loh-mah)

My boyfriend calls this a Paloma. I call it Tequila-n-Squirt. You should call it whatever the heck you want. Although, I think it’s serendipitous that a Dove (a “Paloma” in Spanish) was nesting on my parent’s deck last week.

THUSSSS……my boyfriend’s family’s signature drink:

-Hornitos, Jimador, Don Julio, Patrón, or Milagro Tequila (Mexicans mainly drink tequila in Guadalajara since the Agave plant is grown in that region. Just like Americans don’t only drink their stereotypical Whiskey, Mexicans don’t only drink Tequila. But hey, this is mainly a Californian celebration anyways so pff… we’ll stick to our confused stereotypes of what’s Mexican.)

Squirt (This is a similar taste to that lovely triple sec flavor, only it’s easier, it’s carbonated, and it comes in Diet for those who count calories).

Salt (Because it’s good for our hearts. NOT. Actually it balances the intensity of the alcohol and the sourness of the lime. You know how we lick salt and chomp a lime when we take a shot of tequila?—same  idea. Plus, salt keeps it colder. That’s why we mix salt in the ice while making ice cream J.)

Lime (An irreplaceable citrus that reminds me of the beach. Lemon? Psh. We’re trying to be Mexican here people… cough cough.)

Directions: Rub lime on the rim of the glass. Sprinkle salt all over (I recommend doing this over the sink, or over a plant next to you if you’re outside). Then, just get it all in the cup! A handful of ice, a double shot of tequila, fill the rest with squirt, squeeze a lime on top, and stir it with anything you have. Your stir-stick may just be the utensil you broke into the lime with. I always end up stirring with my knife.

Swish swish. Sip. Ahhh… Happy fiesta day!